Merton Howard Miller (1923-2000) was an economist who won the Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking research in corporate finance. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Miller attended Harvard University (A.B., 1944). In the mid- to late 1940s, Miller worked as an economist for the United States Treasury Department's Division of Tax Research, and the Division of Research and Statistics of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. He earned a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1952, mentored by Fritz Machlup.
After graduation from Johns Hopkins, Miller briefly held an appointment at the London School of Economics as an assistant lecturer in American economic history. In 1953, he moved on to the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie-Mellon University), where he began working with Franco Modigliani on a series of papers on corporate finance. The two developed the Modigliani-Miller theorem, which holds that under certain assumptions the value of a firm is independent of the firm's ratio of debt to equity. The Modigliani-Miller theorem is now fundamental to thinking on capital structure.
In 1961, Miller accepted a position at the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business. While continuing his collaborations with Modigliani, Miller taught business and finance courses, mentored students, served on administrative committees, and conducted further research in corporate finance. A prolific writer, he often collaborated with other researchers in economics and business, and was a lively and assertive debater.
In 1990, Miller's research with Franco Modigliani earned him the Nobel Prize in economics, which he shared with Harry Markowitz and William Sharpe.
Miller was active in professional organizations, serving as president of the American Finance Association, on the advisory and editorial boards of several academic publications and organizations. Late in his career, Miller consulted for banks and corporations, and held directorial positions at the Chicago Board of Trade and Chicago Mercantile Exchange. After his retirement, he described himself as a "professional keynote speaker," traveled worldwide to conferences, and spent time on his working farm in Woodstock, Illinois.
From the guide to the Miller, Merton H. Papers, 1941-2002, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)