Who’s your daddy?

Mark Thoma has original attribution at Economist’s View

Economic Dreams-Economic Nightmares discusses Jamie Galbraith’s recent presentation:

Hyman Minsky, John Kenneth Galbraith and John Maynard Keynes take center stage as James Galbraith throws down the gauntlet to contemporary mainstream economists. Speaking at the 25th Annual Milton Friedman Distinguished Lecture at Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio, Jamie Galbraith asks Fed Chair Ben Bernanke and a host of others to embrace the ” intellectual victory of John Maynard Keynes, of John Kenneth Galbraith, of Hyman Minsky.” — else to explain “why not”. We will search and update on any “why nots” if and when they surface.

To Galbraith:

The Collapse of Monetarism and the Irrelevance of the New Monetary Consensus [PDF], by James K. Galbraith, March 31, 2008 : … I come to bury Milton [Friedman], not to praise him. But I would like to do so on the terrain that he favored, where he was strong, and over which he ruled for many decades. This is monetary policy, monetarism, the natural rate of unemployment and the priority of fighting inflation over fighting unemployment. It is here that Friedman had his largest practical impact and also his greatest intellectual success. It was on this battleground that he beat out the entire Keynesian establishment of the 1960s, stuck as they were on a stable Phillips Curve. It was here that he set the stage for the counter-revolution that has dominated academic macroeconomics for a generation, and that – far more important — also dominated and continues to influence the way in which most people think about monetary policy and the fight against inflation.

What was monetarism? Friedman famously defined it as the proposition that “inflation is everywhere and always a monetary phenomenon.” This meant that money and prices were tied together. But more than that, Friedman believed that money was a policy variable — a quantity that the Central Bank could create or destroy at will. Create too much, there would be inflation. Create too little, and the economy might collapse. There followed from this that the right amount would generate the right result: stable prices at what Friedman came to call the natural rate of unemployment.

The intent and effect of this line of reasoning was to defend a core proposition about capitalism: that free and unfettered markets are intrinsically stable. In Friedman’s gospels government is the lone serpent in Eden, while the task of policy is to stay out of the way. Just as this was the vulgar lesson of “Free to Choose” so it turns out it was also the deep lesson of the larger structure of Friedman’s thought. Friedman and Schwartz’s Monetary History for all its facts and statistics carried a simple message: the market did not fail; the government did.

The paper is long for here, but worth a visit to Economic Dreams-Economic Nightmares.

Update: Original is at Economist’s View