Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"When Paul Samuelson Refereed My Papers"

On news of the death of Paul Samuelson, Bob Murphy posts at his blog:
Two of my prized possessions are the referee reports for my publications (here and here) in the Journal of the History of Economic Thought. (If you're curious to see the type of paper I'm talking about, the appendix of my dissertation [.pdf] gives you a flavor of the analysis in both JHET papers.) On both papers Samuelson disclosed his identity, and he wrote tons of comments all over the them, in pen.

The first paper he basically signed off on, though he had some reservations. The second paper though--which the title announced was a critique of Samuelson--his report said something like (paraphrasing), "The author has selected just four of my many papers on these topics; he has somehow managed to neglect my paper with Solow [1956] which gives the general framework and can handle each of these special cases which so fascinates the author. Yet let a dueler choose his weapon, and die by it: I recommend publication to be followed by a comment from me, explaining the errors even within the narrow scope he had burrowed for himself."

I should emphasize the above is probably only 50% related to what Samuelson wrote; I haven't read the report in years. But it was something like that, and it was simply hilarious. It was the cockiest referee report you could imagine; the idea that
Paul Samuelson needed to make sure the editor of JHET realized this punk kid from Hillsdale College was an idiot.

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