On the Origins of "a Monetary History"

62 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2006 Last revised: 12 Aug 2010

See all articles by Hugh Rockoff

Hugh Rockoff

Newark College of Arts & Sciences - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: November 2006


This paper explores some of the scholarship that influenced Milton Friedman and Anna J. Schwartz's "A Monetary History". It shows that the ideas of several Chicago economists -- Henry Schultz, Henry Simons, Lloyd Mints, and Jacob Viner -- left clear marks. It argues, however, that the most important influence may have been Wesley Clair Mitchell and his classic book "Business Cycles" (1913). Mitchell, and the NBER, provided the methodology for "A Monetary History", in particular the emphasis on compiling long time series of monthly data and analyzing the effects of specific variables on the business cycle. A common methodology and the stability of monetary relationships produced similar conclusions about money. Friedman and Schwartz deemphasized Mitchell's "bank-centric" view of the monetary transmission process, but they reinforced Mitchell's conclusion that money had an independent, predictable, and important influence on the business cycle.

Suggested Citation

Rockoff, Hugh T., On the Origins of "a Monetary History" (November 2006). NBER Working Paper No. w12666, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=941973

Hugh T. Rockoff (Contact Author)

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