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EconTalk on Smash Notes

EconTalk podcast.

March 03, 2020

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Journalist and author Jonathan Rauch talks about his book The Constitution of Knowledge with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. People come up with ideas all the time. But the vast majority of these ideas aren't worthwhile. Rauch argues that the constitution of knowledge--the norms and institutions for testing the reliability of new ideas and accumulating knowledge--has been dramatically altered by the internet and social media. The conversation explores the norms and institutions that once helped create a shared body of knowledge, how the internet threatens those norms and institutions, and what might be done to repair the damage.

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.