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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.




The Tyranny of Merit (with Michael Sandel)

In this wide-ranging conversation with one of our favorite authors, philosopher Michael Sandel explains how the concept of meritocracy has helped to create such a massive divide in American politics and culture. Michael Sandel is a world-renowned philosopher who teaches political philosophy at Harvard University. His course “Justice” is the first Harvard course to be made freely available online and has been viewed by tens of millions of people around the world. Sandel’s books relate enduring themes of political philosophy to the most vexing moral and civic questions of our time. They include The Tyranny of Merit (2020), Democracy’s Discontent (2022), and more. The Tyranny of Merit: What's Become of the Common Good https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780374289980/thetyrannyofmerit Democracy’s Discontent: A New Edition for Our Perilous Times https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674270718 Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


What the new Draft Merger Guidelines could mean for the economy (with Maggie Goodlander)

Earlier this summer, the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a draft update of their Merger Guidelines, “which describe and guide the agencies’ review of mergers and acquisitions to determine compliance with federal antitrust laws.” Maggie Goodlander from the Justice Department joins the podcast to discuss why mergers can weaken competition and harm consumers and workers, and how these proposed guidelines can help bring competition back by making it harder for big corporations to swallow each other up. Maggie Goodlander is the Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice where she oversees the international, appellate, and policy work of the Antitrust Division. Twitter: @TheJusticeDept Justice Department And FTC Seek Comment on Draft Merger Guidelines https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-and-ftc-seek-comment-draft-merger-guidelines Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


The CHIPS Act, explained (with Ronnie Chatterji)

It’s been a little over a year since President Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act, which invested $231 billion into semiconductor manufacturing in the United States, into law. Despite the fact that those investments are already creating economic growth around the country, most Americans don’t recognize the impact that the CHIPS Act is already having on the national economy. Today, Ronnie Chatterji, the former CHIPS Coordinator at the White House, joins the pod to provide a better understanding of what the CHIPS Act really does and why it matters. Aaron Chatterji is the Duke University Professor of Business and Public Policy. He was previously the White House CHIPS Coordinator and Acting Deputy Director of the National Economic Council in the Biden Administration. Twitter: @RonnieChatterji CHIPS Act: National security is priority for funding, analyst says https://finance.yahoo.com/video/chips-act-national-security-priority-150516934.html Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


What labor shortage? (with Heidi Shierholz)

When employers say they can’t find workers, what they really mean is that they can’t find enough people willing to work for what they want to offer. The so-called “labor shortage” we’ve heard so much about these last few years is actually just a wage shortage. And the solution is simple: pay people more. Labor Day weekend felt like a good time to revisit this subject with EPI President, Heidi Shierholz. This episode originally aired on May 25, 2021. 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 Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


Why don't we fight poverty by just giving people money? (with Paul Niehaus)

We saw during the pandemic that giving people cash is good for individuals and the economy as a whole. It makes sense: When people have more money, they spend it in their communities and stimulate the local economy. So why don’t we give people money all the time? Our guest today started a charity that combats poverty by giving people cash, with no strings attached, to use how they wish. The results have been really encouraging. Paul Niehaus, co-founder of GiveDirectly, explains how his program works—and more importantly, why it works. Paul Niehaus is an economist at UCSD and an entrepreneur working to accelerate the end of extreme poverty. He is co-founder, former president, and current director at GiveDirectly, the leading international NGO specialized in digital cash transfers and consistently rated one of the most impactful ways to give. Twitter: @PaulFNiehaus GiveDirectly https://www.givedirectly.org Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


Power, progress, and technology (with Daron Acemoglu)

New technologies are sold as a net benefit to society as a whole, but the truth is that technological progress is only loosely correlated to the improved welfare of the majority of citizens. This is not to say that technology and innovation are bad—we’re big supporters of both—but when tech CEOs hold all the power to make decisions that affect all of us, that becomes a problem. For a long time, technology has been used by the rich and powerful to further enrich themselves and consolidate their own power. Is there a way to ensure that everyone benefits from innovation—not just the wealthy few? Returning guest Daron Acemoglu shares insight from his new book on the subject, Power and Progress: Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity. Daron Acemoglu is the Institute Professor of Economics at MIT, the university’s highest faculty honor. For the last twenty-five years, he has been researching the historical origins of prosperity, poverty, and the effects of new technologies on economic growth, employment, and inequality. He is an author (with James Robinson) of The Narrow Corridor and the New York Times bestseller Why Nations Fail. Twitter: @NarrowCorridor Power and Progress https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/daron-acemoglu/power-and-progress/9781541702530 Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


Ask Nick Anything

Nick and Goldy answer more of your questions! What happens to current economic systems if world population growth goes to zero? Should I feel guilty for wanting my stocks to do well? What could be a good methodology to measure how progressive a tax is? And more! If you have questions for a future “Ask Me Anything” episode, leave us a voicemail at 731-388-9334. Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


Wages need a revolution (with Michael Lind)

Today we’re talking about wages—specifically, how the widespread suppression of wages is destroying the American economy. Author, professor, and fellow traveler Michael Lind just published a new book titled “Hell to Pay” that argues America is in need of a revolution in the way we think about work and wages. Lind warns that if American worker power isn’t restored to its previous highs, there’ll be hell to pay. (Sounds a bit like “the pitchforks are coming,” doesn’t it?) Michael Lind is the author of more than a dozen books. He is a columnist for Tablet and has been an editor or staff writer for The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New Republic, and The National Interest. He’s one of the founders of the New America Foundation. He has taught at Harvard and Johns Hopkins and is currently a professor of practice at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Hell to Pay https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/690656/hell-to-pay-by-michael-lind “Hell To Pay”: Michael Lind On A True Good Jobs Strategy https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelbernick/2023/05/16/hell-to-pay-michael-lind-on-a-true-good-jobs-strategy/?sh=c4e0c584d160 Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


How Industrial Policy actually works (with Isabel Estevez)

Industrial Policy (IP) has dominated conversations in economic and political circles thanks to President Biden’s big investments in manufacturing, infrastructure, and working Americans. But according to today’s guest, development economist Isabel Estevez, the conversation around IP is too narrow. IP is not just about manufacturing and clean energy, she argues—smart IP also encompasses policies that improve outcomes for people, like reducing child poverty and cleaning our drinking water. Isabel Estevez is the Deputy Director of Industrial Policy and Trade at the Roosevelt Institute. She conducts research at the intersection of industrial and trade policy, with a focus on the transformation and decarbonization of heavy industries, such as steel and aluminum. Twitter: @Isabel_Estevez_ Industrial Transformations https://www.phenomenalworld.org/analysis/industrial-transformations The American Industrial Policy Series https://rooseveltinstitute.org/think-tank/climate-and-economic-transformation/the-american-industrial-policy-series Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


Private equity’s plan to pillage America (with Brendan Ballou)

Over the last decade, private equity firms wiped out nearly 600,000 jobs in the retail sector by taking over and bankrupting major retailers like Toys R Us and Payless Shoes. But in that same time, private equity also destroyed companies in healthcare, housing, medicine, and many other industries that affect our everyday lives. Today’s guest, federal prosecutor Brendan Ballou, explains how we can stop private equity’s plan to pillage America. Brendan Ballou is a federal prosecutor and served as Special Counsel for Private Equity in the Justice Department's Antitrust Division. Previously, he worked in private practice, and before that, in the National Security Division of the Justice Department, where he advised the White House on counterterrorism and other policies. Twitter: @brendanballou Plunder: Private Equity's Plan to Pillage America https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/brendan-ballou/plunder/9781541702103 Private Equity is Out of Control and Looting America. This Prosecutor Says We Can Fix It. https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/private-equity-is-out-of-control-and-looting-america-this-prosecutor-says-we-can-fix-it Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


Bidenomics (with Bharat Ramamurti)

“Bidenomics” is closely aligned with many—probably even most—of the middle-out economic principles that we discuss on this podcast every week. Much to our surprise and delight, Joe Biden has become the first President in 40 years to reject trickle-down economics in favor of building the economy from the middle out, and the results speak for themselves: Since the pandemic began, America has seen the strongest growth of any leading economy in the world. The economy has added 13 million jobs, inflation has fallen for 12 straight months, and a recession is no longer on the horizon. National Economic Council Deputy Director Bharat Ramamurti returns to the show to explain why Bidenomics has been so successful. Bharat Ramamurti is the Deputy Director of National Economic Council (NEC) for The White House. He previously served as a Member of the Congressional Oversight Commission for the CARES Act, and as the Managing Director of the Corporate Power program at the Roosevelt Institute. Twitter: @BharatRamamurti Bidenomics is Working https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2023/06/28/bidenomics-is-working-the-presidents-plan-grows-the-economy-from-the-middle-out-and-bottom-up-not-the-top-down 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 good jobs are good for business (with Zeynep Ton)

Low pay is obviously terrible for workers, but a growing body of research proves that it’s bad for businesses, too. Smaller paychecks lead to higher turnover, decreased productivity, and poor sales. Will low-wage employers in the grocery, retail, and restaurant industries ever understand that their employees are their most important asset? Zeynep Ton hopes so. She’s written a book explaining how labor investments can pay for themselves, and she joins us today to explain why better-paying jobs are good for everyone in the long run. Zeynep Ton is a Professor of the Practice in the Operations Management group at MIT Sloan School of Management. She is also president of the nonprofit Good Jobs Institute, where she works with companies to improve their operations in a way that satisfies employees, customers, and investors alike. Twitter: @zeynepton Good Jobs are Good Business https://time.com/6285516/good-jobs-good-business The Case for Good Jobs: How Great Companies Bring Dignity, Pay, and Meaning to Everyone’s Work https://store.hbr.org/product/the-case-for-good-jobs-how-great-companies-bring-dignity-pay-and-meaning-to-everyone-s-work/10579 Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


How economics can create a more sustainable planet (with Sarah Bloom Raskin)

In the 21st century, summertime isn’t just for lounging on the beach and trips to the ice cream shop. Climate change has made summer much more unpleasant—and even dangerous. This year alone, New York City and Chicago have been choked with wildfire smoke and the southern U.S. suffered through a wave of record-breaking high temperatures. That’s why we’re revisiting our conversation with financial regulation expert Sarah Bloom Raskin about how fiscal policy can help save the environment. She explains what levers already exist to steer monetary policy toward lasting sustainability, and which proposed regulatory strategies could create transformative climate outcomes. This episode originally aired on July 20, 2021. Sarah Bloom Raskin is the former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and a former Governor of the Federal Reserve Board. She is currently a visiting professor and distinguished fellow at Duke Law School’s Global Financial Markets Center, and a member of President Biden’s Regenerative Crisis Response Committee. Twitter: @SBloomRaskin News clips from: CBS News, PBS NewsHour, and TODAY Learn more about the Regenerative Crisis Response Committee here: https://regenerativecrisisresponsecommittee.org Does environmental regulation kill or create jobs? https://policyintegrity.org/files/media/Jobs_and_Regulation_Factsheet.pdf Do regulations really kill jobs? https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/01/regulations-jobs/513563 Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


Summer Reading List

It’s Paul and Goldy’s summer reading list! We want to know what you’re reading, too. Leave us a comment on Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Remember to shop local and small when you can, or order from IndieBound or Bookshop.org—both of which support independent bookstores! All of these books are also likely available through your library. Every book mentioned in this episode: Corporate Bullsh*t - Nick Hanauer, Joan Walsh, and Donald Cohen The Ministry for the Future - Kim Stanley Robinson A Spectre, Haunting - China Miéville The City & the City - China Miéville Fight Like Hell - Kim Kelly Rich White Men - Garrett Neiman The 9.9 Percent - Matthew Stewart When the President Calls - Simon W. Bowmaker Capitalism and Freedom - Milton Friedman Essential - Jamie K. McCallum The Journey of Humanity - Oded Galor SPQR - Mary Beard The Death and Life of Great American Cities - Jane Jacobs When McKinsey Comes to Town - Walt Bogdanich & Michael Forsyth Humanly Possible - Sarah Bakewell Bloodlands - Timothy Snyder The Road to Unfreedom - Timothy Snyder On Tyranny - Timothy Snyder Black Earth - Timothy Snyder Pre-Order Nick’s new book with Joan Walsh and Donald Cohen, Corporate Bullsh*t from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Corporate-Bullsh-Exposing-Half-Truths-Protect/dp/1620977516 Pre-Order Nick’s new book with Joan Walsh and Donald Cohen, Corporate Bullsh*t from Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/p/books/it-s-never-our-fault-and-other-shameless-excuses-a-compendium-of-corporate-lies-that-protect-profits-and-thwart-progress-donald-cohen/18096544?ean=9781620977514 Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


Doughnut Economics (with Andrew Fanning)

On its website, the Doughnut Economics Action Lab describes Doughnut Economics as “a compass for human prosperity in the 21st century.” Its proponents prioritize economic solutions that meet both the basic needs of all people—food, housing, equity, democratic inclusion—and the ecological needs of the planet that we all call home. Economist Andrew Fanning joins the show to discuss how Doughnut Economics can redefine economics for the 21st century, and he doesn’t sugarcoat the importance of implementing the doughnut model in order to successfully combat climate change. Andrew Fanning is an ecological economist and the Data Analysis & Research Lead at Doughnut Economics Action Lab at the University of Leeds. Twitter: @AndrewLFanning, @DoughnutEcon Doughnut Economics Action Lab (DEAL) https://doughnuteconomics.org Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist https://www.chelseagreen.com/product/doughnut-economics-paperback Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


How the franchise system is rigged (with Marshall Steinbaum)

In the 20th century, big corporations sold franchising to Americans as a less risky way to buy into business ownership. But in recent years, the franchise industry has tipped hugely in favor of franchisors, extracting wealth from both franchisees and the employees who work for them through complicated contracts that kill competition and rig the system. Economist Marshall Steinbaum returns to the podcast to share the findings from his deep dive into the (intentionally) complex and arcane franchise system, and to explain the latest data from Washington State’s recent enforcement campaign against no-poach clauses in franchising contracts. Marshall Steinbaum is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Utah and a Senior Fellow in Higher Education Finance at Jain Family Institute. Twitter: @Econ_Marshall Vertical Restraints and Labor Markets in Franchised Industries https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4155571 The Effect of Franchise No-poaching Restrictions on Worker Earnings https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4155577 Coercive Rideshare Practices: At the Intersection of Antitrust and Consumer Protection Law in the Gig Economy https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4196215 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


Americonned (with Sean Claffey and Dave Pederson)

Americonned, a new documentary featuring our own Nick Hanauer, examines the inequality crisis currently plaguing the United States. The film shows the hidden struggles of American families and dissects the elite’s calculated political maneuvers to preserve and even grow their own wealth at everyone else’s expense. The filmmakers join us to share their experience documenting the long-overdue uprising of American workers, and explain how the process of making their film gave them hope for the future. Americonned is playing in select theaters & will be available via VOD on June 13th. Sean Claffey is the Director, Producer, and Executive Producer of Americonned. He has more than 25 years in the film industry spanning feature films, industry documentaries and commercials. Dave Pederson is the Producer and Writer of Americonned. He’s an entertainment professional for over 20 years with expertise in Film & Television production, development, sales and distribution. Twitter: @americonneddoc, Instagram: @americonneddocumentary Americonned: The Documentary https://americonned.com Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer


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