Season 9, Episode 49

Everyone agrees that massive deforestation is an environmental disaster. But most of the standard solutions — scolding the Brazilians, invoking universal morality — ignore the one solution that might actually work. And: humans, it has long been thought, are the only animal to engage in economic activity. But what if we’ve had it exactly backward? To find out […]

Introducing People I (Mostly) Admire

Steve Levitt has spent decades as an academic economist, “studying strange phenomena and human behavior in weird circumstances.” Now he’s turning his curiosity to something new: interviewing some of the most interesting, unorthodox people around — from actresses to athletes, authors to inventors. Levitt’s new podcast, "People I (Mostly) Admire" premieres August 21st. 

How the Supermarket Helped America Win the Cold War (Ep. 386 Rebroadcast)

Aisle upon aisle of fresh produce, cheap meat, and sugary cereal — a delicious embodiment of free-market capitalism, right? Not quite. The supermarket was in fact the endpoint of the U.S. government’s battle for agricultural abundance against the U.S.S.R. Our farm policies were built to dominate, not necessarily to nourish — and we are still living with the consequences.

The Simple Economics of Saving the Amazon Rain Forest (Ep. 428)

Everyone agrees that massive deforestation is an environmental disaster. But most of the standard solutions — scolding the Brazilians, invoking universal morality — ignore the one solution that might actually work.

Season 9, Episode 35

We speak with a governor, a former C.D.C. director, a pandemic forecaster, a hard-charging pharmacist, and a pair of economists — who say it’s all about the incentives. (Pandemillions, anyone?) To find out more, check out the podcast from which this hour was drawn: “How Do You Reopen a Country?”

How Do You Reopen a Country? (Ep. 416)

We speak with a governor, a former C.D.C. director, a pandemic forecaster, a hard-charging pharmacist, and a pair of economists — who say it’s all about the incentives. (Pandemillions, anyone?)

How Rahm Emanuel Would Run the World (Ep. 415)

As a former top adviser to presidents Clinton and Obama, he believes in the power of the federal government. But as former mayor of Chicago, he says that cities are where real problems get solved — especially in the era of Covid-19.

Season 9, Episode 12

Most high-school math classes are still preparing students for the Sputnik era. Steve Levitt wants to get rid of the “geometry sandwich” and instead have kids learn what they really need in the modern era: data fluency. To find out more, check out the podcast from which this hour was drawn: “America’s Math Curriculum Doesn’t […]

Season 9, Episode 11

Do economic sanctions work? Are big democracies any good at spreading democracy? What is the root cause of terrorism? It turns out that data analysis can help answer all these questions — and make better foreign-policy decisions. Guests include former Department of Defense officials Chuck Hagel and Michèle Flournoy and Chicago Project on Security and […]

Speak Softly and Carry Big Data (Ep. 395)

Do economic sanctions work? Are big democracies any good at spreading democracy? What is the root cause of terrorism? It turns out that data analysis can help answer all these questions — and make better foreign-policy decisions. Guests include former Department of Defense officials Chuck Hagel and Michèle Flournoy and Chicago Project on Security and Threats researchers Robert Pape and Paul Poast. Recorded live in Chicago; Steve Levitt is co-host.