"I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth." (Karl Popper)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Milton Friedman interview

The Spring 2006 edition of National Perspectives Quarterly contains a fascinating interview with Milton Friedman, the economist credited with influence (by admirers and opponents alike) over the policies of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Friedman offers interesting views on, among other things, Iraq, the need for economic reform in Germany, the prospects for China's "authoritarian free-market system", the U.S. fiscal deficit, globalization, the Internet, and the idea of the End of History. Take, for example, the exchange on the latter topic:
NPQ: In the end, your ideas have triumphed over Marx and Keynes. Is this, then, the end of the road for economic thought? Is there anything more to say than free markets are the most efficient way to organize a society? Is it the “end of history,” as Francis Fukuyama put it?
Friedman: Oh no. “Free markets” is a very general term. There are all sorts of problems that will emerge. Free markets work best when the transaction between two individuals affects only those individuals. But that isn’t the fact. The fact is that, most often, a transaction between you and me affects a third party. That is the source of all problems for government. That is the source of all pollution problems, of the inequality problem. There are some good economists like Gary Becker and Bob Lucas who are working on these issues. This reality ensures that the end of history will never come.


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