No Relation No. 8

In the eighth installment of the ongoing “No Relation” series–which sorts out newsmakers with confusingly similar names–Explainer takes on the Samuelsons. Specifically, is Robert J. Samuelson, who writes a weekly column on economics for Newsweek, related to economist Paul A. Samuelson, Nobel laureate and author of the widely read economics textbook?

No, though Paul A. Samuelson has both a son and a brother named Robert. To confuse things further, Paul A. wrote a column for Newsweek in the ‘70s and Robert J.’s daughter, Ruth, attends the same New England prep school as four of Paul A.’s grandchildren. Paul A. is, however, the uncle of another economist, Lawrence Summers, the current Treasury secretary. They do not share the same last name because Paul A.’s brothers (Robert, an economics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Harold) changed their surnames to Summers for fear that their respective careers might be marred by the anti-Semitism that their birth name engendered. Lawrence Summers may be the only economist who has two uncles with Nobel prizes in economics: His mother’s brother is Kenneth Arrow, also a Nobel laureate in economics.

Larry Samuelson, an economist at the University of Wisconsin and no relation of any economist Samuelson, is no doubt grateful for Larry Summers’ father’s decision to change his name.

The author of this Explainer, despite being the grandson of Paul A., has no plans to pursue a career in economics.

Click here for Larry Samuelson’s home page, here for Larry Summers’. Read Paul A.’s most recent column, about Wall Street’s economic bubble, or Robert J.’s most recent Newsweek column about economics’ “soft landing” analogy.

Previously in this series, Explainer tackled the Gessens, Glennys, and Kaczynskis, the Cohens(two Stephens, three Richards), the Rays(two Elizabeths), the Hirschfelds(Abe and Al), the Strausses(Robert and R. Peter), the Broders(Jonathan, John M., and David), and the Moores (three Michaels).

Have you noticed people in the news with confusingly similar names? Send your suggestions to Explainer.