Since the early 1970s, Americans have seen disappointing levels of economic growth and technological progress. But the potential of artificial intelligence, gene editing, blockchain technology, clean energy, and many more innovations on the horizon provide great reason to be optimistic about the future of the US economy. I recently discussed this potential in a recent AEI online panel discussion, which I now present in podcast form.

Tyler Cowen is the Holbert L. Harris Chair of Economics at George Mason University, and he serves as chairman and faculty director of the Mercatus Center. He is the author of several books, including 2011’s The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All The Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better. Michael Strain is the director of economic policy studies here at AEI, as well as the Arthur F. Burns scholar in political economy. And he’s the author of The American Dream is Not Dead: (But Populism Could Kill It), released last year. Catherine Tucker is the Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management Science and Professor of Marketing at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. She is also a cofounder of the MIT Cryptoeconomics Lab and a co-organizer of the Economics of Artificial Intelligence intiative. And Dietrich Vollrath is a professor of economics and the chair of the Department of Economics at the University of Houston. He is also the author of Fully Grown: Why a Stagnant Economy is a Sign of Success, released last April.

Since the 1980s, the United States has prioritized low inflation, to great success. Policymakers have regularly kept inflation at or below their 2-percent targets, even during periods with record-low interest rates. As a result, many observers have been — and continue to be — pretty comfortable with spending trillions of dollars on pandemic relief… and now infrastructure projects. But what if the low inflation we’ve experienced has been temporary? What if an aging workforce and diminishing returns from globalization will cause wages and prices to begin rising more steeply? That’s the argument made by today’s guests, Charles Goodhart and Manoj Pradhan.

Charles is a financial markets professor emeritus at the London School of Economics, and a former member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee. Manoj is the founder and chief economist of the independent macroeconomic research firm Talking Heads. They are the co-authors of “The Great Demographic Reversal: Ageing Societies, Waning Inequality, and an Inflation Revival,” released last August.

On both sides of the aisle, calls for industrial policy seem to be gaining momentum. Americans have grown more skeptical about markets in the aftermath of the Great Recession. And China’s more managed economy seems to be growing faster and rivaling the US as the technological leader of the world. Many policymakers have reacted by saying that the US government needs to embrace industrial policy and take a more hands-on approach to promoting innovation. Today’s guest, Scott Lincicome, disagrees, holding that an adoption of stronger industrial policy would be unnecessary and even counterproductive.

Scott is a senior fellow in economic studies at the Cato Institute, where he writes on international trade, industrial policy, and economic dynamism. And he is the author of the recently released policy report, “Manufactured Crisis: ‘Deindustrialization,’ Free Markets, and National Security.”

Is spending $1.9 trillion as the economy emerges from the COVID recession a wise move? At what point will policymakers begin paying for their spending initiatives? And what kinds of taxation will we engage in to collect more revenue when the time comes? On today’s episode, I discuss these questions and many more with Alex Brill.

Alex is a resident fellow at AEI, where he studies the impact of tax policy on the US economy, as well as the economic and political consequences of public policy. Previously, he served as the policy director and chief economist of the House Ways and Means Committee.

On today’s episode, Alex Nowrasteh explores the effect of immigration on cultural and political institutions in developed countries, as well as the future of immigration policy under the Biden administration.

Alex is the director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. He is also the coauthor, along with Benjamin Powell, of Wretched Refuse? The Political Economy of Immigration and Institutions, released in December of last year.

In response to the demands of World War II, America generated an impressive amount of innovation in a short time span. Policymakers look back on this record as a model to aspire to, claiming that we “need a new Manhattan Project” to tackle the looming crises of the present. So what lessons should we take away from World War II-era innovation policy? On today’s episode, I discuss this question with Daniel P. Gross.

Daniel is an assistant professor at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, and he’s also a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He’s the author of several papers examining innovation policy in the World War II era, the most recent of which is “Organizing Crisis Innovation: Lessons from World War II,” which he co-authored along with Bhaven Sampat.

After beating the Soviet Union in the race to the moon, America lost much of its drive to explore space for several decades. However, with the rise of private pioneers such as SpaceX and Blue Origin, this has begun to change. And as the US resumes its exploration of outer space, many questions have been raised. Can a private space economy be profitable? Do we have good reason to return to the moon and travel to Mars? And what new discoveries await us that we have yet to predict? I discussed these questions and many more in a recent AEI online panel discussion, which I now present in podcast form.

Tim Fernholz is a senior reporter at Quartz, and he is the author of the 2018 book, Rocket Billionaires: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and the New Space Race. Sara Seager is a professor of planetary science and physics at MIT, where she is known for her research on extrasolar planets. Stan Veuger is a resident scholar in economic policy studies at AEI, as well as a visiting lecturer of economics at Harvard University. And Matt Weinzierl is the Joseph and Jacqueline Elbling Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, where he has recently launched a set of research projects focused on the commercialization of the space sector and its economic implications.

Despite wide agreement that America’s infrastructure quality is relatively low, per-unit infrastructure costs are higher in the US today compared to the rest of the world and to America 50-60 years. Why is this? Are regulations and rent-seeking to blame? Could it reflect some kind of improvement in quality? Today’s guest, Leah Brooks, provides an in-depth exploration of this topic for today’s episode.

Leah is an associate professor in the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at George Washington University, as well as the Director of the Center for Washington Area Studies. She is the co-author, along with Zachary Liscow, of the 2019 paper, “Infrastructure Costs.”

How can research institutions promote growth, other than simply spending more money on basic R&D? Today’s guest, Don Braben, argues that we need to promote scientific freedom by easing up on the strictures of peer review and the demands of obvious applicability. Only then can we enable scientists to generate more of the revolutionary discoveries that we took for granted in the twentieth century.

Don Braben is an honorary professor and vice president of research at University College London. He’s the author of several books, including Scientific Freedom: The Elixir of Civilization, which was originally published in 2008 and was, in 2020, republished by Stripe Press. Don, welcome to the podcast.

America’s university system is the envy of the world, and a major reason for this is that this higher education system is crucial to our innovative capacity. So in today’s episode, Korok Ray explains how universities promote innovation and, more importantly, what they can do to boost their contribution to the US economy even further.

Korok is an associate professor at the Mays Business School of Texas A&M University, and he is the director of the Mays Innovation Research Center. He is also the author of the recent National Affairs article, “The Innovative University.”

America’s adoption of the consumer welfare standard since the late 1970s has led to the rise of innovative Big Tech companies like Google and Amazon. Other countries, particularly in Europe, would love to have massively successful tech firms of their own, but they’re constrained in part by their more restrictive antitrust doctrines. And yet, many conservatives have begun to sound like progressives on this topic, rejecting a more laissez-faire approach to antitrust out of concern that these tech companies have acquired too much power. So today’s episode explores the current state of US antitrust doctrine, as well as the resurgence of calls to reform it, with Joshua Wright.

Josh is a law professor at George Mason University, as well as the executive director of the Global Antitrust Institute and a former member of the Federal Trade Commission. He is the co-author, along with Jan Rybnicek, of the recent National Affairs article, “A Time for Choosing: The Conservative Case Against Weaponizing Antitrust.”

With every year, artificial intelligence becomes increasingly advanced. Innovators are creating and refining applications for AI in industries ranging from health care to transportation. Many economists are optimistic about this developing technology, viewing it as a means of finally escaping the disappointing productivity growth of the past few decades. Other observers are concerned, anticipating massive job loss and disruption. So today’s interview with Darrell M. West explores the impending application of artificial intelligence in the economy, as well as the difficult public policy questions surrounding it.

Darrell is the vice president and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, where he is also a senior fellow at the Center for Technology Innovation. He is the co-author, along with John Allen, of Turning Point: Policymaking in the Era of Artificial Intelligence.

When Joe Biden becomes the 46th president today, he will inherit an economy that continues to struggle under the weight of the COVID pandemic. In response, Biden has announced an ambitious early economic policy agenda to stimulate the economy, raise the national minimum wage, provide aid to state and local governments, and reopen schools. What should people make of these plans? Are they well suited to America’s challenges, or will they incur more consequences than they are worth? On today’s episode, I discuss and evaluate the details of Biden’s plan with Michael Strain.

Michael Strain is the Arthur F. Burns Scholar in Political Economy and director of economic policy studies at AEI. He is also the author of The American Dream Is Not Dead: (But Populism Could Kill It), released in February of last year.

The incoming Biden administration will inherit a trading landscape that has been shaped by President Trump’s protectionism. The key question is: How much continuity will there be between Trump and Biden’s trade policies? Moreover, how strong of a stance will we take against Chinese mercantilism in the next few years, and will other countries join us? I discussed these questions on today’s episode with Claude Barfield.

Claude is a resident scholar at AEI, where he studies international trade and technology policy. He is also a former consultant to the office of the US Trade Representative.

Humans are both ‘traders’ and ‘tribalists’ by nature. We’re traders because we have exchanged knowledge and goods throughout history. Indeed, the story of human progress has been the story of humanity combining its skills and resources to become more prosperous than would have been possible on our own. But we’re also tribalists, because we evolved to form communities that then polarized themselves against outsiders. As a result, we often see questions of connection and collaboration in zero-sum terms even when such a perspective isn’t warranted. That is the argument put forward by today’s guest, Johan Norberg. Today’s episode discusses his concern that humanity’s tribalist nature is getting the better of us, making the future of the most open and prosperous society in human history increasingly precarious.

Johan is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, where he focuses on globalization, entrepreneurship, and individual liberty. He is the author of several books, the most recent of which is Open: The Story of Human Progress — published in November of last year.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act has come under a lot of fire recently. But what does the law actually say, and how would changing it affect the internet as we know it? I discuss these questions and more in today’s interview with Jeff Kosseff.

Jeff is an assistant professor of cybersecurity law in the US Naval Academy’s cyber science department. He is also the author of the 2019 book, The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet.

Happy holidays! We’ll have a new episode next Wednesday, but today I wanted to re-share my favorite interview of 2020 with you all. I hope you enjoy it.

Many Americans view our space program skeptically, wondering why we should bother spending money on it when we have so many problems to fix on Earth. Ever since the space race with the Soviet Union ended, the US lost much of its interest in continuing to explore space. But what if the space race didn’t end in 1969? What if the Soviet Union got to the moon first, and so America continued to push its space program to compete with the Soviets? That is the premise of the show “For All Mankind” on Apple TV+. It is co-created and co-written by today’s guest: renowned science fiction screenwriter and television producer Ronald D. Moore.

There are many anti-Big Tech activists and politicians who want to heavily regulate or dismantle companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook. They fear that these companies have become too big and too powerful, often even referring to these companies as ‘monopolies.’ But maybe this isn’t a fair characterization. Perhaps these Big Tech companies need to offer far more value to consumers than monopolies particularly do, because they are all in competition with each other. That is the argument put forward by today’s guest, Nicolas Petit.

Nicolas is a professor of competition law at both the European University Institute and the College of Europe in Burges. He is the author of the recently released book, Big Tech and the Digital Economy: The Moligopoly Scenario.

Health care policy is difficult, featuring intractable trade-offs that make it nearly impossible to satisfy everyone. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that one of our two political parties has increasingly flirted with the utopian proposal of Medicare for All, with little understanding of how to enact it or what the unintended consequences might be. And the other party seems determined to avoid the topic of health care reform, at least publicly. But the state of our health care system matters — it’s an increasingly large part of our economy, and it is the source of crucial innovations. So I’m delighted to discuss it with Amitabh Chandra.

Amitabh is the John H. Makin Visiting Scholar at AEI, where his work focuses on the economics of health care policy. In addition, he is a professor at both Harvard Business School and the director of health policy research at the Harvard Kennedy School, a member of the Congressional Budget Office’s Panel of Health Advisers, and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Should Americans look back nostalgically on the economy of the 1950s and 1960s? If so, what lessons should policymakers learn from this time period, and how can they be applied to boost economic opportunity today? On today’s episode, I’ll be discussing these questions and more with Jim Tankersley.

Jim is a tax and economics reporter for The New York Times, where he writes about the state of America’s middle class and the decline of economic opportunity across much of the US. Previously, Jim was the policy and politics editor at Vox and an economic policy correspondent for The Washington Post. He is the author of the recently released book, The Riches of This Land: The Untold, True Story of America’s Middle Class.