Rob Johnson is not your average economist, and this is not your average economics podcast.
Every week, Rob talks about economic and social issues with a guest who probably wasn’t on your Econ 101 reading list, from musicians to activists to rebel economists.
Nobel laureate economist and Professor at Columbia University Joseph Stiglitz talks to Rob (his former graduate student in the Princeton Econ Department and member of the 2009 UN Stiglitz Commission) about what the pandemic has revealed about the U.S. economy’s shortcomings, and how a proper response to other crises—like climate change—could actually stimulate economic growth and innovation.
Andrew Michael Spence—Nobel laureate, Professor of Economics at the NYU Stern School of Business, and Co-Chair of INET’s Commission on Global Economic Transformation—talks to Rob about how the U.S. government typically errs on the side of doing too little, too late, in response to major crises like the coronavirus pandemic. Spence and Rob compare and contrast how governments in the U.S., Europe, and Asia have responded to COVID-19.
Gerald Horne is the Moores Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston and author of several books including, Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy of the Music. He talks to Rob about the economics of jazz music and musicians, including financial tensions between primarily black artists and white producers.
Jayati Ghosh, professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi and member of INET’s Global Commission on Economic Transformation, talks to Rob about the unique way the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting developing countries. They also discuss the developing global economic crisis, and the way young people in particular are responding.
Matt Stoller, Research Director at the American Economic Liberties Project and author of the book, Goliath: The Hundred Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy, talks with Rob about how the pandemic is affecting the power of monopolies in our politics and economics, and the paths forward as supply chain issues are laid bare.
Roman Frydman, Professor of Economics at NYU and Chair of the Knightian Uncertainty Economics Program at INET, talks to Rob about how behavioral economists model uncertainty and his critique of the rational expectations hypothesis. Frydman also discusses the work and legacy of the late University of Chicago economist Frank Knight, whose students included Milton Friedman and James Buchanan.
John Ralston Saul
John Ralston Saul, writer and political philosopher, talks to Rob about citizenry and society in light of COVID-19. They discuss models for civic engagement that could better tackle the pandemic, as well as other social problems, such as poverty and inequality.
Rob talks to Adair Turner—member of the House of Lords, former Chairman of the British Financial Services Authority, and member of INET’s Commission on Global Economic Transformation—about how the COVID-19 economic crash compares to the post-2008 recession: namely, how to deal with a crisis of supply in addition to aggregate demand.
Jeremy Lent, founder of founder of the Liology Institute and author of The Patterning Instinct, talks to Rob about how values shape our economics and our reaction to the pandemic, and how the pandemic could, in turn, provoke a shift in values in favor of community and against neoliberalism.
john a. powell
With protestors calling on states to loosen lockdowns in the name of “freedom,” john a. powell—INET Governing Board member and Professor and the Director of the Othering and Belonging Institute at University of California, Berkeley—talks to Rob about the long history of America balancing liberty and equality. They also discuss the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on Detroit’s black community, and the political imbalance in the US between rural and urban areas.
Rob talks to social entrepreneur and activist Tolu Olubunmi about the lack of faith in government in Africa—and in the rest of the world—particularly in response to the pandemic. They also discuss global migration, climate change, and how to maintain hope in dark times.
Danny Quah—Dean and the Li Ka Shing Professor of Economics at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore—talks to Rob about why the fast-moving “Ferrari” economy we’re used to is ill-suited for the pandemic, and why we now need a sturdier “Jeep” economy that can handle bumps in the road.
After the Thirty Year’s War, Europeans turned to rationalism and ushered in the Scientific Revolution. Talking to Rob, Andrew Sheng, Director of the George Town Institute of Open and Advanced Studies in Penang, says that the pandemic could do the same, as experts and scientists recapture lost esteem. But it would be a different science, which focuses more on the interconnectedness of everything.
Susan Piver—a writer on meditation and Buddhist teachings and founder of the Open Heart Project—talks to Rob about how Buddhist ideas of being grounded in the present can help us get through the uncertain times of this pandemic.
Rohinton Medhora—economist and President of the Centre for International Governance Innovation—talks to Rob about how our economic institutions, such as the global intellectual property regime and central bank independence hamper our ability to address the global crisis that the COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed. They also talk about the state of populism, US-China relations, and the effect of the pandemic on Africa.
Peter Bofinger, an economist and former member of Germany’s Council of Economic Experts, talks to Rob about the economic crisis now facing Europe, how Modern Monetary Theory could address it, and how it differs from the Great Recession of 2008.
Dr. Henry Ponder, former President of Talladega College, Benedict College, and Fisk University, talks to Rob about the responsibility of leaders and the future of American universities after the pandemic.
Rob talks to Nobel laureate economist George Akerlof about economics’ bias against the “soft” social scientific perspectives of anthropology, sociology, and psychology in favor of “hard” economic models that attempt to replicate iron-clad scientific laws. They also discuss how to reform the economics profession and the needs of a new generation of economists.
Harvard Kennedy School economist Dani Rodrik talks to Rob about the importance of putting debt payments by developing countries on hold in the face of the pandemic. They also discuss the state of globalization and the US-China relationship.
Naomi Klein & Avi Lewis
Rob talks to activist and author Naomi Klein and to documentarian Avi Lewis about how the pandemic has spurred the “shock doctrine”: the sudden imposition of neoliberalism and austerity in response to a crisis. They also discuss the possibilities of a new international solidarity around a global Green New Deal.
Rob talks to Benjamin Grant, the founder of Overview, a company that utilizes satellite and aerial photography to study the impact of humanity on the planet and how the planet affects humanity. They discuss the ways that the pandemic is affecting Earth as a whole—from CO2 emissions to water quality—and how humanity can work together as a global commons.
Ashley Monet & Brandon Dixon
Actors, activists, and co-founders of the WeAre Foundation, Ashley Monet and Brandon Dixon, talk to Rob Johnson about how Detroit can once again become an engine of American culture, ingenuity, and progress.
Philosopher, author, and activist Dr. Cornel West talks to Rob Johnson about what the Christian concept of love can offer during a pandemic. They also discuss financialization, militarization, and the commodification of religion.
Rob Johnson talks to poet and scholar Ed Pavlic about how the pandemic’s physical distancing requirement forces us to reassess all of our relationships and how racism and inequality intensify the pandemic’s effects
Folashade Soule, Senior Research Associate at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford, talks to Rob Johnson about Africa’s relationships with the United States and China in light of the pandemic.
Nelson Barbosa—Professor at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo, former Finance Minister of Brazil, and member of INET’s Global Commission on Economic Transformation—talks to Rob about how faith in the free market is eroding under the COVID-19 pandemic, and how the crisis will impact globalization.
Alan Light, veteran music journalist and host of “In The Light” on SiriusXM, talks to Rob about the social and political role of music and its relationship to youth culture over time. Light and Rob discuss how the silo-ization of music subcultures has faded in the streaming era, and how social media influencers are challenging musicians for the central place in youth culture.
Camilla Toulmin, former director and associate of the International Institute for Environment and Development, talks to Rob Johnson about the role of civil society and education in African development.
NBA Legend Isiah Thomas talks with Rob Johnson about race, politics, compassion and the dreadful plantation model of Sports and Entertainment.
Education innovator Jacqueline Edwards talks to Rob Johnson about how technology has the potential to bring people from less fortunate backgrounds onto an inspired path of learning that creates opportunity and portends a better future for humanity.
James Manyika, Chairman of the McKinsey Global Institute, talks to Rob Johnson about the merits of the “Scandanvian model”: protecting people, not jobs, in the face of automation, through reskilling.
Financial Times columnist Rana Foroohar talks to Rob Johnson about how the pandemic opens the door to more surveillance technology from Silicon Valley, but also to a growing consensus on reigning in Wall Street excess.