Milton Friedman, a Leading Economist and friend of China and Hong Kong, Dies at 94

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 my personal stories about Milton.

Here are some news reports of Milton‘s passing (I have ranked them by the details and insight they provided),

  1. Financial Times, “Milton Friedman, economist, dies aged 94” (reg required)
  2. New York Times, “Milton Friedman, a Leading Economist, Dies at 94
  3. NPR, “Nobel-Winning Economist Milton Friedman Dies” (has links to audio and video clips)
  4. LA Times, “Nobel winner Milton Friedman dies at 94 (note: outdated link)
  5. Mercury News, “Milton Friedman felt vindicated by history – Influential Economist, Dead at 94 (note: outdated link)
  6. Times Online, “Economist Milton Friedman has died aged 94 (note: outdated link)
  7. USA Today, “Milton Friedman, economist, has died” (contain a few links) (note: outdated link)
  8. Guardian, “Monetarist economist Friedman dies
  9. BusinessWeek, “Economist Milton Friedman dies at 94 (note: outdated link)
  10. Forbes, “Milton Friedman Dies (note: outdated link)
  11., “Economist Milton Friedman dies aged 94 (note: outdated link)


Jan 3, 2007 Update: Here are two articles in The Economist about Milton Friedman,

  1. An enduring legacy
  2. A heavyweight champ, at five foot two Here is an excerpt,

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.”

4 Responses to Milton Friedman, a Leading Economist and friend of China and Hong Kong, Dies at 94

  1. jlambie says:

    Sorry to hear this loss. A great scholar and teacher who had the kindness to talk to young people who dared to ask.
    My deep condolence to the Friedmans.
    It has been a sad day indeed.
    – Kempton

  2. Simon says:

    I was shocked by the news about the death of Milton Friedman this morning. I am deeply regret that people in HK and China lost a great friend, who had once shared his comments with Chinese leaders during his visit for our rapid economic growth. We Hong Kong people especially thank for his recent article about laissez-faire in Hong Kong.
    Hope that we can hear comments on Milton Friedman from Prof. Steven Cheung.


    Thanks for your comment. I am also looking forward to Prof. Steven Cheung’s article about Milton’s passing.

    – Kempton

  3. […] I promised to share my Milton Friedman story and here it is. By the way, I’ve read from a reliable source that “Hong Kong Wrong – What would Cowperthwaite say?” was Milton’s last public economics article. Milton’s love and care of Hong Kong was truly amazing and was deeply felt in Hong Kong based on what I read. […]

  4. […] heart was broken when I read how Rose felt when Milton passed away, “I’ve a lot of time but nothing else“. Looking at the beautiful cover-photo of […]

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