Samuelson, Solow, and me

I uploaded a video of a story that concerns Paul Samuelson, Robert Solow, and myself here.

As a lowly and newly-minted Assistant Professor I cold-called Professor Samuelson one day in September 2006 by dialing information and getting his home phone number in Cambridge Massachusetts. He actually answered the phone, to which after introducing myself I asked the question of whether or not he thought Sraffa was a Marxist….he was enamored by the phone call and we had a wonderful 15 minute discussion about Sraffa and Marx that I will never forget. Professor Samuelson declined a request to discuss my paper at the Eastern Economics Association Annual Conference in New York City in February 2007, but he did contemplate it and sent a nice letter indicating such.

Eventually this led me to Professor Solow who ended discussing a paper of mine at that session. The panel was on the relationship between Sraffa and Marx and the presenters were Stefano Perri, Riccardo Bellofiore, and myself, and the discussants were Gary Mongiovi, Ed Nell and Robert Solow.  Riccardo’s paper was published in 2008, Stefano’s in 2010, and finally in 2014 there was published: my paper, Solow’s Comment, and my Response in Research in Political Economy edited by Paul Zarembka.

I find this story both interesting and more importantly demonstrative of the taking of chances and of not being afraid to ask questions that very few people ask anymore. And it also demonstrates the power of Sraffa and his analysis and how asking questions about his archival and intellectual legacy got the attention of two of the most distinguished Nobel Laureates in economics ever, and the active engagement of one them, even if by a then-lowly and newly-minted Assistant Professor in Tulsa Oklahoma…


Bellofiore, R. 2008. Sraffa after Marx: An open issue. In G. Chiodi & L. Ditta (Eds.), Sraffa or an alternative economics (pp. 68–92). New York, NY: Palgrave.

Perri, S. 2010. From “the Loaf of Bread” to “Commodity Fetishism”: A “New Interpretation” of the Marx–Sraffa connection. History of Economic Ideas, 18, 55–81.

Carter, S. 2014. From ‘Pool of Profits’ to Surplus and Deficit Industries: Archival Evidence on the Evolution of Piero Sraffa’s Thought, Research in Political Economy (November) carter-2014-pool-of-profits-to-surplus-and-deficit-industries-rpe

Carter, S. 2014 Response to Professor Solow, Research in Political Economy (November)  carter-2014-response-to-solow-rpe

Solow, R. 2014. Comments on Scott Carter, Research in Political Economy (November)  solow-2014-comment-on-carter-rpe

Published by Scott Carter

Associate Professor of Economics The University of Tulsa Oklahoma USA