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An Interview With Paul A. Samuelson

  • Barnett, William A.

It is customary for the Interviewer to begin with an introduction describing the circumstances of the interview and providing an overview of the nature and importance of the work of the interviewee. However, in this case, as Editor of this journal, I feel it would be presumptuous of me to provide my own overview and evaluation of the work of this great man, Paul Samuelson. The scope of his contributions has been so vast (averaging almost one technical paper per month for over 50 years) that it could be particularly difficult to identify those areas of modern economic theory to which he has not made seminal contributions.1 In addition to his over 550 published papers, his books are legendary. He once said: "Let those who will?write the nation's laws?if I can write its textbooks." Instead of attempting to provide my own overview, I am limiting this introduction to the following direct (slightly edited) quotation of a few paragraphs from the Web site, The History of Economic Thought, which is maintained online by the New School University in New York: Perhaps more than anyone else, Paul A. Samuelson has personified mainstream economics in the second half of the twentieth century. The writer of the most successful principles textbook ever (1948), Paul Samuelson has been not unjustly considered the incarnation of the economics "establishment"?and as a result, has been both lauded and vilified for virtually everything right and wrong about it. Samuelson's most famous piece of work, Foundations of Economic Analysis (1947), is one of the grandest tomes that helped revive Neoclassical economics and launched the era of the mathematization of economics. Samuelson was one of the progenitors of the Paretian revival in microeconomics and the Neo-Keynesian Synthesis in macroeconomics during the post-war period. The wunderkind of the Harvard generation of 1930s,where he studied under Schumpeter and Leontief, Samuelson had a prodigious grasp of economic theory, w

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Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal Macroeconomic Dynamics.

Volume (Year): 8 (2004)
Issue (Month): 04 (September)
Pages: 519-542

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Handle: RePEc:cup:macdyn:v:8:y:2004:i:04:p:519-542_04
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