Roads to Wisdom, Conversations with Ten Nobel Laureates in Economics

Roads to Wisdom, Conversations with Ten Nobel Laureates in Economics

Karen Ilse Horn

Karen Horn’s remarkable interviews with ten Nobel Laureates explore the conditions required for scientific progress by navigating the ‘roads to wisdom’ in economic science.

Chapter 3: Paul A. Samuelson

Karen Ilse Horn

Subjects: economics and finance, history of economic thought


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, USA © Peter Badge/Typos1 in cooperation with the Foundation Lindau Nobelprizewinners Meetings at Lake Constance, all rights reserved. The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 1970 ‘for the scientific work through which he has developed static and dynamic economic theory and actively contributed to raising the level of analysis in economic sciences’. INTRODUCTION MIT spreads out squarely along the northern shore of the Charles River, just opposite Boston. That’s however about the only flattering thing one can say about the place. Most buildings have seen better days. The Sloan School of Business is no exception, even though many stars of economic science have their offices here, amongst them Paul A. Samuelson, sitting right next door to Robert M. Solow, his all-time sparring partner in macroeconomic theory. His cubicle is somewhat larger than the others, but the windows badly need cleaning, and the wornout furniture seems to have remained unchanged ever since the 1970s, including the bulky grey telephone with its anachronistic bell tone. In the antechamber, where Janice Murray, the secretary, has her empire, a series of relatively recent sports photographs up on the wall signal what kind of personalities are assembled here: Janice Murray, boxing; Robert 39 40 Roads to wisdom, conversations with ten Nobel Laureates in economics M. Solow, sailing; and Paul A. Samuelson, playing tennis. Right now, however, the small, frail figure of 92-year-old Samuelson almost disappears behind his desk. He warmly welcomes the interviewer and...

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