Russ Roberts

Books Podcast Episodes and Extras

Category Archive with 272 podcast episodes and extras
 

Constructing our Truths

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Russ Roberts's enthusiasm for technology and optimism for the future might only be outdone by this week's EconTalk guest, futurist Kevin Kelly. Their conversation ranges over the human need for communication, developing techno-literacy skills for The Inevitable future, and the very purpose of humans in relation to the digital world.

How do you interact with technology? Are you seeing a transition from the technology of information to the technology of experience? Has the Internet shortened your attention span? Sped up your brain? As always, we love to hear from you...So please share your thoughts with us in the Comments, and share our posts with your friends.

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1. What does Kelly mean when he says, "...in a very real way our inventions assign us our jobs?" How has your work changed with technology, and to what extent do you think technological advance is a net positive for people in your line of work?

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Podcast episode Kevin Kelly on the Inevitable

EconTalk Episode with Kevin Kelly
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Inevitable.jpg 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.

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Curating Our Cultural History

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

How will our memories be experienced by future generations? How much of our cultural memory is "owed" to them? And why on earth would the Library of Congress be interested in preserving years worth of tweets??? These were among the topics of conversations in this week's episode in which EconTalk host Russ Roberts talked with archivist and historian Abby Smith Rumsey about how we experience memories of the past, and how we might preserve them for the future.

This episode got me thinking a lot about what my grandchildren might make of EconTalk, among other memories and experiences I hold dear. Can I ensure that they will experience them? How do I know they will find any value in them? As always, we'd like to hear whay you took away from this week's conversation. Let us know; we love to hear from you!

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1. What sorts of memories (personal and/or cultural) are you most concerned with preserving for the future? How will you ensure they are preserved?

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Podcast episode Abby Smith Rumsey on Remembering, Forgetting, and When We Are No More

EconTalk Episode with Abby Smith Rumsey
Hosted by Russ Roberts

WhenWeAreNoMore.jpg 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.

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You're a Poet, But We Don't Know It

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

It's easier than ever to be an investor...but is this "democratization" of investing a good thing for all involved? This was among the issues explored in this week's episode, in which EconTalk host Russ Roberts chatted with The Wall Street Journal's "Intelligent Investor" columnist Jason Zweig. As usual, I'd like to suggest a few questions for thought for you...

And this week, we're also offering you a literary challenge...At the very end of the interview, Russ mentions Rudyard Kipling's poem, "If." He challenges Zweig to create a poem of financial advice modeled after Kipling's. Now we're extending the same challenge to you... We'd like to publish some of them on EconTalk, and we've got plenty of Liberty Fund books for those authors selected! So commence poetry-ing, and post yours in the Comments!

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1. What about the "democratization of finance" and the profusion of information bothers Zweig? Is this an issue you struggle to deal with?

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras , Finance



Podcast episode Jason Zweig on Finance and the Devil's Financial Dictionary

EconTalk Episode with Jason Zweig
Hosted by Russ Roberts

DevilsDictionary.jpg 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.

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You Gotta Have Standards

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

When machines make workers more productive do workers wages rise? Does technology destroy jobs across the entire economy? These were two of the key questions EconTalk host Russ Roberts explored this week in his conversation with James Bessen.

As always, we'd like to continue the conversation with you...Let us know your reactions to these questions in the Comments. We love to hear from you.

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1. This week, Adidas made news by announcing it was moving production back to Germany from Asia...but using robots. What is the mechanism discussed by Bessen that could cause this to increase jobs elsewhere in the economy?

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras , Labor



Are YOU propping up a tyrant?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

EconTalk host Russ Roberts showed us a very personal challenge this week...As a self-professed hard-core free-trader, this week's guest Leif Wenar had Russ re-examining some of his views. I know this week's episode had quite the same effect on me...So what about you?

If we care about the oppression of people living in oppressive regimes rich with oil, what should we do? Or more precisely, what can we do that would help the people we're hoping to help? Can we escape the "blood oil" ties to tyrannical regimes through government action? Is there a way to avoid blood oil using a bottom-up strategy? Share your thoughts with us in the Comments, and thanks for listening.

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1. How is the Oil Curse different from the Resource Curse we've long heard about, or what makes oil a special case, according to Wenar?

2. To what extent is the legislation Wenar advocates to combat blood oil just another form of "fair trade"? (Revisit this 2013 episode with Amrita Narlika to explore the differences between free trade and fair trade.)

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras



Podcast episode Leif Wenar on Blood Oil

EconTalk Episode with Leif Wenar
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Willis/Blood%20Oil.jpg 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.

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Will YOU trust the algorithm?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

EconTalk host Russ Roberts shows a pessimistic side this week in his conversation with Pedro Domingos on machine learning. What promise does the future of machinae learning hold? What's the difference between AI and machine learning? Will a Master Algorithm become possible when the best of these schools of machine learning are joined? And more interestingly, will you trust it?

These were just some of the issues touched on in this fascinating conversation, on which we'd like to hear your input as well. Consider some of the questions posed here, and share your response in the Comments. And/or try some of these thought experiments out on your friends...You just never know where a great conversation might take you...

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1. We're somewhat accustomed to Russ's optimism about all things technology, but this week was a little different. How would you characterize the nature of Russ' skepticism about the potential for the emergence of a Master Algorithm? To what extent do you share his skepticism?

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Podcast episode Pedro Domingos on Machine Learning and the Master Algorithm

EconTalk Episode with Pedro Domingos
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Master%20Algorithm.jpg 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.

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Culture Change and Chasing Tails

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomed back one of our favorites this week, Arnold Kling. to talk about his forthcoming book, Specialization and Trade: A Reintroduction to Economics. Kling argues that with its reliance on aggregate models, economics today has lost sight of its most important insight, dating back to Adam Smith. Russ ends the conversation with Kling, an MIT trained economist, ruminating on why they have each departed so far from their early training.

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1. What does Kling mean when he says that macroeconomics is not an experimental science, but "a bunch of observations?" How does Kling describe his own odyssey as an economist from his days in grad school at MIT? Have you experienced a similar transformation? Tell us about it...

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Podcast episode Arnold Kling on Specialization and Trade

EconTalk Episode with Arnold Kling
Hosted by Russ Roberts

globalapps.jpg 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.

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Podcast episode Gary Belsky on the Origins of Sports

EconTalk Episode with Gary Belsky
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Origin%20of%20Sports.jpg 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.

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Advantage Luck

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts sat down with Cornell's Robert Frank to discuss his new book, Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy. As in past episodes with Frank as a guest, it was a spirited conversation, with several good-natured points of disagreement.

So where do you stand? Is luck responsible for a larger share of our success than we're willing to admit? Or is luck, as Branch Rickey said, merely "the residue of design" of the result of good old-fashioned effort?

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1. After listening to this week's episode, how much of a role has luck played in your life? To what extent have you underestimated the role of luck?

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras



Podcast episode Robert Frank on Success and Luck

EconTalk Episode with Robert Frank
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Success and Luck 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.

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Would you freeze your brain?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

In this week's episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts chats with physicist and transhumanism skeptic Richard Jones about nanotechnology, life extension, and the perils and promise of technology. Are you a techno-optimist? Would you cryogenically freeze yourself in hopes that you'd be revived in the future? Do we spend enough energy today on alleviating end-of-life illness and suffering? Let us know what you think...As always, we love to hear from you.

1. What's the difference between designed and evolved systems, according to Jones? Which is more descriptive of the human brain? To what extent do you think it's possible that a "wiring diagram" for the brain will be discovered? cryonics.jpg

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Podcast episode Jayson Lusk on Food, Technology, and Unnaturally Delicious

EconTalk Episode with Jayson Lusk
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Unnaturally%20Delicious.jpg 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.

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Limiting Leakage and Lemons

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

How do middlemen emerge, and what value do they create in the economy? Who isn't a middleman, and why do they seem to suffer such disdain? In this week's episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts chats with Marina Krakovsky about her new book, The Middleman Economy.

Now it's your turn. Use the prompts below to help us keep thinking about the episode and continue the conversation. As always, we love to hear from you.

wedding planner.jpg 1. In the very beginning of the conversation, Krakovsky notes, "No one likes a middleman, but most of us are middlemen." By the end of the conversation, she's identified six roles for middlemen: bridge, certifier, enforcer, risk-bearer, concierge, and insulator. Does your work fit one of these types? Which of these middlemen stand out for their usefulness in your own life?

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras



Podcast episode Marina Krakovsky on the Middleman Economy

EconTalk Episode with Marina Krakovsky
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Middleman%20Economy.jpg 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.

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Competition as an Elimination Process

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts takes the role of an animal at the zoo, chatting with sociologist Will Davies about his observations of economists and how they think. Have economists had too much (or not enough) influence on politics and public policy? Share your thoughts with us on this and/or the prompts below. As always, we love to hear from you!

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1. What does Davies mean by the "disenchantment of politics by economics?" While Davies is concerned by this disenchantment, Roberts is worried we haven't been disenchanted enough. With whom do you agree more, and why?

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras



Podcast episode Will Davies on the Economics, Economists, and the Limits of Neoliberalism

EconTalk Episode with Will Davies
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Limits%20of%20Neoliberalism.jpg 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.

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Viva la Revolution?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Women have made an enormous amount of economic progress over the last half-century but how have the gains been felt by different kinds of women? How have these changes affected women's perspectives on marriage and family? In this week's provocative episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts sits down with Alison Wolf of King's College to discuss her new book, The XX Factor.

As always, we'd like to hear your reactions to this week's conversation, so let's continue it here. We love to hear from you!

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1. What's the difference between gender gaps and gender segregation, according to Wolf, and why is this significant in her analysis?

2. How different is the situation for women today, really, according to Wolf? Or, how much do women hold in common with Jane Austen character's today? To what extent do you regard these historical changes as a net positive?

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras



Podcast episode Alison Wolf on Women, Inequality and the XX Factor

EconTalk Episode with Alison Wolf
Hosted by Russ Roberts

XX%20Factor.jpg 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.

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Podcast episode Matt Ridley on the Evolution of Everything

EconTalk Episode with Matt Ridley
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Ev%20of%20Ev.jpg 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.

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Podcast episode Adam Cifu on Ending Medical Reversal

EconTalk Episode with Adam Cifu
Hosted by Russ Roberts

bad%20news.jpg 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 (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.

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Knowledge, Ignorance, and Spectacles

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

In this week's episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts chats with Greg Ip of the Wall Street Journal about his new book, Foolproof.

How do people formulate their attitudes toward risk? How do people respond to policies that try to insulate them from risk? How should policymakers take these responses into account? These questions and more are highlights from the conversation. Now let's continue that conversation here...We love to hear from you.

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1. In this recent Econlib column, Arnold Kling explores Ip's distinction between two philosophies for handling risk, those of the "engineers" and the "ecologists." Which style is better for dealing with risk or is it a matter of the context and setting for the risk?

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Podcast episode Greg Ip on Foolproof

EconTalk Episode with Greg Ip
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Foolproof.jpg 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.

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Why does it seem that pundits' and politicians' predictions are always right? How can you assess the accuracy of a probabilistic prediction? This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts sat down with Superforecasting author Phillip Tetlock, and their conversation ranged over these topics and more.

Let us know your reaction to this week's episode, and let's continue our conversation here. As always, we love to hear from you!

1. As Tetlock told Russ about his earliest forecasting tournaments about the Soviet Union, he noted how different the predictions of liberals and conservatives was. Still, he explains, none of them foresaw the rise of Mikhail Gorbechev or the collapse of the USSR, describing an "outcome-irrelevant learning situation." What does he mean by this? What sorts of outcome-irrelevant learning situations have you found yourself in and/or witness to? How might they have turned out differently?

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CATEGORIES: Books , Data and Evidence , Extras



Podcast episode Philip Tetlock on Superforecasting

EconTalk Episode with Philip Tetlock
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Superforecasting.jpg 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.

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You're Not the Boss of Me (Are You?)

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

EconTalk host Russ Roberts goes back to the future again in this week's episode with engineer David Mindell of MIT. Their conversation covers exploring the Titanic, Mars, and the moon, air travel and the future of driverless cars, and more.

Their discussion had me tossing the notion of autonomy around in my brain endlessly. What do we really mean by autonomy, and how is it (ever) achieved? We wonder this conversation made you think about. So please, share your thoughts with us. We love to hear from you.

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1. What does Mindell mean when he says that the notion of full autonomy is a myth? To what extent is autonomy a useful notion when discussing robots and machines? Can the "human machine" achieve full autonomy?

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Podcast episode David Mindell on Our Robots, Ourselves

EconTalk Episode with David Mindell
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Our%20Robots.jpg 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.

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Perhaps Preventing Prevention is Prudent

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

In his newest book, Risky Medicine, physician Robert Aronowitz calls into question many of the health care norms we've adopted in our lives, including PSA tests for men and routine mammograms for women. In an unusual twist for EconTalk listeners, perhaps, Aronowitz suggests, the biggest problem in health care isn't too little information, but too much.

EconTalk host Russ Roberts also offers a very personal post-script (1:04:44) to this episode, and we're hoping you're willing to be a bit personal this week as well. Let us know how this episode has impacted the way you think about your own health, using the prompts below. As always. we love to hear from you.

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1. How do we confuse the means to good health with actual good health, according to Aronowitz? To what extent have you seen such confusion, either among people you know, or perhaps yourself?

2. What is the "elephant in green pajamas problem," and how does it describe what Aronowitz sees as wrong in medicine today?


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CATEGORIES: Books , Data and Evidence , Extras , Health



Podcast episode Robert Aronowitz on Risky Medicine

EconTalk Episode with Robert Aronowitz
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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.

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How Does Your Information Garden Grow?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Physicist Cesar Hidalgo's new book, Why Information Grows was the subject of this week's episode. While Hidalgo and Roberts's ideas about information and the networks that transmit it have much in common, we'd like to continue to explore some of these ideas with you.

What's your reaction to the questions for thought below? Share your own in the comments, or share the results of a conversation you've had with friends. However you do it, we love to hear from you.

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1. How is "information" distinct from "knowledge?" Essayist Michel de Montaigne once wrote, "We can be knowledgeable with other men's knowledge, but we can't be wise with other men's wisdom." How does Montaigne's remark apply to the way Hidalgo thinks about knowledge and information?

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Podcast episode Cesar Hidalgo on Why Information Grows

EconTalk Episode with Cesar Hidalgo
Hosted by Russ Roberts

How%20Information%20Grows.jpg 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.

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What's Your Story?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Yuval Harari joined EconTalk host Russ Roberts this week to discuss his sweeping new book, Sapiens. The conversation was wide and varied, as varied as the "stories" Harari suggests distinguish our species. Are you governed by stories in the way Harari suggests? Is our ability to weave such tales really the key to homo sapiens' success?

Please share your thoughts with us in the Comments. We love to hear from you.
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1. Harari's thesis is that man (of the homo sapiens variety) has been able to become dominant as a result of his ability to "flexibly cooperate" on a large scale, and that this in turn is enabled by his affinity and ability in story-telling. He regards religion, ideology, and more as "stories." How convinced are you by this characterization, and why?

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras



Podcast episode Yuval Harari on Sapiens

EconTalk Episode with Yuval Harari
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Sapiens.jpg 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.

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Podcast episode Mitch Weiss on the Business of Broadway

EconTalk Episode with Mitch Weiss
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Business%20of%20Broadway.jpg 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.

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Earning to Live or Earning to Give?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

What are you doing to make the world a better place? Co-founder of the Effective Altruism movement, Will MacAskill, joins Roberts this week to talk about Doing Good Better, "tooling up" to change the world, and earning to give.

We'd like to hear what you took away from this week's episode, and how it might affect the way you try to make a difference. Use the prompts below, or suggest alternative ones, to continue the conversation. We love to hear from you!

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1. What is the "Hundred Times Multiplier," according to MacAskill? Roberts is skeptical. Which side are you on?

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Podcast episode William MacAskill on Effective Altruism and Doing Good Better

EconTalk Episode with William MacAskill
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Doing%20Good.jpg 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.

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Podcast episode Paul Robinson on Cooperation, Punishment and the Criminal Justice System

EconTalk Episode with Paul Robinson
Hosted by Russ Roberts

RobinsonPiratesBookCover.png 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.

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Haute Cuisine pour Vous?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

In an age of abundance, how does the way we think about food differ from the past? This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomed historian Rachel Laudan for a fascinating conversation about the history, culture, and economics of food.

We'd like to see their conversation expand here. Please share your thoughts on the prompts below in the Comments. As always, we love to hear from you. burger2.jpg

1. What was the most interesting thing you took from this week's episode? Explain.

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Podcast episode Rachel Laudan on the History of Food and Cuisine

EconTalk Episode with Rachel Laudan
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Cuisine and Empire2.jpg 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.

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Where the Wild Things Are(n't)?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Oysters, elk, and ungulates, oh, my! Who knew that a political storm could develop over oysters? This week's guest, Summer Brennan, did. Russ chatted with the author of The Oyster War on the nature of wilderness, competing interests, and the nature of truth. A tall order to be sure...but now we want to hear from you.
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1. Russ cites a common economics mantra in relation to the story of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, "There are no solutions, only trade-offs." Can you think of a controversy similar to this one that also illustrates this principle?

2. What does "wilderness" mean to you? How do you enjoy "wilderness?" How well does the political process define it?

3. Check out the American Prairie Reserve. How might its management and access differ from a traditional national park?

4. Why is the idea of equilibrium so comforting in both economics and ecology? What are the dangers of pushing this concept too far in either area?

CATEGORIES: Books , Extras



Podcast episode Summer Brennan on Wilderness, Politics and the Oyster War

EconTalk Episode with Summer Brennan
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Oyster War.jpg 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.

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If a nation sends all its children to school, can it count on greater economic growth? Does putting bottoms in seats generate human capital? This week, Russ welcomed back the Hoover Institution's Eric Hanushek.

What did you think of this week's episode? What did it make you think more about? Share with us your thoughts and reactions, helping us make EconTalk ever better. As always, we learn from you and we love to hear from you.

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1. What additional question(s) would you have asked Hanushek?

2. Hanushek suggests a causal relationship between academic achievement and economic growth in a nation, What is the nature of Russ's concern about "reverse causation?" To what extent do you find Hanushek's claim plausible?

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Can economists save lives? It seems Nobel laureate Alvin Roth can...In this week's episode, Roth talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about matching markets and social support for markets. The conversation ranges over indirect kidney donations, (public) school choice, financial market trading, and more.

As always, we'd like to take this chance to enrich the experience of this week's conversation. Use the prompts below to respond in the comments, and use them to spark you own conversations offline. We love to hear from you!

1. What were your top takeaways from this week's episode?

2. Roth asserts that in matching markets, prices function differently than they do in commodities markets? How would you describe this difference?

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Denier? Lukewarmer? Alarmist? Why so many pejorative descriptors for those engaging in conversation about climate change? This is among the questions explored in this week's EconTalk episode with with Matt Ridley.

Now we'd like to continue a civil conversation on this important issue. Please use the prompts below as conversational sparks, and share your reactions in the Comments. As always, we love to hear from you.

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Podcast episode Morten Jerven on African Economic Growth

EconTalk Episode with Morten Jerven
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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.

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Is climate change the ultimate Black Swan? Harvard's Martin Weitzman joined Russ this week to talk about the potential risks of rising CO2 levels and what policies might be appropriate as a response.

Here are questions for thinking about this week's episode. We feel to respond in the comments making EconTalk more useful to our audience.

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Podcast episode Nicholas Vincent on the Magna Carta

EconTalk Episode with Nicholas Vincent
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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.

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There's a healthcare revolution underway, and while your smartphone may be center-stage in this drama, there's more to the story than apps. Eric Topol of the Scripps Translational Science Institute joins EconTalk host Russ Roberts for this week's conversation.

Now we'd like to hear from you. Please respond to any of the following in the Comments. Reach out to your friends, too, and let's all continue the conversation.

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Podcast episode Eric Topol on the Power of Patients in a Digital World

EconTalk Episode with Eric Topol
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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.

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This week's guest, Phil Rosenzweig joined EconTalk host Russ Roberts to talk about his new book, Left Brain, Right Stuff.

We'd like to know what you took away from this week's recorded conversation, and hopefully spark some more here online. Use the prompts below, and share your thoughts in the Comments. We love to hear from you.


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Podcast episode Phil Rosenzweig on Leadership, Decisions, and Behavioral Economics

EconTalk Episode with Phil Rosenzweig
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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.

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This week's episode, garnering a PG-13 rating from Roberts, was a fascinating look inside the formal and informal governance structures of America's prisons with guest David Skarbek.

As always, we'd like to continue learning from and conversing with one another. Have a look at the prompts below, and share your response in the Comments. Thanks for listening; we love to hear from you.

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras



Podcast episode David Skarbek on Prison Gangs and the Social Order of the Underworld

EconTalk Episode with David Skarbek
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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.

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This week's episode was recorded before a live audience at the Cato Institute and featured GMU economist Lawrence White. The focus of the conversation was a new book edited by White offering suggestions for reform of the U.S. monetary system. As always, we'd like to hear your responses. Please help us continue our conversation in the comments.

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Podcast episode Lawrence H. White on Monetary Constitutions

EconTalk Episode with Lawrence White
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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.

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Continuing Education... David Zetland on Water

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

We hope you enjoyed this week's episode on the pricing and availability of water with David Zetland. As always, we'd like to hear what you got out of it, and for you to help us continue our conversation.

Have a look at the prompts below and share your response in the comments. We look forward to the interaction.

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CATEGORIES: Books , Environment , Extras



Podcast episode David Zetland on Water

EconTalk Episode with David Zetland
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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.

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Last year's most popular guest, Duke University's Mike Munger, was back on EconTalk this week, discussing the process of choosing in groups.

Their conversation ranged from Odysseus to the Lewis and Clark expedition, and more. Now it's your turn...Choose one of the questions below and submit your reply via email to mail@econtalk.org by midnight on Monday. Some of the responses will again be highlighted in our follow-up.

Thanks for helping us continue the conversation.

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Podcast episode Michael Munger on Choosing in Groups

EconTalk Episode with Mike Munger
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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.

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The Council on Foreign Relation's Benn Steill was Russ Roberts's guest this week on EconTalk, where the conversation ranged from Soviet spies to anti-Semitism and imperialism to international power grabs galore.

Now we'd like to hear from you, and take this week's conversation a bit deeper. Choose one of the prompts below and submit your reply (250 words or less, please) via email to mail@econtalk.org by midnight on Monday.

And again, special congratulations to listeners Rick and Warren, whose responses Roberts used in his follow-up to last week's episode with Daniel Sumner.

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras , History



Podcast episode Benn Steil on the Battle of Bretton Woods

EconTalk Episode with Benn Steil
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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.

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This week, Joshua Greene of Harvard University and author of Moral Tribes spoke with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about moral dilemmas and what Greene calls the tragedy of common-sense morality.

What did you think of this week's conversation? Use the prompts below to share your thoughts. As always, we love to hear from you.

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Podcast episode Joshua Greene on Moral Tribes, Moral Dilemmas, and Utilitarianism

EconTalk Episode with Joshua Greene
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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.

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This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomed author James Tooley to talk about what he discovered in researching the educational options of the world's poorest children. What he found is surprising to many, but as Roberts notes, some find Tooley's work dangerous. Let us know what you think about their conversation, using the prompts in this week's Extra.

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CATEGORIES: Books , Education , Extras



Podcast episode James Tooley on Private Schools for the Poor and the Beautiful Tree

EconTalk Episode with James Tooley
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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.

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This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts explored his skepticism about econometrics and causation with MIT's Joshua Angrist. Did Angrist convince Roberts about the value of empirical methods today? Are you convinced?

We want to hear what you think...

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CATEGORIES: Books , Data and Evidence , Extras



Podcast episode Joshua Angrist on Econometrics and Causation

EconTalk Episode with Joshua Angrist
Hosted by Russ Roberts

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.

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In this week's episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts talks with James Otteson about socialism and capitalism, touching on camping, G.A. Cohen, Adam Smith, and education along the way.

Use the questions below to check your knowledge or respond. As always, we love to hear from you.

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras



Podcast episode James Otteson on the End of Socialism

EconTalk Episode with James Otteson
Hosted by Russ Roberts

James Otteson of Wake Forest University talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his new book, The End of Socialism. Otteson argues that socialism (including what he calls the "socialist inclination") is morally and practically inferior to capitalism. Otteson contrasts socialism and capitalism through the views of G. A. Cohen and Adam Smith. Otteson emphasizes the importance of moral agency and respect for the individual in his defense of capitalism. The conversation also includes a discussion of the deep appeal of the tenets of socialism such as equality and the impulse for top-down planning.

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In this week's futuristic episode, Roberts chatted with philosopher Nick Bostrom on the promises and potential dangers of superintelligence, smart machines which he believes will be able to radically outperform humans in the future.

Are you as concerned as Bostrom about these supermachines? Do you share Roberts' skepticism about their danger? Wherever you fall, share your thoughts with us in the comments. As always, we love to hear from you.

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Podcast episode Nick Bostrom on Superintelligence

EconTalk Episode with Nick Bostrom
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Nick Bostrom of the University of Oxford talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book, Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. Bostrom argues that when machines exist which dwarf human intelligence they will threaten human existence unless steps are taken now to reduce the risk. The conversation covers the likelihood of the worst scenarios, strategies that might be used to reduce the risk and the implications for labor markets, and human flourishing in a world of superintelligent machines.

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There's a new sheriff in town!This week, there was a new sheriff in town! Russ Roberts was the guest in this week's episode, while EconTalk fave Mike Munger stood in as interviewer. The subject was Roberts's new book, How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life. Whether your life changes have already happened or are still pending, we want to hear from you.

Use the prompts below to share your thoughts in the comments, use them as a classroom assignment, or use them to spark conversation at a cocktail party. But do let us know your thoughts; we love to hear from you.

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CATEGORIES: Adam Smith , Books , Extras



Podcast episode Russ Roberts and Mike Munger on How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life

EconTalk Episode with Russ Roberts
Hosted by Russ Roberts

EconTalk host Russ Roberts is interviewed by long-time EconTalk guest Michael Munger about Russ's new book, How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness. Topics discussed include how economists view human motivation and consumer behavior, the role of conscience and self-interest in acts of kindness, and the costs and benefits of judging others. The conversation closes with a discussion of how Smith can help us understand villains in movies.

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Podcast episode Martha Nussbaum on Creating Capabilities and GDP

EconTalk Episode with Martha Nussbaum
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Martha Nussbaum of the University of Chicago and author of Creating Capabilities talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about an alternative to GDP for measuring economic performance at the national level. She is a proponent of the capabilities approach that emphasizes how easily individuals can acquire skills and use them, as well as the capability to live long and enjoy life. Nussbaum argues that government policy should focus on creating capabilities rather than allowing them to emerge through individual choices and civil society.

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This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts talked with Thomas Piketty, author of the controversial and best-selling tome, Capital in the 21st Century.

As always, we'd like to hear your thoughts on this episode. Use the prompts below and share in the comments section, or use them to prompt discussion offline. Either way, we know you have something to say, and we love to hear from you.

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CATEGORIES: Books , Extras , Income Inequality



Podcast episode Thomas Piketty on Inequality and Capital in the 21st Century

EconTalk Episode with Thomas Piketty
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Capital.jpg Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics and author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century talks to Econtalk host Russ Roberts about the book. The conversation covers some of the key empirical findings of the book along with a discussion of their significance.

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In this week's episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts spoke with education journalist Elizabeth Green about her new book, Building a Better Teacher. Their conversation covers teaching as a craft, the role and history of schools of education, and the efficacy of various education reforms.

Now we'd like to hear your reaction to this week's conversation. Reply to the prompts below in the comments, or use them to spark your own conversation offline. And let us know how it goes...As always, we love to hear from you.

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CATEGORIES: Books , Education , Extras



Podcast episode Elizabeth Green on Education and Building a Better Teacher

EconTalk Episode with Elizabeth Green
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Better Teacher.jpg Elizabeth Green, author of the new book Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach it to Anyone), talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the art of teaching and the history of various reforms, mostly failed, trying to improve teaching in America. Specific topics include the theoretical focus of undergraduate education programs and various techniques being used in charter schools and elsewhere to improve teaching performance.

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This week Roberts discussed free-market environmentalism with Terry Anderson, of the Property and Environment Research Center and the Hoover Institution.

FME's unique combination of free-market principles and environmental stewardship may not be as radical as when it was introduced, yet still is not mainstream. Let us know your thoughts on its potential. We hope you find the prompts below useful. As always, we love to hear from you!

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This week's episode featured two guests, Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha of LinkedIn and co-authors of The Alliance and The Start-Up of You.

Whether you're looking to improve your own employment prospects, build a better team at work, or interested in the newest in tech and V.C., we'd love to hear from you. Use the prompts below the fold to join the conversation in this forum, or start your own conversation offline, and let us know how it goes.

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Podcast episode Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha on LinkedIn and The Alliance

EconTalk Episode with Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Reid Hoffman, co-founder of professional networking site LinkedIn, and Ben Casnocha, former Chief-of-Staff of LinkedIn, talk to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about LinkedIn and their book The Alliance. Hoffman and Casnocha discuss the founding and vision of LinkedIn along with their ideas in The Alliance on how to improve employee/employer relations when turnover is high and loyalty on each side is low.

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This week, Roberts spoke with Gregory Zuckerman about his new book, The Frackers, and the renaissance of energy production in the United States.

Use the prompts behind the fold to encourage conversation, either online or off. As always, we love to hear from you!

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CATEGORIES: Books , Environment , Extras



Podcast episode Gregory Zuckerman on the Frackers and the Energy Revolution

EconTalk Episode with Gregory Zuckerman
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Gregory Zuckerman of the Wall Street Journal and author of The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his new book, the rise of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), how this technology developed, and the vibrant personalities that pioneered the energy revolution. Topics discussed along the way include the history and future of fracking, environmental concerns about the process, and how the story of fracking is the classic tale of the successes and failures of determined risk-takers. The role of market forces in driving that success and failure runs through the entire conversation.

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A Chance to Write for EconTalk!

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

In this week's episode, Roberts talks "The Tyranny of Experts" with guest William Easterly.

For this week's Extra, we thought we'd change things up a bit...

Choose one of the four questions (below the fold) and compose an answer of 600 words or less. Send it to mail@econtalk.org by midnight Sunday June 22. Put "Easterly Essay" in the subject line. Selected entries chosen by Roberts will be posted the following week on EconTalk.org, and the authors will receive a complimentary Liberty Fund book.

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Podcast episode William Easterly on the Tyranny of Experts

EconTalk Episode with William Easterly
Hosted by Russ Roberts

William Easterly of New York University and author of The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his book. Easterly argues that poverty endures in many poor countries because of a lack of economic and political freedom for its poorest members. He argues that the aid process and the role experts play in that process reinforces the oppression of the poor. Other topics discussed include data-oriented solutions, autocracy vs. democracy, and Easterly's perspective on development from Bill Gates and recent EconTalk guest Jeffery Sachs.

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Podcast episode Yuval Levin on Burke, Paine, and the Great Debate

EconTalk Episode with Yuval Levin
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Yuval Levin, author of The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas of Burke and Paine and their influence on the evolution of political philosophy. Levin outlines the differing approaches of the two thinkers to liberty, authority, and how reform and change should take place. Other topics discussed include Hayek's view of tradition, Cartesian rationalism, the moral high ground in politics, and how the "right and left" division of American politics finds its roots in the debates of these thinkers from the 1700s.

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This week, Roberts talks about the challenges confronting U.S. cities today with Charles Marohn of Strong Towns. We'd like to hear what you think about the prospect of making cities stronger.

Questions below the fold:

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CATEGORIES: Books , Growth



In this week's episode, Roberts talks with Diane Coyle about her new book on GDP. We'd like to hear your thoughts on this episode, too!

Questions below the fold:

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CATEGORIES: Books , Data and Evidence



Podcast episode Diane Coyle on GDP

EconTalk Episode with Diane Coyle
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Diane Coyle, author of GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the history of GDP, its uses, and its abuses. Topics discussed include the origins of GDP in the developed countries, the challenges of measuring the service sector, the challenges of dealing with innovation and product diversity, whether GDP should be supplemented with other measures of human well-being, and the challenges of dealing with internet-based goods that produce a great deal of satisfaction but make a much smaller impact on measured economic activity.

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Megan McArdle spoke to Roberts this week about her new book, The Up Side of Down. Let's keep the conversation flowing; we love to hear from you, your students, your kids, your friends...

Questions below the fold.

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Podcast episode McArdle on Failure, Success, and the Up Side of Down

EconTalk Episode with Megan McArdle
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Megan McArdle of Bloomberg View and author of The Up Side of Down talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her book. McArdle argues that failure is a crucial part of success in personal life and in the large economy. Topics covered include the psychology of failure, unemployment, and bankruptcy and parole.

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Podcast episode John Christy and Kerry Emanuel on Climate Change

EconTalk Episode with John Christy and Kerry Emanuel
Hosted by Russ Roberts

John Christy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about climate change. Topics discussed include what we know and don't know about global warming, trends in extreme weather such as hurricanes, rising sea level, the likely change in temperature in the next hundred years. Both scientists also give their perspective on what policies might be put in place to reduce risk from climate change. This episode was recorded before a live audience at the College of Business Administration at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

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Podcast episode Richard Epstein on Classical Liberalism, Libertarianism, and Lochner

EconTalk Episode with Richard Epstein
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Richard Epstein, of New York University and Stanford University's Hoover Institution, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the differences between classical liberalism and hard-line libertarianism. What is the proper role of the state? Topics discussed include the Constitution, prudent regulation, contract enforcement, intellectual property, and the Supreme Court case, Lochner vs. New York.

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Richard Epstein on Classical Liberalism, Libertarianism, and Lochner
Russ Roberts and Richard Epstein
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Podcast episode Velasquez-Manoff on Autoimmune Disease, Parasites, and Complexity

EconTalk Episode with Moises Velasquez-Manoff
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Moises Velasquez-Manoff, author of An Epidemic of Absence, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book--a discussion of why allergies and autoimmune diseases have been on the rise in the developed world for the last half-century. Velasquez-Manoff explores a recent hypothesis in the epidemiological literature theorizing the increase is a response to the overly hygienic environment in rich countries and the absence of various microbes and parasites. Velasquez-Manoff also considers whether reintroducing parasites into our bodies can have therapeutic effects, a possibility currently under examination through FDA trials. The conversation continues a theme of EconTalk--the challenge of understanding causation in a complex world.

Size:33.4 MB
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Podcast episode Robert Frank on Coase

EconTalk Episode with Robert Frank
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Robert Frank of Cornell University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the implications of Ronald Coase's views on externalities. Drawing on his book, The Darwin Economy, Frank explores the implications of Coase's perspective for assessing public policy challenges where one person's actions affect others. Examples discussed include pollution, cigarette smoking and related issues.

Size:29.7 MB
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Podcast episode Calomiris and Haber on Fragile by Design

EconTalk Episode with Charles Calomiris and Stephen Haber
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Charles Calomiris of Columbia University and Stephen Haber of Stanford University, co-authors of Fragile by Design: The Political Origins of Banking Crises and Scarce Credit, talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about their book. The conversation focuses on how politics and economics interact to give some countries such as Canada a remarkably stable financial system while others such as the United States have a much less stable system. The two authors discuss the political forces that explain the persistence of seemingly bad financial regulation. The conversation includes a discussion of the financial crisis of 2008.

Size:35.3 MB
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Podcast episode Paul Sabin on Ehrlich, Simon and the Bet

EconTalk Episode with Paul Sabin
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Paul Sabin of Yale University and author of The Bet talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book. Sabin uses the bet between Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon--a bet over whether natural resources are getting scarcer as population grows--as a lens for examining the evolution of the environmental movement and its status today. Sabin considers the successes and failures of the movement and the challenges of having nuanced public policy discussions on issues where both sides have passionate opinions.

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CATEGORIES: Books , Environment , Paul Sabin



Podcast episode Brynjolfsson on the Second Machine Age

EconTalk Episode with Erik Brynjolfsson
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Erik Brynjolfsson of MIT and co-author of The Second Machine Age talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book, co-authored with Andrew McAfee. He argues we are entering a new age of economic activity dominated by smart machines and computers. Neither dystopian or utopian, Brynjolfsson sees this new age as one of possibility and challenge. He is optimistic that with the right choices and policy responses, the future will have much to celebrate.

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Podcast episode Nina Munk on Poverty, Development, and the Idealist

EconTalk Episode with Nina Munk
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Nina Munk, journalist and author of The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her book. Munk spent six years following Jeffrey Sachs and the evolution of the Millennium Villages Project--an attempt to jumpstart a set of African villages in hopes of discovering a new template for development. Munk details the great optimism at the beginning of the project and the discouraging results after six years of high levels of aid. Sach's story is one of the great lessons in unintended consequences and the complexity of the development process.

Size:29.2 MB
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Podcast episode Jonathan Haidt on the Righteous Mind

EconTalk Episode with Jonathan Haidt
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Jonathan Haidt of New York University and author of The Righteous Mind talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book, the nature of human nature, and how our brain affects our morality and politics. Haidt argues that reason often serves our emotions rather than the mind being in charge. We can be less interested in the truth and more interested in finding facts and stories that fit preconceived narratives and ideology. We are genetically predisposed to work with each other rather than being purely self-interested and our genes influence our morality and ideology as well. Haidt tries to understand why people come to different visions of morality and politics and how we might understand each other despite those differences.

Size:28.9 MB
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Podcast episode Doug Lemov on Teaching

EconTalk Episode with Doug Lemov
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Doug Lemov of Uncommon Schools and author of Teach Like a Champion talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about teaching and education. Drawing on his experience working in charter schools with children in poverty, Lemov discusses what makes a great teacher and a great school. Lemov argues that practice and technique can transform teaching and education. The conversation concludes with a discussion of how EconTalk might be made more valuable to its listeners.

Size:30.3 MB
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Podcast episode Lant Pritchett on Education in Poor Countries

EconTalk Episode with Lant Pritchett
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Lant Pritchett of Harvard University and author of The Rebirth of Education talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book. Pritchett argues that increases in years of schooling for students in poor countries do not translate into gains in education, learning, or achievement. This tragic situation is due to corruption and poor incentives in the top-down educational systems around the world. School reforms that imitate successful systems fail to take into account the organic nature of successful school systems that cause various external attributes to be effective. The conversation concludes with a discussion of school systems in rich countries and possible lessons for reform that might apply there.

Size:29.7 MB
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Podcast episode Deaton on Health, Wealth, and Poverty

EconTalk Episode with Angus Deaton
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Angus Deaton of Princeton University and author of the Great Escape talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the book--the vast improvements in health and standard of living in recent times. Deaton surveys the improvements in life expectancy and income both in the developed and undeveloped world. Inequality of both health and wealth are discussed as well. The conversation closes with a discussion of foreign aid and what rich nations can do for the poor.

Size:27.7 MB
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Podcast episode Edmund Phelps on Mass Flourishing

EconTalk Episode with Edmund Phelps
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Edmund Phelps of Columbia University, Nobel Laureate in economics, and author of Mass Flourishing talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book. Phelps argues that human flourishing requires challenges, struggles, and success and goes beyond material prosperity. He argues that in recent decades, policy has discouraged innovation and mass flourishing resulting in a slow-down in growth rates. Phelps emphasizes the non-material benefits of economic growth and the importance of small innovations over big inventions as key to that growth.

Size:30.6 MB
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Podcast episode John Ralston Saul on Reason, Elites, and Voltaire's Bastards

EconTalk Episode with John Ralston Saul
Hosted by Russ Roberts

John Ralston Saul, author and head of PEN International, speaks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book, Voltaire's Bastards, and the role of reason in the modern world. Saul argues that the illegitimate offspring of the champions of reason have led to serious problems in the modern world. Reason, while powerful and useful, says Saul, should not be put on a pedestal above other values including morality and common-sense. Saul argues that the worship of reason has corrupted public policy and education while empowering technocrats and the elites in dangerous and unhealthy ways.

Size:33.2 MB
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Podcast episode Oster on Pregnancy, Causation, and Expecting Better

EconTalk Episode with Emily Oster
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Emily Oster of the University of Chicago and author of Expecting Better talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her book on pregnancy and the challenges of decision-making under uncertainty. Oster argues that many of the standard behavioral prescriptions for pregnant women are not supported by the medical literature. The conversation centers around the general issue of interpreting medical evidence in a complex world using pregnancy advice as an application. Alcohol, caffeine, cats, gardening and deli-meats and their effect on pregnant women are some of the examples that come up. The conversation closes with a discussion of Oster's work on hepatitis-B and the male-female birth ratio.

Size:28.0 MB
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Podcast episode Tyler Cowen on Inequality, the Future, and Average is Over

EconTalk Episode with Tyler Cowen
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Tyler Cowen of George Mason University and blogger at Marginal Revolution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, Average is Over. Cowen takes a provocative look at how the growing power of artificial intelligence embodied in machines and technologies might change labor markets and the standard of living. He tries to predict which people and which skills will be complementary to smart machines and which people and which skills will struggle.

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Podcast episode David Epstein on the Sports Gene

EconTalk Episode with David Epstein
Hosted by Russ Roberts

David Epstein, writer for ProPublica and author of The Sports Gene, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the book. Epstein discusses a number of the ideas in the book including what we have learned about the nature vs. nurture debate, the role of practice in achieving mastery, why a small part of Kenya produces so many champion marathoners, why major league all-stars can't hit a fast-pitch softball, the strange nature of body types in the NBA and why Michael Phelps's body gives him an advantage.

Size:32.1 MB
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Podcast episode Hanushek on Education and Prosperity

EconTalk Episode with Eric Hanushek
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Eric Hanushek of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his new book, Endangering Prosperity (co-authored with Paul Peterson and Ludger Woessmann). Hanushek argues that America's educational system is mediocre relative to other school systems around the world and that the failure of the U.S. system to do a better job has a significant negative impact on the American standard of living. Hanushek points to improving teacher quality as one way to improve education.

Size: 32.1 MB
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Podcast episode Bhagwati on India

EconTalk Episode with Jagdish Bhagwati
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Jagdish Bhagwati of Columbia University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the economy of India based on his book with Arvind Panagariya, Why Growth Matters. Bhagwati argues that the economic reforms of 1991 ushered in a new era of growth for India that has reduced poverty and improved the overall standard of living in India. While supportive of social spending on the poor, Bhagwati argues that growth should precede higher levels of spending, providing the tax revenue for expanded spending.

Size: 30.3 MB
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Podcast episode Weingast on the Violence Trap

EconTalk Episode with Barry Weingast
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Barry Weingast, the Ward C. Krebs Family Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and a Senior Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the role of violence and the threat of violence in maintaining destructive economic policies that reduce growth and development. Weingast argues that the threat of violence encourages leaders to create monopolies and other unproductive policies to pay off special interests that would otherwise threaten a coup or revolution. Weingast shows there is a surprising amount of violent regime change in modern times and discusses how this discourages growth-enhancing economic policies. The conversation closes with an analysis of similar ideas in Book III of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.

Size: 31.7 MB
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Podcast episode Pallotta on Charity and the Culture of the Non-Profit Sector

EconTalk Episode with Dan Pallotta
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Dan Pallotta, Chief Humanity Officer of Advertising for Humanity and author of Uncharitable talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his book. Pallotta argues that charities are deeply handicapped by their culture and how we view them. The use of overhead as a measure of effectiveness makes it difficult for charities to attract the best talent, advertise, and invest for the future. Pallotta advocates a new culture for non-profits that takes the best aspects of the for-profit sector to enhance the mission and effectiveness of charities.

Size: 27.1 MB
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Podcast episode Kling on the Three Languages of Politics

EconTalk Episode with Arnold Kling
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Arnold Kling, author of The Three Languages of Politics, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book. Kling argues that Progressives, Conservatives, and Libertarians each have their own language and way of looking at the world that often doesn't overlap. This makes it easier for each group to demonize the others. The result is ideological intolerance and incivility. By understanding the language and mindset of others, Kling suggests we can do a better job discussing our policy disagreements and understand why each group seems to feel both misunderstand and morally superior to the other two.

Size: 29.6 MB
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Podcast episode Epstein on the Constitution

EconTalk Episode with Richard Epstein
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Richard Epstein of New York University and Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the U.S. Constitution. Topics covered in this wide-ranging conversation include how the interpretation of the Constitution has changed over time, the relationship between state and federal power, judicial activism, the increasing importance of administrative agencies' regulatory power, and political influences on the Supreme Court.

Size: 28.7 MB
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Podcast episode Bernstein on Communication, Power and the Masters of the Word

EconTalk Episode with William Bernstein
Hosted by Russ Roberts

William Bernstein talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, Masters of the Word. Bernstein traces the history of language, writing, and communication and its impact on freedom. The discussion begins with the evolution of language and the written word and continues up through radio and the internet. A particular focus of the conversation is how tyrants use information technology to oppress their people but at the same time, technology can be used to liberate people from oppression.

Size: 28.2 MB
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Podcast episode Galbraith on Inequality

EconTalk Episode with James Galbraith
Hosted by Russ Roberts

James Galbraith of the University of Texas and author of Inequality and Instability talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about inequality. Galbraith argues that much of the mainstream analysis of inequality in the economics literature is flawed. Galbraith looks at a variety of different measures and ways of analyzing income data. In the podcast he focuses on how much of measured inequality is due to changes in specific counties or industries. Other topics discussed include the state of economics in the aftermath of the Great Recession and the importance of the government safety net and other social legislation.

Size: 28.7 MB
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Podcast episode Glaeser on Cities

EconTalk Episode with Edward Glaeser
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Edward Glaeser of Harvard University and author of The Triumph of Cities talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about American cities. The conversation begins with a discussion of the history of Detroit over the last century and its current plight. What might be done to improve Detroit's situation? Why are other cities experiencing similar challenges to those facing Detroit? Why are some cities thriving and growing? What policies might help ailing cities and what policies have helped those cities that succeed? The conversation concludes with a discussion of why cities have such potential for growth.

Size: 29.3 MB
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CATEGORIES: Books , Education , Edward Glaeser , Growth



Podcast episode Sachs on the Crisis, the Recovery, and the Future

EconTalk Episode with Jeffrey Sachs
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University and author of The Price of Civilization talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of the American economy. Sachs sees the current malaise as a chronic problem rather than a short-term challenge caused by the business cycle. He lists a whole host of issues he thinks policymakers need to deal with including the environment, inequality, and infrastructure. He disagrees with the Keynesian prescriptions for stimulating the economy and believes that the federal government budget deficits are a serious problem. The conversation closes with a discussion of the state of economics.

Size: 31.1 MB
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Podcast episode Admati on Bank Regulation and the Bankers' New Clothes

EconTalk Episode with Anat Admati
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Anat Admati of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her new book (co-authored with Martin Hellwig), The Bankers' New Clothes. Admati argues that the best way to reduce the fragility of the banking system is to increase capital requirements--that is, require banks to finance their activities with a greater proportion of equity rather than debt. She explains how debt magnifies returns and losses while making each bank more fragile. Despite claims to the contrary, she argues that the costs of reducing debt are relatively small for society as a whole while the benefits are substantial.

Size: 27.6 MB
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Podcast episode Topol on the Creative Destruction of Medicine

EconTalk Episode with Eric Topol
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Eric Topol of the Scripps Research Institute and the author of The Creative Destruction of Medicine talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his book. Topics discussed include "evidence-based" medicine, the influence of the pharmaceutical industry, how medicine is currently conducted for the "average" patient, the potential of genomics to improve health care and the power of technology, generally, to transform medicine.

Size: 29.2 MB
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Podcast episode Burgin on Hayek, Friedman, and the Great Persuasion

EconTalk Episode with Angus Burgin
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Angus Burgin of Johns Hopkins University and the author of The Great Persuasion talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the idea in his book--the return of free market economics in the aftermath of the Great Depression. Burgin describes the reaction to Hayek's Road to Serfdom, the creation of the Mont Pelerin Society, and the increasing influence of Milton Friedman on public policy.

Size: 31.7 MB
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Podcast episode Searls on the Intention Economy

EconTalk Episode with Doc Searls
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Doc Searls, author of The Intention Economy and head of Project VRM at Harvard University's Berkman Center talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the how the relationship between buyers and sellers might evolve as the internet evolves. Searls imagines a world where buyers would advertise their intentions and desires and sellers would respond with offers. Other topics discussed include Google and Apple's business strategies and the role of the cable and telephone companies in providing access to the internet.

Size: 29.0 MB
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Podcast episode Boettke on Living Economics

EconTalk Episode with Pete Boettke
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Peter Boettke of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book, Living Economics. Boettke argues for embracing the tradition of Smith and Hayek in both teaching and research, arguing that economics took a wrong turn when it began to look more like a branch of applied mathematics. He sees spontaneous order as the central principle for understanding and teaching economics. The conversation also includes a brief homage to James Buchanan who passed away shortly before this interview was recorded.

Size: 29.6 MB
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Podcast episode Jerven on Measuring African Poverty and Progress

EconTalk Episode with Morten Jerven
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Morten Jerven of Simon Fraser University, author of Poor Numbers, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the quality of data coming out of Africa on income, growth, and population. Jerven argues that the inconsistency of the numbers and methodology both across countries and within a country across time, makes many empirical studies of African progress meaningless. The conversation closes with a discussion of what might be done to improve data collection in poor countries.

Size: 31.8 MB
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Podcast episode Pettit on the Prison Population, Survey Data and African-American Progress

EconTalk Episode with Becky Pettit
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Becky Pettit of the University of Washington and author of Invisible Men talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the growth of the prison population in the United States in recent decades. Pettit describes the magnitude of the increase particularly among demographic groups. She then discusses the implications of this increase for interpreting social statistics. Because the prison population isn't included in the main government surveys used by social scientists, data drawn from those surveys can be misleading as to what is actually happening among demographic groups, particularly the African-American population.

Size: 28.9 MB
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Podcast episode Boudreaux on Reading Hayek

EconTalk Episode with Don Boudreaux
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Don Boudreaux of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the work of F. A. Hayek, particularly his writings on philosophy and political economy. Boudreaux provides an audio annotated bibliography of Hayek's most important books and essays and gives suggestions on where to start and how to proceed through Hayek's works if you are a beginner.

Size: 33.6 MB
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Podcast episode Chris Anderson on Makers and Manufacturing

EconTalk Episode with Chris Anderson
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Chris Anderson, author of Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his new book--the story of how technology is transforming the manufacturing business. Anderson argues that the plummeting prices of 3D printers and other tabletop design and manufacturing tools allows for individuals to enter manufacturing and for manufacturing to become customized in a way that was unimaginable until recently. Anderson explores how social networking interacts with this technology to create a new world of crowd-sourced design and production.

Size: 29.5 MB
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Podcast episode Mulligan on Redistribution, Unemployment, and the Labor Market

EconTalk Episode with Casey Mulligan
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Casey Mulligan of the University of Chicago and the author of The Redistribution Recession, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book. Mulligan argues that increases in the benefits available to unemployed workers explains the depth of the Great Recession that began in 2007 and the slowness of the recovery particularly in the labor market. Mulligan argues that other macroeconomic explanations ignore the microeconomic incentives facing workers and employers.

Size: 30.1 MB
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Podcast episode Angell on Big Pharma

EconTalk Episode with Marcia Angell
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Marcia Angell of Harvard Medical School and the author of The Truth About the Drug Companies talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the impact of pharmaceutical companies on academic research, clinical trials and the political process. Angell argues that the large pharmaceutical companies produce little or no innovation and use their political power to exploit consumers and taxpayers.

Size: 27.6 MB
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Podcast episode Robert Skidelsky on Money, the Good Life, and How Much is Enough

EconTalk Episode with Robert Skidelsky
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Robert Skidelsky, noted biographer of John Maynard Keynes and author (with his son Edward) of the recently published How Much is Enough, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about materialism, growth, insatiability, and the good life. Skidelsky argues that we work too hard and too long. He argues that the good life has more leisure than we currently consume and that public policy should be structured to discourage work in wealthy countries where work can still be uninspiring. Skidelsky criticizes the discipline of economics and economists for contributing to an obsession with growth to the detriment of what he says are more meaningful and life-enhancing policy goals.

Size: 25.1 MB
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Podcast episode Paul Tough on How Children Succeed

EconTalk Episode with Paul Tough
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about why children succeed and fail in school and beyond school. He argues that conscientiousness--a mixture of self-control and determination--can be a more important measure of academic and professional success than cognitive ability. He also discusses innovative techniques that schools, individuals, and non-profits are using to inspire young people in distressed neighborhoods. The conversation closes with the implications for public policy in fighting poverty.

Size: 25.4 MB
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Podcast episode Barofsky on Bailouts

EconTalk Episode with Neil Barofsky
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Neil Barofsky, author of Bailout and the former Special Inspector General for the TARP program, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book and the government bailouts by the Bush and Obama Administrations. Barofsky recounts what he learned about how Washington works and the incentives facing politicians and bureaucrats. His book and this interview are a workshop in public choice economics. Along the way he unravels some of the acronyms of the last few years including TARP, TALF, and HAMP. The conversation concludes with lessons learned by Barofsky and what might be done in the future to prevent the corruption and ineffectiveness of past bailouts.

Size: 28.9 MB
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Podcast episode Scott Atlas on American Health Care

EconTalk Episode with Scott Atlas
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Scott Atlas, Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and author of In Excellent Health, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the U.S. health care system. Atlas argues that the U.S. health care system is top-notch relative to other countries and that data that show otherwise rely on including factors unrelated to health care or on spurious definitions. For example, life expectancy in the United States is unexceptional. When you take out suicides and fatal car accidents, factors that Atlas argues are unrelated to the health care system, the United States has the longest life expectancy in the world. A similar change occurs when measuring infant mortality--foreign data do not include as many at-risk births as in the United States and the measure of a birth is not comparable. In a number of other areas including cancer survival rates, access to hip replacement surgery and waiting times to see a physician, Atlas argues that the United States is also at or near the top. The discussion concludes with a discussion of access to health care for the poor and the failure of Medicaid.

Size: 28.4 MB
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Podcast episode Taubes on Why We Get Fat

EconTalk Episode with Gary Taubes
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Gary Taubes, author of Why We Get Fat, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about why we get fat and the nature of evidence in a complex system. The current mainstream view is that we get fat because we eat too much and don't exercise enough. Taubes challenges this seemingly uncontroversial argument with a number of empirical observations, arguing instead that excessive carbohydrate consumption causes obesity. In this conversation he explains how your body reacts to carbohydrates and explains why the mainstream argument of "calories in/calories out" is inadequate for explaining obesity. He also discusses the history of the idea of carbohydrates' importance tracing it back to German and Austrian nutritionists whose work was ignored after WWII. Roberts ties the discussion to other emergent, complex phenomena such as the economy. The conversation closes with a discussion of the risks of confirmation bias and cherry-picking data to suit one's pet hypotheses.

Size: 36.8 MB
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Podcast episode Stiglitz on Inequality

EconTalk Episode with Joseph Stiglitz
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his recent book, The Price of Inequality. Stiglitz argues that the American economy is dysfunctional, benefitting only those at the very top while the bulk of the workforce sees little or no gain in their standard of living over recent decades. Stiglitz blames this result on deregulation and the political power of the financial sector and others at the top. He wants an increase in regulation and the role of government in the economy and a more transparent Federal Reserve Bank that he blames for coddling the financial sector. The conversation also includes a discussion of the Keynesian multiplier.

Size: 31.0 MB
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Podcast episode Zingales on Capitalism and Crony Capitalism

EconTalk Episode with Luigi Zingales
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago and author of A Capitalism for the People talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his book. Zingales argues that the financial sector has used its political power to enhance the size of the sector and the compensations executives receive. This is symptomatic of a larger problem where special interests steer resources and favors based on their political influence. Zingales argues for a capitalism for the people rather than a capitalism for cronies or the politically powerful. The conversation concludes with a plea by Zingales to his fellow economists to speak out against behavior that is legal but immoral--lobbying Congress for special treatment that exploits others to benefit one's own industry, for example.

Size: 30.3 MB
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Podcast episode Moretti on Jobs, Cities, and Innovation

EconTalk Episode with Enrico Moretti
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Enrico Moretti of the University of California, Berkeley and the author of the New Geography of Jobs talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his book. Moretti traces how the economic success of cities and the workers who live there depends on the education of those workers. Moretti argues that there are spillover effects from educated workers--increased in jobs and wages in the city. He uses changes in the fortunes of Seattle and Albuquerque over the last three decades as an example of how small changes can affect the path of economic development and suggests a strong role for serendipity in determining which cities become hubs for high-tech innovation. The conversation concludes with Moretti making the case for increasing investments in education and research and development.

Size: 33.0 MB
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Podcast episode Manzi on Knowledge, Policy, and Uncontrolled

EconTalk Episode with Jim Manzi
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Jim Manzi, author of Uncontrolled, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the reliability of science and the ideas in his book. Manzi argues that unlike science, which can produce useful results using controlled experiments, social science typically involves complex systems where system-wide experiments are rare and statistical tools are limited in their ability to isolate causal relations. Because of the complexity of social environments, even narrow experiments are unlikely to have the wide application that can be found in the laws uncovered by experiments in the physical sciences. Manzi advocates a trial-and-error approach using randomized field trials to verify the usefulness of many policy proposals. And he argues for humility and lowered expectations when it comes to understanding causal effects in social settings related to public policy.

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Podcast episode Jonah Lehrer on Creativity and Imagine

EconTalk Episode with Jonah Lehrer
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Jonah Lehrer, staff writer for The New Yorker and author of Imagine: How Creativity Works, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the science of creativity. They discuss focusing vs. ignoring as a way to solve problems, the potential for computer-based creativity, how W. H. Auden used drugs to improve his poetry, Bob Dylan, Steve Jobs, and the creative power of mindless relaxation. The conversation closes with a discussion of what policies might increase creativity.

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Podcast episode Larry White on the Clash of Economic Ideas

EconTalk Episode with Lawrence White
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Lawrence H. White of George Mason University and author of The Clash of Economic Ideas talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the economists and their ideas of the past one hundred years. They discuss Keynes and Hayek, monetary policy and the Great Depression, Germany after the Second World War, the economy of India, and the future of monetary policy.

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Podcast episode Coase on Externalities, the Firm, and the State of Economics

EconTalk Episode with Ronald Coase
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Nobel Laureate Ronald Coase of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his career, the current state of economics, and the Chinese economy. Coase, born in 1910, reflects on his youth, his two great papers, "The Nature of the Firm" and "The Problem of Social Cost". At the end of conversation he discusses his new book on China, How China Became Capitalist (co-authored with Ning Wang), and the future of the Chinese and world economies.

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Podcast episode Owen on Parenting, Money, and the First National Bank of Dad

EconTalk Episode with David Owen
Hosted by Russ Roberts

David Owen, author of The First National Bank of Dad, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how to educate our children about money and finance. Owen explains how he created his own savings accounts for his kids that gave them an incentive to save and other ways to teach them about postponing gratification, investing, keeping money in perspective and other life lessons. The conversation closes with a discussion of the value of reading to your kids.

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Podcast episode Schmidtz on Rawls, Nozick, and Justice

EconTalk Episode with David Schmidtz
Hosted by Russ Roberts

David Schmidtz of the University of Arizona talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the work of John Rawls and Robert Nozick. The conversation covers the basic ideas of Rawls and Nozick on inequality and justice and the appropriate role of the state in taxation and property rights.

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Podcast episode Taylor on Rules, Discretion, and First Principles

EconTalk Episode with John Taylor
Hosted by Russ Roberts

John Taylor of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his new book, First Principles: Five Keys to Restoring America's Prosperity. Taylor argues that when economic policy adhere to the right basic principles such as keeping rules rather than using discretion, then the economy thrives. Ignoring these principles, Taylor argues, leads to bad economic outcomes such as recessions, inflation, or high unemployment. Taylor illustrates these ideas with a whirlwind tour of the last half century of American economic policy and history. The focus is on monetary and fiscal policy but Taylor also discusses health care reform and other policy areas. The conversation closes with a look at the likelihood that economic policy will change dramatically after 2012.

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Podcast episode Cowen on Food

EconTalk Episode with Tyler Cowen
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Tyler Cowen of George Mason U. and author of An Economist Gets Lunch, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about food, the economics of food, and his new book. In this wide-ranging conversation, Cowen explains why American food was once a wasteland, the environmental impacts of plastic and buying local, why to stay away from fancy restaurants in the central city, and why he spent a month shopping only at an Asian supermarket while living in Northern Virginia.

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Podcast episode Boudreaux on Public Debt

EconTalk Episode with Don Boudreaux
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Don Boudreaux of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the nature of public debt. One view is that there is no burden of the public debt as long as the purchasers of U.S. debt are fellow Americans. In that case, the argument goes, we owe it to ourselves. Drawing on the work of James Buchanan, particularly his book Public Principles of Public Debt: A Defense and Restatement, Boudreaux argues that there is a burden of the debt and it is borne by future taxpayers. Boudreaux argues that all public expenditures have a cost--the different financing mechanisms simply determine who bears the burden of that cost. Boudreaux discusses the political attractiveness of debt finance because the taxes lie in the future and those who will pay for them may not be clearly identified. The conversation closes with a discussion of the role of expectations in both politics and economics of debt finance.

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Podcast episode Acemoglu on Why Nations Fail

EconTalk Episode with Daron Acemoglu
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Daron Acemoglu of MIT and author (with James Robinson) of Why Nations Fail talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his book: why some nations fail and others succeed, why some nations grow over time and sustain that growth, while others grow and then stagnate.  Acemoglu draws on an exceptionally rich set of examples over space and time to argue that differences in institutions--political governance and the inclusiveness of the political and economic system--explain the differences in economics success across nations and over time. Acemoglu also discusses how institutions evolve and the critical role institutional change plays in economic success or failure. Along the way, he explains why previous explanations for national economic success are inadequate. The conversation closes with a discussion of the implications of the arguments for foreign aid and attempts by the wealthy nations to help nations that are poor.

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Podcast episode Derman on Theories, Models, and Science

EconTalk Episode with Emanuel Derman
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Emanuel Derman of Columbia University and author of Models. Behaving. Badly talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about theories and models, and the elusive nature of truth in the sciences and social sciences. Derman, a former physicist and Goldman Sachs quant [quantitative analyst], contrasts the search for truth in the sciences with the search for truth in finance and economics. He critiques attempts to make finance more scientific and applies those insights to the financial crisis. The conversation closes with a discussion of career advice for those aspiring to work in quantitative finance.

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Podcast episode Weinberger on Too Big to Know

EconTalk Episode with David Weinberger
Hosted by Russ Roberts

David Weinberger of Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society and author of Too Big to Know, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book--how knowledge and data and our understanding of the world around us are being changed by the internet. Weinberger discusses knowledge and how it is attained have changed over time, particularly with the advent of the internet. He argues the internet has dispersed the power of authority and expertise. And he discusses whether the internet is making us smarter or stupider, and the costs and benefits of being able to tailor information to one's own interests and biases.

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Podcast episode David Owen on the Environment, Unintended Consequences, and The Conundrum

EconTalk Episode with David Owen
Hosted by Russ Roberts

David Owen of the New Yorker and author of The Conundrum talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his book. Owen argues that innovation and energy innovation have increased energy use rather than reduced it and similarly, other seemingly green changes do little to help the reduce humanity's carbon footprint or are actually counter-productive. Only large reductions in consumption are likely to matter and that prescription is unappealing to most people. Owen points out that New York City, ironically perhaps, is one of the greenest places to live because of the efficiencies of density. The conversation concludes with a discussion of how to best approach global warming given these seeming realities.

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Podcast episode William Black on Financial Fraud

EconTalk Episode with William Black
Hosted by Russ Roberts

William Black of University of Missouri-Kansas City and author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about financial fraud, starting with the Savings and Loan debacle up through the current financial crisis. Black explains how bank executives can use fraudulent loans to inflate the size of their bank in order to justify large compensation packages. He argues that "liar loans" were a major part of the crisis and that policy changes made it easy to generate such loans without criminal repercussions.

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Podcast episode David Rose on the Moral Foundations of Economic Behavior

EconTalk Episode with David Rose
Hosted by Russ Roberts

David Rose of the University of Missouri, St. Louis and the author of The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the book and the role morality plays in prosperity. Rose argues that morality plays a crucial role in prosperity and economic development. Knowing that the people you trade with have a principled aversion to exploiting opportunities for cheating in dealing with others allows economic actors to trust one another. That in turn allows for the widespread specialization and interaction through markets with strangers that creates prosperity. In this conversation, Rose explores the nature of the principles that work best to engender trust. The conversation closes with a discussion of the current trend in morality in America and the implications for trust and prosperity.

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Podcast episode Taleb on Antifragility

EconTalk Episode with Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Nassim Taleb, author of Fooled By Randomness and The Black Swan, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about antifragility, the concept behind Taleb's next book, a work in progress. Taleb talks about how we can cope with our ignorance and uncertainty in a complex world. Topics covered include health, finance, political systems, the Fed, your career, Seneca, shame, heroism, and a few more.

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Podcast episode Tabarrok on Innovation

EconTalk Episode with Alex Tabarrok
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Alex Tabarrok of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his new book, Launching the Innovation Renaissance. Tabarrok argues that innovation in the United States is being held back by patent law, the legal system, and immigration policies. He then suggests how these might be improved to create a better climate for innovation that would lead to higher productivity and a higher standard of living.

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Podcast episode Klein on Knowledge and Coordination

EconTalk Episode with Daniel Klein
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Dan Klein of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in Klein's new book, Knowledge and Coordination. Klein argues that allegory is a powerful way to think about outcomes of emergent order. He goes deeply into the concept of the invisible hand and creates a novel way to evaluate processes that not under any one's control. Klein then suggests novel ways of evaluating economic outcomes outside of the traditional metrics and techniques. Along the way, Klein emphasizes the role of uncertainty and imperfection in the entrepreneurial process.

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Podcast episode Simon Johnson on the Financial Crisis

EconTalk Episode with Simon Johnson
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Simon Johnson of MIT and the author (with James Kwak) of 13 Bankers talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the origins of the financial crisis and how the next one might be prevented. Invoking the work of George Stigler, Johnson argues that the financial sector has captured the regulatory process and the result is that regulation and government intervention have been steered more by the interests of the financial sector than to the benefit of the general public. Johnson argues for capping the size of banks in order to reduce the danger of systemic risk and the too-big-to-fail excuse for bailing out banks. Johnson also discusses the role of the Fed in subsidizing risk-taking and leverage in the financial sector.

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Podcast episode Taubes on Fat, Sugar and Scientific Discovery

EconTalk Episode with Gary Taubes
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about what we know about the relationship between diet and disease. Taubes argues that for decades, doctors, the medical establishment, and government agencies encouraged Americans to reduce fat in their diet and increase carbohydrates in order to reduce heart disease. Taubes argues that the evidence for the connection between fat in the diet and heart disease was weak yet the consensus in favor of low-fat diets remained strong. Casual evidence (such as low heart disease rates among populations with little fat in their diet) ignores the possibilities that other factors such as low sugar consumption may explain the relationship. Underlying the conversation is a theme that causation can be difficult to establish in complex systems such as the human body and the economy.

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Podcast episode Baumeister on Gender Differences and Culture

EconTalk Episode with Roy Baumeister
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Roy Baumeister of Florida State University and the author of Is There Anything Good About Men talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the differences between men and women in cultural and economic areas. Baumeister argues that men aren't superior to women nor are women superior to men. Rather there are some things men are better at while women excel at a different set of tasks and that these tradeoffs are a product of evolution and cultural pressure. He argues that evolutionary pressure has created different distributions of talent for men and women in a wide variety of areas. He argues that other differences in outcomes are not due to innate ability differences but rather come from different tastes or preferences.

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Podcast episode Avent on Cities, Urban Regulations, and Growth

EconTalk Episode with Ryan Avent
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Ryan Avent of the Economist and author of The Gated City talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about The Gated City and how cities have restricted access to land and housing. Avent argues that restricted access has raised housing prices artificially on both the east and west coast of the United States, reducing urban populations and restricting access to labor markets. He argues that this in turn has artificially depressed growth in the United States by keeping workers from their most productive opportunities. The conversation closes with a discussion of possible policy changes that might make cities more accessible to development and growth.

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Podcast episode Wapshott on Keynes and Hayek

EconTalk Episode with Nicholas Wapshott
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Nicholas Wapshott, author of Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich A. Hayek--their ideas, their disagreements, their friendship and how the two men influenced economists and public policy during their lifetimes and beyond.

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Podcast episode Frank Rose on Storytelling and the Art of Immersion

EconTalk Episode with Frank Rose
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Frank Rose, author of The Art of Immersion and correspondent for Wired Magazine, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how the web has changed the art of storytelling and the interactions between the web, advertising, games, movies, and television. Rose argues that when a new medium is introduced, whether it is the book, movies, or the web, there is always a period of exploration as to how storytelling, the author, and the audience will interact. While there have always been readers, viewers, and listeners who immerse themselves in good stories, the web allows this immersion to expand dramatically, partly because the audience can share reactions and insights with each other as well as becoming part of the creation of the story in ways that past media have not allowed. Rose chronicles these developments with specific examples and speculates on where storytelling on the web might be headed. The conversation closes with a brief discussion of the passing of Steve Jobs.

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Podcast episode Frank on Competition, Government, and Darwin

EconTalk Episode with Robert Frank
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Robert Frank of Cornell University and author of The Darwin Economy talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about competition, government and the relevance of Darwin for economics. In a lively and spirited discussion, Frank argues that because people care about their relative standing with their neighbors, standard conclusions about the virtues of competition are misleading. He argues that competition is often wasteful and he suggests directions for tax policy and other forms of government intervention to take these effects into accounts.

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Podcast episode Winston on Lawyers

EconTalk Episode with Clifford Winston
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Clifford Winston of the Brookings Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the market for lawyers and the role of lawyers in the political process. Drawing on a new co-authored book, First Thing We Do, Let's Deregulate All the Lawyers, Winston argues that restrictions on the supply of lawyers and increases in demand via government regulation artificially boost lawyers' salaries. Deregulation of the supply (by eliminating licensing) would lower price and encourage innovation.

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Podcast episode Satz on Markets

EconTalk Episode with Debra Satz
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Debra Satz, Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her book, Why Some Things Should Not Be For Sale: The Moral Limits of the Market. Satz argues that some markets are noxious and should not be allowed to operate freely. Topics discussed include organ sales, price spikes after natural disasters, the economic concept of efficiency and utilitarianism. The conversation includes a discussion of the possible limits of political intervention and whether it would be good to allow voters to sell their votes.

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Podcast episode Banerjee on Poverty and Poor Economics

EconTalk Episode with Abhijit Banerjee
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Abhijit Banerjee of MIT talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Banerjee's book (co-authored with Esther Duflo), Poor Economics. The conversation begins with how randomized control trials (a particular kind of social experiment) have been used to measure the effectiveness of various types of aid to the poor. Banerjee goes on to discuss hunger, health, and education--the challenges in each area and what we have learned about what works and what does not. The conversation closes with a discussion of the role of the labor market in the private sector.

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Podcast episode Otteson on Adam Smith

EconTalk Episode with James Otteson
Hosted by Russ Roberts

James Otteson of Yeshiva University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Adam Smith. The conversation begins with a brief sketch of David Hume and his influence on Smith and then turns to the so-called Adam Smith problem--the author of The Wealth of Nations appears to have a different take on human nature than the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Smith worked on both books throughout his life, yet their perspectives seem so different. Otteson argues that the books focus on social behavior and the institutions that sustain that behavior--market transactions in The Wealth of Nations and moral behavior in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Both books use the idea of emergent order to explain the evolution of both kinds of social behavior and social institutions. The conversation concludes with a discussion of what Smith got right and wrong.

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Podcast episode Buchholz on Competition, Stress, and the Rat Race

EconTalk Episode with Todd Buchholz
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Todd Buchholz, author of Rush: Why You Need and Love the Rat Race, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book. Buchholz argues that competition and striving for excellence is part of our evolutionary inheritance. He criticizes attempts to remake human beings into gentle creatures who long to return to an Eden-like serenity. He argues that it is action, creativity, and planning for the future that makes us happy. The discussion includes the implications of our interest in the future for theater and story-telling.

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Podcast episode Harford on Adapt and the Virtues of Failure

EconTalk Episode with Tim Harford
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Tim Harford, author and journalist, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Adapt, Harford's book on the virtues of failure and the trial and error process. Harford argues that success is more likely when there is experimentation and trial and error followed by adapting, rather than following a top-down, ex ante plan driven by expertise. The conversation looks at the what war can teach us about information, knowledge, and planning, the challenge of admitting mistakes, and the implications of trial and error for our daily lives.

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Podcast episode Byers on the Blind Spot, Science, and Uncertainty

EconTalk Episode with William Byers
Hosted by Russ Roberts

William Byers of Canada's Concordia University and author of The Blind Spot talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the nature of knowledge, science and mathematics. Byers argues that there is an inherent uncertainty about science and our knowledge that is frequently ignored. Byers contrasts a science of wonder with a science of certainty. He suggests that our knowledge of the physical world will always be incomplete because of the imperfection of models and human modes of thought relative to the complexity of the physical world. The conversation also looks at the implications of these ideas for teaching science and social science.

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Podcast episode Caplan on Parenting

EconTalk Episode with Bryan Caplan
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Bryan Caplan of George Mason University and EconLog talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in Caplan's new book, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids. Caplan argues that parents spend too much time trying to influence how their kids will turn out as adults. Using research on twins and adopted children, Caplan argues that nature dominates nurture and that parents have little lasting influence on many aspects of their children's lives. He concludes that parents should spend less time and energy trying to influence their children. If parenting takes less time, then have more kids, says Caplan. The conversation concludes with a discussion of whether a larger population is bad for the planet.

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CATEGORIES: Books , Bryan Caplan , Family



Podcast episode Coyle on the Economics of Enough

EconTalk Episode with Diane Coyle
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Diane Coyle, author of The Economics of Enough, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the future and the ideas in her book. Coyle argues that the financial crisis, the entitlement crisis, and climate change all reflect a failure to deal with the future appropriately. The conversation ranges across a wide range of issues including debt, the financial sector, and the demographic challenges of an aging population that is promised generous retirement and health benefits. Coyle argues for better measurement of the government budget and suggests ways that the political process might be made more effective.

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Podcast episode Cowen on the Great Stagnation

EconTalk Episode with Tyler Cowen
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Tyler Cowen of George Mason University and author of the e-book The Great Stagnation talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book. Cowen argues that in the last four decades, the growth in prosperity for the average family has slowed dramatically in the United States relative to earlier decades and time periods. Cowen argues that this is the result of a natural slowing in innovation and that we expect too much growth relative to what is possible. Cowen expects improvements in the rate of growth in the future when new areas of research yield high returns. The conversation includes a discussion of the implications of Cowen's thesis for politics and public policy.

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Podcast episode Caldwell on Hayek

EconTalk Episode with Bruce Caldwell
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Bruce Caldwell of Duke University and the General Editor of the Collected Works of F. A. Hayek, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Hayek, his life, his ideas, his books, and articles. The conversation covers Hayek's intellectual encounters with Keynes, Hayek's role in the socialist calculation debate, Hayek's key ideas, and a discussion of which of Hayek's works are most accessible.

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Podcast episode Boettke on Mises

EconTalk Episode with Pete Boettke
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Pete Boettke of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the life, work, and legacy of Ludwig von Mises. Boettke outlines Mises's most important contributions to economics--business cycle theory, the socialism/calculation debate, and the application of economics to a wide range of behavior beyond the financial. Boettke discusses how Mises fits into the Austrian tradition and how he influenced scholars who came after him. The conversation closes with a discussion of Mises's most important works and suggests which books and articles are most accessible to a beginner who wants to explore Mises's ideas.

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Podcast episode Nocera on the Crisis and All the Devils Are Here

EconTalk Episode with Joe Nocera
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Joe Nocera, New York Times columnist and co-author with Bethany McLean of All the Devils Are Here, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the origins of the financial crisis. Drawing on his book, Nocera identifies many people he considers devils for contributing to the crisis and a few angels who tried but failed to stop it. The discussion covers the history and development of securitization and the peculiar incentives created by securitization and the relative lack of regulation of the securitization process. The conversation also includes a discussion of whether past bailouts contributed to the crisis.

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Podcast episode Kelly on Technology and What Technology Wants

EconTalk Episode with Kevin Kelly
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Kevin Kelly, author of What Technology Wants, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about technology and the ideas in the book. Kelly argues that technology is best understood as an emergent system subject to the natural forces underpinning all emergent systems. He argues that any technology creates benefits and costs but that the benefits typically outweigh the costs (perhaps by a small amount) leading to human progress. This is a wide-ranging conversation that includes discussion of the Unabomber, the Amish, the survival of human knowledge, and the seeming inevitability of the advancement of knowledge. The conversation closes with a discussion of the potential for technology to make an enormous leap in self-organization.

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Podcast episode Phillipson on Adam Smith

EconTalk Episode with Nicholas Phillipson
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Nicholas Phillipson, author of Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the life of Adam Smith. Drawing on his recent biography of Smith, Phillipson discusses his intellectual roots, his intellectual journey, and what we know of his influences and achievements. Phillipson argues that Smith was shy, ambitious and very well-liked. He highlights the influence of Francis Hutcheson and David Hume on Smith's thinking. Phillipson gives his take on how the ideas of The Theory of Moral Sentiments mesh with The Wealth of Nations and argues that the Theory of Moral Sentiments was a response to Mandeville and Rousseau.

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Podcast episode Quiggin on Zombie Economics

EconTalk Episode with John Quiggin
Hosted by Russ Roberts

John Quiggin of Crooked Timber and the author of Zombie Economics talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about ideas in economics that should stay dead and buried. Quiggin argues that many economic theories such as the Great Moderation, the efficient markets hypothesis and others have been discredited by recent events and should be relegated to the graveyard. Roberts challenges some of Quiggin's claims and wonders whether proposed alternatives might do even worse than the policies Quiggin is criticizing. Much of the conversation focuses on the role of government in the financial sector and how that might be improved going forward.

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Podcast episode Ridley on Trade, Growth, and the Rational Optimist

EconTalk Episode with Matt Ridley
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about why he is optimistic about the future and how trade and specialization explain the evolution of human development over the millennia. Ridley argues that life is getting better for most of the people on earth and that the underlying cause is trade and specialization. He discusses the differences between Smith's and Ricardo's insights into trade and growth and why despite what seems to be strong evidence, people are frequently pessimistic about the future. Ridley also addresses environmental issues.

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Podcast episode Greenberg on Depression, Addiction, and the Brain

EconTalk Episode with Gary Greenberg
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Gary Greenberg, psychologist and author of The Noble Lie and Manufacturing Depression, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the nature of addiction, depression and mental illness. Drawing on ideas in the two books, Greenberg argues that there are strong monetary incentives to define various problems as illnesses that psychiatrists "cure" with drugs. Greenberg argues that this distorts science and has strong impacts, good and bad, on how we view ourselves and the challenges of life. The conversation looks at the scientific basis for addiction and the role brain chemistry in depression. The conversation closes with a discussion of Greenberg's correspondence with the Unabomber.

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CATEGORIES: Books , Gary Greenberg , Health



Podcast episode de Botton on the Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

EconTalk Episode with Alain de Botton
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Author Alain de Botton talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work. How has the nature of work changed with the increase in specialization? Why is the search for meaningful work a modern phenomenon? Has the change in the workplace changed parenting? Why does technology become invisible? These are some of the questions discussed by de Botton in a wide-ranging discussion of the modern workplace and the modern worker.

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Podcast episode Kling on Knowledge, Power, and Unchecked and Unbalanced

EconTalk Episode with Arnold Kling
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Arnold Kling of EconLog and author of Unchecked and Unbalanced, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the book and the relationship between knowledge and power. In a modern economy, specialization has increased and knowledge is increasingly dispersed. But political power has become more concentrated and fails to exploit the potential for decentralization. Kling discusses these trends and the potential for decentralization of power under different policies.

Size: 30.6 MB
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Podcast episode Kennedy on the Great Depression and the New Deal

EconTalk Episode with David Kennedy
Hosted by Russ Roberts

David Kennedy of Stanford University and the author of Freedom from Fear talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the Great Depression and its political and economic relevance. Kennedy talks about the economic policies of Hoover and Roosevelt, and how the historical narrative was shaped and evolved over the decades. The conversation concludes with Kennedy's thoughts on the nature and value of history.

Size: 29.5 MB
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Podcast episode Laughlin on the Future of Carbon and Climate

EconTalk Episode with Robert Laughlin
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Robert Laughlin of Stanford University and the 1998 co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about energy use and the future of the earth's climate. Drawing on his forthcoming book on energy, Laughlin predicts that we will continue to use cars and planes and electricity long after coal and petroleum are exhausted and speculates as to how that might play out in the future. The conversation concludes with discussions of other concerns of Laughlin's--the outlawing via legislation and taboo of certain forms of knowledge, and the practice of reductionism rather than emergence in the physical sciences.

Size: 39.2 MB
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Podcast episode Robert Service on Trotsky

EconTalk Episode with Robert Service
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Robert Service of Stanford University's Hoover Institution and the University of Oxford talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the life and death of Leon Trotsky. Based on Service's biography of Trotsky, the conversation covers Trotsky's influence on the Russian Revolution, his influence on policy alongside Lenin, his expulsion from Soviet Union in 1928 and his murder in 1940 by Stalin's order.

Size: 38.0 MB
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Podcast episode Gregory on Politics, Murder, and Love in Stalin's Kremlin

EconTalk Episode with Paul Gregory
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Paul Gregory of the University of Houston and a Research Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Nikolai Bukharin's power struggle with Stalin and Bukharin's romance with Anna Larina, who was 26 years younger than Bukharin. Based on Gregory's book, Politics, Murder, and Love in Stalin's Kremlin, the conversation explores the career and personal life of Bukharin and how his career and personal life intersected. Bukharin was one of the key founders of the Bolshevik Revolution that led to the creation of the Soviet Union. In the late 1920s, he disagreed with Stalin's policy of collectivization. Stalin ruthlessly pursued him, eventually had him arrested, tried and convicted in the one of the infamous Show Trials, and executed. Anna, his wife, is then sentenced to the Gulag and later exiled. The power and poignancy of the story lies in Bukharin's refusal to believe that his old friend Stalin is out to kill him. Gregory also discusses Bukharin's economic policies and whether Stalin or someone like him was inevitable.

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Podcast episode Caplan on Hayek, Richter, and Socialism

EconTalk Episode with Bryan Caplan
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Bryan Caplan of George Mason University and blogger at EconLog talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about two books: Eugene Richter's Pictures of the Socialistic Future and F. A. Hayek's The Road to Serfdom. Both books warn against the dangers of socialism. Pictures of a Socialistic Future, published in 1891 is a dystopian novel imagining what life would be like after a socialist revolution. The Road to Serfdom, published in 1944, explores the links between economic freedom and political freedom and the inherent similarities between communism and fascism. Both books look at the German roots of centralized planning and the nature of the people who rise to power when the State is powerful. The conversation includes discussion of the these topics as well as the rule of law and the amount of state control of the economy in Nazi Germany.

Size: 31.7 MB
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Podcast episode Okrent on Prohibition and His Book, Last Call

EconTalk Episode with Daniel Okrent
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Daniel Okent, author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, talks about the book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. They discuss how the 18th Amendment banning the manufacture, sale, and transport of intoxicating beverages came to pass in 1920, what life was like while it was in force, and how the Amendment came to be repealed in 1934. Okrent discusses how Prohibition became entangled with the suffrage movement, the establishment of the income tax, and anti-immigration sentiment. They also discuss the political economy of prohibition, enforcement, and repeal--the quintessential example of bootleggers and baptists.

Size: 31.2 MB
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Podcast episode Ravitch on Education

EconTalk Episode with Diane Ravitch
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Diane Ravitch of NYU talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in her new book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. Ravitch argues that the two most popular education reform movements, accountability and choice, have had unintended consequences that have done great harm to the current generation of students. She argues that the accountability and testing provisions in legislation like No Child Left Behind and similar reforms have actually corrupted the testing process, taken time away from subjects other than math and reading, and failed even to boost success in math and reading. She argues that the empirical record has provided little evidence that school choice as it has been implemented has boosted achievement. The discussion closes with a discussion of what reforms might indeed make a difference.

Size: 27.7 MB
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CATEGORIES: Books , Diane Ravitch , Education



Podcast episode Newman on Low-wage Workers

EconTalk Episode with Katherine Newman
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Katherine Newman, Professor of Sociology at Princeton University, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Newman's case studies of fast-food workers in Harlem. Newman discusses the evolution of their careers and fortunes over time along with their dreams and successes and failures. The conversation concludes with lessons for public policy in aiding low-wage workers.

Size: 27.8 MB
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Podcast episode Ritholtz on Bailouts, the Fed, and the Crisis

EconTalk Episode with Barry Ritholtz
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Barry Ritholtz, author of Bailout Nation: How Greed and Easy Money Corrupted Wall Street and Shook the World Economy, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the history of bailouts in recent times, beginning with Lockheed and Chrysler in the 1970s and continuing through the current financial crisis. In addition to the government role in aiding ailing companies, Ritholtz also looks at the role of the Fed in discouraging prudence through its efforts to keep asset prices and the stock market at high levels. The conversation closes with a discussion of what Ritholtz has learned from the crisis.

Size: 33.8 MB
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Podcast episode Rustici on Smoot-Hawley and the Great Depression

EconTalk Episode with Thomas Rustici
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Thomas Rustici of George Mason University and author of Lessons from the Great Depression talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the impact of the Smoot-Hawley Act on the economy. The standard view is that the decrease in trade that followed Smoot-Hawley was not big enough to be a significant contributor to the Great Depression. Rustici argues that this Keynesian approach that looks at aggregate spending misses a crucial mechanism for understanding the impact of Smoot-Hawley. Rustici focuses on the impact of Smoot Hawley on bank closings and the money supply. Smoot-Hawley launched an international trade war that reduced world trade dramatically. This had large concentrated regional effects in the United States and around the world in areas that depended on trade. Those were the areas where the first banks collapsed, contracting the money supply via the fractional reserve banking system. Rustici argues that the Keynesian indictment of the price system ignores the policy failures that destroyed the institutions that make the price system work.

Size: 39.0 MB
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Podcast episode Winston on Market Failure and Government Failure

EconTalk Episode with Clifford Winston
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Clifford Winston of the Brookings Institution talks about the ideas in his book, Market Failure vs. Government Failure, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Winston summarizes a large literature on antitrust, safety regulation and environmental regulation. He finds that government regulation often fails to meet its objectives. While markets are imperfect, so is government. Winston argues that idealized theories of government intervention based on textbook theories of market failure are not the way regulation turns out in practice. He argues that special interest politics explains much of the disappointing outcomes of government regulation.

Size: 30.4 MB
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Podcast episode Kling on Prosperity, Poverty, and Economics 2.0

EconTalk Episode with Arnold Kling
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Arnold Kling of EconLog and the author (with Nick Schulz) of From Poverty to Prosperity: Intangible Assets, Hidden Liabilities and the Lasting Triumph over Scarcity talks about the book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Kling discusses how modern economists think about growth in both developed and undeveloped countries and contrasts those ideas with earlier views in economics. The focus of the modern understanding is on ideas and the ability of ideas to improve technology, leading to prosperity. Unlike physical capital, ideas can be enjoyed by many people at once, explaining why past models that ignored ideas and focused on physical capital failed to account for the observed magnitude of economic development. Kling also discusses the success of China and India.

Size: 26.8 MB
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Podcast episode Boettke on Elinor Ostrom, Vincent Ostrom, and the Bloomington School

EconTalk Episode with Pete Boettke
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Peter Boettke of George Mason University and author of Challenging Institutional Analysis and Development: The Bloomington School (co-authored with Paul Dragos Aligica), talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the Bloomington School--the political economy of Elinor Ostrom (2009 Nobel Laureate in Economics), Vincent Ostrom, and their students and colleagues at Indiana University. The discussion begins with the empirical approach of Elinor Ostrom and others who have studied the myriad of ways that actual communities have avoided the tragedy of commons. Boettke emphasizes the distinction between privatization vs. informal norms and cultural rules that prevent overuse. The conversation also looks at urban development and the benefits and costs of multiple municipalities vs. a single, large city. Throughout, Boettke embeds the conversation in the Ostroms' interest in how the citizenry can be self-governing and the challenges of implementing local knowledge.

Size: 29.0 MB
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Podcast episode Reinhart on Financial Crises

EconTalk Episode with Carmen Reinhart
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Carmen Reinhart of the University of Maryland talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in her book This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly (co-authored with Kenneth Rogoff). They discuss the role of capital inflows in financial crises, the challenges of learning the right lessons, and what is generally true about financial crises over time and place. Reinhart applies these observations to the current crisis, discusses the possibility of the U.S. defaulting on its sovereign debt, and discusses the possibility of financial reforms that might make a difference.

Size: 30.9 MB
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Podcast episode Posner on the Financial Crisis

EconTalk Episode with Richard Posner
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Richard Posner, federal judge and prolific author, discusses the financial crisis with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Posner (despite the title of his recent book on the crisis, A Failure of Capitalism) places most of the blame for the crisis on the Federal Reserve, inattentive regulators and the subsidization of risk. He also criticizes economists for complacency in the face of impending disaster. A recent convert of sorts to Keynesianism, Posner confesses some disillusion with the implementation of the stimulus plan and the expanding role of the Federal government.

Size: 29.0 MB
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Podcast episode Heller on Gridlock and the Tragedy of the Anticommons

EconTalk Episode with Michael Heller
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Michael Heller of Columbia Law School and author of The Gridlock Economy talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the book and the idea that fragmented ownership is a barrier to innovation. Heller makes an analogy between the tragedy of the commons and what he calls the tragedy of the anticommons--the problem of bundling together numerous individual claims to a resource. Examples discussed include drug innovation when the innovator wants to use technologies of multiple patent holders, new music or visual media where the creator wants to use multiple copyrighted works, and allocation of spectrum rights and its role in wireless innovation.

Size: 26.9 MB
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Podcast episode Willingham on Education, School, and Neuroscience

EconTalk Episode with Daniel Willingham
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Daniel Willingham of the University of Virginia and author of the book Why Don't Students Like School? talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how the brain works and the implications for teaching, learning, and educational policy. Topics discussed include why we remember some things but not others (and what we can do about it), the central role of memory in problem solving and abstract reasoning, the current state of math education in America, and what makes a good teacher.

Size: 28.9 MB
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Podcast episode Gary Stern on Too Big to Fail

EconTalk Episode with Gary Stern
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Gary Stern, former President of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Stern's book, Too Big To Fail (co-authored with Ron Feldman), a prescient warning of the moral hazard created when government rescues creditors of financial institutions from the consequences of bankruptcy. Stern traces the origins of "too big to fail" to the rescue of Continental Illinois in 1984 and then follows more recent rescues including those of the current crisis. The conversation explores the incentive effects of such rescues on the decision-making by executives in large financial institutions. The discussion concludes with Stern's ideas for alternative ways to deal with large, troubled financial institutions.

Size: 30.9 MB
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Podcast episode Cohan on the Life and Death of Bear Stearns

EconTalk Episode with William Cohan
Hosted by Russ Roberts

William Cohan, author of House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Steet, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the life and death of Bear Stearns. The discussion starts with how Bear Stearns and other Wall Street firms made money and how they financed their operations. The conversation then turns to the collapse of Bear Stearns's hedge funds in the summer of 2007 and how that collapse and the firm's investments in subprime mortgages led to the death of the firm in March of 2008. Cohan explains the role of borrowed money in the financial crisis and Bear Stearns in particular. The conversation concludes with the incentives facing Wall Street executives and the price they paid or didn't pay for the gambles they made with other people's money.

Size: 29.9 MB
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Podcast episode Cowen on Culture, Autism, and Creating Your Own Economy

EconTalk Episode with Tyler Cowen
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Tyler Cowen of George Mason University and author of Create Your Own Economy talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his recent book. The conversation ranges across a wide array of topics related to information, the arts, and the culture of the internet. Topics include how autistics perceive information and what non-autistics can learn from them, what Buddhism might teach us about our digital lives, the pace of change in the use of technology, Nozick's experience machine and the relative importance of authenticity and what the Alchian and Allen theorem has to do with the internet and culture.

Size: 26.0 MB
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Podcast episode Hitchens on Orwell

EconTalk Episode with Christopher Hitchens
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Christopher Hitchens talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about George Orwell. Drawing on his book Why Orwell Matters, Hitchens talks about Orwell's opposition to imperialism, fascism, and Stalinism, his moral courage, and his devotion to language. Along the way, Hitchens makes the case for why Orwell matters.

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Podcast episode John Taylor on the Financial Crisis

EconTalk Episode with John Taylor
Hosted by Russ Roberts

John Taylor of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the fundamental causes of the financial crisis of 2008. Taylor argues that the housing bubble of the early 2000s was caused by excessively loose monetary policy, in particular, a sustained period of excessively low interest rates pursued by the Federal Reserve. Other topics covered include rules vs. discretion in monetary policy and the risks of inflation in the coming months. The conversation concludes with a discussion of the impact of the current crisis on future monetary policy and the field of macroeconomics.

Size: 26.4 MB
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Podcast episode Justin Fox on the Rationality of Markets

EconTalk Episode with Justin Fox
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Justin Fox, author of The Myth of the Rational Market, talks about the ideas in his book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Fox traces the history of the application of math and economics to finance, particularly to the question of how markets and prices process information, the so-called efficient markets hypothesis in its various forms. The conversation includes discussions of systemic risk, the current financial crisis and the lessons for policy reform.

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CATEGORIES: Books , Finance , Justin Fox



Podcast episode Collier on Democracy and Violence

EconTalk Episode with Paul Collier
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Paul Collier of Oxford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his new book, Wars, Guns, and Votes, a study of democracy and violence. Collier lays out the incentives facing a dictator who is considering the seductive appeal of holding an election. He defends his empirical work that forms the basis for many of the policy ideas in the book. Collier then makes the case for international military intervention to support democracies in poor countries.

Size: 28.8 MB
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Podcast episode Helprin on Copyright

EconTalk Episode with Mark Helprin
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Novelist Mark Helprin talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about copyright and the ideas in his book, Digital Barbarism. Helprin argues for an extension rather than a reduction in the length of time that authors have control over their work. He also argues that technology is often not attuned to human needs and physical constraints, claiming that tranquility is elusive in modern times. He sees the movement against copyright and intellectual property generally as part of an educational and social trend toward collective rather than individual work.

Size: 28.4 MB
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Podcast episode Rebonato on Risk Management and the Crisis

EconTalk Episode with Riccardo Rebonato
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Riccardo Rebonato of the Royal Bank of Scotland and author of Plight of the Fortune Tellers talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenges of measuring risk and making decisions and creating regulation in the face of risk and uncertainty. Rebonato's book, written before the crisis, argues that risk managers often overestimate the reliability of the measures they use to assess risk. In this conversation, Rebonato applies these ideas to the crisis and to the challenges of designing effective regulation.

Size: 28.6 MB
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This is the sixth and concluding podcast in the EconTalk Book Club discussion of The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith. In this episode, Dan Klein of George Mason University and EconTalk host Russ Roberts discuss Parts VI and VII of the book. They close by putting the book in context.

Size: 44.3 MB
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