Tyler Cowen

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Tyler Cowen
Tyler Cowen 1.jpg
Born (1962-01-21) January 21, 1962 (age 55)
Bergen County, New Jersey, USA
Nationality American
Field Cultural economics
School or
Neoclassical economics
Influences Chicago School
Thomas Schelling
Carl Menger

Tyler Cowen (/ˈk.ən/; born January 21, 1962) is an American economist, philosopher, and writer, who is a professor at George Mason University, where he holds the Holbert C. Harris Chair of economics. He hosts a popular economics blog, Marginal Revolution, together with his co-author, Alex Tabarrok. Cowen and Tabarrok have also started the website Marginal Revolution University, a venture in online education.

Cowen writes the "Economic Scene" column for the New York Times, and since July 2016 has been a regular opinion columnist at Bloomberg View.[1] He also writes for such publications as The New Republic, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Newsweek, and the Wilson Quarterly. He serves as general director of George Mason's Mercatus Center, a university research center that focuses on the market economy.

In February 2011, Cowen received a nomination as one of the most influential economists in the last decade in a survey by The Economist.[2] He was ranked #72 among the "Top 100 Global Thinkers" in 2011 by Foreign Policy Magazine "for finding markets in everything."[3]

Education and personal life

Cowen was born in Bergen County,[4] New Jersey. At 15, he became the youngest ever New Jersey state chess champion.[5][6]

He graduated from George Mason University with a bachelor of science degree in economics in 1983 and received his PhD in economics from Harvard University in 1987 with his thesis titled Essays in the theory of welfare economics. At Harvard, he was mentored by game theorist Thomas Schelling, the 2005 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics. He is married to Natasha Cowen, a lawyer.



The Los Angeles Times has described Cowen as "a man who can talk about Haitian voodoo flags, Iranian cinema, Hong Kong cuisine, Abstract Expressionism, Zairian music and Mexican folk art with seemingly equal facility."[7] One of Cowen's primary research interests is the economics of culture. He has written books on fame (What Price Fame?), art (In Praise of Commercial Culture), and cultural trade (Creative Destruction: How Globalization is Changing the World's Cultures). In Markets and Cultural Voices, he relays how globalization is changing the world of three Mexican amate painters. Cowen argues that free markets change culture for the better, allowing them to evolve into something more people want. Other books include Public Goods and Market Failures, The Theory of Market Failure, Explorations in the New Monetary Economics, Risk and Business Cycles, Economic Welfare, and New Theories of Market Failure.

Recent books

Cowen followed the controversial success of his The Great Stagnation with An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies, "taking on food with equally provocative ideas."[8]

The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All The Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better is a short, 15,000-word, take on the United States' recent economic trajectory released in January 2011. Create Your Own Economy: The Path to Prosperity in a Disordered World was released in July 2009 (and rereleased in 2010, with the new title The Age of the Infovore: Succeeding in the Information Economy) and received favorable reviews from critics including Matthew Yglesias and Tim Harford.

In 2013, he published Average is Over, on the future of modern economies.

HIs most recent book, The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream (St. Martins Press, February 2017) discusses how the change that has moved America forward has stopped. According to Malcolm Gladwell, "His brilliant new book...has been on my nightstand after I devoured it in one sitting. I am at round-the-clock Cowen saturation right now."

New York Times columns

Cowen's New York Times columns cover a wide range of issues, such as the 2008 financial crisis: "Too Few Regulations? No, Just Ineffective Ones".

Dining guide

His dining guide for the DC area, "Tyler Cowen's Ethnic Dining Guide," was reprinted in the Food section of the Washington Post.

Political philosophy

Cowen has written papers in political philosophy and ethics: for example, he co-wrote a paper with the philosopher Derek Parfit, arguing against the social discount rate.[9] A recent paper has argued that the epistemic problem fails to refute consequentialist forms of argument.[10] Cowen has been described as a "libertarian bargainer," a moderate libertarian[clarification needed] who can influence practical policy making.[11] In a 2007 article entitled "The Paradox of Libertarianism," Cowen argued that libertarians "should embrace a world with growing wealth, growing positive liberty, and yes, growing government. We don't have to favor the growth in government per se, but we do need to recognize that sometimes it is a package deal."

Cowen endorsed bailouts in a March 2, 2009 column in the New York Times.[12]

In 2012, David Brooks called Cowen one of the most influential bloggers on the right, writing that he is among those who "start from broadly libertarian premises but do not apply them in a doctrinaire way."[13]

In an August 2014 blog post, Cowen wrote, "Just to summarize, I generally favor much more immigration but not open borders, I am a liberal on most but not all social issues, and I am market-oriented on economic issues. On most current foreign policy issues I am genuinely agnostic as to what exactly we should do but skeptical that we are doing the right thing at the moment. I don’t like voting for either party or for third parties."[14]


On March 26, 2014, Cowen was attacked whilst teaching "Law and Literature" in his classroom by Jonathan Pendleton, who tried to perform a "citizen's arrest" of the professor and then pepper sprayed him.[15][16][17] A bystander intervened and Pendelton was detained and arrested shortly after by police. Cowen and his students reportedly suffered no lasting injuries. Pendelton reportedly believed that Cowen had "controlled his mind at a distance" and sexually harassed him.[17]



Select journal articles

  • Cowen, Tyler (December 22, 2011). "An Economic and Rational Choice Approach to the Autism Spectrum and Human Neurodiversity". GMU Working Paper in Economics. 11 (58). SSRN 1975809Freely accessible. 
  • Cowen, Tyler (October 7, 2011). "The Microeconomics of Public Choice in Developing Economies: A Case Study of One Mexican Village". THE ANNUAL PROCEEDINGS OF THE WEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF NATIONS. SSRN 1940219Freely accessible. 
  • Cowen, Tyler; Alexander Tabarrok (October 2000). "An Economic Theory of Avant-Garde and Popular Art, or High and Low Culture". Southern Economic Journal. 67 (2): 232–253. doi:10.2307/1061469. JSTOR 1061469. 
  • Cowen, Tyler; Amihai Glazer; Katarina Zajc (2000). "Credibility May Require Discretion, Not Rules" (PDF). Journal of Public Economics. 76 (2): 295–306. doi:10.1016/S0047-2727(99)00051-1. 
  • Cowen, Tyler (August 1997). "Should the Central Bank Target CPI Futures?" (PDF). Journal of Money, Credit and Banking. Ohio State University Press. 29 (3): 275–285. doi:10.2307/2953693. 
  • Cowen, Tyler; Daniel Sutter (1997). "Politics and the Pursuit of Fame" (PDF). Public Choice. Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 93: 19–35. doi:10.1023/A:1017939531594. 
  • Cowen, T.; Robin Grier (1996). "Do Artists Suffer From A Cost Disease?" (PDF). Rationality and Society. Sage Publications. 8 (1): 5–24. doi:10.1177/104346396008001001. 
  • Cowen, Tyler; Amihai Glazer (1996). "More Monitoring Can Induce Less Effort" (PDF). Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. 30: 113–123. doi:10.1016/S0167-2681(96)00845-1. 
  • Cowen, Tyler; Alexander Tabarrok (April 1995). "Good Grapes and Bad Lobsters: Applying the Alchian and Allen Theorem" (PDF). Economic Inquiry. Western Economic Association International. 33 (2): 253–256. doi:10.1111/j.1465-7295.1995.tb01860.x. 
  • Cowen, Tyler; Randall Kroszner (May 1989). "Scottish Banking before 1845: A Model for Laissez-Faire?". Journal of Money, Credit and Banking. 21 (2): 221–231. doi:10.2307/1992370. JSTOR 1992370. 
  • Cowen, Tyler; Richard Fink (September 1985). "Inconsistent Equilibrium Constructs: The Evenly Rotating Economy of Mises and Rothbard". American Economic Review. 75 (4): 866–869. JSTOR 1821365. 

Select articles

  • Cowen, Tyler (11 August 2012). "Two Prisms for Looking at China's Problems". New York Times. 
  • Cowen, Tyler (16 June 2012). "Broken Trust Takes Time to Mend". New York Times. 
  • "What Export-Oriented America Means". The American Interest. May–June 2012. 
  • "Six Rules for Dining Out". Atlantic Magazine. May 2012. 
  • "6 Ideas for the Ash Heap of History". Foreign Policy. 28 November 2011. Retrieved 12 September 2012. 
  • "The Inequality That Matters". The American Interest. January–February 2011. 
  • "The Lack of Wars May Be Hurting Economic Growth"- NYTimes, June 14, 2014


  1. ^ https://www.bloomberg.com/view/contributors/AS6n2t3d_iA/tyler-cowen
  2. ^ "Economics' most influential people". Economist.com. February 1, 2011. Retrieved 2012-06-30. 
  3. ^ "The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers (#72 Tyler Cowan:For finding markets in everything)". Foreign Policy. December 2011. Retrieved March 21, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Correction: Tyler Cowen". Financial Times. London: Pearson. 29 December 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  5. ^ "Interview with the Former "Youngest New Jersey Chess Champion," Tyler Cowen". Kenilworthchessclub.org. 2006-09-08. Retrieved 2012-06-30. 
  6. ^ New Jersey State Champions 1946 – Present New Jersey State Chess Federation, Official Site
  7. ^ The joy of thinking globally, February 7, 2003, Daniel Akst, Los Angeles Times
  8. ^ Cowen, Tyler (2012-04-12). "Penny Pleasance in The New York Journal of Books". Nyjournalofbooks.com. Retrieved 2012-06-30. 
  9. ^ 'Against the social discount rate', Derek Parfit and Tyler Cowen, in Peter Laslett & James S. Fishkin (eds.) Justice between age groups and generations, Yale University Press: New Haven, 1992, pp. 144–161.
  10. ^ The Epistemic Problem Does Not Refute Consequentialism, Tyler Cowen, Utilitas (2006), 18: 383–399
  11. ^ Klein, Daniel B. "Mere Libertarianism: Blending Hayek and Rothbard". Reason Papers. Vol. 27: Fall 2004.
  12. ^ Cowen, Tyler (March 1, 2009). "Message to Regulators: Bank Fix Needed Quickly". New York Times. 
  13. ^ Brooks, David (2012-11-19). "The Conservative Future". New York Times. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  14. ^ Cowen, Tyler (4 August 2014). "Matt Yglesias on Tyler Cowen". Marginal Revolution. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  15. ^ Greenwood, Arin (2014-03-27). "Tyler Cowen Pepper Sprayed While Teaching Law School Class On Vigilantism". Huffington Post. 
  16. ^ McNeal, Greg (2014-03-27). "Law Professor Pepper Sprayed During Class By Man Demanding A 'Citizen's Arrest'". Forbes. 
  17. ^ a b Weiner, Rachel (April 29, 2014). "Tyler Cowen's attacker thought the professor was controlling his mind, Cowen testifies". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 29, 2014. 

External links

  • Cowen's bio at the Mercatus Center
  • Tyler Cowen's Web Page at GMU
  • Marginal Revolution
  • Tyler Cowen's Ethnic Dining Guide
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
  • China Is Big Trouble for the U.S. Balance of Trade, Right? Well, Not So Fast
  • Roberts, Russ. "Tyler Cowen Podcasts". EconTalk. Library of Economics and Liberty. 
  • What's wrong with cute-o-nomics?
  • Review of Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
  • New York Books Review of Discover Your Inner Economist
  • Tyler Cowen at Goodreads
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