Perhaps the most widely acclaimed female research economist of the twentieth century, Anna Jacobson Schwartz has been described as “one of the world’s greatest monetary scholars.”
Anna Jacobson became interested in economics while attending Walton High School. She graduated from Barnard College and went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Economics from Columbia University. In 1936, she married Isaac Schwartz and began her professional career with Columbia University’s Social Science Research Council. Schwartz returned to Columbia University and earned a Ph.D.
Dr. Schwartz’s first published paper, “British Share Prices, 1811-1850,” written with Arthur Gayer and Isaiah Finklestein was published in the 1940 issue of The Review of Economics and Statistics. The paper was a precursor to much of her subsequent work, meticulous in the presentation, explanation and interpretation of data.
In 1941, Dr. Schwartz began a more than seventy-year tenure working for the National Bureau of Economic Research. It was during this time that she met and began working with economist Milton Friedman. Together, the two coauthored A Monetary History of the United States, 1867 – 1960, which was described by Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, as “the leading and most persuasive explanation of the worst economic disaster in American history.” The massive study demonstrated that changes in monetary policy have large effects on the economy and blamed a large portion of the Great Depression on the Federal Reserve; it is one of the most widely cited texts in economics today.
In 1981, Dr. Schwartz served as the Executive Director of the United States Gold Commission, a panel that was responsible for recommending the future of gold in the nation’s monetary system. In 1988, she was president of the Western Economic Association.
Considered a leading financial historian and expert on monetary statistics in the United States and Britain, Dr. Schwartz authored and co-authored several publications during her lifetime. Her work demonstrated the importance of the behavior of the money supply and the importance of that behavior being stable and predictable, forever changing the entire approach to economic policy making.