Jennifer Burns

Research Fellow
Research Team: 

Jennifer Burns is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and an Associate Professor of History at Stanford University. The leading independent expert on Ayn Rand and the American conservative movement, she is author of the acclaimed biography Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right.  Currently, she is writing an intellectual biography of Milton Friedman.  At the Hoover Institution, she directs the annual summer Workshop on Political Economy

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Recent Commentary

Milton Friedman
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Age of Monetarism

interview with Jennifer Burnsvia Fellow Talks
Wednesday, February 24, 2021

In a draft chapter from her forthcoming biography of Milton Friedman, Jennifer Burns examines Friedman’s influence on Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, comparing their engagement with monetarism in the 1980s.

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Area 45: Happy Birthday, Milton Friedman

interview with Jennifer Burnsvia Matters of Policy & Politics
Thursday, July 30, 2020

What separates Friedman from other conservative economists, his quintessentially American life story, plus what the famed libertarian might make of the debate over masks, government edicts, and civil liberties.

Analysis and Commentary

Granting Cash Payments Is A Conservative Principle

by Jennifer Burns mentioning George P. Shultzvia The Hill
Monday, March 30, 2020

The Republican support for emergency cash payments as a central part of CARES Act, the recently passed coronavirus relief package, surprised many. What could possibly be conservative about free money? In fact, the idea of direct government cash payments to the needy — even on a non-emergency basis — has a long lineage among conservative thinkers and policymakers. Its reappearance signifies a larger rethinking of economic policy on the right.


Coronavirus Outbreak May Prompt Policymakers To Seriously Consider Pros, Cons Of Universal Basic Income, Says Stanford Scholar Jennifer Burns

interview with Jennifer Burnsvia Stanford News
Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Jennifer Burns talks about the complicated history of UBI and how the political logjam that prevented it from being a topic of serious discussion in Washington D.C. may finally be broken via the coronavirus.


How Reviving An Old Idea Has Fueled Andrew Yang’s Presidential Campaign

by Jennifer Burnsvia The Washington Post
Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Freedom Dividend actually builds on an idea — popular with the left and the right — from the 1960s.


Companies Should Concentrate On Maximising Their Profits

by Jennifer Burnsvia Financial Times
Sunday, October 20, 2019

Relegating the interests of shareholders is an open repudiation of the ‘Friedman doctrine’

In the News

How Real History Shaped ‘The Fountainhead’ — And Kept Ayn Rand’s Fans Coming Back

quoting Jennifer Burnsvia Alternet
Monday, July 15, 2019

Fans of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead consider the novel timeless, with its themes of individual freedom and the heroism of the creator. But the story — about an innovative architect of skyscrapers who grows frustrated by critics skeptical of his vision — is also a direct product of the historical moment leading up to its publication 75 years ago Monday, on May 7, 1943.

Reflections on Ayn Rand 114 Years After Her Birth

by Jennifer Burns
Friday, February 1, 2019

Ayn Rand was one of the first to offer an alternative vision of the knowledge economy where intellect truly drives a creative and free marketplace, a Hoover scholar says.

Jennifer Burns
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A View from the Hoover Archives: Milton Friedman on a Guaranteed Annual Income

by Jennifer Burnsvia Fellow Talks
Thursday, August 23, 2018

Recorded on October 23, 2017

In this talk, Research Fellow Jennifer Burns taps into the Hoover Library & Archives’ extensive Milton Friedman collection. Drawing on her own research in the archives as part of a forthcoming intellectual biography on Friedman, she brings the Nobel Prize-winning Hoover fellow’s work to bear on current policy debates about a universal basic income. 

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Rand Meets Reds

by Jennifer Burnsvia Hoover Digest
Monday, October 23, 2017

The Bolshevik Revolution triggered ideological warfare, too, with Ayn Rand among the fiercest warriors. Her foe: American intellectuals.