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Milton Friedman (1912-2006)Milton Friedman

American Nobel prize winning economist (pictured right) famous for his support for:

  • individual freedom.
  • free market capitalism (with minimal government controls of business).
  • monetarism (the belief that increases in prices and production are caused by increasing the money supply - the amount of money in circulation). Milton Friedman 

His policies were supported in the 1980’s by;

Friedman was greatly helped in his work by his wife, Rose (pictured right below), also a professor at the University of Chicago.


Key books and articlesMilton Friedman


Capitalism and Freedom (1962), written with Rose Friedman ,pictured right 

(see for more detail Capitalism and Freedom in the Business Books section)


This book was popularized in their 1980 book and TV series, Free to Choose.


Adam Smith (pictured right below) was right – the interests of people and society are best served by Milton Friedmanindividuals and businesses pursuing their own self-interest, rights and moral responsibilities in a free market capitalist economy.

Moral regulation by the state (like Prohibition) will fail, because solutions to ethical problems are only found in the hearts of each individual.

Government should be the people’s servant, so it must:

  • give people the freedom to choose how they spend their money without unnecessary government expenditure and taxation.
  • take responsibility for controlling the money supply to control inflation.

Equality of opportunity is the friend of liberty but equality of reward its foe.

We must be free to choose what we want to do with our lives and be paid the market rate.

The best way to improve people’s living standards is free market competitive capitalism without labour (or trade) unions.

Strong unions can increase the pay of its members, but this leads to higher prices, lower demand and so a reduction in the total number employed.


Key quotes on government and freedom

To the free man, the country is the collection of individuals who compose it.

Capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom.

 Freedom is a tenable objective only for responsible individuals.

Government is necessary to preserve our freedom...yet by concentrating power in political hands, it is also a threat to freedom.

The great threat to freedom is the concentration of power.

A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both (from the Free To Choose TV series)


Key quote on corporate social responsibility

There is one and only one social responsibility of business - to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it... engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud


The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits (1970 New YorkTimes magazine article)

This reiterated Friedman’s view in Capitalism and Freedom that a business has only one social responsibility – to maximize profits in a competitive industry without deception or fraud.

Any other social strategies (e.g. environmental improvement and anti-discrimination measures) are wrong and an involuntary tax on shareholders.


Key quote

Only people can have responsibilities.

Milton Friedman


A Monetary History of the United States (1963), written with Anna Schwartz (pictured right)

This research study analyzed America’s monetary history from 1863 to 1960 and concluded that increases in the money supply cause increases in production and then prices.


Key quote on inflation

Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon.



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