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Anna Schwartz, 1915-2012

12:12 PM, Jun 23, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Anna Schwartz, a distinguished economist and a fine writer, who is perhaps best known for her co-authored books and studies with Milton Friedman, died in New York City a couple days ago at the age of 96. Together, Schwartz and Friedman wrote A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960, an 888-page monetary policy tome.

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke praised the work, according to the New York Times, as "the leading and most persuasive explanation of the worst economic disaster in American history."

The authors concluded that policy failures by the Fed, which largely controls the money supply, were one of the root causes of the Depression.

Mr. Bernanke acknowledged as much when he spoke at a 90th birthday celebration for Mr. Friedman in 2002. “I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression, you’re right, we did it,” he said. “We’re very sorry, but thanks to you we won’t do it again.”

Mrs. Schwartz was widely known in the profession as the co-author of much of the work that led to Mr. Friedman’s Nobel in economic science in 1976. Her supporters thought the prize might have justly been awarded jointly.

“Anna did all of the work, and I got most of the recognition,” Mr. Friedman said on one occasion.

But, as the Times notes, Schwartz opposed Bernanke's reappointment to the Fed position in 2009.

Mrs. Schwartz, who earned her Ph.D. in economics at the age of 48 and dispensed policy appraisals well into her 90s, was often called the “high priestess of monetarism,” upholding a school of thought that maintains that the size and turnover of the money supply largely determines the pace of inflation and economic activity. ...

Her most visible public role was in 1981, when she agreed to be executive director of the 17-member United States Gold Commission, a Washington panel that was charged with recommending the future role of gold in the nation’s monetary system. 

Schwartz's son, Joel, is an occasional contributor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

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