Farewell to Milton

October 13, 2008

I doubt this was the Nobel Prize academy’s intent, but the awarding of the laurel in economics to Paul Krugman really brings down the curtain on the age of Milton Friedman. Just as Friedman’s dogmas about free markets and deregulation were the foundation for the shaky edifice of conservative “max out the credit cards and let magic marketplace fairies pay the bills” economic thinking, Krugman’s sobersided views on how government intervention helped set the stage for sustained and widespread prosperity in mid-20th-century America can guide us as we dig ourselves out of the pit into which Milton’s Minions have thrown us. With books like The Great Unraveling and The Return of Depression Economics, Krugman gave us the number of the truck that was about to hit America’s (and the world’s) financial markets. 

(Friedman, let it be noted, was a Rutgers boy before he became one of the Chicago Boys. Krugman teaches at Princeton. So how’s that for your Jersey connection?)

Here’s how Krugman gave Friedman his due as an economist last year, even while explaining how and where Friedman drove over a cliff.

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