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

Tom Wainwright On Narconomics

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, February 20, 2017

Journalist and author Tom Wainwright of the Economist and author of Narconomics talks with Hoover Institution fellow and EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ways that the drug cartels respond to government attempts to reduce the availability of drugs.

Analysis and Commentary

Jim Epstein On Bitcoin, The Blockchain, And Freedom In Latin America

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, February 13, 2017

Writer, reporter, and film producer Jim Epstein talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about mining Bitcoins in Venezuela as a way to import food. Venezuela is a tragicomic example of how policy can lead to strange and presumably unexpected outcomes.

Analysis and Commentary

Is Bill Belichick Just Lucky?

by Russell Robertsvia Medium
Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Before this last Super Bowl, a friend said to me that Bill Belichick, the coach of the New England Patriots, is the greatest coach of all time. Maybe, I said. Or maybe he’s just lucky.

Analysis and Commentary

Gary Taubes On The Case Against Sugar

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, February 6, 2017

Sugar appears to have no nutritional value. But is it more than just empty calories? Is it actually bad for us? Author and journalist Gary Taubes talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, The Case Against Sugar.

Analysis and Commentary

George Borjas On Immigration And We Wanted Workers

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, January 30, 2017

George Borjas of Harvard University and author of We Wanted Workers talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about immigration and the challenges of measuring the impact of increased immigration on American workers and consumers.

Analysis and Commentary

Sam Quinones On Heroin, The Opioid Epidemic, And Dreamland

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, January 23, 2017

How did heroin spread beyond big cities in America? What's the connection between heroin and America's opioid problem? Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the explosion in heroin use and how one small Mexican town changed how heroin was produced and sold in America. 

Analysis and Commentary

Michael Munger On The Basic Income Guarantee

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, January 16, 2017

Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the virtues and negatives of a basic guaranteed income--giving every American adult an annual amount of money to guarantee a subsistence level of well-being. How would such a plan work?


Robert Hall On Recession, Stagnation, And Monetary Policy

by Russell Robertsinterview with Robert E. Hallvia EconTalk
Monday, January 9, 2017

Hoover Institution fellow and Stanford University economist Robert Hall talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the current state of the U.S. economy and what we know and don't know about the recovery from the Great Recession. Much of the conversation focuses on the choices facing the Federal Reserve and the policy instruments the Fed has available.

Analysis and Commentary

Mark Warshawsky On Compensation, Health Care Costs, And Inequality

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, January 2, 2017

Economist and author Mark Warshawsky of George Mason University's Mercatus Center talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his work on the role health care benefits play in measuring inequality.

Analysis and Commentary

Chris Blattman On Sweatshops

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, December 26, 2016

If you were a poor person in a poor country, would you prefer steady work in a factory or to be your own boss, buying and selling in the local market?