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 its feature write 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. 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 that can be found online.
He is, most recently, co-author (with Larry Kotlikoff and Phil Moeller) of the "runaway New York Times bestseller," Get What's Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security (2015). A necessarily updated edition was published in May of 2016.
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.
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$e May 28Does a basic guaranteed income decrease the need for social services?
The idea of a basic guaranteed income is getting a trial run in a Canadian province for three years. Four thousand randomly selected Ontario residents will get thousands of dollars a year, and in exchange, they give up some social…
Making Sen$e May 24Why our financial decision-makers need ‘skin in the game’
Economic contrarian Nassim Taleb warned of a coming financial crisis more than a decade ago. Now he believes there’s a big con going on, and that the Federal Reserve’s response to the 2008 crash is part of it. Economics correspondent…
Making Sen$e May 24Beware ‘faux experts’ who don’t pay for their actions, Nassim Taleb says
To Taleb, the "no-skin-in-the-game class" is made up of decision-makers who "can drag you into policies that cosmetically feel good, but eventually, somebody pays a price and it's not them. "…
Making Sen$e May 21Analysis: Student loan debt and an astonishing number no one’s talking about
Do student loan defaults pose a systemic threat analogous to the subprime default wave that helped trigger the Crash of ‘08?…
Making Sen$e May 17Why we should be more like cats than dogs when it comes to social media
Computer scientist and virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier doesn't mince words when it comes to social media. In his latest book, "Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now," says the economic model is based on "sneaky manipulation."…
Making Sen$e May 17Jaron Lanier’s argument for getting off Facebook
In his new book "Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now," author Jaron Lanier makes his case for the problems with social media.
Making Sen$e May 15Analysis: If you’re rich, you’re more lucky than smart. And there’s math to prove it
A study that claims the predominance of luck over talent in the distribution of wealth has been mathematically confirmed.
Making Sen$e May 11Analysis: How poverty can drive down intelligence
Poverty lowers your IQ — in one study, by something like 13 points.
Making Sen$e May 10How American populism is reshaping economic policy
If President Trump has had one consistent message since the beginning of his campaign, it's that America is getting a raw deal in the global economy. Policy changes like import tariffs and reworking NAFTA, and the people who support them,…
Making Sen$e Apr 26The bubble dynamics of bitcoin
Can bitcoin be a currency if you never know its value? Living outside the traditional banking network by design, its fluctuating value makes it too cumbersome for petty transactions. Yet despite the hurdles, bitcoin and its underlying technology is seen…