494 episodes

Interviews with Economists about their New Books
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Interviews with Economists about their New Books
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    Tim Jackson, "Post Growth: Life after Capitalism" (Polity, 2021)

    Tim Jackson, "Post Growth: Life after Capitalism" (Polity, 2021)

    I spoke with Prof. Tim Jackson about his latest book: Post Growth, Life after Capitalism, published by Polity Books in 2021.
    The book starts with a reflection on the event of the past few months. The success in 2019 of the school strikes for climate, the attention that Greta Thunberg received even in Davos, and the arrival of the pandemic that changed our priorities. Even the 2009 crisis challenged the degrowth movement when we experienced the consequences of the recession. I have asked how do we keep the focus on sustainability?
    This book and his work in general are about the need for a change in our economic paradigms. But we are still tied to old ideas and institutions. Keynes that many progressive politicians and economists frequently refer to, cannot be really claimed to be offering revolutionary ideas for our times. Still, the book mentions an essay by Keynes from 1930 where he appears clearly interested in what should come after the immediate actions (growth) needed to overcome the great depression.
    We discussed how the shift in economic paradigm can follow different patterns in the rich nations and in the developing ones. Finally, referring to the final chapter, 'Dolphins in Venice', we talked about what could happen at the end of the pandemic to our cultural and consumption preferences.
    Capitalism is broken. The relentless pursuit of more has delivered climate catastrophe, social inequality and financial instability—and left us ill prepared for life in a global pandemic. Weaving together philosophical reflection, economic insight and social vision, Tim Jackson’s passionate and provocative book dares us to imagine a world beyond capitalism—a place where relationship and meaning take precedence over profits and power. Post Growth is both a manifesto for system change and an invitation to rekindle a deeper conversation about the nature of the human condition.
    Dr Tim Jackson holds degrees in mathematics (MA, Cambridge), philosophy (MA, Uni Western Ontario) and physics (PhD, St Andrews). He is Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity and Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey in the UK.
    Andrea Bernardi is Senior Lecturer in Employment and Organization Studies at Oxford Brookes University in the UK.
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    John B. Thompson, "Book Wars: The Digital Revolution in Publishing" (Polity, 2021)

    John B. Thompson, "Book Wars: The Digital Revolution in Publishing" (Polity, 2021)

    Today I talked to John Thompson, Emeritus Professor, Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge, about his new book Book Wars: The Digital Revolution in Publishing (Polity, 2021). We discuss crowdfunding, audio books, distribution chains, social media, self-publishing, ebooks, Amazon, retail, and oh, also those things that are made of paper and glued together and have words printed in them.
    Interviewer: "One of the real eye-openers for me in the book was the distance, historically speaking, between readers and publishers. Now, as I think about it, and as I compare what a company like Amazon does to what traditional publishers do, well, I begin to notice that publishers are on the side of authors and content and that publishers have an obligation, even, on that side."
    John Thompson: "Yes, they have an obligation to authors. Publishers are good and professional at developing content. And if they're good publishers, they have a well thought-through and sophisticated marketing and publicity operation that helps to create visibility for books. But on this last point alone–––making books known to others–––the opportunity created by the digital revolution is not just that you make books visible by using traditional media like advertising in the newspaper, but that you are able to reach out directly to readers and consumers and make your books visible to them directly, in much the way that Amazon does when they send an email blast to an Amazon user that says, 'You might be interested in this book.' But why can't publishers do that themselves? Now, thanks to the digital revolution, the opportunity is created for publishers to develop relationships with readers, and to do so at scale. It simply wasn't possible, prior to the digital revolution and prior to the Internet. But now it is. And so that is a huge transformation that publishers are beginning to avail themselves of and which will, I think, continue to change the industry."
    Daniel Shea heads Scholarly Communication, the podcast about how knowledge gets known. Daniel is Director of the Writing Program at Heidelberg University, Germany. Daniel's YouTube Channel is called Write Your Research.
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    Lila Corwin Berman, "The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex: The History of a Multibillion-Dollar Institution" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    Lila Corwin Berman, "The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex: The History of a Multibillion-Dollar Institution" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    For years, American Jewish philanthropy has been celebrated as the proudest product of Jewish endeavors in the United States, its virtues extending from the local to the global, the Jewish to the non-Jewish, and modest donations to vast endowments. Yet, as Lila Corwin Berman illuminates in The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex: The History of a Multibillion-Dollar Institution (Princeton University Press, 2020), the history of American Jewish philanthropy reveals the far more complicated reality of changing and uneasy relationships among philanthropy, democracy, and capitalism.
    With a fresh eye and lucid prose, and relying on previously untapped sources, Berman shows that from its nineteenth-century roots to its apex in the late twentieth century, the American Jewish philanthropic complex tied Jewish institutions to the American state. The government’s regulatory efforts―most importantly, tax policies―situated philanthropy at the core of its experiments to maintain the public good without trammeling on the private freedoms of individuals. Jewish philanthropic institutions and leaders gained financial strength, political influence, and state protections within this framework. However, over time, the vast inequalities in resource distribution that marked American state policy became inseparable from philanthropic practice. By the turn of the millennium, Jewish philanthropic institutions reflected the state’s growing investment in capitalism against democratic interests. But well before that, Jewish philanthropy had already entered into a tight relationship with the governing forces of American life, reinforcing and even transforming the nation’s laws and policies.
    The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex uncovers how capitalism and private interests came to command authority over the public good, in Jewish life and beyond.
    Lila Corwin Berman is Professor of History at Temple University.
    Host: Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press, 2020). Visit him online at ZalmanNewfield.com.
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    C. G. Faricy and C. Ellis, "The Other Side of the Coin: Public Opinion toward Social Tax Expenditures" (Russell Sage Foundation, 2021)

    C. G. Faricy and C. Ellis, "The Other Side of the Coin: Public Opinion toward Social Tax Expenditures" (Russell Sage Foundation, 2021)

    In The Other Side of the Coin: Public Opinion toward Social Tax Expenditures (Russell Sage Foundation, 2021), political scientists Christopher Ellis and Christopher Faricy examine public opinion towards social tax expenditures—the other side of the American social welfare state—and their potential to expand support for such social investment. Tax expenditures seek to accomplish many of the goals of direct government expenditures, but they distribute money indirectly, through tax refunds or reductions in taxable income, rather than direct payments on goods and services or benefits. They tend to privilege market-based solutions to social problems such as employer-based tax subsidies for purchasing health insurance versus government-provided health insurance. 
    Drawing on nationally representative surveys and survey experiments, Ellis and Faricy show that social welfare policies designed as tax expenditures, as opposed to direct spending on social welfare programs, are widely popular with the general public. Contrary to previous research suggesting that recipients of these subsidies are often unaware of indirect government aid—sometimes called “the hidden welfare state”—Ellis and Faricy find that citizens are well aware of them and act in their economic self-interest in supporting tax breaks for social welfare purposes. The authors find that many people view the beneficiaries of social tax expenditures to be more deserving of government aid than recipients of direct public social programs, indicating that how government benefits are delivered affects people’s views of recipients’ worthiness. Importantly, tax expenditures are more likely to appeal to citizens with anti-government attitudes, low levels of trust in government, or racial prejudices. As a result, social spending conducted through the tax code is likely to be far more popular than direct government spending on public programs that have the same goals. The first empirical examination of the broad popularity of tax expenditures, The Other Side of the Coin provides compelling insights into constructing a politically feasible—and potentially bipartisan—way to expand the scope of the American welfare state.
    Stephen Pimpare is director of the Public Service & Nonprofit Leadership program and Faculty Fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.
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    • 37 min
    Jessi Streib, "Privilege Lost: Who Leaves the Upper Middle Class and How They Fall" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Jessi Streib, "Privilege Lost: Who Leaves the Upper Middle Class and How They Fall" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Talking about social class and the American class structure is a challenge. It can be easy to talk about the class system too rigidly, implying that “the rich stay rich while the poor stay poor.” Yet in our individualistic culture, much rhetoric suggests that anything is possible, which can dismiss the privileges or constraints that come with social class.
    Dr. Jessi Streib, assistant professor of sociology at Duke University, is a social class researcher and scholar whose work focuses on interesting junctures and disjunctures where class reveals its influence on individual lives. In Privilege Lost: Who Leaves the Upper Middle Class and How They Fall (Oxford UP, 2020), Streib focuses on a cohort of over 100 men and women who began life in the upper middle class, interviewing them over a ten-year period as they transition from their teens to their late twenties. By looking at the interplay of resources and identity characteristics that influence each person’s class trajectory to maintain upper middle-class status or become downwardly mobile, Streib identifies the multifaceted elements that influence these outcomes.
    Each chapter highlights stories that exemplify and show the range of outcomes in various trajectories through a series of archetypes. Social class if often discussed through quantitative studies that can maintain an abstractness to the concept of class mobility, so there is a real power in telling the stories of individuals as an approach to demonstrating the multi-faceted factors that affect social class. The book explores stories of those who become professionals, stay-at-home moms and family men, aspiring athletes and artists, rebels, and explorers. Streib is able to show the interplay of complicated choices individuals make as they enter adulthood, focused on individual values and goals but with associated class implications.
    Privilege Lost brings to life the stories of the downwardly mobile, showing that class standing is only one way to measure one’s life satisfaction. This exploration of the coming of age of white upper middle class youth reveals much about class and privilege in American family life.
    Michelle Newhart is a sociologists and instructional designer at Mt. San Antonio College.
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    • 52 min
    Michael Blakey: Entrepreneur, Angel and Seed Investor

    Michael Blakey: Entrepreneur, Angel and Seed Investor

    In this podcast Michael Blakey describes how as a strongly dyslexic child his relationship with schooling and formal education was very challenging. He credits his parents with putting him in environments where he developed a lot of resilience - going to boarding schools from the age of seven, and only later in life realising that this was unusual. His early experiences retailing sweets and vodka at school, led to large scale warehouse parties in the US, flipping real estate in London and making enough money to start a seed fund with his brother. We learn about his habit of acting first, and then figuring things out, how he wants both financial success and impact, the questions he asks when trying to decide who to invest in, and how not to approach him.
    About Michael Blakey
    Michael’s entrepreneurial journey started when he was young. He supported his way through college, in the US, by running a number of events in the city. Michael loves buildingthings – including companies. Michael attributes his atypical journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur-turned-investor to having struggled for years in school, owing to his dyslexia. As a result, he was always on the lookout for ways to succeed outside of school. In turn, it is exactly this kind of differentiation and drive that he looks for in Founders as an investor today.
    In 2000 he founded Avonmore Developments, with his brother Simon, to invest in early-stage companies across UK. Since then, they have invested in over 40 companies and have achieved 11 successful exits to date.
    In 2013 he moved to SE Asia and set-up Cub Capital that has invested in 12 early-stage companies across the region including Anchanto, Quincus and MyDoc. He has already achieved 1 exit with Crème Simon. Most recently, Michael co-founded Cocoon Capital, an early-stage VC fund, which is looking to invest in enterprise and deep tech companies throughout SE Asia. To date Cocoon has invested in 20 companies including Sensorflow, See-Mode and Buymed. As is his want the structure of Cocoon is very different than your typical fund, as his entrepreneurial spirit always wants him to challenge the status quo.
    During Michael’s career he’s been named ‘UK Angel Investor of the Year 2015’ by the UK Business Angel Association, selected as one of the ‘Maserati 100’ and voted by AngelsNews into the list of ‘Business Angels You Should Know’. These accolades were not attributed to
    Michael only in recognition of his successful investments, but for the relentless support he gives to the founding and management teams of the companies he invests in as well as his generous contributions over the years towards building the start-up and investor ecosystems in the UK and now SE Asia.
    The NBN Entrepreneurship and Leadership podcast aims to educate and inform, sharing insights based on the personal story of our carefully selected guests aiming for the atmosphere of an informal conversation in a bar or over a cup of coffee.
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    • 1 hr 29 min

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