The late Nobel economist Milton Friedman was born on this day in 1912. A great communicator and cheery personality, he revived the idea that inflation is at heart (he would say 'always and everywhere') a monetary phenomenon. In other words, if you discover inflation, you can be pretty sure that it stems, not from the rising price of oil or whatever, but from governments being profligate with our money. He was also a great believer in small government and personal freedom. Here are a few of his bon mots:
"The market gives people what the people want instead of what other people think they ought to want. At the bottom of many criticisms of the market economy is really lack of belief in freedom itself."
"I am favour of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible."
"Inflation is the one form of taxation that can be imposed without legislation."
"Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government."
"The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm: capitalism is that kind of a system."