"Office Hours" Podcast

Infographic showing University of Minnesota Heller-Hurwicz Podcast titled Office Hours with a microphone and headphones.
Smiling white man wearing glasses, with gray hair and wearing a black suit jacket with light blue shirt
Chris Farrell

Welcome to Heller-Hurwicz Office Hours, a new podcast featuring University of Minnesota economists and their research. Each episode, join host Chris Farrell in conversation with Minnesota economists, exploring economic topics that impact our daily lives. We’ll highlight how careful economic research can improve our understanding of major societal challenges and inform policy decisions on topics ranging from taxes to international trade, minimum wage to inequality.

Subscribe and listen to the Heller-Hurwicz "Office Hours" podcast on:

Host: Chris Farrell, senior economics contributor at Minnesota Public Radio

Credits: Heller-Hurwicz Office Hours is a production of Matriarch Digital Media. Executive Producer Twila Dang. Producer and Editor Beth K. Gibbs. Music by Bob Bradley.


"We made a lot of progress in, you know, gender wage gaps and earnings gap, and so on, throughout the 70’s, the 80’s and early 90’s," says Federal Reserve Bank Researcher Anusha Nath. "And after all the policy changes that were made … we still see a huge wage gap, whether it's by gender, or whether it's by race. So even today, some of the latest numbers suggest that women earn 82 cents to $1 that men earn, if you look at the Black-white gap, it's 87 cents to $1, for Blacks versus whites."

Listen to Season 1, Episode 3 here.

Read the transcript for Season 1, Episode 3 here.

Hear UMN Economics Professor Hannes Malmberg share why education/skills are widely acknowledged as central for economic development, yet their precise role remains uncertain. 

"What we're trying to look at is the interconnection between how much does the lack of big firms connect to the lack of education in a skilled workforce," says Malmberg. "We often assume that economic growth is a well defined concept, you know? Some countries are rich, some countries are poor. I think it's an assumption you should question. And you should look at the data."

Listen to Season 2, Episode 2 here.

Read the transcript for Season 2, Episode 2 here.

Join us for the first episode of our new season of Office Hours. Hear HHEI Director Kjetil Storesletten discuss why inequality has increased since the 1970s.

"We worry that some people are getting a rotten deal," says UMN Economics Professor Kjetil Storesletten. "And there is perhaps a trade off between what is fair and what is efficient … we've seen the biggest increase in inequality in the century over the last [few] decades, and that's concerning to many."

Listen to Season 2, Episode 1 here.

Read the transcript for Season 2, Episode 1 here.

The economic transformation of China from a poor and centrally planned country in the 1970s to a middle-income market economy today is an amazing story. Kjetil Storesletten lays out the remarkable scale of change. Among the topics he addresses: What was the secret sauce that the Chinese leadership used to deliver rapid growth? Why was the growth broad based and not concentrated in the richer coastal areas? What is the way forward for China now?

Listen to Episode 13: Kjetil Storesletten on China's Economic Transformation

Link to transcript for episode 13

The last few years have seen a renewed interest in wealth taxation. What is a wealth tax, and how does a wealth tax differ from taxes on capital income? Fatih Guvenen discusses research that highlights when a wealth tax, designed to encourage entrepreneurship and risk taking, is preferable to the better-known capital income tax.

Listen to Episode 12: Fatih Guvenen on a Wealth Tax

Link to transcript for episode 12

In this episode, Mariacristina De Nardi discusses how longer lives and unpredictable health make our elder years an economic puzzle. Among the puzzles economists are trying to work out: why do many couples keep putting money away long into retirement? Do we enjoy our money less as we age? She also looks at what public policies might be particularly effective at lowering the degree of financial uncertainty in retirement.

Listen to Episode 11: Mariacristina De Nardi on the Economic Puzzle of Aging

Link to transcript for episode 11

Throughout his career, Art Rolnick has been a researcher and an advocate for government to make large investments in early childhood education for children living in families with low and unstable incomes. The research shows that by investing in quality early childhood education for at-risk children, individuals and society can reap extraordinarily high economic returns, benefits that are low-risk and long-lived.

Listen to Episode 10: Art Rolnick on Early Childhood Education here

Link to transcript for episode 10

In this episode, Joseph Mullins talks about his research from the paper, “Firms’ Choices of Wage-Setting Protocols.” The research project examines what drives differences in firms' willingness to bargain and renegotiate wages. Among the results: bargaining does contribute to the overall gender gap in wages. But a policy that prohibits bargaining to close wage gaps would lower wages for all workers, leading to overall welfare losses.

Listen to Episode 9: Jo Mullins on Bargaining and Negotiating Wages here

Link to transcript for episode 9

The global population is aging. Rising longevity is a powerful demographic force shaping the global economy in many different ways. In this conversation, economist Hannes Malmberg takes a deep dive into how global aging could impact the long-term direction of interest rates. 

Listen to Episode 8: Hannes Malmberg on the Aging Global Population

Link to transcript for episode 8

Gary Stern, former chief executive of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank and co-author of Too Big To Fail, joins the podcast to talk the Silicon Valley Bank crisis, and why restoring market discipline on banks is the first step to making banks and regulators accountable to bank failures. With discussion of the global credit crunch and great recession contextualized in the present day, this episode stresses that there has to be a better way to regulate the banking industry, and avoid these periodic stressful episodes of bank failures, government rescues and economic turmoil.

Listen to Episode 7: Gary Stern on the Banking Crisis

Link to transcript for episode 7

Sovereign debt defaults have long threatened the stability and growth of economies. Remember the Latin American debt crisis of the early 1980s? How about Europe in the 2010s? Manuel Amador and Christopher Phelan discuss their research into sovereign debt defaults, including the role of reputation.

Listen to Episode 6: Manuel Amador and Christopher Phalen on Sovereign Debt

Link to transcript for episode 6

The trend toward rising income inequality in the U.S. has been studied and disputed among economists. Fatih Guvenen advances the scholarly discussion by exploring the concept of measuring inflation-adjusted lifetime inequality over six decades. One stark takeaway: the widespread stagnation of living standards of many American men. We also look at some preliminary data on the experience of younger groups who entered the labor market after 1983.

Listen to Episode 5: Fatih Guvenen on Income Inequality

Link to transcript for episode 5

Have you heard of the term “monopsony”? Kyle Herkenhoff explains what monopsony is and how it is measured. His research measures local labor market concentration and its downward trend in the U.S. over the last 40 years – and its link to monopsony. We'll also discuss the Department of Justice push to apply merger guidelines to monopsony, and not just monopoly.

Listen to Episode 4: Kyle Herkenhoff on Monopsony and Labor Market Concentration

Link to the transcript for Episode 4


In this episode, Tim Kehoe discusses the impact of liberalizing international trade and foreign investment on the economy. He lays out why he believes globalization has been a source of productivity increases and the spread of economic progress throughout the world. He also calls for greater action by economists to pay more attention to the negative consequences of globalization and on policies to offset the adverse consequences.

Listen to Episode 3: Tim Kehoe on International Trade

Link to the transcript for Episode 3

In this episode Anusha Nath reviews the initial results from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis’ long-term minimum wage study. The economic impact of raising the minimum wage is controversial. This project is designed to assess over time the labor market effects of Minneapolis’ and St. Paul's minimum wage increases announced in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Listen to Episode 2: Anusha Nath on the Minimum Wage

Link to the transcript for Episode 2

How can economic research inform better policies? How should we define good public policy? What trade-offs are inevitable in any policy decision?  V.V. Chari, the founding director of the Heller-Hurwicz Economics Institute, discusses his goal for the podcast episodes to address questions like these. He also addresses what makes for good economic research.

Listen to Episode I: V.V. Chari on the Role of Economists in Today's World

Link to the transcript for Episode I

Outside of interviews with faculty, the Office Hours Podcast publishes various episodes produced from lectures hosted by HHEI and the Department of Economics.

LECTURE: Climate Policy in Economics with Per Krusell

Climate transcript

Scientists agree: global warming is the result of CO2 produced by human activity, and urgent action is needed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. What isn't clear is how this should be done in a global market economy. Fortunately, economic analysis can be used to figure out what policies have the best chance of success given economic and political realities. Tune in to hear Per Krusell, Professor at the Institute for Economic Studies at Stockholm University, discuss the economic approach to reducing carbon emissions. Originally recorded on September 22, 2022.

LECTURE: U.S. Debt Ceiling: Reining in the Leviathan or Mutually Assured Destruction?

Debt Ceiling transcript

Raise the debt ceiling or pay the bills? Economists Chris Phelan, Marco Bassetto and Cristina Arellano discuss the looming debt limit deadline, and what the risk of default may mean for the US economy. Recording sourced from our webinar held on May 24, 2023.

LECTURE: Here we go again? Silicon Valley Bank and the current banking crisis

SVB transcript

Defund the banks? The recent failures of Silicon Valley Bank, Sovereign Bank, and internationally, Credit Suisse, have brought new focus on banks, their ability to pay depositors, and the role of central banks in regulating and ensuring the stability of our financial system. In this conversation, economists V.V. Chari, Terry Fitzgerald, and Christopher Phelan discuss the current banking crisis and what policies need to change going forward. Recorded at event on March 29, 2023.