1912: Milton Friedman is born in Brooklyn to Ethel Landau Friedman, a storekeeper, and Jeno Saul Friedman, who dealt in “unsuccessful ‘jobbing’ ventures.” After decades as America’s leading conservative economist and one of the world’s greatest intellectual defenders of free markets, Friedman wins the Nobel Prize in economics in 1976.
1914: With war raging in Europe, the New York Stock Exchange closes -- and stays shut for another four-and-a-half months to allow the chaotic market to settle.
1944: Robert C. Merton is born in New York City, son of Columbia sociology professor Robert K. Merton. With Fischer Black and Myron Scholes, he goes on to develop the mathematics of options pricing. The good news: This mathematical model helps millions of Americans grow wealthy with stock options. The bad news: Merton and Scholes, as partners in the giant hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management, nearly capsize the global financial system with their leveraged trading in late 1998.