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李华芳,毕业于浙江大学经济系,现为上海金融与法律研究院研究员。在经济分析中,用“看不见的手,内心的观众和体面生活”对抗反知反智的言行,重新磨练亚当·斯密传下来的手艺。

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萨缪尔森去世  

2009-12-14 08:30:00|  分类: 稀缺的大师 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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萨缪尔森去世 - 李华芳 - 李华芳的博客
In a career that spanned seven decades, he transformed his field,influenced millions of students and turned MIT into an economicspowerhouse.
Greg Frost, MIT News Office
December 13, 2009

MIT economist Paul A.Samuelson, the Nobel laureate whose mathematical analysis providedthe foundation on which modern economics is built and whosetextbook influenced generations of students, died today at his homein Belmont, Mass. He was 94.

Samuelson, an Institute Professor Emeritus and Gordon Y BillardFellow at MIT, was one of the world’s leading economists for morethan half a century. When he became the first American to win theNobel Memorial Prize in economics in 1970, a year after the prizewas created, the Swedish Royal Academy said that he “has done morethan any other contemporary economist to raise the level ofscientific analysis in economic theory.”

Twenty-six years later, in 1996, when he was awarded a NationalMedal of Science, America’s top science honor, President BillClinton praised his “fundamental contributions to economic science,specifically general equilibrium theory and macroeconomics, and toeconomic education and policy over a period of 60 years.”

Samuelson’s contributions to the field were so numerous andfundamental that they lend themselves to description in moregeneral terms. "If you did a time and motion study of what anymodern economist does at work, you would find that an enormousproportion of standard mental devices trace back to PaulSamuelson's long lifetime of research,” said MIT InstituteProfessor Emeritus Robert Solow. “What I can add about my belovedfriend of 60 years is that he had a marvelous intuition about how amarket economy had to be. 'It must work like this,' he would say.'Now all we have to do is prove it.' There was no one likehim."

Samuelson was instrumental in bringing the MIT Department ofEconomics, which did not train graduate students when he joined itin 1940, to its current stature as a world-renowned research andteaching institution. Reflecting on this at a dinner in 1991celebrating the establishment of the department’s Samuelson Chairin Economics, Samuelson referred to the department’s development asa “scientific miracle.” Admonishing the audience not to believe“that this was my handiwork alone,” he said that the department,from 1941 to 1960, “went from being a mediocre service departmentto becoming No. 1 on all foundations’ ranking of departments.” Infact, he quipped, by the mid-1960s the U.S. Department of Justice’santitrust division was starting to fret about MIT's garnering ofmost of the National Science Foundation fellowships awarded ineconomics.

“Two factors explain our success,” Samuelson wrote in 2000. “One,MIT's renaissance after World War II as a federally supportedresearch resource. Two, the mathematical revolution in macro- andmicro-economic theory and statistics: this was overdue andinevitable — MIT was the logical place for it to flourish.”

As MIT President Susan Hockfield framed it, “Paul Samuelsontransformed everything he touched: the theoretical foundations ofhis field, the way economics was taught around the world, the ethosand stature of his department, the investment practices of MIT, andthe lives of his colleagues and students. Intellectually andpersonally, his vision created the intensely collaborative cultureof MIT's Department of Economics, and in everything he did, herepresented the very best of MIT.”

‘One of the giants’

Samuelson produced the best-selling economics text of all time,Economics: An Introductory Analysis. First published in 1948 andoriginally prepared for MIT’s then-mandatory undergraduateeconomics course, Samuelson’s textbook was the first to explain theprinciples of Keynesian economics to beginning economics students.It has been translated into 40 languages, and is now in its 19thedition in English. The textbook has sold nearly four millioncopies over a span of 60years.  

Samuelson’s textbook influenced generations of students, said JamesPoterba, MIT’s Mitsui Professor of Economics and former head ofMIT’s Department of Economics. He noted that for decades, futurescholars, policy-makers, and business executives were introduced tocontemporary economics by Samuelson’s book. “He leaves an immenselegacy, as a researcher and a teacher, as one of the giants onwhose shoulders every contemporary economist stands,” Poterbasaid.  

In the area of policy, Samuelson never held a major government postbut, true to his belief that economists should be involved insocial issues, he served as an adviser to Presidents John F.Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson and was a consultant to government,foundations and companies. He also commented frequently on economicpolicy matters and for years made his views known to the publicthrough a columnin Newsweek magazine.

Often referred to as an economist’s economist, Samuelson oncewrote: “In this age of specialization, I sometimes think of myselfas the last ‘generalist’ in economics. My interests range frommathematical economics to current financial journalism.”

Samuelson continued to work long after his official retirement in1985, arriving at his office at MIT regularly and remaining anactive member of the department. Displaying his well-known wit, hetold the gathering celebrating the Samuelson Chair, “That’s what Iwould like to do until the end of time — to go on scribbling myarticles on the third floor of the Sloan Building, in betweenplaying tennis and drinking coffee at my other study in the ConcordAvenue branch of Burger King.”

Ricardo Caballero, the Ford International Professor of Economicsand head of MIT’s Department of Economics, said Samuelson remaineda central figure in all the department’s gatherings until the veryend.

“He always had the last — and the first — word, and deservedly so,”Caballero said. “We will miss him and his unmatched wit very much,but his intellectual legacy is enormous and perennial. The world isdifferent today because he was with us for many years."

International acclaim


Paul Anthony Samuelson was born in Gary, Ind., on May 15, 1915. Hereceived a BS from the University of Chicago in 1935, an MA in 1936from Harvard University and the PhD, with a David A. Wells Prize,from Harvard in 1941. He was an early Junior Fellow at the HarvardSociety of Fellows.

He was appointed an assistant professor of economics at MIT in1940, associate professor in 1944, and full professor in 1947. In1966, he was named Institute Professor, MIT’s highest facultyhonor.

Even as a graduate student at Harvard, Samuelson won internationalacclaim and made significant contributions to economic theory.Confronted by contradictions, overlaps and fallacies in theclassical language of economics, he sought unification — andclarification — in mathematics.

In his first major work, Foundations of Economic Analysis (1947),which was also his PhD thesis, he told economists that they hadbeen practicing “mental gymnastics of a particularly depravedtype,” and were like “highly trained athletes who never ran arace.” He did not claim mathematics would cure the ills of economicanalysis, but he did insist that mathematics was essential.

The Swedish Royal Academy said in its Nobel citation that in thisfirst book and in a large number of articles as well, Samuelson had“rewritten considerable parts of central economic theory and has inseveral areas achieved results which now rank among the classicaltheories of economics.”

In his work on the theory of balance between prices and supply anddemand, the academy said, Samuelson had succeeded in “formulatingthe theory in mathematical terms. The matter of approach, how tohandle this problem, is what his contribution was.”

As an adviser to Kennedy and Johnson, Samuelson advocated tax cutsand the war on poverty. In 1974, he was one of 21 economists toattend President Gerald Ford’s two-day “inflation summitconference.” There, he said America had been stricken with a badcase of “stagflation” — the toxic mix of high unemployment and highinflation over long periods of time.

In addition to receiving the Nobel Prize and National Medal ofScience, Samuelson was the inaugural winner of the John Bates ClarkMedal, the American Economic Association's award for the bestAmerican economist under the age of 40, in 1947. He served aspresident of the American Economic Association and the EconometricSociety. He was the author of hundreds of articles in professionaljournals and magazines, and served as associate editor and a memberof the advisory and editorial boards of several professionaljournals. The Collected Scientific Papers of Paul A. Samuelson havebeen published in five volumes, containing about 400 articles, bythe MIT Press. Another 200 papers will be published in volumes 6and 7, now in progress.

His memberships and fellowships included the American Academy ofArts and Sciences, the British Academy, Phi Beta Kappa, theInternational Economic Association (president, 1965-68 and lifetimehonorary president), the National Academy of Sciences, where heserved on the Finance Committee from 1977 until 2009, and theAmerican Association for the Advancement of Science.

Samuelson was a distinguished lecturer at more than 20 colleges,universities and professional societies, and received 35 honorarydegrees.

He is survived by his wife of 28 years, Risha Samuelson; sixchildren from his first marriage to the late Marion CrawfordSamuelson: Jane Samuelson Raybould, of London; Marnie CrawfordSamuelson, of Brookline, Mass.; William Samuelson and his wife,Susan, of Belmont, Mass.; Robert Samuelson and his wife, Kristin,of Boston; John Samuelson and his wife, Gail, of Sherborn, Mass.;and Paul Samuelson and his wife, Martha, of Newton, Mass; and astepdaughter, Susan Miller, of Lexington, Mass. He is also survivedby 15 grandchildren. 

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made tothe Massachusetts Audubon Society, 208 South Great Road, Lincoln,MA 01793.

Funeral arrangements will be private. A memorial service will beheld at MIT at a future date, and the MIT News Office will releasedetails as they become available.
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