Paul Bloom on Happiness, Suffering, and the Sweet Spot

EconTalk | 25 October 2021 | 1h 09m | Listen Later | iTunes | Spotify
Interview with Paul Bloom about his book, The Sweet Spot: The Pleasures of Suffering and the Search for Meaning. Argues that suffering is underrated – suffering is part of happiness and meaning. This is a wide-ranging discussion of popular culture, religion, and what we hope to get out of life.

Sam Quinones on Meth, Fentanyl, and the Least of Us

EconTalk | 11 October 2021 | 1h 22m | Listen Later | iTunes | Spotify
Interview with Sam Quinones about his book The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth. Describes the devastation caused by methamphetamine and fentanyl, the latest evolution of innovation in the supply of mind-altering drugs in the United States. Argues that the latest versions of meth are more emotionally damaging than before and have played a central role in the expansion of the homeless in tent encampments in American cities. Explores the rising number of overdose deaths in the United States and what role community and other institutions might play in reducing the death toll.

David Henderson on the Essential UCLA School of Economics

EconTalk | 20 September 2021 | 1h 07m | Listen Later | iTunes | Spotify
Interview with David Henderson about his book The Essential UCLA School of Economics (co-authored with Steve Globerman). Describes the work of Armen Alchian and Harold Demsetz, who both saw economics as a powerful tool for understanding human behavior and how the world works.

Bret Devereaux on Ancient Greece and Rome

EconTalk | 30 August 2021 | 1h 16m | Listen Later | iTunes | Spotify
Interview with Bret Devereaux about our understanding of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Devereaux highlights the gap between the reality of Greece and Rome and how they’re portrayed in popular culture. The conversation focuses on the diversity of ancient Rome and the military prowess of Sparta.

Nicholas Wapshott on Samuelson and Friedman

EconTalk | 16 August 2021 | 1h 08m | Listen Later | iTunes | Spotify
Interview with Nicholas Wapshott about his book Samuelson Friedman: The Battle Over the Free Market. Milton Friedman and Paul Samuelson were two of the most influential economists of the last century. They competed for professional acclaim and had very different policy visions. The conversation includes their differences over the work of Keynes, their rivalry in their columns at Newsweek, and a discussion of their intellectual and policy legacies.

Michael Munger on Free Markets

EconTalk | 9 August 2021 | 1h 10m | Listen Later | iTunes | Spotify
Interview with Michael Munger about the virtues and the flaws of free markets. Explains the moral case for free-market prices. Describes how artificially low prices encourage us to act selfishly, whereas freely adjusting prices give us an opportunity to take the needs of other people into account.

James Heckman on Inequality and Economic Mobility

EconTalk | 26 July 2021 | 1h 23m | Listen Later | iTunes
Interview with James Heckman about inequality and economic mobility. Drawing on research on inequality in Denmark with Rasmus Landerso, Heckman argues that despite the efforts of the Danish welfare state to provide equal access to education, there is little difference in economic mobility between the United States and Denmark. Includes a general discussion of economic mobility in the United States along with a critique of Chetty and others’ work on the power of neighbourhood to determine one’s economic destiny.

Heckman criticises the progressive belief that increased social spending will open up opportunity for the less advantaged. But he too appears to have a blind spot – attributing the persistence of advantage to family factors. Gregory Clark’s work points to that being due largely to genetics, rather than behaviours of the family. And if genetics is truly the source of persistent advantage, doesn’t that suggest that it’s only fair to use high taxes and transfers to even things out?

Anja Shortland on Lost Art

EconTalk | 21 June 2021 | 1h 12m | Listen Later | iTunes
Interview with Anja Shortland about her book Lost Art: The Art Loss Register Casebook Volume One. Describes how famous paintings that disappear into the underworld of stolen art make their way back to the legitimate world of auction houses and museums. Draws on the archives of a private database of stolen objects – the Art Loss Register – to discuss the economics of the art world when objects up for sale may be stolen or looted.