|Born||September 19, 1954|
|Alma mater||University of North Carolina (B.A.)|
University of Chicago (Ph.D.)
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. He is known for communicating economic ideas in understandable terms as host of the EconTalk podcast.
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."
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 under the supervision of Gary Becker.
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, and has written for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Roberts writes and publishes videos on economics, some of which have been viewed millions of times. 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.
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.
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).
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,The Theory of Moral Sentiments.
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." 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." 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." 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, while Roberts was not.
Roberts has urged those who formulate public policy and the economists who advise them to be more skeptical of the findings of empirical studies, 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.
I was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1954.
I turned 57 today
Economics podcast for daily life. Weekly interviews with guests ranging from small business owners to Nobel Laureates.
I remember when Gary Becker, my adviser in graduate school wrote a book
[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.