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EconTalk Archives, 2007

EconTalk is an award-winning weekly talk show about economics in daily life. Featured guests include renowned economics professors, Nobel Prize winners, and exciting speakers on all kinds of topical matters related to economic thought. Topics include health care, free trade, economic growth, education, finance, politics, sports, book reviews, parenting, and the curiosities of everyday decision-making. Russ Roberts, of the Library of Economics and Liberty and George Mason U., draws you in with lively guests and creative repartee. Look for related readings and the complete archive of previous shows at EconTalk.org, where you can also comment on the podcasts and ask questions.

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Taleb on Black Swans

Nassim Taleb talks about the challenges of coping with uncertainty, predicting events, and understanding history. This wide-ranging conversation looks at investment, health, history and other areas where data play a key role. Taleb, the author of Fooled By Randomness and The Black Swan, imagines two countries, Mediocristan and Extremistan where the ability to understand the past and predict the future is radically different. Taleb's contention is that we often bring our intuition from Mediocristan for the events of Extremistan, leading us to error. The result is a tendency to be blind-sided by the unexpected.

1hr 23mins

30 Apr 2007

Rank #1

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Michael Lewis on the Hidden Economics of Baseball and Football

Michael Lewis talks about the economics of sports--the financial and decision-making side of baseball and football--using the insights from his bestselling books on baseball and football: Moneyball and The Blind Side. Along the way he discusses the implications of Moneyball for the movie business and other industries, the peculiar ways that Moneyball influenced the strategies of baseball teams, the corruption of college football, and the challenge and tragedy of kids who live on the streets with little education or prospects for success.

1hr 15mins

29 Jan 2007

Rank #2

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Gordon on Ants, Humans, the Division of Labor and Emergent Order

Deborah M. Gordon, Professor of Biological Sciences at Stanford University, is an authority on ants and order that emerges without control or centralized authority. The conversation begins with what might be called the economics of ant colonies, how they manage to be organized without an organizer, the division of labor and the role of tradeoffs. The discussion then turns to the implications for human societies and the similarities and differences between human and natural orders.

1hr 6mins

21 Aug 2007

Rank #3

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Romer on Growth

Paul Romer, Stanford University professor and Hoover Institution Senior Fellow talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about growth, China, innovation, and the role of human capital. Also discussed are ideas in creating growth, the idea that ideas allow for increasing returns, and intellectual property and how it should be treated. This 75 minute podcast is a wonderful introduction to thinking about what creates and sustains our standard of living in the modern world.

1hr 17mins

27 Aug 2007

Rank #4

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Greg Mankiw on Gasoline Taxes, Keynes and Macroeconomics

Greg Mankiw of Harvard University and Greg Mankiw's Blog talks about the state of modern macroeconomics and Keynes vs. the Chicago School. He defends his proposal to raise gasoline taxes and discusses the politics of tax policy.

1hr

22 Jan 2007

Rank #5

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Caplan on the Myth of the Rational Voter

Bryan Caplan, of George Mason University and blogger at EconLog, talks about his book, The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies. Caplan argues that democracies work well in giving voters what they want but unfortunately, what voters want isn't particularly wise, especially when it comes to economic policy. He outlines a series of systematic biases we often have on economic topics and explains why we have little or no incentive to improve our understanding of the world and vote wisely. So, it's not special interests that are messing things up but the very incentives that lie at the heart of a vote-based system. This is a disturbing and provocative lens for viewing political outcomes.

1hr 21mins

25 Jun 2007

Rank #6

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Mike Munger on the Division of Labor

Mike Munger of Duke University and EconTalk host Russ Roberts talk about specialization, the role of technology in aiding specialization and how the division of labor creates wealth.

1hr 1min

2 Apr 2007

Rank #7

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Shlaes on the Great Depression

Amity Shlaes, Bloomberg columnist and visiting senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, talks about her new book, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression. She and EconTalk host Russ Roberts discuss Herbert Hoover, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the economics of the New Deal and the class warfare of the 1930s.

1hr 5mins

4 Jun 2007

Rank #8

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Richard Epstein on Property Rights and Drug Patents

Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago and Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks about property rights, drug patents, the FDA, and the ideas in his latest book, Overdose: How Excessive Government Regulation Stifles Pharmaceutical Innovation from Yale University Press.

1hr 6mins

19 Feb 2007

Rank #9

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Munger on Recycling

Mike Munger, professor of economics and political science at Duke University and frequent guest of EconTalk, talks with host Russ Roberts about the economics and politics of recycling. Munger argues that recycling can save resources, of course, but it can also require more resources than production from scratch. Some curbside recycling, for example, makes sense, while other forms (such as green glass) may be akin to a form of religious expression rather than a wise policy that is environmentally productive. The conversation is based on Munger's recent essay at the Library of Economics and Liberty.

1hr 2mins

2 Jul 2007

Rank #10

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Boudreaux on the Economics of "Buy Local"

Proponents of buying local argue that it is better to buy from the local hardware store owner and nearby farmer than from the Big Box chain store or the grocery store headquartered out of town because the money from the purchase is more likely to "stay in the local economy." Don Boudreaux of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the economics of this idea. Is it better to buy local than from a seller based out of town? Is it better to buy American than to buy foreign products? Does the money matter? In this conversation, Boudreaux and Roberts pierce through the veil of money to expose what trade, whether local, national, or international, really accomplishes.

55mins

16 Apr 2007

Rank #11

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Sunstein on Worst-case Scenarios

Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago talks about the ideas in his latest book, Worst-Case Scenarios. How should individuals and societies cope with low-probability events with potentially catastrophic consequences? In this conversation with EconTalk host Russ Roberts, Sunstein discusses the uselessness of the precautionary principle as a guide to behavior and the psychological challenges we all face in coping with uncertain, risky events. He also speculates why we have chosen politically to treat terrorism and global warming so differently.

1hr 4mins

19 Nov 2007

Rank #12

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Lucas on Growth and Poverty

Bob Lucas, Nobel Laureate and professor of economics at the University of Chicago talks about wealth and poverty, what affects living standards around the world and over time, the causes of business cycles and the role of the money in our economy. Along the way, he talks about Jane Jacobs, immigration, and Milton Friedman's influence on his career.

48mins

5 Feb 2007

Rank #13

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Yandle on the Tragedy of the Commons and the Implications for Environmental Regulation

Bruce Yandle of Clemson University and George Mason University's Mercatus Center looks at the tragedy of the commons and the various ways that people have avoided the overuse of resources that are held in common. Examples discussed include fisheries, roads, rivers and the air. Yandle talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the historical use of norms, cooperative ventures such as incorporating a river, the common law, and top-down command-and-control regulation to reduce air and water pollution.

1hr 24mins

29 Oct 2007

Rank #14

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McCraw on Schumpeter, Innovation, and Creative Destruction

Thomas McCraw of Harvard University talks about the ideas of Joseph Schumpeter from his book, Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction. McCraw and EconTalk host Russ Roberts discuss innovation, business strategy, the role of mathematics in economics, and Schumpeter's vision of competition embodied in his most important idea--creative destruction.

1hr 6mins

8 Oct 2007

Rank #15

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Easterbrook on the American Standard of Living

Author Gregg Easterbrook talks about the ideas in his latest book, The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse. How has life changed in America over the last century? Is the average person getting ahead or are the rich taking all the gains? Easterbrook argues that life is better for the average American in almost every dimension. The paradox is that despite those gains, we don't seem much happier.

55mins

5 Mar 2007

Rank #16

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Arnold Kling on the Economics of Health Care and the Crisis of Abundance

Arnold Kling of EconLog talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the economics of health care and his book, A Crisis of Abundance: Rethinking How We Pay for Health Care. Kling discusses whether we get what we pay for when we spend money on health care, why health care isn't like cars, and why health care insurance isn't really insurance. The conversation closes with a discussion of innovation in America's health care system and why America is so unlike everywhere else.

58mins

5 Nov 2007

Rank #17

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Cowen on Liberty, Art, Food and Everything Else in Between

Tyler Cowen, co-blogger (with Alex Tabarrok) at MarginalRevolution.com, talks about liberty, global warming, using the courts vs. regulation to protect people, the challenges of leading a country out of poverty, the political economy of cuisine, and a quick overview of the Washington, DC. art museum scene.

55mins

12 Mar 2007

Rank #18

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Vernon Smith on Markets and Experimental Economics

Vernon Smith, Professor of Economics at George Mason University and the 2002 Nobel Laureate in Economics, talks about experimental economics, markets, risk, behavioral economics and the evolution of his career.

1hr 6mins

21 May 2007

Rank #19

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Boudreaux on Market Failure, Government Failure and the Economics of Antitrust Regulation

Don Boudreaux of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about when market failure can be improved by government intervention. After discussing the evolution of economic thinking about externalities and public goods, the conversation turns to the case for government's role in promoting competition via antitrust regulation. Boudreaux argues that the origins of antitrust had nothing to do with protecting consumers from greedy monopolists. The source of political demand for antitrust regulation came from competitors looking for relief from more successful rivals.

1hr 6mins

1 Oct 2007

Rank #20