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$e Jan 09Is this Las Vegas hospitality workers union the future of American labor?
Organized labor in the American workforce has declined since the 1980s, with many unions struggling to attract workers as companies voice opposition to them. But in Las Vegas, one union has broken through to much of the city’s hospitality sector…
Making Sen$e Dec 26How these 2 Nobel winners are challenging popular economics
Arts Dec 17Best-selling children’s author Mo Willems on sparking creativity and joy
Author and illustrator Mo Willems has sold millions of children’s books and created beloved characters, including the Pigeon, Knuffle Bunny, and Elephant and Piggie. Now he’s the Kennedy Center’s first education artist-in-residence, making new kinds of work for both kids…
Making Sen$e Dec 12Americans are drowning in medical debt, so this nonprofit is buying — and forgiving — it
Collectively, Americans owe nearly a trillion dollars of medical debt, and Congress is trying to figure out a policy response. But in the meantime, economics correspondent Paul Solman reports on an unusual non-profit’s effort to relieve the burden of medical…
Economy Dec 09Remembering former Fed chair and economic giant Paul Volcker
Paul Volcker, who served as chair of the Federal Reserve for two presidents, died Monday. His passing came 40 years after he drove interest rates to record highs in an effort to tame double-digit inflation. Known for his height and…
Making Sen$e Dec 05The Who’s Pete Townshend doesn’t enjoy performing. Here’s what he’d rather do
Fifty-five years after co-founding the rock band The Who, Pete Townshend is still at it. The lead lyricist and guitarist says he actually doesn’t enjoy performing but views it as an “easy” job necessary to finance his lifestyle and support…
Making Sen$e Nov 21How these 2 economists are using randomized trials to solve global poverty
More than 700 million people across the globe live on extremely low wages. This year, a trio of economists won the Nobel Prize for their work on addressing global poverty, using randomized control trials to test and improve social policy.
Making Sen$e Nov 14How these employers are adapting to the needs of an aging workforce
As the population ages and older workers are making up more and more of the labor force, some employers are taking notice and adjusting their own practices to retain valuable experience and skills. Economics correspondent Paul Solman has the story.
Making Sen$e Oct 31For these seniors, entrepreneurial ambition is far from retiring
Entrepreneurs are often imagined as twenty-something recent college dropouts. But in fact, people ages 45 to 64 start businesses at higher rates than do their younger peers -- and plenty of seniors are in startup mode, too. Economics correspondent Paul…
Making Sen$e Sep 19Why extreme climate scenarios no longer seem so unlikely
The United Nations has called climate change the “defining issue of our time.” But new analyses suggest the planet’s temperature will rise by even more than the UN had estimated -- and that warming creates ever-increasing energy consumption due to…