Paul Samuelson

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Paul Samuelson

Paul Anthony Samuelson (May 15, 1915December 13, 2009) was an American economist. He was the first American to win the Nobel Prize in Economics.



  • Econometrics may be defined as the quantitative analysis of actual economic phenomena based on the concurrent development of theory and observation, related by appropriate methods of inference.
    • Paul Samuelson, Tjalling Koopmans, and Richard Stone. "Report of the evaluative committee for Econometrica." Econometrica- journal of the Econometric Society. (1954): 141-146.
  • The stock market has forecast nine of the last five recessions.
    • Paul Samuelson (1966), quoted in: John C Bluedorn et al. Do Asset Price Drops Foreshadow Recessions? (213), p. 4
  • What good does it do a black youth to know that an employer must pay him $2 an hour if the fact that he must be paid that amount is what keeps him from getting a job?
    • Economics (1970 edition), p. 372
  • After 1929 it was the sturdy middle classes, and not just the lumpen proletariat, who were down and out. It was not all that unfashionable or disreputable to be bankrupt. By the last Hoover years, the states and localities had run out of money for relief. In middle-class neighborhoods like mine, you constantly had children at the door, asking by mouth or with a note for a dime, a quarter, or a potato: saying, in a believable fashion, we are starving.
  • The recent market run-up that appreciated run-of-the- mill shares also chanced to send up those token gold holdings. Pure luck, undeserved and unlikely to reoccur. Good questions outrank easy answers.
    • In: Paul Anthony Samuelson, ‎Kate Crowley (1986), The Collected Scientific Papers, Volume 5, p. 561

"Maximum Principles in Analytical Economics," 1970[edit]

"Maximum Principles in Analytical Economics," Prize Lecture, Lecture to the memory of Alfred Nobel, December 11, 1970

  • The very name of my subject, economics, suggests economizing or maximizing. But Political Economy has gone a long way beyond home economics. Indeed, it is only in the last third of the century, within my own lifetime as a scholar, that economic theory has had many pretensions to being itself useful to the practical businessman or bureaucrat. I seem to recall that a great economist of the last generation, A. C. Pigou of Cambridge University, once asked the rhetorical question, “Who would ever think of employing an economist to run a brewery?” Well, today, under the guise of operational research and managerial economics, the fanciest of our economic tools are being utilized in enterprises both public and private.
    • p. 62: Lead paragraph
  • With the assistance of mathematics, I can see a property of the ninety-nine dimensional surfaces hidden from the naked eye. If an increase in the price of fertilizer alone always increases the amount the firm buys of caviar, from that fact alone I can predict the answer to the following experiment which I have never seen performed and upon which I have no observations: an increase in the price of caviar alone will increase the amount the firm buys of fertilizer. In thermodynamics such reciprocity or integrability conditions are known as Maxwell Conditions; in economics they are known as Hotelling conditions in honor of Harold Hotelling’s 1932 work.
    • p. 67
  • There is really nothing more pathetic than to have an economist or a retired engineer try to force analogies between the concepts of physics and the concepts of economics. How many dreary papers have I had to referee in which the author is looking for something that corresponds to entropy or to one or another form of energy. Nonsensical laws, such as the law of conservation of purchasing power, represent spurious social science imitations of the important physical law of the conservation of energy; and when an economist makes reference to a Heisenberg Principle of indeterminacy in the social world, at best this must be regarded as a figure of speech or a play on words, rather than a valid application of the relations of quantum mechanics.
    • p. 69
  • An American economist of two generations ago, H. J. Davenport, who was the best friend Thorstein Veblen ever had (Veblen actually lived for a time in Davenport’s coal cellar) once said: “There is no reason why theoretical economics should be a monopoly of the reactionaries.” All my life I have tried to take this warning to heart, and I dare call it to your favorable attention.
    • p. 76

New millennium[edit]

  • Economics never was a dismal science. I should be a realistic science.
    • Samuelson, Paul Anthony; Puttaswamaiah, K. (2002). Paul Samuelson and the Foundations of Modern Economics. p. 10. 
  • Globalization presumes sustained economic growth. Otherwise, the process loses its economic benefits and political support.
    • Quoted in: Richard Duncan (2011) The Dollar Crisis, p. 232

Quotes about Paul Samuelson[edit]

  • Generally speaking, Samuelson's contribution has been that, more than any other contemporary economist, he has contributed to raising the general analytical and methodological level in economic science. He has in fact simply rewritten considerable parts of economic theory. He has also shown the fundamental unity of both the problems and analytical techniques in economics, partly by a systematic application of the methodology of maximization for a broad set of problems. This means that Samuelson's contributions range over a large number of different fields.

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