Thursday, November 16, 2006


Milton Friedman has passed away. I am lucky enough to have spent a little time talking to him in my life, though not at all in the last ten years. If you thought he looked really pleasant on TV, I can tell you that he was even more pleasant, more fatherly in person. My first meeting with him was a conference at Hoover when I was still a graduate student -- Craig Stubblebine had taken me along as an assistant helping with a book on Reaganomics. Here, in 1981 and in the first flush of the Reagan administration's attempt to end the stagflation of the 1970s, were all stripes of economists who think about fiscal policy and public finance. A group of students, including me, are sitting at the edge of the group for lunch in an open plaza in the middle of the building where Hoover is. "May I join you?" we hear, and there stands Friedman with his tray of food. I could barely get words out of my mouth. The next twenty minutes were surreal, with questions of where we were from, what we were planning for dissertations, etc. I don't think we ever got to asking him a question.

I'll be listening again tonight to EconTalk's conversations with Friedman.