Anna Schwartz

Anna Schwartz bigraphy, stories - American economist

Anna Schwartz : biography

November 11, 1915 – June 21, 2012

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". She was best known for her collaboration with Milton Friedman on A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960, published in 1963, 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.

Later career work

In 2002–2003 she served as president of the International Atlantic Economic Society.. 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. Op-ed in opposition to January 2010 reappointment of Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve Board chair. She also addressed a critique of Milton Friedman by Paul Krugman.

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.

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.

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.


  • 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