Blair’s Science Desk

Milton Fryman

Sometimes known as the ‘other Dr. Milton’, Milton Fryman was an eccentric economist whose work remains poorly known.

A student of Donald Swisher, Fryman regarded the wage rate as the key tool for regulating the rate of inflation. His work culminated in the so-called ‘shoebox theory of monetary management’.

Based on years of rigorous field work, Fryman noticed that workers had a tendency to stash their savings in ‘shoe boxes’. This avoidance of banks led to the forces of entropy taking their toll on worker’s cash. Inevitably, a portion of shoe boxes were lost, misplaced, or destroyed.

The consequence of this entropic destruction, Fryman argued, was that the money supply could be regulated by allocating money to workers. In short, as the wage rate was increased, more money would be lost to shoebox entropy, thus lowering the overall supply of money. The net effect (after a suitable delay) would be a reduction in the rate of inflation. In short, wage growth ought to down-regulate future inflation.

Sadly, Fryman’s shoebox theory is only now being fully appreciated. The reason is ironic. Perhaps influenced by his theory, Fryman made the mistake of keeping all of his unpublished manuscripts in a shoebox under his bed. When he died suddenly at the age of 43, his manuscript boxes were misplaced. Hence his shoebox theory of monetary management remained unknown.

Recently, however, Fryman’s manuscripts were rediscovered. It remains to be seen whether Fryman’s work will become as popular as the more famous Dr. Milton — Milton Friedman.