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Podcast episode

EP97 – BS jobs critique + CBDC thoughts from Dr Nicholas Gruen

David Graeber’s BS jobs thesis (previously covered in EP95) lacks microeconomic foundations, according to Dr Nicholas Gruen. In EP97, Economics Explored host Gene Tunny speaks with Nicholas about BS jobs and also about Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). Nicholas is a big believer in the potential of CBDC, which he has written about in the Financial Times.

About Dr Nicholas Gruen

Dr Nicholas Gruen is a policy economist, entrepreneur and commentator on our economy, society and innovation. He is CEO of Lateral Economics, Visiting Professor at Kings College London Policy Institute and Adjunct Professor at UTS Business School.

He was a Chairman of the Open Knowledge Foundation (Australia) (ending 2020), Chairman of international aged care management software provider Health Metrics (ending 2019), Council Member of the National Library of Australia (ending 2016), chaired the Federal Government’s Innovation Australia (ending 2014) and chaired the Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) (ending 2016). He was the founding chair of Kaggle which was sold to Google and is an investor in numerous other Australian and international start-ups. He was also founding chair of HealthKit (now Halaxy). He has advised Cabinet Ministers, sat on Australia’s Productivity Commission and founded Lateral Economics and Peach Financial in 2000.

Links relevant to the conversation

Re. BS jobs:

https://queenslandeconomywatch.com/2021/07/10/people-escaping-bs-jobs-covered-in-my-latest-podcast-episode-and-going-into-business-for-themselves/#comments

https://www.griffithreview.com/articles/trust-competition-delusion-gruen/

Re: CBDCs:

https://clubtroppo.com.au/2021/05/19/central-banks-get-serious-on-digital-currencies-2/

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/central-bank-digital-currency-cbdc.asp

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/quarterly-bulletin/2014/q1/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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Podcast episode

EP96 – Managing Government Budgets

Rachel Nolan, a former Queensland Government finance minister, speaks with Economics Explored host Gene Tunny about how government budgets are developed and just how much flexibility governments actually have.

Rachel Nolan is Executive Director of the McKell Institute and is an honorary Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Queensland. Rachel was a member of the Queensland Parliament for eleven years from 2001, when she was elected as the youngest woman ever. She is a former Minister for Finance, Transport, and Natural Resources and the Arts. Rachel was a member of the Queensland Government’s central budgetary decision making body, the Cabinet Budget Review Committee.

Links relevant to this episode include:

Budget of the U.S. Government

The Federal Budget in Fiscal Year 2020: An Infographic

Economics Explored EP31 Paying for the Coronavirus rescue measures with Joe Branigan (Note we’ve changed the name of the show since we recorded this episode so it doesn’t clash with a popular YouTube channel)

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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Podcast episode

EP95 – BS or pointless jobs

Nine-Fairfax media in Australia is reporting Record number of companies launched as COVID drives contractors, entrepreneurs. A couple of things are going on. There are people whose jobs were destroyed by the pandemic and have been forced into self-employment, but there are also people who have reassessed their lives and decided to quit their jobs and become self-employed.

This shift toward self-employment is understandable, given data which suggests that many workers in advanced economies think their jobs are mostly bullshit or pointless, as the late David Graeber, who was Professor of Anthropology at LSE, emphasised in his thought-provoking 2018 book Bullshit Jobs. Graeber nicely identified the five different types of BS jobs: flunkies, goons, duct-tapers, box-tickers, and taskmasters. I’m sure we’ve all known people who could have been characterised as one of these (hopefully not us)!

Even though I strongly disagree with Graeber’s main conclusions (i.e. many of these jobs really are BS from society’s perspective and we need to radically reform our economies), I must say I really enjoyed reading the book and was inspired to record an episode of my Economics Explored podcast on it. So please check out EP95 BS or Pointless Jobs and let me know what you think about the idea of BS jobs and whether you’ve seen people give up BS jobs to become self-employed or start up new businesses.

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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Podcast episode

EP94 – Economics of New Media

Episode 94 of Economics Explored (EP94 Economics of New Media) explores how people are making money in the rapidly growing new media or independent media sector. While the internet and social media have badly affected traditional media, they have led to the emergence of a rapidly growing new media or independent media sector.

For instance, leading podcaster Joe Rogan was reportedly paid $100 million to move his hugely popular podcast to Spotify. And independent journalists like Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, and Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti are making decent livings through Substack and Patreon subscriptions and via revenue from YouTube. It appears there’s big money for the top talent in new media, which is great news. It’s starting to look like that, to some extent, the market really can support independent and high-quality news and opinion.

Chatting about the economics of new media with host Gene Tunny in EP94 is a new media start up founder, Matt Wong of Discernable, who is based in Melbourne, Australia, and is doing great things on various new media platforms. His Discernable program which you can watch on Facebook or YouTube, provides a fresh perspective on current affairs in Australia.

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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EP93 – Public Choice theory with Dr Brendan Markey-Towler

What happens when economists assume politicians and bureaucrats are self-interested and pursue their own agendas? Economics Explored host Gene Tunny and returning guest Dr Brendan Markey-Towler discuss the theory of public choice, a field of economics which helps us predict how politicians and bureaucrats will behave. They consider what public choice theory means for the growth of government and the types of political institutions we should have.

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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EP92 – Nuclear energy and decarbonizing economies

Is nuclear energy a cost-effective and reliable way for economies to decarbonize, or is it too risky? Episode 92 of Economics Explored considers how nuclear energy can provide zero-carbon, reliable energy and why it should potentially be considered as a key part of the world’s response to climate change. This is a conversation between Economics Explored host Gene Tunny and Adept Economics Research Officer Ben Scott. Gene and Ben’s profile are available on the Adept Economics website.

Links relevant to the conversation include:

Does nuclear energy have a future in Australia?
What’s going on with the so-called hydrogen economy?
OPAL multi-purpose reactor
Nuscale Power

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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Podcast episode

EP91 – Negotiation and Design Thinking with David Johnson of Stanford

In Economics Explored EP91, David Johnson of Stanford speaks about his work and teaching on Negotiation and Design Thinking (e.g. David’s Stanford course Negotiation by Design: Applied Design Thinking for Negotiators). David provides some great insights into how design thinking can help improve our negotiating skills. As part of this discussion, host Gene Tunny and David reflect on how better negotiating skills, gained through design thinking, could help us solve important economic, social, and environmental challenges. Toward the end of the episode, David talks about a book he is currently writing on Climate Activism by Design.

Other links relevant to the conversation include:

Designing Online Mediation: Does “Just Add Tech” Undermine Mediation’s Ownmost Aim?

Negotiation: From Boardroom To Bedroom with David Johnson

d.school resources

About this episode’s guest

David Johnson is a lawyer, writer and professor. He teaches Advanced Negotiation at Stanford Law School, and Design Thinking at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford. Across the last 20 years he has also practiced law in Silicon Valley, primarily as General Counsel for tech companies and, most recently, a non-profit foundation.

He has testified before Congress and the California Assembly on law and technology issues. He has conducted dozens of trials and appeals, including two state Supreme Court arguments. His client list included some of the biggest names in science and technology: Apple, Caliper, Google, McKesson, Sankyo Pharma, and The Computer History Museum.

In 2007 David completed a JSM in Law, Science and Technology. His thesis explored design methods for software and their potential application to systemic environmental issues. In 2014, David wrote, produced and delivered the world’s first free online course on Negotiation to some 5,000 students in 47 nations. General Electric thereafter licensed the course for a four-year run in their executive education program, “Brilliant U.” 

Last year, during sabbatical in Singapore, he wrote a keynote article for the Singapore Academy of Law, Design for Legal Systems. Now back at Stanford, David is working on a book applying design thinking to climate change activism, working title: Climate Activism by Design. In addition to writing and teaching, David is an avid skier and sailor, and a diligent but decidedly average tennis player.

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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EP90 – Lockdown Cost-benefit Analysis with Professor Douglas Allen

Episode 90 of Economics Explored features a discussion regarding COVID lockdown costs versus benefits with Professor Douglas Allen from Simon Fraser University, Canada. Professor Allen has concluded COVID lockdowns have been the greatest peacetime policy failure in Canada’s history. Please check out our conversation for Professor Allen’s justification for this claim.

Links relevant to the conversation include:

Professor Allen’s Lockdown CBA for Canada

Economist: Lockdowns ‘Greatest Peacetime Policy Failure’ in Canada’s History – Foundation for Economic Education

Our World in Data – Coronavirus

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com.

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EP89 – CPI inflation concerns with Darren Brady Nelson

There are growing concerns over CPI inflation after all the money printing associated with the pandemic response.

Episode 89 of Economics Explored features a conversation on just how worried we should be about future inflation in this time of MMT and QE between Economics Explored host Gene Tunny and returning guest Darren Brady Nelson, chief economist of the Australian libertarian think tank LibertyWorks and a policy adviser to the Heartland Institute.
Charts of data referred to in this episode:

Charts on CPI, money supply, US 10 year bond yield, and asset prices

This is the classic book by Milton Friedman and Anna J. Schwartz mentioned in this episode:

A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960

Please send through any questions, comments, or suggestions to contact@economicsexplored.com and we will aim to address them in an upcoming episode. Alternatively, please leave a comment on this post.

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EP88 – Evolutionary Economics with Brendan Markey-Towler

In Episode 88, Dr Brendan Markey-Towler returns to Economics Explored to speak with host Gene Tunny about the important insights of Evolutionary Economics, a sub-field of economics which owes a lot to Joseph Schumpeter’s perspective on economic growth emphasising creative destruction. Brendan is the co-author of the 2020 book Economics of the Fourth Industrial Revolution Internet, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain, published by Routledge. He has a PhD in Economics from the University of Queensland.

Links relevant to the conversation

What is evolutionary economics – Brendan’s Medium article

Books with chapters on Schumpeter:

Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius

The Great Economists

The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times, and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers

Nelson and Winter’s 1982 classic:

An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change

Veblen’s article:

Why is Economics not an Evolutionary Science?

Please send through any questions, comments or suggestions to contact@economicsexplored.com and Gene will aim to address them in a future episode.

Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950)