Luigi Federico Signorini: "A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960" by Milton Friedman and Anna Jacobson Schwarz

Speech by Mr Luigi Federico Signorini, Senior Deputy Governor of the Bank of Italy, at the presentation of the new Italian translation of "A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960" by Milton Friedman and Anna Jacobson Schwarz, Istituto Bruno Leoni, Rome, 17 October 2022.

The views expressed in this speech are those of the speaker and not the view of the BIS.

Central bank speech  | 
17 October 2022

I would like to thank Professor Alberto Mingardi and the Istituto Bruno Leoni for their kind invitation. Milton Friedman is one of the giants of 20th-century economics, and the book he wrote with Anna Schwartz has been commented upon, discussed, criticised and praised so often and with such authority, that being invited to talk about it causes dismay long before one can feel flattered.

Ben Bernanke, ex-chair of the Federal Reserve and recently honoured with the Nobel Prize for Economics, though diverging from Friedman in significant aspects of his thinking, has not only been profoundly influenced by him but has often professed his admiration for him and acknowledged his intellectual debt to him.

In order to compose this speech to the best of my ability, I thought I would begin by briefly remarking on how opinions have changed on the topics covered by Friedman and Schwartz (F&S) in their classic book, from when it first appeared to the present day, with some specific references to Italy. These things are well-known, but it might be useful to go over them again together. I then thought of presenting, in the spirit of F&S, some simple evidence to start with, should someone with more time and skill than me want to write a reasoned 'Monetary history of the euro'. As we shall see, the preliminary evidence leads to questions rather than providing answers. I shall conclude with some observations, which I shall say straight off are neither a comment on the evolution of the ECB's monetary policy – regarding which I defer to the official statements of its representatives and of the Governing Council, starting with Governor Visco – nor do they express the Bank of Italy's official position: they are simply a set of personal thoughts on possible future analytical studies.