Podcast

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Luigi Zingales (University of Chicago) and I host a bi-monthly podcast called Capitalisn’t about what’s working in capitalism today — and, more importantly, what isn’t. Check out the descriptions of our episodes below. You can listen to the episodes at capitalisnt.com, or subscribe on Apple Podcasts (or wherever you get your podcasts).

  • Why A Lack of Diversity Is Hurting Economics
    On this episode—Kate Waldock's final episode as a co-host of CapitalIsn't—we tackle a crucial question the economics field is facing: what is it going to do about its lack of diversity? To fully investigate this question, Kate and Luigi are joined by a series of guests who each offer a different perspective on why there's a lack of diversity in economics, what the profession is missing because of it, and what can be done to fix it. Guests: - Peter Henry, William R. Berkley Professor of Economics and Business and former dean of NYU’s Stern School of Business - Lisa Cook, Professor of Economics and International Relations at Michigan State University - Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman, founder of the Sadie Collective and an emerging economist - Rohan Williamson, Bolton Sullivan and Thomas A. Dean Chair of International Business and former dean of Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business - Andres Liberman, Chief Data Officer at Burn to Give - Luis Lopez, Assistant Professor of Finance at UIC Business School
  • How A Spectrum Auction Cost Taxpayers Millions
    There is an ongoing debate about whether private equity adds value or simply extracts value. In the economic literature, benefits are better documented than extraction for a very simple reason: when value is created everybody is willing to share the data to show it. When value is extracted, much less so. On this episode, Kate and Luigi present an often overlooked story of how a private equity fund made millions through connections, lobbying, and a spectrum auction.
  • Should Luigi's Pizza File for Bankruptcy?
    The coronavirus has taken a heavy toll on most businesses, but it has been especially hard on small businesses. But should those businesses file for bankruptcy, and what will happen to them if they do? On this episode, Kate and Luigi explain how bankruptcy works...or doesn't work...for small businesses and how the system needs to change.
  • Should We Defund The Police?
    "Defund the police" has become one of the central demands coming from the protests that have arisen following George Floyd's killing at the hands of a white police office. On this episode, Kate and Luigi take an economist's look at the concept of defunding the police.
  • Too Big To Jail
    On this episode, Kate and Luigi use a recent criminal case against Walmart over its sale of opioids to explain the tactics many huge corporations use to dodge the justice system.
  • Coronavirus: The Future Of Universities
    What will universities and colleges look like post-coronavirus? Will the entire industry be disrupted by online learning, will state schools go bankrupt, will elite universities be effected at all? On this episode, Luigi and Kate give their expert analysis as both economists and professors about the future of higher education.
  • Coronavirus: The State Bankruptcy Debate
    States are facing massive shortfalls due to the coronavirus outbreak. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has suggested letting states file for bankruptcy. On this episode, Kate and Luigi explain why the debate over McConnell's proposal is far more complicated than most people think.
  • Coronavirus: The Risk Of Reopening
    Despite warnings from government and health officials, some states are choosing to begin reopening their economies this week by ending lockdown restrictions. On this episode, Luigi and Kate lay out the economic reasons why that could end badly.
  • Coronavirus: How Are We Going To Pay For It?
    Congress has already passed a $2 trillion dollar coronavirus relief bill, the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history. It's half the size of the entire annual federal budget, and another stimulus bill may be on the way. On this episode, Kate and Luigi explain the economic labyrinth of how we pay for these relief bills. Are we just printing money from thin air? How do we navigate issuing debt? And, with special guest Gene Fama, we discuss the possibility of a wealth tax. 
  • Coronavirus: How To Make An Exit
    For the good of public health, it's important that we continue staying in quarantine at least for the next month or two. But, eventually, we will have to leave our homes. On this episode, Kate and Luigi debate the economic implications and strategies for how we exit shelter in place.
  • Coronavirus: The Winners And Losers In The Stimulus Bill
    In order to combat the coronavirus, Congress has passed a $2 trillion-dollar stimulus bill. It targets individuals, small business and large corporations. But, from an economic point of view, who are the real winners and losers in this bill. On this episode, Kate and Luigi analyze the CARES Act. Is it enough money to stabilize our tanking economy, does it target the right people, and does it accomplish the right objectives?
  • Coronavirus: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of The Economic Shutdown
    One of the prominent economic debates to emerge during the coronavirus outbreak has been whether to continue with shelter in place measures that are hurting the economy but, hopefully, slowing the virus' spread. On this episode, Luigi does a cost-benefit analysis that shows why it could be better to keep the economy closed, and debates his proposal with Russ Roberts, host of the popular EconTalk podcast.
  • What Happened To The Middle With Paul Krugman
    If you had to name the most famous living economist, it would be hard to come up with anyone other than Paul Krugman. On this episode, Kate and Luigi talk with Krugman about his new book "Arguing with Zombies: Economics, Politics, and the Fight for a Better Future", why he thinks America's economy has failed the middle class, and how we can create a better economic future for our children.
  • The CapitalIsn’t Of Coronavirus
    On this episode, Kate and Luigi give an economist view of the coronavirus outbreak. How should we think about the economic trade-offs of interventionist quarantine measures, could this virus change the way we work, should you or should you not be buying up stocks? They tackle these questions and more.
  • The Gig Economy Isn’t What You Think It Is
    Companies like Uber, Lyft, and Doordash have brought the term "gig economy" into our lexicon. But what is the gig economy really? When you start digging into the data, you find it's a lot harder to define than you think. On this episode, Kate and Luigi investigate the pros, cons and myths of the gig economy.
  • Did Economists Ruin The Economy With Binyamin Appelbaum
    Are the economists of the 60s and 70s to blame for our current state of affairs? That's the argument Binyamin Appelbaum makes in his book "The Economists' Hour". On this episode, Kate and Luigi debate the history of economists, the problems with economics today, and what changes could lead to a better economic future.
  • The Controversial Tax Policies Of Emmanuel Saez
    Emmanuel Saez is probably one of the most controversial economists around these days. Recently, he's garnered significant attention for being one of the architects of Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax proposal. On this episode, Luigi and Kate dig into tax policy, the wealth tax and why Saez's work is so controversial.
  • Is The American Presidency For Sale?
    As the Democratic primary is ramping up for the Iowa caucuses, everyone is talking about how much money the candidates have spent. And they're asking whether billionaires like Tom Steyer and Mike Bloomberg should be able to use their wealth to buy their way into the race or, even buy the presidency? On this episode, Kate and Luigi breakdown the economics of money in politics.
  • The Failure of Russian Capitalism With Bill Browder
    On this podcast we mostly talk about what isn’t working in American capitalism. But, on this episode, we're taking a break to look at how capitalism can go wrong in other countries, specifically...Russia. And we’re going to do that with a very special guest, Putin's so-called number one enemy, Bill Browder.
  • Silicon Valley’s Corporate Culture Problem With Mike Isaac
    Does Silicon Valley have a capitalism problem or does capitalism have a Silicon Valley problem? On this episode, Kate and Luigi sit down with Mike Isaac, New York Times technology reporter and author of "Super Pumped: The Battle For Uber " to find out if these tech startups have a toxic corporate culture issue.
  • Optimizing Our Healthcare System
    You don't need us to tell you there's something very wrong with the American healthcare system. The real question is: what can we actually do to fix it? Could Democratic candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders be right that Medicare for all would be better? Would a single-payer system fix all the frictions in the industry? On this episode, Kate and Luigi delve into the economics and capitalism of the healthcare debate.
  • Shareholder Vote Suppression With SEC Commissioner Rob Jackson
    A common theme on our podcast is whether shareholders have too much power. But if we were going to redistribute that power, to whom should it go? Two recently proposed rule changes at the SEC would transfer more power to CEOs. But do we really want to empower managers to operate with less checks and balances? This week, Kate and Luigi sit down with SEC Commissioner Rob Jackson to talk through these issues and debate the proposed SEC rules.
  • Is Elizabeth Warren Right About Private Equity?
    Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren blames private equity for many of the issues in our economy. She plans to reign it in and regulate it with her new bill the "Stop Wall Street Looting Act". On this episode, Kate and Luigi explain how private equity really works, whether it’s bad or good for society, and they dissect Warren’s proposal to regulate these firms.
  • College Admission (In)Justice: Harvard and Beyond
    Getting into the right college is arguably more important than ever, which has put the justice or injustice of admissions processes in the spotlight. On this episode, Kate and Luigi give a fresh perspective on a recent admissions trial involving Harvard, explain its implications for college admissions in general, and ask whether the way elite universities choose their students is an example of capitalism working or failing.
  • What It Takes To Win The Nobel Prize In Economics
    On this episode, Kate and Luigi explain how to win the econ Nobel, why it's important, and they attempted to predict who the 2019 winner might be.
  • Economic Research: Nothing Precisely or Precisely Nothing?
    On this episode, you're going to hear how the sausage gets made in economic research as Kate and Luigi personally investigate whether private equity is to blame for the retail apocalypse.
  • Should We Let Walmart Regulate Itself?
    In the last few weeks, we've seen two examples of seeming corporate self-regulation. One is Walmart's decision to end all handgun ammunition sales, and the other is the four largest automakers going around the Trump administration's less stringent fuel emission standards to cut a private deal with California that is closer to Obama era-emission standards. But there's an important overarching question to these two stories. Should companies really be taking it upon themselves to address issues when the government doesn't do a good job policing? Should these businesses be punished or praised?
  • Shareholders vs. Stakeholders
    Many are praising a recent Business Roundtable announcement that corporations should serve stakeholders as well as shareholders. On the surface, this may seem like a historic reversal of the status quo that has held since Milton Friedman's famous "shareholder primacy" theory was put forward in the 70s. But it's not that simple. On this episode, Kate and Luigi layout the history of this theory, revealing that it's really been around for as long as we've been asking the most fundamental question in business: what is the purpose of a corporation? They explore that question, and interrogate the possible underlying motives behind the Business Roundtable's decision.
  • Are Stock Buybacks Evil?
    Are stock buybacks evil? A lot of politicians seem to think so. Senators Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer wrote an op-ed in the New York Times this year calling for a limit on corporate buybacks. On this episode, Kate and Luigi break down what stock buybacks really are, how long they've been around, and whether we should ban them.
  • Universal Basic Income: Why and How?
    If you've been paying attention to Andrew Yang's Democratic presidential campaign, you're probably familiar with the concept of universal basic income. On this episode, Kate and Luigi give the economic outlook on how a UBI might work, or not work, and investigate how automation and techno-anxiety are driving the conversation.
  • The Student Debt Crisis: There's No Such Thing As A Free College
    With Democratic presidential candidates making the student debt crisis one of the central issues of the 2020 race, Kate and Luigi give an in-depth economics look at the ideas of free college tuition and debt forgiveness, explain the history of how we got to into this student debt crisis, and debate some solutions for how to get out of it.
  • The Mickey Mouse Monopoly Club
    Last episode, Kate and Luigi discussed how the patent system creates a temporary monopoly designed to make the incentives to innovate. But the real question is does the patent system, and our entire system of intellectual property for that matter, actually accomplish that goal? We start to answer that question by investigating one of the most powerful figures in intellectual property...Mickey Mouse.
  • Luigi Submits A Patent
    After our series about the dangers of monopolies, we're going to investigate a situation in which the government actually works to create monopolies on purpose: the patent system. On the first of two episodes, Luigi and Kate examine whether our current patent system is helping or hurting capitalism.
  • Regulating Facebook and Google Pt 3: Tyler Cowen Rebuttals
    In part three of our series investigating how digital platforms like Facebook and Google should be regulated, Tyler Cowen from George Mason University argues to Kate and Luigi that more regulation may not be the answer to all our questions about digital platforms.
  • Regulating Facebook and Google Pt 2: Politics
    In part two of our series investigating how digital platforms like Facebook and Google should be regulated, Kate and Luigi dissect the ways these companies interact with our political system by speaking with Nolan McCarty, Susan Dod Brown Professor of Politics and Public Affairs at Princeton University.
  • Regulating Facebook and Google Pt 1: Markets
    As digital platforms like Facebook and Google become globally powerful, some countries are investigating and even proposing legislation to regulate these companies. Building off a conference happening at the Stigler Center at the University of Chicago, Kate and Luigi speak with Fiona Scott Morton, a Professor of Economics at Yale, to interrogate these platforms from a traditional market structure perspective.
  • The Morality or Immorality of A Wealth Tax
    With Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren proposing wealth taxes, Kate and Luigi break down how these taxes have or haven't worked in other countries and whether they could work in America.
  • The Ups and Downs of IPOs
    There’s an acronym you’ve probably heard in the news a lot lately: IPO. With companies like Pinterest, Airbnb and UBER all considering going public this year, Kate and Luigi break down why these companies already have huge valuations, and whether rich people have an unfair advantage when it comes to investing.
  • Codetermination: A Seat At The Table
    Last year Elizabeth Warren proposed the controversial Accountable Capitalism Act. One of its most talked about proposals was focused on "codetermination." Kate & Luigi explain how it works, its effectiveness and examine one country that's been trying it out since the 1950s.
  • Is Global Antitrust Off the Rails?
    In the wake of a blocked merger between the German and French rail giants Siemens and Alstom, Kate & Luigi debate the role of global antitrust regulators. How do they protect consumers while also helping domestic companies compete with state-supported rivals from China?
  • Millennial Socialists
    Are millennials giving up on capitalism? A recent survey found a majority now prefer socialism. Luigi gets the scoop from our resident millennial, Kate, who says most simply want European-style social welfare, student-loan debt relief and campaign finance reform. Is that really so radical?
  • Pollution Pt 2: Contaminated Research
    In our second episode on pollution, investigative journalist Carey Gillam joins Kate and Luigi to discuss her new book "Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science." Gillam reveals how pesticide companies secretly influence scientific research and avoid EPA regulations.
  • Pollution Pt 1: The Sticky Side of Teflon
    In the first of a two-part series on pollution, Kate and Luigi discuss the health hazards and economic costs of air pollution and contaminated drinking water from the toxic chemical PFOA (C8) found in Teflon. How did DuPont skirt regulation and avoid corporate responsibility for so long?
  • Warrenomics
    As Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) jumps into the 2020 Presidential race, Kate and Luigi examine her legislative record and economic policy proposals, including several bold ideas to reform American capitalism.
  • Why Capitalism Needs Journalism
    Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steven Pearlstein drops by to talk with Kate & Luigi about the incredible shrinking newspaper -- especially the business section -- and why that's bad for the economy. His new book "Can American Capitalism Survive?" argues that the mantra of “maximizing shareholder value” ultimately caused Americans to lose faith in the free market.
  • The Financial Assassin
    Fahmi Quadir thinks short sellers get a bad rap. Known as the "financial assassin" for helping expose fraud and misconduct at Valeant, she tells Luigi that Tesla might be next. But Kate isn't convinced -- she thinks journalists and regulators are the real heroes.
  • Global Inequality Pt 2: Divergence
    In the second of a two-part look at global inequality Kate & Luigi talk about the downside of globalization. A listener's email sparks a conversation about what's driving the growing wage gap within the U.S. We survey the latest research on the lingering effects of the 'China Shock' and debate how to reverse the trend before the people revolt.
  • Global Inequality Pt 1: Convergence
    In the first of a two-part look at global inequality Kate & Luigi talk about the upside of globalization -- a decrease in income inequality between countries over the last few decades. How much of this can be attributed to China, and what was the secret to their success?
  • The People Vs. Democracy
    Yascha Mounk talks with Kate & Luigi about his new book "The People Vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It." Recorded in front of a live audience, the conversation touches on recent populist uprisings and the extent to which they threaten liberal democracy.
  • Brazil on the Brink
    Populism strikes again as the world's 4th largest democracy is set to elect controversial right-wing politician Jair Bolsonaro as its next leader. Writer and lawyer Glenn Greenwald (now living in Brazil) tells Kate & Luigi how rampant corruption, violent crime and a struggling economy have given rise to yet another populist movement.
  • Ten Years Later Pt 3: The Next Crisis
    In our third and final episode on the 2008 financial crisis, Kate & Luigi look at recent volatility in the markets and try to predict the cause of the next financial crash with help from prominent economists Robert Shiller and Lawrence Summers.
  • Live taping of Capitalisn't in Chicago on October 8th
    Join us for a live taping of Capitalisn't on October 8 at the Union League Club in Chicago! Author Yascha Mounk will discuss his latest book, The People vs. Democracy, with co-hosts Luigi Zingales and Kate Waldock. Click here for details and free tickets! https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-people-vs-democracy-with-yascha-mounk-katherine-waldock-and-luigi-zingales-tickets-49992656381
  • Ten Years Later Pt 2: The Aftermath
    The second in a 3-part series on the 2008 financial crisis. In the weeks after the crash Luigi remembers petitioning the government for a better bank bailout. Looking back, he and Kate review everything from TARP to Dodd-Frank to see how we averted a worse recession. But did some CEOs get away with fraud?
  • Ten Years Later Pt 1: The Build-Up
    The first in a 3-part series on the 2008 financial crisis. Kate tells Luigi about being an intern at Lehman Brothers when it collapsed and then we debate the causes including subprime mortgages, investor fraud and an ill-advised speech from former President George W. Bush.
  • Sex, Power and the Ivory Tower
    Economists experience their first major #MeToo moment. Kate and Luigi explore the larger implications of a recent case involving a Columbia University professor who was found liable for retaliation against a female junior faculty member.
  • Antitrust Pt 3: The Europeans
    Our third and final episode on antitrust law looks at the E.U.'s recent $5 billion fine against Google. Kate and Luigi hear about double-sided markets from Nobel-winning economist Jean Tirole and explore the E.U. vs. U.S. approach to antitrust enforcement.
  • Antitrust Pt 2: The Populists
    The second in a special 3-part series on antitrust law. Kate and Luigi talk with Lina Khan, author of the article “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” and a member of the New Brandeis Movement, which believes that antitrust enforcement should be more broadly applied and not just rely on consumer welfare.
  • Antitrust Pt 1: The Establishment
    The first in a special 3-part series on antitrust law. In the wake of the approved merger between giants AT&T and Time Warner, Kate and Luigi talk with a leading expert, Carl Shapiro, about the evolving concept of consumer welfare and whether antitrust law needs to change with the times.
  • The Reluctant Central Banker
    Do central bankers have too much power? Paul Tucker, a former official at the Bank of England during the 2008 financial crisis and author of the new book 'Unelected Power,' explains to Kate and Luigi how technocratic hubris can imperil democracy.
  • Abdomenable Transactions
    Should a kidney be sold to the highest bidder? Luigi and Kate debate Nobel-winning economist Al Roth whose algorithm for kidney transplants has saved more than 6000 lives. Roth says matching markets could be used for everything from online dating to the global refugee crisis.
  • All Roads Lead to Rome
    Why was Steve Bannon in Rome last week? Luigi and Kate look at the recent formation of Italy's populist government and analyze Bannon's attempt to forge a similar left-right coalition in the U.S. uniting supporters of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.
  • Two Billion 'Truman Shows'
    Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google and “the closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience,” warns Kate & Luigi about targeted digital advertising that creates individual, orchestrated experiences dictated by nothing more than an algorithm.
  • Opinions for Sale
    As ad revenue continues to decline more and more news organizations are turning to paid and sponsored content. Luigi and Kate revisit the decades-old music payola scandal and debate how to ensure proper disclosure in the digital age.
  • Mo Crypto Mo Problems
    In the brave new world of cryptocurrency the latest frenzy involves Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), which make Bitcoin look tame by comparison. Luigi and Kate explore this volatile, largely unregulated market and consider creating their own ICO.
  • Worse Than Brexit
    ‘Quitaly.’ ‘Italeave.’ Whatever you call it, Italy’s recent election results are stoking fears that the once staunch supporter of the EU may be the next country to exit. Kate asks Luigi, our resident Italian expert, how we got here and why it matters.
  • Regulating Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction
    10 years after dark pools of derivatives contributed to the Great Recession, former Commodity Futures Trading Commissioner Sharon Bowen tells Kate & Luigi how she helped bring transparency to the market and visited a few grain silos along the way.
  • A Firm Grip on the Labor Market
    The U.S. economy may be booming, but despite a recent uptick wage growth remains stubbornly flat. Kate & Luigi examine the effect of monopsonies in the labor market among concentrated industries like Big Tech. Are companies colluding against workers and driving down wages?
  • O. Contin Pusher, M.D.
    Are doctors and pharmaceutical companies to blame for the opioid epidemic? Kate & Luigi look at the role of supply and demand in fueling the distribution of prescription painkillers, and discuss the regulatory ramifications for medical marijuana.
  • The Moral Case Against the MBA
    Are elite MBA programs producing morally bankrupt administrators? Duff McDonald, author of “The Golden Passport,” tries to convince Luigi & Kate that conflicts of interest and flawed case studies amount to an unethical education that harms society.
  • Capital Isn't in the 21st Century
    Five years after Thomas Piketty’s surprise bestseller captured the zeitgeist of an anxious age, Kate and Luigi revisit the book to see how it holds up in the current political and economic climate. The verdict? Intriguing analysis, but limited impact.
  • Strange Fedfellows
    It’s been 6 years since a member of the Federal Reserve improperly leaked information to an analyst. Kate & Luigi wonder what's really changed. Is the Fed still too cozy with big banks, the media and others with a financial stake in monetary policy?
  • College: What is it Good For?
    As college enrollment goes up, social mobility continues its 50-year decline. Luigi and Kate look for answers in the latest research on the role of higher education. Are today’s universities engines of social mobility or simply bastions of privilege?
  • Mutual Understanding: Is Your 401k Working Against You?
    Luigi shops for an airline ticket and ponders how our retirement investments might be hurting our wallets. New research suggests that giant mutual funds with large stakes in the companies of one industry can lead to reduced competition and higher prices.
  • Obama Wanted a Corporate Tax Cut Too
    The new U.S. tax reform bill includes a dramatic reduction in the corporate tax rate. Is this a hand-out to the rich or a necessary measure to spur the U.S. economy in the face of global competition? Luigi and Kate debate the pros and cons and break down the law’s impact on pass-through businesses.
  • Hail to the Chief of Facebook
    Not long ago Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hinted at a run for political office. Luigi and Kate debate whether a President Zuckerberg would give the social media giant a dangerous monopoly. Should government regulators do something to limit its power?
  • Capitalisn't Trailer
    Luigi and Kate deliberate over the topics that will be discussed on Capitalisn't -- they range from market power to Italian history. Visit us at http://www.capitalisnt.com to learn more.