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Robert Shiller: Lessons In Economics From Samuelson’s Textbook

Nobel Laureate Robert J. Shiller is Sterling Professor of Economics, Department of Economics and Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, and Professor of Finance and Fellow at the International Center for Finance, Yale School of Management.

In this exclusive Network Capital Premium masterclass, he reflects upon his career and shares precious advice for students and young professionals. In this riveting discussion, you will learn about his life, his mental models and collaboration principles.

Samuelson's Textbook

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Robert Shiller: Lessons In Economics From Samuelson's Textbook


Dr. Shiller, welcome to network capital. It's an honor to have masterclass by a Nobel laureate. We appear to be a skill sharing community and are very interested to learn more about your career. Let's start from the beginning. What got you interested in the subject of your work.

It's hard to remember. I first guy interested in economics, I think, when my older brother came home from college with this Samuelson economics textbook. I have a tendency to pick up things to read them and I read that Samuelson's textbook. So it got me going.

And in school and college student member how life was studying economics like or did you really relish the subject or was it hard at times.

First it was hard at times. Did I relish it? You know i could have I majored in anything, I can be a professor of you name it. I wanted to be a scholar at that age but I didn't necessarily focus on economics. I thought maybe people that I met that who impressed me. Philosophy [inaudible] economics is been called worldly philosophy that was from worldly philosophers was the title of the book.

It seems Adam Smith was a professor of moral philosophy maybe that appealed to me.

So at what we're talking about right now? What did you [inaudible] scholar?

I just moved up from age 14 when I read Samuelson's textbook to age 19 when I began to really focus on the idea of economic career.

Wonderful. And what, at that time was that a question or a set of questions that you wanted to solve with the economic lens? Because you mentioned that you wanted to be a scholar and not necessarily a scholar in economic. So what questions were you thinking about?

Well economics impressed me as it solves real problems. It has a technology for solving. I would add finance to it, that is a subset of economics. Samuelson said, In think in his text book. I try to remember, its been a long time. But it seems that I believe this is a very lose memory of him. I believe in economics and promoting the wealth of people because it matters to real people things like health care education, they transform our lives. There are many different single problem but the overall problem is developing the economy and improving the standard of living and allowing people to make choices that matter about things that matter to them.

How was undergraduate education for you? Did you find some mentors in college?

I did find mentors in college. What comes first to my mind was Kenneth [inaudible] I went to the University of Michigan which was a major state university in the United States. Kenneth {inaudible], he presented a view of economics that was highly morally grounded in fact just after I graduated he gave the presidential address before the American Economic Association entitled, "economics as a moral science". I was in Chicago, if I remember, I may be wrong. It was 1969. But I went to hear his speech. He is my former teacher.

What he said that economics particularly allows us to invent the world that we live in and it should be done with a moral purpose that particularly impressed me. [inaudible] Faculty members who impressed me a lot. One of them was a history professor Shaw Livermore. Maybe I haven't heard much about him. He gave a course that talked about the Great Depression and why it happened.