Conversations with Tyler

Tyler Cowen engages today’s deepest thinkers in wide-ranging explorations of their work, the world, and everything in between. New conversations every other Wednesday. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.


Matt Yglesias on Why the Population is Too Damn Low

Sep 9, 2020
66 min
Matt Yglesias joined Tyler for a wide-ranging conversation on his vision for a bigger, less politically polarized America outlined in his new book One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger. They discussed why it’s easier to grow Tokyo...
Sep 9, 2020 • 66 MIN

Jason Furman on Productivity, Competition and Growth

Aug 26, 2020
61 min
Tyler credits Jason Furman’s intellectual breadth, real-world experience, and emphasis on policy for making him the best economist in the world. Furman, despite not initially being interested in public policy, ultimately served as the chair of the...
Aug 26, 2020 • 61 MIN

Nicholas Bloom on Management, Productivity, and Scientific Progress

Aug 12, 2020
63 min
What might the electrification of factories teach us about how quickly we’ll adapt to remote work? What gives American companies an edge over their competitors on the international stage? What value do management consultants really provide?...
Aug 12, 2020 • 63 MIN

Nathan Nunn on the Paths to Development

Jul 29, 2020
61 min
Nathan Nunn’s work history includes automotive stores, a freight company, a paint factory, a ski hill, photography, book publishing, private tutoring, and more. Having grown up in a lower-income Canadian family, he recognizes the importance of...
Jul 29, 2020 • 61 MIN

Melissa Dell on the Significance of Persistence

Jul 15, 2020
63 min
Explaining 10 percent of something is not usually cause for celebration. And yet when it comes to economic development, where so many factors are in play—Institutions, culture, geography, to name a few—it’s impressive indeed. And that’s just what...
Jul 15, 2020 • 63 MIN

Annie Duke on Poker, Probabilities, and How We Make Decisions

Jul 1, 2020
54 min
For Annie Duke, the poker table is a perfect laboratory to study human decision-making — including her own. “It really exposes you to the way that you’re thinking,” she says, “how hard it is to avoid decision traps, even when you’re perfectly well...
Jul 1, 2020 • 54 MIN

Rachel Harmon on Policing

Jun 17, 2020
49 min
Long before becoming a legal scholar focused on police reform, Rachel Harmon studied engineering at MIT and is a graduate of philosophy at LSE. “You could call it a random walk,” she says, “or you could say that I’m really interested in the...
Jun 17, 2020 • 49 MIN

Ashley Mears on Status and Beauty

Jun 3, 2020
61 min
Ashley Mears is a former fashion model turned academic sociologist, and her book Very Important People: Status and Beauty in the Global Party Circuit  is one of Tyler’s favorites of the year. The book, the result of eighteen months of field...
Jun 3, 2020 • 61 MIN

Paul Romer on a Culture of Science and Working Hard

May 20, 2020
59 min
Paul Romer makes his second appearance to discuss the failings of economics, how his mass testing plan for COVID-19 would work, what aspects of epidemiology concern him, how the FDA is slowing a better response, his ideas for reopening schools and...
May 20, 2020 • 59 MIN

Adam Tooze on our Financial Past and Future

May 6, 2020
65 min
Adam Tooze is best known for his highly-regarded books on the economic history of Nazi Germany, the remaking of the global economic and political order starting in World War I, and his account of how the economic effects of the 2008 financial...
May 6, 2020 • 65 MIN

Glen Weyl on Fighting COVID-19 and the Role of the Academic Expert

Apr 29, 2020
55 min
Glen Weyl is an economist, researcher, and founder of RadicalXChange. He recently co-authored a paper that sets forth an ambitious strategy to respond to the crisis and mitigate long-term damage to the economy through a regime of testing, tracing,...
Apr 29, 2020 • 55 MIN

Philip E. Tetlock on Forecasting and Foraging as a Fox

Apr 22, 2020
54 min
Accuracy is only one of the things we want from forecasters, says Philip Tetlock, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction. People also look to forecasters for ideological...
Apr 22, 2020 • 54 MIN

Emily St. John Mandel on Fact, Fiction, and the Familiar

Apr 8, 2020
55 min
When Tyler requested an interview with novelist Emily St. John Mandel, he didn’t expect that reality would have in some ways become an eerie mirror of her latest books. And Emily didn’t expect that it’d be boosting sales: “Why would anybody in...
Apr 8, 2020 • 55 MIN

Ross Douthat on Decadence and Dynamism

Mar 25, 2020
67 min
For Ross Douthat, decadence isn’t necessarily a moral judgement, but a technical label for a state that societies tend to enter—and one that is perhaps much more normal than the dynamism Americans have come to take for granted. In his new book, he...
Mar 25, 2020 • 67 MIN

Russ Roberts and Tyler on COVID-19

Mar 19, 2020
79 min
Tyler and Russ Roberts joined forces for a special livestreamed conversation on COVID-19, including how both are adjusting to social isolation, private versus public responses to the pandemic, the challenge of reforming scrambled organization...
Mar 19, 2020 • 79 MIN

Reid Hoffman on Systems, Levers, and Quixotic Quests

Jan 15, 2020
60 min
When Reid Hoffman creates a handle for some new network or system, his usual choice is “Quixotic.” At an early age, his love of tabletop games inspired him to think of life as a heroic journey, where people come together in order to accomplish...
Jan 15, 2020 • 60 MIN