Evidence in relation to whether Stanley Fischer committed plagiarism in his MIT PhD

February 25, 2014

This post is draft and preliminary on the topic of whether Stanley Fischer committed plagiarism in his Ph.D. thesis “Essays on assets and contingent commodities.” at MIT in 1969.  Paul Samuelson, Duncan Foley and Franklin Fisher were his committee.  Miguel Sidrauski was chairman until he died in 1968, then Foley and then Fisher.

Stanley Fischer in his 1969 thesis claims that he did not see the Hakansson 1966 thesis until after he wrote the parts of his thesis relevant to the issue of copying.

Paul Samuelson also told through intermediaries to Hakansson that he had not seen Hakansson’s thesis but felt guilty.  Samuelson’s 1969 paper was part of a group of 4 papers published in 1969 linked to the MIT Econ group.

Samuelson Paul 1969 “Lifetime portfolio selection by dynamic stochastic programming”

http://ideas.repec.org/a/tpr/restat/v51y1969i3p239-46.html MIT Press in its journal Review of Economics & Statistics. Volume (Year): 51 (1969) Issue (Month): 3 (August) Pages: 239-46

Robert C Merton Lifetime Portfolio Selection under Uncertainty: The Continuous-Time Case.  MIT Press in its journal Review of Economics & Statistics. Volume (Year): 51 (1969) Issue (Month): 3 (August) Pages: 247-57


Optimal Savings under Uncertainty    Levhari, David    Srinivasan, T N  Review of Economic Studies. Volume (Year): 36 (1969) Issue (Month): 106 (April) Pages: 153-63.

Levhari was a coauthor with Samuelson and co-author of Franklin Fisher.

Before them all and at MIT since 1966 was Hakansson’s 1966 thesis and UCLA working paper.


Hakansson’s paper was delayed in publication at Econometrica from 1966 to 1970.  Franklin Fisher was the editor of Econometrica in 1969 and 1970.


In 2003, after over 30 years to think of his story, Samuelson wrote the following.

 Thus, my much-cited 1969 paper on optimal intertemporal portfolio programming opportunistically used the Bellman-Beckman-Phelps recursive techniques to analyze what defines the best qualitative asset-portfolio mix of the Phelps 1962 aggregate saving. It was not plagiarism but it was horning in on a created public good there for the taking.


from Preface Knowledge, Information, and Expectations in Modern Macroeconomics:
In Honor of Edmund S. Phelps
Edited by Philippe Aghion, Roman Frydman, Joseph Stiglitz, and Michael Woodford. Its on line.


(See also



So in 2003, after 30 years to think of his story, Samuelson tells us this is it.  This suggests the picture that at MIT, Samuelson, Stanley Fischer, Robert C. Merton and their thesis committees including Miguel Sidrauski, Duncan Foley, Franklin Fisher, Paul Samuelson and others there such as Karl Shell and Peter Diamond were busying studying the 1962 paper by Phelps and did not know of the 1966 paper by Hakansson.

Phelps paper 1961 working paper at Cowles. “The Accumulation of Risky Capital: A Discrete-Time Sequential Utility Analysis.”


The MIT case is as follows.

  1. MIT does not acknowledge having the Hakansson 1966 paper at MIT in their statements.  So if it is shown they did have it, that shows they concealed information in their self serving claims later.
  2. Samuelson invented the intertemporal portfolio part for finite horizons himself and sketched the extension to multiple risky assets and inequality constraints.
  3. Robert C. Merton was not aware of the Hakansson or Hayne Leland 1968 Harvard thesis.
  4. Fischer invented his thesis based on the Samuelson August 1969 paper in draft form.
  5. Merton based his 1969 paper on the Samuelson 1969 paper in draft form.
  6. Stanley Fischer in his 1980s book with Blanchard gives sole credit to intertemporal portfolio choice to Samuelson not mentioning Hakansson at all.

Some problems with this are

  1. Stanley Fischer doesn’t even cite the 1962 Phelps paper in his thesis. Strange if they were all using Phelps as their starting point.  Note Samuelson was on the Fischer thesis committee, so if Samuelson thought they were using Phelps as their starting point, why didn’t he make Fischer cite Phelps in Fischer’s 1969 thesis?
  2. Karl Shell then of MIT chaired a session in 1966 in which Hakansson presented his thesis. This is in the published records of the American Economic Association (Page 114)
    . Thus in all their later statements, MIT concealed this material fact.
  3. Hakansson’s 1966 UCLA thesis was mimeographed by UCLA and sent out as a working paper to a distribution list.  Library of Congress has some records related to that working paper series.  Samuelson and likely others at MIT were probably on that list.
  4. Karl Shell and Franklin Fisher shared an office at MIT.
  5. Stanley Fischer and Robert C. Merton shared an office at MIT.
  6. Joseph Stiglitz cited the Hakansson paper in a Cowles paper dated from January 1969 and thanked Samuelson for comments in that draft.  The Samuelson paper was not published until August 1969.
  7. The Stanley Fischer thesis copies not just from the Hakansson 1966 thesis but also from another working paper of Hakansson at Yale.   Duncan Foley was from Yale and Stiglitz was at Yale.
  8. Franklin Fisher not only was the final chair of the Stanley Fischer thesis but he also was the editor of Econometrica in 1969 the date of a letter to Hakansson and 1970 the date of publication.
  9. Duncan Foley in a list of Stanley Fischer’s papers at History of Economic Thought left out the paper by Fischer that copies the working paper by Hakansson from Yale.  Foley was from Yale and was middle Chairman of the Fischer thesis.  Foley may have gotten the Hakansson paper with that part and then left that Fischer paper off the list of Fischer’s papers at HET.
  10. In various published later statements by Samuelson, Fischer, and others, the papers by Samuelson and Fischer have been admitted to as being equivalent to the Hakansson papers.
  11. Stanley Fischer does not cite the Levhari Srinivasan paper that does the infinite horizon case published in 1969.  Samuelson claims he started from the Levhari Srinivasan solution for an infinite horizon, when it was in draft form.
  12. The Stanley Fischer thesis is much longer than the Samuelson paper and had to be started at least a couple years before publication in 1969.
  13. The Fischer thesis starts from a more basic level than Samuelson and goes over the intermediate steps unlike Samuelson.
  14. The Fischer thesis doesn’t follow the Samuelson paper as a template, but instead it follows the Hakansson paper as a template.
  15. Samuelson makes some slips in his 1969 paper.  Samuelson thinks a certain one period equation in his paper is standard.  However, that equation only appears in the Hakansson paper, Fischer thesis and likely in the Hayne Leland Harvard 1968 thesis.  So Samuelson can’t think it was familiar or well known except he had seen it in these other places.
  16. Samuelson says that inequality constraints will work as an extension.  However, Samuelson knew from a prior book and a paper with McKean that inequality constraints, a type of boundary condition, usually throw off a formula solved without them.  Hakansson had shown already that in this special case you could still get a solution with them. Samuelson could only know that from Hakansson’s paper.
  17. Fischer follows closely the thesis of Hakansson in building up intertemporal portfolio theory from a new version of one period optimization first.  Prior one period portfolio theory used mean variance optimization. Before going to multiple period, it was first necessary to recast one period in terms of a new equation.  It is this equation Samuelson slips and calls familiar in his 1969 paper.
  18. Fischer published two papers while at Chicago out of his thesis. These acknowledge Hakansson’s priority.  However, in his 1980s textbook with Blanchard, Fischer only cites Samuelson, not his own papers or Hakansson or Leland.
  19. Hakansson is the person who first did intertemporal portfolio theory.  This is proven by the published record.  Yet he has never been made a Fellow of the Econometric Society or received any award for it.  Intertemporal portfolio theory is the foundation of modern finance since the 1960s including intertemporal equilibrium pricing models.
  20. In 2004, Olivier Blanchard interviewed Fischer. At that time, Blanchard didn’t even know that Fischer’s thesis was on intertemporal portfolio choice, which was part of their joint book Lectures on Macroeconomics in the 1989.  So no one told him for almost 20 years that part of his own book with Fischer was the subject of Fischer’s thesis and 2 of Fischer’s papers.  Rather amazing.
  21. Hakansson had many working papers from 1966 to 1969.  These were cited by other people at other universities.  He presented them at the 1966 Winter meeting of the Econometric Society.
  22. Merton in his Nobel Prize autobiography in 1997 incorrectly states that Hakansson was a graduate student up to 1969.  In fact, Hakansson was a prof at Yale from 1966 onwards with Stiglitz.  This is important because part of the Fischer thesis is based on a working paper by Hakansson at Yale.
  23. The Hakansson papers were what everyone in economics especially at MIT were trying to do, find the microfoundations of macro and the link between macro and finance.
  24. Textbooks since 1969 have tended to omit Hakansson’s papers at all such as Fischer’s own or have masked the priority of Hakansson.
  25. In Phelp’s Nobel Prize autobiography he is afraid to mention Hakansson and just vaguely says his own paper was the basis of work that followed.
  26. Samuelson in his quote above does not even mention that it is Hakansson.
  27. The Fischer thesis is using the Hakansson papers as a template in places.  Close textual analysis shows this. Moreover, results presented in Fischer if truly his own work and independent should have been cited by the MIT group as innovations. Instead they never give credit for any specific equation in Fischer’s thesis EVER.
  28. As mentioned, the Samuelson 1969 paper makes slips which show he was already familiar with the Hakansson paper results.
  29. The timeline of Samuelson publishing his paper in 1969 doesn’t work for the other papers.  The timeline by comparison of Samuelson, Merton and Fischer has to be Fischer first, then Samuelson and Merton.
  30. Merton’s continuous time work is a transcription from Fischer’s discrete time, not Samuelson’s discrete time.
  31. Samuelson does not make even an attempt to prove second order conditions. Hakansson did that first for intertemporal choice.  Fischer follows Hakansson and Merton follows both in the continuous time limit.
  32. No one treats Fischer’s work as the important work it would be if it was truly independent.
  33. Everyone associated with the MIT group has received awards for often trivial work while Hakansson’s work which is a foundation of modern macro and finance has never received an award.
  34. Peter Diamond got a Nobel Prize in between nominations.
  35. Peter Diamond was strangely added to the Aaron Swartz investigation by MIT after they were asked to investigate plagiarism in the Stanley Fischer thesis.
  36. Franklin Fisher was sent materials and asked to provide them to the Senate and FBI on this.  Did he?
  37. Karl Shell, Duncan Foley and Franklin Fisher were linked then and since and with Peter Diamond.  Have they given statements to the FBI?
  38. Daniel Rubinfeld was at MIT at the time, has he given a statement?  Rubinfeld is at Berkeley.
  39. Akerlof and Yellen at Berkeley have known of this for decades presumably.  Have they furnished statements to the FBI?
  40. Martin Weitzman was also at MIT at the time and later attended conferences in Poland prior to the 1975 Nobel Prize of Kantorovich.  What does he say? Did the Russians say they knew this and ask for nominations for Kantorovich from Arrow and Samuelson?
  41. Arrow strangely moved to Harvard and then back to Stanford. Was that linked to this?
  42. Marschak was on the Hakansson committee, and was a known Communist.  Was that used?
  43. Something happened in 1952 at University of Chicago and Markowitz’s thesis was delayed it appears until Cowles Commission left Chicaago.  Was that used by Samuelson?
  44. Did Russia use this to get IMF loans in the 1990s?
  45. Why does Putin keep saying that Shleifer was a CIA agent advising Anatoly Chubais? Chubais handled the IMF loans for Russia.
  46. Boris Berezovsky worked at the Institute of Control Sciences in Moscow that does the same math as in these papers. Did he have the idea to use this as pressure for IMF loans?  Were loans for shares his share?
  47. Did MIT provide information on this to the FBI or MI-5 during the 1990s? After Berezovsky’s death and before the Chechen terrorist attack in Boston?  After it?
  48. There are Berezovsky coauthors in the US and UK as well as other people who attended the conferences in Poland in the 1970s prior to the Nobel Prize for Soviet Kantorovich.  Have they been questioned?
  49. Russia has made numerous references to plagiarism in physics, math and econ starting in the 1930s to the present.  Have these ever been disclosed to the FBI by any university ever?  Their role in getting Nobel Prize nominations in physics and econ? Their role in gaining atomic secrets?
  50. Aaron Swartz was possibly investigating misconduct in his attempt to get JSTOR files.  Was this what he was interested in?  Lawrence Lessig knows Franklin Fisher and is a friend of Hal Abelson. Is that why Peter Diamond was added to the Abelson review of Swartz’s death?
  51. How many people have been pressured over this? How many gotten rewards?
  52. Dominique Strauss Kahn harassed female employees at IMF.  Was it because he knew this that he could get away with it?
  53. A Stanford professor put up photos of a Stanford junior faculty member at an econ conference and commented on her appearance to her dismay.  Was he able to get away with that because of this?  How much harassment has gone on where the professor is shielded by his knowledge of this?
  54. Junior faculty are being forced to participate in these citation games.  Are they being made to feel they are implicated? Are they being set up for another generation of pressure by Russia?
  55. China and India at a minimum seem aware of this if not involved at various times.  China especially.  The cooperation between Russia and China started in the 1940s and seems to be alive today.  This is valuable information for the FBI and MI5 to know.  The universities have concealed this.
  56. Events and investigations can be made in the US, UK, Sweden, Germany, France, Switzerland, Poland, and other countries.
  57. Pakistan appears to have known of this in physics and may have used it to help avoid its role in 9/11 being made public and to life its nuclear sanctions.  India also may have used this to help get the limitations on its importing nuclear fuel lifted.  So both sides of a nuclear arms race are benefiting from this?  Even if not, why does the US support two sides in a nuclear arms race and no one say anything about it?
  58. LTCM bought Russian government bonds in the 1990s. Because it knew this?
  59. DE Shaw did the same.  They later hired Summers, nephew of Samuelson, and paid him 5 million a year.  The employees thought he was a joke and a waste of time it appears from reports.

Hakansson and his wife have set up a website with his papers. They have had to endure 30 years of the lies from MIT and the false claims of credit.  Other people have gone along with it to get Nobel Prizes.




Stanley Fischer has a victim’s website, a family that is his victim.  Has MIT told the Senate or FBI about this website?  Have they explained the inconsistencies in their story since 1969 to the present?

The above is draft and preliminary.   This is subject to revision.  Please restate as questions.  All other disclaimers apply.


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