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Pitchfork Economics with Nick Hanauer

Business & Economics Podcasts

Any society that allows itself to become radically unequal eventually collapses into an uprising or a police state—or both. Join venture capitalist Nick Hanauer and some of the world’s leading economic and political thinkers in an exploration of who gets what and why. Turns out, everything you learned about economics is wrong. And if we don’t do something about rising inequality, the pitchforks are coming.


United States


Any society that allows itself to become radically unequal eventually collapses into an uprising or a police state—or both. Join venture capitalist Nick Hanauer and some of the world’s leading economic and political thinkers in an exploration of who gets what and why. Turns out, everything you learned about economics is wrong. And if we don’t do something about rising inequality, the pitchforks are coming.




Can the economy be liberated? (with Jeremie Greer)

Even when our nation's prosperity was most broadly shared in the 1950s and 1960s, Black people and other communities of color were purposefully denied the shared prosperity that white families enjoyed. And because inclusion drives economic growth, excluding anyone from the economy is bad for all of us. Jeremie Greer, Liberation in a Generation’s co-director, explains how racism is profitable under our current economic system, and breaks down how we can build a Liberation Economy that truly includes—and benefits—everyone. Jeremie Greer is the Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Liberation in a Generation, a national movement-support organization, building power for POC and demanding a Liberation Economy. Twitter: @liberation_gen, @JeremieGreer Liberation in a Generation https://www.liberationinageneration.org Racism is Profitable Podcast https://www.liberationinagenerationaction.org/podcast The Road to Zero Wealth https://ips-dc.org/report-the-road-to-zero-wealth Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


Higher minimum wages are creating more jobs (with Michael Reich)

Ten years ago, Nick was called "near insane" for saying that substantially raising the minimum wage would create jobs. In retrospect, it seems obvious: After all, if no one has any money, who will buy all the stuff? Researchers at University of California, Berkeley have found more data to support this theory in a first-of-its-kind study on the effects of the $15 minimum wage. Michael Reich, one of the economists who worked on this exciting report, shares his findings with us. Michael Reich is Professor of Economics and Chair of the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics (CWED) at the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) of the University of California at Berkeley. Twitter: @IRLEUCB High Minimum Wages and the Monopsony Puzzle https://irle.berkeley.edu/publications/working-papers/high-minimum-wages-and-the-monopsony-puzzle New Study Finds a High Minimum Wage Creates Jobs https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2023/05/new-study-finds-a-high-minimum-wage-creates-jobs.html Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


Do we need an Economic Bill of Rights? (with Mark Paul)

We learn in grade school that American citizens are endowed with certain inalienable rights, but basic necessities like housing and education aren’t protected by the Constitution. Imagine how different this country might be if affordable health care and guaranteed employment were included in our Bill of Rights. That’s the vision that economist Mark Paul outlines in his new book, The Ends of Freedom. Mark Paul is an assistant professor of economics at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. His research and writing have appeared in the New York Times, Economist, Washington Post, Nation, American Prospect, and Financial Times, among other publications. Twitter: @MarkVinPaul The Ends of Freedom https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/E/bo195791875.html Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


The case for inclusive growth (with JP Julien)

At the core of middle-out economics is the idea that the more people we include in the economy, the faster and more prosperous it grows. And this inclusionary principle isn’t something we just made up—there’s actual data to support it. Our conversation with JP Julien from McKinsey and Company outlines what inclusion can mean in the context of an economy that works for everyone. This episode originally aired on July 6, 2021. JP Julien is a Partner at McKinsey & Company, where he serves US federal, state, and city governments on inclusive economic-development topics and supports private-, public-, and social-sector organizations in advancing racial equity. He is a leader of the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility, a global economic think tank focused on inclusive economic development and racial equity topics. Twitter: @McKinsey The case for inclusive growth: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/public-and-social-sector/our-insights/the-case-for-inclusive-growth Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


Can economics save the world? (with Erik Angner)

We all want to live happier, more fulfilling lives and build a better future for ourselves, but can economics help to make that dream a reality? Economist and philosopher Erik Angner is so confident that economics can save the world that he wrote a whole book about it. Erik helps Nick and Goldy overcome their usual cynicism by pointing out all the amazing progress that has been made in the economics profession, and he explains how economics can help build an even more glorious future for everyone. Erik Angner is Professor of Practical Philosophy at Stockholm University, where he directs the PPE Program. He is the author of several books including A Course in Behavioral Economics and How Economics Can Save the World. Twitter: @ErikAngner How Economics Can Save the World https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/321644/how-economics-can-save-the-world-by-angner-erik/9780241502693 Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


How college broke the American dream (with Will Bunch)

This week we’re continuing our exploration into the ways that higher education contributes to America’s political, cultural, and economic divisions. Goldy chats with author Will Bunch about how our leaders almost established a university education as a public good, why the so-called “knowledge economy” has caused inequality to grow, and how we can possibly fix our educational divide. Will Bunch is a national opinion columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer and author of several books. He has won numerous journalism awards and shared the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for spot news reporting with the New York Newsday staff. Twitter: @Will_Bunch After the Ivory Tower Falls https://www.harpercollins.com/products/after-the-ivory-tower-falls-will-bunch Better Public Schools Won’t Fix America https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/07/education-isnt-enough/590611 Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


Econ 101 is failing college students (with Abigail Acheson and Nouhaila Oudija)

Universities across America are still teaching an outdated, neoclassical way of economic thinking. The trickle-down curriculums taught in Econ 101 classrooms aren’t just bad for students—they have had disastrous, far-reaching effects on the economy. Decades of bad education has left students adrift: A new study from Rethinking Economics reveals that the majority of college students are critical of the US economic system, with a large majority believing it needs to change. Can we redesign economic curriculums to better reflect how the economy really works? Abigail Acheson is network coordinator and staff organizer with the US Rethinking Economics National Network. A recent graduate, Abigail is dedicated to revitalizing student organizing for curriculum change at universities. Nouhaila Oudija is a researcher and consultant at RE-USA. She recently published a research project about college students' attitudes around the US economic system and about the lack of diversity of thought in economics curricula. Twitter: @RethinkEcon_USA, @rethinkecon Economics is Failing US College Students https://www.rethinkeconomics.org/2022/10/18/econ-failing-us-students Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


How rich people dodge taxes (with Gabriel Zucman)

As Tax Day approaches in the United States, we’re revisiting our conversation with Gabriel Zucman, the authority on wealth taxes. For the last 40 years, trickle-down politicians have slashed tax rates on the rich, benefiting the wealthy few at the expense of the American middle class. Zucman explains how the rich manage to dodge taxes, and how we can fix this broken system. This episode originally aired on November 26, 2019. Gabriel Zucman is now Professor of Economics at the Paris School of Economics and Ecole Normale Supérieure – PSL, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley, Director of the EU Tax Observatory, and Director of the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Center on Wealth and Income Inequality at UC Berkeley. Twitter: @gabriel_zucman The Triumph of Injustice: https://wwnorton.com/books/the-triumph-of-injustice The Wealth Detective Who Finds the Hidden Money of the Super Rich: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-05-23/the-wealth-detective-who-finds-the-hidden-money-of-the-super-rich Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


Banning noncompetes is good, actually (with Evan Starr)

One in five American workers has signed a noncompete clause. The FTC believes that the elimination of these clauses would generate extra job opportunities for 30 million workers and raise wages by $300 billion—a huge win for the average American worker. Economist Evan Starr shares findings from his new report on noncompetes and their enforceability in court, which uses data from our home state of Washington. Evan Starr is an Assistant Professor of Management & Organization at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. He received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan. Twitter: @evanpstarr Do Firms Value Court Enforceability of Noncompete Agreements? https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4364674 The Transformation at the Heart of Biden’s Middle-Out Economic Agenda https://prospect.org/economy/2023-02-09-biden-middle-out-agenda Why your noncompete clause is probably illegal https://pitchforkeconomics.com/episode/why-your-non-compete-clause-is-probably-illegal-with-attorney-general-bob-ferguson Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


How we all fell for The Big Myth (with Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway)

When did ordinary people come to believe that free market solutions are always better than government intervention? How do we create a future where markets serve democracy instead of stifling it? In this episode we’re talking about the “magic” of the marketplace and the myth that the free market is ruthlessly efficient and always knows best. The co-authors of The Big Myth explain exactly how American business taught us to loathe government and love the free market. Naomi Oreskes is Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University. Her opinion pieces have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and many other outlets. Erik M. Conway is a historian of science and technology and works for the California Institute of Technology. He is the author of seven books and dozens of articles and essays. Twitter: @NaomiOreskes, @ErikMConway The Big Myth https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/big-myth-9781635573572 The Silicon Valley Bank Bailout Didn’t Need to Happen https://prospect.org/economy/2023-03-13-silicon-valley-bank-bailout-deregulation Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


Slouching towards economic utopia (with Brad DeLong)

Between 1870 and 2010 an unprecedented explosion of material wealth transformed the globe, but that wave of prosperity failed to create a fully functioning and equal society. How did we manage to create an economic pie large enough for everyone to share, but then fumble dividing that pie up equally? Brad DeLong explores this question in his new book, Slouching Towards Utopia, which looks at the economic history of the twentieth century and why it matters today. J. Bradford DeLong is an economic historian and a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley. He was a deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury during the Clinton administration. He writes a widely read economics blog, now at braddelong.substack.com Twitter: @delong Slouching Towards Utopia https://www.basicbooks.com/titles/j-bradford-delong/slouching-towards-utopia/9780465019595 Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


The problem with unequal cities (with Richard McGahey)

We've released dozens of episodes exploring how to improve the lives of Americans that live in rural areas, but we don’t often discuss how cities (and the folks that live in them) are being left behind by state lawmakers and federal policies. This is a problem because cities are key to innovation and economic growth. Richard McGahey's new book explores how to overcome anti-urban bias in order to reduce inequality in cities throughout the United States. Richard McGahey is an economist and senior fellow at the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis and the Institute on Race, Power, and Political Economy, both within The New School. Twitter: @rickmcgahey Unequal Cities http://cup.columbia.edu/book/unequal-cities/9780231173346 Redefining Rural America https://pitchforkeconomics.com/episode/redefining-rural-america-with-olugbenga-ajilore/ Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


The high price of misclassification (with Heidi Shierholz)

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute found that anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of employers are essentially stealing thousands of dollars from their workers every year by misclassifying them as independent contractors. In addition to lower pay, those misclassified workers are also deprived of employer-provided benefits like health care and labor rights like basic safety regulations. Returning guest Heidi Shierholz walks us through the report and explains how to figure out if your employer is stealing from you by classifying you as an independent contractor. Heidi Shierholz is the president of the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that uses the power of its research on economic trends and on the impact of economic policies to advance reforms that serve working people, deliver racial justice, and guarantee gender equity. Twitter: @hshierholz The economic costs of worker misclassification https://www.epi.org/publication/cost-of-misclassification Shared security, shared growth https://democracyjournal.org/magazine/37/shared-security-shared-growth Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


Why Walmart workers are still broke (with Rick Wartzman)

Goldy and Paul interview author Rick Wartzman about how America’s biggest employer (Walmart) began taking better care of its workers (by raising wages)—and why that decision might be too little, too late. According to Wartzman, Walmart has gone through a remarkable transformation, but there are limits to how much positive change this brand of socially conscious capitalism can create. Rick Wartzman is co-president of Bendable Labs, a technology, consulting and research firm that builds and tests social innovations in the areas of lifelong learning, workforce development and job quality. He’s the author of several books that meet at the intersection of business and society including Still Broke: Walmart's Remarkable Transformation and the Limits of Socially Conscious Capitalism, The End of Loyalty: The Rise and Fall of Good Jobs in America, Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, and The King of California: J.G. Boswell and the Making of a Secret American Empire. Twitter: @RWartzman Still Broke https://www.publicaffairsbooks.com/titles/rick-wartzman/still-broke/9781549156250 Walmart and McDonald’s have the most workers on food stamps and Medicaid, new study shows https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/11/18/food-stamps-medicaid-mcdonalds-walmart-bernie-sanders Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


Why stock buybacks should be taxed more (with Cory Booker)

Stock buybacks are one of the worst excesses of modern capitalism, which naturally means they're one of our favorite subjects to cover on the podcast. And since they’re in the news again, we thought it would be a good time to revisit one of our first episodes, from 2019. How much has changed over the past 4 years? President Biden’s proposal to raise taxes on buybacks to 4% is the most promising update so far, but much of our conversation with Senator Cory Booker remains relevant today. This episode originally aired on February 26, 2019. Cory Booker is the U.S. Senator from New Jersey. Since 2013, Cory has written and championed dozens of bills aimed at fixing our broken criminal justice system, expanding economic opportunity, and fighting for equal justice for everyone. Twitter: @CoryBooker The Transformation at the Heart of Biden’s Middle-Out Economic Agenda https://prospect.org/economy/2023-02-09-biden-middle-out-agenda Stock buybacks are soaring to record levels — and Cory Booker wants to stop it https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/3/6/17083398/booker-buyback-populist Stock Buybacks Are Killing the American Economy https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/02/kill-stock-buyback-to-save-the-american-economy/385259 Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


How Biden is restoring economic competition (with David Dayen)

In July 2021, President Biden signed an executive order directing government agencies to rewrite policies to encourage competition in the U.S. economy. Returning guest David Dayen has compiled 18 months’ worth of actions resulting from this order. After more than four decades of unrestrained corporate power, Dayen explains, competition is finally returning to the economy—and that’s good news for everyone. David Dayen is the executive editor of The American Prospect. His work has appeared in The Intercept, The New Republic, HuffPost, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and more. His most recent book is ‘Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power.’ Twitter: @ddayen A Pitched Battle on Corporate Power https://prospect.org/economy/2023-01-25-pitched-battle-corporate-power The Transformation at the Heart of Biden’s Middle-Out Economic Agenda https://prospect.org/economy/2023-02-09-biden-middle-out-agenda Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


Why canceling student debt makes great economic sense (with Fenaba Addo)

When the Biden Administration announced last year that they would forgive up to $20,000 student loan debt per individual, millions of people celebrated—and for good reason. The student loan debt that Americans carry has ballooned to $1.8 trillion in recent decades, threatening the economic security of American households from coast to coast and up and down the income scale. Unfortunately, the Biden forgiveness plan has been tied up in several lawsuits, and the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for these lawsuits at the end of February, with a final decision expected later this spring. As the conversation over student loans heats back up, we’re revisiting our conversation with Associate Professor Fenaba Addo. Addo helps us explore the merits and shortcomings of student debt cancellation, and explains why canceling student debt would actually be good for the economy. You’ll also hear from Pitchfork listeners who share how student loan forgiveness would change their lives. This episode originally aired on December 22, 2020. Fenaba Addo is an Associate Professor of Public Policy at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She specializes in debt and racial wealth inequality. Her first book, A Dream Defaulted: The Student Loan Crisis Among Black Borrowers, is available now by Harvard Education Press. Twitter: @FenabaAddo The Biden-Harris Administration’s Student Debt Relief Plan Explained https://studentaid.gov/debt-relief-announcement Is Student Debt Forgiveness Still Going to Happen? https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/loans/student-loans/debt-relief-lawsuits-qa Forget fairness: Canceling all student debt makes great economic sense for America — here's why https://www.businessinsider.com/why-canceling-student-debt-makes-great-economic-sense-for-america-2020-12 Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


The many benefits of a guaranteed job program (with Max Kasy and Lukas Lehner)

Oxford economists are currently running the world’s first Universal Job Guarantee program in Austria, and so far the results are very promising. When unemployed people have guaranteed access to training and/or a job, those people feel more in control of their lives and become more financially secure…and happier, too. The study’s co-authors join us to explain why they believe a guaranteed jobs program like this could work in other countries—including the United States. Maximilian Kasy is a Professor of Economics at the University of Oxford Lukas Lehner is an Economist at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School (INET Oxford) and the Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford Twitter: @maxkasy, @LukasLehner_ World’s first universal job guarantee boosts wellbeing and eliminates long-term unemployment https://www.inet.ox.ac.uk/news/worlds-first-universal-job-guarantee-boosts-wellbeing-and-eliminates-long-term-unemployment Does the future of work include a Federal Jobs Guarantee? https://pitchforkeconomics.com/episode/does-the-future-of-work-include-a-federal-jobs-guarantee-with-pavlina-tcherneva-and-representative-ro-khanna Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


The legacy of the Fight for $15 (with NELP)

Exactly one decade ago, activists and civic leaders launched the Fight for $15. It’s hard to recall now, but the idea was wildly controversial at the time—Forbes called Nick’s support of a $15 minimum wage “near-insane,” for example. A new report from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) examines the legacy of the movement and all that it has accomplished in the last 10 years. Two of the report’s authors join us to discuss the Fight for $15’s impact beyond growing paychecks, including its effect on the racial wealth gap, union participation, and the economy overall. Yannet Lathrop is a Senior Researcher and Policy Analyst for the National Employment Law Project. Dr. T. William Lester is Professor and Acting Chair of Urban and Regional Planning at San José State University and Research Professor at UNC Chapel Hill. Twitter: @NELPnews Ten-Year Legacy of the Fight for $15 and a Union Movement https://www.nelp.org/publication/10-year-legacy-fight-for-15-union-movement/ Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


Sci-Fi Economics (with Kim Stanley Robinson)

We can’t tear down the existing economic framework and replace it with a better one without first telling a persuasive story about how the economy actually works. And few people in the world are more compelling storytellers than science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson. In his speculative near-future novel The Ministry for the Future, Stan explains complicated economic theories better than most economists. He joins Nick and Goldy for a fascinating conversation about the role of economics in both climate change fiction and climate change reality. Kim Stanley Robinson is a New York Times bestseller and winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards. He is the author of more than twenty books, including the bestselling Mars trilogy and the critically acclaimed New York 2140 and The Ministry for the Future. Facebook: Kim Stanley Robinson The Ministry for the Future https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/kim-stanley-robinson/the-ministry-for-the-future/9780316300148 Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer