340 episodes

Will Covid-19 reshape the global economy or simply shrink it? What are nations doing to protect jobs and businesses from the fallout, and what will the long-term consequences be for labor markets, global supply chains and government finances? On Stephanomics, a podcast hosted by Bloomberg Economics head Stephanie Flanders—the former BBC economics editor and chief market strategist for Europe at JPMorgan Asset Management—we combine reports from Bloomberg journalists around the world and conversations with internationally respected experts on these and other issues to bring the global economy to life.

Stephanomics Bloomberg Finance Talk

    • Business
    • 4.3 • 310 Ratings

Will Covid-19 reshape the global economy or simply shrink it? What are nations doing to protect jobs and businesses from the fallout, and what will the long-term consequences be for labor markets, global supply chains and government finances? On Stephanomics, a podcast hosted by Bloomberg Economics head Stephanie Flanders—the former BBC economics editor and chief market strategist for Europe at JPMorgan Asset Management—we combine reports from Bloomberg journalists around the world and conversations with internationally respected experts on these and other issues to bring the global economy to life.

    Europe Just Might Dodge a Winter of Discontent

    Europe Just Might Dodge a Winter of Discontent

    Europe might just avoid what had been a widely predicted, Kremlin-induced energy crisis this winter, thanks to a surprisingly large stock of natural gas. But are the continent’s efforts to conserve giving a bah humbug to the holidays? Some of Europe’s best-loved Christmas markets are shutting their holiday lights earlier to save electricity or even banning them outright. Even worse, Frankfurt’s famous market is—perish the thought—forgoing heated toilets.

    In this episode we delve into the energy challenges facing Europe as it works to replace natural gas cut off by Russia. First, reporter Bastian Benrath visits with retailers in Frankfurt’s famed Christmas market, where cutbacks to the city’s large holiday light displays threaten to sap some of its magic and give shoppers less reason to turn out. Other cities like Zurich, Berlin and London also have trimmed holiday display hours or reduced their size, and Paris is turning off the lights at the Eiffel Tower an hour early.

    What really annoys retailers about this Scrooge-like behavior is that keeping the lights on may expend less energy than powering and heating the markets themselves. As Benrath reports, “in many places, cutting the Christmas lights might actually be more about saving face than actually about saving energy.”

    In a follow-up discussion, host Stephanie Flanders talks European energy with Maeva Cousin, Bloomberg’s senior euro-area economist, and Bloomberg Opinion columnist Javier Blas. The continent appears ready to confront the winter without mass shortages of gas, thanks in part to forecasts that were overly pessimistic, reduced demand from China and relatively mild European weather, Cousin says. Still, Blas warns that the continent isn’t out of the woods yet. In the short term, a harsher winter than forecast could still lead to blackouts. In the long term, Europe’s high energy costs could persuade companies to relocate to places with cheaper costs, like Texas.

    Finally, reporter Colum Murphy reflects on the protests over China’s “Covid zero” policy. The plight of residents stuck in lockdowns there has come into stark focus. While images of jubilant crowds at World Cup soccer games flicker on TV screens, “at home in China the people are living in strict conditions,” Murphy says. And for President Xi Jinping, the protests are a huge embarrassment, coming “just after receiving the backing of the whole party.”
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    • 33 min
    How ‘Swiftonomics’ May Finally Break Ticketmaster’s Spell

    How ‘Swiftonomics’ May Finally Break Ticketmaster’s Spell

    Back in the days when bands like Led Zeppelin or The Who toured America, teens lined up overnight at ticket booths, hoping for great seats when the window opened. As time went on, the queue moved to the telephone and ultimately online. All the while, one company increased its grip on the live-event market. That company is Ticketmaster. 

    But that could change thanks to Taylor Swift. Having waited years to see her live again, millions of fans were blocked by a combination of crushing demand, technical breakdown and the ascendance of bot-buyers who funnel tickets to a secondary market that charges sky-high prices. (In the 20th century, they were called scalpers.) As reporter Augusta Saraiva explains, this consumer calamity infuriated Swift’s fans, many of whom are swimming in cash saved up during the pandemic and desperate to spend it, regardless of the shaky economic landscape. This strange state affairs already has a name: “Swiftonomics.”

    Lawmakers have seized on the popular outrage, uniting with fans against what many have long alleged to be Ticketmaster’s monopoly power. Host Stephanie Flanders speaks with Bloomberg industry analyst Eleanor Tyler about how the debacle, and its growing political exploitation, may be the tipping point for increased antitrust regulation that finally breaks Ticketmaster’s spell over the live event marketplace.

    Then we dive headlong into a different thicket: how recycling doesn’t work as advertised. Consumers may feel better about mass consumption because there’s a blue bin for everything, but the hard truth is they’re fooling themselves. Most of the plastics, clothes and other items they seek to recycle wind up in landfills or dumped on the developing world. Along the shoreline of Accra, Ghana, what locals call “dead white people’s clothes” can be found in piles up to six feet high. 

    Reporter Natalie Pearson explains that while fast-fashion chains like H&M and Zara encourage recycling, only a small fraction of their clothes will ever be remade into new items. Bloomberg recently surveyed the problem in Accra, where some 40% of the imported clothes end up as trash, and in the Indian state of Gujarat, where roughly one-third have no use. Finally, Flanders sits down with Bennington College Senior Fellow and visiting faculty member Judith Enck, a US Environmental Protection Agency official during the Obama administration, to discuss just how broken the recycling system is, and how it could be made to work better.
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    • 32 min
    Long Is the Way Out of the Global Inflation Fight, and Hard

    Long Is the Way Out of the Global Inflation Fight, and Hard

    Buckle up. Global financial leaders warn that the current era of expensive money is likely to stick around for at least another year, and maybe longer. Easing up on interest rates now would only embed high inflation in people's assumptions, and "that's where it becomes very long-lasting," says former UBS Group AG Chairman Axel Weber.

    In this special edition from the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore, three experts in banking and monetary policy share with host Stephanie Flanders why central bankers will be battling inflation in the short term as well as the long. In the US, there's little doubt the Federal Reserve will bump up interest rates again this year, says Gita Gopinath, first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund. "For 2023, the question is more about how long are you going to keep these rates at the levels that they've moved them to. And we see a need to keep it at over 4% for all of 2023 to be able to bring inflation down durably,'' Gopinath said.

    Globally, changes in the supply chain and the transition to a greener economy will drive up energy costs and could lead to structurally higher inflation, said Davide Serra, chief executive of asset manager Algebris Investments. As usual, the poorest are most in jeopardy. Already, about 60% of low-income countries are in high-debt distress, Gopinath said, and while a systemic debt crisis has yet to materialize, she warns these are "very risky times."
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    • 24 min
    Confusion Reigns for Foreign Companies Operating in China

    Confusion Reigns for Foreign Companies Operating in China

    Investors were floored when China started cracking down on homegrown tech giants like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. in late 2020. They shouldn't have been, argues Kendra Schaefer, an expert on Chinese tech policy with Beijing-based Trivium China. For almost 20 years, the Chinese Communist Party has struggled to understand how its sprawling internet and financial technology industry fit with a socialist market economy, and things finally boiled over two years ago, Schaefer says. Increasingly, Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his party want technology firms to meet "state-directed goals," she says.

    In this special edition from the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore, we dive into the complexities of Chinese economic policy. One of the more recent challenges for investors and foreign businesses operating in China is a lack of good intelligence, Schaefer tells host Stephanie Flanders. There's been an "exodus" of Chinese policy experts since the pandemic began, she says, partly because of restrictions on travel inside the country. Schaefer herself recently relocated to the US from Beijing.

    For now, many foreign companies have been confused by recent aggressive moves out of Beijing and powerless to do much about it. While investors were befuddled by new regulations on China's big tech firms, behind the scenes the country was increasingly uneasy with their power and apparent lack of interest in Communist Party objectives. Instead of "disrupting pizza delivery," tech giants should focus more on developing high-end computer chips, Schaefer says, citing the opinion of party leaders. 

    Meantime, manufacturers have seen production grind to a halt at the slightest spread of Covid-19. For sure, some companies have talked about mitigating risk and diversifying outside of China. However, leaving altogether is hardly an option for many. Duplicating the country's supply chain would take 10 years, so "people are just doing their best to hedge their bets," Schaefer says.
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    • 17 min
    Global Pillars of Prosperity are Getting Increasingly Shaky

    Global Pillars of Prosperity are Getting Increasingly Shaky

    Over the past few decades, the world's economic and political leaders were spoiled by relatively low inflation and minimal borrowing costs, a supercharged economy in China driving demand and generally modest geopolitical tension. But as we know, all of that has changed. With inflation soaring, Chinese growth slowing and Russia waging war on Ukraine, Bloomberg Chief Economist Tom Orlik contends the pillars that long underpinned rising prosperity have shifted.

    This week, the podcast is coming to you daily from the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore, where corporate and political leaders are discussing vexing issues like sustainability and the fragile supply chain. In today's edition, Orlik shares with host Stephanie Flanders why the current challenges will play out over years, instead of months. First, even if inflation in the US ticks down to 4% by mid-2023, that will still be "way outside the Federal Reserve's comfort zone," Orlik says. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has said he'll raise interest rates until inflation subsides, but the risk is he'll ease up if unemployment gets uncomfortably high, Orlik warns, since any improvements in inflation could reverse.

    The second pillar, China's previous annual growth rate of almost 10%, may settle in closer to 4%, and even that could be too optimistic, says Orlik. Finally, while Chinese leader Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden lowered the temperature between the two nations on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, left unresolved was the US effort to restrict the sale semiconductors to Chinese customers. 

    On that note, during one of the forum's sessions Tuesday Senior Minister of Singapore Tharman Shanmugaratnam urged restraint on the part of both the US and China. Tariffs do no one any good, he said, while nations should protect their own national security without trying to limit other nations' economic growth. ``You can't prevent China from emerging as a major player in the global economy and in the global technology space," Shanmugaratnam told Flanders.
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    • 17 min
    The World Is Having Too Few Babies, and Too Many

    The World Is Having Too Few Babies, and Too Many

    Having children isn't only expensive, but it also puts a serious dent in your social calendar. Data show many single, childless women in the US are traveling freely and earning more money, including more than their single, childless male counterparts. But when too many people forgo kids, it raises questions about the future workforce and whether it will be able to adequately fund benefits for the elderly. Increasingly, nations are grappling with how to encourage people to have children while enabling them to live their lives as they wish.

    In this episode, we explore the subject of birth rates from two very different angles, and from opposite ends of the globe. In the US, editor Molly Smith shares the story of Anna Dickson, a 42-year-old from New York who's traveled to Alaska, Switzerland and Anguilla in the past year. It's something she probably couldn't have done if she had kids, she says. Likewise, a growing number of American women are making the same choice to forgo children, and they're reaping economic benefits. As of 2019, single women with no children had an average of $65,000 in wealth, or $8,000 more than similarly situated men, Smith finds.

    Stephanie later chats about birth rates and government policy with Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Washington-based Brookings Institution. The total cost of raising a child in the US now exceeds $300,000, and that doesn't even include soaring college costs, Sawhill says. Despite those expenses, Congress has been lax in passing legislation to support families, she says. What's more, states with the most restrictive abortion laws also tend to be ones with the weakest social safety nets.

    In the Philippines, reporter Siegfrid Alegado says there's a different dilemma, given that it has one of the highest birth rates in Southeast Asia. Women there have 2.5 children on average, which is far higher than in many advanced nations. This threatens to exacerbate poverty among the urban poor and in the countryside, Alegado says. And any effort by new President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to encourage women to use family planning faces a distinct challenge, namely that the largely Catholic country has historically frowned on contraception. 
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    • 25 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
310 Ratings

310 Ratings

jj237? ,

Best

The first episode was outstanding. Looking forward to the whole season

BDL 38 ,

Welcome back!

So pleased to see a new episode was available this morning! There is no shortage of economic commentary out there but this production is distinctive value-add with helpful perspectives. Glad you are back to help us digest the wacky activity and this episode a great example.

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Too many ads

It hurt me to Unfollow the show, because it is so good. But there are so many ads, it’s unlistenable.

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