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, Martha Nussbaum, Thomas Piketty, Christopher Hitchens, Bill James, Nassim Taleb, Michael Lewis, and Mariana Mazzucato. All 675+ episodes remain available free of charge at 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” ( is an ode to emergent order. His series on the challenge of using data to establish truth, The Numbers Game, can be found at 

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

Analysis and Commentary

Robin Feldman On Drugs, Money, And Secret Handshakes

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, April 8, 2019

Law professor and author Robin Feldman of UC Hastings College of the Law talks about her book Drugs, Money, and Secret Handshakes with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Feldman argues that the legal and regulatory environment for drug companies encourages those companies to seek drugs that extend their monopoly through the patent system often with insufficient benefit for consumers.


Does Ridesharing Increase Traffic Deaths?

by Russell Robertsvia Medium
Thursday, April 4, 2019

In recent years, economics has become much more empirical and less theoretical. It is not just that empirical work is more valued than theoretical work. Some economists make the claim that they don’t need theory or that theory is a handicap. They claim to just listen to what the numbers have to say.

Analysis and Commentary

Jacob Stegenga On Medical Nihilism

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, April 1, 2019

Philosopher and author Jacob Stegenga of the University of Cambridge talks about his book Medical Nihilism with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Stegenga argues that many medical treatments either fail to achieve their intended goals or achieve those goals with many negative side effects. Stegenga argues that the approval process for pharmaceuticals, for example, exaggerates benefits and underestimates costs.


A Decade From The Crash: Russ Roberts

interview with Russell Robertsvia Gunn's Law
Thursday, March 28, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Russ Roberts discusses his book Gambling with Other People’s Money: How Perverse Incentives Caused the Financial Crisis.


Russ Roberts: Episode 76: ‘The Theory Of Moral Sentiments’ By Adam Smith

interview with Russell Robertsvia National Review
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Russ Roberts discusses Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Analysis and Commentary

Daniel Hamermesh On Spending Time

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, March 25, 2019

Economist and author Daniel Hamermesh of Barnard College and the Institute for the Study of Labor talks about his latest book, Spending Time, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Hamermesh explores how we treat time relative to money, how much we work and how that has changed over time, and the ways economists look at time, work, and leisure.

In the News

Russ Roberts On Adam Smith And The Limits Of Economics

featuring Russell Robertsvia Acton Institute
Monday, March 18, 2019

Russ Roberts — economist and host of the excellent EconTalk podcast — wrote a penetrating essay last week on what we can learn from Adam Smith’s first book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Analysis and Commentary

Amy Tuteur On Birth, Natural Parenting, And Push Back

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, March 18, 2019

Obstetrician gynecologist Amy Tuteur and author of Push Back, talks about the book with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Tuteur argues that natural parenting--the encouragement to women to give birth without epidurals or caesarians and to breastfeed--is bad for women's health and has little or no benefit for their children.

In the News

The U.S. Is That Awful Country That Everyone Wants To Move To

quoting Russell Robertsvia Bloomberg
Friday, March 15, 2019
Mercer, the global human resources consulting firm, this week released its 21st annual Quality of Living list, which ranks cities around the world based on economic conditions, housing, health care, public services, safety, natural environment and other metrics.
Analysis and Commentary

Adam Smith, Loneliness, And The Limits Of Mainstream Economics

by Russell Robertsvia Medium
Monday, March 11, 2019

Big data is all the rage.