An economist walks into a bar | Robert Litan | TEDxKC

  • Published on Aug 28, 2014
  • This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Litan's talk explores the surprising role economists have played in the development of the internet economy -- and quite possibly your love life.
    As an economist and attorney, Litan has had nearly four decades of experience in the worlds of the law, economic research and policy, and as an executive in the private, public and government sectors. He has directed economic research at three major organizations - The Brookings Institution, The Kauffman Foundation and Bloomberg Government - and authored or co-authored 27 books on a variety of economic topics. His most recent book, “The Trillion Dollar Economists,” will be published by Wiley Press this September.

    Litan currently is a non-resident senior fellow at Brookings; counsel to Korein Tillery, a law firm based in St. Louis and Chicago specializing in large case litigation; chief economist at Main Street Genome, a D.C.-based startup providing financial analytics to small businesses; and a regular contributor to the Think Tank blog published by The Wall Street Journal.
    About TEDx, x = independently organized event In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

Comments • 183

  • Capricious Men
    Capricious Men 7 days ago

    "An economist walks into a bar" Everybody leaves.

  • LibertyMatrix
    LibertyMatrix 13 days ago +2

    *"The curious task of economics is to teach a man how little he knows about what he imagines he can design."* *_- Friedrich Hayek_*

  • Paul Page
    Paul Page 17 days ago

    Market capitalism justifies it's existence through artificial scarcity. Then turns around and promotes "infinite consumption" and "infinite economic growth". Automation, technology, and technological unemployment increases production, efficiency, and abundance.

  • GTX499 Youtube
    GTX499 Youtube Month ago

    Indirect advertisement for ivies and Stanford (duck kids!)

  • Mwamba Kapambwe
    Mwamba Kapambwe Month ago +2

    Yes, economists deserve some respect

  • MANIK sharma
    MANIK sharma 2 months ago +1


  • Guadalupe Diaz C
    Guadalupe Diaz C 3 months ago

    William Vickrey from Columbia, not Colombia!

  • Econ Artist
    Econ Artist 4 months ago +12

    Artificial scarcity is an interesting notion. I would agree that when I introduce a self imposed constraint on how I spend my time, it ends up helping me be way more productive. I used to do this a lot with school work. I would often procrastinate while doing school work so creating a deadline for how long I would study would provide me a stronger bang for my minute of studying. Cool video and ted talk!

  • Ronin
    Ronin 5 months ago +5

    ive said it before: economics=psychology

    • NPC-boy
      NPC-boy 2 months ago +1

      And mathematics

    RORY GUUL 5 months ago +2

    I never knew economists played a vital role. I used to think they were all talk and not thing meaningful to back it but they have infact built the tracks for the train. Train being the Web retail industry or any online industry for that matter.

  • Timothy Sheridan
    Timothy Sheridan 6 months ago

    totaly idiotic.
    google is the monopolistic access to the market.
    you know nothing about economics. google is selling your marketplace and mine.
    you pay for that in products. google forces competition to crazy seo standards. you pay for that too !!
    THEN, the government doesnt get all that money.. shareholders get the extortion money.
    so You pay AGAIN ! in taxes. Busted.
    then they figured out thet can cheat too ! !.. so now you pay a forth time when the buddy buddy networks charges extra !

  • Peace and Justice
    Peace and Justice 7 months ago

    B O R I N G!!!

  • mweb1
    mweb1 7 months ago


  • Rudy Perez
    Rudy Perez 8 months ago +5

    Economics (/ɛkəˈnɒmɪks, iːkə-/) is the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the behaviour and interactions of economic agents and how economies work.

  • zhu cenglin
    zhu cenglin 8 months ago

    is that why they never get laid?

  • cloudsabove
    cloudsabove 9 months ago +22

    Poor video title. Please change it "Why Respect Economists".

  • Katarzyna Stanek
    Katarzyna Stanek 10 months ago +1


  • Brennan Conway
    Brennan Conway 11 months ago +40

    Anyone else think his shirt is way too big?

  • Javi Garcia
    Javi Garcia Year ago

    William Vickrey is not a Colombian economist. He's a Canadian economist who born in Columbia city, Canada.

    • Rikki Romana
      Rikki Romana 5 months ago

      Javi Garcia Was born in British Columbia

  • Ewan McFadyen
    Ewan McFadyen Year ago

    You spend money the same way you spend time and thought - £££ $$$ is just a middle man between selling your labour and buying what you value

  • karl pages
    karl pages Year ago

    I cannot agree with his logic.
    Scarcity makes people feel stifled and disheartened.
    The false replies and coning people (advertising)

    • Nicholas Hale
      Nicholas Hale Month ago

      I'm sorry Karl, but scarcity makes the world go around. Everything is based on scarcity, read some basic economic theories and it will broaden your world view

  • Ryan Johnson
    Ryan Johnson Year ago +11

    A physicist walks into h-bar

  • Api Turaga
    Api Turaga Year ago +14

    I have always wondered why we have so many people learning Economics and so little Economists!!

    • Economics Now
      Economics Now 3 months ago +3

      I agree. I am 13 and am in Yr 7 in New South Wales. A lot of my mates in 11 chose Eco and Commerce but don't sit the tests. Strange. But you do need eco for Lawyer. That might be a reason.

  • Mike Cremona
    Mike Cremona Year ago +40

    So econommists
    They economize

    • Economics Now
      Economics Now 3 months ago

      Hahaha lol. But you have to agree that the speech was good.

  • Jens Kruse
    Jens Kruse Year ago +4

    Economists should be feared.

  • Carel Deutekom
    Carel Deutekom Year ago

    B. CRM.m. Up I d

  • James Chapman
    James Chapman Year ago +1

    I still don't understand why the idea of government intervention is seen as bad. With airlines themselves being in an oligopolistic market surely without the use of government intervention price fixing cartels will/have formed leading to this market which should be competitive to acting as though it is a monopoly. Additionally if the market itself was seen as contestable, William Baumol himself even said that contestable markets do not act as though competitive. Due to consumers needing time to respond to a new firm entering the market at a lower price the idea of perfect contestability is about as realistic as perfect competition.

  • Karel Vaselz
    Karel Vaselz Year ago

    nice video

  • Buhlebuyeza James Mntungwa

    It Just buy automate

  • Michael Rivera
    Michael Rivera Year ago


  • David Sandford
    David Sandford Year ago

    He sounds very insecure

  • sorsocksfake
    sorsocksfake Year ago

    The great miracle in online advertising has really been though, finding a way that people actually click on those things.

  • sarcasmo57
    sarcasmo57 Year ago

    Moneyball was a so so movie.

  • CA Sreenu Tumati
    CA Sreenu Tumati 2 years ago

    That's awesome talk

  • yoppindia
    yoppindia 2 years ago +1

    how can a small board members of central banks decide the fate of country?

  • Jose Harvell
    Jose Harvell 2 years ago

    thanks !!!

  • cro4591
    cro4591 2 years ago +8

    As long as we use economic indicators to measure quality of life, the cluster-fk will continue.

    • What
      What Year ago

      cro4591 Its logical legerdemain at its most subtle. Most of what they says makes sense, in a paradigm thats already flawed to begin with.

  • cro4591
    cro4591 2 years ago +6

    This whole talk is thoroughly contained within the notion that the Market is a humane and healthy way of dealing with resources and human interaction.

    • Fearghus Keitz
      Fearghus Keitz Year ago

      Do you have a better idea? If so you can always take it to the marketplace of ideas by stating it, describing it, and providing reason to follow/believe it. Thanks to freedom of speech, a basic human right we Americans take for granted, we have our right to choose what we do with out mental property, our ideas and thoughts, as we do with our other property. If you think that these rights are not important enough to be regarded above an idea that sounds smart but requires that these rights be infringed upon, be my guest to use your rights to demean your rights, as is your right.

    • Fearghus Keitz
      Fearghus Keitz Year ago

      cro4591 it’s the only moral way, it’s the most efficient way known to man, it’s the most just way known to man, and it’s don’t far more for mankind than anything else (though to be exact I basically just said mankind has done more for mankind since “the market” is just the culmination of humans interacting and making choices with and of what to do with their labor, resources, skills, information, will, ideas etc. and everything else that is their property.)

  • wildlife T-shirts
    wildlife T-shirts 2 years ago +9

    He can't find a shirt that fits ?

    • Brantley Straub
      Brantley Straub 11 months ago +3

      Spend your time worrying about yourself. You’ve literally contributed nothing but a waste of time with your comment.

    • Sonny Singh
      Sonny Singh Year ago +3

      Because it's more economic to buy shirt that you will grow into.

    • Monika
      Monika Year ago +2

      Shut up, bro

  • joegolfer
    joegolfer 2 years ago

    the science of scarcity....= economics

    • GD Thirumalavasan
      GD Thirumalavasan Year ago

      There is an original research finding on the title, 'Scarcity' by Sendhil Mullainathan & Eldar Shafir. Recommended reading.

    • Hussain Hirani
      Hussain Hirani Year ago +3

      Prime social science

    • What
      What Year ago

      economics is not a science

  • Winston Whitehead
    Winston Whitehead 2 years ago

    damn he got " ghost busters"

  • LibertyJava
    LibertyJava 2 years ago +6

    those pants..........economist

  • Tomás Scarpatti
    Tomás Scarpatti 2 years ago +1

    I can't stand the size of his shirt.

  • Wambui Wambui
    Wambui Wambui 2 years ago +2

    and here I was regretting choosing Economics as a major

    • StoptheNWOplz
      StoptheNWOplz 2 months ago

      @Pishoi Nassif you should never do that, unless you're rich.

    • Pishoi Nassif
      Pishoi Nassif 2 months ago

      @StoptheNWOplz Not true. It depends on the status of the economy whether you should pursue a Ph.D in economics or not

    • StoptheNWOplz
      StoptheNWOplz 2 years ago +5

      Economics is not a real major, you need a PhD to get a job.

  • Jonathan Brown
    Jonathan Brown 2 years ago +2

    Sound as a Pound.

  • Michael Crnkovic
    Michael Crnkovic 2 years ago +36

    Don't go to the comments

  • Hans Müller
    Hans Müller 2 years ago +6

    I can't really find the point of this presentation. It just shows which decisions have been influenced by economists. So what?! You can find examples of decisions that have been influenced by some group for every single profession.

  • TheRock2013
    TheRock2013 2 years ago

    but why economists are poor?

  • Bakhtiyor Rustamov
    Bakhtiyor Rustamov 2 years ago +2

    because of economist you earn such amount of money)))he can even increase the amount

  • Vlayde S
    Vlayde S 2 years ago +1

    ''economists deserve respect'' - depends of the economists

    • Kim D
      Kim D 9 months ago

      Vlayde S Yeah not Keynesians lol

  • Bruce Blake
    Bruce Blake 3 years ago +1

    What a load of old cobblers. May I assure Robert and his colleagues, that I have never bought a single thing in my entire life, in response to advertising, no matter its format. Furthermore, I have never at any time needed the assistance of an "economist" in my personal and professional lives. [aerospace engineer]

    • Cristian
      Cristian Year ago

      Pretty sure it's a joke :)

    • Absocookie
      Absocookie 2 years ago +1

      So basically, you represent all consumers out there...
      Did engineering teach you to generalise all things in life?

    • Robert Frydell
      Robert Frydell 2 years ago +3

      Ummm, you just used up one your 20 lies per day. That which is seen is sold. Did your wife dress up and put on make-up on your 1st date.

    RPDBY 3 years ago

    social darwinism is coming, economist will be happy

  • Daniel Surman
    Daniel Surman 3 years ago +34

    Economics is the study of human behavior

    • Fearghus Keitz
      Fearghus Keitz Year ago +1

      Dan Surman it’s a study of it yeah, it doesn’t include all of human nature but it studies plenty of it.

  • Maurice Silvera
    Maurice Silvera 3 years ago

    Well, a good attempt @ selling economics. He should mention the global financial crisis of 2007 as the work of economics as well. Every field has its downside. You cannot talk about physics without mentioning that it made the tragedy of Hiroshima possible. Instead of going on about the internet economy and online dating, y didn't he speak to the problem of climate change, food security and poverty. Problems which modern economics made possible and has no solution in sight.

    • Maurice Silvera
      Maurice Silvera 3 years ago +1

      chickenisafoolofatoo Point taken. I look towards Ted events to provide groundbreaking ideas. This does not measure up in my book. So I'll agree that we disagree. Cheers

    • chickenisafoolofatoo
      chickenisafoolofatoo 3 years ago

      Maurice Silvera I should add I also agree the respect/vanity angle was pretty poorly thought out.

    • chickenisafoolofatoo
      chickenisafoolofatoo 3 years ago

      Maurice Silvera I agree that there should always be healthy scepticism. Holding practitioners to account is important. I disagree with you re the talk being of no value - economics can be quite abstract so the benefits of some policy ideas are not immediately apparent. The presenter did a reasonable job of highlighting some of those examples.

    • Maurice Silvera
      Maurice Silvera 3 years ago

      chickenisafoolofatoo No, I am not after the issue of ethics. I think it a waste of a Ted talk and quite vain of him, in presenting the discipline as one sided as he did "for respect". My allusions to the crises do indicate solid reasons for people to maimtian a healthy scepticism of the discipline. In my view, considering the crises mentioned in my first response, this talk is of no value.

    • chickenisafoolofatoo
      chickenisafoolofatoo 3 years ago +2

      That's a tad convoluted. I mean, sure, biology is to blame for disease since viruses (sort-of) and bacteria are subsets of biology. It doesn't really mean much talking about 'blame' in this context. I think what you are after is scientific ethics, which is an important field regarding how practitioners choose to use knowledge. The knowledge itself is blameless.

  • Muhammad sha khan
    Muhammad sha khan 3 years ago

    nice videos

  • Zoe Gregson
    Zoe Gregson 3 years ago

    Not bad

  • Moozy
    Moozy 3 years ago +165

    I couldn't stop noticing the smacking of his lips after almost every sentence -_-

    • Gabriel Calderón
      Gabriel Calderón Month ago

      A Heath Ledger's Joker's tribute I guess

    • Wighar
      Wighar 10 months ago

      I made it up til the third one then I stopped watching I could not go on .

    • Tommy Williams
      Tommy Williams Year ago +2

      Moozy I just noticed it and now I’m mad! I can’t unnotice it. 😂

    • Im Yu
      Im Yu Year ago +2

      Mic's too hot and too close. You wouldn't hear that if you & he had a private conversation.

  • meri
    meri 3 years ago

    maybe cupid is in trouble because of its sustainability model of its customers probably because its forced somehow through agreements to share markets with other dating websites and apps which is a problem for those who are truly looking to find the right one because of the loop loop forever loop loop and loop here loop there might as well call it the loop business model of match no match of here there here there and so specifically for each site resulting in time consuming at cost of daters...then I age and age and age and still single but uglier *sigh whats the economy timeline for dating website it when everyone gets tired of online dating and never finding the right one forever...the non free website which some people cannot afford

  • David Hickox
    David Hickox 3 years ago +8

    I work for a major delivery company in the United States. one of the biggest reasons they do have regulations for the Trucking industry is safety. from tires to breaks horns, lights, and to have a predictable route. it sounds dumb but it's very important. Life Safety is very important!

  • GoWadka
    GoWadka 3 years ago +1

    Does anybody else think that Jay Walker looks like Obama in white?