Best economics podcasts

9th February, 2011

I’ve recently – and belatedly – come to the podcasting thing and wanted to put together my favourite economics podcasts as a resource for others.

NPR’s Planet Money is quite simply the best economics podcast out there. Great production values, very creative, serious economics topics treated with a light touch. The team also produced perhaps the greatest economics radio documentary ever made, This American Life’s The Invention of Money.

Another brilliantly-produced podcast is Freakonomics Radio. Stephen Dubner presents a range of topics which can only be described as Freakonomicsy – recent episodes looked at molecular gastronomy and the business of trash disposal. If you want pure economics you won’t find it here, but Dubner brings the same storytelling verve he brought to the Freakonomics books.

Russ Roberts’s EconTalk is, by contrast, pure economics: Russ, a professor at George Mason University, has strong views of his own – he’s a Hayek man through and through – but brings on a wide range of guests and gives them a sympathetic hearing. (As I type I’m listening to Russ discuss whether the stimulus worked with the Keynes expert Steve Fazzari – and a thoroughly civilised conversation it is too.) EconTalk offers no fancy production techniques – guests are usually speaking down a phone line. It’s like eavesdropping on a one-hour conversation between smart economists, including 8 Nobel prize winners. Count ’em.

Owen Barder, a totipotent development guru based in Addis Ababa, is the host and producer of Development Drums. With some exceptions, the format is similar to EconTalk: a one-hour conversation with the experts about a topic of interest. (Somehow Owen seems to get better sound quality than Russ Roberts does.) Guests have included Peter Singer, Rachel Glennerster, Paul Collier, Nancy Birdsall and many other development luminaries. A must for development wonks.

Radio 4’s Analysis often covers economics topics – for instance Jamie Whyte, with the aid of the Keynes v Hayek rap, exploring the revivial of Austrian economics. Mostly talking heads but with high production values.

Two other recommended Radio 4 podcasts about business rather than economics: Peter Day’s World of Business (in depth, on location) and Evan Davis’s The Bottom Line (studio discussion with business leaders).

The London School of Economics has a stellar collection of speakers and releases many events as podcasts.

I have to put in a word for my own team. More or Less on Radio 4 is a half-hour look at the numbers in the news and in the world around us. The producer, Richard Knight, always finds fresh angles, plenty of humour, and high production values. And sometimes – nay, often – it’s about economics.

And an honourable mention for FT Podcasts, which are collected here. I am told that Martin Wolf’s podcast has, alas, been discontinued.

One last thing: more suggestions very welcome. I feel there’s a lot out there I must be missing. Comments are open.

Update: Vox, the excellent blog in which economists write accessible summaries of their work,. has an audio section.

Update 2: I have just discovered that Paul Kedrosky of Infectious Greed has a podcast, Infectious Talk, with some brilliant guests – Dan Ariely, Kathryn Schulz, Paul Romer, Josh Lerner and many others. Looking forward to giving it a listen.

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