Tyler Cowen

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Tyler Cowen
Tyler Cowen 1.jpg
Born (1962-01-21) January 21, 1962 (age 54)
Nationality American
Field Cultural economics
School or
Neoclassical economics
Influences Chicago School
Thomas Schelling
Carl Menger

Tyler Cowen (/ˈk.ən/; born January 21, 1962) is an American economist and writer, who is a professor at George Mason University, where he holds the Holbert C. Harris Chair of economics. He hosts a popular economics blog, Marginal Revolution, together with his co-author, Alex Tabarrok. Cowen and Tabarrok have also started the website Marginal Revolution University, a venture in online education.

Cowen writes the "Economic Scene" column for the New York Times, and also writes for such publications as The New Republic, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Newsweek, and the Wilson Quarterly. He also serves as general director of George Mason's Mercatus Center, a university research center that focuses on the market economy.

In February 2011, Cowen received a nomination as one of the most influential economists in the last decade in a survey by The Economist.[1] He was ranked #72 among the "Top 100 Global Thinkers" in 2011 by Foreign Policy Magazine "for finding markets in everything."[2]

Education and personal life[edit]

Cowen was born in Bergen County,[3] New Jersey. At 15, he became the youngest ever New Jersey state chess champion.[4][5]

He graduated from George Mason University with a bachelor of science degree in economics in 1983 and received his PhD in economics from Harvard University in 1987 with his thesis titled Essays in the theory of welfare economics. At Harvard, he was mentored by game theorist Thomas Schelling, the 2005 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics. He is married to Natasha Cowen, a lawyer.



The Los Angeles Times has described Cowen as "a man who can talk about Haitian voodoo flags, Iranian cinema, Hong Kong cuisine, Abstract Expressionism, Zairian music and Mexican folk art with seemingly equal facility."[6] One of Cowen's primary research interests is the economics of culture. He has written books on fame (What Price Fame?), art (In Praise of Commercial Culture), and cultural trade (Creative Destruction: How Globalization is Changing the World's Cultures). In Markets and Cultural Voices, he relays how globalization is changing the world of three Mexican amate painters. Cowen argues that free markets change culture for the better, allowing them to evolve into something more people want. Other books include Public Goods and Market Failures, The Theory of Market Failure, Explorations in the New Monetary Economics, Risk and Business Cycles, Economic Welfare, and New Theories of Market Failure.

Recent books[edit]

Cowen followed the controversial success of his The Great Stagnation with An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies, "taking on food with equally provocative ideas."[7]

The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All The Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better is a short, 15,000-word, take on the United States' recent economic trajectory released in January 2011. Create Your Own Economy: The Path to Prosperity in a Disordered World was released in July 2009 (and rereleased in 2010, with the new title The Age of the Infovore: Succeeding in the Information Economy) and received favorable reviews from critics including Matthew Yglesias and Tim Harford.

In 2013, he published Average is Over, on the future of modern economies.

New York Times columns[edit]

Cowen's New York Times columns cover a wide range of issues, such as the 2008 financial crisis: "Too Few Regulations? No, Just Ineffective Ones".

Dining guide[edit]

His dining guide for the DC area, "Tyler Cowen's Ethnic Dining Guide," was reprinted in the Food section of the Washington Post.

Political philosophy[edit]

Cowen has written papers in political philosophy and ethics: for example, he co-wrote a paper with the philosopher Derek Parfit, arguing against the social discount rate.[8] A recent paper has argued that the epistemic problem fails to refute consequentialist forms of argument.[9] Cowen has been described as a "libertarian bargainer," a moderate libertarian[clarification needed] who can influence practical policy making.[10] In a 2007 article entitled "The Paradox of Libertarianism," Cowen argued that libertarians "should embrace a world with growing wealth, growing positive liberty, and yes, growing government. We don't have to favor the growth in government per se, but we do need to recognize that sometimes it is a package deal." His argument was subsequently criticized by Bryan Caplan,[11] Justin Raimondo,[12] Christopher Westley,[13] Edward Stringham,[14] and Doug MacKenzie.[15] Cowen recognizes that stateless societies exist, but questions whether they are viable in the long run.[16] Economist Edward Stringham has criticized Cowen on this point, arguing Zomia has existed as a stateless society for centuries.[14]

Cowen endorsed bailouts in a March 2, 2009 column in the New York Times.[17] He was a supporter of the Iraq War.[18]

In 2012, David Brooks called Cowen one of the most influential bloggers on the right, writing that he is among those who "start from broadly libertarian premises but do not apply them in a doctrinaire way."[19]

In an August 2014 blog post, Cowen wrote, "Just to summarize, I generally favor much more immigration but not open borders, I am a liberal on most but not all social issues, and I am market-oriented on economic issues. On most current foreign policy issues I am genuinely agnostic as to what exactly we should do but skeptical that we are doing the right thing at the moment. I don’t like voting for either party or for third parties."[20]


On March 26, 2014, Cowen was attacked whilst teaching "Law and Literature" in his classroom by Jonathan Pendleton, who tried to perform a "citizen's arrest" of the professor and then pepper sprayed him.[21][22][23] A bystander intervened and Pendelton was detained and arrested shortly after by police. Cowen and his students reportedly suffered no lasting injuries. Pendelton reportedly believed that Cowen had "controlled his mind at a distance" and sexually harassed him.[23]



Select journal articles[edit]

Select articles[edit]


  1. ^ "Economics' most influential people". Economist.com. February 1, 2011. Retrieved 2012-06-30. 
  2. ^ "The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers (#72 Tyler Cowan:For finding markets in everything)". Foreign Policy. December 2011. Retrieved March 21, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Correction: Tyler Cowen". Financial Times. London: Pearson. 29 December 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  4. ^ "Interview with the Former "Youngest New Jersey Chess Champion," Tyler Cowen". Kenilworthchessclub.org. 2006-09-08. Retrieved 2012-06-30. 
  5. ^ New Jersey State Champions 1946 – Present New Jersey State Chess Federation, Official Site
  6. ^ The joy of thinking globally, February 7, 2003, Daniel Akst, Los Angeles Times
  7. ^ Cowen, Tyler (2012-04-12). "Penny Pleasance in The New York Journal of Books". Nyjournalofbooks.com. Retrieved 2012-06-30. 
  8. ^ 'Against the social discount rate', Derek Parfit and Tyler Cowen, in Peter Laslett & James S. Fishkin (eds.) Justice between age groups and generations, Yale University Press: New Haven, 1992, pp. 144–161.
  9. ^ The Epistemic Problem Does Not Refute Consequentialism, Tyler Cowen, Utilitas (2006), 18: 383–399
  10. ^ Klein, Daniel B. "Mere Libertarianism: Blending Hayek and Rothbard". Reason Papers. Vol. 27: Fall 2004.
  11. ^ "EconLog, Worst Advice to Libertarians Ever?, Bryan Caplan: Library of Economics and Liberty". Econlog.econlib.org. 2007-03-14. Retrieved 2012-06-30. 
  12. ^ "Libertarianism and the Great Divide- by Justin Raimondo". Antiwar.com. Retrieved 2012-06-30. 
  13. ^ "The Real Libertarian Paradox by Christopher Westley". Lewrockwell.com. 2007-03-16. Retrieved 2012-06-30. 
  14. ^ a b Stringham, Edward; Miles, Caleb (2012). "Repelling States: Evidence from Upland Southeast Asia". The Review of Austrian Economics. 25 (1): 17–33. doi:10.1007/s11138-010-0115-3. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  15. ^ D. W. MacKenzie (2007-03-19). "Tyler's Paradox – Mises Economics Blog". Blog.mises.org. Retrieved 2012-06-30. 
  16. ^ Cowen, Tyler; Sutter, Daniel (2005). "Conflict, Cooperation, and Competition in Anarchy" (PDF). Review of Austrian Economics. 18 (1): 109–115. doi:10.1007/s11138-005-5595-1. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  17. ^ Cowen, Tyler (March 1, 2009). "Message to Regulators: Bank Fix Needed Quickly". New York Times. 
  18. ^ "The Volokh Conspiracy". Volokh.com. Retrieved 2012-06-30. 
  19. ^ Brooks, David (2012-11-19). "The Conservative Future". New York Times. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  20. ^ Cowen, Tyler (4 August 2014). "Matt Yglesias on Tyler Cowen". Marginal Revolution. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  21. ^ Greenwood, Arin (2014-03-27). "Tyler Cowen Pepper Sprayed While Teaching Law School Class On Vigilantism". Huffington Post. 
  22. ^ McNeal, Greg (2014-03-27). "Law Professor Pepper Sprayed During Class By Man Demanding A 'Citizen's Arrest'". Forbes. 
  23. ^ a b Weiner, Rachel (April 29, 2014). "Tyler Cowen's attacker thought the professor was controlling his mind, Cowen testifies". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 29, 2014. 

External links[edit]