What Retirement Means to Me

THU, OCT 23, 2008 (1:45:43)

A panel of senior economists responds to questions about money management and retirement posed by PBS Newshour economics correspondent Paul Solman and by audience members.

We live in a time of great changes to the way that Americans save, invest, and manage the risks posed to their standard of living. Economists have been studying consumers' optimal saving and investing decisions for many decades. Since the 1950s there has been enormous progress in the underlying theory, and since the 1970s major innovations in the financial markets and advances in technology have facilitated implementation of that theory. In the last two decades, research in behavioral economics and finance has considerably advanced our understanding of how consumers actually make saving and investment decisions. Life-cycle saving and investing have become a science, or at least the foundations have been laid for such a science.

This conference is the second in a series that brings together academic researchers, expert practitioners, and public-sector policymakers to explore what the modern science of life-cycle finance implies for households, businesses, and government. In the first conference, the focus was on the pre-retirement phase of the life cycle. This second conference focuses on the retirement phase and aims to encourage the adoption of best practices in the development of both new financial products and future public policies.

+ BIO: Paul Solman

Paul retired as a district manager in the engineering department of New England Telephone Verizon New England, Inc., formerly New England Telephone & Telegraph Co., a Bell Operating Company that serves the majority of New England. He began his career with AT&T. He was also an active member of the American Legion American Legion, national association of male and female war veterans, founded (1919) in Paris. Membership is open to veterans of World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

+ BIO: Paul Samuelson

In terms of economic philosophy, Professor Samuelson calls himself "a 'modern' economist in the right wing of the Democratic New Deal economists. He was born in Gary, Indiana, in 1915. He received the degree of Bachelor of Arts from Chicago University in 1935, and the degrees of Master of Arts in 1936, and Doctor of Philosophy in 1941 from Harvard University. He was a Social Science Research Council predoctoral fellow from 1935-1937, a member of the Society of Fellows, Harvard University, 1937-1940, and a Ford Foundation Research Fellow from 1958-1959. He received honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from Chicago University and Oberlin College in 1961, and from Indiana University and East Anglia University in 1966.

He was awarded the David A. Wells Prize in 1941 by Harvard University, and the John Bates Clark Medal by the American Economic Association in 1947, as the living economist under forty "who has made the most distinguished contribution to the main body of economic thought and knowledge." Even while a graduate student at Harvard, he had already won international renown and had made significant contributions to economic theory.

Confronted by contradictions, overlaps, and fallacies in the classical language of economics, he sought unification - and clarification - in mathematics. In his first major work, Foundations of Economic Analysis, published in 1947, he demonstrated that this approach worked. His Economics: An Introductory Analysis, first published in 1948, has become the best selling economics textbook of all time. He was co-author of Readings in Economics, published in 1955, and has co-authored numerous other works in the field. His latest book is Linear Programming and Economic Analysis, written in collaboration with Robert Dorfman and Robert Solow and sponsored by a grant from the Rand Corporation.

+ BIO: Robert Solow

Robert M. Solow 1924, American economist, born in Brooklyn, N.Y., graduated from Harvard (B.A. 1947, M.A. 1949, Ph.D. 1951). He began teaching economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1949.

Solow also held several governmental positions, including those of senior economist for the Council of Economic Advisers (1961-62) and member of the President's Commission on Income Maintenance (1968-70).

His scholarly works are in the fields of employment and growth policies, and the theory of capital. In 1987, he received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

+ BIO: Robert Merton

Robert C. Merton is currently the John and Natty McArthur University Professor at the Harvard Business School. Prior to joining the faculty of Harvard in 1988, he served on the finance faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management for eighteen years. He is a co-founder and chief science officer of Integrated Finance Limited, a specialized investment bank. In 1993, he co-founded Long-Term Capital Management and served as a principal for six years. He is a past president of the American Finance Association and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Professor Merton has been frequently recognized for his achievements in translating financial science into practice. In 1997, Professor Merton received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences with Myron Scholes for a new method to determine the value of derivatives.

Boston University