A Guide to the Decisions That Define Us
Algorithms and apps analyze data and tell you how to beat the traffic, what books to buy, what music to listen to, and even who to date—often with great results. But what do you do when you face the big decisions of life—the “wild problems” of who to marry, whether to have children, where to move, how to forge a life well-lived—that can’t be solved by measurement or calculation?
In Wild Problems, beloved host of EconTalk Russ Roberts offers puzzled rationalists a way to address these wild problems. He suggests spending less time and energy on the path that promises the most happiness, and more time on figuring out who you actually want to be. He draws on the experience of great artists, writers, and scientists of the past who found creative ways to navigate life’s biggest questions. And he lays out strategies for reducing the fear and the loss of control that inevitably come when a wild problem requires a leap in the dark.
Ultimately, Roberts asks us to see ourselves and our lives less as a problem to be solved than a mystery to be experienced. There’s no right decision waiting to be uncovered by an app or rational analysis. Reality is harder than that and, perhaps, a little more interesting.
What caused the Financial Crisis of 2008? While government mandates and private sector mistakes did contribute to the crisis and can be blamed at least in part for what happened, this book takes a different approach. Russ Roberts argues that the true underlying cause of the mess was the past bailouts of large financial institutions that allowed these institutions to gamble carelessly because they were effectively using other people’s money.
I take the ideas in Smith’s little-known masterpiece, The Theory of Moral Sentiments and apply them to the modern world—lessons for work, family, friendship, and how to live the good life.
A Stanford University provost and a star-student and world-class tennis player clash about the virtues of top-down intervention vs. order that emerges from the bottom-up. Along the way, a group of students protest the role of a big box retailer on campus entangling the provost and her tennis-playing pupil. My best novel, I think, this book explores emergent order in the economy and our standard of living.
2006 (3rd Edition)
David Ricardo comes back as a ghost to argue about the costs and benefits of trade with an American television manufacturing exec in 1960. A primer on international trade written in the form of a novel, it was named one of the top ten books of the year by Business Week and one of the best books of the year by the Financial Times when the first edition came out in 1994. Not my best novel but lots of economics here.
The Invisible Heart
A Washington DC high school teacher argues economics and philosophy with his English-teaching colleague. Topics covered include consumer protection, welfare and charity, outsourcing, paternalism, corporate responsibility, and the role of competition in a modern economy. My second novel, the writing is a little better than the first. It is a romance, but PG at best.