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Mark Skousen — What You Should Know About Economics

Skeptic 28.1 (cover)

Mark Skousen is a Presidential Fellow and the Doti-Spogli Endowed Chair of Free Enterprise at Chapman University. He has a BA, MA, and Ph.D. in economics (George Washington University, 1977). In 2018, Mr. Steve Forbes awarded him the Triple Crown in Economics for his work in theory, history, and education. He has taught economics, business and finance at Columbia Business School and Columbia University. He has worked for the government (CIA), non-profits (president of FEE, the Foundation for Economic Education), and been a consultant to IBM and other Fortune 500 companies. He is the author of over 25 books, including The Making of Modern Economics and The Maxims of Wall Street. He has been editor in chief of an award-winning investment newsletter, Forecasts & Strategies, since 1980. He has written for the Wall Street Journal and Forbes magazine. He produces “FreedomFest, the world’s largest gathering of free minds,” every July in Las Vegas and other cities. He and his wife have five children and eight grandchildren, and have lived in three countries and visited 77. Influenced by his work The Structure of Production (NYU Press, 1990), the federal government began publishing a broader, more accurate measure of the economy, Gross Output (GO), every quarter along with GDP. It is the first macro statistic of the economy to be published quarterly since GDP was invented in the 1940s. His books can be found at His website is

Shermer and Skousen discuss:

  • Is economics politicized?
  • Adam Smith and what he really said
  • how the economy really works
  • fiat money vs. gold standard money
  • inflation and what to do about it
  • experimental economics
  • comparing countries with economic measures
  • How much regulation does capitalism need?
  • progressive vs. flat taxes
  • Keynesian economics
  • economic booms and busts
  • why the economy crashed in 2008/2009
  • Could the American economy ever collapse like Venezuela’s did?
  • what the Fed does (or should do)
  • Modern Monetary Theory
  • GDP (Gross Domestic Product) vs. GO (Gross Output) as economic measures
  • bitcoin/cryptocurrency
  • why money matters
  • monopolies, duopolies, and market capture
  • antitrust, trustbusting
  • profit and market efficiency
  • the relationship between saving and spending, or time discounting: value the future enough to invest in it now but don’t plan for the greatest 90th birthday party ever in case you can’t make it
  • What’s wrong with free market capitalism?
  • money, happiness, and meaningfulness.

Key Questions to Understanding Economic Matters

  1. What is the secret to the success of capitalist nations, which have grown by leaps and bounds in the past 200 years?
  2. What drives the economy—consumer spending, business investment, or government stimulus?
  3. Why are young people so attracted to democratic socialism, and is there a better alternative?
  4. Should valuable goods and services like college education, medical services, and transportation be made available to the public for free?
  5. What is money, what is it based on without a gold standard, and can crypto ever replace it?
  6. Are booms and busts and periods of inflation and recession (like we’re experiencing now) inevitable?
  7. Do economists offer any solution to the global warming threat? (why we will never run out of fossil fuels)

Adam Smith in Five Basic Themes

  1. Pro savings, capital investment, and entrepreneurship
  2. Limited government (laissez faire)
  3. Balanced budgets except in times of war
  4. Sound money (gold/silver standard)
  5. Free trade.

Fraser Institute of Canada has rated most countries on the degree of economic freedom. They have found a direct correlation between the level of economic freedom and a country’s standard of living. The think tank uses five criteria to determine each nation’s level of economic freedom, linked to Adam Smith’s classical model.

  1. Size of government
  2. Property rights and legal structure
  3. Sound money
  4. Trade policy
  5. Business regulation.

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This episode is sponsored by Wondrium:

Wondrium (sponsor)

This episode was released on May 16, 2023.

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