Milton Friedman and his gang at Chicago, including the ‘boys’ that went back and put their ‘free market’ wrecking ball through Chile under the butcher Pinochet, have really left a mess of confusion and lies behind in the hallowed halls of the academy, which in the 1970s seeped out, like slime, into the central banks and the treasury departments of the world. The overall intent of the literature they developed was to force governments to abandon so-called fiscal activism (the discretionary use of government spending and taxation policy to fine-tune total spending so as to achieve full employment), and, instead, empower central banks to disregard mass unemployment and fight inflation first. Several strands of their work – the Monetarist claim that aggregate policy should be reduced to a focus on the central bank controlling the money supply to control inflation (the market would deliver the rest (high employment and economic growth, etc); the promotion of a ‘natural rate of unemployment’ such that governments who tried to reduce the unemployment rate would only accelerate inflation; and the so-called Permanent Income Hypothesis (households ignored short-term movements in income when determining consumption spending), and others – were woven together to form a anti-government phalanx. Later, absurd notions such as rational expectations and real business cycles were added to the litany of Monetarist myths, which indoctrinated graduate students (who became policy makers) even further in the cause. Over time, his damaging legacy has been eroded by researchers and empirical facts but like all tight Groupthink communities the inner sanctum remain faithful and so the research findings haven’t permeated into major shifts in the academy. It will come – but these paradigm shifts take time.Arguably, "Friedmanism" led to the Global Financial Crisis (system failure) that is still unfolding around the world, resulting in a discrediting of conventional economics, the unwinding of the post-WWII liberal order, and the inception of a new world order that is now in the making, unfortunately led by the right since the left is absorbed in navel-gazing and blaming.
The latest research effort to wipe Friedman’s theoretical legacy off the map was presented to the ASSA Annual Meetings (in Chicago, this year) at a session on January 8, 2017 by two young Harvard economists.…
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Another Milton Friedman legacy bites the dust
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia