Even Some Keynesian Economists Appreciate Milton Friedman

Brad DeLong, UC Berkeley economist and ardent Keynesian, wrote an obituary for Milton Friedman when he died in 2006.  DeLong requires that his introductory economics students read Free to Choose, authored by Friedman and his wife Rose.  Why does ardent Keynesian DeLong impose this burden on this students?  Here’s his answer based on a statement made by John Stuart Mill:

“Sharpen their wits, give acuteness to their perceptions, and consecutiveness and clearness to their reasoning powers: we are in danger from their folly, not from their wisdom; their weakness is what fills us with apprehension, not their strength.”


For every left-of-center American economist in the second half of the twentieth century, Milton Friedman (1912-2006) was the incarnate answer to John Stuart Mill’s prayer. His wits were smart, his perceptions acute, his arguments strong, his reasoning powers clear, coherent, and terrifyingly quick. You tangled with him at your peril. And you left not necessarily convinced, but well aware of the weak points in your own argument.

He concludes his piece with the following point.

For right-of-center American libertarian economists, Milton Friedman was a powerful leader. For left-of-center American liberal economists, Milton Friedman was an enlightened adversary. We are all the stronger for his work. We will miss him.

I encourage you to read the entire obituary.  It’s worth your time.