Paul Samuelson overleden

Nieuws | de redactie
14 december 2009 | De grote econoom Paul Samuelson is overleden. Befaamd om zijn handboek 'Economics', adviseur van presidenten als Kennedy en Johnson. In zijn Nobelrede legde hij uit aan welke voorwaarden je moet voldoen daarvoor. "I can tell you how. It is very easy."

Werken in dezelfde wijngaard

‘The dream of any scholar has for me come true by virtue of thisaward. The Nobel Prizes are justly famous in the hard sciences, inliterature, and for peace. Imagine then how my subject of economics- the oldest of the arts, the newest of the sciences – has beenhonored by the happy birthday thought of the Bank of Sweden to fundan Alfred Nobel Memorial Awards in Economics.

Thanks too, on behalf of my profession must go for, if I may putit so, the tolerance of the Nobel Foundation to let our subject tagalong in your festivities.

Last year’s award in economics set an initial precedent hard,perhaps impossible, to be maintained. According to the stern law ofdiminishing returns, that is always to be expected. In the jargonof American vaudeville, Professors Frisch and Tinbergen are a “hard act to follow.” But then all my life Ihave been following such great scholars and policy advisors asthese.

Now I must depart from my polished text of thanks. We have alljust heard Professor Tiselius say that he did not know how to give advice on how toget a Nobel Prize. I can tell you how. It is very easy.

The first thing you must do is to have great teachers. For thesake of the economists present here, let me do some name-droppingconcerning my own good fortune in this regard. If you have hadJacob Viner and Frank Knight and Paul Douglas as teachers, and thenwent on to be blessed by having Joseph Schumpeter, Wassily Leontief, Gottfried Haberler, and Alvin Hansen – thenyou have met one necessary condition for the problem.

Second, you must also have been blessed with great colleagues,collaborators, and fellow students. If you have had the chance towork with people like Lloyd Metzler, Robert Solow, and James Tobin, you have met a second necessary condition – butstill not sufficient conditions.

Thirdly, you must have great students. I could keep you too longmentioning MIT names, but let me merely sample the beginning,middle and the end of the alphabet with the names of Lawrence Klein, Robert Mundell, and Joseph Stiglitz. Still, we are only three-fifths of theway.

A fourth necessary condition, and an important one from ascholarly point of view, you must read the works of the greatmasters. In these halls I can be forgiven for mentioning the namesof Bertil Ohlin, Gunnar Myrdal, Erik Lundberg and Ingvar Svennilson – and, ofcourse, Gustav Cassel, Erik Lindahl and the great KnutWicksell.

Four out of the five necessary conditions for scholarly successhave now been enumerated. Lest I delay your dancing, let me hastento name the final necessary condition that serves to complete thesufficient conditions for a complete solution. The final elementis, of course, luck.

In closing let me acknowledge that I realize, that in honoringme, the Committee of the Royal Academy of Sciences is in factsaying a good word for all of those of my generation who have beenlaboring in the same vineyard.’

Eerbetoon aan afwezige collegawinnaar

Bij deze gelegenheid nam Samuelson ook het woord om zicht terichten tot de enige Nobel-winnaar die in dat jaar, 1970, nietaanwezig mocht zijn. De gelauwerde literator van die avond bleefvastzitten in Moskou. Alexander Sozhenitsyn had de kampen vanStalin overleefd en zijn geest was ongebroken. Dat was genoeg omhem blijvend te vervolgen.

Samuelson zei daarom het volgende: “Perhaps I may in concludingbe permitted to interrupt the gaiety of these ceremonials with onenote of regret. I speak to you from the mind. If Alexander Solzhenitsyn had been here to speak from the heart,from his heart, all of us would be the better for it, you and me,all mankind and I dare to think every country under thesun without a single exception. His spirit hovers over ourcelebration here tonight.” 

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