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$e Nov 19For older workers, pandemic unemployment could be career-ending
The worsening pandemic continues to mean millions of Americans out of work. For older employees in particular, this kind of long-term unemployment can represent the end of a career -- especially when they may be facing age discrimination and bias.
Making Sen$e Nov 10How U.S. history could provide a path out of polarization
The U.S. feels more deeply divided than it has in decades. According to social scientist Robert Putnam, the data backs up that assessment. Putnam, author of the seminal work on social capital and isolation “Bowling Alone,” believes looking back to…
Making Sen$e Oct 01How some older Americans are monetizing their #VanLife
With large parts of the economy still sputtering under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, many people are having to scale back. But some older Americans were already living a minimalist lifestyle on the road -- and some of them…
Making Sen$e Sep 24These retirement-age nomads find work wherever the road takes them
The pandemic has spurred surges in camping and RV travel due to the need for social distancing and outdoor activity. But it’s not all fun and vacations: one group of Americans adopted a self-sufficient and nomadic lifestyle long ago, living…
Making Sen$e Sep 17Is the U.S. government paying twice for coronavirus vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccine development continues to be the subject of political jostling, with President Trump contradicting top U.S. health officials regarding timeline and efficacy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they expect to distribute vaccines publicly at no cost…
Making Sen$e Sep 03Americans are flying much less during the pandemic. Will airlines survive?
U.S. airlines are sending out warnings about huge financial losses and urgently requesting help. Tens of thousands of flights for the fall have been canceled, and change fees have been eliminated in order to attract travelers. Meanwhile, flight staff and…
Making Sen$e Aug 26Trump touts his economic policies. What would he do in a 2nd term?
Throughout the Republican National Convention, supporters of President Trump have touted his economic record as a key reason they believe he should be reelected. But what would a second-term policy agenda look like for Trump, as the coronavirus pandemic continues…
Making Sen$e Aug 19How Biden says he would rescue a faltering U.S. economy
With tens of millions of Americans reeling financially from the coronavirus pandemic, the future of the U.S. economy is on the minds of many. Both President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden are seeking to convince voters they can revive…
Economy Aug 06During economic collapse, business owners with criminal records are haunted by their past
American businesses suffering through the pandemic’s economic fallout have received hundreds of billions of dollars in federal loans since the Paycheck Protection Program opened this spring. But accessing that funding was challenging for business owners with criminal records. Economics correspondent…
Making Sen$e Jul 30How a crumbling antibiotics infrastructure could yield ‘catastrophe’
The antibiotics industry has suffered an alarming collapse that has become even more troubling as secondary bacterial infections threaten patients with COVID-19. Why has production of these vital medicines stagnated, and what can be done to address the problem? Economics…