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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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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NBN Interview with Tim Koller: What’s a company worth?

What’s a company worth? To judge by the stock market, you might think that there is little rhyme or reason to the exercise. Yet, since the beginning of commerce thousands of years ago, people have been asserting the value of enterprises. Despite that long history, the math and specific logic of enterprise valuation is only about a century old. For thirty of those years, Tim Koller and his colleagues at McKinsey have been in the forefront of thinking about value and how to measure it. The first edition of Valuation: Measuring and Managing the Value of Companies came out in …

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NBN Interview with David Shimer: Russia and the West…..

“The guard is tired.” With that simple phrase, the newly installed Bolshevik regime in Russia dismissed the duly elected Constituent Assembly in January 1918. And, one might say, so started Russia’s century-long interference in elections and electoral outcomes. In his new book Rigged: America, Russia, and One Hundred Years of Covert Electoral Interference (Knopf, 2020), David Shimer narrates in meticulous but page-turning detail a century of covert electoral interference, by both the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and continuing to this day with a focus on post-Soviet Russia’s efforts to affect US politics. His account of the …

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NBN Interview with Catherine Belton: The Russian state is back….

The Russian state is back. That may not be a big surprise to Russia watchers. The degree to which it is a KGB state, however, is documented in great detail in Catherine Belton‘s new book Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2020). Certain elements of the KGB were playing a “long game” as early as the 1980s and saw the need for an alternative to the sclerotic late Soviet system. And they were going to be part of that post-Soviet regime. Fast forward 20 years later, these security and intelligence officials …

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NBN Interview with Tyler Cowen: You mean big business is good?

You mean big business is good, contributes to our general welfare, and is not generally guilty–with notable exceptions–of all of the charges made against it?  That’s the argument libertarian economist Tyler Cowen makes in his book Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero (St. Martins, 2019) Most NBN listeners will raise an eyebrow to that claim, but most of those same NBN listeners are up for a good back-and-forth on the virtues and demerits of our market system. And to that end, being familiar with Cowen’s arguments–made in this book and his many other publications and platforms–is very useful.  The shift …

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