Economics man

Michael Perelman

Michael Perelman’s eyes light up as he reclines in his office chair, reminiscing about nearly 40 years of experiences in education. Perelman began teaching economics at Chico State in 1970 and he’s written 19 books over the course of his academic career. The noted economist has traveled throughout the world and has become a go-to source for journalists and others, nationally and internationally, seeking his insights into economics. Perelman is often found researching and writing in his office, but the spunky 73-year-old also is regularly spotted on the basketball court at the Chico State WREC, throwing down with the 20-year-olds no less. Go to to read his blog.

What needs to be done to turn the economy around?

We need to get money out of politics and a free press that provides serious information with in-depth reporting. Those are two of the primary things that need to happen to boost our economy. Without that, I don’t see us making significant progress anytime soon.

What are some of your most memorable experiences?

Well, the two highest honors as far as my experiences would be when I won this World Association for Political Economy (WAPE) award that I was given in Sujo, China, and a two-day conference that was held regarding my work, held in Colombia. But you know, I probably learn as much in the classroom as I do on the foreign trips. I’ll get anecdotes, I’ll get experiences, I’ll make valuable contacts with people who I’ll be in touch with. I remember someone in class asked me the other day how many countries I’ve been to … I had trouble remembering all of them.

What advice do you give to the people you meet?

Well, I try to tell my students not to rush into what they want to do. Everybody can be the best in the world at something. It’s a matter of figuring out what that something is. Like, for me, I tried a bunch of different majors before I settled in on what I do now. And make good new contacts; it can help you go further in life.

What gets you out playing basketball with the young guys at Chico State?

It’s an addiction. I love to do it. I think it keeps me younger, and also I really think it helps in the classroom. People relate to me differently and then that filters through the whole class. I believe playing basketball with these guys helps me with that. I like to meet new people, find out what they do. I probably learn just as much from them, if not more, than they learn from me.