NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

On the Origins of "A Monetary History"

Hugh Rockoff

NBER Working Paper No. 12666
Issued in November 2006
NBER Program(s):   DAE   ME   EFG

This paper explores some of the scholarship that influenced Milton Friedman and Anna J. Schwartz's "A Monetary History". It shows that the ideas of several Chicago economists -- Henry Schultz, Henry Simons, Lloyd Mints, and Jacob Viner -- left clear marks. It argues, however, that the most important influence may have been Wesley Clair Mitchell and his classic book "Business Cycles" (1913). Mitchell, and the NBER, provided the methodology for "A Monetary History", in particular the emphasis on compiling long time series of monthly data and analyzing the effects of specific variables on the business cycle. A common methodology and the stability of monetary relationships produced similar conclusions about money. Friedman and Schwartz deemphasized Mitchell's "bank-centric" view of the monetary transmission process, but they reinforced Mitchell's conclusion that money had an independent, predictable, and important influence on the business cycle.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w12666

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