Tribute to Anna Schwarz
To honor her, we also need to keep our discussions and debates focused on the substantive questions at hand and firmly grounded in the evidence. And we need to be flexible and open-minded, willing to cheerfully change our minds even if it’s about a position we’ve argued for tenaciously for decades – as Anna did on the question of whether targeting monetary aggregates is a good way to conduct monetary policy.
But to truly honor Anna, what you need to do is to go back to your university or wherever you work after the conference is over, and do work that’s so damn good that it changes the way we think about basic questions in macroeconomics, and that’s so damn careful and thorough that fifty years from now, it’s still the first place that people look when they want to learn about an issue that your work addresses.
And, you’ll keep doing that work for decades. To put Anna’s research longevity in perspective, if you’re currently finishing your second year in graduate school, you’re probably about the same age that Anna was when she published her first paper. To match Anna’s research longevity, you’ll need to stay actively involved in important research until about 2080.
Romer is exactly right when he says that really good work, such as you find in Friedman & Schwarz, is the first place people look to learn about an issue. The day before Schwarz died, in fact, I had my well worn copy of A Monetary History (published nearly 50 years ago) open on my desk for their insights into the silver-gold debates of the late 19th century. It is indeed the first reference on many of the important economic history questions.