Podcasts Round-up 02/2017
These last few weeks have been somewhat disheartening and confusing, so I’ve once again fled to the world of podcasts for distraction, answers and (mostly) more questions. Here are some of my favourite episodes from January/February:
- One of the more interesting debates around the Trump administration’s policies has been around the role of (free) trade, jobs, inequality and growth. During his campaign, Trump had a long list of suspects that he accused of having killed the American Dream — and near the top was China. In this episode of Freakonomics, Steven Dubner discusses the effects of rising Chinese import competition on the US labour market with David Autor, Economist at MIT. They analyse the impacts of sending manufacturing jobs overseas, and whether this led to cheaper imports and newer, better jobs to replace the off-shored ones — a great 101 on labour economics in 2017! After listening to Dubner and Autor’s conversation on macro-level labour market issues in the US I’d recommend Planet Money’s short podcast on what the Trade Adjustment Assistance programme (the US government’s programme aimed at retraining workers who lost their job due to trade policy) actually looks like on the ground, more specifically in Erie, Pennsylvania. Here, General Electric downsized a locomotive factory and 1,500 people lost their jobs, many of whom signed up for TAA benefits. Some useful insights and lessons for policy alternatives…!
- With China still on my mind from Freakonomics, I enjoyed this Guardian long read podcast on the country’s nation-wide high school/college admission exam, the “Gaokao”, which is supposedly one of the world’s toughest school exams. This episode follows one student during his exam preparations, and looks at the implications of the Gaokao for education policy in China more widely. I am neither an education policy nor a China expert but thought this was interesting stuff!
- One thing I really like about podcasts is that they can cast new light on topics we might know a lot about, mainly through bringing together quite different perspectives in one show. This is exactly what I thought when listening to this recent New Yorker podcast on current developments in the Israel — Palestine conflict (pre-Trump’s announcements on 15 February). Dani Dayan, the Consul General of Israel in New York, discusses his call for “peaceful non-reconciliation”; Ramallah-based pollster Khalil Shikaki explains why some Palestinians accept a one-state solution that strikes them as reminiscent of apartheid; and Merav Michaeli, a Labour Party member of Israel’s Knesset asserts that there is still a chance -however slim- for a negotiated peace
- Let’s move on from politics and public policy! There are two podcasts I listened to last month that I found particularly fascinating for their (chilling) insights into worlds far beyond my imagination. First, in this Hidden Brain episode, Shankar Vedantam interviews sociologist Brooke Harrington about her recent book on billionaires. To gather data for her research, Harrington had a brilliant idea: she decided to become a wealth manager. This way, she got access to other wealth managers who have unique insights into the finances, decisions and emotions of the richest of the rich (and yes, the world’s eight richest billionaires control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population, in case you’ve missed Oxfam’s 2017 WEF report). Second, Steve Fishman and Ellen Horne Audible presented their new Audible series Ponzi Supernova on Radiolab last week. Fishman is the first journalist who managed to interview Bernie Madoff, the world’s #1 fraudster, and his material provides a gripping insight into how and why one man could run a Ponzi scheme worth $65 billion.
- As always, most of Russ Roberts’ EconTalk Podcast episodes from the past few weeks are brilliant — from his conversation with Sam Quinones on the economics of Heroin and Opioids in the US to a fascinating discussion with Jim Epstein on his paper on why Venezuela is becoming a Bitcoin hub in the current crisis— it’s worth subscribing to Russ’ weekly podcast!
- Last but not least, if you’re interested in DFID policy I’d recommend listening to Stefan Dercon’s 8min “mini-podcast” on our recently published Economic Development policy.
That’s it for this month — do let me know if you have any thoughts, comments or questions!