Nobel-prize winning economist and longtime San Francisco resident Milton Friedman died Thursday. He was 94.
Noted by Time magazine in 1975 as one of the world’s most important modern economists — along with John Maynard Keynes, Adam Smith and sparring partner John Kenneth Galbraith — Mr. Friedman was widely regarded as the founder of the Chicago School of monetary economics, and was an important economic adviser to several Republican presidents. Mr. Galbraith, with whom the more influential Mr. Friedman disagreed publicly in lively exchanges, also died this year.
“Milton Friedman was arguably the greatest economist of the 20th Century,” said John Raisian, Stanford University’s Hoover Institution director; Mr. Friedman was a senior fellow at the institution. “His reach was incredible. Esteemed academic economists lauded his intellectual capacity and leadership … At the same time, he was a household name among non-economists.”
During the course of his life, Mr. Friedman won the 1976 Nobel Prize for Economic Science, the 1988 Presidential Medal of Freedom and the 1988 National Medal of Science, according to the Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation. Prior to joining Hoover in 1977, he was an economics professor at the University of Chicago from 1946 to 1976, and worked at the National Bureau of Economic Research from 1937 to 1981.
A promoter of the free market, individual liberty and consumer choice, he published widely read books, several co-authored by his wife Rose Friedman, 95, who survives him. They included “Free to Choose,” a 1980 work arguing that the free market with the fewest government regulations is the most moral economic system, and the 1962 book “Capitalism and Freedom.” “A Monetary History of the United States,” co-written in 1963 with Anna Schwartz, was an internationally influential work on the importance of controlling the monetary supply.
“I learned of Milton’s work at university, where I was a student of economics. Milton has such a clear and precise way of putting things in perspective,” said Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Foundation think tank in San Francisco. “Both Milton and Rose are the most wonderful people. Great teachers, great advisers … Even if Milton didn’t agree with you, he was respectful of your opinion and would talk you through it.”
He was an adviser to former President Ronald Reagan, and in later life became a great proponent of school choice, setting up his family’s foundation to promote that ideal. Rose Friedman will now assume chairmanship of the foundation, spokesman Robert Fanger said.
Mr. Friedman moved to California in 1977, and lived in Russian Hill,Pipes said. In addition to his wife, he survived by their two children, Janet Martel and David Friedman, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.