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Selgin on Free Banking
George Selgin of West Virginia University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about free banking, where government treats banks as no different from other firms in the economy. Rather than rely on government guarantees to protect depositors (coupled with regulation), banks would compete with each other in offering security and return on deposits. Selgin draws on historical episodes of free banking, particularly in Scotland, to show that such a world need not be unduly hazardous or filled with
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Hazlett on Telecommunications
Thomas Hazlett of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about a number of key issues in telecommunications and telecommunication policy including net neutrality, FCC policy, and the state of antitrust. Hazlett argues for an emergent, Hayekian approach to policy toward the internet rather than trying to design it from the top down and for an increased use of exchangeable property rights in allocating spectrum.
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Higgs on the Great Depression
Robert Higgs, of the Independent Institute, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the effect of World War II on the American economy. Using survey results, financial data, and the pattern of investment in the 1930s, Higgs argues that New Deal policies created a climate of uncertainty that prolonged the Great Depression. Using consumption data, he argues that prosperity did not return during wartime, but rather after the war when government interventi
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Wales on Wikipedia
Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the birth and growth of Wikipedia. He talks about the role of Hayek's insights into the design of Wikipedia, how Wikipedia deals with controversy, the reliability of Wikipedia relative to traditional reference sources and the future possibilities for projects that rely on voluntary contributions of time and creativity.
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Reis on Keynes, Macroeconomics, and Monetary Policy
Ricardo Reis of Columbia University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Keynesian economics in the classroom and in research. Reis argues that Keynesian models are a useful framework for helping undergraduates understand macroeconomic ideas of general equilibrium. More generally, Reis argues, Keynesian ideas remain influential in macroeconomic research, particularly among Neo-Keynesians. Reis discusses the lessons the economics profession and the world have learned from the Great Depress
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Epstein on the Rule of Law
Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago and Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the rule of law. Epstein lays out a minimalist definition and a more expansive definition when considering the protection that individuals might have when facing the power of the state or the sovereign. Applications include "takings" and the current government interventions in the auto industry and the financial sector.
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Platt on Working at Wal-Mart
Charles Platt, author and journalist, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts what it was like to apply for a job at Wal-Mart, get one, and work there. He discusses the hiring process, the training process, and the degree of autonomy Wal-Mart employees have to change prices. The conversation concludes with a discussion of attitudes toward Wal-Mart.
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Munger on Franchising, Vertical Integration, and the Auto Industry
Michael Munger, of Duke University, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about franchising, particularly car dealerships. Munger highlights how the dealers used state regulations to protect their profits and how bankruptcy appears to be unraveling that strategy. The main themes of the conversation are the incentives in the franchising relationship and the evolution of the auto industry in the United States over the last forty years.
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Hitchens on Orwell
Christopher Hitchens talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about George Orwell. Drawing on his book Why Orwell Matters, Hitchens talks about Orwell's opposition to imperialism, fascism, and Stalinism, his moral courage, and his devotion to language. Along the way, Hitchens makes the case for why Orwell matters.
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Newman on Low-wage Workers
Katherine Newman, Professor of Sociology at Princeton University, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Newman's case studies of fast-food workers in Harlem. Newman discusses the evolution of their careers and fortunes over time along with their dreams and successes and failures. The conversation concludes with lessons for public policy in aiding low-wage workers.
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Don Boudreaux on Public Choice
Don Boudreaux of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about public choice: the application of economics to the political process. Boudreaux argues that political competition is a blunt instrument that works less effectively than economic competition. One reason for this bluntness is the voting process itself--where intensity does not matter, only whether a voter prefers one candidate to the other. A second reason is that political outcomes tend to be one-size-fits-all, w
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Romer on Charter Cities
Paul Romer of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about charter cities, Romer's idea for helping the poorest of the poor around the world. Romer envisions a city where the rules about property and safety and contract and so on are rules that allow individuals to flourish in an urban setting in contrast to the cities they live in now where so many aspects of economic and personal life are dysfunctional. Charter cities would be havens for the world's poor and could be created
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"Enforcing the Peace: Learning from the Imperial Past"
wbh logoA talk by Kimberly Zisk Marten, Professor of Political Science, Barnard College. From the World Beyond the Headlines Series.
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Rights not set

Brady on the State of the Electorate
David Brady of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of the electorate and what current and past political science have to say about the upcoming midterm elections. Drawing on his own survey work and that of others, Brady uses current opinion polls to predict a range of likely outcomes in the House and Senate in November. He then discusses the role of recent health care legislation in the upcoming election as well as Obama's approval ratings. The conversation
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Laughlin on the Future of Carbon and Climate
Robert Laughlin of Stanford University and the 1998 co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about energy use and the future of the earth's climate. Drawing on his forthcoming book on energy, Laughlin predicts that we will continue to use cars and planes and electricity long after coal and petroleum are exhausted and speculates as to how that might play out in the future. The conversation concludes with discussions of other concerns of Laughlin's--the outl
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Daniel Pink on Drive, Motivation, and Incentives
Daniel Pink, author of Drive, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about drive, motivation, compensation, and incentives. Pink discusses the implications of using monetary rewards as compensation in business and in education. Much of the conversation focuses on the research underlying the book, Drive, research from behavioral psychology that challenges traditional claims by economists on the power of monetary and other types of incentive. The last part of the conversation turns toward education
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de Botton on the Pleasures and Sorrows of Work
Author Alain de Botton talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work. How has the nature of work changed with the increase in specialization? Why is the search for meaningful work a modern phenomenon? Has the change in the workplace changed parenting? Why does technology become invisible? These are some of the questions discussed by de Botton in a wide-ranging discussion of the modern workplace and the modern worker.
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Greenberg on Depression, Addiction, and the Brain
Gary Greenberg, psychologist and author of The Noble Lie and Manufacturing Depression, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the nature of addiction, depression and mental illness. Drawing on ideas in the two books, Greenberg argues that there are strong monetary incentives to define various problems as illnesses that psychiatrists "cure" with drugs. Greenberg argues that this distorts science and has strong impacts, good and bad, on how we view ourselves and the challenges of life. The co
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Ridley on Trade, Growth, and the Rational Optimist
Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about why he is optimistic about the future and how trade and specialization explain the evolution of human development over the millennia. Ridley argues that life is getting better for most of the people on earth and that the underlying cause is trade and specialization. He discusses the differences between Smith's and Ricardo's insights into trade and growth and why despite what seems to be strong evidence, peo
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Using Ultrasound to Engineer Synthetic Tissue
Most people think of ultrasound as a technology used to see an image of a baby as it develops or as a tool for diagnosing an illness or injury within the body. For Diane Dalecki, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and Denise Hocking, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Physiology, its uses range much farther than those two common instances. In their research labs, ultrasound is being used to organize cells and proteins with the pressure waves that ultrasound produces, in a way that might s
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