I am deeply saddened to report that Milton Friedman, a leading and Nobel Prize winning economist, has passed away at age 94. My thoughts are with Dr. Rose Friedman and the Friedman family in this sad and difficult time.
Although I have never had the honour to meet Milton in person but I felt I have known him since 1984 from the writings of the economist and Milton’s friend Steven Cheung.
On top of Milton’s many achievements, people may not realize that Milton was also a true friend of China and Hong Kong. And he tried his best to guide and help both China and Hong Kong in their time of need. Milton’s concern and love of Hong Kong can be shown in the recent Wall Stree Journal Oct 6, 2006 article “Hong Kong Wrong – What would Cowperthwaite say?”.
Quoting Milton’s autobiography in the Nobel website about his travel in China (emphasis added),
Perhaps the most notable foreign travel consisted of three trips to China: one in 1980 when I gave a series of lectures under the auspices of the Chinese government; one in 1988 when I attended a conference in Shanghai on Chinese economic development and had a fascinating session in Beijing with Zhao Ziyang, at the time, the General Secretary of the Communist Party, deposed a few months later for his unwillingness to approve the use of force on Tiananmen Square; and one in 1993 when I traveled with a group of Chinese friends from Hong Kong throughout the country. The three visits covered a period of revolutionary economic growth and development, the first stage of a shift from an authoritarian, centrally planned economy to a largely free market economy.
Here are some news reports of Milton‘s passing (I have ranked them by the details and insight they provided),
- Financial Times, “Milton Friedman, economist, dies aged 94” (reg required)
- New York Times, “Milton Friedman, a Leading Economist, Dies at 94“
- NPR, “Nobel-Winning Economist Milton Friedman Dies” (has links to audio and video clips)
LA Times, “Nobel winner Milton Friedman dies at 94“(note: outdated link) Mercury News, “Milton Friedman felt vindicated by history – Influential Economist, Dead at 94“(note: outdated link) Times Online, “Economist Milton Friedman has died aged 94“(note: outdated link) USA Today, “Milton Friedman, economist, has died” (contain a few links)(note: outdated link)
- Guardian, “Monetarist economist Friedman dies“
BusinessWeek, “Economist Milton Friedman dies at 94“(note: outdated link) Forbes, “Milton Friedman Dies“(note: outdated link) Telegraph.co.uk, “Economist Milton Friedman dies aged 94“(note: outdated link)
Jan 3, 2007 Update: Here are two articles in The Economist about Milton Friedman,
If Mr Friedman had a favourite economy, it was Hong Kong. Its astonishing economic success convinced him that although economic freedom was necessary for political freedom, the converse was not true: political liberty, though desirable, was not needed for economies to be free. Why, he asked, had Hong Kong thrived when Britain, which controlled it until 1997, was so statist by comparison? He greatly admired Sir John Cowperthwaite, the colony’s financial secretary in the 1960s, “a Scotsman…a disciple of Adam Smith, his ancient countryman”. And how much more, Mr Friedman wondered, might America have thrived had it kept its government as small, relative to its economy, as the island entrepot had done?
[…] Government spending, as a share of GDP, did not budge much even under Reagan and is much as it was when he left office. Only last month, Mr Friedman worried in the Wall Street Journal that greater state intervention in Hong Kong would mean that the place “would no longer be such a shining example of economic freedom.”