100 episodes

Tyler Cowen engages today’s deepest thinkers in wide-ranging explorations of their work, the world, and everything in between. New conversations every other Wednesday. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Conversations with Tyler Mercatus Center at George Mason University

    • Education
    • 4.8 • 1.8K Ratings

Tyler Cowen engages today’s deepest thinkers in wide-ranging explorations of their work, the world, and everything in between. New conversations every other Wednesday. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

    Russ Roberts on Israel and Life as an Immigrant

    Russ Roberts on Israel and Life as an Immigrant

    In this special crossover special with EconTalk, Tyler interviews Russ Roberts about his new life in Israel as president of Shalem College. They discuss why there are so few new universities, managing teams in the face of linguistic and cultural barriers, how Israeli society could adapt to the loss of universal military service, why Israeli TV is so good, what American Jews don’t understand about life in Israel, what his next leadership challenge will be, and much more.
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    Subscribe to our Newsletter: https://go.mercatus.org/l/278272/2017-09-19/g4ms

    • 59 min
    Ana Vidović on Prodigies, Performance, and Perseverance

    Ana Vidović on Prodigies, Performance, and Perseverance

    Is genius born or made? For Croatian-born classical guitarist Ana Vidović the answer is both. Born into a musical family, she began playing guitar at five and was quickly considered a prodigy. But she’s seen first-hand how that label can trap young talents into complacency, stifling their full development. She’s also had to navigate changing business models and new technologies, learning for instance how to balance an online presence with her love of performing for live audiences.
    She joined Tyler to discuss that transition from prodigy to touring musician and more, including how Bach challenges her to become a better musician, the most difficult piece in guitar repertoire, the composers she wish had written for classical guitar, the Beatles songs she’d most like to transcribe, why it’s important to study a score before touching the guitar, the reason she won’t practice more than seven hours per day, how she prevents mistakes during performances, what she looks for in young classical guitarists, why she doesn’t have much music on streaming services, how the pandemic has changed audiences, why she stopped doing competitions early on, what she’d change about conservatory education for classical guitarists, her favorite electric guitarists, her love of Croatian pop music, the benefits and drawbacks of YouTube for young musicians, and what she’ll do next.
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    Thumbnail photo credit: https://dianesaldick.com/

    • 44 min
    Conversations with Tyler 2021 Retrospective

    Conversations with Tyler 2021 Retrospective

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    On this special year-in-review episode, Tyler and producer Jeff Holmes talk about the past year on the show, including one episode’s appearance on Ancient Aliens, Tyler’s picks for most underrated guests, how his 2021 predictions fared from last year’s retrospective, further reflections on the most downloaded—and most polarizing—episode of the year, how David Deutsch influenced Tyler’s opinions of Karl Popper, why he thinks his interviews with women tend to be better, and more. They also evaluate Tyler’s pop culture picks from 2011, play “Name that Production Function,” and answer listener questions from Twitter.
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    • 55 min
    Ray Dalio on Investing, Management, and the Changing World Order

    Ray Dalio on Investing, Management, and the Changing World Order

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    When Ray Dalio was 23, President Nixon announced that the United States would no longer be adhering to the gold standard for American currency. Clerking on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Dalio expected to see chaos—but instead stocks soared. Curious to understand this phenomenon, he began to read about similar events in 1933, and it opened his eyes to the lessons that could be drawn from history. His latest book draws on the patterns he’s gleaned from studying dynasties and empires throughout time, as well as his own experiences as a hedge fund manager and founder of Bridgewater Associates.
    Ray joined Tyler to discuss the forces that will affect American life in the coming decades, why we should be skeptical of the saliency of current equities prices, the market as a poker game, the benefits and risks of the US dollar as the world reserve currency, why he thinks US inflation will not be transitory, the key to his success as an investor, how studying the Great Depression enabled him to anticipate the 2008 financial crisis, Bridgewater’s culture of radical transparency, the usefulness of psychometric profiles, where the United States is falling short most in terms of moral character, his truth-seeking process, the kinds of education crucial to building a successful dynasty or empire—and what causes them to fail, how transcendental meditation helps him be creative and objective, what he loves about jazz music, what we undervalue about the ocean, why he loves bow-hunting Cape Buffalo, and more.
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    Thumbnail photo credit: Bridgewater Associates 

    • 58 min
    Ruth Scurr on the Art of Biography

    Ruth Scurr on the Art of Biography

    The most challenging part of being a biographer for Ruth Scurr is finding the best form to tell a life. “You can't go in there with a workmanlike attitude saying, ‘I'm going to do cradle to grave.’ You’ve got to somehow connect and resonate with the life, and then things will develop from that.” Known for her innovative literary portraits of Robespierre and John Aubrey, Scurr’s latest book follows Napoleon’s life through his engagement with the natural world. This approach broadens the usual cast of characters included in Napoleon’s life story, providing new perspectives with which to understand him.
    Ruth joined Tyler to discuss why she considers Danton the hero of the French Revolution, why the Jacobins were so male-obsessed, the wit behind Condorcet's idea of a mechanical king, the influence of Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments during and after the Reign of Terror, why 18th-century French thinkers were obsessed with finding forms of government that would fit with emerging market forces, whether Hayek’s critique of French Enlightenment theorists is correct, the relationship between the French Revolution and today’s woke culture, the truth about Napoleon’s diplomatic skills, the poor prospects for pitching biographies to publishers, why Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws would be her desert island read, why Cambridge is a better city than Oxford, why the Times Literary Supplement remains important today, what she loves about Elena Ferrante’s writing, how she stays open as a biographer, and more.
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    Thumbnail photo credit: Dan White

    • 51 min
    David Rubenstein on Private Equity, Public Art, and Philanthropy

    David Rubenstein on Private Equity, Public Art, and Philanthropy

    Baltimore native David Rubenstein is a founding figure in private equity, a prolific philanthropist, and author. From leveraged buyouts to his patriotic philanthropy to his leadership roles within institutions like the Smithsonian, Kennedy Center, and the National Gallery of Art, David has spent much of his life evaluating what makes institutions—and people—succeed.
    He joined Tyler to discuss what makes someone good at private equity, why 20 percent performance fees have withstood the test of time, why he passed on a young Mark Zuckerberg, why SPACs probably won’t transform the IPO process, gambling on cryptocurrency, whether the Brooklyn Nets are overrated, what Wall Street and Washington get wrong about each other, why he wasn’t a good lawyer, why the rise of China is the greatest threat to American prosperity, how he would invest in Baltimore, his advice to aging philanthropists, the four standards he uses to evaluate requests for money, why we still need art museums, the unusual habit he and Tyler share, why even now he wants more money, why he’s not worried about an imbalance of ideologies on college campuses, how he prepares to interview someone, what appealed to him about owning the Magna Carta, the change he’d make to the US Constitution, why you shouldn’t obsess about finding a mentor, and more.
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    • 56 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
1.8K Ratings

1.8K Ratings

Frank Sola ,

Best of the best

Put simply if for some weird reason podcast went extinct and there were only to be one. This is it!

FireShield95 ,

Q&A with Tyler

Interesting guests, terrible interviewer.

Tyler begins the interviews without giving much of an introduction or background information on the person he's interviewing, so the listener doesn't have much context for what's being talked about.

Additionally, as the title of my review implies, they're not exactly "conversations". Tyler usually just asks a series of questions to the guests and rarely responds to their answers with anything more than "Why?" or "How so?" Very often the questions are not related to the question he asked before or the response the guest gave - there's no transition between topics. It often sounds like he's just reading off a list of questions that he had written down in advance. This is not the way a good host conducts an interview.

If you want to hear actual conversations, listen to EconTalk instead.

Tom Taj ,

Smart, penetrating, wide-ranging

Difficult to place on the political spectrum—in some ways Cowan seems to hold positions that are on the left, right, and center all on the same episode. That in itself is a good thing if you are tired of predictable and easily pigeon-holed thinkers. Another strength of the show: it brings in articulate guests from all sorts of fields of interest. It’s sometimes out of my depth—and I wouldn’t change a thing.

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