Very Serious with Josh Barro
Bad COVID economic predictions, with Jerusalem Demsas
In early 2020, we were told the COVID crisis was supposed to cause a housing price crash. State government budget crises. The eviction of 30 million or more Americans. A "she-cession." None of these problems came to pass -- instead, we got a rapid recovery of GDP and employment, state budgets in surplus, and a huge spurt of inflation few people expected. Why were the predictions so wrong? Jerusalem Demsas of the Atlantic talks with Josh about the factors that led the experts and the journalists to get it wrong -- and the lessons that can help us get it right next time.
Responding to the energy crisis, with Joshua D. Rhodes
The war in Ukraine has added urgency to Europe’s efforts to end its dependency on Russian natural gas. In the US, a shift toward efficiency and renewables is important for both geopolitical and environmental reasons. So, how can we do it? How much natural gas can we export to Europe? How can we reinforce our electrical grids and power them with non-carbon-emitting sources? And how can consumers play their part? Josh talks with Joshua D. Rhodes of the University of Texas about speeding the energy transition on this electrifying episode of Very Serious.
Preparing for disaster, with Juliette Kayyem
Disaster management hasn’t been a bright spot for Western governments lately. So, how can we do better? Juliette Kayyem, former assistant secretary of homeland security, says we need to “fail safer,” with more focus on mitigating the disasters that happen instead of believing we can stop them from happening at all. She joined Josh to talk about lessons of disasters, from Fukushima to COVID, as discussed in her new book, The Devil Never Sleeps.
New Risks from China, with Patrick Chovanec
It’s the other big global crisis right now: China faces a new COVID surge, and it’s responding with lockdowns that will worsen global shortages and inflation. China has other troubles, too: a bursting real estate bubble, and a geopolitical partner – Russia – that’s waging a war of choice and roiling global energy markets. With China’s economic and epidemiological successes under threat, how will Chinese leaders respond? What will that mean for the US economy? And what does the Ukraine war mean for the Russia-China partnership and China’s designs on Taiwan? Patrick Chovanec, an expert on the Chinese economy, joins Josh for a tour of the risks and opportunities in the US-China relationship at this critical time.
Ken White on defamation and Donald Trump
It’s an All the Presidents’ Lawyers reunion with Josh and attorney Ken White! Josh and Ken discuss the implosion of the Manhattan DA investigation into Donald Trump’s financial statements. Did DA Alvin Bragg lose his nerve, or was this a weak case he was wise to drop? Plus, Josh and Ken talk defamation: There’s been a lot of lying and litigation about lying lately, but most of it hasn’t amounted to much. Why did Sarah Palin lose her case against the New York Times? Why is E. Jean Carroll the most fearsome defamation plaintiff Trump has faced? And will the Supreme Court let officials “open up the libel laws”? Tune in to find out.
Global shockwaves from Ukraine, with Michael Singh
From German re-armament to the Iran deal to China's eyes on Taiwan, Russia's war on Ukraine is setting off big changes around the world. What do these shifts mean for America's interests? Can we get Saudi Arabia to help with the global oil crunch? Is it time for rapprochement with Venezuela? And what will Russia's stamina for this war be if China gets impatient? Michael Singh of the Washington Institute, a former National Security Council official, takes Josh on a global tour of the ramifications and unnerving risks of this war in an especially serious episode of the Very Serious podcast.
"Won't somebody please think of the children?" with Elizabeth Bruenig and Tim Carney
Children are necessarily central to our politics. Their lives are highly regulated by the state, which ensures (among other things) that they are educated rather than employed, that they are supported by their parents or someone else if their parents are unable. The other authority in children’s lives is, of course, their parents. A liberal society is based on the idea that we butt out of each other’s decisions and let people live according to the beliefs they want, but we must make collective decisions about how the government interfaces with children – and what it will permit and require parents to do with regard to their children. How we make those decisions is at the center of many current political debates. In this episode, Josh Barro talks with The Atlantic’s Elizabeth Bruenig, author of the piece “Kids Have No Place in a Liberal Democracy,” and Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner and the American Enterprise Institute.
Improving your personality, with Olga Khazan
Personality is a key determinant of life success, and we all have opinions about other people’s personalities, but can we change our own? Olga Khazan, science writer for The Atlantic, set out to change her personality in three months – more extroverted, more agreeable, less neurotic. She talked with Josh about her experience and the psychological research into personality change – and about what life might be like if we took more control over our personalities.
Inflation, with economist Jason Furman
Inflation is the highest it’s been in decades. Why? Economist Jason Furman talks with Josh Barro about where inflation comes from, and what we've misunderstood about it in the past. Fixes to the supply chain or to COVID aren’t likely to do much about it, and Jason tells us why. Plus: what the Federal Reserve can and should do to tame inflation, and whether Congress and the Biden administration can jump in to ease economic pain, and what President Biden’s picks for the Fed are likely to do on inflation, banking and climate in years to come.