Loose, Vague, and Indeterminate is the podcast of the Economics Society at George Mason University. The title is a phrase used by Adam Smith in The Theory of Moral Sentiments to describe the set of rules that are not "precise and accurate." Since economics is all about people and the decisions they make, very little of it is precise and accurate. Every Friday, this podcast dives into the looseness, vagueness, and indeterminacy with interviews of undergraduate students, graduate students, professors, and outsiders exploring economics from all angles.
Dr. Boettke finishes his conversation with us from last time. We discuss the personal bonds between many GMU economics faculty. We talk about Hayek and his influence on economists. Are GMU economics professors ideologically biased? Dr. Boettke gives his answer. We also talk about college basketball. More great conversation with Dr. Boettke -- we promise you'll learn something you didn't know before and laugh along the way. Marcus Shera cohosts.
Dr. Peter Boettke joins the podcast to talk about the history of GMU economics. He discusses his days as an undergraduate student at Grove City College and as a graduate student here at GMU. We learn who the major professors were back then and how the campus has grown to its present size. We talk college basketball and the Nobel Prize. We also learn who told Dr. Boettke to "wear a proper pair of trousers." This episode is full of fun stories from Dr. Boettke's life in economics, and it's only Part 1. Stay tuned for Part 2 next Friday. Marcus Shera cohosts.
Dr. Bryan Cutsinger, who earned his PhD in economics in 2019 from GMU, joins the podcast. He's a professor at Angelo State University in Texas, and also works with the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech. We discuss monetary policy: what it is, how it works (and doesn't), and historical examples. You wouldn't believe what Lyndon Johnson did to the Fed chairman when he was president. We also discuss some of Dr. Cutsinger's past research on the gold standard and monetary policy in the Confederacy during the Civil War. If you're interested in becoming a professor in economics, this podcast is also for you. Dr. Cutsinger discusses his many, many applications and interviews and gives some advice on how to make the transition from student to teacher.
Our guest this week is Janelle Cammenga, a policy analyst with the Center on State Tax Policy at Tax Foundation. We discuss some recent publications she has worked on and learn about different aspects of state tax policy. We cover corporate income taxes, sales taxes, and sin taxes: how they work (or don't work). We also discuss the best and worst states to research, and the way research is done at a policy organization. Next, we learn about how Janelle got her job with a very unusual major/minor combination from college. If you want some tips on fun stuff to do in D.C., she's got you covered there too. This episode is a must-listen for anyone interested in working in D.C.
Prof. Thomas Rustici joins the podcast for the first episode of second semester. There's something for everyone in this episode with the hardest-working man in introductory economics. We discuss the origin of some of his teaching phrases, like "stupid on stilts with flashing neon lights" and the famous "Rustici Rules." You'll learn some things about Prof. Rustici that you didn't know before like his dream job when he was in high school and what kinds of music he loves, likes, and hates. We also discuss the state of liberty and politics in America and hear about Prof. Rustici's experience as a presidential candidate adviser to Ben Carson. Finally, we ponder some constitutional changes and public choice remedies for runaway government spending. James Talocka cohosts.
Our guest is Molly Harnish, Econ Society webmaster emerita. We discuss internships: what they are and how to get them. We also discuss two research projects Molly is working on: one on private vs. public ownership in environmental economics and one on networks in Congress. Listeners will learn lots of ways to get involved and make the most of their college careers -- and they will learn Molly's favorite and least favorite fonts. James Talocka cohosts. (This is the last episode of the semester; the first episode for second semester will come out on January 31.)
Mercatus Center Associate Director of Academic and Student Programs Rosolino Candela joins the podcast to talk about price theory. In an example-filled episode, we discuss free parking at shopping centers, lighthouses and lightships in 18th-century Britain, and the sugar contents of Fanta. Dr. Candela also talks about who he considers the best price theorists: Mises, Hayek, Buchanan, Tullock, Alchian, and Demsetz. Marcus Shera cohosts.
GMU Econ PhD student Andrew Humphries joins the show to talk about his passion for pedagogy. We discuss Socratic teaching methods, dialogue in the classroom, and the discovery process of knowledge. Andrew talks about how he learned to read and the best teacher he ever had. Rajee Agrawal cohosts.
Last year's president of Econ Society, Nick McFaden, joins the show to discuss what he's up to these days, presidential candidates, taxation, and antipoverty policy. What does it mean to be a neoliberal? Are reparations a good idea? Greg Mankiw is #YangGang? We go through those questions and more. Marcus Shera cohosts.
GMU econ student Marcus Shera joins the show to discuss a paper he wrote on the Armenian Genocide. Inspired by his Armenian heritage, he used the tools of new institutional economics to analyze the genocide as a homogenization technology by the Ottoman Empire. We discuss Ottoman history, Islamic law, and different kinds of religious toleration. We also have a surprise guest.
On Episode 4 of Loose, Vague, and Indeterminate, Rajee Agrawal joins me as cohost to talk to PhD student Jon Murphy. We ask Jon about his experience teaching introductory economics, international economics, and law and economics. We also discuss the recent Nobel Prize in Economics winners and the prize in general. Jon talks about what economists should do and retells a classic story about Ronald Coase at the University of Chicago.
Episode 3 of Loose, Vague, and Indeterminate is here! This episode’s guest is first-year Ph.D. student Jacob Hall. We discuss David Hume’s book The History of England and touch on political economy, theories of jurisprudence, and development economics. We also talk about what it’s like being in the first year of the GMU Econ Department’s Ph.D. program.
On the second episode of Loose, Vague, and Indeterminate, I am accompanied in my hosting duties by Econ Society member George Minning as we interview Caleb Petitt. Caleb is a fellow undergraduate at George Mason University who went on an exchange trip to Spain. On that trip, he acquired one of the wildest stories you’ll ever hear about hitchhiking his way through Europe.
Inspired by Henry Hazlitt’s famous book, George, Caleb, and I teach economics in one lesson using the hitchhiking story. We cover marginalism, subjectivism, state vs. private ownership, and much more.
“Loose, vague, and indeterminate” is a phrase from Adam Smith’s 1759 book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS). To explain what that phrase means, Prof. Daniel Klein, a Smith expert, is our first guest. We dive into TMS and talk about how scholars view the book, how Smith breaks down justice, and how the book relates to our lives today.