Russell Roberts

John and Jean De Nault Research Fellow

Russ Roberts is the John and Jean De Nault Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He founded the award-winning weekly podcast EconTalk in 2006. Past guests include Milton Friedman, Thomas Piketty, Christopher Hitchens, Bill James, Nassim Taleb, Michael Lewis, and Marc Andreessen. All 600+ episodes remain available free of charge at

His two rap videos on the ideas of John Maynard Keynes and F.A. Hayek, created with filmmaker John Papola, have had more than 10 million YouTube views, been subtitled in 11 languages, and are used in high school and college classrooms around the world. His poem and animated video “It’s a Wonderful Loaf” is his ode to emergent order. His series on the challenge of using data to establish truth, The Numbers Game, can be found at

He is the author of three novels teaching lessons and ideas through fiction. The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity tells the story of wealth creation and the unseen forces around us creating and sustaining economic opportunity. The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance 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, was named one of the top ten books of 1994 by Business Week and one of the best books by the Financial Times.

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

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 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.

Filter By:



Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

Jonah Goldberg On The Suicide Of The West

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, April 23, 2018

Jonah Goldberg of National Review talks about his latest book, Suicide of the West, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Goldberg argues that both capitalism and democracy are at risk in the current contentious political environment. He argues that we take for granted what he calls "the miracle"--the transformation of the standard of living in the democracies with market economies.

Analysis and Commentary

Jerry Muller On The Tyranny Of Metrics

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, April 16, 2018

Historian and author Jerry Muller of Catholic University talks about his latest book, The Tyranny of Metrics, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Muller argues that public policy and management are overly focused on measurable outcomes as a measure of success. This leads to organizations and agencies over-focusing on metrics rather than their broader mission. The conversation includes applications to education, crime, and health care.

Analysis and Commentary

Vincent Rajkumar On The High Price Of Cancer Drugs

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, April 9, 2018

Can a life-saving drug be too expensive? What explains the high price of cancer drugs? Dr. Vincent Rajkumar of the Mayo Clinic talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the high price of cancer drugs--drugs that can cost an American with cancer $300,000 per year and require multiple years of treatment.

Analysis and Commentary

Michael Munger On Traffic

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, April 2, 2018

Does rush-hour traffic drive you crazy? Is a congestion tax on car travel a good idea? Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the economics of traffic and congestion taxes. 

Analysis and Commentary

What I’ve Learned From Jordan Peterson

by Russell Robertsvia Medium
Tuesday, March 27, 2018

After I interviewed Jordan Peterson on EconTalk, I received a number of unusually thoughtful and civil emails from listeners asking why I hadn’t asked him about ______. These listeners had a couple of different things to put in the blank but they were all quotes from one or another of Peterson’s innumerable online videos or interviews. The listeners wanted to know why I didn’t challenge Peterson the way I do other guests.

Analysis and Commentary

Edward Glaeser On Joblessness And The War On Work

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, March 26, 2018

Why are fewer men working over the last few decades? Is a universal basic income a good policy for coping with the loss of employment? Economist Edward Glaeser of Harvard University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about what Glaeser calls the war on work--the policy changes that have reduced employment among prime-aged men.

Analysis and Commentary

What Protects Us From Exploitation?

by Russell Robertsvia Medium
Thursday, March 22, 2018

A great piece of advice for living is to leave money on the table: don’t try to get the maximum benefit from every deal leaving as little as possible for the party on the other side of the transaction. So when you sell a house, buy a house, negotiate a job offer as either the employer or the employee, don’t try to wring every penny out of the deal for yourself. Leave something for the person on the other side. This doesn’t mean be a sucker; it means don’t be grasping— don’t be the kind of person who always looks for not just an edge, but the maximum edge every time.

Analysis and Commentary

Beth Redbird On Licensing

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, March 19, 2018

Economists often oppose the expansion of licensing in America in recent years because it makes it harder for people with low skills to get access to opportunity. Sociologist Beth Redbird of Northwestern University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about a different perspective. Redbird finds that licensing expands opportunity for women and minorities and has little impact on wages.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Featured

Restoring Civility In A Hostile World

by Russell Robertsvia Defining Ideas
Thursday, March 15, 2018

The polarized state of America is alarming. But what can ordinary citizens do?

Analysis and Commentary

Arnold Kling On Economics For The 21st Century

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, March 12, 2018

Economist, blogger, and author Arnold Kling talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of economics in the 21st century. Kling argues that economics would be more useful if it took account of intangibles like culture, incorporated the role of financial intermediation in the economy, and modeled some of the the subtleties of the labor market--how wages are set and the role of team production.