Greatest Hits: What Tyler Cowen Thinks About Basically Everything
Play • 1 hr 56 min
In this extended episode of Venture Stories, Erik interviews Tyler Cowen (@tylercowen), professor of economics at George Mason University. They discuss about a wide range of topics, including Tyler’s book Stubborn Attachments, the value of watching sports, travel, Bitcoin, the Knicks, and Effective Altruism — among many, many others.

Tyler explains why he has only two “stubborn attachments” — human rights and economic growth. He takes us through his argument that there’s a moral imperative for economic growth. He talks about why economic growth is the greatest force for good in the world, why redistribution isn’t as effective as Effective Altruists would like, and why we dramatically underestimate the effects of compounding. He discusses some of the reactions to the book and why he says he’s “poked the left in the eye and poked the right in the eye” with Stubborn Attachments.

They discuss the reasons for the extraordinary economic growth of East Asian countries and what kinds of lessons the West could take from those examples. Tyler talks about whether religion has an impact on economic growth and why inequality isn’t as big a deal as it’s made out to be.

Erik asks Tyler what he would do if he could wave a magic wand and change a number of entities, including the US healthcare system, the Knicks, and the Department of Education. Tyler tells Erik whether he would buy Bitcoin and gives his thoughts on central banking and Austrian economics. He also explains why travel is so valuable and why “at the margins people should be more like anthropologists.”

Erik asks Tyler where his views diverge from those of a number of prominent intellectuals, including Thomas Piketty, Russ Roberts, Ayn Rand, and Glen Weyl. Tyler explains why he suspects the environment in which someone grew up influences their thinking style.

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