Merton Miller

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Merton Miller

The late Merton Miller was an economist and the winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize in economics “for pioneering work in the theory of financial economics,” and for “fundamental contributions to the theory of corporate finance,” according to his Nobel citation by the Royal Swedish Academy of Science. Before his death at the age of 77 in 2000, he inspired students and colleagues at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago, where he spent 39 years.[1]

Merton was a public director at the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).

Long after “retiring” as Robert R. McCormick Distinguished Service Professor of Finance in 1993, he remained a fixture on campus, participating in finance workshops; teaching and mentoring doctoral, MBA and law students.[2]

Miller was the author of eight books, including Merton Miller on Derivatives (1997), Financial Innovations and Market Volatility (1991) and Macroeconomics: A Neoclassical Introduction (1974, with Charles Upton).[3]

He traveled and lectured until the end of his life. According to the Chicago Graduate School of Business, he finished writing his last paper long hand the day before he died.

In 2015, Miller was posthumously named to the FIA Futures Hall of Fame.[4]


Miller was born in Boston and graduated from Boston Latin School. He received an AB from Harvard University in 1943, completing his studies in three years. In 1949, he entered Johns Hopkins University and received a PhD in economics in 1952.

Miller also received honorary degrees from nearly a dozen institutions in the United States and abroad.


His first academic appointment after graduation was at the London School of Economics and Political Science as an assistant lecturer in American economic history in 1952 to 1953.[5]

During World War II, Miller worked as an economist in the Division of Tax Research of the U.S. Treasury Department and then in the Division of Research and Statistics of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Miller and fellow Nobel laureate Franco Modigliani, developed the much cited “M&M Theorems” on capital structure and dividend policy that are the foundations of the theory of corporate finance.

In their 1958 paper, “The Cost of Capital, Corporation Finance and the Theory of Investment,” Miller and Modigliani showed a firm’s value is determined by its investment decisions and not by its financing decisions.

A companion paper, “Dividend Policy, Growth, and the Valuation of Shares,” written by Miller and Modigliani in 1961, extended the basic results by showing that, given investment decisions, dividend policy is also irrelevant.

Professional Awards

Professional Activities

  • Member, American Economic Association, American Finance Association, International Association of Financial Engineers
  • Vice President, American Finance Association, 1975
  • President, American Finance Association, 1976
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Financial Economics, 1973-­1983
  • Coeditor, Journal of Business, 1977­-1989
  • Member, Advisory Board, Midland Corporate Finance Journal (now the Journal of Applied Corporate Finance), beginning in 1981
  • Public Director, Chicago Board of Trade, 1983­1985
  • Member, Board of Editors, Japan and the World Economy: International Journal of Economic Theory and Policy, beginning in 1987
  • Member, Board of Editorial Advisers, Journal of Accounting, Auditing, and Finance, beginning in 1988
  • Member, Advisory Board, Center for Pacific Basin Capital Markets Research at the University of Rhode Island, beginning in 1989
  • Public Director, Board of Directors of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, 1990-­2000
  • Member, New York Stock Exchange Advisory Panel on Market Volatility and Investor Confidence, 1990
  • Foreign Member, Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, IVA, 1992
  • Member, Board of Overseers, Koc University, Istanbul, Turkey (first private Turkish university), beginning in 1994
  • Member, Advisory Board, Center for Japanese-U.S. Business and Economic Studies, New York University, 1994­1998
  • Executive Director, CME-CBOT Committee on Joint Strategic Initiatives, 1996-­1998.[6]



  1. Merton Miller, Nobel Laureate, Leaves Legacy of Pioneering Work in the Theory of Financial Economics, Corporate Finance. University of Chicago.
  2. Merton Miller - A Giant of Modern Finance. University of Chicago GSB.
  3. Merton Miller, 77, Leaves Legacy of Corporate Finance Research. The University of Chicago Chronicle.
  4. FIA Futures Hall of Fame 2015. Futures Industry Association.
  5. Merton Miller. LSE.
  6. A Lifetime of Achievement. University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.