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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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United States




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






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...


Ep. 80: When The West Got Rich

Sponsored by Zip Recruiter Why did the West grow rich in the 18th century after thousands of years of nearly zero economic growth? Joel Mokyr, an economic historian at Northwestern University, contends that it was the culture in Western Europe that sparked the Great Enrichment. Joel Mokyr is the author of the recent book, A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy. He joins me on the podcast to discuss his argument, what the lessons of economic history can teach us about the...


Ep. 77: A Stuck Economy?

Sponsored by SimpliSafe The US economy appears to be stuck at around 2% GDP growth, much less than the 3.5% it has averaged between World War II and the Great Recession. One reason is that productivity growth - that is, output per worker — is barely rising. Why is the American economy apparently not as productive as it used to be? Are we, despite tech giants such as Apple and Google, somehow less innovative than in the past? If so, why are we so worried about robots taking our jobs? To...


Ep. 75: The Favored Fifth

Sponsored by SimpliSafe We've grown accustomed to hearing a lot about the one percent. Yet it's the "favored fifth" - the top 20 percent of the income distribution - that Brookings Senior Fellow Richard Reeves asserts is the greater problem. "The rhetoric of 'We are the 99 percent,'" Reeves writes, "has in fact been dangerously self-serving." From supporters of Elizabeth Warren to Donald Trump, upper middle class Americans everywhere claim they want to unrig the system. But far more than...


Ep. 74: A True Conservative Tradition

Sponsored by SimpliSafe Has America ever had a true conservative tradition? We are here with Patrick Deneen to discuss that question, and his book, "Conserving America?: Essays on present discontents." Patrick J. Deneen holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Rutgers University. From 1995-1997 he was Speechwriter and Special Advisor to the Director of the United States Information Agency. He has held professorships at Princeton University and Georgetown University, before joining the...


Ep. 72: Net Neutrality

Sponsored by SimpliSafe Ajit Pai. Net Neutrality. Spectrum. These and other buzzwords are now circulating not just in the mouths of policy wonks in Washington, but in viral videos, on major network evening talk shows, in Jimmy Kimmel’s Mean Tweets. But seriously, what should tech policy look like for the next generation, or two, or three? Can we continue to have a system largely based on 1930s regulation? Here to discuss is Brent Skorup, Research Fellow in the Technology Policy Program...


Health Care: The Road Ahead

Sponsored by SimpliSafe With a bill having narrowly passed the House last week to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Senate is revving up for negotiations, reconciliation, and fair to say, a hard journey to a finished product. What does the road look like? Here to discuss is Ben Ippolito, a research fellow in economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, where his research is in public finance and health economics. His recent work has focused on the behavior of health care...


Ep. 70: Conservatism in an Age of Alienation

Sponsored by SimpliSafe After 100 some days of the Trump presidency, the Republican Party and the conservative coalition, broadly understood, are still in flux. Was this election a Pyrrhic victory? Is that even the right question to ask? Yuval Levin writes in a new essay, "Conservatism in an Age of Alienation", that "... the problems exposed by this election year call out for a modernized, self-critical, twenty-first-century conservatism--a conservatism that is uncertain if this election...


Ep. 69: The Future of The EuroZone

Sponsored by SimpliSafe The French presidential election might be the last act in a three part play featuring Part I: the Brexit referendum and Part II: the US election. Forces acting against a globalized status quo seem to have played a big role in I and II. Regardless of the outcomes of Brexit and the US election, the French election held this past Sunday, and its final run off on May 7, will have major implications for the future of the Eurozone and world economy, and may add fuel to...


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