INET Podcast


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.

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An Economy without Spare Tires

Joseph Stiglitz

April 22, 2020

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.

Too Little, Too Late, Again

Michael Spence

April 22, 2020

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.

Jazz and Social Justice

Gerald Horne

April 22, 2020

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.

The Pandemic in the Developing World

Jayati Ghosh

April 22, 2020

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.

Monopoly Politics

Matt Stoller

April 22, 2020

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.

Uncertainty Economics for an Uncertain Time

Roman Frydman

April 22, 2020

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.

Class, Inequality, and the Pandemic

John Ralston Saul

April 22, 2020

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.

When Supply and Demand Both Crash

Adair Turner

April 27, 2020

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.

Shifting Values in a Pandemic

Jeremy Lent

April 28, 2020

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.

Liberty and Equality in a Pandemic

john a. powell

April 29, 2020

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.

Africa’s Crisis of Confidence

Tolu Olubunmi

April 30, 2020

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.

Why the Ferrari Economy Failed

Danny Quah

May 1, 2020

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.

Will the Pandemic Spark a New Scientific Revolution?

Andrew Sheng

May 4, 2020

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.

Buddhist Wisdom to Meet the Challenge of the Pandemic

Susan Piver

May 5, 2020

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.

The Failure of Global Cooperation in a Time of Crisis

Rohinton Medhora

May 6, 2020

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.

Europe’s Economic Crisis and What Needs to Be Done

Peter Bofinger

May 7, 2020

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.

The Past, The Challenges, and the Future of the University

Henry Ponder

May 8, 2020

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.

Economics’ Sins of Omission

George Akerlof

May 10, 2020

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.

The Future of Developing Countries and Globalization After the Pandemic

Dani Rodrik

May 11, 2020

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.

A High-Tech Coronavirus Dystopia – Technology and Surveillance Meet the Shock Doctrine

Naomi Klein & Avi Lewis

May 12, 2020

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.

Envisioning the Pandemic and the Planet

Benjamin Grant

May 13, 2020

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.

Artistic Healing and the Future of Detroit

Ashley Monet & Brandon Dixon

May 14, 2020

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.

Sing A Song of Love and Faith in a Pandemic

Cornel West

May 15, 2020

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.

The Social Challenge of Physical Distancing

Ed Pavlic

May 18, 2020

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

Africa in a Pandemic World

Folashade Soule-Kohndou

May 19, 2020

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.

How the Pandemic Shook Faith in the Market

Nelson Barbosa

May 20, 2020

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.

The Changing Youth Culture of Music

Alan Light

May 21, 2020

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.

African Development

Camilla Toulmin

May 22, 2020

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.

Finding Strength through Vulnerability

Isiah Thomas

May 26, 2020

NBA Legend Isiah Thomas talks with Rob Johnson about race, politics, compassion and the dreadful plantation model of Sports and Entertainment.

Technology, Inspired Learning and Opportunity

Jacqueline Edwards

May 27, 2020

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.

“Technology Destroys Jobs, Not Work”

James Manyika

May 28, 2020

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.

The Surveillance Economy

Rana Foroohar

May 29, 2020

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.

Stories of Crisis

Anna Deavere Smith

June 1, 2020

Dramatist and NYU professor Anna Deavere Smith talks to Rob Johnson about the power of storytelling in times of crisis.

India’s Post-Pandemic Path to Prosperity

Gaurav Dalmia & Jayant Sinha

June 2, 2020

INET board member Gaurav Dalmia and former Indian Finance Minister Jayant Sinha discuss how India can emerge from the pandemic with greater prosperity.

The Imperative of Access to Drugs

Arjun Jayadev & Achal Prabhala

June 2, 2020

INET Senior Economist Arjun Jayadev and Shuttleworth Foundation fellow Achal Prabhala talk to Rob Johnson about the global need for access to affordable pharmaceuticals, especially in India and the rest of the developing world.

Europe’s Dereliction of Duty

Yanis Varoufakis & Danae Stratou

June 3, 2020

Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and artist Danae Stratou talk to Rob Johnson about Europe’s failures for working people, both before and during the pandemic.

Will COVID Lead to Authoritarianism?

Gaël Giraud

June 4, 2020

Gaël Giraud, founder and leader of the Georgetown University Center for Environmental Justice, talks to Rob Johnson about how liberal democracies will fare in facing the pandemic, whether we could see a rise in authoritarian governments, and why economics needs to take climate change into account.

How Greenwich Republicans Learned to Love Trump

Evan Osnos

June 5, 2020

New Yorker staff writer Evan Osnos talks to Rob Johnson about his recent article, “How Greenwich Republicans Learned to Love Trump,” as well as the state of US-China relations.

Authoritarianism in a “Democracy”

Sarah Kendzior

June 8, 2020

Journalist and author Sarah Kendzior talks to Rob Johnson about how the Uzbekistan’s experience of authoritarianism within a nominally democratic framework could be the future of the U.S.

A Spirit of Civic Activism

Michael Sandel

June 10, 2020

Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel talks to Rob Johnson about the implications of the wave of protests sweeping the U.S. and their role in fomenting a spirit of civic activism.

The Civil War Never Ended

Warrington Hudlin

June 10, 2020

Filmmaker Warrington Hudlin taks to Rob Johnson about the protests against police brutality, the long history of racial oppression in the U.S., and his adaptation of Les Misérables set in the outskirts of contemporary Paris.

On George Floyd and John Ruskin

Lynn Parramore & Jeffrey Spear

June 11, 2020

INET Senior Research Analyst Lynn Parramore and NYU Professor of English Jeffrey Spear talk to Rob Johnson about what Victorian art critic John Ruskin’s writings on the collective have to do with the protests that have come in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

Keynesian Inspiration for the Pandemic’s Economic Crisis

Zach Carter

June 12, 2020

Zach Carter, Huffington Post reporter and author of the new book, The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes, talks to Rob Johnson about Keynes’s vision of maintaining democracy in times of crisis.

What Happened to Hong Kong?

William Overholt

June 15, 2020

William Overholt, Senior Research Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, talks to Rob Johnson about how China expanded its power over Hong Kong, and the state of US-China relations.

The Legacy of the Opium Wars

Jamil Anderlini

June 16, 2020

Financial Times Asia editor Jamil Anderlini talks to Rob about the lasting legacy of the Opium Wars on Chinese foreign policy, and the future of Hong Kong.

The Future of International Governance

Chong-En Bai

June 17, 2020

Chong-En Bai, professor of economics at Tsinghua University, talks to Rob about how the U.S. can improve global governance, and what lays ahead for China’s relationships with the U.S., Europe, and India.