Eric Posner on Why Friedman's Shareholder Theory is Wrong

Milton Friedman Was Wrong

Friedman’s argument contained a contradiction that should have been evident even to readers back in 1970. He complained that business executives supported wage and price controls—a policy that President Richard Nixon would later implement. Friedman believed (with some justice) that wage and price controls would harm the economy. Thus, he claimed that the business executives, although “extremely far-sighted and clear-headed in matters that are internal to their business,” evidently became “short-sighted and muddle-headed” in matters of public import.

However, there is a simpler explanation for their behavior that does not require such a dubious theory of their psychology. Many business executives realized that wage and price controls would serve their business interest (no doubt by holding down the cost of labor and other inputs) and didn’t care whether they harmed the economy at large.

Read more at The Atlantic