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

Policy InsightsFeatured

Public Pensions

featuring Joshua D. Rauh, Russell Roberts, Tom Churchvia PolicyEd
Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Public pension funds around the country have failed to set aside sufficient money to honor the pension promises they’ve made to workers in the public sector.

Analysis and Commentary

Eric Topol On Deep Medicine

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, June 24, 2019

Cardiologist and author Eric Topol talks about his book Deep Medicine with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Topol argues that doctors spend too little face-to-face time with patients, and the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning is a chance to emphasize the human side of medicine and to expand the power of human connection in healing. Topol surveys the current landscape of the application of technology to health care showing where its promise has been overstated and where it is having the most impact. The conversation includes a discussion of the placebo effect and the importance of the human touch in medicine.

In the News

Adam Smith’s Underappreciated Wisdom On Benevolence, Happiness, And Kindness

featuring Russell Robertsvia Brain Pickings
Tuesday, June 18, 2019

“Spiritual health and material well-being are not enemies: they are natural allies,” wrote the economist E.F. Schumacher in his timeless clarion call for “Buddhist economics,” penned amid the hippie counterculture of the early 1970s. But it was another visionary economist, as far from hippie culture in both time and ideology as possible, that made the most convincing case for this very concept two centuries earlier — a mind, paradoxically enough, presently celebrated for just about the opposite sentiment.

Analysis and Commentary

Anja Shortland On Kidnap

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, June 17, 2019

Anja Shortland of King's College London talks about her book Kidnap with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Kidnapping is relatively common in parts of the world where government authority is weak. Shortland explores this strange, frightening, but surprisingly orderly world. She shows how the interaction between kidnappers, victims, and insurance companies creates a somewhat predictable set of prices for ransom and creates a relatively high chance of the safe return of those who are kidnapped.

Featured

Bjorn Lomborg On The Costs And Benefits Of Attacking Climate Change

by Russell Roberts interview with Bjorn Lomborgvia EconTalk
Monday, June 10, 2019

Bjorn Lomborg, President of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, talks about the costs and benefits of attacking climate change with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Lomborg argues that we should always be aware of tradeoffs and effectiveness when assessing policies to reduce global warming. He advocates for realistic solutions that consider the potential to improve human life in other ways. He is skeptical of the potential to move away from fossil fuels and argues that geo-engineering and adaptation may be the most effective ways to cope with climate change.

Russ Roberts
Interviews

Russ Roberts On The Emergent Order Podcast

interview with Russell Robertsvia Emergent Order Podcast
Friday, June 7, 2019

John Papola interviews economist, author, Hoover Institution fellow, and host of the EconTalk Podcast, Russ Roberts. John and Russ explore the story behind their first creative collaboration: Fear the Boom and Bust.

Analysis and Commentary

The Hidden Harmonies Of Everyday Life: Adam Smith's Vision Of Human Interaction

by Russell Robertsvia Adam Smith Works
Thursday, June 6, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Russ Roberts discusses what Adam Smith's books The Theory of Moral Sentiments has in common with The Wealth of Nations--the hidden harmony that binds people together

Interviews

Russ Roberts On Life As An Economics Educator

interview with Russell Robertsvia Medium
Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Russ Roberts examines where classical liberalism has gone wrong, if dropping out of college is overrated, and what people are missing from the Bible.

Interviews

Russ Roberts Brings Economics To Life

interview with Russell Robertsvia Jive Talking
Monday, June 3, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Russ Roberts discusses economics, EconTalk, and much more.

Analysis and Commentary

Alain Bertaud On Cities, Planning, And Order Without Design

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, June 3, 2019

Urbanist and author Alain Bertaud of NYU talks about his book Order without Design with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Bertaud explores the role of zoning and planning alongside the emergent factors that affect the growth of cities. He emphasizes the importance of cities as places for people to work and looks at how preferences and choices shape cities. Bertaud also reflects upon the differing perspectives of urban planners and economists.

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