Present at the Creation

A giant passed away last weekend.

So many great and good people have passed on this year, it seems that it’s been one long funeral. The latest giant to “step up” was Paul Samuelson. He was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1970 for his work in developing the neoclassical synthesis in economics applying Keynesian theory to classical models using the mathematics of chemistry and thermodynamics.

Samuelson was perhaps best known for his weekly columns in Newsweek, where for years he sparred with Milton Friedman, another Nobel Laureate, who approached economic questions of the day from a very different perspective. Samuelson would often note the market’s failures. Indeed, in perhaps his most famous quote he noted that the market, as a leading indicator, had predicted nine of the last five recessions. “And its mistakes were beauties!”

But perhaps his most enduring legacy was his economics textbook, which has been used for decades to train new economists. First published in 1948, it’s approaching its 20th edition and has been translated into 41 languages. By framing the questions and training future thinkers, Samuelson created the foundation for most contemporary economists.

Samuelson was present at the creation of much of modern economics, and brought sound analysis to bear on much public policy. We’re all in his debt.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
Hit reply if you have any questions—I read them all!

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