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
Economy Jan 06Who Do You Hurt When You Walk Away?
More from the strategic default debate today. Economist Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago, also in our original story, argues there are damaging spillover effects ("negative externalities") when homeowners strategically default. "By walking away, not only do you…
Arts Jan 05Strategic Default: Right or Wrong?
We've been concentrating on the housing crisis over the past several days here on the Business Desk. For the rest of the week we'll be focusing on the issue of strategic default. If you're an underwater homeowner who can afford…
Arts Jan 04A Mortgage-Backed Security Map: The Fantastic Fate of One Man’s Loan
The complexities of getting or refinancing a mortgage are many: the broker you can or can't trust, the screening of your income and credit, the appraisal, the fear that rates will rise before approval, the title search, the paperwork at…
Economy Jan 03Should You Swim Away From an Underwater Mortgage?
Your mortgage is underwater. Making the payments is both difficult and demoralizing. Is it ethical for you to walk away? As we've reported, there are arguments both ways. Here's a feature to help you make up your…
Economy Dec 31The Year in Foreclosure Reports
Mortgage paperwork was a mess. Foreclosures were rampant. Homeowners went through months-long modifications, losing hope when it all fell through. The housing crisis was one of the major stories of the year. And as 2010 draws to a…
Arts Dec 31Alyssa Katz: How Government Is Failing the Homeowner
We last spoke with journalist and author Alyssa Katz back in October 2009. She had just finished writing "Our Lot," a book on the history of America's housing market. "The issue is that the investors and investment…
Economy Dec 29Robert the Robot, the Mechanical Man
Paul Solman answers questions from NewsHour viewers and web users on business and economic news most days on his Making Sen$e page. Here's today's query: Name: Jose Question: In Virginia we have a non-judicial foreclosure process. The…
Economy Dec 28The Loan Mod Squad: A Request to Business Desk Readers
Paul Solman answers questions from NewsHour viewers and web users on business and economic news most days on his Making Sen$e page. Here's today's query: Name: Toby Hanna Question: I purchased a house in 2006. A year…
Economy Dec 27The American Dream Deferred: What Befell our Strategic Defaulters?
We've devoted a lot of attention to the foreclosure crisis that is threatening the homes of so many Americans, and to various ways they've sought help: non-profit third parties; the government's loan modification program, HAMP. But…
Economy Dec 242010, the Year of Foreclosure
Of the two dozen "Words of the Year" cited by the New York Times the other day, two of them -- "robo-signer" and "put-back" -- were spawned by the foreclosure crisis. (See this link for the Gray Lady's definitions.)…