Hosted by Russ Roberts
Genre economics
Language English
Updates Mondays
Length 1 hour
Audio format mp3
Debut March 16, 2006
End date N/A

EconTalk is a weekly economics podcast hosted by Russ Roberts. Roberts was an economics professor at George Mason University and is now a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.[1][2] On the podcast Roberts typically interviews a single guest—often professional economists—on topics in economics.[3] The podcast is hosted by the Library of Economics and Liberty, an online library sponsored by Liberty Fund. It received second place awards in 2006 and 2007 in the Weblog Awards, followed by 1st place in 2008.[4][5][6] On EconTalk Roberts has interviewed ten Nobel Prize laureates including Nobel Prize in Economics recipients Ronald Coase, Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, and Joseph Stiglitz as well as Nobel Prize in Physics recipient Robert Laughlin.[7] Roberts has invited popular economics Nobel recipient and New York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman "many times" but Krugman has not appeared on EconTalk.[8]


Major themes include the way markets evolve, spontaneous order, and the division of labor. Guests often include authors of recently published books of current interest in economics. A few guests appear regularly and converse with Roberts about questions that arise in the press or in classrooms. Topics of interest to guests as well as topics suggested by commenters and listeners sometimes become extended themes in subsequent podcasts. Additional themes include the economics of sports, health, the law, public choice, and education.

In a 2010 editorial the left-leaning British newspaper The Guardian was mostly positive in its assessment of EconTalk. It warned that the podcast series is "far too trusting of free markets," but concluded by saying, "at the end of an hour, the dismal science doesn't seem so bad after all, but a fun and useful set of tools to approach some of society's biggest questions."[9]

Spontaneous order

Roberts has a particular interest in spontaneous order and related Hayekian themes which emphasize the role and nature of knowledge. This often finds form in how societies organize themselves in not just economic but in social and political spheres as well. A running question Roberts poses to guests in this vein is how we should set out to describe this critical idea, as normal conversation rarely captures the essence of the idea.

The division of labor

Adam Smith's division of labor plays a recurring role in the podcasts, particularly in how it contributes to the creation of wealth. These increases in productivity are notably striking and often appear in conversations concerning trade, growth, and technology.

The future

Roberts sometimes asks his guests if they are optimistic about the future, particularly at the end of the interview. Guests occasionally speculate on what may evolve in the long run.

Controversial topics

Invited guests sometimes include controversial authors or areas of discussion in economics where there is current disagreement. Authors on opposing sides of an economic debate are invited to present their perspectives and are challenged with ideas on the opposing side.


See List of EconTalk episodes for a full list of episodes.


External links

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