37 episodes

Very Serious is a weekly conversation with top political commentators, columnists and policymakers, focused on how events in the news relate to major, long-standing controversies in politics, economics and culture. Host Josh Barro is joined by a rotating set of regular guests to work out the ideas behind the arguments on topics serious and not-so-serious. It’s a great conversation across ideological lines that will leave you entertained, enlightened, and maybe even persuaded.

www.joshbarro.com

Very Serious with Josh Barro Josh Barro, Very Serious Media

    • News
    • 4.7 • 292 Ratings

Very Serious is a weekly conversation with top political commentators, columnists and policymakers, focused on how events in the news relate to major, long-standing controversies in politics, economics and culture. Host Josh Barro is joined by a rotating set of regular guests to work out the ideas behind the arguments on topics serious and not-so-serious. It’s a great conversation across ideological lines that will leave you entertained, enlightened, and maybe even persuaded.

www.joshbarro.com

    David Schleicher on the Fiscal Whipsaw in State Governments

    David Schleicher on the Fiscal Whipsaw in State Governments

    How are state and local governments faring post-COVID? It's a pretty different picture than what we're seeing with the federal budget deficit. States enjoyed generous federal aid and surprisingly strong tax collections during the pandemic. In 2021, state governments were flush — sometimes, they even made responsible choices, making deposits into their pension funds and building up their rainy-day funds to extremely high levels. Other states committed to new programs and spending. Now it's a mixed bag. To talk about how the states are managing all of that, I talked to Yale Law School professor David Schleicher, an expert on state and local government finance, for a wide-ranging conversation about how states have (and have not) learned the lessons of their budget crises from the Great Recession, and how they’re adjusting to once-again lean times.
    Visit joshbarro.com for a transcript of this episode and to sign up for my newsletter.


    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.joshbarro.com/subscribe

    • 40 min
    The Martini Police, with Peter Suderman

    The Martini Police, with Peter Suderman

    We are back with Peter Suderman’s semi-annual visit to the Very Serious podcast! Getting ready for spring, Peter and I talked about best practices for muddling fresh fruit into cocktails. We talked about Peter’s philosophy of the 41-bottle bar, about his favorite non-alcoholic cocktails, and about why he has no use for vodka. We also talked about “x-tini” cocktails — relics of the bad old days (the 1980s and the 1990s) when bars would mix together any brightly colored fruit liqueur with spirits and sour mix and who knows what else and call the drink some kind of “-tini.” But we also talked about a silver lining of that age — the espresso martini, birthed then and once again popular today, which Peter has methods for improving (think gin or mezcal).
    Visit joshbarro.com for a transcript of this episode and links for the books, bottles and recipes we reference.



    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.joshbarro.com/subscribe

    • 54 min
    Jason Furman on the Inflation That Keeps Going and Going and Going

    Jason Furman on the Inflation That Keeps Going and Going and Going

    We’re back with another episode of the Very Serious podcast, and this episode has a friend of the show: Prof. Jason Furman, who teaches economics at Harvard.
    Or, as Jason put it to me, he’s a bit of a foul-weather friend of the show:
    Jason: Inflation does fluctuate a bit. Sometimes it looks a little bit better — during those times, you don't have me on your show. Sometimes it looks a little bit worse, and then you desperately call me and want me back on your show.
    I suggested that the Jason Furman Very Serious Index could be yet another inflation indicator to keep an eye on, among all the others.
    Jason: Yeah. And the big open question is, is that a lagging indicator of past inflation, or does that help us predict future inflation?
    Indeed, the inflation outlook has worsened in the last few months. It looked like we were making progress in cooling inflation toward the end of 2022, but after a combination of revisions to data and hotter reports in recent months, it now looks like we haven’t actually made much progress at all. At the same time, the economy has continued to show decent growth and strong job gains — a set of facts that have economic analysts talking less about soft and hard landings and more about “no landing”: the possibility that we will avoid recession for a substantial period while also experiencing persistently too-high inflation.
    I talked with Jason about why inflation hasn’t come down much despite the Fed’s substantial interest rate increases, what can be done to tame inflation over the next year, and how we have ended up with the Fed as “the only game in town” — with monetary policy being the only useful policy lever, even if it is an imperfect one, for taming inflation.


    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.joshbarro.com/subscribe

    • 33 min
    National Lessons from New York's Red Wave, with Ross Barkan

    National Lessons from New York's Red Wave, with Ross Barkan

    There was no national “Red Wave” in last November’s elections, but there sure was one in New York. Republicans won a clean sweep on Long Island, even washing George Santos into Congress. They lost Asian and Hispanic support in New York City, turning swathes of Brooklyn red and Queens purple. I invited progressive journalist Ross Barkan to talk about what happened in New York, and what Republicans and Democrats across the country can learn from it. We discussed crime, schools, future housing policy that might be more possible now because Democrats lost the suburbs, and also ornery billionaire James Dolan, who owns the New York Knicks and Rangers, Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall and is using facial recognition technology to bar his enemies from his entertainment venues.
    Visit joshbarro.com to sign up for my newsletter and to find a transcript of this episode and other relevant links.


    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.joshbarro.com/subscribe

    • 47 min
    The answer to homelessness and homeownership is supply, with Jerusalem Demsas

    The answer to homelessness and homeownership is supply, with Jerusalem Demsas

    A few weeks back, I wrote about the ethic of homeownership, and how I think it is unlikely to be dislodged from American society. If we’re going to improve our housing policy and ensure more adequate supply, we’re going to have to work with that ethic, not against it. And I think that’s a feasible thing to do. That piece was a response to an article in The Atlantic by Jerusalem Demsas, and I wanted discuss housing issues in more depth with her. The result, I think, is a really interesting conversation — starting with how the housing shortage causes homelessness, moving through the politics of building support for more housing supply, and then talking about the homeownership society — why Americans want to own, when that’s the right impulse, when that’s misguided, and what can be done to make renting and owning good options for the circumstances they suit.
    Find our newsletter and ways to support the show at joshbarro.com, plus relevant links and a transcript of this episode.


    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.joshbarro.com/subscribe

    • 51 min
    Tim Lee on Dads Who "Lean Out"

    Tim Lee on Dads Who "Lean Out"

    Tim Lee is the author of Full Stack Economics and one of my favorite reads on business and the economy. He’s also a parent to three children under the age of seven, and a major reason he quit his full-time journalism job to go independent — even though he knew it would reduce his income — was so he could maintain a flexible schedule and be more available to attend to the needs of his children. Tim recently wrote about this choice, and he wrote a follow-up piece in which he spoke with 20 other fathers whose wives are the primary breadwinners, and who either stepped back from work or quit entirely to raise a family. I had an interesting conversation with Tim about his experience, and what he thinks other families can learn from it. I hope you find it interesting.


    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.joshbarro.com/subscribe

    • 27 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
292 Ratings

292 Ratings

DKinnyc ,

one of the few i formative podcasts

a great interviewer

congund ,

Josh keeps going to Barry’s but it won’t take

Very sad stuff.

RaymondVV ,

BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT SUBSCRIBING

I tried to become a paid subscriber for Serious Trouble and accidentally signed up to pay for Very Serious. I deleted my $60 year subscription right away but they are not refunding my money, even though I would subscribe to Serious Trouble. Substack just says it's up to Josh Barro to decide whether he will refund my money and he doesn't answer my emails. Kind of soured me on the whole experience.

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