Why do nations fail? It’s a question that many have wondered about. What causes nations to degrade into authoritarianism and their institutions to become corrupt? In what is possibly the best book I have read all year, Why Nations Fail, Professors James A. Robinson and Daron Acemoglu take the long view of history, examining the deep and long terms economic, social, and political factors.

Acemoglu and Robinson insist that “development differences across countries are exclusively due to differences in political and economic institutions, and reject other theories that attribute some of the differences to culture, weather, geography or lack of knowledge about the best policies and practices. For example, “Soviet Russia generated rapid growth as it caught up rapidly with some of the advanced technologies in the world [but] was running out of steam by the 1970s” because of a lack of creative destruction. I was lucky enough to get to interview both of them for this week’s podcasts!

Daron Acemoglu is the Institute Professor in the Department of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has received a BA in economics at the University of York, 1989, M.Sc. in mathematical economics and econometrics at the London School of Economics, 1990, and Ph.D. in economics at the London School of Economics in 1992.


An economist and political scientist, James Robinson has conducted influential research in the field of political and economic development and the relationships between political power and institutions and prosperity. His work explores the underlying causes of economic and political divergence both historically and today and uses both the mathematical and quantitative methods of economics along with the case study, qualitative and fieldwork methodologies used in other social sciences.

We’ve had two guest posts on thejist.co.uk this week from Mark E. Thomas who argues that Britain must make changes to our political and economic system now, before huge inequality and disenfranchisement break the system; and Jeffrey A. Tucker makes the case that tyranny never arrives in one fell swoop, rather it creeps up on you, bit by bit.

Lastly I’ve released two clips from last week’s interviews – one about Craig Wright, who claims to be Satoshi Nakamoto (the bitcoin creator) and a clip of me speaking to computer scientist Tim Weninger about the ideas of a hive mind and the GameStop Apes.