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Welcome to Ricochet's Political Economy Podcast with Jim Pethokoukis. You can find all episodes, new and old, here.

Welcome to Ricochet's Political Economy Podcast with Jim Pethokoukis. You can find all episodes, new and old, here.
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Welcome to Ricochet's Political Economy Podcast with Jim Pethokoukis. You can find all episodes, new and old, here.






Ep. 100: Not Surprisingly the 100th Episode

Sponsored by DonorsTrust For the 100th episode of the Political Economy podcast, James Pethokoukis sat down with Michael Strain and Stan Veuger during the Ricochet - AEI Podcast Summit in Washington, DC. More Join the conversation and comment on this podcast episode: https://ricochet.com/podcast/money-politics/not-surprisingly-100th-episode/. Podcast listeners: Now become a Ricochet member for only $2.50 a month! Join and see what you’ve been missing:...


Ep. 99: What’s Wrong With American Education?

Economist and education expert Eric Hanushek has found that a nation's education level determines a significant chunk of its economic growth. And in a forthcoming paper, his research suggests that if US teacher quality rose to match the level of the world's best perfoming school systems, such as Finland and South Korea, US economic growth could rise by as much as 0.8 percentage points per year. And yet all our indicators suggest American education continues to lag behind. So what is wrong...


Ep. 98: Obamanomics

Jason Furman was one of President Obama's top economists, from the start of his campaign through the end of his presidency, and served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers from 2013 through 2017. He joined me on the podcast to discuss his time in the White House, how he views the recession and subsequent recovery, and his forecast for economic growth going forward. We also cover America's productivity challenge, the pros and cons of the Big Tech firms, and a host of other...


Ep. 97: Big Business Gets A Bad Rap

"Small business is the basis of American prosperity." "Small businesses are overwhelmingly responsible for job creation and innovation." "Small business owners are the basis for democracy in America." All these statements are wrong, argues Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. It's Big Business that's responsible for today's gains in income, productivity, and jobs--and policymakers and voters need to recognize these facts. He joins the podcast...


Ep. 96: Ask An Economist

Sponsored by Quip On this special episode of Political Economy, we structured the podcast around one theme: "Questions you always wanted to ask an economist, but were too afraid to ask." After soliciting questions from friends, family, and Twitter, we posed them to AEI economist Stan Veuger. Dr. Veuger is a resident scholar at AEI, where his research is in political economy and public finance. He is also the editor of AEI Economic Perspectives. More Join the conversation and comment...


Ep. 95: Is it time to break up Big Tech?

Sponsored by Quip In a recent column for Bloomberg View, Michael Strain concedes "Big Tech" may be monopolistic, but argues that is no reason to break them up. Despite the wide variety of sins Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook stand accused of -- promulgating fake news, stifling innovative competitors, and crushing mom-and-pop shops, to name a few -- by the standards of consumer welfare, Big Tech is one of the best things to happen to the American economy in decades. He joins the...


Ep. 94: Can Amazon Solve The Us Health Care Industry?

Sponsored by Quip Earlier this year, Amazon announced it was teaming up with JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway to change how health care is provided to their 1 million plus employees. Stressing their venture would be "free from profit-making incentives and constraints," but providing few other details, we now wait to see if Jeff Bezos, Jamie Dimon, and Warren Buffett can transform the industry. To analyze the announcement, and discuss the state of US health care more broadly, I'm joined by...


Ep. 93: The Case Against Education

Sponsored by Quip The American education system is a waste of both time and money--at least according to Bryan Caplan, author of the new book, The Case Against Education. Rather than actually impart useful skills, education's benefits stem mainly from "signaling," implying that as a nation we could drastically reduce years of schooling and be no worse off. It's an explosive thesis challenging the conventional wisdom of labor economists, but is it right? Bryan Caplan is a professor of...


Ep. 92: America the Ingenious

Sponsored by Quip Americans pride themselves on being exceptional. And one of the qualities that makes this nation exceptional is its proclivity to innovate. But from whence does America's unique capacity for producing inventors arise? To discuss this question, I'm joined by Kevin Baker, author of America the Ingenious: How a Nation of Dreamers, Immigrants, and Tinkerers Changed the World. Kevin Baker is a renowned historical fiction novelist, a frequent contributor to various newspapers...


Ep. 91: The State of the Safety Net

Sponsored by Quip Welfare, entitlements, safety net--these terms are often used interchangeably, but they have different connotations and stigmas attached to them, and people often use them to describe different things. To help us navigate this complex web of federal programs, I'm joined by AEI fellow Angela Rachidi. Before joining AEI, Dr. Rachidi served as a deputy commissioner in New York City's Department of Social Services, and spent nearly a decade researching benefit programs for...


Ep. 90: Is Bitcoin A Bubble?

Sponsored by Quip 2017 saw a meteroic rise in the value of cryptocurrencies -- followed by a disappointing start to 2018. Here to explain the mechanisms and purpose behind these new cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, as well as commonly-used but little-understood words like blockchain, is Jerry Brito. Jerry Brito is the executive director of Coin Center, a research and advocacy organization that focuses on the public policy implications of cryptocurrencies. He was also a senior...


Ep. 89: Our Stagnant Labor Market

Sponsored by Quip Americans are no longer moving. And that's a problem for the economy, adversely affecting everything from productivity growth, to income inequality, to monetary policy. At least, that's the argument of law professor David Schleicher, author of the recent Yale Law Journal article, "Stuck! The Law and Economics of Residential Stagnation," an insightful study of how state and local governments are hindering labor market mobility, why that's a problem, and what can be done...


Ep. 88: Inequality and Poverty In the US

Sponsored by Zip Recruiter Have poverty levels and inequality in the US soared in the past quarter century, or are we just looking at them through the wrong lens? Economist Bruce Meyer joins the podcast to discuss his research on income inequality, the earned income tax credit, and the best methods for reducing poverty. Bruce D. Meyer is a visiting scholar here at AEI, a professor at the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy, and a fellow at the National Bureau of...


Ep. 87: Googlenomics

Sponsored by Zip Recruiter The Wall Street Journal has described Hal Varian as the Adam Smith of Googlenomics. As the tech giant's chief economist, he revolutionized Google's business strategy, and is known now as perhaps the most prominent skeptic of America's official, sluggish productivity numbers. He joined the podcast to discuss the tech industry, the future of the economy, and much more. In addition to serving as Google's chief economist, Hal Varian is a professor emeritus at the...


Ep. 86: The Captured Economy

Sponsored by Upside Over the last few decades, the American economy has seen stagnating growth and increasing inequality. Brink Lindsey and Steve Teles think they have a partial explanation: The economy has been captured by the rich and well-connected. In this episode, we discuss their new book, "The Captured Economy: How the Powerful Enrich Themselves, Slow Down Growth, and Increase Inequality." We cover a lot of policy ground: Occupational licensing and zoning restrictions, financial...


Ep. 85: The End of Traffic

Sponsored by Upside The world is on its way to ending traffic, and that's in part thanks to the pioneering work of transportation researcher and thought leader David Levinson. In this episode, we discuss how autonomous vehicles and other breakthrough tech will affect the future of transportation, and how infrastructure policy can keep up with the coming changes. We also discuss whether America has reached peak car ownership, if human driving will be eventually banned, and if we are...


Ep. 84: WTF Future?

Sponsored by Zip Recruiter In the new book, "WTF: What's the Future, and Why It's Up to Us," founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media Tim O'Reilly argues Silicon Valley and the innovation it's fostering can be either a fount of amazement or a source of dismay. The direction technology leads our society is ultimately up to us, the policymakers and the public they represent. He joined the podcast to discuss how Americans should respond to the coming changes, and whether our government is up to the...


Ep. 83: Start Ups Aren’t New

Sponsored by Upside "Start up" has become a buzzword in the 21st century, but according to a new book, start up culture has been endemic to American culture since the days of the Mayflower and the Virginia Company. In Americana: A 400 Year History Of American Capitalism, author Bhu Srinivasan contends it was this spirit of innovation and ambition that drove American economic growth and helped make the US into the superpower it is now. He joined the podcast to discuss his book and what...


Ep. 82: How Technology Is Changing Business

Sponsored by Upside Technological innovation is already transforming the economy, and this change will accelerate in the future. To discuss what these changes mean for business and society at large, I’m joined by MIT’s Andrew McAfee. Andrew McAfee is a principal research scientist at MIT, where he studies how technology is changing business, the economy, and society. He is also the co-author of several books, including: Race Against the Machine and The Second Machine Age, and his most...


Ep. 81: Enable Workers Or Replace Them?

Sponsored by SimpliSafe As the next generation of robots arrive in the workplace, will they enable workers or replace them? According to MIT’s Daron Acemoglu, one of the most frequently cited economists in the world, this distinction is the difference between technology that raises workers’ wages versus tech that merely reduces overall employment and wage growth. Daron Acemoglu is a professor of economics at MIT, a frequent contributor to Foreign Policy Magazine, and co-author of Why...