Russell Roberts

John and Jean De Nault Research Fellow
Biography: 

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 EconTalk.org.

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 PolicyEd.org.

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.

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Analysis and Commentary

Paul Bloom On Cruelty

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, September 17, 2018

Yale University psychologist Paul Bloom talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about cruelty--what motivates cruelty, the cruelty of small acts that accumulate into something monstrous, and the question of whether the abuse of a robot is a form of cruelty.

Analysis and Commentary

Kevin McKenna On Solzhenitsyn, The Soviet Union, And In The First Circle

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, September 10, 2018

Russian Literature Professor Kevin McKenna of the University of Vermont talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the life and times of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. This is the opening episode of the EconTalk Book Club for Solzhenitsyn's masterpiece In the First Circle: The First Uncensored Edition. A subsequent episode to air in the next few weeks discusses the book itself.

Analysis and Commentary

Yoram Hazony On The Virtue Of Nationalism

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, September 3, 2018

Yoram Hazony discusses his book, The Virtue of Nationalism, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hazony argues that nationalism, for all its flaws, is a better system than a global system of governance. He argues that while the competition between nationalist states can lead to violence, the opportunity for each nation to pursue its own policies creates the benefits that trial-and-error innovation create in the marketplace. He also points out the dangers of global government systems and argues that U.S. military dominance and various international institutions such as European Union and the International Criminal Court have been growing in power.

Analysis and Commentary

Charlan Nemeth On In Defense Of Troublemakers

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, August 27, 2018

Psychologist Charlan Nemeth of the University of California, Berkeley and author of In Defense of Troublemakers talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the ideas in the book--the power of groupthink, the power of conviction, and the opportunity for an authentic, persistent dissenter to have an impact on a group's decision.

Analysis and Commentary

Lilliana Mason On Uncivil Agreement

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, August 20, 2018

Political scientist Lilliana Mason of the University Maryland and author of Uncivil Agreement talks about the book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Mason argues that political partisanship has become stronger in America in recent years because it aligns with other forms of community and identity.

Analysis and Commentary

David Meltzer On The Doctor-Patient Relationship

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, August 13, 2018

Physician David Meltzer of the University of Chicago talks about the power of the doctor-patient relationship with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Meltzer, who also has a Ph.D. in economics, discusses a controlled experiment he has been running to measure the importance of maintaining the continuity of doctor-patient relationships. Meltzer argues that the increasing use of hospitalists--specialists who take over a patient from the patient's regular doctor once the patient is hospitalized--has raised costs and hurt patients. 

Analysis and Commentary

Frank Dikotter On Mao's Great Famine

by Russell Roberts featuring Frank Diköttervia EconTalk
Monday, August 6, 2018

Historian Frank Dikötter of the University of Hong Kong and author of Mao's Great Famine talks about the book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Dikötter chronicles the strategies Mao and the Chinese leadership implemented to increase grain and steel production in the late 1950s leading to a collapse in agricultural output and the deaths of millions by starvation.

Analysis and Commentary

Applications Of Supply And Demand

by Russell Robertsvia Russ Roberts
Thursday, August 2, 2018
The following applications of supply and demand relentlessly use the idea that markets clear. Price adjusts to equate quantity supplied and quantity demanded. Competition is drives this adjustment. When there is excess demand, buyers compete with each other to access to scarce goods. When there is excess supply, sellers compete with each other to get access to scarce buyers.
Analysis and Commentary

Alberto Alesina On Immigration And Redistribution

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, July 30, 2018

Alberto Alesina of Harvard University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how people in the US and five European countries perceive the population and characteristics of legal immigrants.

Analysis and Commentary

Teppo Felin On Blindness, Rationality, And Perception

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, July 23, 2018

Teppo Felin of the University of Oxford talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about perception, cognition, and rationality. Felin argues that some of the standard experimental critiques of human rationality assume an omniscience that misleads us in thinking about social science and human capability. The conversation includes a discussion of the implications of different understandings of rationality for economics, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

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