INET Podcast


Rob Johnson is not your average economist, and this is not your average economics podcast.

Every week, Rob talks about economic and social issues with a guest who probably wasn’t on your Econ 101 reading list, from musicians to activists to rebel economists.

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Can Capitalism Deal with the Climate & Nuclear Threats?

Paul Jay

July 8, 2020

Documentarian Paul Jay talks to Rob Johnson about how major investment fund managers, such as BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street, exercise enormous control over public companies, where they use voting rights to stymie efforts to curb climate change.

Socialism in America

David Sirota

July 6, 2020

David Sirota, Jacobin Magazine editor-at-large and former speechwriter for Bernie Sanders, talks to Rob Johnson about the future of democratic socialism in America after the Sanders campaign.

Music in a Time of Social Change

Joe Boyd

July 2, 2020

Rob Johnson talks to music producer Joe Boyd about the musical inflection point of the 1960’s, and how social change affects art and artists.

Will Colleges Reopen?

Cathy O’Neil

July 1, 2020

Cathy O’Neil, founder of O’Neil Risk Consulting and Algorithmic Audit and author of the book Weapons of Math Destruction, talks to Rob Johnson about the crisis facing universities in the pandemic.

The Great Crimes of Our Society

Alex Gibney

June 29, 2020

Alex Gibney, documentarian and director of Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, talks to Rob Johnson about the crimes perpetuated by American government and society today, including systemic racism, police brutality, and neglect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Music and Activism in the Struggle for Racial Justice

Elaine Brown, Pt. 2

June 26, 2020

In the second of a two-part interview, Rob Johnson talks to author, activist, and former Black Panther Party chairwoman Elaine Brown about her music, her housing work and entrepreneurship in Oakland, CA, and the political moment.

The 400-year Struggle for Racial Justice in the US

Elaine Brown, Pt. 1

June 24, 2020

In the first of a two-part interview, Rob Johnson talks to author, activist, and former Black Panther Party chairwoman Elaine Brown about the killing of George Floyd and the protests sweeping the U.S. in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Future of the Central Bank

Brian Barnier

June 22, 2020

Brian Barnier, Director of Analytics at ValueBridge Advisors, talks to Rob Johnson about how the pandemic could change the mission of central banks..

Global Fracture - Nationalism on the March

Michael Pettis

June 19, 2020

Michael Pettis, Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, talks to Rob Johnson about how trade wars really are class wars and how nationalist conflict is shaping US-China relations and fracturing Europe.

A Neoliberal Pandemic

Wendy Brown

June 18, 2020

UC Berkeley political theorist Wendy Brown talks to Rob Johnson about how the pandemic and protests against police brutality lay bare a crisis of neoliberalism.

The Future of International Governance

Chong-En Bai

June 17, 2020

Chong-En Bai, professor of economics at Tsinghua University, talks to Rob about how the U.S. can improve global governance, and what lays ahead for China’s relationships with the U.S., Europe, and India.

The Legacy of the Opium Wars

Jamil Anderlini

June 16, 2020

Financial Times Asia editor Jamil Anderlini talks to Rob about the lasting legacy of the Opium Wars on Chinese foreign policy, and the future of Hong Kong.

What Happened to Hong Kong?

William Overholt

June 15, 2020

William Overholt, Senior Research Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, talks to Rob Johnson about how China expanded its power over Hong Kong, and the state of US-China relations.

Keynesian Inspiration for the Pandemic’s Economic Crisis

Zach Carter

June 12, 2020

Zach Carter, Huffington Post reporter and author of the new book, The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes, talks to Rob Johnson about Keynes’s vision of maintaining democracy in times of crisis.

On George Floyd and John Ruskin

Lynn Parramore & Jeffrey Spear

June 11, 2020

INET Senior Research Analyst Lynn Parramore and NYU Professor of English Jeffrey Spear talk to Rob Johnson about what Victorian art critic John Ruskin’s writings on the collective have to do with the protests that have come in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

The Civil War Never Ended

Warrington Hudlin

June 10, 2020

Filmmaker Warrington Hudlin taks to Rob Johnson about the protests against police brutality, the long history of racial oppression in the U.S., and his adaptation of Les Misérables set in the outskirts of contemporary Paris.

A Spirit of Civic Activism

Michael Sandel

June 10, 2020

Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel talks to Rob Johnson about the implications of the wave of protests sweeping the U.S. and their role in fomenting a spirit of civic activism.

Authoritarianism in a “Democracy”

Sarah Kendzior

June 8, 2020

Journalist and author Sarah Kendzior talks to Rob Johnson about how the Uzbekistan’s experience of authoritarianism within a nominally democratic framework could be the future of the U.S.

How Greenwich Republicans Learned to Love Trump

Evan Osnos

June 5, 2020

New Yorker staff writer Evan Osnos talks to Rob Johnson about his recent article, “How Greenwich Republicans Learned to Love Trump,” as well as the state of US-China relations.

Will COVID Lead to Authoritarianism?

Gaël Giraud

June 4, 2020

Gaël Giraud, founder and leader of the Georgetown University Center for Environmental Justice, talks to Rob Johnson about how liberal democracies will fare in facing the pandemic, whether we could see a rise in authoritarian governments, and why economics needs to take climate change into account.

Europe’s Dereliction of Duty

Yanis Varoufakis & Danae Stratou

June 3, 2020

Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and artist Danae Stratou talk to Rob Johnson about Europe’s failures for working people, both before and during the pandemic.

The Imperative of Access to Drugs

Arjun Jayadev & Achal Prabhala

June 2, 2020

INET Senior Economist Arjun Jayadev and Shuttleworth Foundation fellow Achal Prabhala talk to Rob Johnson about the global need for access to affordable pharmaceuticals, especially in India and the rest of the developing world.

India’s Post-Pandemic Path to Prosperity

Gaurav Dalmia & Jayant Sinha

June 2, 2020

INET board member Gaurav Dalmia and former Indian Finance Minister Jayant Sinha discuss how India can emerge from the pandemic with greater prosperity.

Stories of Crisis

Anna Deavere Smith

June 1, 2020

Dramatist and NYU professor Anna Deavere Smith talks to Rob Johnson about the power of storytelling in times of crisis.

“Technology Destroys Jobs, Not Work”

James Manyika

May 28, 2020

James Manyika, Chairman of the McKinsey Global Institute, talks to Rob Johnson about the merits of the “Scandanvian model”: protecting people, not jobs, in the face of automation, through reskilling.

Technology, Inspired Learning and Opportunity

Jacqueline Edwards

May 27, 2020

Education innovator Jacqueline Edwards talks to Rob Johnson about how technology has the potential to bring people from less fortunate backgrounds onto an inspired path of learning that creates opportunity and portends a better future for humanity.

Finding Strength through Vulnerability

Isiah Thomas

May 26, 2020

NBA Legend Isiah Thomas talks with Rob Johnson about race, politics, compassion and the dreadful plantation model of Sports and Entertainment.

African Development

Camilla Toulmin

May 22, 2020

Camilla Toulmin, former director and associate of the International Institute for Environment and Development, talks to Rob Johnson about the role of civil society and education in African development.

The Changing Youth Culture of Music

Alan Light

May 21, 2020

Alan Light, veteran music journalist and host of “In The Light” on SiriusXM, talks to Rob about the social and political role of music and its relationship to youth culture over time. Light and Rob discuss how the silo-ization of music subcultures has faded in the streaming era, and how social media influencers are challenging musicians for the central place in youth culture.

How the Pandemic Shook Faith in the Market

Nelson Barbosa

May 20, 2020

Nelson Barbosa—Professor at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo, former Finance Minister of Brazil, and member of INET’s Global Commission on Economic Transformation—talks to Rob about how faith in the free market is eroding under the COVID-19 pandemic, and how the crisis will impact globalization.

Africa in a Pandemic World

Folashade Soule-Kohndou

May 19, 2020

Folashade Soule, Senior Research Associate at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford, talks to Rob Johnson about Africa’s relationships with the United States and China in light of the pandemic.

The Social Challenge of Physical Distancing

Ed Pavlic

May 18, 2020

Rob Johnson talks to poet and scholar Ed Pavlic about how the pandemic’s physical distancing requirement forces us to reassess all of our relationships and how racism and inequality intensify the pandemic’s effects

Sing A Song of Love and Faith in a Pandemic

Cornel West

May 15, 2020

Philosopher, author, and activist Dr. Cornel West talks to Rob Johnson about what the Christian concept of love can offer during a pandemic. They also discuss financialization, militarization, and the commodification of religion.

Artistic Healing and the Future of Detroit

Ashley Monet & Brandon Dixon

May 14, 2020

Actors, activists, and co-founders of the WeAre Foundation, Ashley Monet and Brandon Dixon, talk to Rob Johnson about how Detroit can once again become an engine of American culture, ingenuity, and progress.

Envisioning the Pandemic and the Planet

Benjamin Grant

May 13, 2020

Rob talks to Benjamin Grant, the founder of Overview, a company that utilizes satellite and aerial photography to study the impact of humanity on the planet and how the planet affects humanity. They discuss the ways that the pandemic is affecting Earth as a whole—from CO2 emissions to water quality—and how humanity can work together as a global commons.

A High-Tech Coronavirus Dystopia – Technology and Surveillance Meet the Shock Doctrine

Naomi Klein & Avi Lewis

May 12, 2020

Rob talks to activist and author Naomi Klein and to documentarian Avi Lewis about how the pandemic has spurred the “shock doctrine”: the sudden imposition of neoliberalism and austerity in response to a crisis. They also discuss the possibilities of a new international solidarity around a global Green New Deal.

The Future of Developing Countries and Globalization After the Pandemic

Dani Rodrik

May 11, 2020

Harvard Kennedy School economist Dani Rodrik talks to Rob about the importance of putting debt payments by developing countries on hold in the face of the pandemic. They also discuss the state of globalization and the US-China relationship.

Economics’ Sins of Omission

George Akerlof

May 10, 2020

Rob talks to Nobel laureate economist George Akerlof about economics’ bias against the “soft” social scientific perspectives of anthropology, sociology, and psychology in favor of “hard” economic models that attempt to replicate iron-clad scientific laws. They also discuss how to reform the economics profession and the needs of a new generation of economists.

The Past, The Challenges, and the Future of the University

Henry Ponder

May 8, 2020

Dr. Henry Ponder, former President of Talladega College, Benedict College, and Fisk University, talks to Rob about the responsibility of leaders and the future of American universities after the pandemic.

Europe’s Economic Crisis and What Needs to Be Done

Peter Bofinger

May 7, 2020

Peter Bofinger, an economist and former member of Germany’s Council of Economic Experts, talks to Rob about the economic crisis now facing Europe, how Modern Monetary Theory could address it, and how it differs from the Great Recession of 2008.

The Failure of Global Cooperation in a Time of Crisis

Rohinton Medhora

May 6, 2020

Rohinton Medhora—economist and President of the Centre for International Governance Innovation—talks to Rob about how our economic institutions, such as the global intellectual property regime and central bank independence hamper our ability to address the global crisis that the COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed. They also talk about the state of populism, US-China relations, and the effect of the pandemic on Africa.

Buddhist Wisdom to Meet the Challenge of the Pandemic

Susan Piver

May 5, 2020

Susan Piver—a writer on meditation and Buddhist teachings and founder of the Open Heart Project—talks to Rob about how Buddhist ideas of being grounded in the present can help us get through the uncertain times of this pandemic.

Will the Pandemic Spark a New Scientific Revolution?

Andrew Sheng

May 4, 2020

After the Thirty Year’s War, Europeans turned to rationalism and ushered in the Scientific Revolution. Talking to Rob, Andrew Sheng, Director of the George Town Institute of Open and Advanced Studies in Penang, says that the pandemic could do the same, as experts and scientists recapture lost esteem. But it would be a different science, which focuses more on the interconnectedness of everything.

Why the Ferrari Economy Failed

Danny Quah

May 1, 2020

Danny Quah—Dean and the Li Ka Shing Professor of Economics at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore—talks to Rob about why the fast-moving “Ferrari” economy we’re used to is ill-suited for the pandemic, and why we now need a sturdier “Jeep” economy that can handle bumps in the road.

Africa’s Crisis of Confidence

Tolu Olubunmi

April 30, 2020

Rob talks to social entrepreneur and activist Tolu Olubunmi about the lack of faith in government in Africa—and in the rest of the world—particularly in response to the pandemic. They also discuss global migration, climate change, and how to maintain hope in dark times.

Liberty and Equality in a Pandemic

john a. powell

April 29, 2020

With protestors calling on states to loosen lockdowns in the name of “freedom,” john a. powell—INET Governing Board member and Professor and the Director of the Othering and Belonging Institute at University of California, Berkeley—talks to Rob about the long history of America balancing liberty and equality. They also discuss the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on Detroit’s black community, and the political imbalance in the US between rural and urban areas.

Shifting Values in a Pandemic

Jeremy Lent

April 28, 2020

Jeremy Lent, founder of founder of the Liology Institute and author of The Patterning Instinct, talks to Rob about how values shape our economics and our reaction to the pandemic, and how the pandemic could, in turn, provoke a shift in values in favor of community and against neoliberalism.

When Supply and Demand Both Crash

Adair Turner

April 27, 2020

Rob talks to Adair Turner—member of the House of Lords, former Chairman of the British Financial Services Authority, and member of INET’s Commission on Global Economic Transformation—about how the COVID-19 economic crash compares to the post-2008 recession: namely, how to deal with a crisis of supply in addition to aggregate demand.

Class, Inequality, and the Pandemic

John Ralston Saul

April 22, 2020

John Ralston Saul, writer and political philosopher, talks to Rob about citizenry and society in light of COVID-19. They discuss models for civic engagement that could better tackle the pandemic, as well as other social problems, such as poverty and inequality.