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$e May 02How data drives Uber’s efficient but controversial business model
With a presence in 65 countries, ride-sharing company Uber has conducted about 10 billion trips in its lifetime -- about 15 million per day. Paul Solman looks at how economists are using this treasure trove of data.
Making Sen$e Apr 25In Louisiana, are billions of dollars in corporate tax exemptions paying off?
Louisiana’s abundant natural resources represent enormous wealth, yet the state consistently ranks at or near the bottom nationally for many quality-of-life indicators. Like other states, Louisiana grants tax exemptions to businesses it wants to attract, but some are questioning whether…
Health Apr 04Seriously ill children often resist treatment. Can offering simple rewards change that?
Few scenarios are harder to witness than the suffering of a seriously ill child. For kids with life-threatening diseases, survival often requires procedures that are painful and scary. But a Washington nonprofit is encouraging kids to be active in their…
Making Sen$e Mar 28Anxious about debt, Generation Z makes college choice a financial one
The amount of student loan debt Americans hold is at a record high, and much of it is shouldered by Millennials--people in their late 20s and 30s. Now, children in Generation Z, the group born after 1996, are facing their…
Politics Mar 21Why Louisianans blame government, not corporations, for pollution problems
UC Berkeley sociologist Arlie Hochschild traveled to Louisiana, the second-poorest state, to explore why its neediest populations simultaneously rely on federal aid and reject the concept of “big government.” As Paul Solman reports, the author and professor discovered many residents…
Making Sen$e Mar 14This free program trains people how to start a business —but without debt
It’s commonly believed that you need money to start a company, but a pair of British entrepreneurs are spreading a different message. Through their initiative PopUp Business School, Alan Donegan and his team train people with little capital, but a…
Making Sen$e Mar 07How kids are adapting to a cashless culture
A quarter of the U.S. population is made up of people born from the mid-1990s to around 2010, known as Generation Z. When it comes to making purchases, this group is accustomed to buying online and using credit cards, but…
Making Sen$e Feb 28How economic inequality might affect a society’s well-being
Economic inequality is a major theme in the American political dialogue. As the country’s wealthiest people continually become richer at the expense of the poor, some research suggests they may actually become less happy and healthy. Economics correspondent Paul Solman…
Making Sen$e Feb 21Who holds the power in potential U.S.-China trade war?
With trade negotiations between the U.S. and China now in high gear, President Trump has suggested he might delay the latest round of tariffs on Chinese goods, currently scheduled to take effect March 1. Paul Solman reports on the disadvantages…
Making Sen$e Feb 07How an economist’s idea to create kidney transplant chains has saved lives
What happens if you need a kidney transplant and don’t know someone who is a biological match? A Nobel prize-winning economist has a solution: transplant chains. Donors agree to give to a stranger in exchange for a kidney for their…