Defining Ideas

Remembering Anna Schwartz

Friday, June 22, 2012
an image
Image credit: 
David Shankbone

Editor's note: Anna Schwartz, the monetary historian, passed away yesterday at 96. With Milton Friedman, Schwartz wrote a monumental work of American financial history, A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960. Below, we present remarks that Friedman delivered at a conference in 1987 in appreciation of Schwartz's work. 

 Anna Schwartz  
 Photo credit: David Shankbone (via Wikipedia)

In the words of Milton Friedman:

I have thought a great deal about what, if anything, I could say on the occasion of this conference that I have not already said, and there isn’t much. So I thought I would talk a bit about the problems of collaboration. That is a subject on which Anna and I both have a great deal of experience. We have collaborated with one another for over thirty years. It has been a remarkable experience, certainly on my part. During those thirty years, I do not recall any kind of personal acrimony or altercation, even though we had many differences of opinion about individual items. From my point of view, it was an almost perfect example of collaboration. Anna did all the work and I got a lot of the credit. How much more can you ask than that? That led me to think about the more general topic of collaboration, which I think is interesting, in part, because I have been very much impressed that the extent of collaboration, the number of papers in professional journals which are signed by two or three or four persons, is very sharply on the increase. I do not know why that is happening. I wish that one of you would construct a theory of the determinants of collaboration Historically, collaboration is a very rare thing in economics, especially in economic theory....

It has been a real joy and pleasure to collaborate with Anna over these years, because I always knew that everything she did was going to be done right. It was going to be precise, it was going to be accurate, it was going to be thoughtful. Moreover, both of us were prepared to change our views or t o change what we had done or written if the other provided evidence that we were wrong or that there was a better way. In general, collaboration is a very intimate kind of thing. It only works if people have real confidence in one another, and respect one another’s integrity and one another’s competence. I certainly can say that I have been very fortunate indeed in that respect...

You may continue reading Friedman's remarks in Money, History, and International Finance: Essays in Honor of Anna J. Schwartz (University of Chicago Press).