EconTalk for 4 weeks

By Paul Walker 07/11/2013


Cliff Winston of the Brookings Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his recent article in the Journal of Economic Literature on the U.S. transportation system. Winston argues that the while the United States has a very good transportation system overall, it is extremely expensive and poorly organized. What is needed, Winston argues, is not more money, but to spend the money already allocated more wisely. He discusses the evolution of the U.S. transportation system, government’s role in transportation, dramatic innovations that might transform aviation and driving, and the potential for privatizing airports and roads.

Guillermo Calvo of Columbia University and the National Bureau of Economic Research talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the nature of macroeconomic crises and what we have learned or should have learned in the aftermath of the most recent one. Based loosely on his recent paper, “Puzzling Over the Anatomy of Crises,” Calvo discusses a wide array of issues related to macroeconomics and the role of financial instability in economy-wide crises. Topics include the role of money, the problem of short-term lending in the financial sector, the black-box approach of modern macroeconomic theory and the forgotten economists we might want to reconsider.

Don Boudreaux of George Mason University and Cafe Hayek talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the intellectual legacy of Ronald Coase. The conversation centers on Coase’s four most important academic articles. Most of the discussion is on two of those articles, “The Nature of the Firm,” which continues to influence how economists think of firms and transaction costs, and “The Problem of Social Cost,” Coase’s pathbreaking work on externalities.

John Ralston Saul, author and head of PEN International, speaks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book, Voltaire’s Bastards, and the role of reason in the modern world. Saul argues that the illegitimate offspring of the champions of reason have led to serious problems in the modern world. Reason, while powerful and useful, says Saul, should not be put on a pedestal above other values including morality and common-sense. Saul argues that the worship of reason has corrupted public policy and education while empowering technocrats and the elites in dangerous and unhealthy ways.