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Ep. 12 Gene Epstein on Commies, Krugman, and Crushing Debaters

Gene Epstein, former Barron’s economics editor and founder of the Soho Forum, joins Bob for a lively discussion covering a variety of topics. Gene explains that his mother, a card-carrying member of the Communist Party, had an FBI file and was responsible for Gene’s original position as a democratic socialist. It was only through his reading of Rothbard’s Man, Economy, and State that Gene became a free-market libertarian. Gene recounts his experiences teaching economics and working on the New York Stock Exchange, and shares examples of the abuse of economic statistics as detailed in his book Econospinning. Finally Gene offers Bob some advice for his upcoming debate with Tom Woods.
Mentioned in the Episode and Other Links of Interest:

The sound engineer for this episode was Chris Williams. Learn more about his work at

About the author, Robert

Christian and economist, Research Assistant Professor with the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech, Senior Fellow with the Mises Institute, and co-host with Tom Woods of the podcast "Contra Krugman."


  1. […] The latest episode is long but we cover a lot of interesting stuff. […]

  2. Matt on 01/17/2019 at 11:09 PM

    I know what I’ll be listening on my drive home. Also my drive back to work. Also my drive home tomorrow. Also this weekend

    • John Mann on 01/23/2019 at 12:05 PM

      I too love these long episodes. Length, per se, is not necessarily a virtue – but with Bob and Gene, there is not much fluff. And when there is fluff, it’s good fluff.

  3. chris on 01/19/2019 at 10:31 AM

    Another excelllent show, Bob! Especially the debate coaching bit at the end !

    What I love about Gene in his debates is that where I might come up with one argument to support a point, he comes up with like seven arguments; always a pleasure to his excellent logic.

    Bob, maybe you could ask Gene to consider writing a book about basic investing. I know there are a million boods out there on the topic, but Gene’s would be one that I think people would actually trust.

  4. Thundaga on 01/20/2019 at 8:23 AM

    I don’t blame Bob for asking Gene if he was serious when he said that he suspected that black guys joined the Communist Party because they wanted to have sex with his mom. haha

  5. Thundaga on 01/20/2019 at 12:42 PM

    Had a break halfway, but finally got through this episode. It was pretty lengthy but packed with a lot of great stuff.

    While I find live debates entertaining, I don’t find them the best way to learn the issue. A lot of the very important nuance of the arguments is necessarily left out — this makes it not the best format to learn the arguments if that’s your purpose of watching the debates. I guess if you’re coming in brand new and with an open mind, you can use the debates as a springboard for further research.

    Also, on the Oxford Style, I think it’s interesting but it can be rigged. Peter Schiff debated at Soho last year on Bitcoin. I forget the exact resolution, but it was something like “Is Bitcoin the Future,” with Peter in the negative. He lost the debate but he suspect foul play on the part of the voting audience — that people who believed in the affirmative intentionally voted in the negative/neutrally, and then switched their vote to affirmative at the end to inflate the convinced margin in Bitcoin’s favor. Peter shared this theory on his podcast a couple times. He said that he actually got messages from people who attended that there was some of this going on.

    I’ll keep an ear for that Tom Woods repeating a paragraph in the audiobook, but now I’m gonna look for that Yale Political Union debate he had because it sounds real entertaining from your description of it. The last YPU debate I watched was Schiff on the minimum wage, so I’m guessing Tom’s one is gonna be a hissing fest too.

  6. Julien Couvreur on 01/22/2019 at 2:28 AM

    I tried to find Krugman’s article on France (Gene mentions is as “Egalite, Fraternite, Humanite” in the show), but could not find it. I’d much appreciate if anyone has a pointer. Thanks!

  7. Ohad Osterreicher on 01/24/2019 at 10:44 AM

    Sorry, but this episode didn’t deliver what it promised. I’m a regular listener to this podcy and I’ve truly enjoyed every episode thus far, but this one had too many faults I believe.
    Bob, you let Gene talk too long on minor and uninteresting topics like the employment statistics. You should have cutted him out somewhere and change the topic because the man can blabber on for days without noticing.
    Love the podcast, especially the solo episodes.

    • Caesar Geiger on 02/03/2019 at 12:23 AM

      ” you let Gene talk too long on minor and uninteresting topics like the employment statistics. ”

      Speak for yourself. Some of us are actually interested in the minutia of employment statistics. All in all, I thought this was a great episode. I mean, it essentially was just a conversation rather than a strict interview, so going off on tangents is expected.

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