Human society is built on social contracts, but decades of neoliberalism have left many of our most fundamental contracts—worker power, social safety nets, trust in key institutions— in tatters. It’s no wonder that people are pissed off: without fairness, we can’t have cooperation, and without cooperation, we can’t have a strong economy… or a strong democracy. Can we restore the social contracts that served us so well, or has our sense of fairness been damaged beyond repair? Oxford economics professor Eric Beinhocker shares his latest research into the psychology and economics of cooperation.
In one of the highlights of last week’s EconCon Presents event in Washington D.C., Washington Post columnist Perry Bacon Jr. convened an all-star panel of political experts. Maurice Mitchell, Faiz Shakir, and Anna Greenberg joined Bacon to share lessons learned from the midterm elections, and debate strategies for driving the progressive economic agenda forward in 2023 and beyond.
Kroger wants to buy Albertsons and effectively become the second-largest grocery chain in the United States. This merger would result in less competition, rising grocery prices, and lower wages. Corporate greed has gotten us into this mess, but new federal anti-merger guidelines, and some tenacious Attorneys General, may just get us out. Returning guest Stacy Mitchell explains why mergers like this one are bad news for workers and shoppers alike.
If there’s one thing we learned from the far-right campaign against voting rights following the 2020 election, it’s how fragile our democracy really is. That’s why we’re celebrating Election Day 2022 by revisiting our conversation with Vote.org CEO Andrea Hailey, who explains how voter suppression happens and what reforms would help ensure a truly inclusive democracy. Don’t forget to vote!
Corporate concentration has strained the labor market for virtually all workers, but the resulting lack of competition has caused unique harm to the creative economy. Increasingly exploitative monopolies have rendered artists, authors, musicians, and other creative workers all but powerless. Novelist Cory Doctorow and intellectual property expert Rebecca Giblin discuss their new book, Chokepoint Capitalism, which documents the increasing tensions between extractive corporations and creative laborers, and offers solutions to help fight back against the devaluation of creativity.
Economics is another form of storytelling—specifically, it’s the story of who gets what and why. And as the rise of trickle-down and middle-out economics shows us, telling the right story at the right time can transform the economy for a generation. The same is true for politics, but simple and easy-to-understand narratives are notoriously not a strength of Democratic politicians. That’s what the folks at the Winning Jobs Narrative Project are trying to fix. On this must-listen episode before the midterm elections, Bobby Clark and Melissa Morales explain why messaging matters to voters.
We’ve lived in the shadow of trickle-down economics for over 40 years. During that time, our leaders unquestioningly embraced economic policies that prioritize the wealthiest and most powerful, with the idea that their wealth will eventually “trickle down” to everyone else. Finally, a contrasting progressive economic understanding is beginning to take hold. Middle-out economics—the idea that prioritizing the working- and middle-class is better for everyone in the economy—is having a moment. But where did middle-out come from? Michael Tomasky’s new book chronicles the history of middle-out and the rise of progressive economics in the United States.
While President Biden has embraced middle-out economics here in the states, the UK’s new leaders have decided to enthusiastically revive trickle-down economics. Political economist Mark Blyth, who teaches International Economics, shares his thoughts on the United Kingdom’s troubling new budget policies, certainty’s role in building an economy, and much more on this wide-ranging episode.
The United States is in the midst of a housing crisis. Prices are skyrocketing, supply is dwindling, and wages haven’t kept up with cost of living. It’s a complicated problem, but the good news is that many of its solutions are relatively simple. Jenny Schuetz literally wrote the book on how good policy solutions can help resolve some of the worst pressures on our stressed housing market.
President Biden recently announced his plan for student loan forgiveness. It’s a policy that helps build the economy from the middle out by erasing some of the 1.7 trillion dollars in debt that’s holding Americans back. Economist Marshall Steinbaum, who has spent most of his career researching student debt, explains why this forgiveness plan is a great start—and why Biden can, and should, do more.
Millions of Americans are being kept out of the workforce due to the lingering effects of Covid, resulting in billions of dollars in lost wages and productivity. How is this affecting our economy? Returning guest Katie Bach shares the findings from her new report which outlines just how severe the labor market effects of long Covid have become.
If you’re a salaried worker, chances are you’re no longer eligible for the overtime pay that you would have received 40 years ago. A robust federal overtime standard used to serve as a kind of minimum wage for the middle class, providing both a valuable source of extra income and a shield of protection for the 40-hour workweek. When he interviewed workers around the country, Journalist Marcus Baram learned firsthand why we must raise the overtime threshold and restore overtime protections for American workers.
The Inflation Reduction Act may be smaller than the original Build Back Better plan, but it still represents a huge leap forward in middle-out economic thinking. The IRA addresses out-of-control healthcare costs, it helps build a fairer tax code, and it combats the climate crisis. It’s a huge win for the Biden administration and, more importantly, for the middle class. Economist Rose Khattar breaks down the many benefits of the IRA on our first episode back from summer break.
One of the central theories of classical economics is that markets respond quickly and efficiently to changes in demand. But the supply chain disruptions that left store shelves empty for much of the pandemic demonstrate that the markets aren’t the efficient adapters that classic economists believe them to be. Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz explains why the tendency to believe in the market is one of the most deeply rooted trickle-down myths, and why government intervention is the best way to respond to economic downturns.
Did you know that since 1975 a staggering $50 trillion has been diverted from the paychecks of working Americans to the pockets of the wealthiest 1%? That shocking number was discovered in a groundbreaking study done by the RAND Corporation that finally put a price tag on the massive inequality we’ve seen in America over the last 40 years.
These days “conservative economics” can mean anything from strict libertarianism to formless Trumpism. But what were the foundations of American conservatism? According to Oren Cass, the executive director of a think tank called American Compass, the answer is simple: family, community, and industry. He shares his mission to reclaim American conservatism and joins Nick and Goldy in a search for some common ground.
What do the internet and COVID vaccines have in common? Neither would be possible without the work of DARPA, a mission-focused federal agency responsible for funding research and development. Professor Mariana Mazzucato explains that our economy would be better off if more government agencies adopted DARPA’s mission-oriented approach.
Business leaders can use their power and resources to make meaningful change, but should they? Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the founders of iconic ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s, have navigated the landscape between business and activism since the 1970’s. They share their thoughts and experiences as well as their latest mission: ending qualified immunity.
Chile has a proud tradition of protests, but the unrest of 2019 was different. More than a million people took to the streets to protest their nation’s vast inequality. The uprising made international news, unseated a neoliberal dictatorship, and led to the election of a new president—but did it also create lasting change? Chilean historian Marcelo Casals catches us up on the latest developments in Chile’s battle against neoliberalism.
Millions of Americans lost their jobs because of the pandemic. While men have returned to their pre-pandemic level of employment, a million women are still missing from the workforce. Without access to paid maternity leave and affordable child care, women are choosing to stay home – or being forced to. It’s time for a more inclusive economic recovery. Reshma Saujani, the Founder of Girls Who Code and the Marshall Plan for Moms, has a plan to get us there.
What can the history of human progress teach us about modern inequality? In his new book, ‘The Journey of Humanity: The Origins of Wealth and Inequality,’ economist Oded Galor explores that question, as well as why human progress was stagnant for so much of history, if growth is still possible without ruining the planet, and what this all means for our future.
When it comes to crafting economic policy, cost-effectiveness, efficiency, choice, and competition have reigned supreme among policymakers for decades. Sociologist Elizabeth Popp Berman says that this style of economic reasoning—prioritizing efficiency above all else—makes good ideas seem like bad policy. She walks us through how that short-sighted style of thinking took hold in DC and explains when policymakers are right to lean on purely economic thinking—and when they should reject it in favor of prioritizing more fundamental values.
Reducing inequality is not only possible, but it’s actually happening all across the globe. Faiza Shaheen, the Inequality Program Lead at NYU, has been researching the conditions and policies that can lower inequality for years. She shares which countries have successfully done so, and speculates about whether the United States has a shot at joining them.
Gas prices have reached record highs in the United States. Is inflation actually to blame, or is it the greed of Big Oil, which is enjoying record profits? Congressman Ro Khanna walks us through his proposal for a Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax, which he says will help curb profiteering while reducing gas prices.
The Biden Administration’s 2023 budget proposal includes a Billionaire Minimum Income Tax and a rewrite of stock buyback practices. Will these changes actually take effect? If so, will they do enough to curb runaway corporate power? Niko Lusiani from the Roosevelt Institute breaks down what’s inside Biden’s budget.
The idea behind private equity firms—to buy failing companies and turn them around for a profit—is not inherently bad. So why is private equity such a major driver of economic inequality? Jim Baker, the Executive Director for the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, explains these Wall Street pirates’ risky business practices and shows how workers are paying the price.
In 2019, a group of business leaders signed a high-profile pledge promising that they would voluntarily move toward a more inclusive stakeholder-focused version of capitalism. But throughout the pandemic, those same companies reported record profits while workers were left behind. Brookings Institute Senior Fellow Katie Bach walks us through her new report examining the pandemic labor practices of 22 companies, spanning nearly every sector, and employing more than 7 million frontline workers.
Non-compete clauses, and the lesser-known no-poach agreements between franchises, are shockingly common for low-wage workers. Although these contracts were originally intended to protect trade secrets among high-level executives, they have spiraled into an unfair labor practice that keeps wages low, limits employee mobility, and decreases competition. Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson explains how non-competes and no-poach agreements violate the law in many states, what his team did to get hundreds of huge employers across the country to cease and desist, and why you should tell your state’s Attorney General if you know of any low- or middle-income workers who are being forced into signing these agreements.
It’s trendy to mock the malicious pervasiveness of neoliberalism now, but have you ever wondered what its origins are? This week, George Monbiot and Binyamin Appelbaum join the show to uncover just where the dominant economic theory of our time came from and how it took hold. This episode was originally recorded and released in October 2019.
What role does the criminal justice system play in economic inequality? How does economic inequality cause mass incarceration? And how do we tease those two questions apart? Robynn Cox, an expert in the economics of mass incarceration, talks about her research uncovering the links between economic inequality and the criminal justice system.
Ever wondered what the minimum wage would be if it had kept pace with inflation and productivity like it used to? Here’s a hint: $7.25, and even $15.00, don’t come close. Economist Dean Baker has been crunching the numbers on the minimum wage for years. He joins the podcast this week to share what he’s found and why it matters.
While many Americans struggle to make ends meet, corporate America’s 2021 profits were higher than ever. So why are corporations making more money while supply chain issues are still driving up inflation for the rest of us? The Groundwork Collaborative’s Chief Economist, Rakeen Mabud, wants you to know that the supply chain is working exactly as it was designed: for maximum profit, rather than reliably getting goods to people. And that’s the problem.
Investigative financial analyst Tom Bergin cut his teeth investigating corporate wrongdoing. When he turned his attention to the economics profession, he learned that eight major economic theories—used by experts to shape policy across the globe—entirely lack factual basis. He joins the pod to explain how those theories wormed their way into dominant economic thinking, the evidence against them, and why he believes economists are finally starting to shift toward studying the world as it actually is.
The Congressional Budget Office, the institution that furnishes cost-benefit analyses for federal legislation under consideration by Congress, has a really hard job. But some of the assumptions they rely on to predict economic consequences are just plain weird. Economist Mark Paul leads us through the strangest practices at the CBO, including their (untrue) claim that public investment is only half as productive as private investment and the complete lack of peer-reviewing of reports that can signal the death knell for a bill.
Billionaires have looted economies, hidden from tax bills, and destabilized democracies for decades. But the subset of billionaires who make a show of pretending to be good citizens have to be the worst among them. They’re called “Davos Man” and according to New York Times Global Economics Correspondent Peter Goodman, they’re devouring the world we live in.
We often discuss abortion as an issue of bodily autonomy, personal rights, and reproductive justice. Of course it’s all of those things, but it’s also an economic issue. Access (or lack thereof) to an abortion profoundly affects women’s lives by determining if, when, and under what circumstances they become mothers. Whether or not women have access to abortion can change the direction of their lives, affecting educational attainment, labor force participation, and overall earnings. Economist Caitlin Myers breaks down her research into the subject and provides examples of the causal link between abortion access and economic outcomes in women’s lives.
Thanks to Brad from Pennsylvania, Larry from Boston, Julie from Arizona, Duncan from California, Zach from Minnesota, and Dave from Illinois who left the great voicemails included in this episode. If you have any questions for a future AMA episode, leave us a voicemail at 731-388-9334.
Modern Monetary Theory is an attempt to accurately describe how government debt and complex financial systems actually work and it can help us responsibly use our resources. No one is more knowledgeable on the subject than returning guest, Professor Stephanie Kelton. On this episode, originally released in 2020, Kelton explains the myths surrounding MMT and what a new understanding of the budget could do for our economy.
The United States spends far more on healthcare costs than other industrialized countries, yet we continue to have wider gaps of coverage and report worse health outcomes. California Assemblymember Ash Kalra is paving the way for a better system in his state through the California Guaranteed Health Care for All Act, which at the time of recording had been advancing through the state legislature for nearly a year. The night before this episode posted, the Bill died in the Assembly — but Assemblymember Kalra’s thoughts on how a state-based single payer system would work, the hurdles it faces, and how such a program could become the blueprint for national health care reform can still inspire future lawmakers and activists to find new paths forward for health care in America.
Even in the middle of a pandemic, trickle-down politicians still love to claim that the free market is the best way to resolve human problems and that the government can’t be trusted to serve the public good. But when we privatize public health, utilities, and other shared necessities, we hand over control of those public goods—the things that we all need and that we need everyone to have— to for-profit entities that don’t answer to the public. Donald Cohen, an expert on privatization, shares examples and talks about the consequences of privatization in America.
In most states, tipped workers are not subject to the minimum wage. Why? Because it’s legal to pay tipped workers a subminimum wage as low as the federal minimum of $2.13 per hour. As long as any worker in the country can be paid less than the minimum wage, the minimum wage is meaningless. Saru Jayaraman, a leader in the national fight for one fair wage, lays out the path forward.
When the Federal Reserve makes money, where does it go? Turns out, the Fed’s hands are tied—it can’t do anything other than assume that the new money will trickle down into the hands of ordinary Americans through Wall Street’s coffers. And according to journalist Christopher Leonard, that’s put the United States’ economic stability at risk and accelerated income inequality.
If it seems to you like the ultimate goal of the most extreme conservatives is to undermine democracy and cripple democratic institutions—well, according to historian Nancy MacLean, you’re right. This week, MacLean unpacks the meteoric rise in popularity of the radical right’s ideas, and offers a way forward for progressives, based on lessons from successful social movements throughout American history. This episode was originally released in July 2020.
The 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act included a little-known provision establishing something called opportunity zones. The plan, which was lauded as a way to direct investments into under-developed communities in the U.S., created 8,764 tax havens that were almost immediately exploited by the wealthy to gobble up capital gains tax breaks. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Wessel explains how opportunity zones came to be, who is profiting off of them, and why it’s so difficult to tweak the tax code without creating windfalls for the rich.
In the U.S., inequality is often framed as the 99% versus the wealthiest 1%. But that’s not quite the right matchup. While the bottom 90% has done dramatically worse over the last several decades and the top 0.1% has done dramatically better, the 9.9% in between those groups still controls more than half of the wealth in the United States. Author and philosopher Matthew Stewart thinks that the 9.9% are not innocent bystanders, and he joins Nick and Goldy to discuss how this group is entrenching inequality and warping our culture.
How can we center the role of race in our economic policy and in our politics in a way that will drive real change? Kyle Strickland, the deputy director of race and democracy at the Roosevelt Institute, explains how our leaders have fallen under the sway of racial liberalism, which focuses solely on disavowing personal bigotry and overt discrimination. In order to realize true racial and economic justice, he argues we should move beyond racial liberalism and toward a greater understanding of the systemic injustices built into our political and economic systems.
The average family earning $25,000 a year in the U.S. spends about $2,400 on financial transactions. Whether it’s the astronomical interest rates of a payday loan or the costs that come with being unbanked, the extractive practices of the financial services industry are effectively keeping the poor in poverty. Lawyer and author Mehrsa Baradaran and economic mobility expert Cate Blackford join Nick and Steph this week to explain why banking while poor is so expensive, and what states can do to rein in the people who profit from it. This episode was originally released in February 2020.
Until very recently, the prevailing wisdom cautioned that transitioning to a clean energy economy would be extremely expensive, and therefore only possible if undertaken slowly. New research upends that thinking—when it comes to going green, the faster we go, the cheaper it will be. University of Oxford professors Eric Beinhocker and Doyne Farmer talk with Nick about a new strategy for clean technology that could transform the climate fight.
The number of unhoused Americans is at a historically high rate right now. This podcast is produced in Seattle, a city with the third highest homeless population in the U.S. Though many Seattleites identify as progressive, we can’t reach a consensus on how to help our most vulnerable populations—or even find agreement on the root causes of the housing crisis. Why are perspectives on homelessness, and possible solutions to it, so polarized? Josephine Ensign, a University of Washington nurse and health care provider for people experiencing homelessness, shares some of her insights from her career on the frontlines of this crisis.
Every company you can think of has benefitted from a public investment. Whether it’s direct handouts through the tax code, government research efforts, or employee reliance on programs like EITC or TANF, taxpayers are subsidizing wildly profitable companies. David Dayen, the executive editor of The American Prospect, and Financial Times associate editor Rana Foroohar join Nick and Zach to explain how we let corporate parasites get so out of control—and what we can do about it. This episode was originally recorded and released in January 2020.
We know that the tax system is set up to advantage people with money. And we know that in the U.S., people with money are disproportionately white. But what many people don’t realize is that the tax system actively advantages white families. Tax law professor Dorothy Brown explains how racial inequality is baked into tax policy in non-obvious ways, and how that affects wealth-building.
The opioid crisis in the United States is a textbook example of free market economics. The powerful lie, manipulate, and skirt regulations to make buckets of money, while innocent people suffer. Journalist Sam Quinones joins Goldy and Paul to unpack the economics behind the opioid crisis, and the new threat of synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
Anti-monopoly and pro-local advocate Stacy Mitchell joins the show to talk about small business, big business, and decentralizing economic power.
Stacy Mitchell is the co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. She directs ILSR’s Independent Business Initiative, which produces research and analysis and partners with a broad range of allies to design and implement policies to reverse corporate concentration and strengthen local enterprise.
Few books have shaken the philanthropy world more than ‘Winners Take All’, Anand Giridharadas’s blistering critique of wealthy do-gooders. Global elites who ostentatiously give away hundreds of millions of dollars, he argues, are actually just preserving the status quo that grants them power in the first place. On this episode, originally recorded and released in October 2019, Anand joins Nick and Goldy to explain how do-gooding can perpetuate inequality.
Who are the winners and losers in our skill development system? How can we move the onus of skill further into the purview of employers and away from our education system? UNC Professor Nichola Lowe talks to Goldy about the future of “skill” as we know it in the economy, and what’s at stake if we get it wrong.
Contrary to popular belief, Nordic countries aren’t actually socialist! No, friends, the Nords are capitalists—but they pull it off much better than we do. To help re-imagine American capitalism, writers Anu Partanen and Trevor Corson join us this week all the way from Finland. This episode was originally recorded and posted in February 2020.
Right-to-work laws, which make unionizing more difficult in 28 states, could more accurately be referred to as right-to-work… for less. Why? On average, worker pay drops 3.1% when right-to-work laws are passed. Shane Larson from CWA, the largest communications and media labor union in the U.S., joins Goldy to explain why right-to-work laws are so harmful, how they came to be, and why it’s so important to pass the PRO Act to fight for workers’ rights.
Democrats used to be known as the party of the working people—so how did they get so off track? Who took over the party, and why? Author and professor James Kwak joins Nick and Paul in a blistering analysis of the decline of the Democratic Party, and explains how we can get it back on track. This episode originally aired in January 2020.
DC restaurateur Mark Bucher explains what’s behind the “labor” shortage (hint: it’s the wages), the role that restaurant owners need to play in stopping the “churn and burn” model of low-wage workers, and the future of the restaurant industry post-Covid.
Mark Bucher is the co-owner of Medium Rare, a decade-old steakhouse with three locations in D.C., Arlington, and Bethesda. During the pandemic, he established “Feed the Fridge”, a project that places refrigerators around the DC metro area and pays local restaurants to fill them with fresh meals daily
What does it take for someone to act in the interest of others? What constitutes trust in general, and trust in government in particular? Margaret Levi, a professor of political and behavioral sciences, shares her research on how people can be persuaded to act in the interest of others if they don’t already want to. The conversation covers vaccines, unions, citizen confidence in government, and a lot more.
There have been far more lethal pandemics than Covid-19, but the scale of our response to Covid-19 is dramatically new. For the first time in human history, our civilization made a collective decision to shut much of the world economy down. Contemporary historian Adam Tooze helps us understand what happened, why it happened, and how we can learn from it.
What’s the next generation of access to credit? Why are home prices and rents so out-of-whack with each other? And how can we approach the discord between what liberals say they want for their community versus what housing and development policies they’ll actually support? Glenn Kelman, the CEO of real estate brokerage website Redfin, helps us examine the future of housing and the best ways that companies like his can contribute to solving the housing crisis.
And if you’re wondering why this episode sounds so good, or why nobody mentions the pandemic… it’s because this conversation is from our archives of interviews that we recorded in-studio, just before the pandemic hit. But don’t let that discourage you—this is still just as relevant today as the day it was recorded. Enjoy!
Is inflation bad? What’s the difference between a neoliberal and a conservative? If large corporations were held to higher labor standards than small employers, wouldn’t Walmart get all the talent? And more.
Thanks to Mark from Nashville, David from Japan, Mike from Dallas-Fort Worth, Mary from Pennsylvania, Steve from Austin, and Pete from Boston, who left the great voicemails included in this episode! If you have any questions for a future AMA episode, leave us a voicemail at 731-388-9334.
Workers at a Frito-Lay factory in Topeka, Kansas made national headlines when they went on strike to protest dismal labor conditions including forced overtime and 84-hour workweeks. (Frito-Lay’s parent company, PepsiCo, made $10.5 billion in profit last year.) The strike ended after 19 days on July 26th, but it’s an important part of a national conversation about labor and corporate profits. Kansas state Representative Jason Probst joins the show to explain the details of the strike and how these insidious labor practices affect his state’s economy.
Nick and Goldy answer your questions! If we had progressive taxation, would we still need means testing? Can we send ultra-rich people away to their own economy? What are the best economic indicators for the progressive economy? And more!
Thanks to Lisa from Indianapolis, Rick from Baltimore, Jacob from Portland, Sean from Philadelphia, Linda from Seaside, and Frank from Georgia who left the great voicemails included in this episode! If you have any questions for a future AMA episode, leave us a voicemail at 731-388-9334.
Can we create transformative climate outcomes by adopting new regulatory strategies? Financial regulation expert Sarah Bloom Raskin helps us explore what levers exist to steer fiscal and monetary policy toward lasting sustainability.
Sarah Bloom Raskin is the former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and a former Governor of the Federal Reserve Board. She served as the Commissioner of Financial Regulation for the State of Maryland from 2007 to 2010. She is currently a visiting professor and distinguished fellow at Duke Law School’s Global Financial Markets Center, and a member of President Biden’s Regenerative Crisis Response Committee, which recommends changes in fiscal, monetary, and financial regulatory policies that are likely to enable the U.S. to achieve net carbon neutrality before 2050.
Contrary to fears that economic inclusion must come at the expense of economic growth, global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company’s research and empirical evidence supports the idea that economic growth is at its best when it is most inclusive – but that equity needs to be embedded in systems from the start in order to be effective. What does ‘inclusion’ mean in the context of an economy that works for everyone? McKinsey’s JP Julien explains how policymakers and companies can ensure that economic growth goes hand-in-hand with – and is enhanced by – reducing inequality.
JP Julien is an Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company, where he serves US federal, state, and city governments on inclusive economic-development topics and supports private-, public-, and social-sector organizations in advancing racial equity. He is a leader of the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility, a global economic think tank focused on inclusive economic development and racial equity topics.
It’s Nick and Goldy’s summer reading list! We want to know what you’re reading, too. Let us know on Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics.
Remember to shop local and small when you can, or order from IndieBound or Bookshop.org—both of which support independent bookstores! All of these books are also likely available at your library.
You probably saw the news that Chipotle is raising its menu prices by 4 percent, and that leadership is blaming the price increase on the fact that they had to raise their starting pay to $15 per hour. It’s not at all surprising to see a large employer like Chipotle blame rising wages for everything, but what was disappointing was the media’s willingness to repeat Chipotle’s story without looking deeper into the numbers: namely, none of the stories covering the price increases mentioned that Chipotle gave its CEO a $24 million raise last year, and that the company is in the middle of enacting a $153 million stock buyback program to enrich a handful of shareholders. Around here, that type of trick will land you the title of Trickle-Down Clown! This week Goldy has a few choice words to say about Chipotle’s behavior, and then we thought it would be a good time to revisit our stock buybacks episode with Senator Cory Booker for an explanation of the pervasiveness and dangers of the practice.
We’re back to our favorite topic this week—TAX THE RICH! Beyond all the benefits that come from a well-funded social safety net, taxing the wealthy would lessen inequality, which would make most people—including the extravagantly wealthy—happier. Super-rich Danish entrepreneur Djaffar Shalchi shares the wisdom that Denmark understands: Inequality is bad for everyone.
Djaffar Shalchi is an entrepreneur from Denmark and founder of Millionaires for Humanity, a network of wealthy people who advocate for raising taxes on wealthy people. He is also the founder and Executive Director of Move Humanity, a global initiative to mobilize at least one percent of the wealth of the world’s super-rich for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Radical and rising economic inequality is no secret — and now, thanks to new research from the Economic Policy Institute, neither is its price tag nor its cause. There’s never been a study quite like this — one which places specific, real dollar amounts on every trickle-down policy American politicians have embraced. The study’s authors, Larry Mishel and Josh Bivens, explain how their work reveals that the massive upward redistribution of income our nation has suffered these past four decades can largely be attributed to policies intentionally designed to suppress the wages of American workers.
Lawrence Mishel is a distinguished fellow at EPI after serving as president from 2002-2017. In the more than three decades he has been with EPI, Mishel has helped build it into the nation’s premier research organization focused on U.S. living standards and labor markets.
You have no doubt seen the scary headlines warning of a “labor shortage” caused by the additional pandemic unemployment insurance payments. The coverage of this story is widespread, even though most economics reporters can find no credible evidence linking unemployment checks to a labor shortage. EPI economist Heidi Shierholz joins us to explain why UI and stimulus payments aren’t causing a “labor shortage”, and why the answer to this made-up problem is so clear: it’s the low wages, stupid.
Heidi Shierholz is the Senior Economist and Director of Policy at the Economic Policy Institute.
Non-compete clauses, and the lesser-known no-poach agreements between franchises, are shockingly common for low-wage workers. Although these contracts were originally intended to protect trade secrets among high-level executives, they have spiralled into an unfair labor practice that keeps wages low, limits employee mobility, and decreases competition. Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson explains how non-competes and no-poach agreements violate the law in many states, what his team did to get hundreds of huge employers across the country to cease and desist, and why you should tell your state’s Attorney General if you know of any low- or middle-income workers who are being forced into signing these agreements.
Bob Ferguson is Washington State’s 18th Attorney General. As the state’s chief legal officer, Bob is committed to protecting the people of Washington against powerful interests that don’t play by the rules.
What do the internet and COVID vaccines have in common? Neither would be possible without the work of DARPA, a mission-focused federal agency responsible for funding research and development. Professor Mariana Mazzucato is with us this week to argue that our economy will be better off if more government agencies adopt DARPA’s mission-oriented approach.
Mariana Mazzucato is a Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London, where she is Founding Director of the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. She is the author of three highly-acclaimed books: The Entrepreneurial State, The Value of Everything, and Mission Economy.
Can business leaders use their power and resources to make meaningful change? Should they? Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the founders behind iconic ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s, help map the landscape between business and activism and introduce their new project, the Campaign to End Qualified Immunity.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are the co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Most recently, they are the leaders of the Campaign to End Qualified Immunity, a new police reform and criminal justice campaign.
EPI economist Valerie Wilson joins us for a conversation about the economic costs of racism, and which policies could help further racial equality.
Valerie Wilson is the Director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy at the Economic Policy Institute. Prior to joining EPI, she was an economist and vice president of research at the National Urban League Washington Bureau.
The latest monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed massive gains in March—the strongest in seven months—indicating that economic growth is gaining speed. Economist Austan Goolsbee explains why he’s optimistic, what kind of numbers we need to keep seeing to realize a full recovery, and how the report proves that even though some think high unemployment insurance payments will disincentivize people from returning to work, a lack of jobs is actually what’s driving unemployment rates.
Austan Goolsbee is the Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He previously served as the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and a member of President Obama’s Cabinet.
Mike Konczal is the Director of Progressive Thought at the Roosevelt Institute. His latest book is Freedom from the Market: America’s Fight to Liberate Itself from the Grip of the Invisible Hand.
On his podcast Yang Speaks, former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang asks Nick about pervasive economic myths, the next big labor standards fight (the overtime threshold), and the early days of the Fight for $15. Plus, they debate whether a higher minimum wage or a universal basic income would be better for society.
If you’re one of the many people who have asked us to take down the concepts in Atlas Shrugged, which argues that we’re a fundamentally selfish species, this episode is for you! If you’re not one of those people, well, this episode is ALSO for you! Evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson has infused the idea of prosociality (the desire to help others) into his new book, Atlas Hugged, and he joins us to explain why Atlas Hugged is a better predictor of how people act than Atlas Shrugged.
David Sloan Wilson is an evolutionary biologist and SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University. His books include This View of Life: Completing the Darwinian Revolution and the recently published Atlas Hugged.
When GameStop’s stock skyrocketed early this year, Wall Street was pissed. A group of Redditors had manipulated the stock market—and everyone knows only professional hedge fund managers are allowed to do that! We couldn’t ignore the market news that took the world by storm, so Nick and Goldy called up CA Congressman Ro Khanna to talk about what happened with GameStop, what it means for financial regulations, and what the government’s response signals about a changing tide in our country’s leadership.
Congressman Ro Khanna is a Representative of California’s 17th District. Rep. Khanna sits on the House Committees on Agriculture, Armed Services, and Oversight and Reform. He is the Deputy Whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; serves as an Assistant Whip for the Democratic Caucus and is the Democratic Vice Chair of the House Caucus on India and Indian Americans.
This weekend, the Senate passed the coronavirus relief bill—and the House is scheduled to debate the bill, and widely expected to pass it, on the day this episode is published (Tuesday, March 9th). While the Senate debated what would be the largest disaster-relief legislation in American history, moderate Democrats and ultra-conservative Republicans alike repeated one common criticism—that infusing so much money into the economy would cause inflation. Austan Goolsbee, past Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, explains why those fears are misplaced in this episode that will answer every question you’ve ever had about inflation, stimulus checks, and disaster relief.
Austan Goolsbee is the Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He previously served in Washington as the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and a member of President Obama’s Cabinet.
Tackling existential threats to our future like climate change and economic inequality is a huge undertaking, and building the future is going to require massive public investment. Cornell Law Professor Saule Omarova calls for a National Investment Authority that would work inside private markets as a soup-to-nuts problem-solving operation.
Saule Omarova is the Beth and Marc Goldberg Professor of Law at Cornell Law School. She specializes in financial sector regulation, banking law, international finance, and corporate finance.
Over the last century, the velocity of money—the rate at which money changes hands through the economy—has declined. Today, money moves at one of the slowest rates on record, meaning every dollar today generates 70% less economic activity than a dollar did just ten years ago. That has big implications for our economy. Political economist Ann Pettifor joins Nick and Goldy to explain how the velocity of money is related to money creation, and why taxing the rich is ultimately pro-growth (it’s all related, we promise!).
Ann Pettifor is a political economist, author, and public speaker, and the Director of PRIME (Policy Research in Macroeconomics). Her work focuses on the global financial system, sovereign debt restructuring, international finance, and sustainable development. She is the author of many books, including The Production of Money and The Case for the Green New Deal.
The theory of marginal product of labor says that every worker is paid exactly what they’re worth—the value that their labor generates. Employers cite marginal productivity to legitimize paying the lowest wages possible, but that’s just another trickle-down scam. Economist Marshall Steinbaum and food labor expert Saru Jayaraman expose the lie of marginal productivity, and show how it’s been used to exploit workers for centuries.
Marshall Steinbaum is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Utah and a Senior Fellow of Higher Education Finance at the Jain Family Institute. He studies market power in labor markets and its policy implications.
The big news in the minimum wage world this week is the brand new CBO report—which, among many benefits, also found that a $15 federal minimum wage would cost jobs, increase the deficit, and raise prices. How can that be, when most modern minimum wage studies suggest the opposite? Goldy and Paul explain how CBO arrived at their numbers.
You know the drill: Nick and Goldy answer your questions! Did we see ‘pitchforks’ at the Capitol insurrection? What should people who subscribe to the economic theories we talk about in this podcast call themselves? What are the smartest investments the average person can make for a stronger, more prosperous, more democratic America? And more!
Here’s another resource from the archive that will help you wade through the loud and often misleading coverage of the Raise the Wage Act.
Not all minimum-wage studies are equal. Some of the most headline-grabbing negative reports on the effects of the minimum wage were commissioned and promoted by right-wing organizations looking to legitimize trickle-down policies that hurt workers. How can you spot studies that aren’t worth their salt? Economist Ben Zipperer joins Nick and Jasmin to reveal some of the tricks that economists pull, and to help us understand how some studies can conclude that raising wages will kill jobs—even though, as we know, the opposite is true.
Is the U.S. an oligarchy, or does it just have a bunch of super-rich people living in it? Is there a difference? Author Thom Hartmann joins Nick and Paul to explain the relationship between wealth and American political power and share some of the research that went into his latest book, ‘The Hidden History of American Oligarchy.’
You may have noticed that the trickle-downers are out in full force again spouting bad ideas in response to the Raise the Wage Act, which will raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour. To set the record straight, we’re reposting one of our first-ever episodes, from early 2019, that reveals what the research proves (no, raising the minimum wage doesn’t affect employment), and asks why changing public perception around the minimum wage has been so difficult.
Eric Garcetti is the Mayor of LA, where he signed a $15 minimum wage ordinance into law in 2015.
The late Alan Krueger was a leading labor economist best known for his work on the effects of the minimum wage.
Democrats used to win elections in rural areas, but that seems like a distant memory now. This week, Zach is joined by Bill Hogseth, a political organizer from rural Wisconsin, to talk about the difference between making promises and delivering change—and how Democrats can win rural America back again.
Bill Hogseth is a political organizer from rural Wisconsin, where he works for the Wisconsin Farmers Union. He is the former Chair of the Dunn County Democrats.
Idrees Kahloon from The Economist joins us for inauguration week to assess the daunting economic challenges that the Biden-Harris administration will face the second they take office.
Idrees Kahloon is the Washington correspondent for The Economist. He covers US policy, poverty, and COVID-19 stimulus packages.
In a recent report, The Roosevelt Institute called for a new set of policies to mitigate the economic suffering caused by the pandemic. Taken all together, these policies are as sweeping as the New Deal was—but unlike the New Deal, they’re truly representative of America’s race, class, and gender diversity. Attorney Bharat Ramamurti, the incoming Deputy Director of the Biden administration’s National Economic Council and a co-author of the report, joins Nick and Jessyn to make the case for a True New Deal.
Bharat Ramamurti is the incoming Deputy Director of the National Economic Council. At the time of our interview, he was the managing director of the Corporate Power Program at the Roosevelt Institute and a member of the COVID-19 Congressional Oversight Commission. He was previously an economic advisor to Senator Elizabeth Warren.
No matter what some politicians may claim, there’s actually no such thing as ‘less regulation’ — there are only regulations that favor the powerful, and those that don’t. Stanford economist Anat Admati walks us through the deregulation of the banking industry and explains how she would overhaul financial regulations to make them work well for society, not just for the rich and powerful.
Anat Admati is the George G.C. Parker Professor of Finance and Economics at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, a director of the Corporations and Society Initiative, and a senior fellow at Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. She has written extensively on information dissemination in financial markets, portfolio management, financial contracting, corporate governance, and banking. She is the co-author of ‘The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do About It’.
Trickle-down economics would have you believe that the rich are job creators. For decades we’ve been told that the more money the wealthy have to invest in creating jobs, the better the economy will be for everybody. This lie has had catastrophic effects: the top 0.1% of Americans now own more wealth than the bottom 90% of Americans combined. As debates rage among our leaders over stimulus bills and Americans battle their way through this economic crisis, the case for taxing the wealthy has never been as strong as it is now—so this week we’re re-surfacing this episode, originally published in 2019. Class traitor Abigail Disney and tax expert Chye-Ching Huang make the case for taxing the rich.
The CARES Act delayed student loan payments as a form of stimulus, raising an important question: if forgiving student loan debt is good policy and broadly popular with Americans, should we just cancel student debt altogether? University of Wisconsin Madison Associate Professor Fenaba Addo, who researches debt and wealth inequality, helps us explore the merits and shortcomings of student debt cancellation.
Fenaba Addo is the Lorna Jorgensen Wendt Associate Professor of Money, Relationships, and Equality at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Her research examines the role of debt and increasing wealth inequality over the past forty years within communities of color and among economically vulnerable populations in the U.S.
Six years after the beginning of the Fight for $15 movement, conventional wisdom is finally waking up to economic reality. How do we know? Because the New York Times recently published an editorial titled ‘Let’s Talk About Higher Wages’ calling on the incoming Biden administration to focus on higher wages for everyone. They couldn’t be more right on. Binyamin Appelbaum, the lead writer on business and economics for the Editorial Board, helps us understand the change in consensus on wages.
Binyamin Appelbaum is the lead writer on business and economics for the Editorial Board of The New York Times. From 2010 to 2019, he was a Washington correspondent for the Times, covering economic policy. His book, ‘The Economists’ Hour: False Prophets, Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society’ is a Wall Street Journal Business Bestseller.
Neoliberal economics says free trade is always good, and its followers try to lower trade barriers without discretion. Freedom is an essential ingredient for successful international trade—but that doesn’t mean all trade should be unregulated. Competition law expert Michelle Meagher joins Goldy to debunk common competition myths and talk about strategies to hold powerful monopolies accountable.
Michelle Meagher is a Senior Policy Fellow at the University College London Centre for Law, Economics, and Society, and co-founder of the Inclusive Competition Forum, a think tank focused on democratizing corporate power and the enforcement of competition law.
“Conservative economics” in the U.S. has become synonymous with libertarian principles. But that’s not what American conservatism was originally about. Oren Cass, the executive director of a new think tank called American Compass, is on a mission to restore conservative economics to its roots in family, community, and industry—and he joins Nick and Goldy to find common ground.
Oren Cass is the executive director of American Compass, whose mission is to restore an economic orthodoxy that emphasizes the importance of faith, community, and industry to the nation’s liberty and prosperity. He is the author of ‘The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America’.
It’s our 100th episode! To celebrate, we pulled together some of our favorite answers to the question we love to ask our guests: Why do you do this work? Plus, Nick answers the question too. We’re thankful this week for the thoughts shared by these inspiring people, and for YOU — thanks for listening to the show. We’re excited for the next 100.
Right now, 26.3 million workers are either on unemployment or waiting to be approved for unemployment benefits. But for many of these jobless workers, the clock is running out on their eligibility to receive unemployment — and with no stimulus bill in sight, we could be entering a grim new phase of this recession. What will happen to the economy when unemployment insurance runs out? What will happen to the people who rely on those benefits? Economist Ioana Marinescu helps Nick and Goldy understand what the near-future of unemployment benefits looks like in the U.S.
Ioana Marinescu is an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice, and a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She studies the labor market to craft policies that can enhance employment, productivity, and economic security.
In the first major staffing announcement of his incoming administration, President-elect Biden named Ron Klain, Obama’s ebola czar, as his chief of staff. We had a great conversation with Klain back in April, in which he argued that leadership failure and government unpreparedness made the pandemic much worse in the U.S. Now’s a great time to refresh yourself on this episode if you’re wondering how the Biden-Harris administration will respond to the coronavirus and approach wide-spread economic recovery.
This September, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy enacted a budget deal with his legislature that increased state taxes on incomes over $1 million. As the country’s second-richest state, this is a big win for progressive taxation. Governor Murphy explains what the tax revenue will go to, how it won’t hurt businesses or cause wealthy people to leave the state, and why it’s the right thing to do in the midst of a national economic crisis .
When are we going to know the results of this election? What can we do about voter suppression? And are Democrats finally giving up on trickle-down economics? Zach and political strategist Cristina Uribe answer these questions and more as they discuss what this election means for our economy and the health of our democracy.
It’s not too late to vote! If you’re unsure how, go to vote.org. And if you already voted by mail, track your ballot and make sure it was accepted!
The real looting in America is the looting of the wages and savings of the bottom 90% by the wealthiest 1%. And although it’s not in the news nearly as much as other types of looting recently, our rigged economic system causes far more harm to our society. Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich joins Nick and Jessyn to explain who rigged the system, and what it will take to stop the real looting.
To contact your elected leaders about the transfer of $50 trillion over the past 45 years from working Americans to the top 1%, text RAND to 67076 or go to www.civicaction.com/rand.
Harvard Business School professor Rebecca Henderson tells Nick and Goldy why businesses should reject the idea that the sole purpose of the corporation is to maximize shareholder value, and how businesses can help reform the market system.
Rebecca Henderson is a professor at the Harvard Business School, a research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a fellow of both the British Academy and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is an expert on innovation and organizational change, and her research explores the degree to which the private sector can play a major role in building a more sustainable economy.
Why did the American middle class boom after WWII, and how do we get it booming again? New York Times economics reporter Jim Tankersley joins Paul to lay out the thesis of his new book, ‘The Riches of This Land’—that the economy will thrive when everyone can fully participate in it.
Jim Tankersley covers economic and tax policy for The New York Times. Over more than a decade covering politics and economics in Washington, he has written extensively about the stagnation of the American middle class and the decline of economic opportunity in wide swaths of the country.
This week, Biden-Sanders unity task force appointee Dr. Abdul El-Sayed walks Nick and Goldy through the Biden transition team’s health care plan.
Abdul El-Sayed is a physician, epidemiologist, public health expert, and progressive activist. He is the Chair of Southpaw Michigan and a contributor at CNN. He is the author of ‘Healing Politics’ and the co-author of the upcoming ‘Medicare for All: A Citizen’s Guide’. He also hosts “America Dissected,” a podcast by Crooked Media.
This week, labor market economist Suresh Naidu explains how his field attempts to account for the influence of power while studying employee/employer relationships, and unveils the hidden tricks of the coercive labor market.
Suresh Naidu is a professor of economics and international and public affairs at Columbia University as well as a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, external faculty at the Santa Fe Institute, and a research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Yesterday, a groundbreaking study by the RAND Corporation put the first-ever price tag on how much income inequality costs American workers. The bill? $50 trillion. You read that right: $50 trillion has been diverted from working Americans to the wealthiest 1% since 1975. To make sense of this staggering number, Nick and Goldy are joined by mathematician Carter Price, the study’s co-author.
Economist Olugbenga Ajilore explains how policymakers should be thinking about rural America (it’s not a monolith), and what interventions we should pursue to provide what he calls a “different kind of help.”
Olugbenga Ajilore is a senior economist at the Center for American Progress. His expertise includes regional economic development, macroeconomic policy, and issues in diversity and inclusion.
What would the workplace look like if workers were truly free? Elizabeth Anderson, a leading theorist of democracy and social justice, joins Nick and Goldy for an exploration of the ethical limits of market, theories of value and rational choice, and true freedom.
Elizabeth Anderson is the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and John Dewey Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan. She is the author of Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk about It), and a recipient of the 2019 MacArthur Fellowship.
In this special bonus episode, Zach talks to political expert Michael Linden about the message that progressives can, and must, hammer home to win.
Michael Linden is the Executive Director of the Groundwork Collaborative, an organization working to advance an economic vision for strong, broadly shared prosperity and true opportunity for all.
Neoliberalism arose in the 1970s as a response to the failure of Keynesianism to deal with the effects of stagflation. But what is Keynesianism—and who is John Maynard Keynes? In this author interview, Goldy learns from the Keynes expert, HuffPost senior reporter Zachary Carter, how Keynes’ idea defined American liberalism for much of the 1900s.
Zachary Carter is a senior reporter at HuffPost, where he covers economic policy and American politics. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, ‘The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes’.
Recessions are inevitable—but the complete economic catastrophe that we’ve experienced for the last five months was not. Professor Trevon Logan explains where we went wrong, debunks myths about the federal unemployment benefit (no, it doesn’t disincentivize people from returning to work!), and calls on Congress to steer us away from this economic cliff.
Trevon Logan is a Professor of Economics and Associate Dean at Ohio State University, and Director of the American Economic Association Mentoring Program. He is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He specializes in economic history, economic demography, and applied microeconomics.