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Two Track Mind: How Irrational Policy Endures

“Wherever the truth lies, one thing is clear: not all deaths are judged equally. In the moral calculus of the mind emotional distance is heavily weighted.” Imagine for a moment you are standing at a railway switch. Suddenly, you notice a runaway trolley headed toward a fork in the track. Just beyond the fork stand .. MORE


Rights, Restrictions, and Reality: 50 Years of Anarchy, State, and Utopia

Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia was released in 1974, shortly after (and partly in response to) his Harvard colleague John Rawls’ 1971 A Theory of Justice. Anarchy, State, and Utopia included a theory of rights and a right-based account of liberalism in the classic tradition, which offered an alternative not only to Rawls’ progressive .. MORE


John Locke: Mercantilist?

I recently had occasion to read (for the first time) John Locke’s “Some Considerations of the Consequences of the Lowering of Interest, and Raising the Value of Money.” [SC]1 Among other things, this got me thinking about the common claim that Locke was a mercantilist.2 I think the correct assessment of this claim is that .. MORE

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Moral Reasoning

What Would Change My Mind?

By Kevin Corcoran

Information Goods, Intellectual Property

A Contradiction in Hayek’s Famous 1945 Article

By David Henderson


China’s Real Problem is Nominal

By Scott Sumner

Conversation Arts: Civility, Incivility, and Persuasion

Lessons from Lincoln, Then and Now (with Diana Schaub)

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings

Highlights of My Weekly Reading for July 14, 2024

By David Henderson

Money and Inflation

Alan Reynolds on “Shelter Prices” and Inflation

By David Henderson

Business Cycles

Trendy Tables

By Giorgio Castiglia

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing

Dreams and Nightmares

By Scott Sumner

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings

Activism and Institutional Gresham’s Law

By Kevin Corcoran


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Roosevelt Montás on Rescuing Socrates

How do books change our lives? Educator and author Roosevelt Montás of Columbia University talks about his book Rescuing Socrates with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Drawing on his own educational and life journey, Montás shows how great books don’t just teach us stuff–they get inside us and make us who we are.


Does Market Failure Justify Government Intervention? (with Michael Munger)

Economics students are often taught that government should intervene when there is market failure. But what about government failure? Should we expect government intervention to outperform market outcomes? Listen as Duke University economist Michael Munger explores the history of how economists have thought about this dilemma and possible ways to find a third or even .. MORE


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Economics and Culture

Nepotism and Global Politics

I imagine that most readers don’t spend a great deal of time thinking about the practice of nepotism. In this post, I won’t try to convince you that nepotism is good or bad, rather I’ll try to show that nepotism provides a useful entry point to thinking about contemporary trends in the politics of many .. MORE

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings

Tariffs, Deficits, and Debt

Scott Sumner recently had a post discussing a potential relationship between trade deficits and government debt.  To sum up, since debt must come from savings, if domestic savings are too low relative to domestic investment, then foreign savings must come in and make up the difference; the United States imports foreign savings.  When the government .. MORE


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John Hopkins’s Notions on Political Economy

By Jane Haldimand Marcet

THE miscellaneous character of the following Tracts is accounted for by their having been written at different periods. Some of them were published, with the Author’s permission, about two years ago, by a Society established in Glamorganshire for the improvement of the labouring classes. It will be obvious to the reader, that it is for .. MORE

The Economics of Welfare

By Arthur C. Pigou

WHEN a man sets out upon any course of inquiry, the object of his search may be either light or fruit—either knowledge for its own sake or knowledge for the sake of good things to which it leads. In various fields of study these two ideals play parts of varying importance. In the appeal made .. MORE

Book Reviews and Suggested Readings

On the Rise of the “Economic Style of Reasoning”

By Donald J. Boudreaux

A Book Review of Thinking Like an Economist: How Efficiency Replaced Equality in U.S. Public Policy, by Elizabeth Popp Berman.1 The thesis of University of Michigan sociologist Elizabeth Popp Berman’s 2022 book, Thinking Like an Economist, is straightforward. From the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt through that of Lyndon Johnson, Americans on the political left—and .. MORE

Can Capitalism Survive? Ben Rogge on Capitalism’s Future

By Dwight R. Lee

How can someone publish a book asking if capitalism can survive, offer no hope that it can, and still become widely applauded as a strong advocate of capitalism? The most obvious way is to be a world-class economist named Joseph Alois Schumpeter. The next notable way is to be Benjamin Rogge (1920-1980), not a world-class .. MORE



A Conversation with Ronald H. Coase

Nobel laureate Ronald H. Coase (1910-2013) was recorded in 2001 in an extended video now available to the public. Coase’s articles, “The Problem of Social Cost” and “The Nature of the Firm” are among the most important and most often cited works in the whole of economic literature. Coase recounts how he tried to encourage .. MORE


A Conversation with James M. Buchanan, Parts I and II

Nobel laureate James M. Buchanan (1919-2013) was recorded in 2001 in an extended video now available to the public. Universally respected as one of the founders of the economics of public choice, he is the author of numerous books and hundreds of articles in the areas of public finance, public choice, constitutional economics, and economic .. MORE

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College Economics Topics

Supplementary materials for popular college textbooks used in courses in the Principles of Economics, Microeconomics, Price Theory, and Macroeconomics are suggested by topic.

Economist Biographies

From the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics

Economic History, International Economics, Schools of Economic Thought


Mercantilism is economic nationalism for the purpose of building a wealthy and powerful state. Adam Smith coined the term “mercantile system” to describe the system of political economy that sought to enrich the country by restraining imports and encouraging exports. This system dominated Western European economic thought and policies from the sixteenth to the late .. MORE

Basic Concepts


The most basic laws in economics are the law of supply and the law of demand. Indeed, almost every economic event or phenomenon is the product of the interaction of these two laws. The law of supply states that the quantity of a good supplied (i.e., the amount owners or producers offer for sale) rises .. MORE

Corporations and Financial Markets , Economic Regulation, Economics of Legal Issues


“ Innovation”: creativity; novelty; the process of devising a new idea or thing, or improving an existing idea or thing. Although the word carries a positive connotation in American culture, innovation, like all human activities, has costs as well as benefits. These costs and benefits have preoccupied economists, political philosophers, and artists for centuries. Nature .. MORE


The task of a theory of the market is to provide insight into the course of events set in motion by the state of market disequilibrium.

-Israel Kirzner

“All constitutions of government, however, are valued only in proportion as they tend to promote the happiness of those who live under them.”

-Adam Smith Full Quote >>

The “market” or market organization is not a means toward the accomplishment of anything. It is, instead, the institutional embodiment of the voluntary exchange processes that are entered into by individuals in their several capacities. This is all there is to it.

-James M. Buchanan Full Quote >>