Earth 2.0: What Would Our Economy Look Like?

Season 6, Episode 37 This week on Freakonomics Radio: Stephen J. Dubner asks, “If we could reboot the planet and create new systems and institutions from scratch, what would that look like?” This first installment of our Earth 2.0 series is about economics, of course! You’ll hear from Nobel laureate Angus Deaton, the poverty-fighting superhero Jeff Sachs; and many others. To […]

There’s A War On Sugar. Is It Justified?

Some people argue that sugar should be regulated, like alcohol and tobacco, on the grounds that it’s addictive and toxic. How much sense does that make? We hear from a regulatory advocate, an evidence-based skeptic, a former FDA commissioner — and the organizers of Milktoberfest.

Earth 2.0: What Would Our Economy Look Like?

If we could reboot the planet and create new systems and institutions from scratch, would they be any better than what we’ve blundered our way into through trial and error? This is the first of a series of episodes that we’ll release over several months. Today we start with — what else? — economics. You’ll hear from Nobel laureate Angus Deaton, the poverty-fighting superhero Jeff Sachs; and many others.

What Do Skating Rinks, Ultimate Frisbee, and the World Have in Common? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

In last week's podcastStephen Dubner talked with Clay Shirky about how the Internet works without a lot of oversight or regulation. This week, we talk about how the whole world works in that same way. The episode is called “What Do Skating Rinks, Ultimate Frisbee, and the World Have in Common?" (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.) 

So what do all these things have in common? Self-policing. We start at the roller rink. There aren't many rules, no referees, and yet things work. Just think about it: people careening around in circles, on a slick surface, with wheels on their feet -- this should be total chaos. And yet for the most part it's quite orderly. “Rinkonomics” is what Dan Klein calls it. He says the skating rink is “a window on spontaneous order.” Klein is a professor of economics at George Mason University; he has a long-standing interest in proto-economist Adam Smith, who famously described the invisible hand that guides so much human behavior.

How Deep Is the Shadow Economy? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast is called “How Deep Is the Shadow Economy?” It addresses what we know -- and don't know -- about the gazillions of dollars that never show up on anyone's books.

(You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript below.)

The conversation ranges from the macro to the micro -- that is, from worldwide estimates of the size of the shadow economy to the actual off-the-books transactions (from drug dealing to freelance hair-cutting) that make those dollars flow.