EconTalk

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'EconTalk'
Presentation
Hosted by Russ Roberts
Genre economics
Language English
Updates Mondays
Length 1 hour
Production
Audio format mp3
Publication
Original release March 16, 2006 – N/A
Website econtalk.org

EconTalk is a weekly economics podcast hosted by Russ Roberts. Roberts was an economics professor at George Mason University and is now a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.[1][2] On the podcast Roberts typically interviews a single guest—often professional economists—on topics in economics. The podcast is hosted by the Library of Economics and Liberty, an online library sponsored by Liberty Fund. On EconTalk Roberts has interviewed more than a dozen Nobel Prize laureates including Nobel Prize in Economics recipients Ronald Coase, Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, and Joseph Stiglitz as well as Nobel Prize in Physics recipient Robert Laughlin.[3]

History

The first EconTalk podcast was released in March of 2006.[4]

Roberts interviewed Milton Friedman on EconTalk just a few months before Friedman's death in November, 2006.[5][6] When Roberts was asked in 2015 to pick his most interesting episode, he mentioned two podcasts and included the Friedman interview he had conducted almost a decade earlier.[7]

EconTalk was awarded second place in 2006 and 2007 in the Weblog Awards, followed by 1st place in 2008.[8][9][10]

By 2016, Roberts had recorded over 500 podcast episodes,[11] and each week's new installment was downloaded by approximately 80,000 listeners.[4]

Themes

Roberts has described himself as "a pretty hardcore free marketer."[12] In keeping with this general ideological orientation, major themes of the podcast series include Austrian economics (especially the theories of F.A. Hayek),[13] Classical economics (in particular the ideas of Adam Smith), the way markets evolve, spontaneous order, and the division of labor. Guests often include authors of recently published books of current interest in economics. A few guests appear regularly and converse with Roberts about questions that arise in the press or in classrooms. Topics of interest to guests as well as topics suggested by commenters and listeners sometimes become extended themes in subsequent podcasts. Additional themes include the economics of sports, health, the law, public choice, and education.

Though Roberts is markedly frank about his own libertarian biases, EconTalk has been noted for hosting civil, cogent discussions between Roberts and others with whom he vigorously disagrees.[14] Similarly, some center-left news organizations view EconTalk with a certain wariness mixed with genuine interest: a 2010 editorial in the left-leaning British newspaper The Guardian warned that the podcast series is "far too trusting of free markets," but concluded by saying, "at the end of an hour, the dismal science doesn't seem so bad after all, but a fun and useful set of tools to approach some of society's biggest questions."[15]

Friedrich Hayek

The ideas of the Austrian School economist F.A. Hayek are discussed regularly on EconTalk.

Roberts has a particular interest in spontaneous order and related theories from Friedrich August von Hayek which emphasize the role and nature of knowledge. This often finds form in how societies organize themselves in not just economic but in social and political spheres as well. A running question Roberts poses to guests in this vein is how we should set out to describe this critical idea, as normal conversation rarely captures the essence of the idea.

Roberts has commended the 1945 essay written by Hayek, "The Use of Knowledge in Society",[11] as have a number of his guests.[16][17] The essay explains that a free market with an uninhibited price mechanism at its core will make much more efficient use of information that is broadly dispersed among numerous members of society than will a centrally planned economy.[18] In an EconTalk interview released on March 9, 2009 the co-founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, said that he read "The Use of Knowledge in Society" as an undergraduate and that it had a "deep impact" on his thinking. Later, his decision to structure the Wikipedia project as a collaborative encyclopedia that anyone could edit reflected the essay's point that decentralized knowledge is often superior to centralized, processed information. In essence, Wales decided that it was "better to push the decision making out to the endpoints - out to the people who actually have the information [rather than trying to] gather all of the world's information and have it sent in to a group of experts who then make editorial decisions."[19]

Classical economics

Probable portrait of Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Concepts from Adam Smith's essential 1776 book The Wealth of Nations[20] are mentioned frequently by Roberts and many of his guests. Smith's division of labor plays a recurring role in the podcasts, particularly in how it contributes to the creation of wealth. These increases in productivity are notably striking and often appear in conversations concerning trade, growth, and technology.

A surprisingly large number of podcast episodes[21] are dedicated in their entirety to Smith's lesser-known book first published in 1759, The Theory of Moral Sentiments.[22] After Roberts released his own book examining The Theory of Moral Sentiments entitled How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness,[23] he dedicated the October 13, 2014 episode of EconTalk to a conversation about his views on Smith's earlier book.[24]

The future

Roberts sometimes asks his guests if they are optimistic about the future, particularly at the end of the interview. Guests occasionally speculate on what may evolve in the long run.

Controversial topics

Invited guests sometimes include controversial authors or areas of discussion in economics where there is current disagreement. Authors on opposing sides of an economic debate are invited to present their perspectives and are challenged with ideas on the opposing side.

References

  1. ^ "Profile of Russell Roberts, John and Jean De Nault Research Fellow". Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Retrieved August 10, 2017. 
  2. ^ Russ Roberts (5 September 2012). "Joining Hoover full-time". Cafe Hayek. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  3. ^ "Nobel Prize Winners Podcast Episodes and Extras". EconTalk website. Retrieved August 10, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b Kopf, Dan. Russ Roberts and the Quest to Make Economics Interesting. Priceonomics. March 21, 2016.
  5. ^ "Milton Friedman on Money" (Podcast). EconTalk. August 28, 2006. 
  6. ^ "[Milton] Friedman on Capitalism and Freedom" (Podcast). EconTalk. September 4, 2006. 
  7. ^ Kenney, Allen (March 16, 2015). "Russ Roberts Applies Adam Smith to Modern-Day Issues". REIT.com and Real Estate Investment Trusts magazine. Retrieved July 21, 2017. 
  8. ^ http://2006.weblogawards.org/2006/12/best_podcast.php
  9. ^ http://2007.weblogawards.org/polls/best-podcast-1.php
  10. ^ http://2008.weblogawards.org/polls/best-podcast/
  11. ^ a b "Michael Munger on EconTalk's 500th Episode" (Podcast). EconTalk. November 23, 2015.
  12. ^ Roberts, Russ (April 13, 2017). "Trump Reverses Course On Variety Of Key Economic Issues" (Interview). Interview with Audie Cornish. National Public Radio. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  13. ^ Goldberg, Jonah (March 5, 2017). "Against Empathy & Einfühlung". "The Corner" blog. National Review Online. Retrieved June 29, 2017. Russ Roberts, the host of EconTalk [is] a Hayek disciple for sure. 
  14. ^ "The Casties: Quartz’s awards for the best podcasts of 2015". Quartz. December 30, 2015. Retrieved August 1, 2017. 
  15. ^ "In praise of . . . EconTalk". The Guardian. London. 31 August 2010. Retrieved 8 December 2015. 
  16. ^ "[Don] Boudreaux on Reading Hayek". EconTalk (Podcast). December 17, 2012. 
  17. ^ "[Bruce] Caldwell on Hayek". EconTalk (Podcast). January 10, 2011. 
  18. ^ Hayek, F.A. (September 1945). "The Use of Knowledge in Society" (PDF). The American Economic Review. via The University of Chicago. Volume 35 (Issue 4): pages 519–530. Retrieved August 13, 2017. 
  19. ^ "[Jimmy] Wales on Wikipedia". EconTalk (Podcast). March 9, 2009. 
  20. ^ Smith, Adam (1776). An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (Unabridged March 1, 2011 ed.). Cosimo Classics. ISBN 9781602069015. 
  21. ^ "Adam Smith Podcast Episodes and Extras". EconTalk website. Retrieved August 11, 2017. 
  22. ^ Smith, Adam (1759). The Theory of Moral Sentiments (Scholar Select August 9, 2015 ed.). Andesite Press. ISBN 9781296629694. 
  23. ^ Roberts , Russ  (2014). How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness .  Penguin Random House . ISBN 9780698139619. 
  24. ^ "Russ Roberts and Mike Munger on How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life" (Podcast). EconTalk. October 13, 2014. 

External links

  • EconTalk home page
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