Glenn Loury invites guests from the worlds of academia, journalism and public affairs to share insights on economic, political and social issues.
On The Glenn Show, Glenn talks to Eldar about his new book, Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much. Eldar argues that “attention scarcity” sheds light on the behavior of poor parents. Glenn asks Eldar about the politics of poverty, and Eldar cracks a joke about incorrigible economists who feel threatened by his research. Glenn asks Eldar to use his research to explain the Great Recession. Finally, they consider how advertisers profit from attention scarcity—while the public loses.
On The Glenn Show, Glenn and Ross discuss the recent book by Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig, The Bankers’ New Clothes. Ross says that the government is inadvertently subsidizing bank fragility. Can anything be done about “too big to fail“? They explain the real reason that Wall Street wants to keep equity low and debt high—more money for bank executives and shareholders. Is it unrealistic to think that government could ever rein in the financial system? Glenn and Ross critique Admati and Hellwig on how accurately regulators can assess bank assets. Ross closes by explaining why he’s not optimistic about removing catastrophic risk from the financial system.
On The Glenn Show, the topic is the student protest at Brown University that thwarted a speech by NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly. Glenn accuses the protesters of “intellectual thuggery.” John says the blame ultimately lies with Brown professors who taught their students poorly, but Glenn defends Brown’s ideological heterogeneity. John argues that undergrads are not truly taught both sides on issues where race and politics intersect. Glenn and John present the more cogent case against stop-and-frisk policing. John emphasizes the performative aspect of student protests. Plus: The way in which racial debates are harder now than in 1963.
On The Glenn Show, Harold laments the “humiliating” failures of Healthcare.gov, but points to ways the Affordable Care Act has already succeeded. Could the website glitches lead to an adverse selection disaster? Apportioning blame for the problems, Harold looks at both GOP intransigence and the government’s technical ineptitude. Will this fiasco do permanent damage to Americans’ confidence in government? Glenn and Harold discuss the decision by many Republican governors to refuse Medicaid expansion. Harold shares his personal frustrations with the website’s failures. Plus: Would a certain former Republican presidential candidate have been the ideal person to manage the website rollout?
On The Glenn Show, Steve and Glenn revisit an earlier conversation about what’s wrong with economics—namely, that it’s too insular and overly focused on technique. But, to be fair, some contemporary research in development and behavioral economics defies this description. Steve gets meta and proposes a behavioral theory to account for these exceptions, and Glenn bemoans the field’s “intellectual infantilization.” Glenn holds up the career of Paul Samuelson as an example of how an academic discipline can be revolutionized. They close by worrying about the narrow ideological range of the president’s economic advisers.
On The Glenn Show, Steve and Glenn begin with small talk about the government shutdown, and then launch into a vigorous debate on the current state of economics as an academic discipline. Steve uses history and politics to explain why economics in America has become so highly technical and narrowly focused, but Glenn pushes back. Is there beauty in the mathematical rigor of American economics? Can we learn anything from the refutation of certain economic ideas? They conclude by reviewing the methods that economists have borrowed from medical researchers.
On The Glenn Show, David explains his fierce opposition to authorizing gambling casinos in New York State. Playing devil’s advocate, Glenn raises the libertarian argument—why not leave people alone to make their own choices? David argues that the seductive allure of slot machines exploits vulnerable people, serving as a hidden tax on the poor. He mentions the Orwellian quality of the “gamble speak” employed by the casino industry. Glenn, still pushing back, asks what’s wrong with “selling hope.” Finally, David lays out the odds of New York’s gambling ballot initiative passing on election day.
On The Glenn Show, Glenn and Harold discuss the growing field of behavioral economics. Harold argues that 401(k) plans show both the benefits and the limits of benign paternalism. What about people too poor to have a 401(k)? Glenn and Harold consider how behavioral economists are studying the developing world. They close by discussing Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir’s new book Scarcity, which explores why poor people make self-limiting decisions.
On The Glenn Show, Glenn and Ann check in on Obama a year into his second term. Has his vacillation on Syria and the Fed hurt his credibility? Ann argues that the Larry Summers controversy exposed an anti-science crowd on the left—but maybe a small dose of delusion is healthy. Turning to the end of NYC’s stop-and-frisk program, Ann worries that emotions adulterated the public debate. Are liberal gun-control measures breeding a nation of victims? Finally, Glenn criticizes the secrecy of the security state under Obama.
On The Glenn Show, Glenn and John discuss John’s Wall Street Journal column on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Glenn describes the extent to which he agrees and disagrees with John’s premise that African-Americans should feel less constrained by white racism. They recall a conservative strain in black culture that seems to have collapsed in the past generation. Glenn bemoans “black exceptionalism,” by which he means the belief that black people are uniquely constrained by their history, but also questions American exceptionalism. John responds that America is ahead of most of the world when it comes to race relations. Finally, Glenn suggests that President Obama is not Martin Luther King’s true heir.
On The Glenn Show, Glenn talks to Ryan about his work at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund. Ryan explains why he doesn’t want a post-racial society, but a post-racist one. They debate the recent Supreme Court decision invalidating a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. Ryan argues that the decision failed to take America’s ugly racial history into account. How well did the legal regime established by the VRA serve the political interests of blacks? What should we make of the extreme racial polarization seen in voting in the South? Finally, fifty years after the March on Washington, what would a new civil rights movement look like?
On The Glenn Show, Glenn and Larry debate who should be the next Federal Reserve Chair, Larry Summers or Janet Yellen. Larry lays out his case against Summers. Does Summers have relevant experience in high finance, or is he in bed with Wall Street? Why does President Obama seem to be favoring Summers? Larry explains what the next Fed chief should do to fix the financial system. Plus: Maybe Larry Summers just isn’t as smart as he thinks.