Russell Roberts

John and Jean De Nault Research Fellow

Russell Roberts is the John and Jean De Nault Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Roberts hosts the weekly podcast EconTalk--hour-long conversations with authors, economists, and business leaders. Past guests include Milton Friedman, Nassim Taleb, Christopher Hitchens, Marc Andreessen, Joseph Stiglitz, and John Bogle. EconTalk was named podcast of the year in the 2008 Weblog Awards. Over 425 episodes are available at and on iTunes at no charge.

His two rap videos on the ideas of John Maynard Keynes and F.A. Hayek, created with filmmaker John Papola, have had more than seven million views on YouTube, been subtitled in eleven languages, and are used in high school and college classrooms around the world. 

His latest book is How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness (Portfolio/Penguin 2014). It takes the lessons from Adam Smith's little-known masterpiece, The Theory of Moral Sentiments and applies them to modern life.  

He is also the author of three economic novels teaching economic lessons and ideas through fiction. The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity (Princeton University Press, 2008) tells the story of wealth creation and the unseen forces around us creating and sustaining economic opportunity. The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance (MIT Press, 2002) looks at corporate responsibility and a wide array of policy issues including anti-poverty programs, consumer protection, and the morality of the marketplace. His first book, The Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protectionism (Prentice Hall, 3rd edition, 2006) is on international trade policy and the human consequences of international trade. It 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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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

John McWhorter On The Evolution Of Language And Words On The Move

by Russell Robertsvia Hoover Daily Report
Monday, August 21, 2017

How did bad come to mean good? Why is Shakespeare so hard to understand? Is there anything good about "like" and "you know?" Author and professor John McWhorter of Columbia University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the unplanned ways that English speakers create English, an example of emergent order. Topics discussed include how words get short (but not too short), the demand for vividness in language, and why Shakespeare is so hard to understand.


Nassim Nicholas Taleb On Work, Slavery, The Minority Rule, And Skin In The Game

by Russell Robertsvia Hoover Daily Report
Monday, August 14, 2017

Nassim Nicholas Taleb talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the manuscript version of his forthcoming book, Skin in the Game

Analysis and Commentary

Tyler Cowen On Stubborn Attachments, Prosperity, And The Good Society

by Russell Robertsvia Hoover Daily Report
Monday, August 7, 2017

Tyler Cowen of George Mason University and the co-host of the blog Marginal Revolution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Stubborn Attachments, his book-length treatment of how to think about public policy.

Analysis and Commentary

Alex Guarnaschelli On Food

by Russell Robertsvia Hoover Daily Report
Monday, July 31, 2017

Alex Guarnaschelli, Food Channel star and chef at Butter in midtown Manhattan, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about what it's like to run a restaurant, the challenges of a career in cooking, her favorite dishes, her least favorite dishes, and what she cooked to beat Bobby Flay.


It’s A Wonderful Loaf

by Russell Robertsvia Hoover Daily Report
Thursday, July 27, 2017

We have desires we achieve through taking action. Cleaning the dishes. Raking the leaves. Writing that email to a colleague. Preparing dinner. Visiting our parents. None of these take place without our intention and action. They don’t happen on their own. These parts of ours lives are more or less under our control. Sure, some plans fail. Sometimes our desires go unfulfilled. Sometimes there are unintended consequences — things happen that we did not intend. But a good chunk of our life is about making things happen that we desire to see happen.

Analysis and Commentary

Sally Satel On Organ Donation

by Russell Robertsvia Hoover Daily Report
Monday, July 24, 2017

Sally Satel, psychiatrist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the challenges of increasing the supply of donated organs for transplantation and ways that public policy might increase the supply.

Analysis and Commentary

Tamar Haspel On Food Costs, Animal Welfare, And The Honey Bee

by Russell Robertsvia Hoover Daily Report
Monday, July 17, 2017

Tamar Haspel, who writes "Unearthed," a column on food and agriculture at the Washington Post, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about a wide variety of issues related to the cost of food and how it's produced. Topics discussed include why technology helps make some foods inexpensive, how animals are treated, the health of the honey bee, and whether eggs from your backyard taste any better than eggs at the grocery.

Analysis and Commentary

Martha Nussbaum On Alexander Hamilton

by Russell Robertsvia Hoover Daily Report
Monday, July 10, 2017

Martha Nussbaum, Professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Alexander Hamilton. Nussbaum talks about the tension between acquiring power and living a life of virtue. Topics discussed include Hamilton's relationship with Aaron Burr, Burr's complicated historical legacy, and the role of the humanities in our lives.

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When Eugenics Was Progressive

by Russell Robertsvia Hoover Digest
Friday, July 7, 2017

Improve society by improving human stock? A century ago, the Progressive movement cheered that disturbing idea. Historian Thomas Leonard, author of Illiberal Reformers, explains. 

Analysis and Commentary

Chris Blattman On Chickens, Cash, And Development Economics

by Russell Robertsvia Hoover Daily Report
Monday, July 3, 2017

Chris Blattman of the University of Chicago talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about whether it's better to give poor Africans cash or chickens and the role of experiments in helping us figure out the answer. Along the way he discusses the importance of growth vs. smaller interventions and the state of development economics.