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, Martha Nussbaum, Thomas Piketty, Christopher Hitchens, Bill James, Nassim Taleb, Michael Lewis, and Mariana Mazzucato. All 675+ episodes remain available free of charge at EconTalk.org and reach an audience of over 100,000 listeners around the world.

His two rap videos on the ideas of John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek, created with filmmaker John Papola, have had more than 10 million YouTube views, have 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” (wonderfulloaf.org) is an ode to emergent order. His series on the challenge of using data to establish truth, The Numbers Game, can be found at PolicyEd.org. 

His latest book is Gambling with Other People's Money: How Perverse Incentives Caused the Financial Crisis (Hoover Institution Press, 2019). His book How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness takes the lessons from Adam Smith's little-known masterpiece The Theory of Moral Sentiments and applies them to modern life.

Roberts is the author of three novels teaching lessons and ideas through fiction—The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and ProsperityThe Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance,and The Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protectionism, which was named one of the top ten books of 1994 by Business Week and one of the best books of the year by the Financial Times

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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Recent Commentary

Russ Roberts: Examining the Rise of American Earning and Living Standards

featuring Russell Robertsvia U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Hoover Institution's John and Jean De Nault Research Fellow, Russell Roberts, testified before the Joint Economic Committee on Wednesday, September 26 at a hearing titled "Examining the Rise of American Earning and Living Standards." 

Analysis and Commentary

Rodney Brooks On Artificial Intelligence

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, September 24, 2018

Rodney Brooks, emeritus professor of robotics at MIT, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the future of robots and artificial intelligence. Brooks argues that we both under-appreciate and over-appreciate the impact of innovation. He applies this insight to the current state of driverless cars and other changes people are expecting to change our daily lives in radical ways.

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.

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