Paul Samuelson Quotes

Paul Anthony Samuelson, 1915 – 2009

Born: 15 May 1915, Gary, Indiana
Died: 13 December 2009, Belmont, Massachusetts

The Samuelson family moved to Chicago in 1923 and Samuelson began studying the stock market in his freshman year at Hyde Park High School. He didn’t wait to graduate before entering the University of Chicago where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1935. The went to MIT and got his M.A. the next year and his Ph.D. in 1941. He became an assistant professor of economics there in 1940 and a full professor in 1947, and was named Institute Professor in 1966, MIT’s highest faculty honor. He was a member or fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academy, the International Economic Association, and several others. He has lectured at over 20 colleges and universities and has received at least 35 honorary degrees. He served as an advisor to presidents Kennedy and Johnson and consulted frequently with the government thereafter, including long service with the Federal Reserve Bank. He was the first American to receive the Bank of Sweden Prize in economics (often referred to as a Nobel Prize) in 1970. He officially retired from MIT in 1985 but continued to work in his office there until just two weeks before his death.

Paul Samuelson quotes:

An intriguing paradox of the 1990s is that it isn’t called a decade of greed.

Paul Samuelson
Asia’s governments come in two broad varieties: young, fragile democracies – and older, fragile authoritarian regimes.

Paul Samuelson
By keeping labor supply down, immigration policy tends to keep wages high. Let us underline this basic principle: Limitation of the supply of any grade of labor relative to all other productive factors can be expected to raise its wage rate; and increase in supply will, other things being equal, tend to depress wage rates.

Paul Samuelson
Companies are not charitable enterprises: They hire workers to make profits. In the United States, this logic still works. In Europe, it hardly does.

Paul Samuelson
Economics has never been a science – and it is even less now than a few years ago.

Paul Samuelson
Economists are said to disagree too much but in ways that are too much alike: If eight sleep in the same bed, you can be sure that, like Eskimos, when they turn over, they’ll all turn over together.

Paul Samuelson
Economists have much to be humble about.

Paul Samuelson
Every good cause is worth some inefficiency.

Paul Samuelson
For better or worse, US Keynesianism was so far ahead of where it started. I am a cafeteria Keynesian. You know what a cafeteria catholic is?

Paul Samuelson
Funeral by funeral, theory advances.

Paul Samuelson
Globalization presumes sustained economic growth. Otherwise, the process loses its economic benefits and political support.

Paul Samuelson
Good questions outrank easy answers.

Paul Samuelson
I couldn’t reconcile what I was being taught at the university of Chicago, the lectures and the books I was being assigned, with what I knew to be true out in the streets.

Paul Samuelson
I don’t care very much for the People Magazine approach to applied economics.

Paul Samuelson
I don’t care who writes a nation’s laws. or crafts its advanced treatises, if I can write its economics textbooks.

Paul Samuelson

I spent the four years I was an undergraduate working on the beach. And it wasn’t because I was lazy; it was because my freshman class would go to a hundred different employers and wouldn’t get a nibble.

Paul Samuelson
If we made an income pyramid out of a child’s blocks, with each layer portraying $1,000 of income, the peak would be far higher than the Eiffel Tower, but almost all of us would be within a yard of the ground.

Paul Samuelson
If you looked at a transcript afterward, it might seem clear that you had won the debate on points. But somehow, with members of the audience, you always seemed to come off as elite, and Milton seemed to have won the day.

Paul Samuelson
I’m not sure most of the people that get caught up in the middle of a bubble can be described as irrational. It seems pretty rational to buy a house and flip it in the next few weeks at a profit when that’s been happening for along time.

Paul Samuelson
In this age of specialization, I sometimes think of myself as the last ‘generalist’ in economics, with interests that range from mathematical economics down to current financial journalism. My real interests are research and teaching.

Paul Samuelson
Investing should be more like watching paint dry or watching grass grow. If you want excitement, take $800 and go to Las Vegas.

Paul Samuelson
It is not easy to get rich in Las Vegas, at Churchill Downs, or at the local Merrill Lynch office.

Paul Samuelson
It isn’t that greed’s increased. What’s increased is the realization that you’ve got a free field to reach out for what you’d like to do.

Paul Samuelson
Macroeconomics, even with all of our computers and with all of our information, is not an exact science and is incapable of being an exact science.

Paul Samuelson

interview with Conor Clarke for The Atlantic (17 June 2009)
Mea culpa, mea culpa. MIT and Wharton and University of Chicago created the financial engineering instruments, which, like Samson and Delilah, blinded every CEO. They didn’t realize the kind of leverage they were doing and they didn’t understand when they were really creating a real profit or a fictitious one.

Paul Samuelson
Politicians like to tell people what they want to hear, and what they want to hear is what won’t happen.

Paul Samuelson
Profits are the lifeblood of the economic system, the magic elixir upon which progress and all good things depend ultimately. But one man’s lifeblood is another man’s cancer.

Paul Samuelson
Reasonable men are not reasonable when you’re in the bubbles which have characterized capitalism since the beginning of time.

Paul Samuelson
Self-deception ultimately explains Japan’s plight. The Japanese have never accepted that change is in their interest and not merely a response to U.S. criticism.

Paul Samuelson
Sooner or later the Internet will become profitable. It’s an old story played before by canals, railroads and automobiles.

Paul Samuelson

That’s what I would like to do until the end of time, to go on scribbling my articles on the third floor of the Sloan Building, in between playing tennis and drinking coffee at my other study in the Concord Avenue branch of Burger King.

Paul Samuelson
The consumer, so it is said, is the king…. Each is a voter who uses his money as votes to get the things done that he wants done.

Paul Samuelson
The niceties of existence were not a matter of concern, yet everything around was closed down most of the time. If you lived in a middle-class community in Chicago, children and adults came daily to the door saying, ‘We are starving, how about a potato?’ I speak from poignant memory.

Paul Samuelson
The problem is no longer that with every pair of hands that comes into the world there comes a hungry stomach. Rather it is that, attached to those hands are sharp elbows.

Paul Samuelson
To prove that Wall Street is an early omen of movements still to come in GNP, commentators quote economic studies alleging that market downturns predicted four out of the last five recessions. That is an understatement. Wall Street indexes predicted nine out of the last five recessions! And its mistakes were beauties.

Paul Samuelson
Two factors explain our success. One, MIT’s renaissance after World War II as a federally supported research resource. Two, the mathematical revolution in macro- and micro-economic theory and statistics. This was overdue and inevitable, MIT was the logical place for it to flourish.

Paul Samuelson
What we know about the global financial crisis is that we don’t know very much.

Paul Samuelson
When the economy was going up, [Milton Friedman and I] both gave the same advice, and when the economy was going down, we gave the same advice. But in between he didn’t change his advice at all.

Paul Samuelson
Women are men without money.

Paul Samuelson
You could be disqualified for a job [at Harvard] if you were either smart or Jewish or Keynesian. So what chance did this smart, Jewish, Keynesian have?

Paul Samuelson
You know what happiness is: ‘Having a little more money than your colleagues.’ And that’s not so tough in academic life.

Paul Samuelson

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