Tribute to Anna J. Schwartz
By David Henderson
Marginal Revolution University (MRU) has put out an excellent video on the late Anna J. Schwartz, one of the first really successful female economists.
I started to write down some reminiscences, but realized that I did so in 2012 when she died. I’ll mention one thing and then hit some highlights in this 8-minute video.
One of my upsets is hearing people refer to Milton Friedman‘s book A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960, rather than the correct way to refer to it: Milton Friedman’s and Anna J. Schwartz’s A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960. She wasn’t just some bit player, as the video makes clear.
Now to the highlights: Christina Romer, Claudia Goldin, and Michael Bordo all have nice meaty comments about Anna’s work and its effects on our thinking. All, by the way, have articles in The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. Christina’s is “Business Cycles,” Claudia’s is “Gender Gap,” and Michael’s is “Gold Standard.”
I have one main criticism. At the 5:36 point, Claudia Goldin says that our learning from Anna’s and Milton’s work on the monetary causes of the Great Depression helped us avoid the financial crisis of 2007-2008 being even more serious. Not quite. In fact, it was Bernanke’s decision to pour liquidity into the economy with one hand and sterilize it with the other that caused there not to be a big increase in the money supply. Michael Bordo pointed this out at the annual Kansas City Fed meeting at Jackson Hole in 2008 and Jeff Hummel elaborated on it in 2011.
Had they really learned the lesson, Americans would have avoided a lot of pain.