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.
Duggan on Strategic Intuition
55:30William Duggan, professor of management at Columbia Business School at Columbia University, talks about his latest book, Strategic Intuition. Duggan critiques traditional methods of strategy and planning and suggests that the opportunism and adaptability are more productive detailed plans. He also discusses the nature of intuition and creativity along with insights into how the brain works to better understand problem-solving.
Karol Boudreaux on Property Rights and Incentives in Africa
1:00:27Karol Boudreaux, Senior Research Fellow at George Mason University's Mercatus Center, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her field work and research in Rwanda and South Africa. In Rwanda, she studied how a change in incentives and property rights for coffee farmers has allowed the coffee bean growers to improve quality and prosper. In South Africa's Langa Township, she looked at how renters were allowed to become homeowners and how the ability to own changed their lives.
Boettke on Austrian Economics
1:17:54Pete Boettke, of George Mason University, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the origins and tenets of Austrian economics. This is a wonderful introduction to how the so-called Austrian economists look at the world and how they continue to influence economics today.
Munger on Fair Trade and Free Trade
58:58Mike Munger, frequent guest and longtime Econlib contributor, speaks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about fair trade coffee and free trade agreements. Does the premium for fair trade coffee end up in the hands of the grower? What economic forces might stop that from happening? They discuss the business strategy of using higher wages as a marketing strategy to attract concerned consumers. They turn to the issue of free trade agreements. If the ideal situation is open borders to foreign products, is it still worthwhile to negotiate bilateral and multilateral agreements that requires delays, exemptions and a bureaucracy to enforce? What is the cost of including environmental and various labor market regulations in these agreements?
Botkin on Nature, the Environment and Global Warming
1:06:18Daniel Botkin, ecologist and author, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how we think about our role as humans in the natural world, the dynamic nature of environmental reality and the implications for how we react to global warming.
Sunstein on Worst-case Scenarios
1:04:36Cass 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.
Henry Aaron on Health Care Costs
39:35In this bonus middle-of-the-week podcast, Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about health care costs. Researchers in a New England Journal of Medicine article have estimated that the US could save $209 billion if the US went to a single-payer system like Canada. Is this number reliable? Aaron takes a deeper look at the estimate and discusses the relevance of such estimates for health care policy. This is a special mid-week podcast. It's a follow-up to an earlier podcast with Arnold Kling that raised the issue of administrative costs and potential savings from going to a single-payer system. It also ties in with recent discussions here at EconTalk about the challenges of accurate measurement in the social sciences. We hope you enjoy it. If not, come back Monday when our regular schedule resumes.
Waldfogel on Markets, Choice, and the Tyranny of the Market
51:41Joel Waldfogel of the Wharton School of Business talks about the idea in his new book, The Tyranny of Markets: Why You Can't Always Get What You Want. He argues that when fixed costs are large, markets don't necessarily give people what they want and that, analogous to the political process, you can be hurt as the number of people with preferences that differ from yours gets larger. Host Russ Roberts challenges Waldfogel's claim that these phenomena are widespread and argues that in many cases, markets ultimately solve these problems. They discuss the amount of variety in newspapers, radio, and airline travel, along with how economics generally looks at fixed costs and consumer sovereignty.
Arnold Kling on the Economics of Health Care and the Crisis of Abundance
58:53Arnold 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.
Yandle on the Tragedy of the Commons and the Implications for Environmental Regulation
1:24:32Bruce 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.