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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 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.

We’re taking time off to be with our families, even if it’s only over a screen, so we're sharing a shorter episode with you this week. Inspired by our recent election, Bethany and Luigi sit down, just the two of them, to talk through why a robust and strong democracy is essential for capitalism to work. We hope you enjoy this conversation, and we’ll see you with brand new episodes after the holidays.

Few people have deeply investigated the inner workings of our problematic student debt system. One person who has is Constantine Yannelis, Assistant Professor of Finance at The University of Chicago. With a proposal by the Biden Administration to forgive some portion of student debt possibly on the table, Yannelis takes us behind the curtain of our student loan system to explain why this may not be the best policy and what other options we have available.

It's not hard to find original conversations about the dangers of "Big Tech", but it is rare to find original solutions. On this episode, we sit down with renowned professor and author, Francis Fukuyama, who has developed a fresh answer to the question of how to rein in the big digital platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google.

During confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominees, the debate is always focused on social questions like abortion, but rarely economic questions—the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett was no exception. But the Supreme Court can have a massive influence on our economy and how we conduct business. On this episode, we're joined by appeals lawyer, Roman Martinez, who has personally argued many cases in front of the Court, to interrogate the relationship between the Supreme Court and the economy, and how the new court may rule on business issues.

This week, another University of Chicago Podcast Network show called "Big Brains" asked Luigi to share his biggest takeaways from the 2020 election. They covered why the polls got the election so wrong, what messages the record turnout send to our politicians, and what Joe Biden may change in the economy. We’re going to share that episode with you this week, and recommend you give Big Brains a listen and subscribe. We hope you enjoy and we’ll see you next week for a new episode of Capitalisn’t!

It's been 50 years since Milton Friedman's world changing article which argued the only social responsibility of business is to increase profits. Since the Great Financial Crisis, that view has been increasingly challenged. On this anniversary, we revisit Friedman's legacy with New Yorker staff writer and author of "Transaction Man", Nick Lemann. Together, we explain what Friedman got right and what he got wrong about shareholder vs stakeholder capitalism.

In recent weeks, The Great Barrington Declaration erupted the debate about how best to continue the fight against COVID-19. On this episode, we try to have an honest and difficult conversation about the tradeoffs of different strategies for the future, from lockdowns to herd immunity.

We also speak to people on both sides of the aisle: Sunetra Gupta, an epidemiologist from Oxford and one of the signers of The Great Barrington Declaration, and Andy Slavitt, former Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under Obama and the host of the In The Bubble Podcast.

MMT—modern monetary theory—has become one of the hottest topics in economics. The best selling book, "The Deficit Myth", by economist Stephanie Kelton has even made this little understood theory go mainstream. But deeply analyzing these ideas has become more pressing than ever as we debate, in the middle of a pandemic, whether the government should be adding more debt to support the economy.

Along with our guest, "grumpy" economist John Cochran from the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, we take a look at what MMT gets right, what it gets wrong, and how it should change our thinking.

Will rich people be able to buy a coronavirus vaccine before everyone else? Should we pay people to be part of clinical trials? Is a market for vaccine vouchers a terrible idea?

On this episode, we tackle the complex questions around developing and distributing a coronavirus vaccine in a capitalist system. And to get some help with the answers, Luigi and Bethany speak with bioethicist, Dr. Arthur L. Caplan, from the NYU School of Medicine.

As we start a new season of Capitalisn't, we welcome our new co-host, Vanity Fair contributing editor Bethany McLean. Academics tend to think journalists are too driven by anecdotes and journalists tend to think that academics are irrelevant. But in our new season, we hope to combine these two expertises to illuminate the ways capitalism is and isn't working in our world.

CapitalIsn't will be returning with a new co-host in September! In the meantime, as we develop the re-launch of our show, we'll be airing previously unreleased content and re-releasing some of our favorite episodes.

In light of the upcoming 2020 election, we thought it would be worthwhile to rebroadcast a conversation Kate and Luigi had about money in politics.