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Microsoft Vice Chair and President Brad Smith speaks with leaders in government, business, and culture to explore the world’s most critical challenges at the intersection of technology and society. As a 30-year veteran of an industry driven by disruption, Brad Smith hosts candid conversations with his guests that examine, reframe, and explore potential solutions to the digital issues shaping our world today, including cybersecurity, privacy, digital inclusion, environmental sustainability, a ...
 
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Key Insights: * Yes, it is possible to talk about everything in an hour… * We are not very far apart on what the Fed is doing and should be doing—there is only a 100 basis-point disagreement… * Miles would be 100% right about the proper stance of monetary policy if he were in control of the Fed… * Miles is not in control of the Fed… * Thus Brad thi…
 
Key Insights: * Information really wants to be free—if it is not free, if it is “charged for” by advertising, or otherwise, you will get into a world of hurt. * In the information age the capitalist mode of production has become a fetter on economic development and human flourishing: Friedrich Engels was right. * We need free public-funded Mastodon…
 
As Greece’s Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis has put digital technology to work to drive economic resurgence, develop a vibrant tech sector, and transform the way everyday citizens interact with the government. In this episode, we cover Greece's ambition to be an energy hub for Europe, its efforts to digitally preserve ancient cultural sites, an…
 
Pre-Note: Here in the U.S., at the leading edge of the world economy, measured producivity growth fell off a cliff in the late 1960s, recovreed somewhat in the 1980s, resumed what had been its “normal” pre-1970 pace in the 1990s with the dot-com boom—and then fell off a cliff again in the mid-2000s. Did the neoliberal swing toward “short-termism”, …
 
Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO of Microsoft, says a multinational company’s license to do business is earned by creating “local surplus” wherever it operates. In this episode, Brad and Satya unpack what this means, how it connects to the company’s mission, the responsibility that companies have to create inclusive growth, and how software is one o…
 
Pre-Note: One thing we did not get into was the relationship between the claps of FTX and the associated fraud and “Effective Altruism”—Effective Altruism not so much as a philosophy, but rather as a doctrine preached by a life-coach. If you want to have the highest chance of becoming rich, you make your bets as if you had a logarithmic utility fun…
 
Key Insights: * Since 1870, we humans have done amazingly astonishingly uniquely and unprecedentedly well at baking a sufficiently large economic pie. * But the problems of slicing and tasting the pie—of equitably distributing it, and then using our technological powers to live lives wisely and well—continue to flummox us. * The big reason we have …
 
Key Insights: * The only way to buy insurance against the fiscal theory of the price level’s becoming relevant for the inflation outlook is to keep Trump and Trumpists out of office * We have one political party that could well, someday, turn us inflation-wise into “Argentina”: the Republicans. * But thankfully we have only one such political party…
 
Key Insights: * We should avoid the tendency to paint the past, nostalgically, as a golden age. * If we take the long view there is an overwhelming continuity in the immigrant experience. * The immigrant experience is a very positive story—both then and now. * There is great hope for positive change in our immigration system: comprehensive immigrat…
 
When it comes to reporting on the tech industry, nothing escapes Kara Swisher. For four decades, the influential journalist has used the power of her pen and microphone to not only report the news, but influence the events of the day. Sharing insights from her career, they explore patterns that help her see what’s coming in tech before others, the …
 
Key Insights: * Be pragmatic! Do what works! Reinforce success! Abandon failure! * CHIPS & IRA are only, at most, 1/4 of what we should be doing. * These are both very good things to do, as far as running a successful industrial policy is concerned. * Maybe there was something to Biden’s claims that he could lead congress after all. * Hexapodia! Re…
 
Why does the head of a global media powerhouse still give his occupation as “journalist?” Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer SE, is driven by deep convictions about journalism’s role in safeguarding democracy – a perspective forged in his youth after viewing the American miniseries Holocaust. In this episode, Brad and Mathias dive into the worry…
 
In 2017, leading AI expert Kai-Fu Lee shared a dire prediction: half of all jobs – both blue collar and white collar – could be automated within ten years, replacing the workforce with solutions built on artificial intelligence. Brad and Kai-Fu discuss what this coming change means for national economies and for people who care about their work. Ka…
 
Thomas Friedman believes if you want to understand human nature, live with people in extreme situations. And if you want to know the future, hang around people inventing it. As a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Thomas Friedman has spent a career reporting from a civil war in Beirut, observing some of the world’s leading companies from the inside…
 
Since his first night anchoring The Daily Show in 2015, Trevor Noah has used comedy to connect the dots between local events and global issues. In this episode, Brad and Trevor discuss the intersection of the news of the day and technology. Focusing on the rise of disinformation, they explore how we become susceptible to it, the threat of ”cybertri…
 
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is determined to stop the spread of extremism and radicalization online. In the aftermath of the 2019 terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, she saw the livestream of the tragedy go viral across social media feeds, including her own. In response, she led the creation of the Christchurch Call, a co…
 
With things heating up around the world—environmentally, socially, and politically, now is the time to discuss the role technology plays – for good and bad – as we work together to solve our biggest challenges.  Microsoft Vice Chair and President Brad Smith speaks with leaders in government, business, and culture to explore the world’s most critica…
 
Key Insights: * The most recent round of Tech elephants, rhinoceroses, unicorns, and spiny lizards—Netflix, Shopify, etc.—are very unlikely to payoff for those investors who stay on the ride to the very end. * That said, they were very much worth doing even if they never make their shareholders any money. The growth of communities of engineering, e…
 
Key Insights: * Not so much key insights, as key questions: (a) What are the teams? (b) 1920, 1948, 1951, 1974, or 1980? (c) Are there any true members of Team Transitory left? (d) Who is on Team The-Fed-Has-Got-This? (e) Who is on Team Hit-the-Economy-on-the-Head-with-a-Brick? (f) What inflation rate do we want to support economic reopening? (g) W…
 
Key Insights: * There is a perspective from which “today” means “post-Ordovician” * Catul-Huyuk as 900 families living cheek-by-jowl, and after 1500 years… people leave… * Angkor’s uniquely vulnerable water reservoirs… and eventually… people leave… * Cahokia’s sophisticated organization of labor… but eventually… people leave… * Pompeii… well, we kn…
 
We Truly Did Not Have History Rhyming to the Spanish Civil War on Our 2022 Bingo Card!… Subscribe to get this in your email inbox. Become a paid subscriber if… I will not say that this ‘Stack will cease to exist without paying subscribers. I will say that the frequency of this ‘Stack depends on enough people being paying subscribers for me to feel …
 
Become a free subscriber to receive this ‘Stack in your email. Do note that this Grasping Reality newsletter is a reader-supported publication—I really would like to collect enough from it to hire an RA. So consider becoming a paid subscriber, please, if you find this project worthwhile and think it worth continuing: Thanks for reading this. And pl…
 
Become a free subscriber to receive this ‘Stack in your email. Do note that this Grasping Reality newsletter is a reader-supported publication—I really would like to collect enough from it to hire an RA. So consider becoming a paid subscriber, please, if you find this project worthwhile and think it worth continuing: Thanks for reading this. And pl…
 
Key Insights: * We may well face a generation of right-wing culture war-fueled minority rule in this country. * American Progressives have proven bad at making alliances with moderate conservatives—and at giving conservative voters reasons to vote for moderates. * Worry most about American national decline—which is happening anyway. * American exce…
 
Key Insights: * Nearly all successful political movements over the past 150 years have been strongly nationalistic * A successful cosmopolitanism must therefore be a nationalistic cosmopolitanism—one that says your country is great because it learns from and has important things to teach other nations. * We—somewhat surprisingly—find ourselves endo…
 
Key Insights: * Matt Suandi—forced off of his India RCT development-economics project by the COVID plague—has taken the plague year to write a brilliant paper: Matthew Suandi: Promoting to Opportunity: Evidence and Implications from the U.S. Submarine Service
 
Key Insights: * Paul Feyerabend was right—science is whatever scientists do: anything goes. But what healthy sciences that survive and flourish and good scientists do is put first and foremost discovering what actually is and making theories to understand reality. So Kuhn and Popper are also right. * Economics has not been much of a science. But th…
 
Key Insights: * Yes, Americans are now in a selfish defensive crouch, but just wait 8 years—if we get a high-pressure economy for those years… * We are finally getting back to normal politics, in which we slag each other because some claim we can afford to spend $3.5 and others that we can only afford to spend $1.5 trillion. And that is a very good…
 
Key Insights: * I do not understand how the Chinese economy works. * The Chinese economy is an odd combination of market and party in which the party has enormous reach and control, but somehow that has not triggered the “soft budget constraint” problems of the Soviet model. * Financial constraints are not real—a government that wants to can evade …
 
Key Insights: * Today’s meaning of “neoliberalism” is the result of the collision of two different applications of the term—to Margaret Thatcher, and to the Washington Monthly… * Intermediary institutions are very suspicious to liberalism, at least in its pure form… * Liberalism has a bias toward atomizing solutions to social problems… * YIMBY vs. …
 
Key Insights: * The Taliban should go to the World Bank and say: “For 42 years now, mechanized, airborne, and infantry armies and air and drone forces have been driving, walking, and flying over our country, killing us. that has done enormous amounts of damage. We are absolutely dirt poor. We will try as hard as we can: please give us money so that…
 
“I have seen the future, and it works”. That was what Lincoln Steffens wrote in a letter to Maria Howe in 1919 with respect to Vladimir Lenin’s Soviet Union. Which societies are thought to “work”, and how does that influence the power and authority such societies have, and the global leadership they can exercise? Key Insights: * We need to have ano…
 
Key Insights: * There are a great many reasons to fear that the rise of industrial and post-industrial economic concentration is doing serious harm to the market economy’s (limited) ability to function as an efficiency-promoting societal calculating mechanism. * None of these have yet been nailed down. * But the neo-Brandeisians will have their cha…
 
Key Insights!: * Hexapodia! * Drop the embargo now! * There is nothing that enables an authoritarian régime—or, indeed, pretty much any type of régime—hang together other than an implacable external enemy. * For the Cuban military-bureaucratic junta-oligarchy, that implacable external enemy consists of the Cuban exiles in Miami and their descendant…
 
Key Insights: * “This time, for sure!…” Are the Democrats Bullwinkle Moose or Rocket J. Squirrel “that trick never works!” in hoping that they can get a high-investment high-productivity growth full-employment high-wage growth economy, and then the political life for true equality of opportunity will be doable?… * Milton Friedman is of powerful his…
 
Zach Carter, who was supposed to be our guest this week, has a cold. So we have a grab-bag: vaccination & votes, NIMBYism & California growth, aversion to continuing UI, Google’s quality as a search engine, & Wilhelmine Germany & Contemporary China Key Insights: * Red states will see a lot of COVID-hurt this summer fall and winter for… reasons we s…
 
Key Insights: * Hexapodia! * Periodically, America has had “the frontier has closed, now scarcity rules!” panics—& they have been bad, but so far they have all been false alarms. * The “new frontier” to alleviate scarcity in America is intensive growth, right here, but more: economic poldering. References: * John F. Kennedy (1960): “The New Frontie…
 
Key Insights: * There is a four-day creative-destruction festschrift for Philippe Aghion & Peter Howitt starting June 9: The Economics of Creative Destruction * When industrial policy in America has been successful, it has always had a profound political driving motive: maintaining independence, manifest destiny, Spu…
 
Key Insights: * Brad cannot, in fact, reliably and accurately multiply two-digit numbers in his head… * When people comment on twitter that we are a nerdy podcast, we respond by going nerdier.. * If we get an relatively egalitarian income distribution, the care-centered service economy will give us at least as many interesting jobs to do in the fut…
 
Key Insights: * Josef Schumpeter’s “depressions are… forms of something which has to be done, namely, adjustment to previous economic change. Most of what would be effective in remedying a depression would be equally effective in preventing this adjustment…” is perhaps the most zombie of zombie economic ideas. * Schumpeter’s zombie leads to episode…
 
Key Insights: * Henry: We need to be critical of other people in the public sphere, but we need to be critical in an extraordinarily humble way—to recognize that we, all of us, are incredibly biased as individuals. We see the moats in our brothers' eyes very well. We do not see the beams and our own. We have a duty to others to try to help them to …
 
Brad DeLong: INTERVIEW: Inflation Concerns in the US Following Secretary Treasury Janet: ‘Apple Podcasts: tbs eFM This Morning: 0514 IN FOCUS… Get full access to Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality at braddelong.substack.com/subsc…
 
Key Insights: * Economic arguments against higher taxes that may have been somewhat plausible back in the days of 70% or so maximum individual and 40% or so maximum capital gains tax rates simply do not apply now. * Right-wing parties that don't think they can credibly make the argument that cosseting their core constituencies is necessary for rapi…
 
Key Insights: * Cory Doctorow is AWESOME! * It is depressing. We once, with the creation of the market economy, got interoperability right. But now the political economy blocks us from there being any obvious path to an equivalent lucky historical accident in our future. * The problems in our society are not diametrically opposed: Addressing the pr…
 
Key Insights: * Getting the rate of profit—the sums that are charged businesses for renting machines and renting space, and for access to the generalized social power to deploy resources that is finance—right is a very, very important thing to do. Why? Because the market economy is a complicated institutional calculating machine for determining how…
 
Key Insights: Brad DeLong: “I have one key insight: everyone should subscribe to Foreign Affairs and read Dan Wang’s forthcoming piece…” Noah Smith: “There are no good models in history for what China is doing…” Dan Wang: “There are lots of questions about industrial policy that it is very difficult to answer…” And as always, the last key insight i…
 
…have to come from the arc of Asia facing the bullets, because the American century is over… It's possible to be increasingly optimistic about climate change and to recognize that we still have a huge way to go… If you want to see a coral reef other than with your VR goggles, start scuba diving now… Zeke Hausfather: Climate scientist working on tem…
 
…as Leninist, Noah Smith as Burkean. We neoliberals and neoliberal-adjacents need to come up with five significant discrete policies to make the world economy work better to reduce not just extreme but regular poverty over the next generation, rather than rest on fictitious laurels… Max Roser: “Most people in the world live in poverty. 85% of the w…
 
…from the rest of coastal East Asia when looked at in comparative context: Today Noah Smith & Brad DeLong talk about China, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation, Wilhelmine Germany before WWI, & other topics. The key insights are: (1) we need to get Dan Wang on this podcast; (2) in the context of coastal East Asia after WWII, it does …
 
In the last resort, the the way the government budget constraint balances itself is through the fiscal theory of the price level: levying this inflation tax on holders of money balances, redistributing wealth away from those who have nominal assets to nominal debts, and imposing a large cognitive-load tax on doing your economic calculation arithmet…
 
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