Talk:Paul Samuelson

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In the last paragraph of the introduction is written:

"Samuelson took the liberal, Keynesian perspective, and Friedman represented the conservative, libertarian perspective"

I think this makes sense only to an american reader. In most of the world, the word "liberal" refers to those who subscribe to economic liberalism, free markets etc., that is, "neoliberalism" or what is called "conservatism" in the USA. So I think it can be confusing.

I think it should be clarified, but I'm not sure if I should change it, since the statement is sourced. (talk) 13:52, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

I agree those terms can be confusing. The NY Times article cited earlier also uses those terms but expands a bit on their different viewpoints, so another cite could be added if necessary. There could also be links to liberal and conservative, for example, if you think those articles would help readers. --Wikiwatcher1 (talk) 18:27, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

Bank of Sweden Prize in Economics[edit]

There is no such thing as a Nobel Prize in Economics. Nobel never instituted a prize for economics, nor would he. Economists have free-rided the event to enhance their profession. The Bank of Sweden Prize for Economics was instituted with public money, tipical, and they forced their hand to be given at the same date. The marketing ploy is in the "In Memory of Alfred Nobel", which belies a laugh. Not even the most liberal economist would honor a monopolist business man, warmonger, inventor of Dynamite, suplier of the military. Only wikipedia can tell the truth. Britanica hires economists to write about the Nobel Prize in Economics and spread the small lie around.

Don't care much for economists? You might find it interesting that the official Nobel prize site includes the prize in economics. You might also want to learn a bit about the prizes. They tend to be awarded by a committee of peers, and for this award they are members of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The Nobel Foundation, who administers the awards, accepted the inclusion of the prize for economics. Ultimately, if you want to make outlandish claims as those above, you had best support them with facts and well argued conclusions. Otherwise, you're just another crank.
This answer is factually inaccurate.
  • There is no Nobel Prize in Economics
  • [1] starts with The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel has been awarded to 61 persons since 1969. Is there any mention of Nobel prize in Economics? No. Contrast this with say [2] which starts with The Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to 180 individuals since 1901
  • Wikipedia even agrees with this [3] With the exception of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Nobel Prizes and the Prize in Economics are presented in Stockholm...
You can disregard reality all you want. The fact remains and it will remain unaltered. No matter how many people believe the term Nobel Prize in Economics is accurate, the diplomas won't have that phrase written in them in Swedish [4]
Of course you will probably argue that wikipedia or the nobel foundation are not reliable sources and I won't be able to fight that solipsism, but at least the references will remain here so that those who are interested can find the facts for themselves. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:36, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
In case there were any doubts, the Nobel foundations dissipates them without any chance of confusion. [5] The Prize in Economics is not a Nobel Prize —Preceding comment was added at 23:57, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

I didn't know anything about the 'Nobel Prize for Economics' but does it really matter how it is referred to? The point is that the prize exists, and its history and merits can be discussed elsewhere. All that is relevant here is that Paul Samuelson won the prize, irrespsective of which particular name is used to refer to it. 14:30, 28 October 2005 (UTC)

If you're casual about facts, I suppose it's just fine to call the prize anything that you think will be recognized, but normally Wikipedia is very definitely not casual about facts and terminology. is absolutely right and the use of "Nobel Prize" in this article was very surprising to me. Vanhorn (talk) 11:48, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

Didn't he also make an important to the Heckscher-Ohlin model?

That should be somehow added to wikipedia

Hi, I've added a link from Paul Samuelson to Heckscher-Ohlin model, and expanded on his connection with it there. Wikipedia is very light on economics and finance, so it would be great if you could add some connections or definitions where you spot gaps like this. Wragge 21:28, 2005 Apr 21 (UTC)

Other prominent family members[edit]

The following paragraphs and above heading were deleted from the end of the Paul Samuelson article:

Former Harvard President and Treasury Secretary Larry Summers is his nephew; according to the book Harvard Rules, Summers's father, Robert Summers, who is himself a distinguished economist, changed his family name from Samuelson to Summers. Robert Summers' wife, Anita, an economist and professor of public policy, is also the sister of renowned economist and Nobel Prize winner Kenneth Arrow.
Paul Samuelson also has a son bearing the same name, except they have different middle names. Paul Samuelson has over 20 years of experience in building, managing and representing portfolio strategies and is the founder of Samuelson Portfolio Strategies. Paul has been the Chief Investment Officer, Director of Portfolio Analysis, and Director of Research at several prestigous financial institutions. Paul graduated Phi Beta Kappa (like his father) and Cum Laude from Williams College B.A. and holds a Ph.D. and a M.S.M. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Paul is a principal of Upstream Technologies wholly owned broker dealer subsidiary, Upstream Securities, LLC.

All of those mentioned above are persons of distinction, and the connections are interesting. But what is the first paragraph doing in article about Paul Samuelson (not immediate family)? That paragraph seems more relevant to the article for Larry Summers.

The second paragraph is largely from an online company source. Very interesting. But there are only 2 distinct Google hits for:

"Samuelson Portfolio Strategies" nobel,

including one regarding class notes. The prominence of this connection is questionable for the present article.

The current article has a big template at the top calling for Wikifying the article. Including this 2-paragraph sectiom (on the long side compared to most other sections) may discourage improvement on what is already there. Perhaps after the article is improved, consideration could be given to mentioning secondary matters. Interested readers might regard it as a distraction for now. --Thomasmeeks 20:25, 22 March 2007 (UTC) [1st quoted sentence aove edited in the interest of taste & accuracy. --Thomasmeeks 21:38, 23 March 2007 (UTC)]


User "Sadi Carnot" inserted the claim (in the first line of the article on Paul Samuelson) that Samuelson is known "particularly" for his contributions to "thermoeconomics". This can't be true, since "thermoeconomics" is virtually unknown, whereas Samuelson is one of the most influential economists of the 20th century.

It's true that there have been many fruitful interactions between statistical physics and economic theory, and physics methods played a role in Samuelson's book "Foundations of Economic Analysis". This is still mentioned in the Samuelson article.

If someone considers Samuelson a "thermoeconomist", maybe this could be mentioned somewhere in the article, but it doesn't belong in the introduction of the article, because it is clearly a minority point of view. If someone thinks Samuelson actually identifies himself as a "thermoeconomist" or that his contributions can mostly be classified that way, good citations to that effect are needed. --Rinconsoleao 07:46, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

The term "thermoeconomics" wasn't coined until 1962, however Samuelson was one of the first economists to apply the equilibrium principles of thermodynamics to economics, and he one the Noble prize for doing so. Samuelson himself credits Willard Gibbs (the founder of chemical thermodynamics) for this. To elaborate with (references): A noted researcher in the field of thermoeconomics is American Nobel-prize winning economist Paul Samuelson.[1][2][3] His 1947 book Foundations of Economic Analysis, from his doctoral dissertation, his magnum opus, is based on the classical thermodynamic methods of American thermodynamicist Willard Gibbs, specifically Gibbs' 1876 paper On the Equilibrium of Heterogeneous Substances.[4][5][6] Gibbs was mentor to Samuelson and to American economist Irving Fisher and he influenced them both in their ideas on equilibrium of economic systems.[3][7] Attempts at neo-classical equilibrium economics analogies with thermodynamics generally, however, go back to Guilluame and Samuelson.[8]

I deleted the section defining Samuelson as the "pionneer" of the field of "thermoeconomics." User Sadi Carnot insists it is a field, but it is not, as testified by the fact that no academic journal bears this name, and there is no reference to "thermoeconomics" in the leading literature in economics. Therefor, making Samuelson a "pionneer" of this "field" is pointless. (Cf. discussions on the "thermoeconomics" article where user Sadi Carnot makes the same attempts - unsufficently challenged in my opinion - to bolster "thermoeconomics." Seinecle 16:17, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

I think Sadi Carnot did a good job of documenting (with references) the role of thermodynamic theory in Samuelson's work, so including a discussion of this seems appropriate. What I agree is inappropriate is calling Samuelson a "pioneer of thermoeconomics", which sounds like a suggestion that Samuelson identifies himself with the field. It's clear that supporters of "thermoeconomics" identify themselves with Samuelson, but I am unaware of any evidence that Samuelson identifies himself with "thermoeconomics". Some rewriting to clarify this would be appropriate. --Rinconsoleao 07:27, 23 August 2007 (UTC)
I also agree that it's not yet clear there is an established field called "thermoeconomics", and the lack of refereed journals in the field is particularly telling (and the thermoeconomics page may have a POV problem). But there are growing interactions between economics and physics. There is a special issue of the Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, now forthcoming, on 'Applications of Statistical Physics in Economics and Finance'. --Rinconsoleao 07:27, 23 August 2007 (UTC)
I also suspect it's incorrect to claim that Samuelson was one of the 'first' to apply physics to economics. As I recall from Phillip Mirowski's book, there have been attempts for more than a century to do so. If this is not well known, it's largely because the impact of those attempts has in many cases been marginal. But it's true that some of the methods in Samuelson's Foundations came from physics, and it's true that that book has been extremely influential. --Rinconsoleao 07:36, 23 August 2007 (UTC)


  1. ^ Samuelson, P. A., “Structure of a Minimum Equilibrium System”, (R. W. Pfouts, ed., Essays in Economics and Econometrics: A Volume in Honor of Harold Hotelling, University of North Carolina Press, 1960), reprinted in J. E. Stiglitz ed., The Collected Scientific Papers of Paul 32, A. Samuelson, M.I.T Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1966, pgs. 651-686.
  2. ^ Bryant, John. (2007). “A thermodynamic theory of economics”, International Journal of Exergy (IJEX), Vol. 4, No. 3.
  3. ^ a b Eric Smith, Duncan Foley (2005): Classical Thermodynamics and Economic General Equilibrium Theory
  4. ^ P A Samuelson, Gibbs in economics, Proceedings of the Gibbs Symposium (Providence, R.I., 1990), 255-267.
  5. ^ K R Jolls, Gibbs and the art of thermodynamics, Gibbs in economics, Proceedings of the Gibbs Symposium (Providence, R.I., 1990), 293-321.
  6. ^ Liossatos, Panagis, S. (2004). “Statistical Entropy in General Equilibrium Theory,” (pg. 3). Department of Economics, Florida International University.
  7. ^ Mirowski, Philip (1989). More Heat than Light: Economics as Social Physics, Physics as Nature's Economics. Cambridge Univ. Press. ISBN 0521426898. 
  8. ^ McCauley Joseph. l. (2004). “Thermodynamic analogies in economics and finance: instability of markets” Published in: Physica A.329 (2003): pp. 199-212.

I hope this clarifies things. --Sadi Carnot 00:12, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Most researchers have tried various routes, sometimes succesful, sometimes crap that got abandoned. Thermodynamics didn't make it and is not part of mainstream economic, thus I'm also against inclusion of the section. BTW, journals like International Journal of Exergy are not exactly respectable sources for economics. Try something like consistent work in real economics journals like the American Economic Review to get credibility for the idea. AdamSmithee 06:42, 23 August 2007 (UTC)


The criticisms section is quite sad, I think it should just be removed. Let me explain why. The Soviet economy collapsing as a refute of his ideas that a micromanaged socialist economy could work is disingenuous at best. Firstly, I can't find this quote from his 1989 textbook "Macroeconomics" by searching through it, that doesn't mean it's not there since book searches aren't 100% accurate, but since no citation exists it's suspicious in my view. Secondly, to say that the Soviet union's collapse disproves Samuelson is an oversimplification to say the least. The Soviet Union did have a flourishing economy for quite some time, but eventually that halted; but it wasn't from the existence of the Soviet economy itself as the presentation seems to imply it was. There were specific internal factors that led to the Soviet Union's collapse.

For example, the Afghanistan War and Chernobyl caused people to lose faith in their government. Along with those two issues, the government was also rapidly diverting resources away from industry into solely military production in response to Reagan's policies. At one point, it was estimated that around 70% investment resources were diverted to military. This, in turn, collapsed investment in non-military sectors which naturally led to economic stagnation, especially because they fell far behind in technology (since all was diverted to military). This huge spending and limitations in other areas also damage medical care and the quality of services and goods making a less productive and more unstable economy. The non-military labor force also become unproductive since there was little oversight, management, and investment in that sector since they were worried about the military expansion; which further depressed the economy. They devoted so much to military they had to freeze consumer goods production at 1980s levels. Local governments became so upset they started to hide tax revenues from the central government, depriving them of revenues - alcohol tax decline accounted for a loss of 12% of state revenue alone. These failing conditions also forced the government to "bail out" large enterprises, further depriving them of capital for investment and production.

And this was just internally.

Reagan artificially reduced their ability to export natural gas to European countries and kept prices artificially low to reduce revenue to the SU. Carter placed trade embargos on the Soviet Union. Both of those policies led to huge trade-gaps which caused economic ruin. This is especially true since the trade-gap forced people to turn to consumer imports further decreasing the incentive to produce with low capital from the government.

In short, it wasn't the socialist economy that led to the collapse. It was foreign pressures (primarily the United States) forcing the SU to divert all resources to military spending creating a "bottleneck" of sorts and civil unrest with inside the nation creating displeasure with the government. Furthermore, none of this information was fully available to Samuelson at the time since they attempted to keep it well hidden from the world. In short, the collapse of the Soviet Union doesn't refute Samuelson's observation that a Soviet-style economy can work since it was working for quite some time, it was foreign economic pressures and internal instability the led to it.

Now, to the Phillips curve comment. It's again a question of oversimplifying the matter in attempts to criticize his work. Friedman did not argue that no aspect of the Phillips curve existed, he merely argued that it was merely a short-term observation, that sustained inflation gets built into prices so inflation does not necessarily drop in correspondence with high unemployment etc. Samuelson even went on later in life to accept that and work on expectations based versions of Phillips curve. In fact, his original work was not incorrect per-say, but rather incomplete.

Regardless, I don't believe a criticisms section should exists for economists about their specific academic ideas. By that standard, every social scientist should have a massive criticisms section about the debate of a specific idea. In my view, that's more appropriate for the article about the concept itself. The only exceptions I could think of are Paul Krugman and Milton Friedman who could just be criticized on their public policy political views in popular medium since those criticisms wouldn't already have an entire topic devoted to it, rather than specific academic work which would already have a page describing the debate among economists.

I'll remove the section in the next few days if there aren't any serious objections. Seelum (talk) 20:43, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

It's done then Seelum (talk) 03:01, 19 November 2009 (UTC)

Where is the criticism section? His development of the Phillips Curve turned out to be wrong and his brand of Keynesianism turned out to have no answers to the stagflation that plagued the world. His comments on the Soviet Union also demand some attention as it is amazing that an economist that prominent could make comments that ridiculous. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Sabaton10 (talkcontribs) 04:08, 18 September 2010 (UTC)

I removed three unreliable references, the best of which looked like an okay academic working paper by a "public choice" institute, but wasn't published. This was paraphrased in a blog, which was the second source. The third was some kind of political organization, "marginal revolution". The latter two are not reliable sources. No matter how weak these references were, what was worse was the gross distortion of the quotes from Samuelson and the summary of the cited authors. There is no shortage of notable economists of libertarian and conservative politics; there is no need to use weak pseudo-sources and then distort them.  Kiefer.Wolfowitz  (talk) 03:09, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

"Marginal Revolution" is the Economics blog of George Mason University Economist Tyler Cowen, who is also published in the WSJ, Forbes, Newsweek, and others. He's considered by the Economist to be one of the most influential people in the profession. All of this can be found in the first paragraph on his Wikipedia article. Guess you should have searched first. (talk) 05:18, 6 April 2011 (UTC)


Because I am the proprietor of Quotes of the Day I'm not going to add it myself, but I would welcome a link to "Paul Samuelson quotes at" at the URL

There is currently no WikiQuote section for Samuelson, and I think it would be of value until that is created.Vanhorn (talk) 11:44, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

Paul Samuelson and Robert Summers[edit]

Why they have different surnames? (talk) 18:41, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

Most elite universities like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton imposed quotas on Jewish enrollments until well after World War II. Jewish families would Anglicize their names to avoid being barred from admission as well as other social stigmas. Madcoverboy (talk) 05:12, 16 December 2009 (UTC)
Princeton had a ceiling on Jewish students until 1973; this ceiling was published in 1987-1988, creating a scandal, if my memory is correct. (Soon afterwords, Harold Shapiro became President of Princeton.)  Kiefer.Wolfowitz  (talk) 03:12, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

Sole protégé (of E B Wilson)?[edit]

The main article says, "As a graduate student at Harvard, he was the sole protégé of the polymath Edwin Bidwell Wilson, who had himself been a student of Yale physicist Willard Gibbs." This is almost verbatim what Samuelson claims in his Nobel lecture; Samuelson actually says that he was the sole protégé of Wilson and that Wilson was the sole protégé of Gibbs. THAT leaves me wondering what is meant by "sole protégé". Wilson was NOT Gibbs' only PhD student or Gibbs' only student of any sort. Gibbs produced several PhDs. Does Samuelson mean "sole protégé during a particular time period", that Wilson had only one official student at a time? I'm not even sure that protégé has an academic definition. Does anyone know what Samuelson meant and if it is accurate (e.g., Wilson may have been a protégé of Gibbs by some definition but it is unlikely that he was the sole protégé).

Does anyone know if Wilson had other PhD students in addition to Samuelson? — Preceding unsigned comment added by AdderUser (talkcontribs) 21:38, 7 September 2012 (UTC)