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$e Apr 12The how and why of buying bitcoin
The basic idea of bitcoin is simple: Instead of a financial institution holding a bank ledger, a chain of computers linked through the internet are all using the same software to record and verify every transaction. But how can a…
Making Sen$e Apr 12This is how Bitcoin works
Bitcoin was released nearly a decade ago, but many consumers still don't know much about how it works.
Making Sen$e Apr 09Merle Hazard has a new song. This one’s about self-driving trucks
With this post, Making Sen$e debuts Merle Hazard’s newest effort to combine economic comedy and analysis: “Dave’s Song."…
Making Sen$e Mar 29How to make big money in the sneaker business
For the love of sneakers, a billion-dollar secondary market has bloomed, where collectors buy and sell rare kicks for hundreds or even thousands. Economics correspondent Paul Solman profiles two so-called “sneakerheads”: one a major collector and brand ambassador who’s turned…
Economy Mar 29Is increasing income inequality a fact or a myth?
A new academic paper making the rounds of the economics profession contradicts conventional wisdom: that incomes of the top 10 percent, 1 percent and especially the tippy-top .1 percent, have been pulling away from the rest of Americans.
Making Sen$e Mar 22Seeing China’s economic evolution in one family’s story
When journalist Scott Tong began reporting on China's explosive economy, he was advised to look past the new skyscrapers of Shanghai and take the long view. In “A Village With My Name,” he explores his own family's history, finding stories…
Making Sen$e Mar 15Why sneakerheads are obsessed with the quest for a rarer pair
At "Sneakerhead" conventions around the country, anyone can buy, sell or trade a pair, and much-hyped limited releases demand premium prices. Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports on what drives this specialty sneaker culture.
Economy Mar 13Austin Goolsbee says the Trump tariffs are like his Aunt Trina’s lasagna
Host Peter Sagal asked for Goolsbee's take on the Trump tariffs, and the economist, quite amusing himself, offered this anecdote about his aunt Trina and uncle Bob, who lived in Lubbock, Texas.
Making Sen$e Feb 15Can this booming New Mexico art collective spark economic growth?
The Santa Fe arts collective Meow Wolf is a major job creator in New Mexico, a state that's struggled to recover from the Great Recession.
Making Sen$e Feb 15Column: How to lose weight with economics, and why it’s so damn hard
People are made up of various subconscious inner selves, and these inner selves compete with each other for control of the organism.