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Economics Detective Radio is a podcast about markets, ideas, institutions, and all things related to the field of economics. Episodes consist of long-form interviews and are generally released on Fridays. Topics include economic theory, economic history, the history of thought, money, banking, finance, macroeconomics, public choice, business cycles, health care, education, international trade, and anything else of interest to economists, students, and serious amateurs interested in the scien ...
 
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show series
 
Michael Heller joins the podcast to discuss his new book, Mine! How the Hidden Rules of Ownership Control Our Lives. This book explores the implicit social rules governing ownership. In brief, these rules are as follows: Attachment ("it's mine because it's connected to something of mine") Possession ("it's mine because I physically control it") Fir…
 
Today's guest is Michael McCullough of the University of California, San Diego. We are discussing his book The Kindness of Strangers: How a Selfish Ape Invented a New Moral Code. How did humans, a species of self-centered apes, come to care about others? Since Darwin, scientists have tried to answer this question using evolutionary theory. In The K…
 
Today's guest is Nina Roussille of UC Berkeley and we discuss her working paper, The central role of the ask gap in gender pay inequality. The gender ask gap measures the extent to which women ask for lower salaries than comparable men. This paper studies the role of the ask gap in generating wage inequality using novel data from Hired.com, a leadi…
 
Anton Howes returns to the podcast to discuss his new book, Arts and Minds: How the Royal Society of Arts Changed a Nation. From its beginnings in a coffee house in the mid-eighteenth century, the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce has tried to improve British life in every way imaginable. It has sought to influe…
 
Today's guest is Stuart Ritchie, psychologist and author of Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth. Science is how we understand the world. Yet failures in peer review and mistakes in statistics have rendered a shocking number of scientific studies useless – or, worse, badly misleading. Such errors ha…
 
Today's guests are Sylvain Catherine and Natasha Sarin of the University of Pennsylvania. They discuss their research on wealth inequality, specifically with respect to social security's impact on calculated wealth inequality. When you account for the value of all future payroll taxes into Social Security and all future benefit payments from Social…
 
This bonus episode features an interview from The Passion Economy, created by Adam Davidson of NPR's Planet Money. The clip features an interview with Coss Marte, an enterprising entrepreneur in an unorthodox business. The economy is bananas, even scary. But some people are thriving, and we're going to figure out how. Adam Davidson, "New Yorker" wr…
 
Today's episode features my conversation with Mark Blyth, co-author (with Eric Lonergan) of Angrynomics. Why are measures of stress and anxiety on the rise when economists and politicians tell us we have never had it so good? While statistics tell us that the vast majority of people are getting steadily richer, the world most of us experience day i…
 
Ilya Somin of George Mason University joins the podcast to discuss his book Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom. Ballot box voting is often considered the essence of political freedom. But, it has two major shortcomings: individual voters have little chance of making a difference, and they also face strong incentives to rema…
 
Historian Kyle Harper joins the show to discuss his book The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire. We discuss the fall of the Roman empire and the new scientific discoveries that have shed more light on its nature and causes. Kyle's work looks at the epidemics and climatic changes that hit the empire, contributing to its disinte…
 
Today's guest is Scott Beyer, a columnist who writes about urban issues. He is the creator of the Market Urbanism Report. Our discussion addresses some common concerns about housing markets. For instance, why do new luxury homes sometimes sit empty? What's the deal with Houston's land-use laws? And what can we do about the urban housing crisis?…
 
Today's guest is Robert H. Frank of Cornell University. Our topic is his latest book, Under the Influence: Putting Peer Pressure to Work. Psychologists have long understood that social environments profoundly shape our behavior, sometimes for the better, often for the worse. But social influence is a two-way street—our environments are themselves p…
 
Garett Jones returns to the podcast to discuss his book, 10% Less Democracy: Why You Should Trust Elites a Little More and the Masses a Little Less. During the 2016 presidential election, both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders argued that elites were hurting the economy. But, drawing together evidence and theory from across economics, political scien…
 
Today's guest is Simon Bowmaker. The topic is his book, When the President Calls: Conversations with Economic Policymakers. The book features 35 interviews with economists who worked for the President of the United States. What is it like to sit in the Oval Office and discuss policy with the president? To know that the decisions made will affect hu…
 
Today, Josh Hendrickson joins the show to discuss his paper, "U.S. Maritime Policy and Economic Efficiency." The paper discusses the controversial Jones Act, and how it (and similar policies) were designed to maintain a sovereign merchant marine for use in times of war. Te abstract reads as follows: Critics argue that maritime policy is protectioni…
 
Today's episode features Gilles Duranton and Diego Puga on their new working paper, "Urban Growth and its Aggregate Implications." This paper builds a detailed theoretical model that includes urbanization, agglomeration economies, inter-city migration, congestion externalities, and land-use restrictions. We develop an urban growth model where human…
 
Today's guest is Leah Boustan of Princeton University. Our discussion centers around her recent working paper, "The Effects of Immigration on the Economy: Lessons from the 1920s Border Closure." In the 1920s, the United States substantially reduced immigrant entry by imposing country-specific quotas. We compare local labor markets with more or less…
 
Today on Economics Detective Radio, I discuss health economics with Hannes Schwandt of Northwestern University. Hannes is the co-author, along with Diane Alexander, of "The Impact of Car Pollution on Infant and Child Health: Evidence from Emissions Cheating." Car exhaust is a major source of air pollution, but little is known about its impacts on p…
 
Bryan Caplan and Zach Weinersmith both return to the podcast to discuss their new, non-fiction graphic novel, Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration. American policy-makers have long been locked in a heated battle over whether, how many, and what kind of immigrants to allow to live and work in the country. Those in favor of welcoming m…
 
Today's guest is Jeffrey Rogers Hummel of San Jose State University. He is the author of Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War. This book combines a sweeping narrative of the Civil War with a bold new look at the war’s significance for American society. Professor Hummel sees the Civil War as America’s turning …
 
Today's guests are economic historians Alan Olmstead and Paul Rhode. Both of them have research related to the slave economy of the Antebellum South. Our main topic is a paper they co-authored, Cotton, slavery, and the new history of capitalism. The "New History of Capitalism" grounds the rise of industrial capitalism on the production of raw cotto…
 
Phil Magness returns to the show to discuss his work on slavery and capitalism, particularly as it relates to the New History of Capitalism (NHC) and the New York Times' 1619 project. Phil recently wrote an article entitled, "How the 1619 Project Rehabilitates the 'King Cotton' Thesis." In it, he argues that the NHC has unwittingly adopted the same…
 
Today's guest is Thomas Hazlett, former chief economist of the FCC and author of The Political Spectrum: The Tumultuous Liberation of Wireless Technology, from Herbert Hoover to the Smartphone. Perceptive listeners may recall that Ed Lopez mentioned Hazlett's work in our interview on political change. Hazlett's work concerns the legal institutions …
 
Today's guest is Robert Wright, author of The Poverty of Slavery. The New York Times' 1619 Project has prompted renewed discussions on slavery and the New History of Capitalism literature. This episode is the first in a series addressing these topics. We discuss the prevalence of slavery in the developing world today, the arguments for and against …
 
Today's guest is Alain Bertaud, author of Order Without Design: How Markets Shape Cities. Alain discusses his extensive experience in urban planning: When he was first trained as a planner, urban planning was thought of as an offshoot of architecture. In this conception, cities are just large buildings that need to be laid out and designed by a ski…
 
Ben Powell joins the podcast today to discuss his new book, Socialism Sucks: Two Economists Drink Their Way Through the Unfree World, coauthored with Robert Lawson. The book is a combination of economic analysis and Anthony-Bourdain-style travel diary. Do We Have to Say It Again? Socialism Sucks! Apparently we do. Because today millions of American…
 
Today's guest is Edward J. Lopez of Western Carolina University. We discuss his book, Madmen, Intellectuals, and Academic Scribblers: The Economic Engine of Political Change, which was co-authored with Wayne Leighton. Does major political reform require a crisis? When do new ideas emerge in politics? How can one person make a difference? In short: …
 
Vincent Geloso returns to the podcast today to discuss his paper, "Markets for Rebellions? The Rebellions of 1837-38 in Lower Canada". The paper discusses the idea that political upheaval and even violent rebellion can be more likely in areas with a high degree of market access. In 1837-38, the British colonies of Upper and Lower Canada rebelled. T…
 
Tooday's guest is Jennifer Murtazashvili of the University of Pittsburgh. We discuss her book, Informal Order and the State in Afghanistan. Despite vast efforts to build the state, profound political order in rural Afghanistan is maintained by self-governing, customary organizations. Informal Order and the State in Afghanistan explores the rules go…
 
Today's guest is Randall Holcombe of Florida State University. Our discussion today focuses on his book, Political Capitalism: How Economic and Political Power Is Made and Maintained. Problems associated with cronyism, corporatism, and policies that favor the elite over the masses have received increasing attention in recent years. Political Capita…
 
Today's guest is Arvind Panagariya of Columbia University. We discuss his book, Free Trade and Prosperity: How Openness Helps Developing Countries Grow Richer and Combat Poverty. Free Trade and Prosperity offers the first full-scale defense of pro-free-trade policies with developing countries at its center. Arvind Panagariya, a professor at Columbi…
 
Today's guest is Robert Krol of California State University. Our topic is a recent policy paper he wrote for The Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University entitled Can we Build our way out of Urban Traffic Congestion? This paper examines the impact of highway expansion on congestion. Because highway expansion lowers travel times, e…
 
Today's guest is Vlad Tarko of Dickinson College. We discuss the life and work of Elinor Ostrom, the 2009 winner of the Nobel Prize in economics. Vlad is the author of Elinor Ostrom: An intellectual biography. We discuss Elinor Ostrom's work on polycentric governance, the management of common-pool resources, and policing. We also discuss the contin…
 
My guest today is Matthew Curtis, founder of the startup Vice Lotteries. Vice Lotteries is a new startup that aims to challenge state governments' legal monopolies over lotteries. State lotteries are amazingly and bizarrely unethical. They drain billions of dollars out of communities, primarily poor ones. Lottery spending has increased substantiall…
 
Today's guest is Jamin Speer of the University of Memphis. We discuss his paper, "Are Changes of Major Major Changes? The Roles of Grades, Gender, and Preferences in College Major Switching" co-authored with Carmen Astorne-Figari. The choice of college major is a key stage in the career search, and over a third of college students switch majors at …
 
Kevin Erdmann of the Mercatus Center returns to the podcast to discuss his new book, Shut Out: How a Housing Shortage Caused the Great Recession and Crippled Our Economy. From the publisher's website: The United States suffers from a shortage of well-placed homes. This was true even at the peak of the housing boom in 2005. Using a broad array of ev…
 
Today's guest on Economics Detective Radio is Anja Shortland of King's College London, discussing her new book Kidnap: Inside the Ransom Business, where she brings an economist's perspective to the shady world of the kidnapping for ransom business and to the professionals who specialize in getting hostages home safely. The book's description reads …
 
Mark Thornton returns to the podcast to discuss his new book The Skyscraper Curse (available digitally for free). The book discusses the connection between record-setting skyscrapers and economic recessions. Here's an excerpt from the book's introduction: The Skyscraper Index expresses the strange relationship between the building of the world’s ta…
 
Today's guest is Louis Rouanet from George Mason University. Our discussion focuses on an economic history paper he co-authored with Ennio Piano (a previous guest of the show), "Filling the Ranks: The Remplacement Militaire in Post-Revolutionary France." Many economists have analyzed the efficiency of a volunteered army relative to a conscripted ar…
 
Today's guest is economic historian Gregory Clark, and our topic is England's New Poor Law of 1834. Gregory and his co-author, Marianne E. Page, wrote a paper on the topic entitled "Welfare reform, 1834: Did the New Poor Law in England produce significant economic gains?" Spoiler alert: It didn't. The English Old Poor Law, which before 1834 provide…
 
Today's guest is Mikayla Novak (Twitter, SSRN) of the RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub at RMIT University. Her work focuses on some innovative new and potential uses for blockchain technology. As we all know at this point, the first use of blockchain technology was to create decentralized digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. But a blockchain…
 
Today's guest is Martin Gurri (Twitter, blog), author of The Revolt of the Public. We discuss his book, which deals with the impact of information technology on political trends and populism. In the words of economist and scholar Arnold Kling, “Martin Gurri saw it coming.” Technology has categorically reversed the information balance of power betwe…
 
Today on the podcast, Ash Navabi returns to discuss his recent work on housing and rent control. Ash published an opinion piece entitled "Why low-income earners should actually welcome Ontario's reversal on rent control." In that article, Ash pushes back on the kneejerk reaction to the Ontario government's reversal of its rent control policy on new…
 
Today's guest is Jonathan Meer of Texas A&M. We discuss his work on the minimum wage. The voluminous literature on minimum wages offers little consensus on the extent to which a wage floor impacts employment. For both theoretical and econometric reasons, we argue that the effect of the minimum wage should be more apparent in new employment growth t…
 
Today's guest is Bryan Cutsinger of George Mason University, discussing his paper, "Seigniorage in the Civil War South." During the U.S. Civil War, the Confederate Congress adopted three currency reforms that were intended to reduce the quantity of Treasury notes in circulation by inducing the money-holding public to exchange their notes for long-t…
 
Today's guest is Bob Murphy of Texas Tech University. We discuss his work on climate change and the social cost of carbon. Bob started working on issues related to climate change when he started working with the Institute for Energy Research. We discuss the implications of the Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) used to evaluate the impact of clima…
 
Today I discuss one of my own papers: "Instructions" by Freeman, Kimbrough, Petersen, and Tong. This research project on experimental instructions has been ongoing for years, but it was recently conditionally accepted for publication. I tell the story of how the research came together and detail some of the results. A survey of instruction delivery…
 
Today's guest is Viktor Vanberg of the Walter Eucken Institute. We discuss a recent working paper of his entitled Individual Choice and Social Welfare: Theoretical Foundations of Political Economy. What we call an economy, i.e. the nexus of economic activities and relations within some defined regional limits – e.g. a local, a national or the world…
 
Today's guest is Peter Boettke of George Mason University and we're discussing his recent book in the Great Thinkers in Economics series: F. A. Hayek: Economics, Political Economy and Social Philosophy. This book explores the life and work of Austrian-British economist, political economist, and social philosopher, Friedrich Hayek. Set within a cont…
 
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