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.
Episodes with Smash Notes
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.