Across the Spectrum, Economists Mourn Paul Samuelson

Liberals and conservatives alike salute his massive contribution to the dismal science

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Nobel-winning American economist Paul A. Samuelson died Sunday, spurring words of praise and fond remembrance from across the spectrum. Economic commentary is often sharply divided and hotly disputed, but liberals and conservatives alike were able to come together to salute Samuelson's contributions to the "dismal science" of economics.

  • 'Era of The Titans' The Atlantic's Megan McArdle praises the "giant of economics," writing, "The era of the titans slips away." She quotes Samuelson, "I don't care who writes a nation's laws -- or crafts its advanced treatises -- if I can write its economics textbooks."
  • 'A Truly Great Man' The New York Times's Paul Krugman gushes, "It's hard to convey the full extent of Samuelson's greatness. Most economists would love to have written even one seminal paper -- a paper that fundamentally changes the way people think about some issue. Samuelson wrote dozens: from international trade to finance to growth theory to speculation to well, just about everything, underlying much of what we know is a key Samuelson paper that set the agenda for generations of scholars." He concludes, "Let us honor the memory of a truly great man."
  • Bernanke Mourns Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke tells the Wall Street Journal, "Paul Samuelson was both a path-breaking and prolific economic theorist and one of the greatest teachers that economics has ever known. I join with many other former students and colleagues of Paul's in mourning the passing of a titan of economics."
  • One of a Kind The Economist's Ryan Avent writes, "Mr Samuelson helped shape and transform economics into the field it is today. He authored one of the last century's great economics textbooks. For his work "raising the level of analysis in economic science" he was awarded the Nobel Prize. He was a towering figure in the field. They just don't make them like that anymore."
  • Undervalued For Same Reason He Was Great Time's Justin Fox explains why Samuelson isn't as well known as Milton Friedman or John Maynard Kaynes. "He was not, however, a crusader in the way that Friedman and Keynes were. Samuelson had very strong views about the methods of economics. Yet while he certainly formed opinions about real-world economic problems--he was basically a centrist with moderately Keynesian leanings--they often came with lots of caveats," he writes. "[T]o my mind this reluctance to make greater claims for the theories of economics than they really deserved was perhaps his most admirable trait. It is also, however, why you seldom hear people talking about Samuelsonian economics."
  • Samuelson's Last Big Interview The Atlantic's Conor Clarke discusses the stimulus, teaching economics, and the progress of economics here and here.
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