Russell Roberts

John and Jean De Nault Research Fellow
Biography: 

Russell Roberts is the John and Jean De Nault Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He tries to make economics understandable to a general audience.

Roberts hosts the weekly podcast EconTalk--hour-long conversations with authors, economists, and business leaders. Past guests include Milton Friedman, Nassim Taleb, Christopher Hitchens, Jimmy Wales, Joseph Stiglitz, and John Bogle. EconTalk was named podcast of the year in the 2008 Weblog Awards.

His two rap videos on the ideas of John Maynard Keynes and F.A. Hayek, created with filmmaker John Papola, have had more than six million views on YouTube, been subtitled in eleven languages, and are used in high school and college classrooms around the world. His newest web-based economics education project is “The Numbers Game,” a look at data and charts using animated videos.

His latest book is The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity (Princeton University Press, 2008). Set on the Stanford campus, it’s a novel that tells the story of wealth creation and the unseen forces around us creating and sustaining economic possibilities. He is also the author of The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance (MIT Press, 2002) and The Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protectionism (Prentice Hall, 3rd edition, 2006). The Invisible Heart explores the economics and morality of the marketplace in the framework of a novel. The Choice, a novel on international trade policy and the human side of international trade, was named one of the top ten books of 1994 by Business Week and one of the best books of 1994 by the Financial Times.

A three-time teacher of the year, Roberts has taught at George Mason University, Washington University in St. Louis (where he was the founding director of what is now the Center for Experiential Learning), the University of Rochester, Stanford University, and the University of California, Los Angeles. He was a national fellow and visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution from 1985 to 1987. He holds a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago and received his undergraduate degree in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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EconTalk
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Sam Altman on Start-ups, Venture Capital, and the Y Combinator

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, July 28, 2014

Sam Altman, president of startup accelerating firm Y Combinator, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Y Combinator's innovative strategy for discovering, funding, and coaching groundbreaking startups, what the company looks for in a potential startup, and Silicon Valley's attitude toward entrenched firms. The two also discuss Altman's thoughts on sectors of the economy that are ripe for innovation and how new firms are revolutionizing operations in these industries.

Other Media

Chris Blattman on Cash, Poverty, and Development

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, July 21, 2014

Chris Blattman of Columbia University talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about a radical approach to fighting poverty in desperately poor countries: giving cash to aid recipients and allowing them to spend it as they please. Blattman shares his research and cautious optimism about giving cash and discusses how infusions of cash affect growth, educational outcomes, and political behavior (including violence). The conversation concludes with a discussion of the limits of aid and the some of the moral issues facing aid activists and researchers.

Hoover establishes new research initiatives
Other Media

D. G. Myers on Cancer, Dying, and Living

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, July 14, 2014

D.G. Myers, literary critic and cancer patient, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the lessons he has learned from receiving a cancer diagnosis six years ago. Myers emphasizes the importance of dealing with cancer honestly and using it as a way to focus attention on what matters in life. The conversation illuminates the essence of opportunity cost and the importance of allocating our time, perhaps our scarcest resource, wisely. The last part of the conversation discusses a number of literary issues including the role of English literature and creative writing in American universities.

A Professor’s Professor

by Russell Robertsvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, July 9, 2014

In his classroom, rigor was its own reward.

EconTalk
Other Media

Michael Munger on the Sharing Economy

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, July 7, 2014

Mike Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the sharing economy--companies like Uber, AirBnB, FlightApp, and DogVacay that let people share their houses, cars, or other assets with strangers in exchange for money. These companies dramatically increase the use of resources that would otherwise be idle and disrupt existing services such as hotels and taxis. Topics discussed include the regulatory response to these companies, the politics of that response, and the significance of these new products. The conversation closes with the potential impact of Uber combining with driverless cars to change the automobile industry and cities.

EconTalk
Other Media

Hansen on Risk, Ambiguity, and Measurement

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, June 30, 2014

Lars Peter Hansen of the University of Chicago and Nobel Laureate in economics, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the power and limits of economic models and quantitative methods. Hanson defends the value of models while recognizing their limitations. The two also discuss quantifying systemic financial risk, how our understanding of financial markets has changed, the nature of risk, and areas of economics that Hanson believes are ripe for further research.

EconTalk
Other Media

Gregory Zuckerman on the Frackers and the Energy Revolution

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, June 23, 2014

Gregory Zuckerman of the Wall Street Journal and author of The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters, talks to EconTalk hostRuss Roberts about his new book, the rise of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), how this technology developed, and the vibrant personalities that pioneered the energy revolution. Topics discussed along the way include the history and future of fracking, environmental concerns about the process, and how the story of fracking is the classic tale of the successes and failures of determined risk-takers. The role of market forces in driving that success and failure runs through the entire conversation.

EconTalk
Other Media

William Easterly on The Tyranny of Experts

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, June 16, 2014

William Easterly of New York University and author of The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in his book.

EconTalk
Other Media

Edward Lazear on Becker

by Russell Robertsinterview with Edward Paul Lazearvia EconTalk
Monday, June 9, 2014

Edward Lazear of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Gary Becker's innovative contributions to economics. The conversation opens with personal reminiscences by Lazear and Roberts. They then discuss Becker's application of economic principles to social phenomena such as discrimination, crime, education and the family along with Becker's overall approach to economic theory and measurement.  

EconTalk
Other Media

McAfee, McArdle, and Ohanian on the Future of Work

by Russell Robertsinterview with Lee Ohanianvia Hoover Daily Report
Monday, June 2, 2014

Andrew McAfeeMegan McArdle, and Lee Ohanian talk with EconTalk host Russ Roberts on the future of work. Recorded before a live audience at the 33rd Santa Barbara Economic Summit, the conversation begins with each participant making a brief set of remarks on the topic. Topics discussed include the traits that might be rewards in a world of smart machines, reforming the educational system to prepare people for the changing economy, reforming immigration, and policies that might help the labor market work more effectively.

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