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The Human Action Podcast

The Human Action Podcast features in-depth interviews on current topics in economics through an Austro-libertarian lens.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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Dr. Robert Murphy on the Dubious Economics of Climate Change

Climate Change (née Global Warming) is based on three premises: the earth's atmosphere is warming; humans are responsible for that warming; and warming is inherently bad. But even if we accept these premises, what economic trade-offs are warranted in response? No more air conditioning or private automobiles? Heavy carbon taxes? Outlawing relatively cheap fossil fuels and mandating expensive renewable sources? Slower economic growth in the developing world? One child policies? Dr. Robert Murphy joins Jeff Deist to discuss how the political landscape and media narratives fail to consider obvious choices and trade-offs inherent in the climate change debate.

7 Dec 2018

Rank #1

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Bastiat: The Unseen Radical

David Hart, editor and librarian at Liberty Fund, joined us in Auburn today to deliver a dynamite lecture on his favorite subject: Frédéric Bastiat the radical. We think we know Bastiat from The Law, but his work in economics and social theory actually spans thousands of pages. And he was a thoroughgoing radical in his personal and professional life, both in his Basque hometown of Bayonne and in the "Babylon" of Paris. Hart makes the case that Bastiat was not only a serious and under-appreciated thinker, but also a proto-Austrian to whom we owe a huge intellectual debt. This is a very entertaining and revealing look at one of the true founders of modern libertarian thought.

10 Mar 2017

Rank #2

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Mark Thornton: Can the Fed Unwind?

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen announced the bank would begin selling assets it has relentlessly bought since the Crash of '08. The financial press, including the Wall Street Journal, dutifully praised Yellen for her steady hand. But our guest Dr. Mark Thornton has a different take on what it all means for stock markets, investors, and the US economy. Can quantitative easing—a roundabout form of monetizing debt—actually work? Can monetary policy make us rich? Or, are Fed officials just groping in the dark, putting off a day of reckoning? Jeff Deist and Mark Thornton unwind the narrative.

22 Sep 2017

Rank #3

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Socialism

It's been almost 100 years since Mises literally wrote the book on socialism. His arguments against central economic planning, still acutely relevant today, have never been refuted—in theory or dismal practice. Joining the Human Action Podcast to discuss this monumental book is Dr. Shawn Ritenour, professor of economics at Grove City College and editor of the Mises Reader. Subscribe and listen on iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Google Play, Spotify, or via RSS.

13 Mar 2019

Rank #4

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David Gornoski on Anthropology and Liberty

David Gornoski is a Christian libertarian writer, frequently featured at The American Conservative and Foundation for Economic Education. David takes inspiration from the work of the late Stanford professor Rene Girard, whose mimetic theory strongly influenced a young Peter Thiel. David's goal is to ground libertarianism in cultural anthropology, in particular by applying Girard's "scapegoat theory" to the modern state. Instead of allowing progressives to dominate arts, film, and literature, libertarians should become the storytellers—and show government for the villain it is.

22 Dec 2017

Rank #5

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Economics is a Mess

Professor Peter Klein joins The Human Action Podcast to explain how and why. Subscribe and listen on iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Google Play, Spotify, or via RSS.

13 Feb 2019

Rank #6

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Nomi Prins: The Left/Progressive Case Against the Fed

Our guest this weekend is Nomi Prins, a prolific writer and speaker on the subjects of central banking, financial markets, and Wall Street cronyism. She is a former managing director at Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns, but left investment banking to speak out against what she perceives as global financial malfeasance by commercial, investment, and central banks. Nomi is a dedicated progressive who supported Bernie Sanders, but she's also a harsh critic of the Fed and sympathetic to Austrian depictions of malinvestment and artificially-created bubbles.Nomi and Jeff discuss the role of central banks in creating an unworthy financial elite, the revolving door between the Treasury Department, the Fed, and banks like Goldman Sachs, how the Fed is necessarily and unavoidably political, how central banks historically have financed interventionist wars, and how the Fed could be the great populist issue that further unravels the Left/Right paradigm.Learn more about Nomi at NomiPrins.com.

28 Oct 2016

Rank #7

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Understanding Money Mechanics

Dr. Bob Murphy joins the Human Action Podcast to discuss one of the most important issues of all: how money and credit work in today's society. Jeff Deist recently commissioned Murphy to write a series of articles on money mechanics (Mises.org/MoneyMechanics), an exceedingly important topic for critics of the Fed — and today's podcast serves as an introduction to the project. The articles will be compiled into an e-book, with plenty of graphics to simplify the basic process of money creation in a fractional reserve system. If you want to understand how the Fed works, how money and credit come into being, how interest rates arise, and what it all means for you, don't miss this great upcoming series at mises.org.Additional ResourcesJeff Deist on Understanding Fed Money Mechanics

2 Jan 2020

Rank #8

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Why You Should Read Human Action in 2020

Human Action is the book you want to read, you need to read, you've thought about reading. So make 2020 the year you do read it! Over the next seven weeks the Human Action Podcast will guide you through this incredibly vital and intellectually transforming work, with a series of guest economists to explain and bring Mises's most important work to life. Our opening show features Dr. Shawn Ritenour of Grove City College, who makes a compelling case for lay readers to engage with Human Action. Jeff Deist and Professor Ritenour share plenty of great background, insights, and anecdotes about Mises and the context surrounding the book, so this is an episode you don't want to miss. Use the code HAPOD for a discount on the pocket edition of Human Action from our bookstore: Mises.org/BuyHA.Additional ResourcesHuman Action: Mises.org/HumanAction Bob Murphy's Study Guide to Human Action: Mises.org/Study The Mises Reader, edited by Shawn Ritenour: Mises.org/Reader

28 Feb 2020

Rank #9

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Jacob Lindsey: NFL Hopeful from Harvard on Why He Loves Austrian Economics

Jake Lindsey is a brilliant young Harvard grad who majored in economics. His favorite thinkers? Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard. But unlike most young fans of the Mises Institute, Jake was a dominant linebacker for the Harvard Crimson who attracted the attention of scouts from the Buffalo Bills. He's fresh off a pre-season tryout and looking to start a career in the NFL. Jake joins Jeff for a candid interview about his two passions, football and Austrian economics.

15 Sep 2017

Rank #10

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Nation, State, and Economy

Nationalism, globalism, cosmopolitanism, and immigration are heated topics today—but Mises systematically addressed them 100 years ago, in his seminal work Nation, State, and Economy. What is a nation, and what does the nationality principle mean for liberalism? Mises argues that nations arise spontaneously, predating governments. Liberal nations exist to the extent they respect self-determination, peace, and international trade. But illiberal nations produce war and privation, discriminate against minorities, and distort natural migration. So how do we deal with aggressive nationalism? Economist Ryan McMaken, editor of Mises.org, joins Jeff Deist to wrestle with this important and relevant book. Don't miss their great discussion of immigration toward the end of the podcast, referencing Professor Ben Powell's recent paper "Solving the Misesian Migration Conundrum". And use the code HAPOD for a discount on Nation, State, and Economy from our bookstore.

16 Jul 2019

Rank #11

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Human Action Part One with David Gordon

In the second installment of our series on Mises's Human Action, Dr. David Gordon joins the show to walk us through Part One. The beginning of the book is considered its most "philosophical" material, where Mises lays out the basics of praxeology and epistemology as fundamental to understanding economics. Dr. Gordon and host Jeff Deist consider each of the book's first seven chapters, with topics including: Mises's categories of action and causality, a priori disciplines, polylogism, "felt uneasiness," value and preferences, praxeology as it relates to time and uncertainty, probability and its application to human action, and the nature of production.  If you've wanted to read Human Action, this is your opportunity to hear it explained by great economists and scholars! Use the code HAPOD for a discount on the pocket edition of Human Action from our bookstore: Mises.org/BuyHA.Additional ResourcesHuman Action: Mises.org/HumanAction Bob Murphy's Study Guide to Human Action: Mises.org/Study

6 Mar 2020

Rank #12

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The Theory of Interest Rates

What are interest rates, where do they come from, and what purpose do they serve? Smith, Marx, and Keynes got these questions wrong; Turgot, Böhm-Bawerk, and Mises got them right. Economist Jeffrey Herbener from Grove City College explains.Readings"The Brilliance of Turgot" by Murray RothbardProfile of Böhm-Bawerk by Roger Garrison Subscribe and listen on iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Google Play, Spotify, or via RSS.

28 Mar 2019

Rank #13

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Entrepreneurial Super-Intelligence: Praxeology in the Age of A.I.

One of the highlights of our Austrian Economics Research Conference is the interaction between scholars and entrepreneurs, and the new ideas that such conversations spark. Here business consultant Hunter Hastings outlines how technological innovation is already making centralized "designed" systems obsolete, and how artificial intelligence opens up a whole new era of spontaneous order.

17 Mar 2017

Rank #14

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The Bureaucratic Revolution

The twentieth century revolution in America was bureaucratic, not ideological. And in 1944, a new American—Ludwig von Mises—published Bureaucracy, the most important and devastating critique of administrative rule ever written. Clocking in at just over 130 pages, this is Mises at his hard-hitting best. Professor William Anderson joins the Human Action Podcast for an in-depth discussion of both the book and the bureaucratic capture of America it warned against. Subscribe and listen on iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Google Play, Spotify, or via RSS.

7 May 2019

Rank #15

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Daniel Lacalle on Why Central Banks are Trapped

Daniel Lacalle joins Jeff Deist to discuss how and why central banks are trapped, stuck with ultra-low interest rates and expansionary policies that produce astonishingly little real growth. This is a hard-hitting and sober look at what rising interest rates will mean, why academics and bankers are so clueless about the monetary side of financial markets, and why Austrians need to offer real-world solutions instead of ideology.

6 Jul 2018

Rank #16

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Dr. Liliana Stern on Growing Up in the USSR

Dr. Liliana Stern, associate professor of economics at Auburn University, joins Jeff Deist in studio to discuss the realities of life under communism. Growing up in Ukraine, Dr. Stern experienced privations that would be unthinkable to her undergraduate students. Even today, hot running water remains a rationed luxury in the region.But if recent polls are correct, many of her students don't understand at all the horrors of collectivism. And they sometimes scoff at her terrifying depiction of what "single-payer" healthcare really means. Dr. Stern considers it her life's work to make Americans understand how good they've got it under (relative) capitalism, and to save young people from profound ahistorical ignorance.You don't want to miss this show—and be sure to listen for her description of Ukrainian dentistry without anesthesia.

10 Nov 2017

Rank #17

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Why Gold Still Matters

Central bankers dismiss gold as a relic, even as they buy up more of it. Politicians dismiss gold as money they don't control and can't expand. Holders dismiss gold as outdated tech. And investors dismiss gold as a static metal paying no yields. So why does gold still matter? Why does it hold value over millennia? Why does it threaten inflationist governments? Why does it seem to be flowing West to East? Why does an ounce of it still trade for more than $1,000, if the critics are right? This is the comprehensive show on gold and its enduring role in today's economy, with Keith Weiner of Monetary Metals.

10 Dec 2019

Rank #18

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Connor Boyack: Explaining the State to Kids

Connor Boyack is back with another book in the Tuttle Twins series called The Fate of the Future. It's based on Murray Rothbard's famous Anatomy of the State, and like Rothbard it pulls no punches when describing government as predatory, violent, and coercive. Connor and Jeff Deist discuss why it's so important to offer an early alternative to the fantasyland view of the state that kids get in schools, and how the revolutionary act of home schooling may prove more powerful than any other libertarian activism.

23 Nov 2018

Rank #19