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Is capitalism the engine of destruction or the engine of prosperity? On this podcast we talk about the ways capitalism is?or more often isn?t?working in our world today. Hosted by Vanity Fair contributing editor, Bethany McLean and world renowned economics professor Luigi Zingales, we explain how capitalism can go wrong, and what we can do to fix it. Cover photo attributions: If you would like to send us feedback, suggestions for guests we should bring on, or connect with Bethany and Luigi, please email: contact at capitalisnt dot com. If you like our show, we'd greatly appreciate you giving us a rating or a review. It helps other listeners find us too.


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Is Short Selling Dead? With Jim Chanos

The Wall Street Journal wrote that ?Wall Street's best-known bear is going into hibernation" after the legendary short seller Jim Chanos announced he would close his main hedge funds late last year, in part due to diminishing interest in stock picking. Short selling, which bets on drops in asset prices, wins when companies and governments fail and has gained a predatory reputation over the years. Just last week, the China Securities Regulatory Commission vowed "zero tolerance" against what they called "malicious short sellers," according to Reuters.

One of our listeners wrote to Bethany with this question: ?What does it say about capitalism if Jim Chanos can?t find enough investors willing to profit from its frauds, fads, and failures, not to mention the competitive forces that are necessary for a functioning market? Is short selling dead?? To discuss this, Luigi and Bethany sat down with Chanos himself, who has been cast as the ?Darth Vader of Wall Street,? the ?Catastrophe Capitalist,? and the ?LeBron James of short selling.? Together, they discuss the relationship between short sellers and our information environment, the fallout from the "meme stock" craze, the effects of the Federal Reserve?s interest rate policies, and how short selling can contribute to market efficiency and resilience. Do short sellers play a positive role by uncovering corporate fraud, mismanagement, and systemic risks? What safeguards are necessary to prevent short-selling abuse and ensure fair and transparent markets?

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Manufacturing Influence, with Emily Hund

According to the latest industry statistics, the global influencer economy grew from $1.7 billion in 2016 to $21.1 billion in 2023 ? and it's only expected to grow exponentially from here with advances in artificial intelligence. In 1988, Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman investigated how mass media sways audiences to conform to social norms without coercion, or what they called ?manufacturing consent.? In her new book, ?The Influencer Industry: The Quest for Authenticity on Social Media,? Dr. Emily Hund investigates how social media influencers have manufactured a new media economy to which we?ve unwittingly consented.

Hund, a research affiliate at the Center on Digital Culture and Society at the University of Pennsylvania?s Annenberg School for Communication, joins Bethany and Luigi to unpack this new digital landscape where influence has become a powerful currency, shaping not only news consumption and consumer behavior but the very fabric of modern capitalism. Together, they discuss whether influencers are empowered entrepreneurs rewriting market rules or victims of a system that commodifies identity. What are the hidden incentives driving influencer messaging and, thus, the news and content we receive?

Read an excerpt from Hund's book (Princeton University Press, 2023) on ProMarket.

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The Capitalisn't of Banking, with Anat Admati

It's been nearly 16 years since the federal government bailed out Wall Street to the tune of $700 billion in response to the financial crisis that precipitated the Great Recession. The idea that the public must guarantee critical financial institutions that are ?too big to fail? was controversial then, but does it still remain an issue? Stanford finance professor Anat Admati, whom the New York Times profiled in an article titled "When She Talks, Banks Shudder," argues it?s become worse.

Admati joins Bethany and Luigi to discuss the updated edition of her and Martin Hellwig?s book, The Bankers' New Clothes: What?s Wrong with Banking and What to Do About It. Dissecting new financial developments, including the failure of Silicon Valley Bank, the crypto industry, and shadow banking, Admati lays bare how the current financial system is rigged for the benefit of the few. She also prescribes how we can build and regulate a fairer and more accountable financial system and, thus, a more stable and equitable capitalist economy.

Show Notes:

Read the 2024 preface of The Bankers' New Clothes on ProMarket.Revisit our 2019 conversation with Anat and Chicago Booth Professor Guy Rolnik, exploring the reasons why market and policy may fail in finance and technology and what we must do to address such failures.Read Anat's contributions to our e-books on George Stigler and Milton Friedman.
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Ask Luigi Zingales Anything

After two seasons and 163 episodes, Capitalisn?t hosted its first-ever live event late last year. As part of the University of Chicago Podcast Festival, co-host Luigi Zingales fielded questions from three UChicago undergraduate students ? Surya Gowda, Mete Bakircioglu, and Giuseppe Di Cera ?and an in-person audience in an ?Ask Me Anything.? 

From the evolution of competition policy to the impact of greener energy sources on prices, from the challenges of regulating the shadow economy to Luigi's struggles with his favorite soccer team, here is our ?Ask Me Anything? episode.

If you wish to submit your own question for our forthcoming mailbag episode, please do so here.

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Who Controls AI? With Sendhil Mullainathan

The firing, and subsequent rehiring, of OpenAI CEO Sam Altman raises fundamental questions about whose interests are relevant to the development of artificial intelligence and how these interests should be weighed if they hinder innovation. How should we govern innovation, or should we just not govern it at all? Did capitalism "win" in the OpenAI saga?

Bethany and Luigi sit down with Luigi?s colleague Sendhil Mullainathan, a professor of Computation and Behavioral Science at Chicago Booth. Together, they discuss if AI is really "intelligent" and whether a profit motive is always bad. In the process, they shed light on what it means to regulate in the collective interest and if we can escape the demands of capitalism when capital is the very thing that's required for progress.

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Raghuram Rajan?s Vision Of An Indian Path To Development

After discussing the trajectory of China's economy earlier this year, Luigi and Bethany turn their attention to the future of another global economic behemoth: India. Joining them is renowned Indian economist Raghuram Rajan, who has a brand-new book out this week, "Breaking the Mould: Reimagining India's Economic Future" (co-authored with Rohit Lamba).

In "Breaking the Mould," Rajan and Lamba make the controversial and counterintuitive argument that India should follow an economic development path that is based not on manufacturing, as China has done, but rather on services. In this conversation, we discuss why India's strengths play to services-based development, how India can deal with the economic and educational inequality created by its past, how Western business should engage with India, and why democracy is critical to India's future economic success.

We think his perspectives are important for Indian citizens and policymakers, but also for global citizens and policymakers given the critical role India will play in shaping the world of the future. 

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How Big Law Firms Shape Capitalism, With David Enrich

After previously exploring the worlds of 'consultants for sale' and 'scientists for sale,' Luigi and Bethany turn their attention to another broken system of 'enablers' - the world of lawyers for sale. With award-winning investigative journalist David Enrich, they discuss David's latest book, "Servants of the Damned: Giant Law Firms, Donald Trump, and the Corruption of Justice." 

Enrich presents several case studies showing how 'Big Law' firms have used their wealth and influence to capture the justice system, serving the interests of their wealthy clients at the expense of ordinary Americans. With Bethany and Luigi, he discusses: How can we restore the integrity of our legal institutions? What are the broader implications for the rule of law in a society dominated by economic and political interests?

Show Notes - also revisit:

The Capitalisn't of Consulting: McKinsey and Beyond, with Walt BogdanichScience for Sale, with David Michaels
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The Capitalisn't of Crypto: SBF and Beyond, with Zeke Faux

In his new book "Number Go Up," Bloomberg News investigative reporter Zeke Faux takes readers on a wild ride through the world of cryptocurrency, from its origins in the dark corners of the internet, its meteoric rise to mainstream popularity, and finally its equally precipitous fall. 

A few days after the 'convicted' verdict in the trial of beleaguered crypto entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), Faux joins Bethany and Luigi to make a case for why we should judge cryptocurrency by what it has done and not what it can do. They discuss whether it is too soon to write crypto off, what larger commentary it offers about capitalism, and why Luigi, who teaches a popular MBA course on fintech, feels "crypto is money that can only be created by computer scientists who don't understand history."

Show Notes: Revisit a 2017 Stigler Center mini-course by NYU Stern Professor David Yermack on the potential implications of blockchain technologies on the future of finance.

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When Capitalism Becomes Tyranny, with Sohrab Ahmari

In his new book, Sohrab Ahmari argues that the concentration of economic power in the hands of a few corporations has created a new form of tyranny in America. "Coercion is far more widespread in supposedly noncoercive societies than we would like to think?provided we pay attention to private power and admit the possibility of private coercion," he writes.

Ahmari, founder and editor of Compact magazine, joins Bethany and Luigi to discuss his book, "Tyranny Inc.: How Private Power Crushed American Liberty--and What to Do About It."  In this episode, they discuss the complex relationship between capitalism, personal freedoms, and political power. The conversation sheds light on what classical liberalism ignores, how today's Right is discovering what the Left may have forgotten, and ultimately, where today's political Left and Right may be able to work together.

Show Notes: Also check out two previous episodes mentioned in this conversation:

Is Common Good Capitalism The Answer? With Oren CassA Conservative Critique Of Capitalism, With Patrick Deneen
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The Capitalisn't Of The U.S. COVID Response, With Bethany McLean

In her brand new book, "The Big Fail: What the Pandemic Revealed About Who America Protects and Who It Leaves Behind," Bethany and her co-author Joe Nocera argue that the COVID-19 pandemic was not simply a natural disaster but also a man-made one.

Based on rigorous research and compelling storytelling, Bethany, who is renowned for her incisive reporting, reveals uncomfortable truths that have emerged from the pandemic about capitalism, inequality, and corporate power. In this one-on-one conversation with Luigi, she dissects the policies, decisions, and systemic structures that exacerbated the pandemic's fallout for the most vulnerable in society, shedding light on who benefited and who was left to fend for themselves.

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Science for Sale, with David Michaels

How does science become public policy? It's not always as straightforward as it might seem. In his book "The Triumph of Doubt: Dark Money and the Science of Deception," leading public health expert and former Clinton/Obama administration official David Michaels shows how corporate interests often "manufacture uncertainty" in order to protect their profits. Using wide-ranging case studies from Big Tobacco, Volkswagen, American football, and talcum-based baby powder, Michaels exposes the disinformation playbook deployed by corporate-funded science to sow "doubt, denial, delay, distraction, deflection, and defense." With him, Bethany and Luigi discuss how we can fight back against manipulated science and replace the triumph of doubt with the triumph of truth.

Show Notes: Also, check out our previous episode on the "Capitalisn't of Consulting" and the case of McKinsey, mentioned by Luigi in this episode.

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A Conservative Critique Of Capitalism, With Patrick Deneen

In his new book, Regime Change: Toward a Postliberal Future, renowned political philosopher Patrick Deneen argues that the liberal ideology that has shaped capitalism for centuries has also failed to deliver on its promises of freedom, equality, and prosperity. Is he able to offer a compelling alternative that serves the interests of the common good over those of wealthy elites?

Deneen, whose previous book "Why Liberalism Failed" was acclaimed by the likes of former U.S. President Obama, joins Bethany and Luigi to discuss his proposed 'Regime Change' and its implications for capitalism and the market economy. Can his vision of a postliberal future offer a more just and sustainable economic system, one that addresses the pressing challenges of our time? Can we have progress without progressivism?

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The Most Important Guidelines You Didn?t Know About, With Susan Athey

As companies become increasingly big through mergers and acquisitions -- especially in technology, health care, and several other industries -- how should rules and regulations change with the times?

Freshly minted and hot off the press: The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently released an updated set of draft "Merger Guidelines," which could reshape the landscape of corporate mergers and acquisitions both in the U.S. and globally. Esteemed Stanford professor and Chief Economist at the DOJ's Antitrust Division, Susan Athey, joins Bethany and Luigi to discuss these changes. Why did the DOJ and FTC make them? How will they impact the way companies approach mergers and acquisitions? And what do they mean for consumers, competition, labor, and the broader economy?

Show Notes:

Visit our ongoing online symposium on the Merger Guidelines, with a wide range of perspectives and debates from leading experts on the topicHear more from Susan Athey at our 2023 Antitrust and Competition Conference
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Key Lessons From The ?Chicago Boys? Chile Experiment

Is there a fundamental tension between democratic freedom, economic growth, and social equality?

Chilean economist and UCLA Professor Sebastian Edwards joins Bethany and Luigi to discuss his recent book, "The Chile Project: The Story of the Chicago Boys and the Downfall of Neoliberalism." The Chicago Boys were a group of free-market economists trained at the University of Chicago who shaped economic policy and reforms in Chile during General Augusto Pinochet's rule. In the book, Edwards (who also received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago in 1981) outlines the complexities of implementing market-oriented policies in a society undergoing rapid change. With him, Bethany and Luigi discuss: Could the Chilean experience offer lessons for other nations grappling with similar policy choices?

We?d like to thank our former Journalist in Residence, Rodrigo Cardenas (Editor at Chilean publication La Tercera), for his continued engagement with the Stigler Center. Upon our request, Rodrigo kindly submitted a couple of insightful questions for consideration in this interview.

Show Notes:

Read an excerpt from Edwards' book on ProMarket.In conversation with Sebastian Edwards, Arnold C. Harberger reflects on his time at the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago.Also read "The Complicated Legacy of the "Chicago Boys" in Chile," by Chilean journalist and former Stigler Center Journalist in Residence, Daniel Matamala.
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The Evolution of Antitrust: From Brandeis To Biden

A wet hot antitrust summer is in the news, mainly because of the Biden administration appointees continuing to take an aggressive approach to enforcement. Why is this important, and how has antitrust thinking evolved over time? In this conversation, Bethany and Luigi draw from his long-standing research and from the Stigler Center's most recent antitrust conference exploring new paradigms of traditional economic ideas. Together, they trace the evolution of antitrust from its fraught foundations to today's version, shaped by decades of political, economic, and legal minds. In the process, they spell out what a changing antitrust landscape could mean for us all.

Show Notes:

Read a summary of the antitrust conference on ProMarketWatch the panel hosted by Luigi, which he references in the episodeRevisit our episode from last year on recent research by Luigi and co-authors on declining antitrust enforcement in the U.S.
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An Insider's Look At ESG Revisited

Republican presidential candidates, such as Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy, continue to keep ESG in the national conversation. Ramaswamy in particular called it "woke capitalism" in his book and on our podcast. As we take our summer break, we decided to re-release our conversation with Tariq Fancy, BlackRock?s former global chief investment officer for sustainable investing, whose criticism of ESG is based not on its goals, but rather on an insider's knowledge of how it actually works.

We?re taking a short summer break as we put together some fascinating episodes on the past and future of antitrust, the shortcomings of neoliberalism, and whether science and law are for sale in our capitalist system. In the meantime, we thought we might re-share some of our most thought-provoking episodes that are still relevant, maybe even more relevant, today. I hope you get as much out of it on a second listen as we did, and we?ll be back with brand new episodes soon. Thanks for listening. 

Link to our interview with Ramaswamy:

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The Private Equity Debate Revisited

In the last episode of our podcast, we had a mini version of a never-ending debate on this show: whether private equity is good or bad. Afterward we talked about doing a full episode debating the pros and cons of PE until we realized, we?d already done it. 

The debate features Jeff Hooke, author of the book "The Myth of Private Equity," and Chicago Booth Professor Steven Kaplan, once referred to by Fortune Magazine as "probably the foremost private equity scholar in the galaxy."

We?re taking a short summer break as we put together some fascinating episodes on the past and future of antitrust, the shortcomings of neoliberalism, and whether science and law are for sale in our capitalist system. In the meantime, we thought we might re-share some of our most thought-provoking episodes that are still relevant, maybe even more relevant, today. Our prior debate on private equity seemed like the perfect place to start. I hope you get as much out of it on a second listen as we did, and we?ll be back with brand new episodes soon. Thanks for listening. 


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Rebooting American Health Care, with Amy Finkelstein

How can public policy improve upon and fix the mess of U.S. health care? In a new book, health economists Amy Finkelstein (MIT) and Liran Einav (Stanford) argue that's the wrong question. Instead, they suggest we ask: What is it that U.S. health policy should try to accomplish?

Finkelstein, also a MacArthur Genius grantee, joins Bethany and Luigi to discuss health care as a social commitment and to make the case for free, automatic, and universal coverage for a basic set of medical services. She argues why the current patchwork system of incremental reforms isn't the answer, why insurance is not the lever to reduce racial disparities in health inequality, and why we must ?tear down the system and build from the ground up.

?Finkelstein and Einav's new book, "We've Got You Covered: Rebooting American Health Care," is out now.

Show Notes: On ProMarket, read:

Lowering the Barriers to Entry for Economics Research in Healthcare, by Filippo LancieriRethinking How To Achieve Universal Health Care Coverage in the U.S., by Katherine Baicker, Amitabh Chandra, and Mark ShepardMore Than 20 Years of Consolidation Have Led to a Dysfunctional Health Care Market, by Martin GaynorThe Secret Driver of U.S. Health Care Costs: Politicians Wanting to Get Reelected, by Asher Schechter
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Why America's Poor Remain Poor, With Matthew Desmond

"Poverty will be abolished in America only when a mass movement demands it," writes Princeton sociologist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Matthew Desmond in his new book, "Poverty, by America." Building on his own lived experiences of growing up poor and continued contact with impoverished communities that "forces [him] to be intellectually honest," he claims that poverty persists in America not because we are incapable of preventing it but because society - and especially the wealthy - benefits from it at the expense of the poor.

Bethany and Luigi draw from their recent conversation with former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, who argued against the premise altogether and said that poverty in America is not as terrible a "scourge" as many like Desmond claim it to be. With Desmond, our hosts discuss his views on the complex and deeply entrenched root causes of poverty, its relationship with the American capitalist system, and how we could build on individual choices - towards which we have otherwise been so stubbornly resistant - to end poverty.

Show Notes:

In case you missed it, here's Bethany and Luigi's conversation with Sen. Phil Gramm: "Is American Inequality a Myth?"Read related reading on ProMarket: "Monopolies: Silent Spreaders of Poverty and Economic Inequality" and a conversation with Nobel Prize-winning economist Angus Deaton on "The Under-Discussed Driver of Inequality in America."
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Bonus: Sen. Phil Gramm on Banking Deregulation

Thank you to our listeners for the feedback and engagement on last week's episode with former U.S. Senator Phil Gramm. Sen. Gramm was also one of the co-sponsors of the Gramm?Leach?Bliley Act of 1999, which removed part of the Depression-era law separating investment banking from commercial banking, among others. Bethany and Luigi couldn't pass the opportunity to ask the senator about his views on a possible line from his legislation to the 2008 financial crisis and the recent SVB banking meltdown. We hope you enjoy this bonus Capitalisn't segment.

In case you missed it, here's our full conversation with Sen. Gramm:

Also, check out ProMarket's extensive coverage on the recent banking crisis:

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Is American Inequality a Myth? With Sen. Phil Gramm

In his recent book "The Myth of American Inequality," former U.S. Senator Phil Gramm (along with co-authors Robert Ekelund and John Early) challenges conventional wisdom on the state of income inequality in the United States. Gramm argues that the gap between the rich and the poor is not as wide as often claimed because it is measured incorrectly, thus biasing public policy debates. 

On this episode, he joins Bethany and Luigi to discuss the data and evidence behind his claims, as well as implications on the pursuit of equality of opportunity, the "war on poverty," and the role of government in shaping economic outcomes. This is the first of a two-part series on poverty and inequality in America. Stay tuned for a forthcoming episode with sociologist Matthew Desmond for a perspective opposite from Sen. Gramm and his co-authors.

Bonus: While in Congress, Sen. Gramm was one of the sponsors of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, a piece of legislation that some consider to have significant ramifications on both the 2008 financial crisis and a direct line to the recent SVB banking meltdown. Keep an eye out on our handle @StiglerCenter on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for additional Capitalisn't content on this topic.

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Reinventing Democracy, With Hélène Landemore

What if we harnessed the collective wisdom of the crowds and delegated democratic leadership to the masses?

In her book "Open Democracy: Reinventing Popular Rule for the 21st Century", Yale political scientist Hélène Landemore proposes a radically new vision for "what genuine democratic representation means and how we could open up our narrow electoral institutions to ordinary citizens, including via [what she calls] open mini-publics." Drawing from ancient Athenian democracy of the past and the promise of harnessing digital technologies of the future, she joins Bethany and Luigi to talk through this vision of participatory democracy. They discuss how to best harness human nature for agency and impact, ensure transparency to provide accountability in the face of private vested interests, and ultimately its implications for market capitalism.

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Is Technological Progress Good For Everyone? With Daron Acemoglu

In his new book, "Power and Progress: Our 1000-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity", renowned MIT Professor of Economics Daron Acemoglu (with co-author Simon Johnson) argues that the benefits from technological progress are shaped by the distribution of power in society. 

In this episode, Acemoglu joins Bethany and Luigi to discuss the key challenges of ensuring that this progress benefits everyone, not just the wealthy and powerful. They discuss the rules, norms, and expectations around technology governance, the unintended consequences of AI development, and how the mismanagement of property rights, especially over data, can reinforce inequality and exploitation.

Show Notes:

In case you missed it, revisit our recent episode with David Autor, referenced in this discussionRevisit "Democracy and Economic Growth: New Evidence," co-authored by Daron Acemoglu, on ProMarket
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Can Labor Markets Save Capitalism? With David Autor

On this episode, our hosts Bethany McLean and Luigi Zingales sit down with renowned MIT economist David Autor to discuss the impact of technology, labor markets, and immigration on wage inequality and the economy at large. Autor is best known for his work on the "China Shock," the impact of rising Chinese exports on manufacturing employment in the United States and Europe after China's accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001. His most recent work sheds light on which groups have seen the largest nominal wage gains during the COVID recovery, the connections between wage growth and inflation, and more. Autor discusses how advances in technology have disrupted traditional labor markets, how to make better policy choices about the future of work, and the challenges and benefits of immigration in a globalized economy.

Show Notes:

Revisit our conversation with R. Glenn Hubbard, which is referenced in the interview with David Autor

Read the Autor's paper discussed in the episode here.

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Has ?Thinking Like An Economist? Distorted Our Politics?

It is hard to think of an idea more central to capitalism than economics, particularly economic efficiency. Similarly, public policy is now ? and has been for a while ? conducted in the language of budgets, models, and cost-benefit analyses. But how accountable is this idea to the public?

Elizabeth Popp Berman is a sociologist and historian of economic thought at the University of Michigan and the author of the new book "Thinking Like An Economist: How Efficiency Replaced Equality in U.S. Public Policy." In this episode, she joins Bethany and Luigi to discuss this history of economics as a pervasive influence in the halls of political power in Washington and the challenges of believing in economic models as "truth" in an increasingly complex world. Using case studies in health care, debt forgiveness, pandemic economic recovery, and beyond, the three of them debate whether there are spheres of public and political life where economics has overstepped its bounds and if it belongs there altogether.

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Raghuram Rajan: Why The Banking Crisis Isn?t Over

Several questions continue to swirl around the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and its larger implications. In this special episode, Chicago Booth?s Raghuram Rajan ? former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India and IMF Chief Economist ? joins Bethany and Luigi to explore the risks in the financial system and possible solutions.

Rajan discusses a paper he presented (with NYU Professor Viral Acharya) at the Federal Reserve?s Jackson Hole conference in 2022, arguing that the Fed?s liquidity provision left the financial sector more sensitive to shocks, and suggesting that the expansion and shrinkage of central bank balance sheets involves tradeoffs between monetary policy and financial stability. Together with the hosts, Rajan discusses the path forward on inflation, given economic and political pressures, and his recommendations on how to manage risks and tradeoffs.

Link to the advertised Chicago Booth Review podcast: out ProMarket's ongoing coverage of the recent banking turmoil, including a summary of Raghuram Rajan's paper and new research by Luigi, referenced towards the end of the episode, on the new dangers of ?bank walks.?
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Are The Twitter Files A Scandal?

Read ProMarket's ongoing coverage of the Twitter Files, including the research summary of the Twitter Files prepared by Stigler Center Research Professional Utsav Gandhi in preparation for this episodeRead the Stigler Center's 2019 Report on Digital Platforms, addressing many of the underlying issues discussed in this episode: trust and transparency in social media, business models of journalism, platform regulation when it comes to content moderation, and more.
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SVB: The End of Banking as We Know It?

We had initially prepared an entirely different episode for today, but last week's Silicon Valley Bank collapse, the largest in U.S. history since 2008, meant a quick change of plans.

What happened? What is unique about this bank run, and what isn't? How much should regulators be blamed, and how much should bank management be? Do social media and today's frantic digital environment mean this is the end of banking as we know it?

Luigi and Bethany talk to two experts with unique insights into the crisis: Chicago Booth Professor Douglas Diamond, who won the 2022 Nobel Prize for his decades-long work on bank runs, and Eric Rosengren, former Boston Fed President, for his view as a regulator. They discuss the factors that led to the collapse, including risky lending practices, lack of oversight, and the challenges of regulating the rapidly evolving world of banking. They also explore the broader implications of the collapse, including the impact on the broader financial system and the role of regulation in promoting financial stability.

Show Notes:

Nobel Laureate Douglas Diamond on How the Fed Could Have Prevented SVB?s Collapse, by Brooke Fox, on ProMarketHow Do We Avoid the Next SVB? by Chicago Booth Professor Anil Kashyap, on ProMarketLink to the advertised Chicago Booth Review podcast:
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The Capitalisn't Of Consulting: McKinsey And Beyond


When the Profit Motive Kills, with Anand Giridharadas, on Capitalisn'tWhy the US Government Buys Overpriced Services From McKinsey, by Matt Stoller in ProMarket
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Google: The New Vampire Squid? With Dina Srinivasan


In a Wall Street Journal article about Google?s Secret ?Project Bernanke,? Jeff Horwitz and Keach Hagey quoted Google Chief Economist Hal Varian's answer to a question he was asked during the Stigler Center's 2019 Antitrust and Competition Conference. Watch the video excerpt here."Why Google Dominates Advertising Markets," by Dina Srinivasan, Stanford Technology Law Review, December 2019Read ProMarket's ongoing coverage of Google here.
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The End Of China?s Miracle?

Show notes:

On February 9th, 2023, "China?s New Covid Strategy," the next webinar in the Stigler Center's series on China's political economy, will feature Chang-Tai Hsieh, along with Schwarzman Scholars/Harvard Medical School's Joan Kaufman and the Financial Times' Nian Liu (Stigler Center Journalist in Residence, 2021). Register here.Revisit previous webinars hosted by the Stigler Center on China?s political economy and read a summary: Economists share blame for China?s ?monstrous? turn, Janos Kornai in the Financial Times.
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Shattering Immigration Myths: Data Beyond Borders

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Revisiting The Meritocracy Debate With Adrian Wooldridge And Michael Sandel

Capitalisn't will be back in your feeds with a brand new episode on January 19. Don't forget to rate and review our podcast if you haven't already, and leave us a voicemail at

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He Foresaw Inflation. Here?s What He Expects Next. Feat. Lord Mervyn King

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Taylor Swift, Ticketmaster, and Chokepoint Capitalism with Cory Doctorow

The "Woke" Capitalism Game With Vivek Ramaswamy

We're taking the holiday off to be with our families, but that doesn't stop the economic news. And there is no story bigger than the collapse of the crypto exchange, FTX. One aspect that attracted our attention was Sam Bankman-Fried, the young CEO of FTX, officially bought into a philosophy called Effective Altruism, where you make the most money to give it to the poor. However, in a text exchange with a Vox reporter SBF said "this dumb game we woke westerns play where we say all the right things and so everybody likes us". It reminded us of what Vivek Ramaswamy said about woke capitalism on the show last year. We've decided to replay that show for you, and we'll be back in two weeks with a brand new episode of Capitalisn't. Vivek Ramaswamy, a scientist, lawyer, and former venture capitalist and entrepreneur, has a new book out: "Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America's Social Justice Scam". In this book, he argues that "wokeism" has become a way for corporations to wrap themselves in a mantle, which then furthers the idea of crony capitalism and extends their power into spaces they were never meant to be in. Luigi Zingales and Bethany McLean sit down with Ramaswamy to discuss his perspectives on the role of virtue, ethics, and politics in business and society.
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The Capitalisn't of Elon Musk's Twitter

[Show Notes: During the episode, Luigi mentions the paper of a Stigler Center Fellow. Here is a ProMarket piece describing this research in further detail:]

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A Different Story Of Inflation With John Cochrane

In June 2022, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said, "we [now] understand better how little we understand about inflation." So what do we actually know about inflation? In this episode, Luigi and Bethany explore the origins of inflation with John Cochrane, Senior Fellow at Stanford?s Hoover Institution and author of the popular "Grumpy Economist" blog. They discuss Cochrane's new book, "The Fiscal Theory of the Price Level", where he offers a novel understanding of monetary policy by merging fiscal theory with the standard models of interest-setting central banks. Through a discussion of foundational economic principles such as Milton Friedman's theories ? and the role of government debt, taxation, and spending levels ? they shed light on what might drive inflation, and also on the requisite balance between democratically-elected institutions and independent central banks in the functioning of capitalism.
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[Unedited]: Thomas Piketty On Creating A More Equal Society

French economist Thomas Piketty is one of the leading intellectuals documenting inequality, with his 2013 book ?Capital in the Twenty-First Century? becoming widely read and cited. His new book, "A Brief History of Equality," is more optimistic: In it, Piketty documents how our world has become relatively more equal since the end of the 18th century. In this unedited conversation, Piketty talks to Bethany and Luigi about the lessons from this movement toward equality and where it could go next ? especially regarding policy choices such as taxes, reparations, and redistribution toward more racial, democratic, and global equality. Among others, they discuss: Would people favor massive redistribution? What kind of institutions would be required to oversee markets? Can true progress be achieved without equality?
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Antitrust-Isn't: The Story Of Declining Enforcement In America

Academics and policymakers alike draw a significant correlation between some of today's biggest problems - such as economic inequality - with rising corporate concentration and the ever-decreasing lack of antitrust enforcement. How did this narrative come to be? Is it necessarily correct, and how has it persisted over time? A new paper provides just this data, and it's co-authored by our very own co-host Luigi Zingales, along with Filippo Lancieri, JSD alum, and Eric Posner, Professor, both from the University of Chicago Law School. Using data around public demand, Supreme Court nominations, State of the Union speeches, and more, Luigi and his co-authors reveal that the key driver behind declining enforcement wasn't the Chicago School of Economics, but rather, special interests. In this episode, Luigi and Bethany chart this story right from the beginning, its lessons for today, ways to change the current state of affairs, and most importantly, why antitrust matters. Link to paper: Show note: For aspiring pre-doctoral students who wish to work with Luigi for two years on this research and more, he is hiring a Research Professional! Check out the job description and apply/share:
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Capitalism In Our Attention Economy With Albert Wenger

Albert Wenger is Managing Partner at Union Square Ventures, which has invested in some of today's most exciting technology companies. In his new book, ?The World After Capital", he argues that capitalism cannot allocate all resources efficiently in the digital age ? where the new shortage isn't capital, but rather, human attention. While economically incentivized activities will not go away, he says, we must make room for the things we cannot put a price on. He proposes increasing three freedoms: economic, informational, and psychological, to ensure the continuation of human knowledge production. His book is available free of charge at
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The Student Debt Dilemma With Constantine Yannelis

We?re taking a week off here at the end of the summer, but with Biden?s recent student loan announcement we couldn?t help but think back to our episode about student debt with Constatine Yannelis. Before he was elected, Biden had promised to remove 50K in debt from borrowers. His recent announcement doesn?t quite match that promise, but this episode still contains an incredible amount of vital information about our student debt problem, who really benefits from forgiveness, and what are real solutions for the future. We hope you enjoy, and thanks for listening. Your support is crucial to keeping our show going, so please tell your friends and family to give us a listen and a review. We?ll be back in two weeks with a brand new episode of Capitalisn?t. As Bethany mentions during the episode, if you are a journalist with some years of media experience and have an interest in deepening your knowledge and understanding of the many issues we cover on this podcast, you are encouraged to apply for the Stigler Center Journalists in Residence program, which offers training in business fundamentals at Chicago Booth. Learn more, share, and apply:
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Does Software Actually Slow Innovation?

Why have labor and productivity growth slowed? Software entrepreneur-turned-academic researcher, James Bessen, argues the problem isn't fewer productive startups, or M&A activity (which has actually slowed), but big corporations dominating by mastering "proprietary" software ? the intersection of technology and data ? which has had major negative societal consequences. He walks Luigi and Bethany through examples such as IBM, Amazon Web Services, Volkswagen, and more to discuss what's wrong with our current patent system and makes a case for opening up technology, data, and knowledge in order to restore competition. Bessen is the Executive Director of the Technology & Policy Research Initiative at Boston University and his book, "The New Goliaths: How Corporations Use Software to Dominate Industries, Kill Innovation, and Undermine Regulation", is out now.
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Is Labor Benefiting From The Union Boom?

Richard B. Freeman is a Professor of Economics at Harvard University and has been studying the role of labor unions in our economy for over forty years. His seminal publication, "What Do Unions Do?" (1984), concluded that unions are on balance beneficial for the economy and society, and remains one of the most widely cited books in this area of research. Luigi and Bethany sit down with Freeman to ask: What do unions do today? How have technology, global competition, and the open economy led to their decline? And as seen by recent unionization moves at Amazon, Starbucks, and elsewhere, how real are the nascent signs of a comeback? They debate whether unions, both public and private, are robust ways to protect workers' rights moving forward, or whether government should instead focus on securing safety net systems such as minimum wage and unemployment insurance.
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Is Inflation The Fed?s Fault? + Uber Leaks

With inflation unfettered, Luigi and Bethany sit down with economist Ricardo Reis to discuss the Federal Reserve?s role. Contrary to our hosts? views, Reis argues that while the Fed has made mistakes, they are largely understandable. Together, they chart why it took so long to pivot policies, how central banks responded to supply and energy shocks, how much the Fed ? or Chair Jay Powell ? is to blame, and what they should be doing to control inflation. Plus, Bethany and Luigi discuss The Guardian exposé on the Uber Files, and what it teaches us about academic and journalistic accountability when it comes to corporate lobbying.
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How Corporations Get Away With Crime + SCOTUS EPA Ruling

When it comes to corporate rulebreaking, data from 2002 to 2016 reveals that the US government arranged more than 400 "deferred protection agreements" as a means of deterrence. Under these, a company acknowledges what it did was wrong, pays a fine, promises not to misbehave for a period of time -- and thus is largely let off the hook. Columbia Law School Professor and author of "Corporate Crime and Punishment: The Crisis of Underenforcement", John C. Coffee, says these have done little to deter future wrongdoing. Coffee joins Luigi and Bethany, both of whom have also extensively researched and exposed corporate wrongdoing, to discuss how to reform aspects of enforcement, such as self-reporting mechanisms, internal investigations, independent external auditors, whistleblowers, and even shame and humiliation.
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Rethinking (Neo)liberalism?

Our last three guests on the show, Oren Cass, Francis Fukuyama, and Glenn Hubbard, have each brought forth their critiques and suggestions for how liberalism and neoliberalism work (or ought to work) in our society. In this episode, Bethany and Luigi reflect and take stock of how the political and economic components of these ideas might differ, where their promises have failed, and who has benefited from their messy implementation. In the process, they try answering: What would a new version of (neo)liberalism look like?
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A Defense of the Neoliberal Order with Glenn Hubbard + Big Tech Antitrust Bills

Glenn Hubbard is Professor and Dean Emeritus at Columbia Business School, and also served as Chair of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers, among others. In his new book, "The Wall and the Bridge: Fear and Opportunity in Disruption's Wake", he addresses the underlying forces behind the global populist anxiety by reimagining the process of "building bridges, not walls". He talks with Bethany and Luigi about trade, reforming social insurance, preparing the labor force for technological change, and the role of state, markets, and community in the economy. For our Is/Isn't segment (43:44), Bethany and Luigi discuss the latest antitrust effort in the U.S. Congress to regulate Big Tech ? the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which could be up for a vote this summer.
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