EconTalk

By Russ Roberts

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Subscribers: 4008
Reviews: 16

Chris
 Aug 10, 2021
Great topics but interviewer is often rude dounding in his demeanor and often goes on tangents not 100% related to ongoing conversation. I get the feeling he believes he is smarter than everyone he interviews


 Jul 12, 2021
really gone down hill these last few years. Russ has gotten much less critically analytical to narratives he agrees with.


 Sep 11, 2020

KOT
 Dec 2, 2019
Best poscast ever.


 Oct 29, 2019

Description

EconTalk: Conversations for the Curious is an award-winning weekly podcast hosted by Russ Roberts of Shalem College in Jerusalem. The eclectic guest list includes authors, doctors, psychologists, historians, philosophers, economists, and more. Learn how the health care system really works, the serenity that comes from humility, the challenge of interpreting data, how potato chips are made, what it's like to run an upscale Manhattan restaurant, what caused the 2008 financial crisis, the nature of consciousness, and more. EconTalk has been taking the Monday out of Mondays since 2006. All 800+ episodes are available in the archive. Go to EconTalk.org for transcripts, related resources, and comments.

Episode Date
Noreena Hertz on the Lonely Century
01:05:07

Author and economist Noreena Hertz of University College London talks about her book, The Lonely Century, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hertz blames social media and the individualist, pro-capitalism worldviews of leaders like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan for the rise in loneliness in the developed world. Russ suggests some alternative causes. The result is a lively conversation about understanding and explaining social trends.

Sep 27, 2021
David Henderson on the Essential UCLA School of Economics
01:07:21

Economist and author David Henderson talks about his book (co-authored with Steve Globerman) The Essential UCLA School of Economics with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Much of the conversation focuses on the work of Armen Alchian and Harold Demsetz, who both saw economics as a powerful tool for understanding human behavior and how the world works.

Sep 20, 2021
Glen Weyl on Antitrust, Capitalism, and Radical Reform
01:05:56

Author and Microsoft executive Glen Weyl talks about radical reforms of capitalism with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Weyl is worried about the concentration of corporate power, especially in the tech sector. But rather than use the traditional tools of antitrust, he has a more radical strategy for reorganizing corporate governance entirely.

Sep 13, 2021
Johann Hari on Lost Connections
01:35:23

Author and journalist Johann Hari talks about his book, Lost Connections: Why You Are Depressed and How to Find Hope, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hari, who has suffered with depression as a teenager and an adult, offers a sweeping critique of the medical establishment's understanding of depression and the frequent reliance on pharmaceutical treatments. Hari argues that it is our lost connections with each other, with our work, and with ourselves that explains the rise in depression in recent times.

Sep 06, 2021
Bret Devereaux on Ancient Greece and Rome
01:16:52

Historian Bret Devereaux of the University of North Carolina talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about our understanding of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Devereaux highlights the gap between the reality of Greece and Rome and how they're portrayed in popular culture. The conversation focuses on the diversity of ancient Rome and the military prowess of Sparta.

Aug 30, 2021
Michael Heller and James Salzman on Mine!
01:09:45

Law professors Michael Heller and James Salzman talk about their book, Mine! with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Heller and Salzman argue that ownership is trickier and more complicated than it looks. While we tend to think of something as either mine or not mine, there's often ambiguity and a continuum about who owns what. Salzman and Heller explore a wide and surprising range of property rights from everyday life. The conversation includes a discussion of the insights of Ronald Coase on the assignment of property rights when rights conflict.

Aug 23, 2021
Nicholas Wapshott on Samuelson and Friedman
01:08:57

Journalist and author Nicholas Wapshott talks about his book Samuelson Friedman with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Milton Friedman and Paul Samuelson were two of the most influential economists of the last century. They competed for professional acclaim and had very different policy visions. The conversation includes their differences over the work of Keynes, their rivalry in their columns at Newsweek, and a discussion of their intellectual and policy legacies.

Aug 16, 2021
Michael Munger on Free Markets
01:10:16

Author and economist Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the virtues--and the flaws--of free markets. Munger says the best argument for a free market approach is not that it's perfect but that it's better than anything else we've been able to come up with over the centuries. Better at bringing people out of poverty, better at promoting wealth creation, and better at pushing up the standard of living for most of the people, most of the time. Topics include what exactly is a free market, why specialization is so important, the case for case-by-case intervention, and the challenge of picking the prettiest pig.

Aug 09, 2021
Jonathan Rauch on the Constitution of Knowledge
01:02:37
Aug 02, 2021
James Heckman on Inequality and Economic Mobility
01:23:40

Economist and Nobel Laureate James Heckman of the University of Chicago talks about inequality and economic mobility with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Drawing on research on inequality in Denmark with Rasmus Landerso, Heckman argues that despite the efforts of the Danish welfare state to provide equal access to education, there is little difference in economic mobility between the United States and Denmark. The conversation includes a general discussion of economic mobility in the United States along with a critique of Chetty and others' work on the power of neighborhood to determine one's economic destiny.

Jul 26, 2021
Michael Easter on the Comfort Crisis
01:13:09

Journalist and author Michael Easter talks about his book The Comfort Crisis with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Easter thinks modern life is too easy, too comfortable. To be healthy, he says, we need to move out of our comfort zones and every once in a while try to do something, especially something physically demanding, that we didn't think was possible. Easter discusses rising levels of anxiety and depression in the West and why taking on challenges can be part of the solution.

Jul 19, 2021
Don Boudreaux on the Pandemic
01:10:54

Economist Don Boudreaux of George Mason University talks about the pandemic with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Boudreaux argues that a perfect storm of factors created a huge overreaction, including unnecessary lockdowns that accomplished little at a very high cost in physical and emotional health. Instead, Boudreaux argues, we should have focused attention on the population most at risk of dying from COVID--the elderly and especially the elderly with co-morbidities. The conversation includes a discussion of externalities and the insights of Ronald Coase applied to the policies during the pandemic.

Jul 12, 2021
Claudia Hauer on War, Education, and Strategic Humanism
01:11:56

Claudia Hauer of St. John's College and the Air Force Academy talks about her book Strategic Humanism with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Topics discussed include war, rage, terrorism, and what a modern warrior might learn from Homer.

Jul 05, 2021
Sebastian Junger on Freedom
01:01:54

Journalist and author Sebastian Junger talks about his book, Freedom, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. The book and conversation are based on a 400-mile walk Junger took with buddies along railroad rights-of-way, evading police, railroad security, and other wanderers. Junger discusses the ever-present tension between the human desire to be free and the desire to be interconnected and part of something. Along the way, Junger talks about the joy of walking, the limits of human endurance, war, and why the more powerful, better-equipped military isn't always the winner.

Jun 28, 2021
Anja Shortland on Lost Art
01:12:14

Economist and author Anja Shortland of King's College London talks about her new book, Lost Art, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. When a famous painting disappears into the underworld of stolen art, how does it make its way back into the legitimate world of auction houses and museums? Drawing on the archives of a private database of stolen objects--the Art Loss Register--Shortland discusses the economics of the art world when objects up for sale may be the result of theft.

Jun 21, 2021
Donald Shoup on the Economics of Parking
01:08:34

Author and economist Donald Shoup of UCLA talks about destructive parking policies with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Shoup argues that most parking policies inflict unseen damage on the economy. He urges cities to charge for curbside parking and use the proceeds to improve the neighborhood beyond the curb. Stroup also explains the surprising harm done by requiring new buildings to provide a minimum level of off-street parking.

Jun 14, 2021
Ian Leslie on Conflicted
01:14:01

Author Ian Leslie talks about his book Conflicted with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Leslie argues that, far from being a negative thing, conflict is often the essential ingredient that helps us get to the right answer or best solution. Because some of our best thinking comes in collaboration with others, learning how to disagree civilly when our views conflict is the key to productive conversation in business and in marriage. The conversation includes a surprising defense of confirmation bias.

Jun 07, 2021
Bruce Meyer on Poverty
01:11:44

Economist Bruce Meyer of the University of Chicago talks about poverty with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. In recent years, a number of scholars have claimed that millions of Americans live in extreme poverty, akin to the standard of living in the poorest countries around the world. Meyer argues that these studies are based on flawed surveys or particular assumptions that may not be justified. The conversation also addresses broader challenges around measuring mobility and the American Dream.

May 31, 2021
Jason Riley on Race in America
01:05:39

Journalist and author Jason Riley talks about race with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Riley argues that the challenges facing Black America go beyond racial discrimination and the threat of police violence. He argues that both the history of Black Americans and the current situation has been distorted by activists who benefit from that distorted picture.

May 24, 2021
Julia Galef on the Scout Mindset
01:07:11

Podcaster and author Julia Galef talks about her book The Scout Mindset with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Galef urges us to be more rational--to be open-minded about what we might discover about the world--rather than simply defend what we already believe, which she calls the soldier mindset. The conversation is a wide-ranging discussion of our biases and the challenges of viewing the world objectively.

May 17, 2021
Agnes Callard on Anger
01:25:27

Philosopher Agnes Callard of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about anger. Is anger something we should vilify and strive to eradicate in ourselves? Or should we accept it as a necessary and appropriate human emotion? Callard takes a fresh look at anger and has much to say about jealousy, desire, and forgiveness as well.

May 10, 2021
Katy Milkman on How to Change
01:08:20

Behavioral scientist Katy Milkman of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania talks about her book How to Change with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. What can we learn from research in psychology and behavioral economics about breaking the habits we want to change? Is that research reliable? And should Russ Roberts accept being overweight or keep working at finding the thinner man trying to get out?

May 03, 2021
Roya Hakakian on A Beginner's Guide to America
01:09:43

Author and poet Roya Hakakian talks about her latest book, A Beginner's Guide to America: For the Immigrant and the Curious with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hakakian was born in Iran and came to the United States as a 19 year-old, not speaking any English, and carrying only the things she could stuff in her backpack. She tells Russ about the love affair she's had with her adopted country as well as where there is room for improvement.

Apr 26, 2021
Mark Rank on Poverty and Poorly Understood
01:08:47

Sociologist and author Mark Rank talks about his book, Poorly Understood, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Rank looks at a wide variety of aspects of poverty. He argues that many widely-held views on poverty are inaccurate, and in particular he argues that most Americans will be poor at some point in their lives. This is a wide-ranging and lively conversation on the nature of poverty and the challenge of ending or reducing it.

Apr 19, 2021
Emiliana Simon-Thomas on Happiness
01:32:01

Psychologist Emiliana Simon-Thomas of the University of California, Berkeley talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the science of happiness--what research can teach us about happiness.

Apr 12, 2021
Tyler Cowen on the Pandemic, Revisited
01:14:49

Blogger, author, podcaster, economist Tyler Cowen of George Mason University discusses the lessons learned from the pandemic with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Appearing roughly one year after his first conversation on the pandemic, Cowen revisits the predictions he made then and what he has learned for the next time.

Apr 05, 2021
Max Kenner on Crime, Education, and the Bard Prison Initiative
01:07:28

Max Kenner, founder and executive director of the Bard Prison Initiative--which offers college degrees to prisoners--talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the program, which replicates the coursework of students at Bard College. The Bard Prison Initiative was profiled in a four-part PBS documentary, College Behind Bars. Kenner talks about the origins of the program, what students experience, and the injustice he sees in both the criminal justice system and the educational system in the United States.

Mar 29, 2021
Megan McArdle on Catastrophes and the Pandemic
01:18:44

Whether it's a pandemic or a Texas-sized ice storm that leaves millions of people without power, we'd like to avoid a repetition. Megan McArdle of the Washington Post talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenge of learning the right lessons from the current crisis in order to prevent the next one. McArdle argues that we frequently learn the wrong lessons from the past in trying to prevent the harm from the catastrophes that might be waiting in our future.

Mar 22, 2021
Sherry Turkle on Family, Artificial Intelligence, and the Empathy Diaries
01:27:51

Psychologist and author Sherry Turkle of MIT talks about her book, The Empathy Diaries, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. The Empathy Diaries is a memoir about Turkle's secretive family and how that secrecy turned Turkle into an acute observer, skilled at revealing the story behind the story. She also chronicles the early days of artificial intelligence and the evolution of the computer. Topics in this conversation include the challenges of family, the role of technology in our lives, the limits of artificial intelligence, and the importance of Bambi.

Mar 15, 2021
Leon Kass on Human Flourishing, Living Well, and Aristotle
01:16:02

Leon Kass, long-time teacher of classic works at the University of Chicago and now Dean of Faculty at Shalem College in Jerusalem, talks about human flourishing with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Drawing on an essay from his book, Leading a Worthy Life, Kass gives a broad overview of Aristotle's ideas on how to live.

 

This episode also discusses the listeners' votes for their Top 10 EconTalk podcast episodes for 2020.

Mar 08, 2021
Michael Munger on Desires, Morality, and Self-Interest
01:14:16

Economist and author Michael Munger of Duke University talks about human wants and desires with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Human beings have desires about our desires. Can we change what we want? And how should economists and normal human beings think about doing the right thing, what we often call morality? Is acting morally self-interested behavior or is it possible to act selflessly?

Mar 01, 2021
John Cochrane on the Pandemic
01:08:28

Would the impact of the pandemic have been different if government and policymakers had been more open to more market-based responses and less committed to a top-down approach? Economist John Cochrane of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the pandemic and the policy response. Cochrane believes outcomes would have been much better if governments, in the United States and elsewhere, had embraced approaches that relied more on market forces.

Feb 22, 2021
Dana Gioia on Learning, Poetry, and Studying with Miss Bishop
01:35:45

Poet and author Dana Gioia talks about his book Studying with Miss Bishop with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. They talk about the craft of being a poet, the business world, mentorship, loss, why poetry no longer seems to matter, and how it might begin to matter again.

Feb 15, 2021
Lamorna Ash on Dark, Salt, Clear
01:14:21

Lamorna Ash talks about her book Dark, Salt, Clear with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Ash leaves London and moves to the small fishing village of Newlyn, near where her mother grew up on the Cornish coast. In Newlyn, everything revolves around fishing. Ash gets herself a bunk on a trawler and quickly learns how to gut fish with sharp knives on a rocking boat in the middle of the night. And so much more.

Feb 08, 2021
Michael McCullough on the Kindness of Strangers
01:21:07

Author and psychologist Michael McCullough of the University of California, San Diego talks about his book The Kindness of Strangers with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. McCullough traces the history of human empathy and tries to explain why we care about the welfare of people we don't even know.

Feb 01, 2021
Scott Newstok on How to Think Like Shakespeare
01:09:13

Author Scott Newstok of Rhodes College talks about his book, How to Think Like Shakespeare, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Newstok draws on Shakespeare and other great writers and thinkers to explore the nature of education and the life well-lived.

See also the Transcript/Highlights and Delve Deeper/Additional readings materials --all available at econtalk.org.

Jan 25, 2021
Gary Shiffman on the Economics of Violence
00:59:05

Economist and author Gary Shiffman of Georgetown University talks about his book, The Economics of Violence, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Shiffman argues that we should view terrorism, insurgency, and crime as being less about ideology and more about personal expression and entrepreneurship. He argues that approaching these problems as economists gives us better tools for fighting them.

Jan 18, 2021
Don Boudreaux on Buchanan
01:16:18

Economist and author Don Boudreaux of George Mason University discusses the life and work of the economist James Buchanan with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Buchanan received the Nobel Prize in 1986 for his work creating and developing public choice--the field which applies the tools of economics to politicians and political behavior. After discussing the importance of public choice, Boudreaux and Roberts focus on two contrarian articles of Buchanan's where he argues for the importance of markets and life as processes rather than problems to be solved analytically.

Jan 11, 2021
Matthew Crawford on Why We Drive
01:15:20

Author Matthew Crawford talks about his book Why We Drive with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. The conversation is about driving but also much more: how human beings interact with technology and what we gain and give up when we embrace technology driven by corporate profit-seeking.

Jan 04, 2021
Michael Blastland on the Hidden Half
01:14:45

Author Michael Blastland talks about his book The Hidden Half with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Blastland argues that the deeper you delve into science, medicine, astrophysics--pick a topic--the more you realize there is a lot we don't understand. Things we can't explain. Blastland believes we would all do well to admit that and stop pretending that everything is knowable and every problem solvable.

Dec 28, 2020
Jay Bhattacharya on the Pandemic
01:20:58

Economist and physician Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University talks about the pandemic with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Bhattacharya, along with Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University, authored The Great Barrington Declaration, which advocates a very different approach to fighting the pandemic than current policy and practice. Bhattacharya and his colleagues argue the best way to reduce overall harm is to focus protection efforts on those most at risk, while allowing low-risk populations to return to a more normal way of life. Bhattacharya argues that we have greatly neglected the costs of lockdown and self-quarantine.

Dec 21, 2020
Katherine Levine Einstein on Neighborhood Defenders
01:02:45

Why is affordable housing in such short supply? Author and political scientist Katherine Levine Einstein of Boston University talks about her book Neighborhood Defenders with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Einstein focuses on the ability of local residents to use the zoning and permit process to prevent development of housing or to reduce the amount of housing that can be built.

Dec 14, 2020
Branko Milanovic on the Big Questions of Economics
01:22:40

Author and economist Branko Milanovic of CUNY talks about the big questions in economics with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Milanovic argues that the Nobel Prize Committee is missing an opportunity to encourage more ambitious work by awarding the prize to economists tackling questions like the rise of China's economy and other challenging but crucial areas of scholarship. In the conversation, he lays out what those questions might be and discusses what we know and don't know in these areas.

Dec 07, 2020
Emily Oster on the Pandemic
01:04:26

Economist and author Emily Oster of Brown University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenge of reopening schools in a pandemic. Oster has been collecting data from K-12 schools around the country. Her preliminary analysis finds little evidence that schools are super-spreaders of COVID. She argues that closing schools comes at a high cost for the students with little benefit in reducing the spread of the disease. The conversation ends with a discussion of parenting.

Nov 30, 2020
Daniel Haybron on Happiness
01:24:01

Philosopher and author Daniel Haybron of St. Louis University talks about his book, Happiness, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Happiness turns out to be a little more complicated than it sounds. Haybron discusses the good life and different philosophical perspectives on how to achieve happiness.

Nov 23, 2020
Virginia Postrel on Textiles and the Fabric of Civilization
01:06:40

Author and journalist Virginia Postrel talks about her book The Fabric of Civilization and How Textiles Made the World with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Postrel tells the fascinating story behind the clothes we wear and everything that goes into producing them throughout history. The history of textiles, Postrel argues, is a good way of understanding the history of the world.

Nov 16, 2020
Steven Levitt on Freakonomics and the State of Economics
01:33:36

Author and economist Steven Levitt is the William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and host of the podcast "People I (Mostly) Admire." He is best known as the co-author, with Stephen Dubner, of Freakonomics. The book, published in 2005, became a phenomenon, selling more than 5 million copies in 40 languages. Levitt talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the book's surprising success, the controversy it generated, and how it shaped his career. Levitt says, for him, "economics is about going into the world and finding puzzles and thinking about how understanding incentives or markets might help us get a better grasp of what's really going on."

Nov 09, 2020
Rob Wiblin and Russ Roberts on Charity, Science, and Utilitarianism
01:47:17

Rob Wiblin, host of the 80,000 Hours podcast, interviews EconTalk host Russ Roberts about charity, the reliability of data to inform decision-making, and utilitarianism.

Nov 02, 2020
Fredrik deBoer on the Cult of Smart
01:17:09

Author and journalist Fredrik deBoer discusses his book The Cult of Smart with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. DeBoer argues that there is little that can be done to change the distribution of success in K-12 education. He argues that educational reforms like charter schools and No Child Left Behind are doomed to failure. At the end of the conversation, deBoer, a self-described Marxist, makes the case for a radical re-imagining of the U.S. economy.

Oct 26, 2020
Dwayne Betts on Reading, Prison, and the Million Book Project
01:32:44

Author, lawyer, and poet Dwayne Betts talks about his time in prison and the power of reading with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Betts is the founder of the Million Book Project, which aims to put a small library of great books in 1,000 U.S. prisons. Betts discusses his plans for the project and how reading helped him transform himself.

Oct 19, 2020
Anne Applebaum on the Twilight of Democracy
01:00:12

Journalist and author Anne Applebaum talks about her book, Twilight of Democracy, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Applebaum discusses the rise of populist and nationalist movements in Eastern Europe as well as in the West, and the appeal of these movements even when they begin to erode or destroy democracy.

Oct 12, 2020
Zena Hitz on Lost in Thought
01:29:50

Philosopher and author Zena Hitz of St. John's College talks about her book, Lost in Thought, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hitz defends learning for its own sake--learning that has nothing to do with passing an exam or preparing for a career. For Hitz, learning is a refuge and an essential part of what makes us human.

Oct 05, 2020
Agnes Callard on Aspiration
01:23:31

Where do our deepest personal values come from? Can we choose those values? Philosopher and author Agnes Callard of the University of Chicago talks about her book, Aspiration, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Callard explores the challenge of aspiration--who we are versus who we would like to become. How does aspiration work? How can we transform ourselves when we cannot know how it will feel to be transformed? Callard discusses these questions and more in this provocative episode.

Sep 28, 2020
Lisa Cook on Racism, Patents, and Black Entrepreneurship
01:08:52

How much has racism held back the U.S. economy? What would the country look like today if Black entrepreneurs and inventors had been welcomed and encouraged over the past century and a half? Economist Lisa Cook of Michigan State University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her research into the impact of racism, lynching, and segregation on Black inventors and entrepreneurs.

Sep 21, 2020
Robert Chitester on Milton Friedman and Free to Choose
01:05:14

Once upon a time, a man had an idea for a documentary on free-market ideas. Then that man was introduced to Milton Friedman. The result of their collaboration was a wildly successful book and PBS series, Free to Choose, capturing Friedman's view of the world, how markets work, and the role of individual liberty in free-market economies. The man behind that documentary, Robert Chitester, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how that documentary came about and Chitester's long-time friendship and work with Milton and Rose Friedman.

Sep 14, 2020
Margaret Heffernan on Uncharted
01:04:20

How do we prepare for a future that is unpredictable? That's the question at the heart of Margaret Heffernan's new book, Uncharted: How to Navigate the Future. Heffernan is a professor at the University of Bath, but she is also a serial entrepreneur, a former CEO, and the author of five books on leadership, innovation, and the challenge of unleashing talent and creativity in large organizations. In this wide-ranging conversation with EconTalk host Russ Roberts, Heffernan discusses the central thesis of her book: The future may be unpredictable, but that doesn't mean you can't prepare for it. And smart organizations and people can learn how to do it.

Sep 07, 2020
Matt Ridley on How Innovation Works
01:11:08

What's the difference between invention and innovation? Could it be that innovation--the process of making a breakthrough invention available, affordable, and reliable--is actually the hard part? In this week's EconTalk episode, author Matt Ridley talks about his book How Innovation Works with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Ridley argues that we give too much credit to inventors and not enough to innovators--those who refine and improve an invention to make it valuable to users. Along the way, he emphasizes the power of trial and error and the importance of permissionless innovation.

Aug 31, 2020
Franklin Zimring on When Police Kill
01:03:39

Franklin Zimring's 2017 book, When Police Kill, starts with an alarming statistic: Roughly 1,000 Americans die each year at the hands of police. Zimring, criminologist and law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, talks about his book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Zimring argues that better policing practices can reduce the number of citizens killed by the police. He also discusses the barriers that stand in the way of more effective and safer policing.

Aug 24, 2020
Michael Munger on the Future of Higher Education
01:07:55

In this c750th (!) episode, Duke University's Michael Munger talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about whether the pandemic might create an opportunity for colleges and universities to experiment and innovate. Munger is Professor of Political Science, Economics and Public Policy at Duke. He believes "top" schools can emerge from the current period of uncertainty to thrive in the long run. The path for "second-tier" institutions could be more difficult. They will still face the challenges that existed before the pandemic: competition from online classes and a shrinking pool of new applicants ready to pay high tuition bills.

Aug 17, 2020
Ben Cohen on the Hot Hand
01:08:53

Journalist and author Ben Cohen talks about his book, The Hot Hand, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. At times in sports and elsewhere in life, a person seems to be "on fire," playing at an unusually high level. Is this real or an illusion? Cohen takes the listener through the scientific literature on this question and spreads a very wide net to look at the phenomenon of being in the zone outside of sports. Topics include Shakespeare, investing, Stephen Curry, and asylum judges.

Aug 10, 2020
John Kay and Mervyn King on Radical Uncertainty
01:14:11

John Kay and Mervyn King talk about their book, Radical Uncertainty, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. This is a wide-ranging discussion based on the book looking at rationality, decision-making under uncertainty, and the economists' view of the world.

Aug 03, 2020
Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the Pandemic
01:07:44

Nassim Nicholas Taleb talks about the pandemic with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Topics discussed include how to handle the rest of this pandemic and the next one, the power of the mask, geronticide, and soul in the game.

Jul 27, 2020
Glenn Loury on Race, Inequality, and America
00:57:33

Economist and author Glenn Loury of Brown University talks about race in America with EconTalk host Russ Roberts.

Jul 20, 2020
Josh Williams on Online Gaming, Blockchain, and Forte
01:13:56

Josh Williams, co-founder and CEO of the blockchain gaming company Forte, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of online gaming and the potential of a blockchain-based gaming platform to create market economies with property rights within online games.

Jul 13, 2020
Robert Lerman on Apprenticeships
01:03:12

Economist Robert Lerman of the Urban Institute talks about apprenticeships with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Lerman argues that apprenticeships--a combination of work experience and classroom learning--have the potential to expand opportunities for young people who don't want to attend college.

Jul 06, 2020
Vivian Lee on The Long Fix
01:04:36

Physician and author Vivian Lee talks about her book The Long Fix with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Lee argues that we can transform health care in the United States, though it may take a while. She argues that the current fee-for-service system incentivizes doctors to provide services rather than keep patients healthy and that these are not the same thing. Topics explored include innovations in Medicare and in technology that might change treatment incentives as well as the weird world of health care pricing.

Jun 29, 2020
Agnes Callard on Philosophy, Progress, and Wisdom
01:09:24

Philosopher and author Agnes Callard talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of philosophy, the power of philosophy, and the search for wisdom and truth. This is a wide-ranging conversation related to the question of how we learn, how to behave ethically, and the role of religion and philosophy in encouraging good behavior.

Jun 22, 2020
Diane Ravitch on Slaying Goliath
01:02:19

Author and historian Diane Ravitch of New York University talks about her book, Slaying Goliath, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Ravitch argues that the charter school movement is a failure and that it drains needed money from public schools.

Jun 15, 2020
Rebecca Henderson on Reimagining Capitalism
01:06:21

Author and economist Rebecca Henderson of the Harvard Business School talks about her book Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Henderson argues that the focus on shareholder value threatens to destroy capitalism from within. Henderson argues that business leaders need to manage their companies differently in order to create a more humane and stable capitalism.

Jun 08, 2020
Sarah Carr on Charter Schools, Educational Reform, and Hope Against Hope
01:00:57

Journalist and author Sarah Carr talks about her book Hope Against Hope with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Carr looked at three schools in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and chronicled their successes, failures, and the challenges facing educational reform in the poorest parts of America.

Jun 01, 2020
Martin Gurri on the Revolt of the Public
01:11:31

Author Martin Gurri, Visiting Fellow at George Mason University's Mercatus Center, talks about his book The Revolt of the Public with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Gurri argues that a digital tsunami--the increase in information that the web provides--has destabilized authority and many institutions. He talks about the amorphous nature of recent populist protest movements around the world and where we might be headed politically and culturally.

May 25, 2020
Robert Pondiscio on How the Other Half Learns
01:20:47

Author and teacher Robert Pondiscio of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute talks about his book How the Other Half Learns with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Pondiscio shares his experience of being embedded in a Success Academy Charter School in New York City for a year--lessons about teaching, education policy, and student achievement.

May 18, 2020
Paul Romer on the COVID-19 Pandemic
01:02:02

In this bonus episode of EconTalk, economist and Nobel Laureate Paul Romer discusses the coronavirus pandemic with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Romer argues that the status quo of shutdown and fear of infection is unsustainable. Returning to normal requires an inexpensive, quick, and relatively painless test. Such tests are now available. The challenge is in relaxing certain regulations and then creating a supply chain of production and availability. Romer then explains how such a test could ease a return to something like normalcy for many sectors of the economy. The conversation concludes with a discussion of the dynamics of the labor market in the current situation.

May 15, 2020
Branko Milanovic on Capitalism, Alone
01:38:08

Economist and author Branko Milanovic of the Graduate Center, CUNY, talks about his book, Capitalism, Alone, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. They discuss inequality, the challenge of corruption in the Chinese system, and Milanovic's claim that in American capitalism, the texture of daily life is increasingly affected by the sharing economy and other opportunities.

May 11, 2020
L.A. Paul on Vampires, Life Choices, and Transformation
01:14:31

Philosopher and author L.A. Paul talks about her book Transformative Experience with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Paul explores the uncertainties that surround the transformative experiences that we choose and that happen to us without choosing. How should we think about the morality and personal impact of these kinds of experiences, especially when some decisions are very hard or impossible to reverse? Examples include becoming a vampire, having children, religion, and other life experiences and choices.

May 04, 2020
Alan Lightman on Stardust, Meaning, Religion, and Science
01:21:15

Physicist and author Alan Lightman talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the origins of the universe, meaning, transcendence, and the relationship between science and religion.

Apr 27, 2020
Vinay Prasad on Cancer Drugs, Medical Ethics, and Malignant
01:18:04

Oncologist, author, and podcaster Vinay Prasad talks about his book Malignant with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Prasad lays out the conflicts of interest and scientific challenges that make drugs that fight cancer so disappointing at times. The conversation looks at how policy changes might improve the incentives facing doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and patients.

Apr 20, 2020
Ed Leamer on Manufacturing, Effort, and Inequality
01:14:05

Economist Ed Leamer of UCLA talks about manufacturing, effort, and inequality with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. The conversation draws on recent empirical work of Leamer's on how measured inequality is affected by the work effort of Americans at different levels of education. The conversation ends with a discussion of how education can be transformed when it is more personal and allows the student to explore and discover under the guidance of a teacher.

Apr 13, 2020
Arnold Kling on the Three Languages of Politics, Revisited
01:03:14

Economist and author Arnold Kling talks about the revised edition of his book The Three Languages of Politics in front of a live audience at the Cato Institute, recorded in September of 2019. Kling talks about the changed political landscape in the United States and around the world and how his ideas have changed since the book was first published in 2013.

Apr 06, 2020
Jenny Schuetz on Land Regulation and the Housing Market
01:15:12

Jenny Schuetz of the Brookings Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about zoning, boarding houses, real estate development, and the housing market.

Mar 30, 2020
Azra Raza on The First Cell
01:24:43

Author and oncologist Azra Raza talks about her book The First Cell with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Raza argues that we have made little progress in fighting cancer over the last 50 years. The tools available to oncologists haven't changed much--the bulk of the progress that has been made has been through earlier and earlier detection rather than more effective or compassionate treatment options. Raza wants to see a different approach from the current strategy of marginal improvements on narrowly defined problems at the cellular level. Instead, she suggests an alternative approach that might better take account of the complexity of human beings and the way that cancer morphs and spreads differently across people and even within individuals. The conversation includes the challenges of dealing with dying patients, the importance of listening, and the bittersweet nature of our mortality.

Mar 23, 2020
Tyler Cowen on the COVID-19 Pandemic
01:19:52

Economist and infovore Tyler Cowen of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the political, social, and economic aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mar 19, 2020
Isabella Tree on Wilding
01:17:44

Author and conservationist Isabella Tree talks about her book Wilding with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Tree and her husband decided to turn their 3500 acre farm, the Knepp Castle Estate, into something wilder, a place for wild ponies, wild pigs, wild oxen, and an ever-wider variety of birds and bugs. The conversation covers the re-wilding phenomenon, the complexity of natural systems, and the nature of emergent order.

Mar 16, 2020
Richard Davies on Extreme Economies
02:04:57

Economist and author Richard Davies talks about his book Extreme Economies with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. The conversation explores economic life in extreme situations. Examples discussed are the Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana, two Syrian refugee camps in Jordan, the rain forest in the Darien Gap in Panama, and Kinshasa, the largest city in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is an economic and journalistic tour de force as Davies shares insights from his encounters with people around the world struggling to trade and prosper in extreme environments.

Mar 09, 2020
Yuval Levin on A Time to Build
01:08:58

Author and political scientist Yuval Levin of the American Enterprise Institute talks about his book A Time to Build with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Levin argues that institutions in America are less trustworthy than they have been in the past. The cause, in Levin's view, is that the participants in these institutions no longer see the institution they are part of as something that molds them and has norms to which the participants conform. Instead, participants view the institution as a platform to gain attention and notoriety. This in turn means that institutions are increasingly unable to perform their primary function as they once did. The conversation concludes with some ideas for how individuals might change how they see their roles within institutions and life as a way of working together in common purpose.

Mar 02, 2020
Richard Robb on Willful
01:31:33

Economist, author, and investor Richard Robb talks about his book Willful with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Robb is interested in what motivates and explains the choices we make. He explores alternatives to the optimizing model of economics including what he calls "for-itself" behavior--behavior that isn't purposive. Topics discussed in this wide-ranging conversation include the nature of work, decision-making under uncertainty, the Joseph story in the Book of Genesis, Nietzsche, the Financial Crisis of 2008, altruism, and how green beans are sold.

Feb 24, 2020
Peter Singer on The Life You Can Save
01:06:13

Philosopher and author Peter Singer of Princeton University talks about his book, The Life You Can Save with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Singer argues that those of us in the developed world with a high standard of living can and should give/forgo some luxuries and donate instead to reduce poverty and suffering in poor countries. This is a wide-ranging conversation on the potential we have to make the world a better place and the practical challenges of having an impact.

Feb 17, 2020
Marty Makary on the Price We Pay
01:20:01

Physician and author Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins University talks about his book The Price We Pay with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Makary highlights some of the stranger aspects of our current health care system including the encouragement of unnecessary or even harmful procedures and the predatory behavior of some hospitals who sue patients and garnish their wages to recover fees that are secret until after the procedure is completed. Makary favors requiring hospitals to make their prices transparent. He also discusses a number of ways that employers and patients are trying to avoid the worst aspects of the current system.

Feb 10, 2020
Robert Shiller on Narrative Economics
01:02:22

Economist, author, and Nobel Laureate Robert Shiller of Yale University discusses his book Narrative Economics with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Shiller proposes a novel idea--that the narratives that people believe and use to understand the world affect their economic behavior and in turn affect the macroeconomy. Shiller argues that taking these psychological effects into account is a new frontier of economic research and he gives a number of examples of how we might think about these phenomena.

Feb 03, 2020
Daniel Klein on Honest Income
01:23:38

Economist and author Daniel Klein of George Mason University talks about the ethics of working and the potential for our working lives to make the world a better place. This is a wide-ranging conversation that includes discussion of Adam Smith, what jobs we should work on, what charities we should donate to, how we can make ourselves more virtuous, the movies Se7en and Sabrina, and ultimately what Adam Smith calls "the becoming use of our own."

Jan 27, 2020
Janine Barchas on the Lost Books of Jane Austen
01:10:50

Author and professor Janine Barchas of the University of Texas talks about her book, The Lost Books of Jane Austen, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. The conversation explores Austen's enduring reputation, how the cheap reprints of her work allowed that reputation to thrive, the links between Shakespeare and Austen, how Austen has thrived despite the old-fashioned nature of her content, Colin Firth's shirt, and the virtue of studying literature.

Jan 20, 2020
Adam Minter on Secondhand
01:08:41

Journalist and author Adam Minter talks about his book Secondhand with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Minter explores the strange and fascinating world of secondhand stuff--the downsizing that the elderly do when they move to smaller quarters, the unseen side of Goodwill Industries, and the global market for rags.

Jan 13, 2020
Melanie Mitchell on Artificial Intelligence
01:18:46

Computer Scientist and author Melanie Mitchell of Portland State University and the Santa Fe Institute talks about her book Artificial Intelligence with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Mitchell explains where we are today in the world of artificial intelligence (AI) and where we might be going. Despite the hype and excitement surrounding AI, Mitchell argues that much of what is called "learning" and "intelligence" when done by machines is not analogous to human capabilities. The capabilities of machines are highly limited to explicit, narrow tasks with little transfer to similar but different challenges. Along the way, Mitchell explains some of the techniques used in AI and how progress has been made in many areas.

Jan 06, 2020
Kimberly Clausing on Open and the Progressive Case for Free Trade
01:08:42

Economist and author Kimberly Clausing of Reed College talks about her book Open with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Clausing, a self-described progressive, argues that the United States should continue to embrace free trade but she argues for other interventions to soften the impact of trade on workers and communities.

Dec 30, 2019
Joe Posnanski on the Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini
01:25:19

Journalist and author Joe Posnanski talks about his book, The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Posnanski explores the enduring fame of Houdini who remains an iconic cultural figure almost a century after his death. Topics discussed include the nature of celebrity, the nature of ambition, parenting, magic, and the use of public relations to create and sustain reputation and celebrity.

Dec 23, 2019
Binyamin Appelbaum on the Economists' Hour
01:09:35

Journalist and author Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times talks about his book, The Economists' Hour, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Appelbaum blames the triumph of free-market ideology for the rise in inequality and the decline in growth rates over the last half-century. The result is a lively, civil conversation about the economic events over that time period and the role of economists in changing economic policy.

Dec 16, 2019
Terry Moe on Educational Reform, Katrina, and Hidden Power
01:10:43

Political Scientist and author Terry Moe of Stanford University talks about his book, The Politics of Institutional Reform with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Moe explores the politics and effectiveness of educational reform in the New Orleans public school system in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Moe finds that policy-makers turned to charter schools for pragmatic reasons and students enjoyed dramatic improvements in educational outcomes as a result. Moe uses this experience to draw lessons about political reforms generally and the power of vested interests to preserve the status quo in the absence of catastrophic events like Katrina.

Dec 09, 2019
Gerd Gigerenzer on Gut Feelings
01:08:18

Psychologist and author Gerd Gigerenzer of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development talks about his book Gut Feelings with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Gigerenzer argues for the power of simple heuristics--rules of thumb--over more complex models when making real-world decisions. He argues that many results in behavioral economics that appear irrational can be understood as sensible ways of coping with complexity.

Dec 02, 2019
Susan Mayer on What Money Can't Buy
01:14:17

Sociologist Susan Mayer of the University of Chicago talks about her book What Money Can't Buy with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Mayer reports on her research which found that giving poor parents money had little measured effect on improving the lives of their children. She emphasizes the importance of accurately understanding the challenges facing children in poverty if the goal is to actually help them. She concludes that there is no simple way to help the most vulnerable children and that strategies to help them must recognize this reality. The conversation ends with a discussion of the potential role of education and parenting practices to help children in poor families.

Nov 25, 2019
Keith Smith on Free Market Health Care
01:23:43

Entrepreneur and Anesthesiologist Keith Smith of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma talks with host Russ Roberts about what it's like to run a surgery center that posts prices on the internet and that does not take insurance. Along the way, he discusses the distortions in the market for health care and how a real market for health care might function if government took a smaller role.

Nov 18, 2019
Rory Sutherland on Alchemy
01:24:06

Author and Advertising Executive Rory Sutherland of Ogilvy talks about his book Alchemy with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Sutherland makes the case for the magic (yes, magic!) of advertising and branding in helping markets work well. This is a wide-ranging conversation on consumer choice, public policy, travel, real estate, and corporate decision-making using insights from behavioral economics and decades of experience in the world of advertising.

Nov 11, 2019
Venkatesh Rao on Waldenponding
01:19:02

Writer and management consultant Venkatesh Rao talks about Waldenponding with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Rao coined the term Waldenponding to describe various levels of retreating from technology akin to how Thoreau extolled the virtues of retreating from social contact and leading a quieter life at Walden Pond. Rao argues that the value of Waldenponding is overrated and that extreme Waldenponding is even somewhat immoral. Rao sees online intellectual life as a form of supercomputer, an intellectual ecosystem that produces new knowledge and intellectual discourse. He encourages all of us to contribute to that intellectual ecosystem even when it can mean losing credit for some of our ideas and potentially some of our uniqueness.

Nov 04, 2019
Michele Gelfand on Rule Makers, Rule Breakers
01:09:59

Psychologist Michele Gelfand talks about her book, Rule Makers, Rule Breakers, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Gelfand distinguishes between loose cultures and tight cultures--the degree to which culture and regulation restrict behavior or leave it alone. Gelfand explores the causes of why some cultures are tighter than others and the challenges societies face when culture is too tight or too loose. She also applies these ideas of cultural tightness and looseness to corporate mergers and family life.

Oct 28, 2019
Susan Houseman on Manufacturing
01:16:05

Economist Susan Houseman of the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research talks about the manufacturing sector with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Houseman argues that the data surrounding both manufacturing output and employment have been misunderstood and misinterpreted. In particular, she argues that conclusions about the growth of manufacturing are driven overwhelmingly by computer production while the rest of manufacturing has been stagnant. She also argues that productivity has a small role in reducing manufacturing employment. Trade has been the main cause of employment reductions. These claims go against the standard narratives most economists have been telling for the last 20 years.

Oct 21, 2019
Andrew McAfee on More from Less
01:34:18

Andrew McAfee of MIT's Sloan School of Management talks about his book, More from Less, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. McAfee argues that technology is helping developed nations use fewer resources in producing higher levels of economic output. The improvement is not just a reduction in energy per dollar of GDP but less energy in total as economic growth progresses. This "dematerialization" portends a future that was unimaginable to the economists and pundits of the past. McAfee discusses the potential for dealing with climate change in a dematerialized world, the non-material aspects of economic progress, and the political repercussions of the current distribution of economic progress.

Oct 14, 2019
Ryan Holiday on Stillness Is the Key
01:23:13

Ryan Holiday talks about his latest book, Stillness Is the Key, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Holiday explores how stillness--the cultivation of serenity and focus--can affect how we live and how we perceive life. Topics discussed include the performance artist Marina Abramovic, Winnie the Pooh, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame induction speech. Holiday also explains how he keeps track of information and how his system makes it easier for him to write his books.

Oct 07, 2019
Sabine Hossenfelder on Physics, Reality, and Lost in Math
01:06:29

Physicist Sabine Hossenfelder talks about her book Lost in Math with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hossenfelder argues that the latest theories in physics have failed to find empirical confirmation. Particles that were predicted to be discovered by the mathematics have failed to show up. Whether or not there is a multiverse has no observable consequences. Hossenfelder argues that physicists have become overly enamored with the elegance and aesthetics of their theories and that using beauty to evaluate a model is unscientific. The conversation includes a discussion of similar challenges in economics.

Sep 30, 2019
Dani Rodrik on Neoliberalism
01:08:41

Dani Rodrik of Harvard University talks about neoliberalism with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Rodrik argues that a dogmatic embrace of markets has increased inequality and limited who benefits from economic growth. He argues for a more interventionist approach to the economy with the goal of better-paying jobs and more widely shared prosperity.

Sep 23, 2019
George Will on the Conservative Sensibility
01:18:22

George Will talks about his new book, The Conservative Sensibility, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Will argues for a conservative vision that embraces the dynamic nature of life. Topics discussed include the current political landscape, the American founding, James Madison's vision of government vs. Woodrow Wilson's, Friedrich Hayek, and of course, a little baseball.

Sep 16, 2019
Daron Acemoglu on Shared Prosperity and Good Jobs
01:06:34

Economist and author Daron Acemoglu of MIT discusses with EconTalk host Russ Roberts the challenge of shared prosperity and the policies that could bring about a more inclusive economy. Acemoglu argues for the importance of good jobs over redistribution and makes the case for the policies that could lead to jobs and opportunities across skill levels.

Sep 09, 2019
David Deppner on Leadership, Confidence, and Humility
01:16:09

Can a great leader or manager be humble in public? Or is exuding confidence, even when it may not be merited, a key part of leadership? In this episode of EconTalk, host Russ Roberts talks with David Deppner, CEO of Psyberware, about an email David sent Russ wondering how Russ might reconcile his passion for humility and honesty with the demands put upon leaders to inspire followers with confidence in their vision.

Sep 02, 2019
Andrew Roberts on Churchill and the Craft of Biography
01:10:02

Historian Andrew Roberts talks about the life of Winston Churchill and the art of biography with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. How did Churchill deal with the mistakes he inevitably made in a long career? Was he prescient or just the right man in the right place at the right time? Was he an alcoholic? Did he suffer from depression? Drawing on his recent biography of Churchill, Andrew Roberts answers these and other questions in this wide-ranging conversation that includes a discussion of the mechanics of writing a 1000 page book on a man who has had over 1000 biographies written about him already.

Aug 26, 2019
Tyler Cowen on Big Business
01:06:24

Author and economist Tyler Cowen of George Mason University talks about his book, Big Business, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Cowen argues that big corporations in America are underrated and under-appreciated. He even defends the financial sector while adding some caveats along the way. This is a lively and contrarian look at a timely issue.

Aug 19, 2019
Arthur Diamond on Openness to Creative Destruction
01:15:45

Arthur Diamond of the University of Nebraska at Omaha talks about his book, Openness to Creative Destruction, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Diamond sings the sometimes forgotten virtues of innovation and entrepreneurship and argues that they should be taught more prominently as a central part of economics.

Aug 12, 2019
Andy Matuschak on Books and Learning
01:06:27

Software Engineer Andy Matuschak talks about his essay "Why Books Don't Work" with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Matuschak argues that most books rely on transmissionism, the idea that an author can share an idea in print and the reader will absorb it. And yet after reading a non-fiction book, most readers will struggle to remember any of the ideas in the book. Matuschak argues for a different approach to transmitting ideas via the web including different ways that authors or teachers can test for understanding that will increase the chances of retention and mastery of complex ideas.

Aug 05, 2019
Shoshana Zuboff on Surveillance Capitalism
01:33:14

Shoshana Zuboff of Harvard University talks about her book Surveillance Capitalism with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Zuboff argues that the monetization of search engines and social networks by Google, Facebook, and other large tech firms threatens privacy and democracy.

Jul 29, 2019
Chris Arnade on Dignity
01:21:42

Photographer, author, and former Wall St. trader Chris Arnade talks about his book, Dignity, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Arnade quit his Wall Street trading job and criss-crossed America photographing and getting to know the addicted and homeless who struggle to find work and struggle to survive. The conversation centers on what Arnade learned about Americans and about himself.

Jul 22, 2019
Michael Brendan Dougherty on My Father Left Me Ireland
01:33:07

Author and journalist Michael Brendan Dougherty talks about his book My Father Left Me Ireland with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Dougherty talks about the role of cultural and national roots in our lives and the challenges of cultural freedom in America. What makes us feel part of something? Do you feel American or just someone who happens to live within its borders? When are people willing to die for their country or a cause? These are some of the questions Dougherty grapples with in his book and in this conversation.

Jul 15, 2019
Arthur Brooks on Love Your Enemies
01:10:02

Economist and author Arthur Brooks talks about his book Love Your Enemies with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Brooks argues that contempt is destroying our political conversations and it's not good for us at the personal level either. Brooks makes the case for humility and tolerance. Along the way he discusses parenting, his past as professional musician, and the challenges of leading a think tank.

Jul 08, 2019
Adam Cifu on the Case for Being a Medical Conservative
01:13:46

Physician and author Adam Cifu of the University of Chicago talks about being a medical conservative with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Cifu encourages doctors to appreciate the complexity of medical care and the reality that many medical techniques advocated by experts are not always beneficial or cost-effective. The conversation explores the challenges of finding reliable evidence to support medical interventions and the inherent uncertainty surrounding outcomes.

Jul 01, 2019
Eric Topol on Deep Medicine
01:08:26

Cardiologist and author Eric Topol talks about his book Deep Medicine with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Topol argues that doctors spend too little face-to-face time with patients, and the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning is a chance to emphasize the human side of medicine and to expand the power of human connection in healing. Topol surveys the current landscape of the application of technology to health care showing where its promise has been overstated and where it is having the most impact. The conversation includes a discussion of the placebo effect and the importance of the human touch in medicine.

Jun 24, 2019
Anja Shortland on Kidnap
01:17:54

Anja Shortland of King's College London talks about her book Kidnap with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Kidnapping is relatively common in parts of the world where government authority is weak. Shortland explores this strange, frightening, but surprisingly orderly world. She shows how the interaction between kidnappers, victims, and insurance companies creates a somewhat predictable set of prices for ransom and creates a relatively high chance of the safe return of those who are kidnapped.

Jun 17, 2019
Bjorn Lomborg on the Costs and Benefits of Attacking Climate Change
01:10:53

Bjorn Lomborg, President of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, talks about the costs and benefits of attacking climate change with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Lomborg argues that we should always be aware of tradeoffs and effectiveness when assessing policies to reduce global warming. He advocates for realistic solutions that consider the potential to improve human life in other ways. He is skeptical of the potential to move away from fossil fuels and argues that geo-engineering and adaptation may be the most effective ways to cope with climate change.

Jun 10, 2019
Alain Bertaud on Cities, Planning, and Order Without Design
01:18:21

Urbanist and author Alain Bertaud of NYU talks about his book Order Without Design with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Bertaud explores the role of zoning and planning alongside the emergent factors that affect the growth of cities. He emphasizes the importance of cities as places for people to work and looks at how preferences and choices shape cities. Bertaud also reflects upon the differing perspectives of urban planners and economists.

Jun 03, 2019
David Epstein on Mastery, Specialization, and Range
01:41:54

Journalist and author David Epstein talks about his book Range with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Epstein explores the costs of specialization and the value of breadth in helping to create mastery in our careers and in life. What are the best backgrounds for solving problems? Can mastery be achieved without specialization at a young age? What experiences and knowledge best prepare people to cope with unexpected situations? This is a wide-ranging conversation that includes discussion of chess, the Challenger tragedy, sports, farming in obscure Soviet provinces after the revolution, the Flynn effect and why firefighters sometimes fail to outrun forest fires.

May 27, 2019
Mary Hirschfeld on Economics, Culture, and Aquinas and the Market
01:16:53

Author, economist, and theologian Mary Hirschfeld of Villanova University talks about her book, Aquinas and the Market, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hirschfeld looks at the nature of our economic activity as buyers and sellers and whether our pursuit of economic growth and material well-being comes at a cost. She encourages a skeptical stance about the ability of more stuff to produce true happiness and/or satisfaction. The conversation includes a critique of economic theory and the aspect of human satisfaction outside the domain of economists.

May 20, 2019
Robert Burton on Being Certain
01:20:17

Neurologist and author Robert Burton talks about his book, On Being Certain, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Burton explores our need for certainty and the challenge of being skeptical about what our brain tells us must be true. Where does what Burton calls "the feeling of knowing" come from? Why can memory lead us astray? Burton claims that our reaction to events emerges from competition among different parts of the brain operating below our level of awareness. The conversation includes a discussion of the experience of transcendence and the different ways humans come to that experience.

May 13, 2019
Mauricio Miller on Poverty, Social Work, and the Alternative
01:18:06

Poverty activist, social entrepreneur and author, Mauricio Miller, talks about his book The Alternative with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Miller, a MacArthur genius grant recipient, argues that we have made poverty tolerable when we should be trying to make it more escapable. This is possible, he argues, if we invest in the poor and encourage them to leverage their skills and social networks. Miller emphasizes the importance of self-determination and self-respect as keys to helping the poor improve their own lives.

May 06, 2019
Emily Oster on Cribsheet
01:06:03

Economist and author Emily Oster of Brown University talks about her book Cribsheet with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Oster explores what the data and evidence can tell us about parenting in areas such as breastfeeding, sleep habits, discipline, vaccination, and food allergies. Oster often finds that commonly held views on some of these topics are not well supported by the evidence while on others, the evidence appears decisive. Oster thoughtfully explores the challenges of using empirical work and balances our sometimes ignorance with common sense.

Apr 29, 2019
Paul Romer on Growth, Cities, and the State of Economics
01:26:43

Nobel Laureate Paul Romer of New York University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the nature of growth, the role of cities in the economy, and the state of economics. Romer also reflects on his time at the World Bank and why he left his position there as Chief Economist.

Apr 22, 2019
Jill Lepore on Nationalism, Populism, and the State of America
01:06:32

Historian and author Jill Lepore talks about nationalism, populism, and the state of America with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Lepore argues that we need a new Americanism, a common story we share and tell ourselves. Along the way, topics in the conversation include populism, the rise of globalization, and the challenge of knowing what is true and what is false in the internet era.

Apr 15, 2019
Robin Feldman on Drugs, Money, and Secret Handshakes
01:05:16

Law professor and author Robin Feldman of UC Hastings College of the Law talks about her book Drugs, Money, and Secret Handshakes with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Feldman argues that the legal and regulatory environment for drug companies encourages those companies to seek drugs that extend their monopoly through the patent system often with insufficient benefit for consumers. The prices for those drugs are then protected from new competition. She also argues that the pharmacy benefit management system allows drug companies to exploit consumers. The conversation concludes with a discussion of what can be done to improve the situation.

Apr 08, 2019
Jacob Stegenga on Medical Nihilism
01:18:33

Philosopher and author Jacob Stegenga of the University of Cambridge talks about his book Medical Nihilism with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Stegenga argues that many medical treatments either fail to achieve their intended goals or achieve those goals with many negative side effects. Stegenga argues that the approval process for pharmaceuticals, for example, exaggerates benefits and underestimates costs. He criticizes the FDA approval process for approving too many drugs that are not sufficiently helpful relative to their side effects. Stegenga argues for a more realistic understanding of what medical practice can and cannot achieve.

Apr 01, 2019
Daniel Hamermesh on Spending Time
01:02:48

Economist and author Daniel Hamermesh of Barnard College and the Institute for the Study of Labor talks about his latest book, Spending Time, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hamermesh explores how we treat time relative to money, how much we work and how that has changed over time, and the ways economists look at time, work, and leisure.

Mar 25, 2019
Amy Tuteur on Birth, Natural Parenting, and Push Back
01:02:33

Obstetrician gynecologist Amy Tuteur and author of Push Back, talks about the book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Tuteur argues that natural parenting--the encouragement to women to give birth without epidurals or caesarians and to breastfeed--is bad for women's health and has little or no benefit for their children.

Mar 18, 2019
Amy Webb on Artificial Intelligence, Humanity, and the Big Nine
01:24:46

Futurist and author Amy Webb talks about her book, The Big Nine, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Webb observes that artificial intelligence is currently evolving in a handful of companies in the United States and China. She worries that innovation in the United States may lead to social changes that we may not ultimately like; in China, innovation may end up serving the geopolitical goals of the Chinese government with some uncomfortable foreign policy implications. Webb's book is a reminder that artificial intelligence does not evolve in a vacuum--research and progress takes place in an institutional context. This is a wide-ranging conversation about the implications and possible futures of a world where artificial intelligence is increasingly part of our lives.

Mar 11, 2019
Jacob Vigdor on the Seattle Minimum Wage
01:13:55

Jacob Vigdor of the University of Washington talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the impact of Seattle's minimum wage increases in recent years. Vigdor along with others from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance have tried to measure the change in employment, hours worked, and wages for low-skilled workers in Seattle. He summarizes those results here arguing that while some workers earned higher wages, some or all of the gains were offset by reductions in hours worked and a reduction in the rate of job creation especially for low-skilled workers.

Mar 04, 2019
Michael Munger on Crony Capitalism
01:10:11

Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about whether real capitalism is unstable and leads inevitably to crony capitalism. They also discuss ways to prevent the descent into cronyism and speculate on their own blind spots.

Feb 25, 2019
Catherine Semcer on Poaching, Preserves, and African Wildlife
01:07:31

Catherine Semcer of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the role of incentives in preserving wildlife in Africa. The conversation discusses how allowing limited hunting of big game such as elephants and using revenue from hunting licenses to reward local communities for habitat stewardship has improved both habitat and wildlife populations while reducing poaching. Semcer draws on her experience as former Chief Operating Officer of Humanitarian Operations Protecting Elephants and also discusses recent efforts to re-locate lions in Mozambique.

Feb 18, 2019
Jessica Riskin on Life, Machinery, and the Restless Clock
01:04:51

Historian Jessica Riskin of Stanford University talks about her book The Restless Clock with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. What is the difference between human beings and machines? How has science thought about this distinction? When do we have agency and when are we constrained? Riskin discusses these issues and the implications for how we think about ourselves and the growth of artificial intelligence.

Feb 11, 2019
Gary Greenberg on the Placebo Effect
01:01:36

Author and psychotherapist Gary Greenberg talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the placebo effect. Is it real? How does the placebo effect influence drug testing? If it's real, what is the underlying mechanism of why it works and how might it be harnessed to improve health care? The conversation concludes with a discussion of how knowledge of the placebo effect has influenced Greenberg's psychotherapy practice.

Feb 04, 2019
Patrick Collison on Innovation and Scientific Progress
01:15:48

Patrick Collison, co-founder and CEO of Stripe, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the pace of innovation. Collison argues that despite enormous increases in the numbers of scientists and researchers, the pace of progress in scientific and technological understanding does not seem to be increasing accordingly. The conversation looks at the challenge of measuring innovation and whether the pace of innovation should be a matter of concern and if so, what might be done about it.

Jan 28, 2019
Jennifer Doleac on Crime
01:22:59

Economist Jennifer Doleac of Texas A&M University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her research on crime, police, and the unexpected consequences of the criminal justice system. Topics discussed include legislation banning asking job applicants if they've been in prison, body cameras for police, the use of DNA databases, the use of Naloxone to prevent death from opioid overdose, and the challenges of being an economist who thinks about crime using the economist's toolkit.

Jan 21, 2019
Stephen Kotkin on Solzhenitsyn
01:00:03

Historian and author Stephen Kotkin of Princeton University and Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the historical significance of the life and work of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Solzhenitsyn's birth.

Jan 14, 2019
Ed Dolan on Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance
01:04:27

Economist Ed Dolan of the Niskanen Center talks about employer-based health insurance with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Dolan discusses how unusual it is relative to other countries that so many Americans get their health insurance through their employer and the implications of that phenomenon for the structure of the health insurance market. Dolan explores the drawbacks of this structure and makes the case for what he calls Universal Catastrophic Coverage.

Jan 07, 2019
Sebastian Junger on Tribe
01:16:25

Journalist and author Sebastian Junger talks about his book Tribe with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Junger explores the human need to be needed and the challenges facing many individuals in modern society who struggle to connect with others. His studies of communal connection include soldiers in a small combat unit and American Indian society in the nineteenth century.

Dec 31, 2018
Mariana Mazzucato on the Value of Everything
01:07:53

Economist and author Mariana Mazzucato talks about her book The Value of Everything with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Mazzucato argues that economists have mismeasured value and have failed to appreciate the role of government as innovator. She argues for a more active role for government in the innovation process and for government to share in revenue proportional to its role in the creation of new technology.

Dec 24, 2018
John Horgan on Mind-Body Problems
01:17:11

Science journalist and author John Horgan talks about his book, Mind-Body Problems, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Horgan interviewed an array of scientists, philosophers, and others who have worked on consciousness, free-will, and what it means to be human. Horgan argues that no single solution to the problems in these areas is likely to be established by science and that our perspective on these questions is inevitably colored by our personal experiences rather than by scientific evidence. Horgan concludes by making the case for personal and intellectual freedom and the need to embrace subjective interpretations of mind-body issues in ways that bring meaning to our lives.

Dec 17, 2018
Peter Berkowitz on Locke, Liberty, and Liberalism
01:20:02

Peter Berkowitz of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the origins of liberalism and the importance of John Locke. Berkowitz defends the liberal project of individual rights and liberty and argues that critics of Locke mischaracterize his thought. The conversation closes with an evaluation of the Enlightenment.

Dec 09, 2018
Maeve Cohen on Rethinking Economics
01:02:03

Maeve Cohen, Co-director of Rethinking Economics, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her organization and its efforts to change economics education. Cohen, who co-founded the Post-Crash Economics Society, argues for a more human-centered approach to economics that would be less confident in its policy prescriptions and more honest about the significance of its underlying assumptions.

Dec 03, 2018
Anat Admati on the Financial Crisis of 2008
01:05:58

Anat Admati of Stanford's Graduate School of Business talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the financial crisis of 2008, the lessons she has learned, and how it has changed her view of economics, finance, and her career.

Nov 26, 2018
A.J. Jacobs on Thanks a Thousand
01:01:28

Journalist and author A. J. Jacobs talks about his book, Thanks a Thousand, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Jacobs thanked a thousand different people who contributed to his morning cup of coffee. In this conversation, Jacobs talks about the power of gratitude and different ways we can express gratitude in everyday life. He and Roberts also explore the unintended web of cooperation that underlies almost every product we encounter in a modern economy.

Nov 19, 2018
Julia Belluz on Epidemiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism
01:05:21

Science writer Julia Belluz of Vox.com talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of epidemiology, nutrition, and the relationship between obesity and metabolism.

Nov 12, 2018
Alan Lightman on Science, Spirituality, and Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine
01:12:00

Author and Physicist Alan Lightman talks about his book Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. This is a wide-ranging conversation on religion, science, transcendence, consciousness, impermanence, and whether matter is all that matters.

Nov 05, 2018
Michael Munger on Sharing, Transaction Costs, and Tomorrow 3.0
01:10:18

Economist and author Michael Munger of Duke University talks about his book, Tomorrow 3.0, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Munger analyzes the rise of companies like Uber and AirBnB as an example of how technology lowers transactions costs. Users and providers can find each other more easily through their smartphones, increasing opportunity. Munger expects these costs to fall elsewhere and predicts an expansion of the sharing economy to a wide array of items in our daily lives.

Oct 29, 2018
Ran Abramitzky on the Mystery of the Kibbutz
01:06:44

Economist and author Ran Abramitzky of Stanford University talks about his book, The Mystery of the Kibbutz, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Abramitzky traces the evolution of the kibbutz movement in Israel and how the kibbutz structure changed to cope with the modernization and development of the Israeli economy. The conversation includes a discussion of how the history of the kibbutz might help us to understand the appeal and challenges of the socialism and freedom.

Oct 22, 2018
Kevin McKenna on Characters, Plot, and Themes of In the First Circle
01:16:20

Russian Literature Professor Kevin McKenna of the University of Vermont talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the characters, plot, and themes of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's masterpiece, In the First Circle. This is the second episode of the EconTalk book club discussing the book. The first episode--a discussion of Solzhenitsyn's life and times--is available on EconTalk.

Oct 18, 2018
John Gray on the Seven Kinds of Atheism
01:36:03

Philosopher and author John Gray talks about his latest book, Seven Types of Atheism, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Gray argues that progress is an illusion and that most atheisms inherit, unknowingly, a religious belief in progress that is not justified. While Gray concedes that technological know-how and scientific knowledge improve over time, he argues that morality and political systems are cyclical and that there is no reason to be optimistic about the future.

Oct 15, 2018
Neil Monnery on Hong Kong and the Architect of Prosperity
01:13:30

Neil Monnery, author of Architect of Prosperity, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book--a biography of John Cowperthwaite, the man often credited with the economic success of Hong Kong. Monnery describes the policies that Cowperthwaite championed and the role they played in the evolution of Hong Kong's economy. How much those policies mattered is the focus of the conversation. Other topics include the relationship between Hong Kong and China and the irony of the challenges Hong Kong faced from U.S. and British protectionism.

Oct 08, 2018
Noah Smith on Worker Compensation, Co-determination, and Market Power
01:15:18

Bloomberg Opinion columnist and economist Noah Smith talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about corporate control, wages, and monopoly power. Smith discusses the costs and benefits of co-determination--the idea of putting workers on corporate boards. The conversation then moves to a lively discussion of wages and monopoly power and how the American worker has been doing in recent years.

Oct 01, 2018
Rodney Brooks on Artificial Intelligence
01:05:38

Rodney Brooks, emeritus professor of robotics at MIT, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the future of robots and artificial intelligence. Brooks argues that we both under-appreciate and over-appreciate the impact of innovation. He applies this insight to the current state of driverless cars and other changes people are expecting to change our daily lives in radical ways. He also suggests that the challenges of developing truly intelligent robots and technologies will take much longer than people expect, giving human beings time to adapt to the effects. Plus a cameo from Isaac Newton.

Sep 24, 2018
Paul Bloom on Cruelty
01:22:36

Yale University psychologist Paul Bloom talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about cruelty--what motivates cruelty, the cruelty of small acts that accumulate into something monstrous, and the question of whether the abuse of a robot is a form of cruelty.

Sep 17, 2018
Kevin McKenna on Solzhenitsyn, the Soviet Union, and In the First Circle
01:18:38

Russian Literature Professor Kevin McKenna of the University of Vermont talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the life and times of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. This is the opening episode of the EconTalk Book Club for Solzhenitsyn's masterpiece In the First Circle: The First Uncensored Edition. A subsequent episode to air in the next few weeks discusses the book itself.

Sep 10, 2018
Yoram Hazony on the Virtue of Nationalism
01:22:34

Yoram Hazony discusses his book, The Virtue of Nationalism, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hazony argues that nationalism, for all its flaws, is a better system than a global system of governance. He argues that while the competition between nationalist states can lead to violence, the opportunity for each nation to pursue its own policies creates the benefits that trial-and-error innovation create in the marketplace. He also points out the dangers of global government systems and argues that U.S. military dominance and various international institutions such as European Union and the International Criminal Court have been growing in power.

Sep 03, 2018
Charlan Nemeth on In Defense of Troublemakers
01:23:24

Psychologist Charlan Nemeth of the University of California, Berkeley and author of In Defense of Troublemakers talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book--the power of groupthink, the power of conviction, and the opportunity for an authentic, persistent dissenter to have an impact on a group's decision. The conversation concludes with a discussion of the challenges of doing careful research in modern times.

Aug 27, 2018
Lilliana Mason on Uncivil Agreement
01:10:18

Political scientist Lilliana Mason of the University Maryland and author of Uncivil Agreement talks about the book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Mason argues that political partisanship has become stronger in America in recent years because it aligns with other forms of community and identity. People are associating primarily with people who share their political views in their other social activities outside of politics. As a result, they encounter fewer people from the other side. The intensity of partisanship can even overcome ideology as partisans change their policy positions in their eagerness to be on the winning side. The conversation closes with a discussion of what might be done to improve political discourse in America.

Aug 20, 2018
David Meltzer on the Doctor-Patient Relationship
01:08:45

Physician David Meltzer of the University of Chicago talks about the power of the doctor-patient relationship with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Meltzer, who also has a Ph.D. in economics, discusses a controlled experiment he has been running to measure the importance of maintaining the continuity of doctor-patient relationships. Meltzer argues that the increasing use of hospitalists--specialists who take over a patient from the patient's regular doctor once the patient is hospitalized--has raised costs and hurt patients. The initial results from his study show that patients who stay with their doctors have fewer subsequent hospitalizations and have better mental health. The conversation closes with a discussion of the challenges facing the current medical system to adopt cost-saving or life-improving technology or techniques.

Aug 13, 2018
Frank Dikotter on Mao's Great Famine
01:12:47

Historian Frank Dikotter of the University of Hong Kong and author of Mao's Great Famine talks about the book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Dikotter chronicles the strategies Mao and Chinese leadership implemented to increase grain and steel production in the late 1950s leading to a collapse in agricultural output and the deaths of millions by starvation.

Aug 06, 2018
Alberto Alesina on Immigration and Redistribution
01:06:15

Alberto Alesina of Harvard University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how people in the US and five European countries perceive the population and characteristics of legal immigrants. Reporting on research with Armando Miano and Stefanie Stantcheva, Alesina finds that individuals systematically overestimate the number of immigrants while underestimating their standard of living. His research also finds that support for welfare payments to the poor is related to the perception people have of the size of the immigrant population and their economic status. The conversation concludes with a discussion of why people's perceptions are so inaccurate and the implications of perception for public policy.

Jul 30, 2018
Teppo Felin on Blindness, Rationality, and Perception
01:04:31

Teppo Felin of the University of Oxford talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about perception, cognition, and rationality. Felin argues that some of the standard experimental critiques of human rationality assume an omniscience that misleads us in thinking about social science and human capability. The conversation includes a discussion of the implications of different understandings of rationality for economics, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

Jul 23, 2018
Russ Roberts on the Information Revolution, Politics, Yeats, and Yelling
01:01:31

EconTalk host Russ Roberts does a monologue on how political discourse seems to have deteriorated in recent years and the growth in outrage, tribalism, and intolerance for those with different views from one's own. Roberts suggests that part of the problem is the revolution of the market for information caused by the internet that allows people to customize what they see to fit their own political narratives and worldview. In short, the market for news works to make us feel good rather than to help us to discover the truth. The monologue closes with some suggestions for how we might improve the way we consume information and interact with those we disagree with.

Jul 16, 2018
Patrick Deneen on Why Liberalism Failed
01:14:58

Political Scientist and author Patrick Deneen of the University of Notre Dame talks about his book Why Liberalism Failed with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. By liberalism, Deneen means the modern enterprise--the push for self-actualization free of the constraints of tradition, family, and religion that typifies modern culture. He argues that both the left and the right have empowered the state and reduced liberty. He argues for a smaller, more local, more artisanal economy and a return to the virtues of self-control and self-mastery.

Jul 09, 2018
Arnold Kling on Morality, Culture, and Tribalism
01:06:52

Economist and author Arnold Kling talks about the economic impact of culture and morality with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Drawing on a recent essay on the importance of social interactions, Kling explores the role of culture and norms and their broad impact on economic life. At the end of the conversation, Roberts discusses the implications of human sociality for the way economics is taught and the way economists think about public policy.

Jul 02, 2018
Michael Pollan on Psychedelic Drugs and How to Change Your Mind
01:12:28

Journalist and author Michael Pollan talks about his book, How to Change Your Mind, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Pollan chronicles the history of the use of psychedelic drugs, particularly LSD and psilocybin, to treat addiction, depression and anxiety. He discusses his own experiences with the drugs as well. Much of the conversation focuses on what we might learn from psychedelic drugs about their apparent spiritual dimension, the nature of consciousness, and the nature of the mind.

Jun 25, 2018
Richard Reinsch on the Enlightenment, Tradition, and Populism
01:06:42

Richard Reinsch, editor of Law and Liberty and the host of the podcast Liberty Law Talk, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the Enlightenment. Topics discussed include the search for meaning, the stability of liberalism, the rise of populism, and Solzhenitsyn's indictment of Western values from his Harvard Commencement Address of 1978.

Jun 18, 2018
Moises Velasquez-Manoff on Cows, Carbon Farming, and Climate Change
01:14:20

Journalist and author Moises Velasquez-Manoff talks about the role of dirt in fighting climate change with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Velasquez-Manoff explains how changes in farming can allow dirt and plants to absorb carbon and potentially reduce climate change. At the end of the conversation he discusses the state of the science on hygiene, parasites, and auto-immune disorders that he discussed in his previous appearance on EconTalk in 2014.

Jun 11, 2018
Janet Golden on Babies Made Us Modern
01:03:04

Historian and author Janet Golden talks about her book, Babies Made Us Modern, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Golden chronicles the transformation of parenting in first half of the 20th century. It's a fascinating story of how our knowledge of infant health and behavior grew dramatically but remains imperfect. At the same time, government, business, and private organizations responded to that imperfect knowledge.

Jun 04, 2018
Iain McGilchrist on the Divided Brain and the Master and His Emissary
01:26:09

Psychiatrist and author Iain McGilchrist talks about his book, The Master and His Emissary, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. McGilchrist argues we have misunderstand the purpose and effect of the divided brain. The left side is focused, concrete, and confident while the right side is about integration of ourselves with the complexity of the world around us. McGilchrist uses this distinction to analyze the history of western civilization. This is a wide-ranging conversation that includes discussions of poetry, philosophy, and economics.

May 28, 2018
Glen Weyl on Radical Markets
01:03:28

Economist Glen Weyl of Microsoft Research New England and Visiting Senior Research Scholar at Yale University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book (co-authored with Eric Posner) Radical Markets. Weyl urges a radical transformation of land and housing markets using a new federal real estate tax based on self-assessment. Owners would be required to sell their houses at the self-assessed price. Weyl argues this would eliminate the market power home owners have in the re-sale market and the revenue tax would could be used to reduce inequality. In the last part of the conversation, Weyl proposes an overhaul of U.S. immigration policy by having residents sponsor immigrants for a fee.

May 21, 2018
Peter Boettke on Public Administration, Liberty, and the Proper Role of Government
01:12:46

Peter Boettke of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the proper role of the state in the economy. This is a wide-ranging conversation on political economy. Topics include Adam Smith's view of the state, the tension between the state as enabler of real vs. crony capitalism, the potential for the poor to flourish in a market economy, and the challenges of democracy.

May 20, 2018
Joel Peterson on Leadership, Betrayal, and the 10 Laws of Trust
01:13:17

How did the CEO of a real estate development company become chairman of an airline? How can a competent manager learn to trust his subordinates? Joel Peterson, chairman of the Board at JetBlue Airways and author of The 10 Laws of Trust, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his career at Trammell Crow and JetBlue and how the concept of trust, outlined in his book, has helped his career. He closes the conversation with a discussion of how he overcame his personal weaknesses that would have handicapped his career--or as he puts it, how he "rewrote his operating system."

May 07, 2018
Ryan Holiday on Conspiracy, Gawker, and the Hulk Hogan Trial
01:17:50

Author Ryan Holiday discusses his book, Conspiracy, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. This is a crazy episode about a crazy book about a crazy set of events--the Hulk Hogan lawsuit against the website Gawker, a lawsuit that was secretly funded by Peter Thiel. Holiday explains how this happened and the lessons for all of us related to conspiracies, patience, strategy, and revenge. Along the way, Holiday discusses his techniques for reading and lessons for how to grab someone's attention when looking for a job or opportunity.

Apr 30, 2018
Jonah Goldberg on The Suicide of the West
01:27:24

Jonah Goldberg of National Review talks about his latest book, Suicide of the West, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Goldberg argues that both capitalism and democracy are at risk in the current contentious political environment. He argues that we take for granted what he calls "the miracle"--the transformation of the standard of living in the democracies with market economies. Goldberg argues that unless we actively work to preserve our political and economic systems, the forces of populism, nationalism, and tribalism will work steadily to destroy them.

Apr 23, 2018
Jerry Muller on the Tyranny of Metrics
01:04:45

Historian and author Jerry Muller of Catholic University talks about his latest book, The Tyranny of Metrics, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Muller argues that public policy and management are overly focused on measurable outcomes as a measure of success. This leads to organizations and agencies over-focusing on metrics rather than their broader mission. The conversation includes applications to education, crime, and health care.

Apr 16, 2018
Vincent Rajkumar on the High Price of Cancer Drugs
01:12:38

Can a life-saving drug be too expensive? What explains the high price of cancer drugs? Dr. Vincent Rajkumar of the Mayo Clinic talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the high price of cancer drugs--drugs that can cost an American with cancer $300,000 per year and require multiple years of treatment. Rajkumar explains how little a role market forces play in setting prices and what might be done to improve the situation.

Apr 09, 2018
Michael Munger on Traffic
01:14:08

Does rush-hour traffic drive you crazy? Is a congestion tax on car travel a good idea? Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the economics of traffic and congestion taxes. It takes a while to get there (how appropriate!) but they eventually agree that a tax on congestion while reducing travel time is harmful to many drivers and may be best thought of as any tax placed on a particular good--a way to raise government revenue from the pockets of the consumers of that good.

Apr 02, 2018
Edward Glaeser on Joblessness and the War on Work
01:06:05

Why are fewer men working over the last few decades? Is a universal basic income a good policy for coping with the loss of employment? Economist Edward Glaeser of Harvard University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about what Glaeser calls the war on work--the policy changes that have reduced employment among prime-aged men. Glaeser does not see the universal basic income as a viable solution to the decrease in work especially if technology ends up reducing employment opportunities more dramatically in the future. The conversation also includes a discussion of the role of cities and the reduction in geographic mobility in the United States.

Mar 26, 2018
Beth Redbird on Licensing
01:02:29

Economists often oppose the expansion of licensing in America in recent years because it makes it harder for people with low skills to get access to opportunity. Sociologist Beth Redbird of Northwestern University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about a different perspective. Redbird finds that licensing expands opportunity for women and minorities and has little impact on wages. She argues that licensing helps historically disadvantaged groups discover ways into various careers they otherwise would have trouble accessing. The discussion closes with a discussion of Redbird's work on the economic situation of Native Americans.

Mar 19, 2018
Arnold Kling on Economics for the 21st Century
01:04:50

Economist, blogger, and author Arnold Kling talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of economics in the 21st century. Kling argues that economics would be more useful if it took account of intangibles like culture, incorporated the role of financial intermediation in the economy, and modeled some of the the subtleties of the labor market--how wages are set and the role of team production.

Mar 12, 2018
Nassim Nicholas Taleb on Rationality, Risk, and Skin in the Game
01:14:27

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Skin in the Game, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book. This is the third episode of EconTalk with Taleb related to the general topic of skin in the game and how it affects decision-making and policy in an uncertain world. This episode focuses on rationality, religion, and the challenge of thinking about probability and risk correctly in a dynamic world.

Mar 05, 2018
Elizabeth Anderson on Worker Rights and Private Government
01:07:05

Philosopher Elizabeth Anderson of the University of Michigan and author of Private Government talks about her book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Anderson argues that employers have excessive power over employees that we would never accept from government authority. Topics discussed include the role of competition in potentially mitigating employer control, whether some worker rights should be inviolate, potential measures for empowering employees, and the costs and benefits over time of a relatively unregulated labor market.

Feb 26, 2018
Jordan Peterson on 12 Rules for Life
01:18:22

Jordan Peterson, author of 12 Rules for Life, talks about the book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Topics covered include parenting, conversation, the role of literature in everyday life, and the relationship between sacrificial rites and trade.

Feb 19, 2018
Bryan Caplan on the Case Against Education
01:11:28

Bryan Caplan of George Mason University and the author of The Case Against Education talks about the book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Caplan argues that very little learning takes place in formal education and that very little of the return to college comes from skills or knowledge that is acquired in the classroom. Schooling, he concludes, as it is currently conducted is mostly a waste of time and money. Caplan bring a great deal of evidence to support his dramatic claim and much of the conversation focuses on the challenge of measuring and observing what students actually learn.

Feb 12, 2018
Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay on the Enemies of Modernity
01:09:27

Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about their essay on the enemies of modernity. Pluckrose and Lindsay argue that modernity--by which they mean democracy, reason, and individual liberty--is under attack from pre-modern and post-modern ideological enemies. They discuss why modernity is under attack and encourage people on the political left and right to support modernity.

Feb 05, 2018
Marian Goodell on Burning Man
01:12:35

Marian Goodell, CEO of the Burning Man Project, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Burning Man, the 8-day art and music festival in the Nevada Desert. Goodell explains how Burning Man has evolved over the years, the principles and rules that govern the experience today, and plans for expanding the Burning Man experience around the world.

Jan 29, 2018
John Ioannidis on Statistical Significance, Economics, and Replication
01:05:12

John Ioannidis of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his research on the reliability of published research findings. They discuss Ioannidis's recent study on bias in economics research, meta-analysis, the challenge of small sample analysis, and the reliability of statistical significance as a measure of success in empirical research.

Jan 22, 2018
Bill James on Baseball, Facts, and the Rules of the Game
01:02:20

Baseball stats guru and author Bill James talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenges of understanding complexity in baseball and elsewhere. James reflects on the lessons he has learned as a long-time student of data and the role it plays in understanding the underlying reality that exists between different variables in sports and outside of sports. The conversation closes with a discussion of our understanding of social processes and the connection to public policy and the ideologies we hold.

Jan 14, 2018
Dick Carpenter on Bottleneckers
01:14:58

Dick Carpenter of the Institute for Justice and author of Bottleneckers talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book--a look at how occupational licensing and other regulations protect existing job holders from competition.

Jan 08, 2018
Kelly Weinersmith and Zach Weinersmith on Soonish
01:10:28

Ecologist Kelly Weinersmith and cartoonist Zach Weinersmith--creator of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal--talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about their new book, Soonish--a look at cutting-edge and not-quite cutting edge technologies. The Weinersmiths speculate about everything from asteroid mining to robotic house construction to the nasal cycle and how the human body and medicine might be transformed in the future. They discuss the likelihood of some really crazy stuff coming along and changing our lives as well as the possible downsides of innovation.

Jan 01, 2018
Matt Stoller on Modern Monopolies
01:10:11

Matt Stoller of the Open Market Institute talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the growing influence of Google, Facebook, and Amazon on commercial and political life. Stoller argues that these large firms have too much power over our options as consumers and creators as well as having a large impact on our access to information.

Dec 25, 2017
Brink Lindsey and Steven Teles on the Captured Economy
01:09:34

Brink Lindsey of the Niskanen Center and Steven Teles of the Niskanen Center and Johns Hopkins University talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about their book, The Captured Economy. Lindsey and Teles argue that inequality has been worsened by special interests who steer policy to benefit themselves. They also argue that the influence of the politically powerful has lowered the overall growth of the American economy.

Dec 18, 2017
John Cogan on Entitlements and the High Cost of Good Intentions
01:06:08

John Cogan of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Cogan's book, The High Cost of Good Intentions, a history of U.S. entitlement policy. Cogan traces the evolution of government pensions beginning with Revolutionary War vets to the birth and evolution of the Social Security program. Surprises along the way include President Franklin Roosevelt as fiscal conservative and the hard-to-believe but true fact that there is still one person receiving monthly checks from the Civil War veterans pension program. The conversation concludes with Cogan's concerns over the growing costs of financing social security payments to baby boomers.

Dec 12, 2017
Rachel Laudan on Food Waste
01:01:50

Historian Rachel Laudan talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about food waste. Laudan argues that there are tradeoffs in preventing food waste--in reduced time for example, or a reduction in food security, and that these tradeoffs need to be measured carefully when considering policy or giving advice to individuals or organizations. She also discusses the role of food taboos and moralizing about food. Along the way, Laudan defends the virtue of individual choice and freedom in deciding what to eat.

Dec 04, 2017
Simeon Djankov and Matt Warner on the Doing Business Report and Development Aid
01:15:27

Simeon Djankov, creator of the World Bank's Doing Business Report, and Matt Warner, Chief Operating Officer of Atlas Network talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the role regulation plays in economic development and the challenges of measuring regulatory barriers to new business creation.

Nov 27, 2017
Tim Harford on Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy
01:08:51

Financial Times columnist and author Tim Harford talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Harford's latest book, Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy. Highlights include how elevators are an important form of mass transit, why washing machines didn't save quite as much time as you'd think, and the glorious illuminating aspects of light throughout history.

Nov 20, 2017
Anthony Gill on Tipping
01:05:43

Why does tipping persist? Despite the efforts of some restaurants to stop tipping, it remains a healthy institution and has recently spread to Uber. Political scientist Anthony Gill of the University of Washington talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about why tipping persists and what it achieves despite there being no formal way of enforcing this norm.

Nov 13, 2017
Dennis Rasmussen on Hume and Smith and The Infidel and the Professor
01:11:37

How did the friendship between David Hume and Adam Smith influence their ideas? Why do their ideas still matter today? Political Scientist Dennis Rasmussen of Tufts University and author of The Infidel and the Professor talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book--the intellectual and personal connections between two of the greatest thinkers of all time, David Hume and Adam Smith.

Nov 06, 2017
Michael Munger on Permissionless Innovation
01:07:52

Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about permissionless innovation. Munger argues that the ability to innovate without permission is the most important concept of political economy. Munger defends this claim and explores the metaphor of emergent order as a dance, a metaphor coming from the German poet Schiller.

Oct 30, 2017
Jennifer Burns on Ayn Rand and the Goddess of the Market
01:04:38

Jennifer Burns of Stanford University and the Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her biography of Ayn Rand, Goddess of the Market. They discuss Rand's philosophy, her influence, her relationship with the conservative movement, and the intersection of her personal life with her philosophical principles.

Oct 23, 2017
Megan McArdle on Internet Shaming and Online Mobs
01:14:32

Author and journalist Megan McArdle of Bloomberg View talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how the internet has allowed a new kind of shaming via social media and how episodes of bad behavior live on because Google's memory is very, very good. McArdle discusses the implications this new reality has on how we behave at work and how people protect and maintain their reputations in a world where nothing is forgotten and seemingly little is forgiven.

Oct 16, 2017
Tim O'Reilly on What's the Future
01:02:47

Author Tim O'Reilly, founder of O'Reilly Media and long-time observer and commenter on the internet and technology, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his new book, WTF? What's the Future and Why It's Up to Us. O'Reilly surveys the evolution of the internet, the key companies that have prospered from it, and how the products of those companies have changed our lives. He then turns to the future and explains why he is an optimist and what can be done to make that optimism accurate.

Oct 09, 2017
Robert Wright on Meditation, Mindfulness, and Why Buddhism is True
01:06:58

Robert Wright, author of Why Buddhism Is True, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the psychotherapeutic insights of Buddhism and the benefits of meditation and mindfulness. Wright argues our evolutionary past has endowed us with a mind that can be ill-suited to the stress of the present. He argues that meditation and the non-religious aspects of Buddhism can reduce suffering and are consistent with recent psychological research.

Oct 02, 2017
Philip Auerswald on the Rise of Populism
01:19:41

Author and professor Philip Auerswald of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the rise of populism in the United States and throughout the world. Auerswald argues that the rise of cities and the productivity of urban life has created a divergence in experience and rewards between urban and rural areas around the world. Auerswald ties these changes to changes in voting patterns and speculates about the sources of the increasing productivity of metropolitan areas.

Sep 25, 2017
Gabriel Zucman on Inequality, Growth, and Distributional National Accounts
01:12:36

Gabriel Zucman of the University of California, Berkeley talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his research on inequality and the distribution of income in the United States over the last 35 years. Zucman finds that there has been no change in income for the bottom half of the income distribution over this time period with large gains going to the top 1%. The conversation explores the robustness of this result to various assumptions and possible explanations for the findings.

Sep 18, 2017
Gillian Hadfield on Law and Rules For a Flat World
01:07:18

Law professor Gillian Hadfield of the University of Southern California and author of Rules for a Flat World talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in her book for regulating the digital future. Hadfield suggests the competitive provision of regulation with government oversight as a way to improve the flexibility and effectiveness of regulation in the dynamic digital world we are living in.

Sep 11, 2017
Rob Reich on Foundations and Philanthropy
01:03:34

Is private charity always a good thing? Do large foundations have too much power? Political Scientist Rob Reich of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the power and effectiveness of foundations--large collections of wealth typically created and funded by a wealthy donor. Is such a plutocratic institution consistent with democracy? Reich discusses the history of foundations in the United States and the costs and benefits of foundation expenditures in the present.

Sep 03, 2017
Benedict Evans on the Future of Cars
01:07:24

Benedict Evans of Andreessen Horowitz talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about two important trends for the future of personal travel--the increasing number of electric cars and a world of autonomous vehicles. Evans talks about how these two trends are likely to continue and the implications for the economy, urban design, and how we live.

Aug 28, 2017
John McWhorter on the Evolution of Language and Words on the Move
01:04:43

How did bad come to mean good? Why is Shakespeare so hard to understand? Is there anything good about "like" and "you know?" Author and professor John McWhorter of Columbia University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the unplanned ways that English speakers create English, an example of emergent order. Topics discussed include how words get short (but not too short), the demand for vividness in language, and why Shakespeare is so hard to understand.

Aug 21, 2017
Nassim Nicholas Taleb on Work, Slavery, the Minority Rule, and Skin in the Game
01:24:40

Nassim Nicholas Taleb talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the manuscript version of his forthcoming book, Skin in the Game. Topics discussed include the role of skin in the game in labor markets, the power of minorities, the Lindy effect, Taleb's blind spots and regrets, and the politics of globalization.

Aug 14, 2017
Tyler Cowen on Stubborn Attachments, Prosperity, and the Good Society
01:00:45

Tyler Cowen of George Mason University and the co-host of the blog Marginal Revolution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Stubborn Attachments, his book-length treatment of how to think about public policy. Cowen argues that economic growth--properly defined--is the moral key to maintaining civilization and promoting human well-being. Along the way, the conversation also deals with inequality, environmental issues, and education.

Aug 07, 2017
Alex Guarnaschelli on Food
01:03:55

Alex Guarnaschelli, Food Channel star and chef at Butter in midtown Manhattan, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about what it's like to run a restaurant, the challenges of a career in cooking, her favorite dishes, her least favorite dishes, and what she cooked to beat Bobby Flay.

Jul 31, 2017
Sally Satel on Organ Donation
01:00:12

Sally Satel, psychiatrist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenges of increasing the supply of donated organs for transplantation and ways that public policy might increase the supply. Satel, who has received two kidney donations, suggests a federal tax credit as a way to increase the supply of organs while saving the federal government money. She also discusses the ethical issues surrounding various forms of compensation for organ donors.

Jul 24, 2017
Tamar Haspel on Food Costs, Animal Welfare, and the Honey Bee
01:01:52

Tamar Haspel, who writes "Unearthed," a column on food and agriculture at the Washington Post, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about a wide variety of issues related to the cost of food and how it's produced. Topics discussed include why technology helps make some foods inexpensive, how animals are treated, the health of the honey bee, and whether eggs from your backyard taste any better than eggs at the grocery.

Jul 17, 2017
Martha Nussbaum on Alexander Hamilton
01:01:59

Martha Nussbaum, professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Alexander Hamilton. Nussbaum talks about the tension between acquiring power and living a life of virtue. The topics discussed include Hamilton's relationship with Aaron Burr, Burr's complicated historical legacy, and the role of the humanities in our lives.

Jul 10, 2017
Chris Blattman on Chickens, Cash, and Development Economics
01:03:40

Chris Blattman of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about whether it's better to give poor Africans cash or chickens and the role of experiments in helping us figure out the answer. Along the way he discusses the importance of growth vs. smaller interventions and the state of development economics.

Jul 03, 2017
Robin Feldman on Drug Patents, Generics, and Drug Wars
01:05:22

Robin Feldman of the University of California Hastings College of Law and author of Drug Wars talks about her book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Feldman explores the various ways that pharmaceutical companies try to reduce competition from generic drugs. The conversation includes a discussion of the Hatch-Waxman Act and the sometimes crazy world of patent protection.

Jun 26, 2017
Thomas Ricks on Churchill and Orwell
01:05:47

Author and historian Thomas Ricks talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book, Churchill and Orwell. Ricks makes the case that the odd couple of Winston Churchill and George Orwell played and play an important role in preserving individual liberty. Ricks reviews the contributions of these two giants whose lives overlapped and whose legacy remains vibrant.

Jun 19, 2017
Don Boudreaux, Michael Munger, and Russ Roberts on Emergent Order
01:13:39

Why is it that people in large cities like Paris or New York City people sleep peacefully, unworried about whether there will be enough bread or other necessities available for purchase the next morning? No one is in charge--no bread czar. No flour czar. And yet it seems to work remarkably well. Don Boudreaux of George Mason University and Michael Munger of Duke University join EconTalk host Russ Roberts to discuss emergent order and markets. The conversation includes a reading of Roberts's poem, "It's a Wonderful Loaf."

Jun 12, 2017
Christy Ford Chapin on the Evolution of the American Health Care System
01:05:53

Historian Christy Ford Chapin of University of Maryland Baltimore County and Johns Hopkins and author of Ensuring America's Health talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her book--a history of how America's health care system came to be dominated by insurance companies or government agencies paying doctors per procedure. Chapin explains how this system emerged from efforts by the American Medical Association to stop various reform efforts over the decades. Chapin argues that different models might have emerged that would lead to a more effective health care system.

Jun 05, 2017
David Boaz, P.J. O'Rourke, and George Will on the State of Liberty
01:04:52

What is the state of liberty in America? Is liberty increasing or decreasing? Should we be optimistic or pessimistic about the future? This week EconTalk features David Boaz, P.J. O'Rourke, and George Will discussing these questions and more with EconTalk host Russ Roberts in front of a live audience at the Cato Institute.

May 29, 2017
Lant Pritchett on Poverty, Growth, and Experiments
01:03:14

How should we think about growth and poverty? How important is the goal of reducing the proportion of the world's population living on less than a dollar a day? Does poverty persist because people lack skills or because they live in economic systems where skills are not rewarded? What is the role of experimental methods in understanding what reduces poverty? Author and economist Lant Pritchett of Harvard University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about these questions and more in a wide-ranging discussion of how best to help the world's poorest people.

May 22, 2017
Cass Sunstein on #Republic
01:07:15

Author and legal scholar Cass Sunstein of Harvard University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, #Republic. Sunstein argues that the internet has encouraged people to frequent informational echo chambers where their views are reinforced and rarely challenged. In addition, there is a loss of public space where people might have to encounter dissonant ideas or causes they might wish to champion. Sunstein considers this a threat to democracy and discusses a variety of ways the situation might improve.

May 15, 2017
Tyler Cowen on The Complacent Class
01:06:02

Author and economist Tyler Cowen of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book, The Complacent Class. Cowen argues that the United States has become complacent and the result is a loss of dynamism in the economy and in American life, generally. Cowen provides a rich mix of data, speculation, and creativity in support of his claims.

May 08, 2017
Jennifer Pahlka on Code for America
00:59:37

Jennifer Pahlka, founder of Code for America, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the organization she started. Code for America works with private sector tech people to bring technology to the provision of government services. Pahlka discusses some of the success Code for America has had with improving government and the challenges of citizenship and technology in the 21st century.

May 01, 2017
Elizabeth Pape on Manufacturing and Selling Women's Clothing and Elizabeth Suzann
01:15:53

Elizabeth Pape, founder of the women's clothing company Elizabeth Suzann, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about starting and running her company--a manufacturer and seller of high-end women's clothing in Nashville, Tennessee. The conversation chronicles the ups and downs of her entrepreneurial story, the recent evolution of the women's clothing market, and the challenge of competition from lower quality, lower-priced products.

Apr 24, 2017
Rana Foroohar on the Financial Sector and Makers and Takers
01:03:45

Journalist and author Rana Foroohar of the Financial Times talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her book, Makers and Takers. Foroohar argues that finance has become an increasingly powerful part of the U.S. economy and has handicapped the growth and effectiveness of manufacturing and the rest of the economy.

Apr 17, 2017
Erica Sandberg on Homelessness and Downtown Streets Team
00:57:40

Podcaster and writer Erica Sandberg talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about homelessness in San Francisco. Sandberg talks about what the city can do about homelessness and her experience with Downtown Streets Team, which gives homeless people in the Bay Area the chance to work in exchange for gift cards that let them buy food and other basics.

Apr 10, 2017
Vanessa Williamson on Taxes and Read My Lips
01:08:39

Are Americans overtaxed? How does the average American feel about the tax system and tax reform? Vanessa Williamson of the Brookings Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her book, Read My Lips. Williamson shares the results of her survey of American attitudes toward taxation and government spending. People misperceive much about who pays what and the structure of the tax system, particularly the payroll tax. But some of what appears to be errors--about foreign aid and government waste for example, come from the average person's definition of these terms being different from the narrow meaning.

Apr 03, 2017
Jason Barr on Building the Skyline and the Economics of Skyscrapers
01:17:37

Why does the Manhattan skyline look like it does with incredible skyscrapers south of City Hall then almost no tall buildings until midtown? Jason Barr of Rutgers University-Newark and author of Building the Skyline talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the evolution of Manhattan as a place to live and work, and the mix of individual choices and government policy that created the skyline of Manhattan.

Mar 27, 2017
Andrew Gelman on Social Science, Small Samples, and the Garden of the Forking Paths
01:07:42

Statistician, blogger, and author Andrew Gelman of Columbia University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenges facing psychologists and economists when using small samples. On the surface, finding statistically significant results in a small sample would seem to be extremely impressive and would make one even more confident that a larger sample would find even stronger evidence. Yet, larger samples often fail to lead to replication. Gelman discusses how this phenomenon is rooted in the incentives built into human nature and the publication process. The conversation closes with a general discussion of the nature of empirical work in the social sciences.

Mar 20, 2017
Robert Whaples on the Economics of Pope Francis
00:58:18

Is capitalism part of the poverty problem facing the world or part of the solution? Are human beings doing a good job preserving the earth for future generations? To improve the world, should we improve capitalism or ourselves? Robert Whaples of Wake Forest University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about "Laudato Si'," Pope Francis's encyclical on capitalism, poverty, and environmental issues.

Mar 13, 2017
Crafts, Garicano, and Zingales on the Economic Future of Europe
01:02:43

What is the future of the European economy? What are the challenges facing Europe? What are the implications of Brexit for the United Kingdom and the rest of the Europe? Nicholas Crafts of the University of Warwick, Luis Garicano of the London School of Economics, and Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about these questions and more in front of a live audience at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

Mar 06, 2017
Paul Bloom on Empathy
01:08:25

Psychologist Paul Bloom of Yale University talks about his book Against Empathy with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Bloom argues that empathy--the ability to feel the emotions of others--is a bad guide to charitable giving and public policy. Bloom argues that reason combined with compassion is a better and more effective guide to making the world a better place.

Feb 27, 2017
Tom Wainwright on Narconomics
01:11:22

When fighting the war on drugs, governments typically devote enormous resources trying to reduce the supply. But is this effective? Journalist and author Tom Wainwright of the Economist and author of Narconomics talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ways that the drug cartels respond to government attempts to reduce the availability of drugs. Like any business trying to maintain profitability, cartels look for ways to cut costs and maintain or grow revenue. Wainwright uses extensive on-the-ground interviews and reporting to understand the behavior of the cartels and argues that reducing demand would be a much more effective strategy for reducing drug use.

Feb 20, 2017
Jim Epstein on Bitcoin, the Blockchain, and Freedom in Latin America
00:59:51

Writer, reporter, and film producer Jim Epstein talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about mining Bitcoins in Venezuela as a way to import food. Venezuela is a tragicomic example of how policy can lead to strange and presumably unexpected outcomes. Epstein also discusses how Bitcoin is being used elsewhere in Latin America and the potential for the blockchain technology to lower the costs of owning and transferring property.

Feb 13, 2017
Gary Taubes on the Case Against Sugar
01:16:57

Sugar appears to have no nutritional value. But is it more than just empty calories? Is it actually bad for us? Author and journalist Gary Taubes talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, The Case Against Sugar. Taubes argues that there is substantial circumstantial evidence suggesting that sugar is the underlying cause of a host of modern health problems including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Taubes concedes the evidence is not iron-clad or definitive and reflects along the way on the intellectual and personal challenges of holding a strong view in the face of significant skepticism.

Feb 06, 2017
George Borjas on Immigration and We Wanted Workers
01:05:20

George Borjas of Harvard University and author of We Wanted Workers talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about immigration and the challenges of measuring the impact of increased immigration on American workers and consumers. The discussion also looks at the cultural impact of immigration and what immigration in the past can tell us about immigration today.

Jan 30, 2017
Sam Quinones on Heroin, the Opioid Epidemic, and Dreamland
01:09:57

How did heroin spread beyond big cities in America? What's the connection between heroin and America's opioid problem? Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the explosion in heroin use and how one small Mexican town changed how heroin was produced and sold in America. That in turn became entangled with the growth in the use of pain-killers as recreational drugs. Drawing on the investigative reporting that culminated in his book, Quinones lays out the recent history and economics of the growth in heroin and pain-killer usage and the lost lives along the way.

Jan 23, 2017
Michael Munger on the Basic Income Guarantee
01:04:17

Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the virtues and negatives of a basic guaranteed income--giving every American adult an annual amount of money to guarantee a subsistence level of well-being. How would such a plan work? How would it interact with current anti-poverty programs? How would it affect recipients and taxpayers? Munger attacks these issues and more in a lively conversation with Roberts.

Jan 16, 2017
Robert Hall on Recession, Stagnation, and Monetary Policy
01:08:24

Economist Robert Hall of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the current state of the U.S. economy and what we know and don't know about the recovery from the Great Recession. Much of the conversation focuses on the choices facing the Federal Reserve and the policy instruments the Fed has available. The conversation includes a discussion of Hall's experience as chair of the National Bureau of Economic Research Committee on Business Cycle Dating.

Jan 09, 2017
Mark Warshawsky on Compensation, Health Care Costs, and Inequality
01:07:03

Economist and author Mark Warshawsky of George Mason Univerity's Mercatus Center talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his work on the role health care benefits play in measuring inequality. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Warshawsky shows that because health care benefits are a larger share of compensation for lower-paid than higher-paid workers, measures of inequality and even measures of economic progress can be misleading or distorted. The conversation covers a wide range of topics related to how the labor market treats workers and the role of benefits in setting overall compensation.

Jan 02, 2017
Chris Blattman on Sweatshops
01:17:41

If you were a poor person in a poor country, would you prefer steady work in a factory or to be your own boss, buying and selling in the local market? Economist Chris Blattman of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about experimental evidence on how poor people choose in the labor market and the consequences for their income, health, and satisfaction.

Dec 26, 2016
Terry Anderson on Native American Economics
01:07:12

Terry Anderson of PERC talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about economic life for Native Americans. Anderson discusses economic life before the arrival of Europeans and how current policy affects Native Americans living on reservations today.

Dec 19, 2016
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita on the Spoils of War
01:15:10

There is a fascinating and depressing positive correlation between the reputation of an American president and the number of people dying in wars while that president is in office. Political scientist Bruce Bueno de Mesquita of NYU and co-author of The Spoils of War talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how presidents go to war. Bueno de Mesquita argues that the decision of how and when to go to war is made in self-interested ways rather than in consideration of what is best for the nation. The discussion includes a revisionist perspective on the presidencies of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and others as Bueno de Mesquita tries to make the case that the reputations of these men are over-inflated.

Dec 12, 2016
Thomas Leonard on Race, Eugenics, and Illiberal Reformers
01:08:16

Were the first professional economists racists? Thomas Leonard of Princeton University and author of Illiberal Reformers talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book--a portrait of the progressive movement and its early advocates at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. The economists of that time were eager to champion the power of the state and its ability to regulate capitalism successfully. Leonard exposes the racist origins of these ideas and the role eugenics played in the early days of professional economics. Woodrow Wilson takes a beating as well.

Dec 05, 2016
Doug Lemov on Reading
01:02:48

Doug Lemov of Uncommon School and co-author of Reading Reconsidered talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about reading. Lemov makes the case for the educational importance of critical reading of challenging books and texts. Along the way, he gives listeners some ideas of how to read themselves and gives parents some ideas for how to educate their children.

Nov 28, 2016
Erik Hurst on Work, Play, and the Dynamics of U.S. Labor Markets
01:11:05

Erik Hurst of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of the labor market in the United States. Hurst notes dramatic changes in employment rates for men and speculates about the causes. Two factors discussed in detail are declines in the manufacturing sector and the rise of high-end video games as a form of leisure.

Nov 21, 2016
Tim Harford on the Virtues of Disorder and Messy
01:12:32

Tim Harford, journalist and author, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, Messy. Harford argues that we have a weakness for order and neat solutions causing us to miss opportunities to find happiness or success with messier, more disorderly processes and solutions. Hartford looks at a wide range of examples from business and personal life making the case that tidiness is overrated and that messy should get more love.

Nov 14, 2016
David Gelernter on Consciousness, Computers, and the Tides of Mind
01:08:31

David Gelernter, professor of computer science at Yale University and author of The Tides of Mind, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about consciousness and how our minds evolve through the course of the day and as we grow up. Other topics discussed include creativity, artificial intelligence, and the singularity.

Nov 07, 2016
Judith Donath on Signaling, Design, and the Social Machine
01:08:19

Judith Donath, author of The Social Machine, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in her book--an examination of signaling, online identity, and online community. Donath argues that design elements in technology play a key role in our interactions with one another. The conversation closes with a discussion of data collection by corporations and the government.

Oct 31, 2016
Casey Mulligan on Cuba
01:01:50

Casey Mulligan of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about life in Cuba. Mulligan, who recently returned from a trip to Cuba, discusses the economy, the standard of living and some of the peculiarities of communist control.

Oct 24, 2016
Chris Arnade on the Mexican Crisis, TARP, and American Poverty
01:09:07

Chris Arnade, former Wall Street trader turned photographer and social chronicler, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about what he learned from the front lines of the financial industry in the 1990s and 2000s when everything slowly and then very quickly began to fall apart. He also discusses his transition into observer and photographer of drug addicts, the poor, and the forgotten parts of America.

Oct 17, 2016
Angus Deaton on Inequality, Trade, and the Robin Hood Principle
01:05:04

Nobel Laureate in Economics Angus Deaton of Princeton University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the economics of trade and aid. Deaton wonders if economists should re-think the widely-held view that redistribution from rich nations to poor nations makes the world a better place. The conversation focuses on the challenges facing poor Americans including the rising mortality rate for white Americans ages 45-54.

Oct 10, 2016
Cathy O'Neil on Weapons of Math Destruction
01:11:09

Cathy O'Neil, data scientist and author of Weapons of Math Destruction talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in her book. O'Neil argues that the commercial application of big data often harms individuals in unknown ways. She argues that the poor are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Examples discussed include prison sentencing, college rankings, evaluations of teachers, and targeted advertising. O'Neil argues for more transparency and ethical standards when using data.

Oct 03, 2016
John Cochrane on Economic Growth and Changing the Policy Debate
01:02:26

How are those in favor of bigger government and those who want smaller government like a couple stuck in a bad marriage? Economist John Cochrane of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how to take a different approach to the standard policy arguments. Cochrane wants to get away from the stale big government/small government arguments which he likens to a couple who have gotten stuck in a rut making the same ineffective arguments over and over. Cochrane argues for a fresh approach to economic policy including applications to growth, taxes and financial regulation.

Sep 26, 2016
Eric Wakin on Archiving, Preservation, and History
01:03:52

What does an x-ray of Hitler's skull have in common with a jar of Ronald Reagan's jelly beans? They are both part of the Hoover Institution archives. Eric Wakin, Director of the Library and Archives of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about what it's like to be an archivist and the importance of archival materials for research, culture, and memory.

Sep 19, 2016
Susan Athey on Machine Learning, Big Data, and Causation
01:01:34

Can machine learning improve the use of data and evidence for understanding economics and public policy? Susan Athey of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how machine learning can be used in conjunction with traditional econometric techniques to measure the impact of say, the minimum wage or the effectiveness of a new drug. The last part of the conversation looks at the experimental techniques being used by firms like Google and Amazon.

Sep 12, 2016
Terry Moe on the Constitution, the Presidency, and Relic
01:02:02

Are there many Americans today who wish the President of the United States had more power relative to the other branches of Congress? Terry Moe is one of them. In this week's EconTalk episode, Moe--a professor of political science at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution--talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his new book (co-authored with William Howell), Relic. Moe wants to give the President the power to propose legislation that Congress would have to approve or reject free of amendments. Moe argues this would improve legislation and reduce the cronyism and special interest influence on Congress.

Sep 05, 2016
Leo Katz on Why the Law is So Perverse
01:14:13

Leo Katz, professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book, Why the Law Is So Perverse. Katz argues that certain seemingly inexplicable features of the law are the result of conflicts between multiple objectives that the law or the courts must trade off against each other. Katz also argues that structure of the law and how it is enforced are analogous to certain inevitable ambiguities of collective choice and voting theory.

Aug 29, 2016
Munger on Slavery and Racism
01:14:28

Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how attitudes in the American South toward slavery evolved over time and what we can learn from that evolution about the role culture plays in our lives.

Aug 22, 2016
Chuck Klosterman on But What If We're Wrong
01:02:24

Chuck Klosterman, author of But What If We're Wrong, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the possibility that things we hold to be undeniably true may turn out to be totally false in the future. This wide-ranging conversation covers music and literary reputations, fundamentals of science, and issues of self-deception and illusion.

Aug 15, 2016
Adam D'Angelo on Knowledge, Experimentation, and Quora
01:06:14

Adam D'Angelo, CEO of the question and answer website, Quora, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the history, evolution, and challenges of Quora. Along the way they discuss the aggregation of knowledge and the power of experiments for improving the day-to-day performance of the site.

Aug 08, 2016
Matthew Futterman on Players and the Business of Sports
01:04:19

Fifty years ago, many of the best players in the National Football League took jobs in the off-season to augment the salaries they earned playing football. Matthew Futterman of the Wall Street Journal and author of Players talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how much football and so many aspects of sports--from tennis to golf to apparel to broadcasting to Olympics--has become incredibly more lucrative. Futterman shares the insights from his book and how all that money has changed sports, the athletes who compete, and the fans who watch.

Aug 01, 2016
Angela Duckworth on Grit
01:09:28

How important is grit relative to talent? Can grit be taught? Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania and author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance talks with with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the nature of success in work, play and life. How much does grit matter? Is grit malleable or something we're born with? Duckworth discusses her research on these questions and how to think about what it means for a child and an adult to thrive.

Jul 25, 2016
Ryan Holiday on Ego is the Enemy
01:05:43

How does our attitude toward ourselves affect our success or failure in the world of business or in friendship? Ryan Holiday, author of Ego Is the Enemy, talks with Econtalk host Russ Roberts about the role of ego in business, our personal lives, and world history.

Jul 18, 2016
Jonathan Skinner on Health Care Costs, Technology, and Rising Mortality
01:03:08

Technology and innovation usually mean higher quality and lower prices. Is health care different? Jonathan Skinner of Dartmouth College talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how technology and innovation affect the cost and efficacy of health care. The conversation concludes with a discussion of the rise in mortality among middle-age white males--a surprising reversal of trend--that has been linked to use of opioid painkillers.

Jul 11, 2016
Yuval Levin on The Fractured Republic
01:01:29

Yuval Levin, author and editor of National Affairs, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his latest book, The Fractured Republic. Levin argues that both major political parties suffer from a misplaced nostalgia--a yearning for a time when things were better even though the policies that created those good times are no longer as relevant to today. Levin argues for a strengthening of the intermediate institutions--institutions between the individual and the government such as religious communities and other non-profits as a way toward a better life for Americans.

Jul 04, 2016
Richard Epstein on Cruises, First-Class Travel, and Inequality
01:03:41

How should we feel about cruise lines that offer special amenities for top-paying travelers, or first-class sections of airplanes? Do such consumption inequalities harm the social fabric or is there more to the story? Richard Epstein of New York University and the Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about these issues arguing that these kinds of unequal treatment provide benefits beyond those who receive the top-of-the-line option. The conversation then moves on to a general discussion of inequality, taxation, and redistribution.

Jun 27, 2016
Kevin Kelly on the Inevitable
01:02:26

Futurist, author, and visionary Kevin Kelly talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, The Inevitable, Kelly's look at what the future might be like and the role of the human experience in a world increasingly filled with information, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and the connecting of the planet's population.

Jun 20, 2016
Abby Smith Rumsey on Remembering, Forgetting, and When We Are No More
01:03:05

You might think your tweets on Twitter belong to you. But in 2010, the Library of Congress acquired the entire archive of Twitter. Why would such a majestic library acquire such seemingly ephemeral material? Historian Abby Smith Rumsey, author of When We Are No More, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about this decision of the Library of Congress and the general challenge of how to cope with a world when so much of what we write and read is digital. Subjects discussed include what we can learn from the past, the power of collective memory, what is worth saving, and how we might archive our electronic lives so that we and those who come after us can find what we might be looking for.

Jun 13, 2016
Jason Zweig on Finance and the Devil's Financial Dictionary
01:04:40

Jason Zweig of the Wall Street Journal and author of The Devil's Financial Dictionary talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about finance, financial journalism and Zweig's new book. Zweig discusses rationality and the investor's challenge of self-restraint, the repetitive nature of financial journalism, and the financial crisis of 2008.

Jun 06, 2016
David Beckworth on Money, Monetary Policy, and the Great Recession
01:03:51

Was the Financial Crisis of 2008 caused by a crisis in the housing market? Or did the Federal Reserve turn a garden-variety recession into the Great Recession? David Beckworth of Western Kentucky University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the Fed's response to the recession that began in December of 2007 and worsened in 2008. Beckworth argues that the Fed failed to respond adequately to the drop in nominal GDP by keeping interest rates too high for too long. Beckworth describes what he thinks the Fed should have done and the lessons we should learn going forward to reduce the severity of future downturns.

May 30, 2016
James Bessen on Learning by Doing
01:04:24

Are workers being left behind when the economy grows? Is technology making the human workforce obsolete? James Bessen, author of Learning by Doing, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the role of learning on the job in the past and in the present. Bessen argues that during times of technological innovation, it often takes years before workers see higher wages from productivity increases. Bessen stresses the importance of the standardization of education on the job as workers adapt to new technology.

May 23, 2016
Leif Wenar on Blood Oil
01:04:45

Should the United States allow its citizens to buy oil from countries run by bad men? Is this a case where morality trumps the usual case for free trade? Leif Wenar, professor of philosophy at King's College, London and author of Blood Oil, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the morality of buying resources from countries that use the resulting revenue to oppress their citizens. Based on the ideas in his book, Wenar argues that in many cases, importing oil is equivalent to buying stolen goods where the low prices cannot justify the purchase. The conversation discusses the possible outcomes from banning foreign oil from tyrannical regimes along with the resource curse and the case for fair trade.

May 16, 2016
Pedro Domingos on Machine Learning and the Master Algorithm
01:05:50

What is machine learning? How is it transforming our lives and workplaces? What might the future hold? Pedro Domingos of the University of Washington and author of The Master Algorithm talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the present and future of machine learning. Domingos stresses the iterative and ever-improving nature of machine learning. He is fundamentally an optimist about the potential of machine learning with ever-larger amounts of data to transform the human experience.

May 09, 2016
Arnold Kling on Specialization and Trade
01:06:57

Arnold Kling, economist and author, speaks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, Specialization and Trade: A Reintroduction to Economics. Kling argues that macroeconomics ignores the challenges of buyers and sellers working together in the real world of specialization and trade. Instead, most macroeconomic theories struggle to incorporate the differences across workers and products. Kling points the listener toward a different perspective on macroeconomics and the business cycle that focuses on those differences. Kling also lays out related insights on political economy as well as his take on G.A. Cohen's parable of the camping trip.

May 02, 2016
Alberto Alesina on Fiscal Policy and Austerity
01:03:28

Alberto Alesina of Harvard University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his research on fiscal policy and austerity. Alesina's research shows that spending cuts to reduce budget deficits are less harmful than tax increases. Alesina discusses the intuition behind this empirical finding and discusses other issues such as Greece's financial situation.

Apr 25, 2016
Gary Belsky on the Origins of Sports
01:08:12

Gary Belsky, co-author of On the Origins of Sports and former editor-in-chief of ESPN the Magazine, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the origins of sports--how various sports evolved and emerged into their current incarnations. Along the way he discusses the popularity of American football, the written (and unwritten) rules of sports, and the focus on replay and fairness in modern sports.

Apr 18, 2016
Robert Frank on Success and Luck
01:11:34

Is your success in life your own doing? Robert Frank of Cornell University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, Success and Luck. Frank argues that we underestimate the role that luck plays in our success and makes the case for a progressive consumption tax as a way to improve even the welfare of the wealthy.

Apr 11, 2016
Richard Jones on Transhumanism
01:11:42

Will our brains ever be uploaded into a computer? Will we live forever? Richard Jones, physicist at the University of Sheffield and author of Against Transhumanism, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about transhumanism--the effort to radically transform human existence via technology. Jones argues that the grandest visions of the potential of technology--uploading of brains and the ability to rearrange matter via nanotechnology are much more limited and unlikely than proponents of these technologies suggest. The conversation closes with the role of government in innovation and developing technology.

Apr 04, 2016
Jayson Lusk on Food, Technology, and Unnaturally Delicious
01:07:33

How bad is pink slime? Are free-range chickens happier? Can robots cook? Jayson Lusk of Oklahoma State University and the author of Unnaturally Delicious talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about these questions and more from his new book. Lusk explores the wide-ranging application of technology to farming, cooking, protein production, and more.

Mar 28, 2016
Marina Krakovsky on the Middleman Economy
01:03:08

Why would anyone want to hire a middleman, like a wedding planner, especially if you have time to take care of the planning yourself? Marina Krakovsky, author of The Middleman Economy talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about middlemen in the modern economy. Despite predictions that the internet would destroy the need for middlemen, Krakovsky argues they're more valuable than ever though their roles have changed. Krakovsky looks at the different roles middlemen play today and how their value added can justify their existence.

Mar 21, 2016
David Autor on Trade, China, and U.S. Labor Markets
01:12:59

David Autor of MIT talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the fundamentals of trade and his research on the impact on workers and communities from trade with China. Autor's research finds large and persistent effects on manufacturing jobs and communities where those jobs once were. Autor and Roberts discuss whether these results capture the full impact of increased trade with China and what the policy response might be that could help workers hurt by trade.

Mar 14, 2016
Will Davies on the Economics, Economists, and the Limits of Neoliberalism
01:06:30

Will Davies of Goldsmith's, University of London and author of The Limits of Neoliberalism talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his book. Davies argues that the free-market vision of economists like Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek has de-romanticized politics and ensconced competition at the heart of our economy and culture. Davies argues for the value of a completely different perspective and pushes for a reduction in the influence and status of economists as policymakers and influencers. Along the way he gives his perspective on the role of economists in the financial crisis and in antitrust policy.

Mar 07, 2016
Alison Wolf on Women, Inequality and the XX Factor
01:11:24

Alison Wolf author of The XX Factor, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the changing roles of women in the family and the workplace. Wolf argues that highly educated women are increasingly similar to highly educated men in their lifestyles and choices while becoming very different from less educated women. Wolf traces the origins of these changes and the interaction between economic and cultural factors affecting men, women, the family, and the workplace.

Feb 29, 2016
Matt Ridley on the Evolution of Everything
01:09:50

Matt Ridley talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, The Evolution of Everything. Ridley applies the lens of emergent order to a wide variety of phenomena including culture, morality, religion, commerce, innovation, and consciousness.

Feb 22, 2016
Adam Cifu on Ending Medical Reversal
01:04:49

Why do so many medical practices that begin with such promise and confidence turn out to be either ineffective at best or harmful at worst? Adam Cifu of the University of Chicago's School of Medicine and co-author (with Vinayak Prasad) of Ending Medical Reversal explores this question with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Cifu shows that medical reversal--the discovery that prescribed medical practices are ineffective or harmful--is distressingly common. He contrasts the different types of evidence that support or discourage various medical practices and discusses the cultural challenges doctors face in turning away from techniques they have used for many years.

Feb 15, 2016
Adam Ozimek on the Power of Econometrics and Data
01:02:27

Adam Ozimek of Moody's Analytics and blogger at Forbes talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about why economists change their minds or don't. Ozimek argues that economists make erratic but steady progress using econometrics and other forms of evidence to understand the impact of public policies such as the minimum wage or government stimulus. Roberts pushes back and discusses the role of ideology, the complexity of where our views come from and the potential for confirmation bias.

Feb 08, 2016
Timothy Taylor on Government vs. Business
01:01:57

Timothy Taylor, blogger at the Conversable Economist and editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the role of government and business in taking care of workers and creating economic growth. Taylor discusses the paradox that the political process seems to expect firms to take care of workers and government to create growth. The conversation then turns to a wide array of related issues including how Wal-Mart treats its workers. The conversation closes with a discussion of Taylor's role as founding editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Feb 01, 2016
James Heckman on Facts, Evidence, and the State of Econometrics
01:04:12

Nobel Laureate James Heckman of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of econometrics and the challenges of measurement in assessing economic theories and public policy. Heckman gives us his take on natural experiments, selection bias, randomized control trials and the reliability of sophisticated statistical analysis. The conversation closes with Heckman reminiscing about his intellectual influences throughout his career.

Jan 25, 2016
Josh Luber on Sneakers, Sneakerheads, and the Second-hand Market
01:02:54

How many pairs of sneakers do you own? Josh Luber of Campless and StockX talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the world of sneakerheads--people passionate for collecting and trading sneakers. Each week people line up to buy classic sneaker models Nike re-releases. Luber has collected millions of transactions from Ebay on these sneakers and others and has analyzed the return to investing in various sneaker models. The conversation includes a discussion of how Nike has helped to create this market and Luber's work creating a stock market for sneakers and other goods.

Jan 18, 2016
Greg Ip on Foolproof
01:06:17

When does the pursuit of safety lead us into danger? Greg Ip, of the Wall Street Journal and author of Foolproof talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his book--the way we publicly and privately try to cope with risk and danger and how those choices can create unintended consequences. While much of the conversation focuses on the financial crisis of 2008, there are also discussions of football injuries, damage from natural disasters such as hurricanes, car accidents, and Herbert Hoover. Along the way, Herman Melville's insights into the mesmerizing nature of water make an appearance.

Jan 11, 2016
Robert Frank on Dinner Table Economics
00:58:12

How can you learn to think like an economist? One way is to think about what might be called dinner table economics--puzzles or patterns that arise in everyday life that would be good to understand. Robert Frank of Cornell University and author of The Economic Naturalist talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about a number of these puzzles including why grooms typically rent tuxedos but the bride usually buys her gown, why bicycles can be more expensive to rent than cars, the effects of the price of corn on the price of pork, and why scammers who invoke Nigeria keep using the same old story.

Jan 04, 2016
Noah Smith on Whether Economics is a Science
01:08:34

Noah Smith of Stony Brook University and writer at Bloomberg View talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about whether economics is a science in some sense of that word. How reliable are experiments in economics? What about the statistical analysis that underlies much of the empirical work in modern economics? Additional topics include the reliability of the empirical analysis of the minimum wage, the state of macroeconomics, and the role of prejudice or prior beliefs in the interpretation of data and evidence.

Dec 28, 2015
Philip Tetlock on Superforecasting
00:59:44

Can you predict the future? Or at least gauge the probability of political or economic events in the near future? Philip Tetlock of the University of Pennsylvania and author of Superforecasting talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his work on assessing probabilities with teams of thoughtful amateurs. Tetlock finds that teams of amateurs trained in gathering information and thinking about it systematically outperformed experts in assigning probabilities of various events in a competition organized by IARPA, research agency under the Director of National Intelligence. In this conversation, Tetlock discusses the meaning, reliability, and usefulness of trying to assign probabilities to one-time events.

Dec 21, 2015
George Selgin on Monetary Policy and the Great Recession
01:09:01

Did Ben Bernanke and the Fed save the U.S. economy from disaster in 2008 or did the Fed make things worse? Why did the Fed reward banks that kept reserves rather than releasing funds into the economy? George Selgin of the Cato Institute tries to answer these questions and more in this conversation with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Selgin argues that the Fed made critical mistakes both before and after the collapse of Lehman Brothers by lending to insolvent banks as well as by paying interest on reserves held at the Fed by member banks.

Dec 14, 2015
Canice Prendergast on How Prices Can Improve a Food Fight (and Help the Poor)
01:02:34

If you have 250 million pounds of food to give away every year to local food banks how should you do it? Canice Prendergast of the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how he and a team of economists created an artificial currency and a daily auction for the national food bank Feeding America so that local food banks could bid on the types of food that were the most valuable to them. Prendergast explains the results of the new system and the cultural and practical challenges of bringing prices, even artificial ones, to a world accustomed to giving things away.

Dec 07, 2015
David Mindell on Our Robots, Ourselves
00:59:59

Are we on the verge of driverless cars and other forms of autonomous robots and artificial intelligence? David Mindell of MIT and the author of Our Robots, Ourselves talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the robotic revolution. Mindell argues that much of the optimism for autonomous robots ignores decades of experience with semi-autonomous robots in deep-sea operation, space, air, and the military. In all of these areas, the role of human supervision remains at a high level with little full autonomy. Mindell traces some of the history of the human interaction with robots and artificial intelligence and speculates on what the future might hold.

Nov 30, 2015
Michael Munger on EconTalk's 500th Episode
01:13:34

Michael Munger of Duke University makes his 29th appearance on the 500th episode of EconTalk alongside EconTalk host Russ Roberts. He talks about his personal intellectual journey, his interest in public choice, and Unicorn economics. Other topics include the origins of EconTalk, Roberts's intellectual roots, and the EconTalk theme music. The conversation closes with a brief reprise of a few highlights from past Munger appearances on EconTalk.

Nov 23, 2015
Brian Nosek on the Reproducibility Project
01:07:18

Brian Nosek of the University of Virginia and the Center for Open Science talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the Reproducibility Project--an effort to reproduce the findings of 100 articles in three top psychology journals. Nosek talks about the findings and the implications for academic publishing and the reliability of published results.

Nov 16, 2015
Robert Aronowitz on Risky Medicine
01:10:32

Should women get routine mammograms? Should men get regular PSA exams? Robert Aronowitz of the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Risky Medicine talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the increasing focus on risk reduction rather than health itself as a goal. Aronowitz discusses the social and political forces that push us toward more preventive testing even when those tests have not been shown to be effective. Aronowitz's perspective is a provocative look at the opportunity cost of risk-reduction.

Nov 09, 2015
Michael Matheson Miller on Poverty, Inc
01:09:14

Michael Matheson Miller of the Acton Institute and the Director of the documentary Poverty, Inc., talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his award-winning documentary on the barriers facing the poor around the world. Topics discussed include the incentives facing poverty-fighting NGOs and their staff, the importance of secure and well-defined property rights, and the costs and benefits of agricultural aid.

Nov 02, 2015
Cesar Hidalgo on Why Information Grows
01:02:44

Cesar Hidalgo of MIT and the author of Why Information Grows talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the growth of knowledge and know-how in the modern economy. Hidalgo emphasizes the importance of networks among innovators and creators and the role of trust in sustaining those networks.

Oct 26, 2015
Yuval Harari on Sapiens
01:12:08

Yuval Harari of Hebrew University and author of Sapiens talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the history of humanity. Topics discussed include the move from hunting and gathering to agriculture, the role of fiction in sustaining imagination, the nature of money, the impact of empires and the synergies between empires and science.

Oct 19, 2015
Pete Boettke on Katrina, Ten Years After
01:18:44

Pete Boettke of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the political and economic lessons he has learned as program director of research in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In this wide-ranging conversation, Boettke discusses the role of civil society, the barriers to recovery that have hampered New Orleans and what worked well as people and institutions responded to tragedy and devastation.

Oct 12, 2015
Tim O'Reilly on Technology and Work
01:03:18

Tim O'Reilly of O'Reilly Media talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his career in technology and media and the challenges facing low-wage workers as technology advances. Topics include the early days of the Internet, the efficacy of regulation to protect workers, and the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop.

Oct 05, 2015
Pete Geddes on the American Prairie Reserve
01:07:02

When Lewis and Clark crossed through Montana, they encountered an extraordinary cornucopia of wildlife. Most of that ecosystem and the animals that once thrived there are gone. But a non-profit wants to bring it all back. Pete Geddes, Managing Director of the American Prairie Reserve talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about creating the Serengeti of the Americas--a 3.3 million acre prairie that would allow bison, pronghorn antelope, prairie dogs and their friends to inhabit a Wildlife Reserve in Montana, the size of Connecticut. Geddes discusses the goals of the American Prairie Reserve and how they're using a for-profit company, Wild Sky Beef, to gather support and help from local ranchers for the project.

Sep 28, 2015
Tina Rosenberg on the Kidney Market in Iran
01:01:23

There is only one country in the world where a person can sell a kidney to another citizen who buys it. That country is Iran. Tina Rosenberg of The New York Times talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the Iranian kidney market--how it works, its strengths and weaknesses, and whether its lessons apply to the United States or elsewhere.

Sep 21, 2015
Mitch Weiss on the Business of Broadway
01:12:42

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at a Broadway show? This week's EconTalk lifts the curtain on the magical world of Broadway: Mitch Weiss, co-author of The Business of Broadway, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book and what it's like to manage the production of a blockbuster musical in New York City. Topics discussed include the eight-performance-per-week grind, the how and why of creating a Broadway set, the challenges of wardrobes (domestic and international) and the pluses and minuses of unions which are a central part of the Broadway workplace.

Sep 14, 2015
William MacAskill on Effective Altruism and Doing Good Better
01:09:13

How much care do you take when you make a donation to a charity? What careers make the biggest difference when it comes to helping others? William MacAskill of Oxford University and the author of Doing Good Better talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the book and the idea of effective altruism. MacAskill urges donors to spend their money more effectively and argues that the impact on human well-being can be immense. MacAskill wants donors to rely on scientific assessments of effectiveness. Roberts pushes back on the reliability of such assessments. Other topics include sweatshops, choosing a career to have the biggest impact on others, and the interaction between private philanthropy and political action.

Sep 07, 2015
Paul Robinson on Cooperation, Punishment and the Criminal Justice System
01:10:06

Are human beings naturally cooperative or selfish? Can people thrive without government law? Paul Robinson of the University of Pennsylvania and author of Pirates, Prisoners and Lepers talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts the ideas in his book. Robinson argues that without government sanctions or legislation, there is an evolutionary drive to cooperate even in life-and-death situations. In such situations private punishment and norms play a crucial role in sustaining cooperative solutions. The last part of the conversation deals with the criminal justice system and how attitudes toward the system affect society-wide cooperation and crime.

Aug 31, 2015
Jesse Ausubel on Agriculture, Technology, and the Return of Nature
01:02:52

Thousands of bears in New Jersey. Humpback whales near New York City. Acres devoted to farming stable or declining even as food production soars. Jesse Ausubel of the Rockefeller University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the return of nature. Ausubel shows how technology has reduced many of the dimensions of the human footprint even as population rises and why this trend is likely to continue into the future. The conversation concludes with Ausubel's cautious optimism about the impact of climate change.

Aug 24, 2015
Rachel Laudan on the History of Food and Cuisine
01:06:55

Rachel Laudan, visiting scholar at the University of Texas and author of Cuisine and Empire, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the history of food. Topics covered include the importance of grain, the spread of various styles of cooking, why French cooking has elite status, and the reach of McDonald's. The conversation concludes with a discussion of the appeal of local food and other recent food passions.

Aug 17, 2015
Summer Brennan on Wilderness, Politics and the Oyster War
01:04:33

Summer Brennan, author of The Oyster War, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her book and the fight between the Drakes Bay Oyster Company and the federal government over farming oysters in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Along the way they discuss the economics of oyster farming, the nature of wilderness, and the challenge of land use in national parks and seashores.

Aug 10, 2015
Roger Berkowitz on Fish, Food, and Legal Sea Foods
01:03:59

Seafood is highly perishable and supply is often uncertain. Roger Berkowitz, CEO of Legal Sea Foods talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenges of running 34 seafood restaurants up and down the east coast. Berkowitz draws on his 22 year tenure as CEO and discusses how his business works day-to-day and the question of sustainability.

Aug 03, 2015
Eric Hanushek on the Education, Skills, and the Millennium Development Goals
01:11:06

How important are basic skills for economic success and growth? Eric Hanushek of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the importance of basic education in math and literacy and their relationship to economic growth. Hanushek argues that excellence in educating people in basic skills leads to economic growth, especially in poorer countries where years of education may be a poor proxy for learning. He argues that the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals should emphasize outputs rather than inputs--performance on skill-based exams rather than years of education.

Jul 27, 2015
Wences Casares on Bitcoin and Xapo
01:00:51

Wences Casares, bitcoin evangelist and founder and CEO of Xapo, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how bitcoin works, the genius of bitcoin's creator, and how Xapo is structured to create security for bitcoin banking.

Jul 20, 2015
Lee Ohanian, Arnold Kling, and John Cochrane on the Future of Freedom, Democracy, and Prosperity
00:56:57

Lee Ohanian, Arnold Kling, and John Cochrane talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the future of freedom, democracy, and prosperity. Recorded in front of a live audience at Stanford University's Hoover Institution as part of a conference on Magna Carta, the three guests give their perspective on the future of the American economy and the interaction between politics and economics. Each guest makes a brief presentation at the start followed by a moderated conversation.

Jul 13, 2015
Alvin Roth on Matching Markets
01:03:10

Nobel Laureate Alvin Roth of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his work on matching markets. Examples include marriage, matching kidney donors to kidney recipients, and students to schools in cities that allow choice in their public school systems. Roth also discusses repugnance--the unease some people have with allowing buying and selling of some goods and what it's like to watch a kidney transplant knowing your research has helped make the surgery possible.

Jul 06, 2015
Matt Ridley on Climate Change
01:07:37

Science writer and author Matt Ridley discusses climate change with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Based on his reading of the scientific evidence, Ridley describes himself as a "lukewarmer." While Ridley agrees that humans have made the climate warmer, he argues that the impact is small or positive over some temperature ranges and regions. He rejects the catastrophic scenarios that some say are sufficiently likely to justify dramatic policy responses, and he reflects on the challenges of staking out an unpopular position on a contentious policy issue.

Jun 29, 2015
Morten Jerven on African Economic Growth
01:12:17

Morten Jerven of Simon Frasier University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his new book, Africa: Why Economists Get It Wrong. Jerven, who will be joining Noragric at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences this fall, argues that economists have misread the economic history of Africa, ignoring successful episodes of economic growth while trying to explain a perpetual malaise that does not exist. Jerven is critical of many of the attempts to explain growth using econometric techniques and suggests that a richer approach is necessary that is aware of the particular circumstances facing poor countries.

Jun 22, 2015
Adam Davidson on Hollywood and the Future of Work
01:14:16

What's it like to hang out with Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, and Steve Carell for two months? Adam Davidson, who writes for the New York Times Sunday Magazine, was the technical advisor to the upcoming movie, The Big Short. Besides rubbing shoulders with celebrities, he noticed what he calls the Hollywood model where highly talented workers come together temporarily in project-based employment. Davidson discusses the costs and benefits of this approach and its potential emergence as a more common phenomenon throughout the economy.

Jun 15, 2015
Nathaniel Popper on Bitcoin and Digital Gold
01:07:32

Nathaniel Popper of the New York Times and the author of Digital Gold talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Bitcoin. Can Bitcoin make it? What went wrong with Mt. Gox? Why did Ross Ulbricht, the creator of Silk Road, just get sentenced to life in prison? Why are venture capital firms pouring millions of dollars into companies promising easier ways to use Bitcoin? Popper discusses these questions along with the technical side of Bitcoin to help listeners understand why so many investors are excited about the potential of Bitcoin.

Jun 08, 2015
Martin Weitzman on Climate Change
01:08:29

Is climate change the ultimate Black Swan? Martin Weitzman of Harvard University and co-author of Climate Shock talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the risks of climate change. Weitzman argues that climate change is a fat-tailed phenomenon--there is a non-trivial risk of a catastrophe. Though Weitzman concedes that our knowledge of the climate is quite incomplete, he suggests that it is prudent to take serious measures, including possibly geo-engineering, to reduce the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Jun 01, 2015
Bent Flyvbjerg on Megaprojects
01:04:17

Bent Flyvbjerg of Oxford University speaks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the political economy of megaprojects--massive investments of a billion dollars or more in infrastructure or technology. Flyvbjerg argues that such projects consistently end up costing more with smaller benefits than projected and almost always end up with costs that exceed the benefits. Flyvbjerg explores the reasons for the poor predictions and poor performance of giant investment projects and what might be done to improve their effectiveness.

May 25, 2015
Nicholas Vincent on the Magna Carta
01:10:15

Did an 800-year old piece of parchment really change the world? Nicholas Vincent of the University of East Anglia talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the Magna Carta, the founding document of English law and liberty. The Magna Carta was repudiated just ten weeks after King John issued it. Yet, its impact is still with us today. In this conversation, Vincent explains what led to the Magna Carta and how its influence remains with us today in England and elsewhere.

May 18, 2015
Eric Topol on the Power of Patients in a Digital World
01:07:05

We're in the middle of a healthcare revolution but it's about more than marvelous life-saving and life-enhancing apps on our smartphone. Eric Topol of the Scripps Translational Science Institute and author of The Patient Will See You Now argues that the digital revolution will give us more control of our health information and data. More powerful patients will transform the doctor-patient interaction. Topol talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his new book giving us a glimpse of the changes coming to medicine from the digital revolution.

May 11, 2015
Michael O'Hare on Art Museums
01:03:18

Michael O'Hare of the University of California, Berkeley talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the management of art museums. O'Hare suggests a number of changes that would allow museums to be more effective and to justify their non-profit status--lower admission prices, selling part of their substantial unseen inventory to other museums, and broadening the activities of the museum to include educational exhibits on the creation of art and the commercial side of art. He encourages trustees of museums to see their job more as tough-minded advisors and less as financiers of museum budgets.

May 04, 2015
Leonard Wong on Honesty and Ethics in the Military
01:02:23

Leonard Wong of the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about honesty in the military. Based on a recent co-authored paper, Wong argues that the paperwork and training burden on U.S. military officers requires dishonesty--it is simply impossible to comply with all the requirements. This creates a tension for an institution that prides itself on honesty, trust, and integrity. The conversation closes with suggestions for how the military might reform the compliance and requirement process.

Apr 27, 2015
Scott Sumner on Interest Rates
01:05:11

Scott Sumner, of Bentley University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about interest rates. Sumner suggests that professional economists sometimes confuse cause and effect with respect to prices and quantities. Low interest rates need not encourage investment for example, if interest rates are low because of a decrease in demand. Sumner also talk about possible explanations for the historically low real rates of interest in today's economy along with other aspects of monetary policy, interest rates, and investment.

Apr 20, 2015
Phil Rosenzweig on Leadership, Decisions, and Behavioral Economics
01:02:18

Phil Rosenzweig, professor of strategy and international business at IMD in Switzerland and author of the book Left Brain, Right Stuff: How Leaders Make Winning Decisions talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book. The focus of the conversation is on the lessons from behavioral economics--when do those lessons inform and when do they mislead when applied to real-world business decisions. Topics discussed include overconfidence, transparency, the winner's curse, evaluating leaders, and the role of experimental findings in thinking about decision-making.

Apr 13, 2015
Vernon Smith and James Otteson on Adam Smith
01:04:38

Vernon Smith and James Otteson talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Adam Smith in front of a live audience at Ball State University. Topics discussed include Smith's view of human nature, the relevance of Smith for philosophy and economics today, and the connection between Smith's two books, The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations.

Apr 06, 2015
David Skarbek on Prison Gangs and the Social Order of the Underworld
01:16:24

David Skarbek of King's College London and author of The Social Order of the Underworld: How Prison Gangs Govern The American Penal System talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the written and unwritten rules in America's prisons for the most violent and dangerous criminals. Skarbek explains how and why prison gangs emerged in the last half of the 20th century, their influence both inside and outside of prisons, and how their governance structure is maintained.

Mar 30, 2015
Campbell Harvey on Randomness, Skill, and Investment Strategies
01:05:05

Campbell Harvey of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his research evaluating various investment and trading strategies and the challenge of measuring their effectiveness. Topics discussed include skill vs. luck, self-deception, the measures of statistical significance, skewness in investment returns, and the potential of big data.

Mar 23, 2015
Paul Romer on Urban Growth
01:03:01

Paul Romer of New York University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about reforming cities to allow growth and human flourishing. Topics discussed include charter cities, the role of population density in city life, driverless cars, and various ways to help the poorest people in the world.

Mar 16, 2015
Lawrence H. White on Monetary Constitutions
01:18:19

Lawrence H. White of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the possibility of a monetary constitution. Based on a new book, Renewing the Search for a Monetary Constitution, White explores different constitutional constraints that might be put on the government's role in money and monetary policy. Topics discussed include cryptocurrencies, the gold standard, the Taylor Rule, the performance of the Fed, free banking, and private currency.

Mar 09, 2015
David Zetland on Water
01:00:02

David Zetland of Leiden University College in the Netherlands and author of Living with Water Scarcity talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenges of water management. Issues covered include the sustainability of water supplies, the affordability of water for the poor, the incentives water companies face, and the management of water systems in the poorest countries. Also discussed are the diamond and water paradox, campaigns to reduce water usage, and the role of prices in managing a water system.

Mar 02, 2015
Michael Munger on Choosing in Groups
01:15:12

Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book (co-authored with Kevin Munger), Choosing in Groups. Munger lays out the challenges of group decision-making and the challenges of agreeing on constitutions or voting rules for group decision-making. The conversation highlights some of the challenges of majority rule and uses the Lewis and Clark expedition as an example.

Feb 23, 2015
Benn Steil on the Battle of Bretton Woods
01:05:10

Benn Steil of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Bretton Woods, the conference that resulted in the IMF, the World Bank, and the post-war international monetary system. Topics discussed include America and Britain's conflicting interests during and after World War II, the relative instability of the post-war system, and the personalities and egos of the individuals at Bretton Woods, including John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White.

Feb 16, 2015
Daniel Sumner on the Political Economy of Agriculture
01:09:05

Daniel Sumner of the University of California talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about agricultural subsidies in the United States, the winners and losers from those subsidies, and how the structure of subsidies has changed from the New Deal to the present. Sumner also explains how American policies have affected foreign farmers.

Feb 09, 2015
Luigi Zingales on the Costs and Benefits of the Financial Sector
01:01:43

Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts on whether the financial sector is good for society and about the gap between how banks and bankers are perceived by the public vs. finance professors. Zingales discusses the costs and benefits of financial innovation, compares the finance sector to the health sector, and suggests how business education should talk about finance to create better behavior.

Feb 02, 2015
Alex Tabarrok on Private Cities
01:08:18

Alex Tabarrok of George Mason University talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about a recent paper Tabarrok co-authored with Shruti Rajagopalan on Gurgaon, a city in India that until recently had little or no municipal government. The two discuss the successes and failures of this private city, the tendency to romanticize the outcomes of market and government action, and the potential for private cities to meet growing demand for urban living in India and China.

Jan 26, 2015
Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the Precautionary Principle and Genetically Modified Organisms
01:07:37

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Antifragile, Black Swan, and Fooled by Randomness, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about a recent co-authored paper on the risks of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the use of the Precautionary Principle. Taleb contrasts harm with ruin and explains how the differences imply different rules of behavior when dealing with the risk of each. Taleb argues that when considering the riskiness of GMOs, the right understanding of statistics is more valuable than expertise in biology or genetics. The central issue that pervades the conversation is how to cope with a small non-negligible risk of catastrophe.

Jan 19, 2015
Greg Page on Food, Agriculture, and Cargill
01:02:07

Greg Page, former CEO of Cargill, the largest privately-held company in America, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the global food supply and the challenges of running a company with employees and activity all over the world. Page talks about the role of prices in global food markets in signaling information and prompting changes in response to those signals. Other topics include government's role in agriculture, the locavore movement and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Jan 12, 2015
Joshua Greene on Moral Tribes, Moral Dilemmas, and Utilitarianism
01:10:06

Joshua Greene, of Harvard University and author of Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about morality and the challenges we face when our morality conflicts with that of others. Topics discussed include the difference between what Greene calls automatic thinking and manual thinking, the moral dilemma known as "the trolley problem," and the difficulties of identifying and solving problems in a society that has a plurality of values. Greene defends utilitarianism as a way of adjudicating moral differences.

Jan 05, 2015
James Tooley on Private Schools for the Poor and the Beautiful Tree
01:07:13

James Tooley, Professor of Education at Newcastle University, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about low-cost for-profit private schools in the slums and rural areas of poor countries. Tooley shows how surprisingly widespread private schools are for the poor and how effective they are relative to public schools where teacher attendance and performance can be very disappointing. The conversation closes with whether public schooling should remain the ideal in poor countries.

Dec 29, 2014
Joshua Angrist on Econometrics and Causation
01:05:31

Joshua Angrist of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the craft of econometrics--how to use economic thinking and statistical methods to make sense of data and uncover causation. Angrist argues that improvements in research design along with various econometric techniques have improved the credibility of measurement in a complex world. Roberts pushes back and the conversation concludes with a discussion of how to assess the reliability of findings in controversial public policy areas.

Dec 22, 2014
Gary Marcus on the Future of Artificial Intelligence and the Brain