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Solow Reacts to Nobel Prize with Wit and Criticism of Reaganomics With AM-Nobel-Economics Bjt

October 21, 1987

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) _ Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Robert M. Solow, winner of the 1987 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science, greeted the press Wednesday with the same irreverent wit and candor that have made him a favorite of students at the school.

″Oh, it happens to everybody, I guess,″ said Solow of the 6:30 a.m. telephone call he received from Swedish officials notifying him of his prize. ″I was more or less asleep - with my wife, I want you to know.″

″My friends have been telling me for the last couple of years that I must be in the running for this,″ the 63-year-old professor said. ″It’s embarrassing to be told that all the time, so I guess I knew that, but it came as a complete surprise.″

Solow is widely recognized as an expert in mathematical economic theory, the theory of capital and growth, macroeconomics and the economics of natural resources. The specific work for which Solow was cited by the Nobel committee is 30 years old, a mathematical formula that described how increased capital stock generates greater production per capita.

Flanked by MIT professor and 1985 Nobel winner Franco Modigliani, 69, Solow hesitated when barraged with questions about Monday’s stock market crash and its impact on the economy.

″One thing I managed to do this morning was talk to my kids, and my son John, who’s also an economist, told me ’Just don’t say anything stupid about the stock market,‴ Solow said.

Solow said he does not believe the market crash will trigger any immediate financial collapse or widespread depression. But he warned that the economy is bound to slow down, and he sharply criticized the Reagan Administration for refusing to raise taxes to reduce the national deficit.

″The best thing you can say about Reaganomics is that it probably happened in a fit of inattention,″ he said. ″I would like to see the president stop this nonsense about how ’I will never raise taxes over my dead body.‴

Lester Thurow, dean of MIT’s Alfred P. Sloan School of Management and a well-known economist himself, spoke at the press conference, calling Solow a ″role model for us all.″

Solow described his work as ″trying to understand what makes industrial economies grow, what makes them get bigger and what makes them get richer.″

His theories centered on the factors affecting the growth of national income. They provided the theoretical foundation for what is now the standard analysis and key to the measurement and estimation of the relative contributions of those factors.

Solow was senior economist of the Council of Economic Advisers to President John Kennedy. President Lyndon Johnson appointed him to study and report on all aspects of the nation’s public assistance and income transfer systems.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Aug. 23, 1924, Solow received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University in 1947 and his advanced degrees from Harvard in 1949 and 1951. He joined the MIT faculty in 1950.

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