It’s Always All About the Economy

Amid the unprecedented turmoil of today’s political climate, the mantra that Bill Clinton reportedly embraced during his winning presidential campaign in 1992 still holds: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

On this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, we talk with economist Brad DeLong, who served as deputy undersecretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration – working directly for Larry Summers. He is currently a professor of economics at UC Berkeley and author of the popular substack “Grasping Reality”; his new book, Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the Twentieth Centurywill be published next month.

DeLong focuses on what he sees as the five key economic developments that got us where we are today. He delves into the unique role the Federal Reserve has played since 2007 and explains why perception and anticipation are as much a part of Fed policy today as the setting of interest rates.

He talks about the zero interest rate policy that has prevailed since 2010, the growth of the Fed’s balance sheet under the policy known as quantitative easing, and how today the Fed is trying to simultaneously increase interest rates while reducing its balance sheet – in a unique exercise of “quantitative tightening.”

DeLong explains why Europe is facing a different set of economic problems right now, mostly a direct result of the war in Ukraine, and he discusses what might happen to all the asset bubbles created in global markets in the past few years.

Digging deeper, DeLong lays bare the connection between income inequality and interest rates, and how the zero-interest environment has made “stupid investments” almost a part of economic policy.

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Full Text Transcript:

(As a service to our readers, we provide transcripts with our podcasts. We try to ensure that these transcripts do not include errors. However, due to a constraint of resources, we are not always able to proofread them as closely as we would like and hope that you will excuse any errors that slipped through.)

Transcript Coming Soon…

  • Jeff Schechtman’s career spans movies, radio stations and podcasts. After spending twenty-five years in the motion picture industry as a producer and executive, he immersed himself in journalism, radio, and more recently the world of podcasts. To date he has conducted over ten-thousand interviews with authors, journalists, and thought leaders. Since March of 2015, he has conducted over 315 podcasts for

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