Bruce Yandle of Clemson University and George Mason University's Mercatus Center looks at the tragedy of the commons and the various ways that people have avoided the overuse of resources that are held in common. Examples discussed include fisheries, roads, rivers and the air. Yandle talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the historical use of norms, cooperative ventures such as incorporating a river, the common law, and top-down command-and-control regulation to reduce air and water pollution.
Ian Ayres of Yale University Law School talks about the ideas in his new book, Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart. Ayres argues for the power of data and analysis over more traditional decision-making methods using judgment and intuition. He talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about predicting the quality of wine based on climate and rainfall, the increasing use of randomized data in the world of business, the use of evidence and information in medicine rather than the judgment of your doctor, and whether concealed handguns or car protection devices such as LoJack reduce the crime rate. The podcast closes with a postscript by Roberts challenging the use of sophisticated statistical techniques to analyze complex systems.
Author Robert Frank of Cornell University talks about economic education and his recent book, The Economic Naturalist. Frank argues that the traditional way of teaching economics via graphs and equations often fails to make any impression on students. In this conversation with host Russ Roberts, Frank outlines an alternative approach from his new book, where students find interesting questions and enigmas from everyday life. They then try to explain them using the economic way of thinking. Frank and Roberts discuss a number of the enigmas and speculate on the future of economics and education. The topics discussed include tuxedos vs. wedding dresses, the level of civility (or lack thereof) in New York City, the difference between vending machines for soda and newspapers, the tragedy of the commons, and the economics of love.
Thomas McCraw of Harvard University talks about the ideas of Joseph Schumpeter from his book, Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction. McCraw and EconTalk host Russ Roberts discuss innovation, business strategy, the role of mathematics in economics, and Schumpeter's vision of competition embodied in his most important idea--creative destruction.
Don Boudreaux of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about when market failure can be improved by government intervention. After discussing the evolution of economic thinking about externalities and public goods, the conversation turns to the case for government's role in promoting competition via antitrust regulation. Boudreaux argues that the origins of antitrust had nothing to do with protecting consumers from greedy monopolists. The source of political demand for antitrust regulation came from competitors looking for relief from more successful rivals.