This interview (via Noah Smith) covers a wide range of topics in economics. In Part One of the interview (there is a link in the article to Part Two), Paul Samuelson gives his views on the profession with a particular focus on the business cycle. His textbook introduced Keynes to millions of students who took introductory economics courses. He was also a friend and colleague of Milton Friedman who he respected, but with whom he seldom agreed. Friedman, and many of his colleagues at the University of Chicago, were opposed to the use of fiscal policy to stimulate economies in recession. Friedman advocated a version of monetary theory that has never worked as he had argued, and others from Chicago have developed macroeconomic theories that Samuelson criticizes. The theories developed at the University of Chicago have one thing in common: The assume that government can do little to moderate a recession, and that government intervention in the economy will only make things worse. Samuelson discusses the Great Depression and he argues that fiscal policy made things better.
Many of the topics covered in this interview are relevant to our current economic problems. Samuelson's perspective, which is informed by a many years of historical experience within the profession, and with the sweep of economic history.