EconTalk

de Library of Economics and Liberty

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

Episodios

Sam Quinones on Meth, Fentanyl, and the Least of Us

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Author and journalist Sam Quinones talks about his book, The Least of Us, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Quinones focuses on the devastation caused by methamphetamine and fentanyl, the latest evolution of innovation in the supply of mind-altering drugs in the United States. The latest versions of meth, he argues, are more emotionally damaging than before and have played a central role in the expansion of the homeless in tent encampments in American cities. The conversation includes an exploration of the rising number of overdose deaths in the United States and what role community and other institutions might play in reducing the death toll.

Arnold Kling on Reforming Government and Expertise

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Economist and author Arnold Kling talks about improving government regulation with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Kling suggests ways to improve the administrative state--the agencies and regulatory bodies that often write the regulations that they enforce. The conversation concludes with Kling's idea for holding public intellectuals accountable for their pronouncements.

Noreena Hertz on the Lonely Century

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

David Henderson on the Essential UCLA School of Economics

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

Glen Weyl on Antitrust, Capitalism, and Radical Reform

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

Johann Hari on Lost Connections

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

Bret Devereaux on Ancient Greece and Rome

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

Michael Heller and James Salzman on Mine!

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

Nicholas Wapshott on Samuelson and Friedman

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

Michael Munger on Free Markets

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

Jonathan Rauch on the Constitution of Knowledge

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James Heckman on Inequality and Economic Mobility

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

Michael Easter on the Comfort Crisis

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

Don Boudreaux on the Pandemic

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

Claudia Hauer on War, Education, and Strategic Humanism

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

Sebastian Junger on Freedom

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

Anja Shortland on Lost Art

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

Donald Shoup on the Economics of Parking

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

Ian Leslie on Conflicted

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

Bruce Meyer on Poverty

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

Jason Riley on Race in America

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

Julia Galef on the Scout Mindset

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

Agnes Callard on Anger

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

Katy Milkman on How to Change

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

Roya Hakakian on A Beginner's Guide to America

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

Mark Rank on Poverty and Poorly Understood

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

Emiliana Simon-Thomas on Happiness

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

Tyler Cowen on the Pandemic, Revisited

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

Max Kenner on Crime, Education, and the Bard Prison Initiative

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

Megan McArdle on Catastrophes and the Pandemic

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

Sherry Turkle on Family, Artificial Intelligence, and the Empathy Diaries

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

Leon Kass on Human Flourishing, Living Well, and Aristotle

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

 

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

Michael Munger on Desires, Morality, and Self-Interest

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

John Cochrane on the Pandemic

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

Dana Gioia on Learning, Poetry, and Studying with Miss Bishop

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