Russell David "Russ" Roberts (born September 19, 1954) is an American-Israeli[3] economist. He is currently a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and president of Shalem College in Jerusalem.[4][5][6] He is known for communicating economic ideas in understandable terms[7] as host of the EconTalk podcast.[8]

Russ Roberts
Born (1954-09-19) September 19, 1954 (age 69)[1][2]
Academic career
InstitutionShalem College
School or
Chicago School
Austrian School
Alma materUniversity of North Carolina (B.A.)
University of Chicago (Ph.D.)
InfluencesGary Becker
Friedrich Hayek
Milton Friedman
Adam Smith
Ayn Rand

Roberts describes himself as a classical liberal, stating, "I believe in limited government combined with personal responsibility. So I am something of a libertarian, but ... that term comes with some baggage and some confusion."[9]

Education edit

Roberts was awarded a B.A. in economics in 1975 from the University of North Carolina and a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago in 1981 for his thesis on the design of government transfer programs[10][11] under the supervision of Gary Becker.[12][13]

Career edit

Roberts has previously taught at George Mason University, Washington University in St. Louis (where he was the founding director of what is now the Center for Experiential Learning), the University of Rochester, Stanford University, and the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a regular commentator on business and economics for National Public Radio's Morning Edition,[14] and has written for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Roberts also blogs at Cafe Hayek[15] with Donald J. Boudreaux at George Mason University in Fairfax County, Virginia.[16]

Roberts writes and publishes videos on economics, some of which have been viewed millions of times.[17] One of the most widely watched videos is Fear the Boom and Bust, a rap battle between 20th century economists John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich von Hayek.

Books about economics edit

Roberts has written a number of books which illustrate economic concepts in unconventional ways.

In 2001, he published the novel The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance, which conveys economic ideas through conversations between two fictional teachers at an exclusive high school in Washington, D.C.: one is a market oriented economics instructor, and the other is an English teacher who wants governmental protections that curb the excesses of unrestrained capitalism.[18]

In 2008, Roberts released another novel, The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity, which focuses on the experiences of Ramon Fernandez, a university student and star tennis player who, as a child, accompanied his mother to the U.S. after she fled from Fidel Castro's Cuba. Like The Invisible Heart, The Price of Everything uses conversations between its main characters to address economic concepts (in this case ideas such as the price system, spontaneous order and the possibility of price gouging in crisis situations).[19]

In 2014, Roberts offered an uncommon perspective on Adam Smith in his book, How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness. The book does not discuss Smith's well known 1776 work, The Wealth of Nations; it instead examines Smith's 1759 precursor to behavioral economics,[20] The Theory of Moral Sentiments.[21]

Policy positions edit

Roberts generally opposes Keynesian economics—particularly stimulus spending—saying that "it's very hard to argue in logical terms that spending money unwisely is the way to get wealthy."[22] In October 2011 he initiated a lively, extended conversation with the Nobel laureate Paul Krugman over the effectiveness of Keynesian policies by declaring that "Krugman is a Keynesian because he wants bigger government. I'm an anti-Keynesian because I want smaller government."[23] Krugman quoted this statement in his response and then said that "Keynesianism is not and never has been about promoting bigger government," and also that "you find conservative economists promoting quite Keynesian views of stabilization policy."[24] In subsequent posts, the two economists disagreed on many things, but neither one contested one central idea: Krugman was content to be characterized as a Keynesian,[25] while Roberts was not.[26]

Roberts has urged those who formulate public policy and the economists who advise them to be more skeptical of the findings of empirical studies,[27] and he views ultra-specific claims by politicians that their promoted policies will produce a certain number of jobs or a certain amount of growth as inherently unreliable.[28]

EconTalk edit

Roberts has hosted the weekly economics podcast EconTalk since March 2006. The podcast is hosted by the Library of Economics and Liberty, an online library sponsored by Liberty Fund. On the podcast, Roberts has interviewed more than a dozen Nobel Prize laureates including Nobel Prize in Economics recipients Ronald Coase, Milton Friedman, Abhijit Banerjee, Gary Becker, and Joseph Stiglitz as well as Nobel Prize in Physics recipient Robert Laughlin.[29] He has also interviewed people such as Patrick Collison, Sam Altman, Marc Andreessen, Sam Harris and Nassim Nicholas Taleb.[30]

Shalem College edit

Roberts was appointed the third president of Shalem College in November 2020, a position he assumed in March 2021. In explaining the college's selection of Roberts, Chair of the Executive Committee of Shalem’s International Board of Governors Yair Shamir pointed to Roberts’s American educational background as a deciding factor, as well as his outspoken belief in the necessity of a true liberal arts education today.[31]

Publications edit

Books edit

  • The Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protectionism (1st ed.). Prentice Hall. 1994. ISBN 978-0-13-083008-1. OCLC 29357777.
  • The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance (1st ed.). MIT Press. 2002. ISBN 978-0-262-68135-3. OCLC 44413917.
  • The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity (1st ed.). Princeton University Press. 2008. ISBN 978-0-691-14335-4. OCLC 231587398.
  • Gambling with other people's money: how perverted incentives caused the financial crisis. Legatum Institute. 2010. ISBN 978-1-907409-06-6. OCLC 751698980.
  • How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness. Portfolio Hardcover. 2014. ISBN 978-1-59184-684-0. OCLC 881681030.
  • Wild Problems: A Guide to the Decisions That Define Us. Portfolio Hardcover. 2022. ISBN 978-0-59341-825-3. OCLC 1321820629.

Articles and papers edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Velasquez-Manoff on Autoimmune Disease, Parasites, and Complexity". EconTalk. Retrieved 5 March 2014. I was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1954.
  2. ^ "Birthday thoughts". EconLog. September 19, 2011. I turned 57 today
  3. ^ "Russ Roberts on Israel and Life as an Immigrant". Conversations with Tyler. 19 January 2022. Retrieved 11 December 2023. A lot of my management team at the senior level speak English and are Americans. Even though they're Israelis now and they're all citizens of Israel, as I am, they bring a lot of their American baggage with them...
  4. ^ "Russell Roberts profile". Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Archived from the original on April 26, 2019. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  5. ^ Russ Roberts (5 September 2012). "Joining Hoover full-time". Cafe Hayek. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  6. ^ "A New Leader for an Educational Startup in the Startup Nation". 19 November 2020. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  7. ^ Editorial staff (August 31, 2010). "In Praise of . . . EconTalk". The Guardian. London. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  8. ^ "EconTalk, hosted by Russ Roberts". Library of Economics and Liberty. Economics podcast for daily life. Weekly interviews with guests ranging from small business owners to Nobel Laureates.
  9. ^ Kenney, Allen (March 16, 2015). "Russ Roberts Applies Adam Smith to Modern-Day Issues". and Real Estate Investment Trusts magazine. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  10. ^ A positive analysis of the design of government transfer programs (PhD thesis). 1981. ProQuest 303039469.
  11. ^ "Russ Roberts' CV" (PDF). Mercatus Center, George Mason University. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  12. ^ "Chris Anderson on Makers and Manufacturing". EconTalk. Retrieved 1 January 2013. I remember when Gary Becker, my adviser in graduate school wrote a book
  13. ^ "Gary Becker, RIP". Cafe Hayek. 2014-05-05. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  14. ^ Noguchi, Yuki (August 2, 2018). "Solving The 'Wage Puzzle': Why Aren't Paychecks Growing?". National Public Radio.
  15. ^ "Cafe Hayek – where orders emerge". Cafe Hayek.
  16. ^ "Economics | Faculty and Staff: Russell D Roberts". Archived from the original on 2011-12-02. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
  17. ^ "Russ Roberts Videos | Rap Battles | The Numbers Game | Wonderful Loaf". Russ Roberts. Retrieved 2019-09-22.
  18. ^ "Book review of The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance". Publishers Weekly. February 1, 2001. Retrieved July 29, 2017.
  19. ^ Steelman, Aaron (Fall 2008). "Bringing Life to the Dismal Science: Book review of The Price of Everything" (PDF). Region Focus ("The economics magazine of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond"). Archived from the original (PDF) on June 8, 2020. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  20. ^ Brown, David (November 23, 2014). "Book review of 'How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness', by Russ Roberts". Financial Times. London. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  21. ^ Gregoire, Carolyn (September 9, 2014). "Before 'The Wealth Of Nations,' Adam Smith Penned The Ultimate Guide To A Moral Life". Huffington Post. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  22. ^ Interview of Russ Roberts by Nick Gillespie (October 11, 2012). Russ Roberts: Why Keynesians Always Get it Wrong (and Most Economists Too) (video {quote is at 3 min. 2 sec.}). Reason magazine.
  23. ^ Russ Roberts (October 11, 2011). "The evidence for Keynesian economics". Cafe Hayek (blog).
  24. ^ Paul Krugman (October 12, 2011). "I Am Not Your Mirror Image". The Conscience of a Liberal (blog).
  25. ^ Paul Krugman (June 6, 2015). "Why Am I A Keynesian?". The Conscience of a Liberal (blog).
  26. ^ Russ Roberts (June 23, 2015). "Krugman is human, just like me". Cafe Hayek (blog).
  27. ^ Smith, Noah (March 15, 2017). "How to Restore Faith in Economics: Mathematical theories didn't predict the Great Recession. Research grounded in data should hold up better". Bloomberg View. Retrieved August 4, 2017. [S]keptics [like Roberts] are telling us to discount the empirical evidence now pouring out of the economics profession. [They] note that many empirical studies disagree with each other, and others are later proven wrong.
  28. ^ Peterson, Kyle (May 13, 2016). "When All Economics Is Political: The dismal science has too much junk science, says Russ Roberts, an evangelist for humility in a discipline where it is often hard to find". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  29. ^ "Nobel Prize Winners Podcast Episodes and Extras". EconTalk website. Retrieved August 10, 2017.
  30. ^ "econtalk". Apple Podcast. Retrieved July 18, 2022.
  31. ^ "A New Leader for "an Educational Startup in the Startup Nation": Shalem Announces Appointment of Scholar and Public Intellectual Russ Roberts as its Next President". Shalem College.

External links edit

  Media related to Russ Roberts at Wikimedia Commons