Russ Roberts


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

Russ Roberts
Born (1954-09-19) September 19, 1954 (age 67)[1][2]
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 categorizes himself as a proponent of classical economic liberalism. He has said, "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."[8]


Roberts was awarded a B.A. in economics in 1975 from the University of North Carolina and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago in 1981 for his thesis on the design of government transfer programs[9][10] under the supervision of Gary Becker.[11][12]


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,[13] and has written for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Roberts also blogs at Cafe Hayek[14] with Donald J. Boudreaux at George Mason University in Fairfax County, Virginia.[15]

Roberts writes and publishes videos on economics, some of which have been viewed millions of times.[16] 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 economicsEdit

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.[17]

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).[18]

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,[19] The Theory of Moral Sentiments.[20]

Policy positionsEdit

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."[21] 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."[22] 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."[23] 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,[24] while Roberts was not.[25]

Roberts has urged those who formulate public policy and the economists who advise them to be more skeptical of the findings of empirical studies,[26] 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.[27]



  • The Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protectionism (1st ed.). Prentice Hall. 1994. ISBN 978-0-13-083008-1. OCLC 29357777.
    • The Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protectionism (3rd ed.). Prentice Hall. 2006. ISBN 978-0-13-143354-0. OCLC 70839758.
    • The Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protectionism (CD audio). Princeton, NJ: Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic. 2002. OCLC 51110966.
  • 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.

Articles and papersEdit

  • Roberts, Russ. "Working Papers in Economics": Domestic Studies Program (Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace):
    • Roberts, Russ (1986). Financing public goods. no. E-86-9. OCLC 39865959.
    • Roberts, Russ (1988). Subsidies to Private Spending on Public Goods. no. E-88-22. OCLC 22871627.
      • Also published as: Roberts, Russ (September 1992). "Government subsidies to private spending on public goods". Public Choice. 74 (2): 133–152. doi:10.1007/bf00140763. JSTOR 30025593. S2CID 154960626.
  • Roberts, Russ (February 1984). "A positive model of private charity and public transfers". Journal of Political Economy. 92 (1): 136–148. doi:10.1086/261212. S2CID 154058725.
  • Roberts, Russ (January 1985). "A taxonomy of public provision". Public Choice. 47 (1): 267–303. doi:10.1007/BF00119360. JSTOR 30024844. S2CID 154025814.
  • Roberts, Russ (April 1985). "Recipient preferences and the design of government transfer programs". Journal of Law and Economics. 28 (1): 27–546. doi:10.1086/467074. S2CID 153715129.
  • Roberts, Russ (June 1989). "Why comply: one-sided enforcement of price controls and victimless crime laws". Journal of Legal Studies. 18 (2): 403–414. doi:10.1086/468152. JSTOR 3085626. S2CID 154809833.
  • Roberts, Russ; Lott, John R. (January 1991). "A guide to the pitfalls of identifying price discrimination". Economic Inquiry. 29 (1): 14–23. CiteSeerX doi:10.1111/j.1465-7295.1991.tb01249.x.
  • Roberts, Russ (May 1992). "When does a decrease in a distortion increase welfare?". Economics Letters. 39 (1): 37–42. doi:10.1016/0165-1765(92)90098-J.

See alsoEdit


  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. ^ "Russell Roberts profile". Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  4. ^ Russ Roberts (5 September 2012). "Joining Hoover full-time". Cafe Hayek. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  5. ^ "A New Leader for an Educational Startup in the Startup Nation". 19 November 2020. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  6. ^ Editorial staff (August 31, 2010). "In Praise of . . . EconTalk". The Guardian. London. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ Kenney, Allen (March 16, 2015). "Russ Roberts Applies Adam Smith to Modern-Day Issues". and Real Estate Investment Trusts magazine. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  9. ^ "A positive analysis of the design of government transfer programs". ProQuest 303039469. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ "Russ Roberts' CV" (PDF). Mercatus Center, George Mason University. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  11. ^ "Chris Anderson on Makers and Manufacturing". EconTalk. Retrieved 1 January 2013. I remember when Gary Becker, my adviser in graduate school wrote a book
  12. ^ "Gary Becker, RIP". Cafe Hayek. 2014-05-05. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  13. ^ Noguchi, Yuki (August 2, 2018). "Solving The 'Wage Puzzle': Why Aren't Paychecks Growing?". National Public Radio.
  14. ^ "Cafe Hayek – where orders emerge". Cafe Hayek.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-12-02. Retrieved 2011-11-29.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Russ Roberts Videos | Rap Battles | The Numbers Game | Wonderful Loaf". Russ Roberts. Retrieved 2019-09-22.
  17. ^ "Book review of The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance". Publishers Weekly. February 1, 2001. Retrieved July 29, 2017.
  18. ^ 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"). Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ Russ Roberts (October 11, 2011). "The evidence for Keynesian economics". Cafe Hayek (blog).
  23. ^ Paul Krugman (October 12, 2011). "I Am Not Your Mirror Image". The Conscience of a Liberal (blog).
  24. ^ Paul Krugman (June 6, 2015). "Why Am I A Keynesian?". The Conscience of a Liberal (blog).
  25. ^ Russ Roberts (June 23, 2015). "Krugman is human, just like me". Cafe Hayek (blog).
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ 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.

External linksEdit

  • "Russ Roberts Podcasts". EconTalk. Library of Economics and Liberty. – a listing of EconTalk episodes in which Roberts interviews various guests discussing economic topics
  • Robert's bio at the Mercatus Center
  • NPR Commentary, "Economist: Don't Jump the Gun on Stimulus Plans"
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
    • C-SPAN Q&A interview with Roberts and John Papola about Fear the Boom and the Bust and The Fight of the Century, June 26, 2011
  • A recent Roberts interview
  • Russ Roberts explains his Epistemological views on The Filter