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Hosted by Russ Roberts
Genre economics
Language English
Updates Mondays
Length 1 hour
Audio format mp3
Original release March 16, 2006 – 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. The podcast is hosted by the Library of Economics and Liberty, an online library sponsored by Liberty Fund. 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.[3]


The first EconTalk podcast was released in March of 2006.

Roberts interviewed Milton Friedman on EconTalk just a few months before Friedman's death in November, 2006. When Roberts was asked in 2015 to pick his most interesting episode, he mentioned two podcasts and included the Friedman interview he had conducted almost a decade earlier.[4]

EconTalk was awarded second place in 2006 and 2007 in the Weblog Awards, followed by 1st place in 2008.[5][6][7]


Roberts has described himself as "a pretty hardcore free marketer."[8] In keeping with this general ideological orientation, major themes of the podcast series include Austrian economics (especially the theories of F.A. Hayek),[9] Classical economics (in particular the ideas of Adam Smith), 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.

Though Roberts is markedly frank about his own libertarian biases, EconTalk has been noted for hosting civil, cogent discussions between Roberts and others with whom he vigorously disagrees.[10] Similarly, some center-left news organizations view EconTalk with a certain wariness mixed with genuine interest: a 2010 editorial in the left-leaning British newspaper The Guardian 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."[11]

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.


  1. ^ Hoover Institute, Research Fellows, Russell Roberts bio
  2. ^ Russ Roberts (5 September 2012). "Joining Hoover full-time". Cafe Hayek. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Kenney, Allen (March 16, 2015). "Russ Roberts Applies Adam Smith to Modern-Day Issues". and Real Estate Investment Trusts magazine. Retrieved July 21, 2017. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Roberts, Russ (April 13, 2017). "Trump Reverses Course On Variety Of Key Economic Issues" (Interview). Interview with Audie Cornish. National Public Radio. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  9. ^ Goldberg, Jonah (March 5, 2017). "Against Empathy & Einfühlung". "The Corner" blog. National Review Online. Retrieved June 29, 2017. Russ Roberts, the host of EconTalk [is] a Hayek disciple for sure. 
  10. ^  Kopf,  Dan (March 21, 2016), "Russ Roberts and the Quest to Make Economics Interesting", Priceonomics, retrieved July 13, 2017, [A]pproachable but substantive discussions of ideas, which are frequently . . . between Roberts and economists who disagree with his ideology 
  11. ^ "In praise of . . . EconTalk". The Guardian. London. 31 August 2010. Retrieved 8 December 2015. 

External links