By Milton Friedman

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Both are functions that most liberals would wish the state to undertake. It so happens that the contracts in question are peculiarly difficult to enforce and fraud peculiarly difficult to prevent. The very performance of its central function requires money to be generally acceptable and to pass from hand to hand. As a result, individuals may be led to enter into contracts with persons far removed in space and acquaintance, and a long period may elapse between the issue of a promise and the demand for its fulfillment.

It is by now clear, and widely accepted, that money does matter and matters very much. There has been an increasing amount of research by economists during recent years on just how monetary forces operate. There has also been an increasing amount of attention devoted by public and quasi-public groups to the problems of monetary policy. 4 The Committee for Economic Development, with financial assistance from the Ford Foundation, has launched a Commission on Money and Credit that is engaged in a sweeping investigation and analysis of our monetary arrangements.

Before the great depression of the early 1930's, accepted economic doctrine attached great importance to the stock of money as a determinant of the level of money income and of the price level. The great depression spawned a revolution in ideas. Though, on a retrospective examination, the depression is a tragic testimonial to the potency of monetary factorsthe stock of money fell by a third from 1929 to 1933the failure of the monetary authorities to stem the depression was taken as evidence that they could not have done so.

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A Program For Monetary Stability by Milton Friedman
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