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.

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 EconTalk.org 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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Analysis and Commentary

Sally Satel On Organ Donation

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
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 EconTalk
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 EconTalk
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 EconTalk
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.

Analysis and Commentary

Robin Feldman On Drug Patents, Generics, And Drug Wars

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, June 26, 2017

Robin Feldman of the University of California Hastings College of Law and author of Drug Wars talks about her book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Feldman explores the various ways that pharmaceutical companies try to reduce competition from generic drugs. The conversation includes a discussion of the Hatch-Waxman Act and the sometimes crazy world of patent protection.

Analysis and Commentary

Nancy MacLean Owes Tyler Cowen An Apology

by Russell Robertsvia Medium
Sunday, June 25, 2017

Nancy Maclean’s book, Democracy in Chains, describes Nobel laureate James Buchanan as a shill for the Koch Brothers who worked to advance a far-right agenda that threatens democracy to this day.

Analysis and Commentary

The Three Blind Spots Of Politics

by Russell Robertsvia Medium
Sunday, June 25, 2017

One of the shortest, simplest yet deepest books I have read on politics is The Three Languages of Politics by Arnold Kling. It’s a mere 146 pages and you can have it on your Kindle for a mere $3.99. This is a new and (slightly) expanded edition.

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It’s A Wonderful Loaf

by Russell Robertsvia Medium
Monday, June 19, 2017

This is my ode to emergent order and the surprising effectiveness of undesigned and uncoordinated cooperation — the web of specialization and decision-making that feeds a great city. 

Analysis and Commentary

Thomas Ricks On Churchill And Orwell

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, June 19, 2017

Author and historian Thomas Ricks talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book, Churchill and Orwell. Ricks makes the case that the odd couple of Winston Churchill and George Orwell played and play an important role in preserving individual liberty. 

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