Saturday, December 19, 2009

Paul Samuelson Spoke (Part 2)

On derivatives:

Samuelson: ..."Mea culpa, mea culpa. MIT and Wharton and University of Chicago created the financial engineering instruments, which, like Samson and Delilah, blinded every CEO -- they didn't realize the kind of leverage they were doing and they didn't understand when they were really creating a real profit or a fictitious one. There 's a lot of causality in economics, even though it's very far from an exact science"...

On Larry Summers:

Interviewer: And China .. You've written some about that. How real do you think the threat of a run on the dollar is? Some people, like your nephew Larry Summers has said that there's kind of "balance of financial terror" there -- that it's not in China's interest to see a big decline in the value of dollar denominated assets.

Samuelson: Well first let me say that I have big admiration for Larry Summers as an economist. However, when he was at MIT as an undergraduate, he never took a course of mine!

But I think he was wise. If he had people could always say, 'well, he's traveling on someone else's steam.' There's a Chinese wall between him and me. Any view he expresses and any view I express -- there might be some overlap, but there's nothing synchronized.

So you're not in touch with him now?


...By the way, I don't want you to think that I think that everything for the next 15 years will be cozy. I think it's almost inevitable that, with a billion people in China wide awake for the first time, and a billion people in India, there's going to be some kind of a terrible run against the dollar. And I doubt it can stay orderly, because all of our own hedge funds will be right in the vanguard of the operation. And it will be hard to imagine that that wouldn't create different kind of meltdown"...

All the above excerpts are from an interview published in June by The Atlantic magazine before Samuelson passed away this month. I only came across that 2 parts interview now.

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