Choose Economic Freedom
Choose Economic Freedom

Choose Economic Freedom

Enduring Policy Lessons from the 1970s and 1980s


136 Pages, 5.25 x 8

Formats: Hardcover, Mobipocket, ebook: PDF, ebook: EPUB

Hardcover, $14.95 (US $14.95) (CA $16.95)

Publication Date: March 2020

ISBN 9780817923440


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What are the keys to good economic policy? George P. Shultz and John B. Taylor draw from their several decades of experience at the forefront of national economic policy making to show how market fundamentals beat politically popular government interventions—be they from Democrats or Republicans—as a recipe for success.Choose Economic Freedom reconstructs debates from the 1960s and 1970s about the use of wage and price controls as tools of policy, showing how brilliant economists can hold diametrically opposed views about the wisdom of using government intervention to spur the economy. Speeches and documents from the era include a recently unearthed memo from Arthur Burns, Federal Reserve chair, in 1971, in which he argues in favor of controls.Under Burns's guidance and in the face of stubborn inflation, Nixon introduced wage and price guidelines and freezes. But over the long run, these became a drag on the economy and ultimately failed. It wasn't until the Reagan administration that these controls were reversed, resulting in a vibrant economy.The words of iconic economist Milton Friedman—whose "free to choose" ethos inspired the free-market revolution of the Reagan era—along with lessons Shultz and Taylor learned from the front lines, demonstrate that tried-and-true economic policy works.


"George Shultz and John Taylor's parable reminds us of a time when Americans suffered greatly from bad economic policy choices. Most people, honorable men and women included, had convinced themselves that those policies were called for. It turned out that most people were wrong. I was there for this story—but I learned much from this book that is new and highly relevant to today, and so will you." —Alan Greenspan, former chair, Council of Economic Advisers and Federal Reserve Board

"John Taylor is a damn good economist steeped in public policy. His name alone would guarantee a world-class rendition of US policies in the 1970s and 1980s. But when John Taylor is combined with George Shultz—my candidate as the single most important public figure in the last one hundred years—you not only have the truth, but you have the whole truth. The Nixon years and the Reagan years stand in stark contrast when it comes to policies and outcomes. Good policy is not about party or ideology; it's all about economics, and economics is all about incentives. This book debunks the notion that facts don't matter. Facts do matter, and as this book shows, the story facts tell is as clear as clear can be. Markets work. This book by two of the most honest and knowledgeable policy experts gives you much more than just a peek behind the opaque curtains of the US 'C' suite. It's a full-blown expose." —Arthur B. Laffer, former chief economist at the Office of Management and Budget and member of Ronald Reagan's Economic Policy Advisory Board 

"John Taylor and George Shultz have done a great service in Choose Economic Freedom. The book covers a lot of territory—my whole economic career—and a lot of interesting people. The writing is clear and, yes, fun to read. What you will not get from them are 'guideposts,' 'wage and price guidelines,' or offers to get something valuable without working for it. Here we are with puritans like Milton Friedman and George Shultz, University of Chicago colleagues from the 1960s. We read of Shultz resigning his position under Nixon when Nixon continued to support what he (and Friedman) thought to be bad economics. There followed ten years of pointless inflation with Nixon, Ford, and Carter. Then, finally in 1980, Ronald Reagan, Paul Volcker, and Shultz wound the inflation down back to what it could have been in 1970. What a waste, but at least that's over. Well . . . maybe you had better first look at Taylor's analysis of 1990 or 2000!" —Robert E. Lucas Jr., John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Economics and the College at the University of Chicago, and 1995 recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences

Author Biography

Milton Friedman, recipient of the 1976 Nobel Prize in economics, was a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution from 1977 to 2006. He was widely regarded as the leader of the Chicago School of economics, and his research emphasized the preservation and extension of individual freedom. George P. Shultz, the Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution, has had an eminent career in government, academia, and business. Shultz served three positions in the cabinet of Richard Nixon and was Ronald Reagan's secretary of state from 1982 until 1989. John B. Taylor is the George P. Shultz Senior Fellow in Economics at the Hoover Institution and the Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics at Stanford University. A member of the Council of Economic Advisers for Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush, Taylor was under secretary of the Treasury in the George W. Bush administration.