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Was the Monetarist Tradition Invented?


  • George S. Tavlas


In 1969, Harry Johnson charged that Milton Friedman 'invented' a Chicago oral quantity theory tradition, the idea being that in order to launch a monetarist counter-revolution, Friedman needed to establish a linkage with pre-Keynesian orthodoxy. This paper shows that there was a distinct pre-Keynesian Chicago quantity-theory tradition that advocated increased government expenditure during the Great Depression in order to put money directly into circulation. This policy stance distinguished the Chicago economists from other quantity theorists, leaving them less susceptible to the Keynesian revolution. Those who have been critical of Friedman's claim that his work derives from the earlier Chicago tradition have focused exclusively on Friedman's long-run empirical specification of money demand. Friedman's cyclical analysis is shown to be very much in the Chicago tradition. Other connections between Friedman's views and the Chicago tradition are also discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • George S. Tavlas, 1998. "Was the Monetarist Tradition Invented?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 211-222, Fall.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:12:y:1998:i:4:p:211-22 Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.12.4.211

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Aschheim, Joseph & Tavlas, George S, 1996. "Monetary Economics in Doctrinal Perspective: Review Essay," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(3), pages 406-417, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hugh Rockoff, 2010. "On the Origins of A Monetary History," Chapters,in: The Elgar Companion to the Chicago School of Economics, chapter 7 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Stephen G. Hall & P. A. V. B. Swamy & George S. Tavlas, 2012. "Milton Friedman, the demand for money, and the ECB’s monetary policy strategy," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 153-186.
    3. George S. Tavlas, 2015. "In Old Chicago: Simons, Friedman, and the Development of Monetary‐Policy Rules," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 47(1), pages 99-121, February.
    4. Hugh Rockoff, 2006. "On the Origins of "A Monetary History"," NBER Working Papers 12666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Hondroyiannis, George & Swamy, P. A. V. B. & Tavlas, George S., 2001. "Modelling the long-run demand for money in the United Kingdom: a random coefficient analysis," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 475-501, August.
    6. David Laidler, 2010. "Chicago Monetary Traditions," Chapters,in: The Elgar Companion to the Chicago School of Economics, chapter 6 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. Lothian, James R., 2009. "Milton Friedman's monetary economics and the quantity-theory tradition," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(7), pages 1086-1096, November.
    8. J. Bradford De Long, 2000. "The Triumph of Monetarism?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 83-94, Winter.
    9. Levrero, Enrico Sergio, 2015. "An initial 'Keynesian illness'? Friedman on taxation and the inflationary gap," MPRA Paper 68547, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Elias Papaioannou & Richard Portes, 2008. "The international role of the euro: a status report," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 317, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.

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    JEL classification:

    • B22 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Macroeconomics
    • E50 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - General


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