Milton Friedman’s Views on Method and Money Reconsidered in Light of the Housing Bubble – Joseph Salerno

Abstract: This paper argues that Milton Friedman’s failed to recognize the asset bubbles leading up to the financial crisis of 2007-2008. It attributes this failure to the inductivist method that Friedman and Anna Schwartz used to formulate the quantity theory at the heart of the doctrine of monetarism. The “clinical method” used by Friedman and Schwartz was derived from Wesley C. Mitchell’s work on business cycles and was not the method that Friedman propounded in his famous essay on positive economics. The clinical method of theory construction, because it relies heavily on statistical correlations between the money supply and other aggregate variables, led to a simplistic and truncated theory of the monetary transmission mechanism which completely neglected its complex “microeconomic” network of channels and pathways, particularly as they relate to the financial markets and the structure of capital and production.

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