Pavlina Tcherneva & the World Beyond Trump

2 October 2017 – Some days it’s hard to remember that despite all appearances, there is a world out there beyond Trump and all the many, many ways he is failing this week. The truly dazzling economist Dr. Pavlina Tcherneva (her excellent site is here) is with us for the interview. I was able to interview her in person at the First International Conference of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT Conference). We talked about how the, now famous, chart (see above)  she developed was able to influence the conversation around inequality and how a job guarantee program can add more than just jobs to a society. It is inspiring to know the modern monetary theory rests in the hands of economists, like Pavlina, who have a clear connection to the ground truth of the programs and policies they imagine into existence.

I start out the show with just a quick overview of my experience at the MMT conference. It was genuinely compelling and I was overwhelmed by all the ideas and applications of MMT to which I was exposed. You will be hearing about many of these in depth in the future and I promise you will be intrigued too.

Will then updated everyone on the events in Catalonia related to the independence vote. Spain is refusing to acknowledge the vote and tension is ratcheting up. Will has covered Catalonia in the past and promises a deep dive next week.

We touched briefly on Puerto Rico. Now that it is (finally) being followed by major media we are leaving most of that to actual journalists but people are suffering and our President, while golfing, is too busy trying to shame the Mayor of San Juan with tweets to actually send an appropriate level of support. It’s not just frustrating or inhumane, it’s evil.

In Will’s main block he talked about Brexit. Many are saying that all the economic ills projected by those who wanted to remain in the European Union have not come to pass and were therefore simply election scare tactics. Will points out the obvious, the UK is still in the EU and the pain from Brexit will not be felt until Brexit actually occurs. It remains reasonable to expect cost-push inflation (also known as supply shock) as the UK strikes out on its own.

In my block I briefly lay out my reasons for supporting Bernie’s current “Medicare for All” bill. This may surprise some of you but I find this bill to be essential and extremely well-timed. Don’t get me wrong, this bill won’t move and, ultimately, the bill that does move will look different but here’s the thing – we can’t legislate until we get elected. Will disagrees but I think “Medicare for All” is a good bumper sticker way to sum up the shared Democratic party value that healthcare is a right. I think having this bill under active discussion now gives us an opportunity to build coalition and consensus in preparation for a non-Trump future. No matter what, this bill has already moved the Overton Window and that in and of itself is critical. Bernie has written a solid bill and he is gathering important voices. There is long, hard work ahead to build unstoppable grassroots momentum but this is how healthcare gets changed for real. It will take all of us…and it should. Carrots! – Arliss

Since recording this episode, the Spanish government has acted without restraint or dignity in Catalonia, attacking unarmed civilians with a wave of brutal repression. Many folks who oppose the referendum say that holding it is illegal. That may be true, but it isn’t an excuse for state violence. Spain had every ability to refuse to acknowledge the vote, which was itself an act of civil disobedience. But instead of responding to this act with restraint, and refusing to acknowledge the results, they chose to wage an unnecessary and unnecessarily brutal campaign of violence against the Catalan people. These actions bring the legitimacy of Rajoy’s governance of Catalonia into question. Things will likely only get worse in the coming days. I will report in depth on the situation next week, and talk about Kurdistan and its referendum as well. –Will

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Stingers: Bees, Donald Loves Dictators, & Audit the Fed

24 October 2016 – We don’t have and interview today due to a last minute cancellation but Will and I had a LOT to say so everything worked out as it was meant to be. At the top of the show Will uses the example of the Vauxhall automotive plant, in Liverpool, to illustrate why Brexit is creating such a tenuous employment environment all across the UK. It is incredible that people thought they could place a protest vote for something every expert was telling them would damage their economy and yet they are still stunned that companies are talking about moving their operations out of the UK.

My first topic today is bees. The decline of pollinators is continuing and the first bees have recently been added to the Threatened and Endangered Species list . They will soon to be joined there by more of their sister species. Still, through on-going research we are steadily learning how, precisely, it is that we are killing the bees and finding that many of those factors are reversible if we start now…. Two good places to begin are the Xerces Society and the Great Sunflower Project. Every little flower helps. As promised, I have included a photo of the newly threatened buff-tailed bumble bee above for your enjoyment.

Will then comes back to talk about Donald Trump’s ongoing praise of dictators. From Vladimir Putin to Saddam Hussein to Mummer Gaddafi to Bashar al-Assad to Kim Jong-un to Rodrigo Duterte – Trump respects and admires each and every one. In fact, Trump wants to BE them. Fortunately, unless he plays that sort of character on Trump TV, we aren’t actually going to give him the chance.

My big block of the day, on Audit the Fed, begins on the broadcast version of the show but is only available in full on the podcast version. If you thought Audit the Fed was about auditing the Federal Reserve then you probably got suckered in by Right to Life and Right to Work too. Audit the Fed is about Congress taking control of monetary policy…because they handled Zika so well.

Will then closes out Extra Mad talking about why Mars is where all the science is. How we move our species forward, how we survive, will in no small part be determined by how serious we get about space.

And in closing, the loss of pollinators is already having a negative effect of carrot crops. CARROTS, people! This is serious. Carrots!Arliss

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Losses & Listening, Mark Carney & Stress

11 July 2016 – We could not begin without acknowledging that yet again our nation has suffered terrible losses:  Alton Sterling, Philander Castile, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Lorne Ahrens, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa. Will sums up our feelings by reading parts of Hillary Clinton’s speech in Philadelphia which, we feel, speaks for us.

It’s hard to believe there was anything else important in a week like this past one but there was and I get to two of the big pieces of financial news. The US Federal Reserve released the stress test results of both the quantitative (DFAST) and qualitative (CCAR) testing of the thirty-three largest US banks. Stress testing is one of the big gains which emerged from the Dodd-Frank Act. In order to pass banks must prove that they can withstand specific “severely adverse scenarios.” The scenarios are both different and more difficult each year. This year all the banks tested passed DFAST and all except the US subsidiaries of Deutsche Bank and Santander passed the CCAR. I know you don’t think this really applies to you but that brings me to my second segment for the show….

The UK really is in a crisis, both political and economic. In the midst of all the chaos the one steady, calm voice of national leadership has come from Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England (BoE). In a critical speech on 30 June (PDF here), Carney delineated what the BoE has done, is doing and will do as the economic disaster of Brexit trundles forward. Alone among major UK governmental departments or associated institutions the BoE had a Brexit contingency plan and they have put it into action. Carney steadied markets and calmed the City with his cogent, realistic assessment and announcement of actions which the BoE is taking. Carney also reminded everyone that the most recent round of UK bank stress testing did include a Brexit scenario and that UK banks have been found to be capable of withstanding losses more than twice those they sustained during the global financial crisis. In addition, Carney noted that the BoE will be making sure that banks are making loans both to business and to individuals and he let banks know that the BoE will not be taking its eye off the regulatory ball either, ring-fencing will progress. In this period of complete UK political breakdown, Carney looks like the only adult in the room and proves it by managing to walk and chew gum at the same time–times ten. Oh – and central banks can make all the difference in a crisis.

Will got into the one other big piece of news from this past week, the matter of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. He made a point of fact-checking and adding to the information that is out there and he clarifies the difference between Clinton and those who have willfully and knowingly divulged classified information. There is a reason no prosecutor in the country would bring the case, Hillary’s mistakes do not meet either the letter or intent of the law. We will all, regardless, spend another two years listening to the GOP yammering on about it but it’s good to get the facts straight at the top.

Next week we are hopping down the bunny trail and our show will consist of interviews we have done while at Netroots Nation in St. Louis. If you are there, please come on by and visit with us. We will be on radio row (on and off) in the vendor hall. We’re bringing treats!  –  Carrots! Arliss

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SNP Councilor Math Campbell-Sturgess

27 June 2016 – Well, THAT happened. Brexit basically ate the news cycle of much of the world this past week. Who knew so many people could find legitimate use for the word “gobsmacked.” We were lucky to be guided through the chaos by Scottish National Party Councilor Math Campbell-Sturgess. Will has been wanting to have the Inverclyde Council representative on for a quite a while and this seemed like the moment. In fact, the timing was so good that Will trimmed down his block and I ditched mine completely because there was just too much ground to cover. I am especially interested by the way austerity is playing in elections and politics around the world. It’s insidious. We also talked about the upcoming Scottish referendum on leaving the UK, the terrific leadership of Nichola Sturgeon, the mess that is trying to pass as the Labour Party, the horror that is the Conservative party, commonalities between current UK and US politics, land reform and the general future of Scotland. Also, I think Angela Merkel joined Nichola Sturgeon on a very short list of people who managed to look like world leaders this week.

I began the show with a short tribute to Amjad Sabri, the sublimely talented Sufi Qawwalis singer and musician who was killed on Thursday in Karachi, Pakistan. He was a man who had devoted his life to a message of peace and love. His loss is unspeakably great. In tribute to Amjad, all of our interstitial music this week is his.

Will took a few minutes to hit the highlights of the ruling by the Hague on the case being brought by the Philippines against China over the Spratly Islands. The Philippines won. Enforcement is another matter entirely. *sigh*

It was a big week and I don’t think anyone knows what comes next. Hang on to your ears!  Carrots! – Arliss

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Dr. James Brusseau on Inequality & Philosophy

20 June 2016 – Both of the main topics this week, inequality through the lens of philosophy and Brexit, ended up stretching me to a new perspective. In both cases I default to the economics and the associated numbers but it turns out this wasn’t the week for that. Dr. James Brusseau is an author, a professor at Pace University and recently hosted a new documentary, the Wealth Inequality Workshop. Most people think about inequality in terms of the political sphere or the economic sphere but James brings a new voice, philosophy, into the conversation and in so doing the realization that the reason so many of us talk past one another on this topic is because we are starting from opposing perspectives on the equality/freedom continuum. Once you listen I suspect you too will be surprised at where you find yourself in the end.

Will and I are both on Brexit this week. I thought I was going to be talking about Brexit economics but following a Twitter conversation with a listener I ended up really thinking about the emotional content that has come to be so closely wrapped into Brexit. I tried to think about it in several different ways, as an MMT wonk, as a pragmatist and as just a feeling being. All of this was made immeasurably more sad by the assassination of Labour MP Jo Cox (photo above). Her loving, generous, brave life was taken by a man acting on a wave of the current of hate which is insidiously sweeping through the Leave side of the referendum. It’s easy to recognize because it is here in the US too, in the campaign of Donald Trump and even, to a lesser degree, in that of Bernie Sanders. As is the first line of the editorial in The Guardian about Jo’s death, “The slide from civilization to barbarism is shorter than we might like to imagine.”

#MoreInCommon – Carrots! Arliss

Just a quick note, I mentioned almost offhandedly the complexities of the relationships that surround the European Union.Wikipedia actually has one of the best breakdowns charted out here. That explains all the ancillary agreements and groups that surround the EU.

Catch you all next time! – Will

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Ariella Barker on PwD Advocacy

13 June 2016 – We always think our interview guest is going to give us a strong interview but there is no way to predict when an interview is going to be breathtaking. Ariella Barker, advocate and activist for persons with disabilities (PwDs) gave us a truly stunning, erudite and heartfelt interview. It is no surprise that this is our longest interview to date. Ariella had a lot to say and all of it was important. I tracked Ariella down after I read her 18 May blog post, “‘Berned’ by Bernie,” which was suddenly all over my Twitter timeline one day. You. Must. Read. This. Blog. Post. There is a reason it went viral. Even more than this post though, I was astonished by the revelatory honesty and genuine humanity of Ariella’s blog as a whole. She goes by “shiksappeal” on WordPress and that is only one of the lovely things about her. I always gravitate to smart people who can laugh at themselves. Ariella is my kind of person. I guarantee you will learn an astonishing amount about the political issues with which the PwD community is grappling. I did. Did you know PwDs are the largest minority community in the United States! Fully 20% of all Americans fall into this group. Twenty. Percent!!! I had no idea and I suspect that most people don’t. Shiksappeal is a natural storyteller and she teaches by sharing her life with us. I, for one, am so grateful.

In my block I am finally turning toward Brexit, the 23 June referendum when the UK will vote to either stay in or exit the European Union. The two campaigns, Leave and Remain, are neck and neck and there is so much more on the line than most people realize. Certainly there is more involved than most in the Leave camp are taking into consideration. One of those things would be the end of peace in Northern Ireland. No joke. I spend my time this week talking about Ireland v Brexit and how both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will be deeply damaged, both economically and culturally, should Leave win the vote. Next week I’ll be on the economics of Brexit.  Basically, both this week and next Will and I are all Brexit all the time. (You had to know it was coming, right?)

I was a busy bunny this week. I was on the 10 June Kagro in the Morning show with the always interesting David Waldman. David had spent time in each of his two previous shows talking about Social Security and I had some additional information which I hope was helpful. I was also fortunate enough to be a guest on the newest episode of Irreverent Testimony. Travis and Rachel are such a joy. Smart, snide, funny and never afraid to say what they are thinking – they give me hope for the future. We talked about the end of the Dem primary, what it means for Rachel and I as women to see this moment in US history, potential VPs and the hot mess that is Trump.

With that I will leave Will to say a few words. Carrots! – Arliss

We had a last minute change to the program because of the attack on the Pulse LGBT Club in Orlando. Arliss and I had a long conversation about that, about grief, and about healing. We talked about giving Orlando space to grieve. Sunday was a very difficult day for a lot of us. – Will

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WOW! Frances Coppola on Brexit

14 March 2016 – I follow many media sources on economics but none more closely than I do Frances Coppola. Frances’ insight on banking fraud, regulation and on the Greek crisis has contributed significantly to my thinking on these subjects. Having her on the show to talk about Brexit is especially exciting for me and I know you will be bowled over by her as well. Her blog, Coppola Comment and other writings, at The Guardian, the Financial Times, The Economist, Forbes and her appearances on the BBC provide an accessible clarity rare among financial industry wonks.

Will is breaking news today on the Agent Orange crisis on the San Carlos Apache reservation lands in Arizona. The Environmental Protection Agency is apparently stepping up to finally (thirty years after the fact) mitigate extreme adverse impact. At the top of the show Will talks about working to focus on the big issues, the real issues in the campaign and not getting lost in the weeds of a single comment.

I finish my financial instrument backgrounders by talking about mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations. Whew! I also update on the Finnish economy which, sadly, is not being held aloft by Angry Birds. Is the Finnish economy “Finnished?”

Once again, our interstitial music is by the wonderful Irish American band, Bua. Buy their album. You won’t be sorry. – Carrots!  Arliss

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