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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 (econlib.org) 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 EconTalk.org, where you can also comment on the podcasts and ask questions.
729 Episodes
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Jenny Schuetz of the Brookings Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about zoning, boarding houses, real estate development, and the housing market.
Azra Raza on The First Cell

Azra Raza on The First Cell

2020-03-2301:24:432

Author and oncologist Azra Raza talks about her book The First Cell with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Raza argues that we have made little progress in fighting cancer over the last 50 years. The tools available to oncologists haven't changed much--the bulk of the progress that has been made has been through earlier and earlier detection rather than more effective or compassionate treatment options. Raza wants to see a different approach from the current strategy of marginal improvements on narrowly defined problems at the cellular level. Instead, she suggests an alternative approach that might better take account of the complexity of human beings and the way that cancer morphs and spreads differently across people and even within individuals. The conversation includes the challenges of dealing with dying patients, the importance of listening, and the bittersweet nature of our mortality.
Economist and infovore Tyler Cowen of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the political, social, and economic aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Isabella Tree on Wilding

Isabella Tree on Wilding

2020-03-1601:17:442

Author and conservationist Isabella Tree talks about her book Wilding with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Tree and her husband decided to turn their 3500 acre farm, the Knepp Castle Estate, into something wilder, a place for wild ponies, wild pigs, wild oxen, and an ever-wider variety of birds and bugs. The conversation covers the re-wilding phenomenon, the complexity of natural systems, and the nature of emergent order.
Economist and author Richard Davies talks about his book Extreme Economies with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. The conversation explores economic life in extreme situations. Examples discussed are the Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana, two Syrian refugee camps in Jordan, the rain forest in the Darien Gap in Panama, and Kinshasa, the largest city in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is an economic and journalistic tour de force as Davies shares insights from his encounters with people around the world struggling to trade and prosper in extreme environments.
Yuval Levin on A Time to Build

Yuval Levin on A Time to Build

2020-03-0201:08:5810

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

Richard Robb on Willful

2020-02-2401:31:336

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

2020-01-1301:08:417

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.
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Comments (69)

Simon H

I would really like to read this book but at £24 for the paperback version (Amazon, 27 March 2020) it's a no. Really good podcast

Mar 27th
Reply

Gordon Caylor

You have to have been jesting by permitting this author any of your time. His only frame of reference or response to your repeated probing is himself whom he repeatedly cites as the sole authority for wanting to order my life's choices. If this episode was not intended to be released in the spirit of April Fool's Day, then the few minutes I spent listening to it was very high on the list of "How I Wasted My Life's Time".

Mar 8th
Reply

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
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ZB Fasih

That ending was entertaining.

Jan 31st
Reply

ZB Fasih

What a thought-provoking talk! Controversial but brilliant.

Jan 28th
Reply

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
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Lloyd Ritchey

great episode! if only all progressives were so reasonable!

Dec 31st
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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
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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
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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)

S D

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
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stinky rex

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

Aug 10th
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stinky rex

this is my favorite kind of econ talk episode!

Aug 3rd
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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)
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