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Capitalisn't on Smash Notes

Capitalisn't podcast.

March 27, 2020

Capitalism is the engine of prosperity. Capitalism sows the seeds of its own demise. Could both be right? Economists Luigi Zingales (University of Chicago) and Kate Waldock (Georgetown) share the sort of irreverent banter you’d hear between economists at a bar, if economists were capable of sarcasm and social enough to go out to bars.



Episodes with Smash Notes

In September China's second largest real-estate developer, Evergrand, missed a debt payment estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Skeptics and bears on China have long said that its property market, which makes up some 30% 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 economics at the University of Chicago and faculty director of BFI-China at the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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 been revealed to lack clothes, or did they never have them to begin with?

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.