Sunday, December 13, 2009

Paul Samuelson Has Died

Paul Samuelson, the godfather of neo-Keynesian economics, died today at his home in Belmont, Massachusetts. He was 94.

His death was announced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Samuelson was most widely known for his college textbook, Economics: An Introductory Analysis. Millions of copies were sold and for decades college students were introduced to economics via his book. He took a decidedly anti-gold stance in his textbook, while, at the same time, he turned part of his wealth over to Princeton Commodities in the 1970's. Princeton Commodities then substantially increased his wealth by aggressively buying gold.

He was the first American to be awarded a Nobel prize in economics -- in 1970, the second year of the award.

Samuelson was a founder of the neo-Keynesian school of thought. He was one of the first economists to generalize and apply mathematical methods developed for the study of thermodynamics to economics. Thus, the failure of Long Term Capital Management and, most recently, the sub-prime mortgage crash can be traced back in part to Samuelson's influence.

He was an adviser to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, and for years wrote a popular column in Newsweek magazine.

President Obama's top economic advisor, Larry Summers, is the nephew of Samuelson.


  1. The only problem with his death is that there are some people out there that will celebrate the work he did while living.

    It's a shame because it's wrong. Maybe Samuelson was a nice guy, but his economic theory was incorrect and it persists even today.

  2. Tyler Cowen writes:Samuelson once said: "I don't care who writes a nation's laws, or crafts its treatises, if I can write its economics textbooks."

    And so he did.

    It is important for people to understand that a generation of Samuelson disciples are largely responsible for the boom/bust cycles we continue to suffer. Its time to drop Samuelson's economics into the dustbin of history.

  3. Thought Sammy was immortal there for a second.