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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Analysis and Commentary

Amy Webb On Artificial Intelligence, Humanity, And The Big Nine

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, March 11, 2019

Futurist and author Amy Webb talks about her book, The Big Nine, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. 

Analysis and Commentary

Jacob Vigdor On The Seattle Minimum Wage

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, March 4, 2019

Jacob Vigdor of the University of Washington talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the impact of Seattle's minimum wage increases in recent years. Vigdor along with others from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance have tried to measure the change in employment, hours worked, and wages for low-skilled workers in Seattle. He summarizes those results here arguing that while some workers earned higher wages, some or all of the gains were offset by reductions in hours worked and a reduction in the rate of job creation especially for low-skilled workers.

Analysis and Commentary

Michael Munger On Crony Capitalism

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, February 25, 2019

Michael Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about whether real capitalism is unstable and leads inevitably to crony capitalism. They also discuss ways to prevent the descent into cronyism and speculate on their own blind spots.

Featured

Hoover In D.C. Puts Scholars In Conversation With Policymakers

featuring Hoover Institution, Mike Franc, Amy Zegart, Herbert Lin, Russell Roberts, Adam J. Whitevia Stanford News
Wednesday, February 20, 2019

When policymakers in Washington D.C. want an outsider perspective on a problem, they don’t need to leave the nation’s capital to get a 10,000-foot view.

 
Analysis and Commentary

Catherine Semcer On Poaching, Preserves, And African Wildlife

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, February 18, 2019

Catherine Semcer of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the role of incentives in preserving wildlife in Africa. The conversation discusses how allowing limited hunting of big game such as elephants and using revenue from hunting licenses to reward local communities for habitat stewardship has improved both habitat and wildlife populations while reducing poaching.

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Gambling with Other People's Money

by Russell Robertsvia Hoover Institution Press
Monday, February 11, 2019

What caused the Financial Crisis of 2008? Most explanations blame either government regulation or government deregulation. Either government forced private-sector banks and financial institutions to extend credit to risky borrowers, or the removal of government oversight allowed greed to run amok.

Analysis and Commentary

Jessica Riskin On Life, Machinery, And The Restless Clock

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, February 11, 2019

Historian Jessica Riskin of Stanford University talks about her book The Restless Clock with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. What is the difference between human beings and machines? How has science thought about this distinction? When do we have agency and when are we constrained? Riskin discusses these issues and the implications for how we think about ourselves and the growth of artificial intelligence.

Pills
Analysis and Commentary

Gary Greenberg On The Placebo Effect

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, February 4, 2019

Author and psychotherapist Gary Greenberg talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the placebo effect. Is it real? How does the placebo effect influence drug testing? If it's real, what is the underlying mechanism of why it works and how might it be harnessed to improve health care? 

Analysis and Commentary

Patrick Collison On Innovation And Scientific Progress

by Russell Robertsvia EconTalk
Monday, January 28, 2019

This week, Patrick Collison, co-founder and CEO of Stripe, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the pace of innovation. Collison argues that despite enormous increases in the numbers of scientists and researchers, the pace of progress in scientific and technological understanding does not seem to be increasing accordingly. The conversation looks at the challenge of measuring innovation and whether the pace of innovation should be a matter of concern and if so, what might be done about it.

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Mao’s Road to Serfdom

by Russell Roberts interview with Frank Diköttervia Hoover Digest
Friday, January 25, 2019

Mao Zedong’s ambition to outshine Stalin led to waves of starvation, a grotesque and unworkable economy, and war against his own people. Hoover fellow Frank Dikötter on the Great Leap Forward, which was neither great nor forward.

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