Paul Anthony Samuelson (May 15, 1915 – December 13, 2009) was an American economist, and the first American to win the Nobel Prize in Economics. The Swedish Royal Academies stated, when awarding the prize, that he "has done more than any other contemporary economist to raise the level of scientific analysis in economic theory." Economic historian Randall E. Parker calls him the "Father of Modern Economics", and The New York Times considered him to be the "foremost academic economist of the 20th century."
He was author of the largest-selling economics textbook of all time: Economics: An Introductory Analysis, first published in 1948. It was the second American textbook to explain the principles of Keynesian economics and how to think about economics, and the first one to be successful, and is now in its 19th edition, having sold nearly 4 million copies in 40 languages. James Poterba, former head of MIT's Department of Economics, noted that by his book, Samuelson "leaves an immense legacy, as a researcher and a teacher, as one of the giants on whose shoulders every contemporary economist stands." In 1996 he was awarded the National Medal of Science, considered America's top science honor, where President Bill Clinton commended Samuelson for his "fundamental contributions to economic science" for over 60 years.
He entered the University of Chicago at age 16, during the depths of the Great Depression, and received his PhD in economics from Harvard. After graduating, he became an assistant professor of economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) when he was 25 years of age and a full professor at age 32. In 1966, he was named Institute Professor, MIT's highest faculty honor. He spent his career at MIT where he was instrumental in turning its Department of Economics into a world-renowned institution by attracting other noted economists to join the faculty, including Robert M. Solow, Paul Krugman, Franco Modigliani, Robert C. Merton and Joseph E. Stiglitz, all of whom went on to win Nobel Prizes. Samuelson was instrumental in the initial development of Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, the first Indian Institute of Management.
He served as an advisor to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, and was a consultant to the United States Treasury, the Bureau of the Budget and the President's Council of Economic Advisers. Samuelson wrote a weekly column for Newsweek magazine along with fellow Chicago School economist Milton Friedman, where they represented opposing sides: Samuelson took the Keynesian perspective, and Friedman represented the Monetarist perspective. Samuelson died on December 13, 2009, at the age of 94.
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