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Anna Jacobson Schwartz (1915-2012)

Anna Schwartz died yesterday, at the age of 96.  Most famous for her collaboration with Milton Friedman on their 1963 A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960, she was also a great scholar in her own right.

Praise for Ms. Schwartz is flowing today, and properly so.  I’m sure that I’ll link to other accounts of her life and work as I learn of, and read, them.  But here now are accolades from Jim Dorn, David Henderson, Bob Higgs, and the Wall Street Journal.


I didn’t know Anna Schwartz personally.  I saw her on only a too-small handful of occasions, but was never introduced to her.  I do, however, have an Anna Schwartz story to tell.

In 2008 I was a patient of a podiatrist on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.  During the small talk I had with this doctor I learned that he majored in economics as an undergrad at Northwestern, and he learned that I teach economics at GMU.  So we naturally chatted about current economic events.

At one point in our chit-chat he asked if I happened to know one of his long-time patients, a woman named Anna Schwartz.  I replied that, while I don’t know her personally, I know much of her work and certainly regard her as a giant among economic historians and monetary scholars.

“Well, she’s got a lot of energy for her age!” the doctor told me, smiling admiringly as he spoke about her.  He went on to recount a then-recent episode in which he casually asked Schwartz for her opinion of Paul Krugman.  Schwartz responded with what I gather was a rather fiery discourse on Krugman’s February 2007 essay, in the New York Review of Books, “Who Was Milton Friedman?”  (That’s the essay in which Krugman – just a few months after Friedman died – accused Friedman of being intellectually dishonest when speaking to the general public.)

Schwartz and Edward Nelson responded to Krugman’s misrepresentations and mistakes with this letter to the NYRB, and Schwartz went into more depth in this 2008 Cato Journal article.

That Krugman essay, btw, in addition to being classless, is an especially careless piece of work, as – in addition to Schwartz – Russ explained here, and as Arnold Kling explained here.


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