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Capitalisn't

Capitalisn't

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: https://www.chicagobooth.edu/research/stigler/about/capitalisnt. 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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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.
2022-11-24
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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: https://www.promarket.org/2022/11/10/the-economics-of-content-moderation-on-social-media/]

2022-11-10
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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.
2022-10-27
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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?
2022-10-13
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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: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4011335 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: https://www.chicagobooth.edu/research/stigler/about/job-opportunities.
2022-09-29
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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 https://worldaftercapital.org/.
2022-09-15
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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: www.chicagobooth.edu/stiglerjir
2022-09-01
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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.
2022-08-18
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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.
2022-08-04
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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.
2022-07-21
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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.
2022-07-07
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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?
2022-06-23
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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.
2022-06-09
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Liberalism And Its Discontents With Francis Fukuyama + The Baby Formula Shortage

Francis Fukuyama is an American political scientist and author, notably of The End of History (1992) and Trust: Social Virtues and Creation of Prosperity (1995). Now, in his new book, he offers liberalism as a solution to our current problems of social bifurcation, if paired with other functional institutions of a democracy. Bethany and Luigi sit down with Fukuyama to understand: What does liberalism even mean? What are its excesses and its critiques from the progressive left? How dependent is it on traditional notions of growth and prosperity, and can it be implemented effectively in an unequal society?
2022-05-26
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The Intangible Economy with Jonathan Haskel + Roe v Wade & Corporate America

What do lighthouses, the wheelie suitcase, Harry Potter, and Wikipedia have in common? They showcase the progressive evolution towards investment in the "intangible economy": one prioritizing knowledge, relationships, design, reputation, and other internal organization over physical assets. Jonathan Haskel is Professor of Economics at Imperial College (London) and the co-author of a new book "Restarting the Future: How to Fix the Intangible Economy". Bethany and Luigi sit down with Haskel to discuss the characteristics and consequences of this economy, its value to society, the system of rewards and incentives behind it, and the role for government in regulating it. They also discuss the leaked Supreme Court memo on Roe v. Wade and the extent to which corporate America should be weighing in on political debates. (49:46)
2022-05-12
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Is Common Good Capitalism The Answer? With Oren Cass + Elon Musk Buys Twitter

The basic premise of capitalism has always been that more people generating more profits will be better for everybody. Oren Cass wants to challenge that premise by prioritizing values over value and over market power. Oren was formerly an Economic Advisor to the Mitt Romney Presidential Campaign, now executive director of the nonprofit American Compass and author of The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America (2018). A successful economy, according to him, should not be measured by consumption but by opportunities for all to be productive with a wide range of aptitudes and interests. Luigi, Bethany, and Oren discuss what this means for replacing jobs with AI, China's economic relationship with the US, the idea of "Big Labor", and the interplay of neoliberalism with capitalism. Plus, Luigi and Bethany discuss Elon Musk and Twitter for the Capital-Is/Ins't section (47:00)
2022-04-28
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Ukraine: The Price of Democracy with Tymofiy Mylovanov

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, we've discussed its many aspects but we haven't talked to anyone actually in or from the country. On this episode, we do both. Ukrainian economist Tymofiy Mylovanov is the president of the Kyiv School of Economics, advisor to the Zelensky administration, and former Ukrainian Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture.

Mylovanov shares what has and hasn't surprised him about the war, reveals Russia?s other strategic advantages beyond energy resources, and offers a game theoretical approach to understanding the potential outcomes of this conflict. Along the way, he laments the cost of human lives as the price for democracy, and encourages us to remember history?s lessons.

Please consider supporting the humanitarian aid campaign of the Kyiv School of Economics Charitable Foundation at Mylovanov's institution: https://kse.ua/we-save-lives/

2022-04-14
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Ukraine: Sanctioning the Oligarchs' Enablers With Bill Browder

As the devastation in Ukraine increases, so do the calls to end the war. Among those championing tougher actions is Bill Browder?one of Putin?s most vocal critics?and the man behind the Magnitsky Act, which authorizes the U.S. government to sanction human rights offenders. Browder has been advocating for expanding the list of sanctioned pro-Kremlin Russian oligarchs. He prescribes that Western lawyers, bankers, and other enablers of these oligarchs should also be held responsible. Browder's new book, ?Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin's Wrath?, is out April 12.
2022-03-31
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Ukraine: The Privatization of Sanctions with Richard Edelman

As the war in Ukraine continues, the world is responding not just with various government sanctions on Russia, but also with a voluntary exodus of private corporations from the Russian market. To discuss these "private sanctions" and possible motivations behind them, we invited Richard Edelman, the CEO of one of the largest public relations firms in the world. Are firms profit-maximizing in their actions? Are they responding to political or consumer pressure? Or are they simply trying to avoid a public relations nightmare? Furthermore, do these actions constitute a precedent to be followed in future conflicts?
2022-03-17
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Ukraine: A Restart Of History

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, political scientist Francis Fukuyama famously proclaimed the "end of history" and of humankind?s ideological evolution. The combination of Western liberal democracy and capitalism were seen as the final, convergent form of global human organization ? surpassing geopolitical considerations. As Russia invades Ukraine, history seems to have restarted. This time the tension is not between capitalism and socialism, but between liberal capitalism and autocratic capitalism, between globalism and nativism, between a state subordinated to economic interests and economic interests subordinated to the state. Amidst this unfolding situation, Luigi and Bethany discuss how sanctions, SWIFT, the energy sector, digital platforms, new geopolitical blocks, and more are coming together to possibly reshape the course of history.
2022-03-03
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The Private Equity Debate: Is it a Good Investment?

Is private equity a good investment? Jeffrey Hooke, Senior Lecturer at Johns Hopkins' Carey School of Business, claims that private equity has not been a lucrative investment for institutional investors such as pension funds or university endowments. Chicago Booth Professor Steven Kaplan, who has studied private equity for over 35 years, disagrees. Luigi and Bethany bring both Jeff and Steven on the show to debate this, and the evolution (or lack thereof) in reporting, transparency, and corporate governance in the private equity industry. What data and metrics should we look at when measuring private equity performance? How should we compare studies and analyses across time and different data sources? Moreover, does adding value to investors also necessarily mean adding value to society? Jeffery Hooke's new book "The Myth of Private Equity" is out now.
2022-02-17
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The Causes And Effects Of Today's Inflation, With Raghuram Rajan

The Federal Reserve is likely to hike interest rates in March due to high inflation and the strong labor market. But where did this inflation come from? Is it transitory or is it here to stay? Whom does it hurt the most and what should be done about it? To discuss this, we invited Chicago Booth professor and former IMF chief economist Raghuram Rajan, who ? when he served as India?s central banker ? was charged with fighting inflation himself.
2022-02-03
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Meritocracy: The Genetic Lottery with Kathryn Paige Harden

Last year, Capitalisn?t featured two episodes on the pluses and minuses of meritocracy. Supporters of meritocracy, such as Adrian Wooldrige, emphasize its ethical dimension. Critics, such as Michael Sandel, emphasize the luck component. At the end of the day, it is an empirical question, albeit a difficult one: How much of ?success? is driven by effort versus luck? Luigi and Bethany sit down with Kathryn Paige Harden, behavioral geneticist, professor of psychology, and author of the book "The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality".
2022-01-20
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Capitalism As A Contradiction With Yanis Varoufakis

Yanis Varoufakis is a vocal critic of capitalism. He is a Greek academic, writer, and politician ? as former Minister of Finance, led negotiations during the government debt crisis of 2015. But even as the founder of the left-wing political party MeRA25 (European Realistic Disobedience Front) in 2018, he laments the bankruptcy of today?s left. He describes capitalism as a contradiction with immense advantages (innovation, wealth, gadgets, technologies) but also with an inherent tendency to cause aesthetic, moral, psychological, and financial poverty. Luigi Zingales and Bethany McLean sit down with Varoufakis to understand his diagnosis of the ills of capitalism, not as an unjust system but one that is inefficient and freedom impeding.
2022-01-06
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The Political Polarization of Corporate America

Increased polarization in America has meant more political homogeneity across our digital, social, and civic spaces. But what about our workplaces, where so many Americans spend a bulk of their time? Associate Professor of Finance at Chicago Booth, Elisabeth Kempf, has new data and research out looking at political alignment within corporate executive teams, and whether or how much it has increased over time. We sit down with Elisabeth to understand the factors which could be influencing this trend, legal structures that may or may not protect against discrimination based on political views, executive departures that may be politically motivated, and why we might care about political diversity in the workplace at all. Link to paper: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3784969
2021-12-16
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Is ?Woke? Capitalism A Threat To Democracy?

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.
2021-12-02
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How Antitrust Failed Workers With Eric Posner

The monopoly power of massive tech platforms has thrust antitrust law back into the spotlight in recent years. But while everyone was focused on monopoly power, a handful of academics have actually been looking into monopsony power. Specifically, how employers in highly concentrated labor markets use anticompetitive methods to suppress wages. University of Chicago Law Professor Eric Posner has a new book out that tackles this issue called ?How Antitrust Failed Workers?. He makes the case for why we need to use the mirror side of antitrust law to tackle the increasing monopsony power in the U.S.
2021-11-18
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A Turning Point In The History Of Capitalism?

Histories are often relegated to the sidelines of economic study. But what do we lose in our theories when we only focus on the math and models? In his new book, ?Ages of American Capitalism?, University of Chicago historian Jonathan Levy looks at the turning points in the history of capitalism and what those moments can teach us about today.
2021-11-04
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Is Evergrande Really China?s Lehman Moment?

In September China's second largest real-estate developer, Evergrande, missed an $83.5 million debt payment. Skeptics and bears on China have long said that its property market, which makes up some 30 percent of GDP, is over-leveraged and overheated. The recent news has people asking...are the bears right, and could this be China's Lehman Moment. On this episode we look at two sides of that argument, first with one of the world's most renowned bears on China, Jim Chanos who is the found of Kynikos Associates, an investment advisor focused on short selling. Then we take the a different view with Zhiguo He, a financial economist at the University of Chicago and faculty director of BFI-China at the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics.
2021-10-21
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Is Discrimination Still Causing The Gender Pay Gap With Claudia Goldin

If Claudia Goldin, Professor of Economics at Harvard University, wins the Nobel Prize in Economics next week, no-one will be surprised. Her work studying the intersection of gender and labor has been vital, both to the world and the field. But there's a curious argument in her newest book "Career and Family: Women?s Century-Long Journey Toward Equity". Goldin says that though the gender pay gap persists, it's not clear that gender discrimination is the cause. She thinks that job design may be the real culprit, and that we need to rethink the flexibility and substitutability of work. She joins us to discuss her book on this episode! Plus, in light of leaked internal research showing Facebook has known their products are harmful to kids and teenagers, we discuss whistleblowers and data-blackboxes for this week's capital is/isn't.
2021-10-07
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Why Capitalism Isn't Without Democracy

We?re taking a week off as school starts back up, but we wanted to reshare this episode with you this week. For a show about economics, we talk about democracy a lot. But there?s an important reason for that. Without a strong democracy to build capitalism on top of, it?ll always be an isn?t. So please enjoy our conversation about the important intersections of capitalism and democracy. We?ll be back in two weeks with an all new Capitalisn't.
2021-09-23
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The Smoke and Mirrors of ESG Investing with Tariq Fancy

Environmental, social and governance investing, also know as ESG, has exploded in recent years. It promises to help us solve problems like climate change and inequality all while allowing investors to still turn a profit. But BlackRock?s former global chief investment office for sustainable investing, Tariq Fancy, says it isn't what's being advertised. Recently, he penned a blog post claiming that not only are ESGs not making societal problems better, they may actively be making them worse.
2021-09-09
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The Breaking Point Of Democracy With Morton Schapiro and Gary Morson

Capitalism doesn't work without democracy. So, it's particularly concerning that polarization and fundamentalism are threatening the underlying principles that make our democracy possible. A new book by Northwestern President and economist Morton Schapiro and literary scholar Gary Saul Morson called "Minds Wide Shut" explores the forces that are destroying the open-mindedness democracy requires. We talk with them about their book and discuss solutions on this episode.
2021-08-27
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The Cost of Meritocracy With Michael Sandel

Does meritocracy create a better world for everyone, or does it create massive inequality? There's been a lot of debate in the last few years about meritocracy, and it's become even more pressing in light of the pandemic. If essential workers are "essential", are they really less meritorious than a banker or accountant? So, we decided to discuss both sides of this debate in our next two episodes. On this episode, we'll be joined by Michael Sandel who teaches political philosophy at Harvard University and is author of the new book "The Tyranny of Merit: What's Become of the Common Good". He'll be making a nuanced case against meritocracy. Also, be sure to stick around for a new surprise after the episode.
2021-08-12
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Introducing: Entitled

The University of Chicago Podcast Network is excited to announce the launch of a new show, it?s called "Entitled" and it?s about human rights. Co-hosted by lawyers and UChicago Law School Professors, Claudia Flores and Tom Ginsburg, Entitled explores the stories around why rights matter and what?s the matter with rights. We?re going to share the first episode of that show with you this week, and recommend you go subscribe! We?ll be back next week with a new the second installment of our meritocracy series! Please enjoy Entitled, and we?ll see you next week!
2021-08-05
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The Promise Of Meritocracy With Adrian Wooldridge

Does meritocracy create a better world for everyone, or does it create massive inequality? There's been a lot of debate in the last few years about meritocracy, and it's become even more pressing in light of the pandemic. If essential workers are "essential", are they really less meritorious than a banker or accountant? So, we decided to discuss both sides of this debate in our next two episodes. On this episode, we'll be joined by Adrian Wooldridge, political editor at The Economist and author of the new book "The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World". He'll be making the nuanced case in favor of meritocracy, and we'll hear the other side on our next episode.
2021-07-29
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The Engine No. 1 David vs Exxon Goliath With Chris James

If shareholders are the owners of a company, they should be able to get that company to do what they want. But what happens when shareholders want something other than profits at any cost? In a major moment for what's come to be called "shareholder capitalism", activist hedge fund Engine No. 1 successfully claimed three seats on Exxon's board of directors this year. Their explicit mission is to force the energy goliath to turn away from carbon and toward more clean forms of energy. On this episode, we speak with the founder of Engine No. 1, Chris James, about how they approached the proxy fight, his views on shareholder capitalism, and the future of activist hedge funds.
2021-07-15
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The Price Of A Vaccine With Moderna CFO David Meline

There are plenty of lingering questions about the development of the coronavirus vaccine. How was the pricing decided? Did the public-private partnership with the government work? Who's right in the debate over patent rights and profit sharing? There's no better person to put these questions to than David Meline, the CFO of Moderna. He joins our podcast this week to talk through the political economy of the Covid-19 vaccine.
2021-07-01
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How The Elites Are Losing Control With Martin Gurri

Occupy Wall Street, Italy's Five Star Movement, the indignados in Spain?we've seen an increase in anti-elite protests by a disabused public over the last two decades. But what has caused this "revolt of the public"? Martin Gurri, Visiting Fellow at George Mason University's Mercatus Center and former CIA media analyst, argues that elites have overpromised and under delivered all while losing their monopoly on information flows. But have our emperors lost their clothes recently, or did they never have them to begin with?
2021-06-17
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Why Do We Have High Prices But Stagnating Wages?

In the last few decades, American wages have stagnated for everyone except those at the very top. Yet, during this same period, worker productivity and corporate profits have soared. Why these two trends have coincided has perplexed economists. But, in a new book, economist Jan Eeckhout proposes a simple answer: market power. We discuss his proposal and possible solutions for this problem on this episode.
2021-06-03
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Who Will Regulate The Regulators: Stigler 50 Years Later

Have you ever heard the term "regulatory capture"? It's a famous economic theory that the regulation and regulators we create to keep certain industries in check can be captured and bent to the desires of those very industries. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of the paper that first proposed this theory. It's called "The Theory of Economic Regulation" and it was written by none other than the namesake of the center that produces this podcast, George Stigler. We recently hosted a conference of some of the most prominent economists to reflect on why the ideas of this paper are still revered and relevant today.
2021-05-20
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Worried about Inflation? So is Fmr Central Banker Mervyn King

Pres. Biden is pursuing some of the largest spending proposals in U.S. history, which should be sparking concerns about inflation and interest rates. But most prominent bankers and economists have told us not to worry. Fmr Central Banker Mervyn King says they shouldn't be so confident. On this episode, we speak with Lord King about his concerns of coming inflation, how he thinks central banks didn't learn the right lessons after 2008, and why he thinks the industry has become too reliant on models.
2021-05-06
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Is The Federal Reserve An "Engine of Inequality"?

What is causing the widening wealth gap in America? People point fingers in many different directions, but a fairly new idea is to blame The Federal Reserve. In a new book, "Engine of Inequality: The Fed and The Future of Wealth In America", Karen Petrou, a managing partner at Federal Financial Analytics, argues that The Fed's ultra-low interest rate policy has benefited the wealthy at the expense of the poor.
2021-04-22
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The Power Of Access In Journalism And Academia With Kara Swisher

When it comes to probing the problems of Big Tech, either as a journalist or academic, access is key. Necessary data is highly guarded, often in a "black box", and these companies carefully select what they share and with whom. Few people understand this better than Kara Swisher who has been fearlessly covering and critiquing Big Tech since the 1990s. She's a New York Times opinion writer, host of the podcast "Sway" and co-host of the "Pivot" podcast.
2021-04-08
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Communisn?t: Crony Capitalism In China With David Barboza

The only thing worse than crony capitalism may be crony capitalism controlled by a centralized communist authority. This is the system that has led to massive wealth disparities in China, even as the country has seen record growth. Former New York Times correspondent, David Barboza, has gotten a first-hand look at how this system in China has led to rampant corruption and he even won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting. On this episode, we talk with Barboza about how this system works, why American companies are sometimes complicit in it, and the effect it could have on the rest of the world. Barboza now publishes "The Wire China" a digital new magazine focused on covering China both in and out of the country.
2021-03-25
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Why We Should Tax Digital Advertising With Paul Romer

Concerns about the political power of Big Tech and lack of competition are at an all-time high. The business model of Facebook, Google, Twitter, ect. seem to be creating a race to the bottom for the discourse in our social and political lives. Many have argued we should turn to anti-trust laws as a way to solve this problem, but Nobel laureate Paul Romer says they may not be enough. In this episode, Romer presents his argument for why the implementation of a digital advertising tax could address the size and business model of these tech firms.
2021-03-11
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When the Profit Motive Kills With Anand Giridharadas

The consulting firm McKinsey has agreed to pay nearly $600 million for its role in advising Purdue on how to push opioids sales, even at the cost of human lives. The details of their work are gruesome and should demand self-reflection among all those who work in big business. Has the profit motive gone out of control, and do business schools have a role to play in creating this culture? Anand Giridharadas says yes to both questions. He's the author of the renowned book "Winners Take All" and the publisher of "The Ink" on Substack. He joins us in this episode to discuss McKinsey, the culture of profits at all costs, and how businesses use philanthropy to distract us from the price we all pay.
2021-02-25
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GameStop, Robinhood And Our Troubling Obsession With Speculation

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard the story of GameStop and Robinhood. Most writers and outlets have claimed this is either a positive David vs Goliath story or a dangerous new trend. On this episode, we're joined by Matt Stoller, Director of Research at the American Economic Liberties Project, who has an entirely different view.
2021-02-11
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Manufacturing Dissent With Matt Taibbi

A well-functioning capitalism needs a well-functioning democracy which depends on a well-functioning media. So, is our media functioning well today...has it ever? To talk through this question, we sit down with renowned journalist and media critic, Matt Taibbi.
2021-01-28
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Microsoft 1998 vs Google 2020: Antitrust and Big Tech

In 1998, the U.S. government filed antitrust charges against Microsoft. Today, with a new Department of Justice antitrust case filed against Google, it's worthwhile to track the eerie similarities between these cases in order to understand how one informs the other and vice versa. In order to walk us through both cases, we invited two people on the show who were on opposing sides of the Microsoft case: Robert Topel Distinguished Service Professor of Economics from the University of Chicago and expert witness for Microsoft, and David Boies, the lawyer who represented the Government in the 98' case.
2021-01-14
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