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Author: EconTalk: Russ Roberts, Library of Economics and Liberty

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EconTalk is an award-winning weekly talk show about economics in daily life. Featured guests include renowned economics professors, Nobel Prize winners, and exciting speakers on all kinds of topical matters related to economic thought. Topics include health care, business cycles, economic growth, free trade, education, finance, politics, sports, book reviews, parenting, and the curiosities of everyday decision-making. Russ Roberts, of the Library of Economics and Liberty ( and the Hoover Institution, draws you in with lively guests and creative repartee. Look for related readings and the complete archive of previous shows at, where you can also comment on the podcasts and ask questions.
722 Episodes
Philosopher and author Peter Singer of Princeton University talks about his book, The Life You Can Save with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Singer argues that those of us in the developed world with a high standard of living can and should give/forgo some luxuries and donate instead to reduce poverty and suffering in poor countries. This is a wide-ranging conversation on the potential we have to make the world a better place and the practical challenges of having an impact.
Physician and author Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins University talks about his book The Price We Pay with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Makary highlights some of the stranger aspects of our current health care system including the encouragement of unnecessary or even harmful procedures and the predatory behavior of some hospitals who sue patients and garnish their wages to recover fees that are secret until after the procedure is completed. Makary favors requiring hospitals to make their prices transparent. He also discusses a number of ways that employers and patients are trying to avoid the worst aspects of the current system.
Economist, author, and Nobel Laureate Robert Shiller of Yale University discusses his book Narrative Economics with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Shiller proposes a novel idea--that the narratives that people believe and use to understand the world affect their economic behavior and in turn affect the macroeconomy. Shiller argues that taking these psychological effects into account is a new frontier of economic research and he gives a number of examples of how we might think about these phenomena.
Economist and author Daniel Klein of George Mason University talks about the ethics of working and the potential for our working lives to make the world a better place. This is a wide-ranging conversation that includes discussion of Adam Smith, what jobs we should work on, what charities we should donate to, how we can make ourselves more virtuous, the movies Se7en and Sabrina, and ultimately what Adam Smith calls "the becoming use of our own."
Author and professor Janine Barchas of the University of Texas talks about her book, The Lost Books of Jane Austen, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. The conversation explores Austen's enduring reputation, how the cheap reprints of her work allowed that reputation to thrive, the links between Shakespeare and Austen, how Austen has thrived despite the old-fashioned nature of her content, Colin Firth's shirt, and the virtue of studying literature.
Adam Minter on Secondhand

Adam Minter on Secondhand


Journalist and author Adam Minter talks about his book Secondhand with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Minter explores the strange and fascinating world of secondhand stuff--the downsizing that the elderly do when they move to smaller quarters, the unseen side of Goodwill Industries, and the global market for rags.
Computer Scientist and author Melanie Mitchell of Portland State University and the Santa Fe Institute talks about her book Artificial Intelligence with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Mitchell explains where we are today in the world of artificial intelligence (AI) and where we might be going. Despite the hype and excitement surrounding AI, Mitchell argues that much of what is called "learning" and "intelligence" when done by machines is not analogous to human capabilities. The capabilities of machines are highly limited to explicit, narrow tasks with little transfer to similar but different challenges. Along the way, Mitchell explains some of the techniques used in AI and how progress has been made in many areas.
Economist and author Kimberly Clausing of Reed College talks about her book Open with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Clausing, a self-described progressive, argues that the United States should continue to embrace free trade but she argues for other interventions to soften the impact of trade on workers and communities.
Journalist and author Joe Posnanski talks about his book, The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Posnanski explores the enduring fame of Houdini who remains an iconic cultural figure almost a century after his death. Topics discussed include the nature of celebrity, the nature of ambition, parenting, magic, and the use of public relations to create and sustain reputation and celebrity.
Journalist and author Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times talks about his book, The Economists' Hour, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Appelbaum blames the triumph of free-market ideology for the rise in inequality and the decline in growth rates over the last half-century. The result is a lively, civil conversation about the economic events over that time period and the role of economists in changing economic policy.
Political Scientist and author Terry Moe of Stanford University talks about his book, The Politics of Institutional Reform with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Moe explores the politics and effectiveness of educational reform in the New Orleans public school system in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Moe finds that policy-makers turned to charter schools for pragmatic reasons and students enjoyed dramatic improvements in educational outcomes as a result. Moe uses this experience to draw lessons about political reforms generally and the power of vested interests to preserve the status quo in the absence of catastrophic events like Katrina.
Psychologist and author Gerd Gigerenzer of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development talks about his book Gut Feelings with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Gigerenzer argues for the power of simple heuristics--rules of thumb--over more complex models when making real-world decisions. He argues that many results in behavioral economics that appear irrational can be understood as sensible ways of coping with complexity.
Sociologist Susan Mayer of the University of Chicago talks about her book What Money Can't Buy with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Mayer reports on her research which found that giving poor parents money had little measured effect on improving the lives of their children. She emphasizes the importance of accurately understanding the challenges facing children in poverty if the goal is to actually help them. She concludes that there is no simple way to help the most vulnerable children and that strategies to help them must recognize this reality. The conversation ends with a discussion of the potential role of education and parenting practices to help children in poor families.
Entrepreneur and Anesthesiologist Keith Smith of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma talks with host Russ Roberts about what it's like to run a surgery center that posts prices on the internet and that does not take insurance. Along the way, he discusses the distortions in the market for health care and how a real market for health care might function if government took a smaller role.
Rory Sutherland on Alchemy

Rory Sutherland on Alchemy


Author and Advertising Executive Rory Sutherland of Ogilvy talks about his book Alchemy with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Sutherland makes the case for the magic (yes, magic!) of advertising and branding in helping markets work well. This is a wide-ranging conversation on consumer choice, public policy, travel, real estate, and corporate decision-making using insights from behavioral economics and decades of experience in the world of advertising.
Writer and management consultant Venkatesh Rao talks about Waldenponding with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Rao coined the term Waldenponding to describe various levels of retreating from technology akin to how Thoreau extolled the virtues of retreating from social contact and leading a quieter life at Walden Pond. Rao argues that the value of Waldenponding is overrated and that extreme Waldenponding is even somewhat immoral. Rao sees online intellectual life as a form of supercomputer, an intellectual ecosystem that produces new knowledge and intellectual discourse. He encourages all of us to contribute to that intellectual ecosystem even when it can mean losing credit for some of our ideas and potentially some of our uniqueness.
Psychologist Michele Gelfand talks about her book, Rule Makers, Rule Breakers, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Gelfand distinguishes between loose cultures and tight cultures--the degree to which culture and regulation restrict behavior or leave it alone. Gelfand explores the causes of why some cultures are tighter than others and the challenges societies face when culture is too tight or too loose. She also applies these ideas of cultural tightness and looseness to corporate mergers and family life.
Economist Susan Houseman of the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research talks about the manufacturing sector with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Houseman argues that the data surrounding both manufacturing output and employment have been misunderstood and misinterpreted. In particular, she argues that conclusions about the growth of manufacturing are driven overwhelmingly by computer production while the rest of manufacturing has been stagnant. She also argues that productivity has a small role in reducing manufacturing employment. Trade has been the main cause of employment reductions. These claims go against the standard narratives most economists have been telling for the last 20 years.
Andrew McAfee of MIT's Sloan School of Management talks about his book, More from Less, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. McAfee argues that technology is helping developed nations use fewer resources in producing higher levels of economic output. The improvement is not just a reduction in energy per dollar of GDP but less energy in total as economic growth progresses. This "dematerialization" portends a future that was unimaginable to the economists and pundits of the past. McAfee discusses the potential for dealing with climate change in a dematerialized world, the non-material aspects of economic progress, and the political repercussions of the current distribution of economic progress.
Ryan Holiday talks about his latest book, Stillness Is the Key, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Holiday explores how stillness--the cultivation of serenity and focus--can affect how we live and how we perceive life. Topics discussed include the performance artist Marina Abramovic, Winnie the Pooh, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame induction speech. Holiday also explains how he keeps track of information and how his system makes it easier for him to write his books.
Comments (67)

Atanas Kotov

I feel like the talk wasn't really moving in any direction. It was quite vague, as all of philosophy can be, but it questioned some things not that well. For example, saying you could hurt people in Africa by giving to charity if you don't know much about them. You don't have to know every detail about something to make a decision to support or not support it. We would end up never helping anyone and being indecisive all the time. I think the theme had more potential than that!

Feb 1st

ZB Fasih

That ending was entertaining.

Jan 31st

ZB Fasih

What a thought-provoking talk! Controversial but brilliant.

Jan 28th

stinky rex

another excellent episode on a topic I would've never even thought about before now. i might actually pick up a copy of Pride and Prejudice!

Jan 21st
Reply (4)

Ingrid Linbohm

Great conversation.

Jan 13th

Lloyd Ritchey

great episode! if only all progressives were so reasonable!

Dec 31st

London Rhodes

I was fascinated and then the bomb dropped. This guy doesn’t employer staff. He doesn’t have administrative cost because he doesn’t have a staff. All of his staff work other places where their getting 401(k) and retirement benefits.

Dec 13th
Reply (1)

Gordon Caylor

This episode was inspirational and reassuring. At times it seems I'm the only person who understands that all of these government ir otherwise subsidized "freebies" are actually more expensive... financially, economically, morally, personally and politically... than services available through the consumer driven market.

Nov 28th

stinky rex

very good episode! didn't score very high on the drinking game but learned a lot about the alternatives for health care.

Nov 26th
Reply (3)

PoptheBubble ChartLeaks

Thanks for this. I'm trying to figure out my opinions on political issues. Intuitively I lean towards the right economically but towards the left socially. The little discussion that I've seen on the left about healthcare just don't feel right. I'd like to hear more about protecting marginalized people in a market context.

Nov 18th

Gary Haase

Definitely in the Top 5 for 2019.

Nov 11th
Reply (1)

Frank Castle

'Climate Change' is a globalist money grab.

Oct 14th
Reply (1)

stinky rex

great discussion, brings up a lot of things new parents think about! will look for her book at my local library.

Aug 28th
Reply (1)


Great guests, interviewer asks good questions, each episode offers insightful conclusions. One of my favourite podcast. I suggest you to search into older episodes, there is excellent stuff there.

Aug 15th

stinky rex

excellent conversation, really gives you hope about the homeless situation.

Aug 10th

stinky rex

this is my favorite kind of econ talk episode!

Aug 3rd

Dan Kaiser

Rude guest, ignored all the questions. Just trying to sell a book based on technological boogeymen.

Jul 29th
Reply (1)

stinky rex

fascination conversation on a very important subject!

Jul 29th
Reply (1)

Tom Garundazoo

The presenter just let any discussion of the moral hazard of the insurers be dismissed. Of course their is a huge one, without more ransoms there is no more business for them. THATS why government's generally don't pay randoms as a rule and why it's often made ilegal to pay randoms. You want to destroy the market, if the money stops the kidnapping stops. Loyds of London and their insurers don't want to see that, government's and populaces do. of course as an individual you want insurance and the experts with existing relationships with kidnappers in your corner, but that's a different issue. I'm not saying the insurers are all bad but they have an interest in maintaining the market, that should be acknowledged.

Jun 19th
Reply (1)


Awesome episode. Very insightful.

Jun 12th
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