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Anna J. Schwartz

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Anna J. Schwartz

Anna Jacobson Schwartz
Chicago school of economics
Born (1915-11-11)November 11, 1915
New York City, New York
Died June 21, 2012(2012-06-21) (aged 96)
Manhattan, New York
Nationality United States
Institution National Bureau of Economic Research
Field Monetarism
Alma mater Barnard College
Columbia University
Influences Milton Friedman
Contributions Analysis of money
Analysis of banking
Spouse Isaac Schwartz; 4 children

Anna Jacobson Schwartz (November 11, 1915 – June 21, 2012) was an American economist at the National Bureau of Economic Research in New York City, and according to Paul Krugman "one of the world's greatest monetary scholars".[1] She was best known for her collaboration with Milton Friedman on A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960, published in 1963,[2] which laid a large portion of the blame for the Great Depression at the door of the Federal Reserve System. She was president of the Western Economic Association International in 1988.[3]

Early life and education

Anna Schwartz was born on November 11, 1915 in New York City to Pauline (née Shainmark) and Hillel Jacobson.[4] She graduated from Barnard College at the age of 18 and gained her master's degree in economics from Columbia University in 1935, when she was 19. She started her career as a professional economist one year later. In 1936, she married Isaac Schwartz, with whom she raised four children. Her first published paper was in the Review of Economics and Statistics (1940), in which she, along with Arthur Gayer and Isaiah Finkelstein, wrote British Share Prices, 1811–1850. She earned her Ph.D. from Columbia in 1964.[4]

National Bureau of Economic Research

In 1941, she joined the staff of the National Bureau of Economic Research. She worked in the New York City office of that organization from then right up to the time of her death. When she joined the National Bureau, it was engaged in the study of business cycles. Though she held teaching positions for only a short part of her career, she developed younger scholars by her willingness to work with them and to share her approach, a scrupulous examination of the past, so as both to understand it better and to draw lessons for the present.

Growth and Fluctuations in the British Economy

In collaboration with Arthur Gayer and Walt Whitman Rostow, she produced the monumental Growth and Fluctuations in the British Economy, 1790–1850: An Historical, Statistical, and Theoretical Study of Britain's Economic Development. It appeared in two volumes in 1953, its publication having been delayed by the war for some ten years after it was completed. That book is still highly regarded among economic scholars of the period. It was reprinted in 1975. Arthur Gayer had died before the book's first appearance, but the other two authors wrote a new introduction that reviewed literature on the subject published since the original publication date. They admitted that there had developed what they called an "amicable divergence of view" on the interpretation of some the facts set out in the book. In particular, Anna Schwartz indicated that she had in the light of recent theoretical and empirical research revised her view of the importance of monetary policy and her interpretation of interest rate movements.

Research with Milton Friedman

Years before her first book was reprinted, another economist had joined what might be called the Schwartz team of co-authors. Prompted by Arthur F. Burns, then at Columbia University and the National Bureau, subsequently Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve System, she and Milton Friedman teamed up to examine the role of money in the business cycle. Their first publication was A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960, which hypothesized that changes in monetary policy have had large effects on the economy, and laid a large portion of the blame for the Great Depression at the door of the Federal Reserve System. The book was published in 1963, along with the equally famous article, "Money and Business Cycles", which as with her first paper was published in the Review of Economics and Statistics. They also wrote the books Monetary Statistics of the United States in 1970 and Monetary Trends in the United States and the United Kingdom: Their Relation to Income, Prices, and Interest Rates, 1867–1975 in 1982.

Financial regulation

She changed her opinion regarding financial regulation. Economists, bankers, and policy makers have been and are concerned with the stability of the financial system. Schwartz, in a series of studies in the 1970s and 1980s, emphasized that price level stability is essential for financial system stability. Drawing on evidence from over two centuries, she demonstrated that such failures do not have major consequences for the economy so long as their effects are prevented from spreading through the financial system. Individual institutions should be allowed to fail, not supported with taxpayer's money.

Other areas of work

There have been other areas of her work including the international transmission of inflation and of business cycles, the role of government in monetary policy, measuring the output of banks, and the behavior of interest rates, on deflation, on monetary standards. She has also done work outside of the United States. Some years ago the Department of Banking and Finance at City University, London, England, started a research project on the monetary history of the United Kingdom. For many years, she was an adviser to that project. She commented on papers, suggested lines of approach, came and spoke to students and at academic conferences where the work was discussed.

Later career work

In 2002–2003 she served as president of the International Atlantic Economic Society.[5] After 2007, she concentrated her efforts on researching U.S. official intervention in the foreign exchange market using Federal Reserve data from 1962. She was not afraid to speak out with respect to the financial crisis of the first decade of the 21st century, and criticize the government's response to it.[6][7] She also addressed a critique of Milton Friedman by Paul Krugman.[8]


Anna Schwartz died on June 21, 2012, in her home in Manhattan, aged 96. She is survived by four children: Jonathan, Joel, Naomi Pasachoff and Paula Berggren, as well as seven grandchildren, and six great grandchildren.

Honorary degrees


  • Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960 (with Milton Friedman), 1963 ISBN 0-691-00354-8
  • Monetary Statistics of the United States: Estimates, Sources, Methods (with Milton Friedman), 1970 ISBN 0-87014-210-0
  • Growth and Fluctuations in the British Economy, 1790–1850: An Historical, Statistical, and Theoretical Study of Britain's Economic Development (with Arthur Gayer and Walt Whitman Rostow), 1953 ISBN 0-06-492344-4
  • Money in Historical Perspective (with an introduction by Michael D. Bordo and Milton Friedman), 1987 ISBN 0-226-74228-8


External links

  • Spring 2009
  • Major works of Anna J. Schwartz
  • Schwartz's CV at the National Bureau of Economic Research
  • The Great Depression and the Friedman-Schwartz Hypothesis
  • Econlib

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