The “Other” Samuelson
What does Samuelson Jr. have to say about the global economy?
April 18, 2001
For generations of economists, the name “Samuelson” conjures the name of Paul A. Samuelson, author of the classic textbook “Economics” and winner of one of the field’s first Nobel Prizes in 1970. However, for insights into what is happening today in the global economy, we recommend another, closely-related Samuelson — Newsweek columnist Robert J. Samuelson. Our new Read My Lips feature samples this journalist’s words of wisdom.
What kind of insurance can economists provide in today’s changing world?
“Economics has never been a science — and it is even less now than a few years ago.”
(On the unpredictability of financial crises, April 1999)
How do you assess the incredible U.S. stock market frenzy during the last decade?
“An intriguing paradox of the 1990s is that it isn’t called a decade of greed.”
Will there be another global crisis?
“What we know about the global financial crisis is that we don’t know very much.”
(On efforts to predict or understand financial market meltdowns, April 1999)
Does the process of globalization have an “Achilles’ heel”?
“Globalization presumes sustained economic growth. Otherwise, the process loses its economic benefits and political support.”
How do you view Europe?
“Companies are not charitable enterprises: They hire workers to make profits. In the United States, this logic still works. In Europe, it hardly does.”
(On the failure of European labor markets to create private sector jobs, March 1994)
What about other regions of the world?
“Asia’s governments come in two broad varieties: young, fragile democracies — and older, fragile authoritarian regimes.”
“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.”
What about your take on the United States?
“Americans are hopelessly dependent on ‘big government’ — and rapidly contemptuous of it.”
(On the Republican Party’s Contract With America in the election year 1994, October 1994)
What does the Internet have to do with capitalism?
“Capitalism is many things, but charity it isn’t. It’s about profits, not philanthropy. Here lies the puzzling contradiction of the Internet.”
And what about the future prospects of companies on the Web?
“Sooner or later the Internet will become profitable. It’s an old story played before by canals, railroads and automobiles.”
Finally, what is the biggest problem with politics?
“Politicians like to tell people what they want to hear — and what they want to hear is what won’t happen.”
(On the dilemma of modern politics, January 1996)