NBN Interview with Gene Ludwig: The Vanishing American Dream

Gene Ludwig cares. The former banker, government regulator, and serial entrepreneur cares deeply about the hollowing out of the American middle class over the past several decades, not least of all in his hometown of York, PA. So he gathered the country’s best and brightest in 2019 for a conference at Yale Law School to come up with specific policy proposals that can reverse that process. The details of what has happened make for difficult but necessary reading. In The Vanishing American Dream: A Frank Look at the Economic Realities Facing Middle- and Lower-Income Americans, (Disruption Books) the policy proposals to rebuild …

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The 2020 election in historical context.

Heading into our presidential election, it is worth reminding the electorate how unusual our circumstances are. I am not referring to the country’s extreme political division and dysfunction, but instead to our framework of classical liberalism where individuals matter so much in a system of governance that they are actually asked to vote on the leadership of the country. From a historical perspective, that is an extremely rare approach to the management of complex societies. But to many of us, it does not seem abnormal at all. In fact, our system of representative democracy within a legal and financial system …

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Same problem–global warming–but very different answers.

Is there a consensus on the best response to global warming? Not even close. Left and right both bring their own tools, math, and, most notably, agendas–climate related and non-climate related–to their policy prescriptions. From the economic right, Bjorn Lomborg offers economic growth to increase adaptation to a warming planet, as well as market-based innovation to mitigate carbon generation. From the left, Robert Pollin (and his co-author Noam Chomsky) put forth an Eco-Socialist New Green Deal. Listen to the NBN interview with the former here, and with the latter here.

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NBN Interview with Robert Pollin: Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal

Economist Robert Pollin has teamed up with Noam Chomsky to produce a manifesto for the New Green Deal in Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal: The Political Economy of Saving the Planet (Verso). Their plan attempts to keep the planet from heating up too much while simultaneously redressing the economic wrongs that they blame substantially on unfettered capitalism. Not everyone will agree that eco-socialism is the answer to global warming, but all participants in the debate will want to understand the wide range of policy proposals that are being brought to the table. Listen to the NBN interview here.

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NBN Interview with Joshua Greenberg: Bank Notes and Shinplasters

What is money? Really, what is money? It turns out that the answer is not so simple. During the course of the 20th century, most of us have gotten used to the notion of a single medium of exchange based on Federal Reserve notes which we call dollars. They look the same, feel the same, and have the same use everywhere in the country. We are so comfortable with that medium of exchange that we are now increasingly doing away with the paper and accepting a digital version of said money. The convenience of having a single and stable currency …

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NBN Interview with James Pearce: The weaponization of history in Russia.

History matters in Russia. It really matters, so much so that the state has a “historical policy” to help legitimize itself and support its policy agenda. In The Use of History in Putin’s Russia (Vernon Press, 2020), James C. Pearce examines how the past is perceived in contemporary Russia and analyses the ways in which the Russian state uses history to create a broad social consensus and forge a national identity. Listen to the NBN interview here.

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NBN Interview with Bjorn Lomborg: The economics of climate policy.

Should climate change policy be subject to a cost-benefit analysis leading to a variety of policy choices? Or is it so critical that the only “proper” path is immediate and extreme carbon reduction, regardless of the costs and the impact of those measures on the welfare of the population? Bjorn Lomborg’s new and controversial work, False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet (Basic Books, 2020) leans strongly in the direction of the former. Conducting that analysis, he comes to some shocking conclusions, notably that the “optimal” mix of global warming and …

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May you live in interesting times….

The stock of an upstart but very successful EV company is currently trading at 144 times the average of 2020, 2021, and 2022 forecast consensus earnings. That’s an earnings yield of 0.7%. In contrast, an older telecommunications company that has focused in recent years on its “network” is trading at 12 times the average of forward earnings. Its earnings yield on forward consensus earnings is 8.3%.  Few if any investors are doing the math of cashflows and discount rates when considering the former company, but it is still permissible and interesting to think about such things. Maybe theories of value …

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Random Book Project #4: Men’s clothier staging

Saw these three books as staging in the window of a men’s clothing store that declared bankruptcy this week. Store founded in 1818; think sheep. These books had been de-accessioned once, which is how they got into the window. Because this store is in the downtown business district and therefore likely to close permanently, these books will probably be tossed.   Gamle Pybus appears to be a Danish translation of the 1928 novel Old Pybus by English writer G. Warwick Deeping (1877-1950).  Pictures from the Life: Paul Gerhardt, an 1881 English-language translation of the 1845 biography of the 17th century German …

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