About Paul @paulsolman
Paul Solman has been a business, economics and occasional art correspondent for the PBS NewsHour since 1985.
As you can see below, he used to have lots of hair. In the '60s, his father found it amusing to say, "you don't need a haircut so much as an estimate." His intramural softball teammates at Brandeis University dubbed him "the Black Medusa."
That same year, 1963, he joined the Brandeis newspaper, The Justice, and eventually became its editor. He got his first paid journalism job in 1970 at the alternative weekly Boston After Dark, where the picture was taken. Then and now, he did much of his work on the phone.
Paul became founding editor of the rival alternative weekly The Real Paper in 1972 and went on to become a feature writer and investigative reporter. He became interested in business when he set out to do a story about municipal bond rates (this was 1976) and realized he was clueless. As was, he realized, the entire booming generation in his wake. Here was an opportunity. But how to seize it? How about going to business school?
Having no money for tuition, Paul applied for a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard and lucked out, joining the Harvard Business School MBA class of 1977-8. He embarked on a career as a business reporter at WGBH Boston immediately thereafter. It was about this time, as one grandchild later put it, "your hair got lost."
After a few years of local PBS reporting, he inaugurated the PBS business documentary series, ENTERPRISE with fellow Nieman Fellow Zvi Dor-Ner. (There was also a Nieman felon in their class, but that's for someone else's biography.)
In the 1980s, Paul produced documentaries, returned to local reporting, and joined the Harvard Business School faculty, teaching media, finance and business history in the school's Advanced Management Program. He also co-authored a better-than-average-seller, Life and Death on the Corporate Battlefield (1983), which appeared in Japanese, German and a pirated Taiwanese edition. He joined "MacNeil/Lehrer" in 1985, two years after it become an hour-long news show, and has been the program's Economics Correspondent ever since, with occasional forays into art and sport.
In the '90s, with sociologist Morrie Schwartz, a teacher of his at Brandeis, Paul helped create -- and wrote the introduction to -- the book "Morrie: In His Own Words," which preceded "Tuesdays with Morrie" by a year or more, but failed to outsell it by several orders of magnitude.
In 2015, Paul co-authored an actual bestseller (#1 on Amazon for four straight days!), Get What's Yours: the Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security. It had to be revised in 2016 because Social Security provisions were changed, perhaps in response to the book.
Paul has lectured on college campuses since the '80s and has written for numerous publications, including the Journal of Economic Education. He thinks he's the only person, besides John Kenneth Galbraith, to have written for both Forbes and Mother Jones magazines; he was for years East Coast editor of the latter. A one-time cab driver, kindergarten teacher, crafts store co-owner and management consultant, he is also the author and presenter of "Discovering Economics with Paul Solman," a series of videos to accompany introductory economics textbooks.
In 2007, he joined the faculty at Yale, where he added a dose of communications know-how and economics to the university's Grand Strategy course for a decade. In 2011, he was the Richman Distinguished Visiting Professor at his alma mater, Brandeis, where he taught a seminar, "Economic Grand Strategies: From Chimps to Champs? Or Chumps?" He has lectured at campuses across the country, has taught regularly at West Point, and at Gateway Community College in New Haven, CT. In 2016, he was a Visiting Fellow at Mansfield College, Oxford University. He is also president of the new making-friends-across-the-political-divide group, "Us."
Paul took up tennis at 50 and plays with a knee brace. He'd like to shave off his mustache but is afraid to. He wears a hat because his doctor insists. He is married with children and grandchildren. He loves them to death.
Paul’s Recent Stories
Making Sen$e Aug 15An economist’s analysis of data on parenting, from breastfeeding to co-sleeping
Raising a child is complicated and potentially confusing, with conflicting advice available everywhere a parent turns. Economist Emily Oster, a mother of two, dug into the data to help other parents make informed choices about managing their little ones --…
Making Sen$e Aug 01Can reparations help right the wrongs of slavery?
The first African slaves arrived in North America 400 years ago this month, landing at Jamestown in what's now Virginia. Recently, the idea of paying reparations for the atrocity of slavery has been earning new attention, even making its way…
Making Sen$e Jul 31Column: The Fed is lowering interest rates, but so are market forces
Is the Fed solely responsible for driving down interest rates? There's plenty of reason to think the answer is no.
Making Sen$e Jul 18Why small cannabis growers want to produce the Champagne of pot
The state government of California is currently developing rules that will define whether a geographic area can be deemed a marijuana growing region. For small farmers, who are threatened by industrial competitors and the cost of regulation, survival may depend…
Making Sen$e Jul 11Marijuana has become big business. So why are small growers struggling to survive?
As marijuana has been legalized in states across the country, investors have identified a major business opportunity. Still, the cannabis market isn’t all easy money. In California, new companies are scaling up operations, but some smaller ones fight to survive,…
Making Sen$e Jun 13Can ‘baby bonds’ help the U.S. close its staggering racial wealth gap?
Whites in the U.S. have much greater household and individual wealth than blacks and other minorities. In fact, the typical black household has about 10 cents for every dollar of wealth in a typical white household. Some economists and politicians…
Making Sen$e May 30This La. battle is between big industry and a Green Army
General Russel Honore commanded an infantry division in Korea and saw action in Operation Desert Storm, but it was his service as Commander of the Joint Task Force Katrina in 2005 that won him national acclaim. The experience of viewing…
Making Sen$e May 16What Gen Z college grads are looking for in a career
The oldest members of Gen Z, the population segment born after 1996, are leaving college and entering the workforce. How do their expectations and outlooks vary from those of the Millennials who have recently reshaped the modern workplace? Economics correspondent…
Making Sen$e May 02How data drives Uber’s efficient but controversial business model
With a presence in 65 countries, ride-sharing company Uber has conducted about 10 billion trips in its lifetime -- about 15 million per day. Paul Solman looks at how economists are using this treasure trove of data.
Making Sen$e Apr 25In Louisiana, are billions of dollars in corporate tax exemptions paying off?
Louisiana’s abundant natural resources represent enormous wealth, yet the state consistently ranks at or near the bottom nationally for many quality-of-life indicators. Like other states, Louisiana grants tax exemptions to businesses it wants to attract, but some are questioning whether…