Plain English with Derek Thompson

By The Ringer

Listen to a podcast, please open Podcast Republic app. Available on Google Play Store.


Category: News Commentary

Open in Apple Podcasts


Open RSS feed


Open Website


Rate for this podcast

Subscribers: 599
Reviews: 0

Description

Longtime Atlantic tech, culture and political writer Derek Thompson cuts through all the noise surrounding the big questions and headlines that matter to you in his new podcast Plain English. Hear Derek and guests engage the news with clear viewpoints and memorable takeaways. New episodes drop every Tuesday and Friday, and if you've got a topic you want discussed, shoot us an email at plainenglish@spotify.com! You can also find us on tiktok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_

Episode Date
Thanksgiving Mega-Pod: Bob Iger’s Power Grab, SBF’s Scandal, and Elon Musk’s Omnishambles
5331
Today’s episode is a Thanksgiving feast of corporate scandal and media gossip. Derek kicks things off with a big-picture theory for why everything in tech and media seems to be falling apart at the same time. Then, we turn to the corporate shocker of the week: Bob Iger stunned the entertainment and media world by announcing his return to Disney as CEO, not even three years after the coronation of his hand-picked replacement, Bob Chapek. Matt Belloni of The Ringer and Puck joins to respond to some hot takes about the future of the streaming wars and the Mouse. Then, Derek revisits the FTX scandal. We're joined by Matthew Yglesias, author of the Slow Boring newsletter, to take a fresh look at the downfall of Sam Bankman-Fried by analyzing the philosophy he supported, or at least claimed to support: effective altruism. Host: Derek Thompson Guests: Matthew Belloni and Matthew Yglesias  Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Nov 22, 2022
If China Invades Taiwan, Is It World War III?
3047
Today’s episode is about China’s turn toward authoritarianism—and why it might be one of the most important stories in the world. If you don’t know a lot about China—if you’ve been interested or astonished from afar by its Zero-COVID policy or its alarming saber-rattling toward Taiwan—then you and I are in the same boat. I am not at all an expert on China. But I am fascinated and alarmed by the country’s politics and by the character of its leader, Xi Jinping. Today’s guest is an expert in all things China: Bill Bishop, who writes the incredibly popular Sinocism newsletter. And he has a new podcast out called 'Sharp China.' In this episode, we discuss my biggest fears and questions: What is happening to the Chinese economy right now? Is Xi Jinping a tyrant? And if he chooses to invade Taiwan, is that World War III? Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Bill Bishop  Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Nov 18, 2022
A Crypto Catastrophe: The Stunning Fall of FTX—and What Comes Next
2962
Derek shares his thoughts on the meltdown of crypto exchange FTX and the disgrace of its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, before welcoming veteran finance journalist William D. Cohan to discuss the history of finance frauds, what comes next for FTX, the media’s relationship to CEO royalty, and his new book, 'Power Failure,' on the rise and fall of GE. Host: Derek Thompson  Guest: William D. Cohan Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Nov 15, 2022
Instant Reaction Pod: Midterm Election Winners, Losers, Surprises, and Takeaways
1066
The polls were right; the vibes were wrong. Democrats seem to have blocked the Republican wave by riding “Dobbs and democracy.” Trump lost, and extremism lost. DeSantis won, and Florida is a red state now. Also: Why is America so terrible at counting votes? Host: Derek Thompson Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Nov 09, 2022
Elon Musk's Reign of Chaos and Mark Zuckerberg's Metaverse Madness
3048
The Musk regime is off to a chaotic start at Twitter. In barely a week or two of ownership, Elon has already overseen a collapse in advertising revenue, announced a pivot to subscriptions, attempted to fire about half of the staff, and then attempted to rehire some of the fired staff. It would be one thing if Elon were flailing at Twitter while the rest of social media was on a rocket ship. The opposite is true. At Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg has embarked on a truly audacious and possibly suicidal plan to spend somewhere between $100 billion and $200 billion building out a metaverse platform. What the hell is happening at these companies and, beyond the lurid details and gossip, what does it say about the larger ecosystem of social media? Today’s guests are the co-hosts of the new New York Times tech podcast 'Hard Fork': Kevin Roose is a reporter at the Times and a frequent guest on this show. And Casey Newton is the author of the Platformer newsletter. Host: Derek Thompson Guests: Kevin Roose and Casey Newton Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Nov 07, 2022
America in the Age of Conspiracy: Q-Anon, JFK, Aliens, and More
3840
Americans are unusually conspiratorial as a nation. But in the last week, we have really outdone ourselves. The beating of Paul Pelosi—husband of the Speaker of the House—by a Q-Anon conspiracy theorist led to even more unhinged conspiracies about the media. Kanye West has been all over the news spreading nonsense theories about Jewish control of the world, and in basketball Kyrie Irving published a social media post about a book and movie that featured antisemitic tropes and questioned the Holocaust. What makes certain conspiracy theories so successful? Why do conspiracy theories thrive in 21st century America? And aren't some conspiracy theories ... actually true? Like, what's the deal with aliens, and 1950s UFOs, and the assassination of JFK, and government projects on astral projection and military psychic powers? It's all here in today's episode, featuring the hosts of the popular podcast Stuff They Don't Want You to Know. Host: Derek Thompson Guests: Noel Brown, Ben Bowlin and Matt Frederick Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Nov 04, 2022
How the U.S. Housing Market Became Such a Dumpster Fire
2766
Skyrocketing mortgage rates. Rent prices falling by their fastest pace in years (from their highest inflation rate in decades). Buyers and sellers are freaked out. What the hell is going on with American real estate?Today is a very special crossover event, featuring one of my favorite finance podcasts: 'Odd Lots' hosted by Tracy Alloway and Joe Weisenthal. Most of what I think I know about the housing market is a river that flows from the headwater that is 'Odd Lots' and the online commentary of Tracy and Joe. So, this is a thrill for me. I hope it’s a thrill for you. Host: Derek Thompson Guests: Tracy Alloway and Joe Weisenthal Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Nov 01, 2022
How to Invest and Be Happy When It Feels Like the World Is Falling Apart
3394
We’re in a moment in world history where a lot of big global paradigms are dying. For decades, Europe was basically peaceful. That paradigm has gone up in smoke. For decades, the relationship between the U.S. and China was one of mutual dependency and growth. That paradigm, I think, is changing rapidly as the U.S. moves toward a new industrial policy and China shrinks inside a shell of authoritarianism. And for decades, low interest rates shaped the world—the companies that got started, the growth of the internet, and the ability of governments to run massive deficits. And that paradigm is going away. Global markets are a mess right now, and I wanted to bring back one of my favorite writers to talk about it. He is Morgan Housel, a partner at Collaborative Fund and the author of the bestselling book The Psychology of Money. We talk about what happened to the markets in the last 18 months, the legacy of zero-bound interest rates, and inflation—but that’s just maybe the first 10 minutes. The bulk of this episode is about deeper questions: What is investing for? Does making more money really make us happy? And why do so many rich people seem so miserable? If you like this episode, please leave us a rating on Spotify or a five-star review on Apple Podcasts. If you don’t like this episode, tell us why at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Morgan Housel Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Oct 28, 2022
Ben Smith on the Future of News, How to Start a Media Company, and Why TikTok Is a Time Bomb
2450
About a week ago, a new global news organization launched called Semafor. Ben Smith is its cofounder and editor-in-chief. We offer a brief history of news media in the 21st century and talk about why in some ways the news business is more like the 19th century than the 20th. We discuss what to say to investors when you’re trying to get their money to start a new media company, and debate why TikTok is the biggest undercovered media story in the world. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Ben Smith Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Oct 26, 2022
Midterm Election FAQ: Can We Trust the Polls? Are Democrats Doomed?
2811
We’re coming down to the wire, and Democrats' hopes of holding onto the Senate and the House are fading fast. Two months ago, the story was that Democrats seemed poised to pull off an upset and hold onto the Senate despite the fact that the party in power almost always loses seats in the midterm election. But now, the Senate looks like a toss-up. It’s not just Democrats who are facing challenges this year—pollsters are too. Error margins are rising as fewer people are responding to survey calls. That means we’re flying half-blind out there: Political campaigns, commentators, and voters can’t be sure that the polling averages that they’re seeing in the news are an accurate reflection of reality. Today's guest is Kristen Soltis Anderson, a Republican pollster and the co-founder of Echelon Insights. We discuss the closest races in Georgia and Pennsylvania, whether Donald Trump is an overall help or hindrance to the GOP, and why the golden age of polling is over. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_ Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Kristen Soltis Anderson Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Oct 25, 2022
The Case for Indicting Donald Trump
2828
For years, liberals have deluded themselves into thinking that Donald Trump was always on the verge of some calamitous legal defeat. Robert Mueller was made into an icon of the left. But no charges were filed. The Russiagate theory had a lot of smoke, and even some fire, but it failed to put Trump in a courtroom. At this point, you could be forgiven for checking out entirely on the efforts to charge Trump with crimes, since they all seem to end the same way. Without an indictment. If that’s going to change, it will largely rest on the decision making of one man: Merrick Garland, the attorney general of the United States. In a recent essay for The Atlantic, staff writer Frank Foer spent hours talking to Garland to understand who he is, how he thinks, and how his approach to law could help us predict the next chapter of the Trump legal saga. Foer comes away with a big prediction: The indictment of Trump is now "inevitable." And he’s here to tell us why. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Frank Foer Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Oct 18, 2022
Is Hybrid Work Doomed?
2888
Stanford University professor Nicholas Bloom joins the show to talk about how the hybrid work revolution is going, and how the weakened connection between work and home continues to change where Americans live, how they travel, how they spend their time, how they raise their kids, and even how much time they spend combing their hair (survey says: less!). If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_ Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Nicholas Bloom Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Oct 14, 2022
Why the Future of AI Should Terrify and Thrill You
3758
This is the 100th episode of Plain English! I don’t know how that’s possible. Thanks to all of you who have listened. This has been a ton of work and a ton of fun. I’m still figuring out what this show is; how to balance news and tech gossip and big society questions and war coverage. There are days I think I know exactly what I’m doing and days I think I know even less than when I started out. And I just want to say to all the folks who have, on any medium, offered negative feedback or positive feedback: I’m reading it. Today, we're joined again by our first-ever guest, Kevin Roose from the 'New York Times,' to talk about Elon vs. Twitter and the deep implications of the year's astonishing breakthroughs in AI. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Kevin Roose Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Oct 11, 2022
Bill Simmons on Aaron Judge, How Baseball Ruined Itself, and the Joy of Debating Sports Records
4195
This week, the Yankees' Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run of the season, and it’s triggered a ferocious debate that has a lot of people very worked up over a deceptively simple question: Who is baseball’s home run king? In 2001, Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs. In 2022, Judge hit 62 home runs. Seventy-three is more than 62. Those are facts. But Barry Bonds used steroids. Other sports, like cycling, have stripped athletes of records and championships if they’re caught doping. Lance Armstrong won seven Tour de France titles but was stripped of all of them. So, what do we do about Bonds and his fellow dopers, like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa? Do we consider their records illegitimate? If so, Aaron Judge is the single-season home run king. Or do we say, you can’t just selectively erase history? In which case, Judge doesn’t have any major record. He’s just a big, tall guy who had a very nice season. You might think: OK, who cares what words we use to talk about baseball? The answer is: I care! There was a period in my life when debating baseball stats and baseball history was literally my favorite activity in the world. My identity as a fifth grader was being the baseball stats guy. And also, a lot of people care. This debate over who is the legitimate single-season home run king has been hands down the most fun baseball discourse I can remember in maybe 20 years. Today’s guest is Bill Simmons. We talk about MLB history, the joy of debating records, how baseball ruined itself, and who is really baseball’s home run king. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Bill Simmons Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Oct 06, 2022
Could the Fed Break the World Economy?
2628
What if, in trying to fix the hangover of domestic inflation, the Federal Reserve is accidentally triggering a series of diabolical domino effects that could screw up the global economy? Joining the show today to walk us piece by piece through those dominos is Kyla Scanlon, a writer and brilliant economic explainer on TikTok and YouTube. Kyla is an expert at what I try to do with this show, which is to explain complicated ideas in simple ways without losing the nuance that makes them complicated in the first place. I’ve learned a lot from her. And I hope you do, too. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_ Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Kyla Scanlon Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Oct 04, 2022
Scott Galloway on Why the Internet Is a Mess, Why the News Is So Angry, and Why American Men Are ‘Adrift’
3569
A wide-ranging conversation with speaker and star podcaster Scott Galloway ('The Prof G Pod,' 'Pivot') on his new book 'Adrift,' why being a pundit means being a talented “catastrophist,” the struggles of broke and lonely men, the upside of crypto, and the dark side of the metaverse. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_ Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Scott Galloway Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Sep 29, 2022
Is the Federal Reserve Making a Huge Mistake?
2330
Last week the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 0.75 percentage points, continuing one of the fastest escalations of the benchmark rate in history. Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, warned that more pain was to come as the central bank fixes its eye on Sauron on our core inflation. But the theme of this episode is that U.S. interest rate policy does not stop at the U.S. border. Our monetary policy is a lever that moves the world. Soon after the Fed’s announcement last week, the British pound crashed, oil prices fell, currencies (crypto- and otherwise) fell, and the possibility of a global downturn came ever slightly into greater focus. Today’s guest is Jason Furman, the Harvard economist and former top economic adviser to President Barack Obama. We talk about the state of the U.S. economy, why the Fed is doing what it’s doing, the best arguments against rising interest rates, the global fallout of U.S. monetary policy, and the possibility that the world economy is headed for a dark, dark winter. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_ Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Jason Furman Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Sep 27, 2022
Why America Has a Crisis of Masculinity
3128
American men have a problem. They account for less than 40 percent of new college graduates but roughly 70 percent of drug overdose deaths and more than 80 percent of gun violence deaths. As the left has struggled to offer a positive vision of masculinity, male voters have abandoned the Democratic Party at historically high rates. Brookings Institution scholar Richard Reeves, the author of a new book 'Of Boys and Men,' joins the show to ask and answer a number of controversial questions: Why do women out-achieve men throughout education? Why are men dropping out of the labor force? Why can't Democrats win the male vote? And what would a progressive and positive vision of masculinity look like? If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Richard Reeves Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Sep 23, 2022
Why the Voice Inside Your Head Can Sound Like a Jerk
3451
Today’s episode is about the science of self-talk—and how our relationship to our own inner monologue can become toxic. Psychologist Ethan Kross joins the show to explain his work on emotion regulation, his book 'Chatter' on the science of negative self-talk, why the ability to have an inner monologue can be a kind of superpower, and how to harness it. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_.Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Ethan Kross Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Sep 20, 2022
The Housing Recession Is Coming
2437
While the broader economy is almost certainly not in a recession, the U.S. housing market is facing a painful reset. As the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to reduce inflation, the most rate-sensitive sector of the economy—which is housing—is taking it on the chin. Today's guest, Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, breaks down the queasy state of the U.S. housing market, the prospect of a correction, what nationwide falling housing prices will mean for the broader economy, the global synchronized decline in housing, and how China's extremely bizarre year is affecting our economy. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_ Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Mark Zandi Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Sep 15, 2022
Bill Gates on Progress, Food Technology, and the Battle Between Climate Change and Innovation
1839
In 2015, 193 world leaders agreed to 17 ambitious goals to end poverty, fight inequality, and stop climate change by 2030. Seven years in, the world is on track to achieve almost none of those goals, according to a new report from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. But the world really is getting better, the founder and philanthropist Bill Gates tells Derek in this episode. Around the globe, poverty, hunger, and child mortality rates are falling. Income, health care coverage, and lifespans are growing. Bill and Derek talk about the “best news in the world,” why genetics is the most exciting domain in all of science, and how Gates is helping to build the future of food in Africa. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_ Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Bill Gates Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Sep 13, 2022
How Ukraine’s New Offensive Could Win the War Against Russia
3166
We're in a new phase of the Ukraine-Russia war. Paul Poast of the University of Chicago returns to the podcast to break down Ukraine's extraordinary counteroffensive. He explains why this counterattack is reminiscent of D-Day, why President Vladimir Putin continues to struggle to achieve his objectives, and whether the end of the war could be within sight. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_ Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Paul Poast Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Sep 12, 2022
The UK Is in Trouble: Economic Crises, Energy Shocks, and the Queen’s Death
3127
Hours before the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Derek talked to Duncan Weldon, the Britain economics correspondent at The Economist, about the UK's political and economic challenge. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent energy prices soaring across Europe, but few countries have it worse than the UK, where inflation skyrocketed past 10 percent and the Bank of England projects a deep and lasting recession. This comes after a 15-year period of utter economic stagnation, Brexit, and the clown show of Boris Johnson. How did the UK, the birthplace of modern capitalism and the industrial revolution, become such an economic and political disaster? And will the queen's death affect the nation's trajectory? If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_ Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Duncan Weldon Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Sep 08, 2022
America’s National Teacher Shortage: Looming Crisis or Media Myth?
2435
Students are going back to school this month. But according to many news sources, there won't be nearly enough teachers to greet them. The Washington Post has warned of a “catastrophic teacher shortage.” ABC World News Tonight called it a new “growing crisis,” and the Wall Street Journal warned of a “dog-eat-dog” scramble to hire underqualified instructors. Heather Schwartz, a senior policy researcher at the Rand Corporation, explains why she thinks the "national teacher shortage" narrative is overblown, why declining teacher morale is a real story, and what's really happening in American public education today. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_ Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Heather Schwartz Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Sep 06, 2022
Nate Silver on Why This Midterm Election Could Be the Weirdest in Decades
3467
Earlier this year, it appeared that Democrats were going to get destroyed in the midterms. Joe Biden's approval rating was in the toilet, inflation was raging, and everything was going wrong. It wouldn't have been historically shocking if Democrats lost seats in November. The party in power typically loses seats in midterm elections, thanks in part to the electorate's preference for balance. But then something weird happened. Joe Biden's polls went up. And up. And up. Republican Senate nominees starting flailing across the country. Today, Democrats are favored to keep the Senate, and they have doubled their odds of holding the House. How did this happen? FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver joins the podcast to explain the big picture and analyze the most fascinating individual races, from Pennsylvania to Ohio. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_ Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Nate Silver Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Sep 02, 2022
The Messy Debate Over Student Loan Forgiveness
2662
The level of student debt in this country represents a massive policy error. But is forgiving up to $20,000 of student debt really the best way to help low-income Americans, or fix the nation's education-financing problems? The Atlantic's Jerusalem Demsas joins Derek to discuss the student loan forgiveness debate and weigh the positives and negatives of Biden's controversial new policy. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_ Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Jerusalem Demsas Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Aug 30, 2022
Burning Questions on Media: Streaming’s Summer of Hell, Movie Theater Woes, and CNN’s Risky Pivot
3136
Today’s episode is about the entertainment and media industry’s tumultuous summer, the streaming wars, a come-to-Jesus moment for movie theaters, and a dramatic revamp at CNN—which tells a lot about the state of the news industry. My guest is Matt Belloni, host of the Ringer podcast 'The Town' and a founding partner at Puck News. He tells us what he’s hearing from his deep industry sources about the future of the blockbuster, the demise of the romantic comedy, the purge at HBO Max, and the murky path forward for Netflix. He also indulges me as I try to think of restaurant analogies for all of the major streaming companies as they try to differentiate themselves in a crowded field. (If you're not familiar with the amenities of the Tri-State area, this might be a good time to look up "Wawa.") If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_ Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Matt Belloni Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Aug 26, 2022
What’s the Secret of Success in America? This Economist Has Answers.
3177
The economist Raj Chetty has spent much of the last decade trying to answer a very big question: What happened to the American Dream? In 1940, a child born into the average American household had a 92 percent chance of making more money than his or her parents. But in the last half century, something has gone wrong. A child born in 1980 had just a 50 percent chance of surpassing her parents’ income. So, in 40 years, earning more than your parents went from being a near certainty to no better than a coin flip. Marshaling enormous data sets in extremely creative ways, Chetty has shown that our chances of moving up in the world are exquisitely sensitive to where we grow up. In some cities, like Minneapolis, the American Dream seems to be very much alive. In other places, the poor are trapped in poverty for generations. So, the trillion-dollar question here is: If some neighborhoods in America are like Miracle-Gro for opportunity, what are the active ingredients? What makes a place special? In today's episode, Chetty gives listeners a new vocabulary to think about success and inequality in America, with ideas like "father presence," "friending bias," and "Lost Einsteins." If you’d like to see a literal map of American inequality built with Chetty’s data, I would encourage you for this episode alone to go multi-media and visit www.socialcapital.org to see how your neighborhood fares as an engine of upward mobility. That way, you’ll have a fuller sense of where the American Dream is dying—and what we have to do to bring it back. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_ Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Raj Chetty Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Aug 23, 2022
Why Does It Seem Like Everybody Hates Everything?
3250
Bestselling author Chuck Klosterman talks to Derek about the death of the monoculture, how the internet creates cults of fans and anti-fans, and how “hating things” became a mainstream personality trait and a political position. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_ Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Chuck Klosterman Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Aug 19, 2022
Donald Trump vs. the FBI: Everything We Know About the Investigation So Far
2669
I've never before recorded an episode specifically about Donald Trump. I guess I’ve been holding out for the chaos that typically swirls around him to exceed an extremely high bar of freaky nonsense. This week, I am forced to conclude that the bar has been surpassed. The January 6 investigations in D.C. and the New York state business investigation are newsworthy on their own. But last week, federal agents descended on Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club and Florida home, and came away with a trove of top secret documents and papers. This investigation could implicate the president as an agent of law-breaking espionage. Or it could lead to ... nothing at all. In this episode, the author, CNN analyst, and former government official Juliette Kayyem joins the show to separate fact from speculation and to help us imagine several ways this saga could end. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_ Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Juliette Kayyem Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Aug 16, 2022
A New Way to Think About Racism in America
2792
Several years ago, the writer, researcher, and policy advocate Heather McGhee traveled around the country to report on how racism in America holds us back from policies that would benefit everybody. In her book The Sum of Us, she explained how racist fears have made us all worse off. For decades, many voters and politicians have fought against policies that would have gotten them better jobs, better benefits, and more upward mobility—because they were afraid that those policies might also help non-white people, and especially Black people. She made another point that struck me. Progressives sometimes talk about racism in a way that is pretty helpful for their causes. “Progressives often end up talking about race relations through a prism of competition—every advantage for whites, mirrored by a disadvantage for people of color,” she wrote. “The task ahead, then, is to unwind this idea of a fixed quantity of prosperity and replace it with what I’ve come to call Solidarity Dividends: gains available to everyone when they unite across racial lines, in the form of higher wages, cleaner air, and better-funded schools.” Today’s guest is Heather McGhee. In this episode she talks about her new podcast The Sum of Us; the indelible metaphor of a drained pool in Alabama; how progressives talk about race; and why many laws today that might not seem explicitly racist still sustain racial inequality. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_ Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Heather McGhee Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Aug 12, 2022
Carbon Removal Might Be the World’s Most Important Technology. How Does It Work?
2889
Last year, somebody explained the problem of climate change to me with a metaphor that I’ve never been able to forget. They said: Imagine a bathtub. The bathtub is the planet’s atmosphere. The faucet is on full blast and it’s quickly filling with water. The gushing faucet represents every source of global carbon emissions, from "Big Agriculture" and energy companies to cars and cow farts. The water is carbon itself. The challenge of climate change mitigation is straightforward: Stop the water from filling the tub, spilling over the edge, and destroying the planet. There are a lot of environmentalists and federal policies that focus on one part of the picture. They want to turn the tap to reduce emissions. This is what wind, solar, and geothermal energy does. This is what electric cars do. It is an absolutely essential goal. But a very full tub can still overflow even with a slower-dripping faucet. So we need to think bigger to save the world. We need a plan that goes beyond the faucet. We need to drain water from the basin by pulling the plug at the bottom of the tub—that is, to suck a huge amount of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and flush them away. So, how do you pull the plug? In the last few years, I’ve become very interested in a technology called carbon removal—and especially direct air capture. Imagine, basically, a giant factory that pulls carbon from the atmosphere and buries it. This technology is still incredibly expensive. In August 2022, it is not remotely close to being a global solution to climate change. But there is a chance it may be the most important technology of the 2020s and 2030s, if you understand the problem of the tub, the water, the faucet, and the plug. Today’s guest is Giana Amador. She is the co-founder and policy director of Carbon180, an interdisciplinary organization devoted to carbon-removal technologies. In this episode, she explains how different carbon removal technology works; why there are a million carbon removal plants all over the planet already; the technology and cost problems of vacuuming the atmosphere; and why some people think this technology won’t ever work in the first place. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Giana Amador Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Aug 09, 2022
Curiosity Corner: Monkeypox Myths, Millennial Facts, and Overpopulation Fears
1970
In our second "Curiosity Corner" mailbag, Derek takes your burning questions. He breaks down the myths around how monkeypox spreads, and blasts public health officials for not being more specific about who is most affected. He explains how, while millennials face an affordability crisis in developed countries, they might not want to trade their global generation for any previous period in history. And he answers a listener who asks whether we should fear population collapse more than we fear overpopulation. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_ Host: Derek Thompson Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Aug 05, 2022
Is Old Music Killing New Music?
3353
Why does it seem like the old is eating the new in pop culture? This year, the song of the summer is arguably Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill”—which was released in 1985. It was launched by the most-watched global TV show of the summer, 'Stranger Things'—an homage to the 1980s. In movies, the biggest hit of the season is 'Top Gun: Maverick'—a sequel to the 1986 film. The '80s was four decades ago! The triumph of nostalgia and familiarity in culture is deeper than one summer. The five biggest movies of this year are the second 'Top Gun,' the second 'Doctor Strange', the sixth 'Jurassic Park', the 14th Batman-related film, and the fifth 'Despicable Me'. Amazing original films, like 'Everything Everywhere All At Once', show up here and there, but as far as slam dunk blockbusters go, the last decade has suffered from a new movie curse. There's a new music curse, too. Total music consumption is rising across album sales, track purchases, and streaming. But consumption of new music is down. The entire growth in music is happening in so-called catalog music, or older songs. What's happening here? Today’s guest is Ted Gioia. We talk about his viral essay “Is old music killing new music?”, the dearth of young stars in Hollywood, and the rise of risk-aversion in American culture and business. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_ Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Ted Gioia Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Aug 03, 2022
How the Democrats' New Climate Bill Could Change the World
1598
“Every few years, American politics astonishes you.” That’s how The Atlantic journalist Robinson Meyer began his report on the Democrats' new climate deal, which would invest record-breaking sums in clean energy infrastructure. Yes, this is still just a bill. It could be revised. But in a summer of climate doom—record breaking heat, droughts, fires in Europe—we are looking at an extraordinary leap forward. So what’s in the deal? What would it actually do? And how could it realistically transform the world? Today’s guest is Robinson Meyer, and in this mini episode we break down the bill and explain why it is, to quote the president, a big f*&%ing deal. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_ Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Robinson Meyer Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Aug 01, 2022
Why the Question "Are We in a Recession?" Is Impossible to Answer
2495
On Thursday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that GDP dropped for the second consecutive quarter, fueling fears that the economy is in a recession. Today's guest is Austan Goolsbee, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama. In today’s episode, we talk about the most important details from the GDP report, investigate the curious case of America’s plummeting productivity, and talk about why the question "Are we in a recession?" is so annoyingly hard to answer.If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. You can find us on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_ Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Austan Goolsbee Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jul 29, 2022
Crypto Crash, Part II: A Debate About the Future of Web3
3371
Today is the second half of our special two-parter on the state of crypto. Yesterday’s theme was the case against. Today we debate the case for. In the last few weeks, use-cases have become a popular trope in the big crypto debate. Crypto has tens of thousands of people working with dozens of billions of dollars on building new technology. And I think it’s fair to ask: What have they built that is better than the status quo? What, as Monty Python might ask, has blockchain ever done for us? Today’s guest is Packy McCormick. Packy is the popular author of the Not Boring newsletter. In this episode, we debate use-cases for crypto, talk about whether major products are just Ponzi schemes, and discuss whether all the money sloshing around Web3 has subtly distorted the market and hurt the space. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Packy McCormick Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jul 26, 2022
Crypto Crash Part I: The Case Against Crypto
3112
Today, we have the first in a two-part series on lessons from the crypto crash. Crypto, also known as Web3, also known as blockchain-based technologies, remains the weirdest space I’ve ever reported on. I’ve never learned so much about a topic where there were people I trusted roughly equally, whose intelligence I trusted roughly equally, coming to completely opposite opinions. People I consider brilliant think this is the wave of the future. Others are fairly positive that the bulk of this world is a giant Ponzi scheme that’s even worse than most people realize.Today's guest is Molly Wood, a financial journalist turned venture capitalist who also hosts the podcast 'This Week in Startups.' I would summarize Molly’s case against crypto in three main points: It is a double-enemy of the environment—an energy-intensive speculation that pulls money and talent from climate technology. It is an unregulated bonanza of investor shenanigans—Molly explains why the very structure of crypto tokens invites a kind of Ponzi-scheming dynamic, which deserves our attention. Even if you have nice things to say about crypto—and we do have nice things to say about it—there’s a strong case to be made that the promises and the grandiosity is wildly out of line with the actual use cases. The timing on this episode feels right. Last week, several employees of the crypto trading exchange Coinbase were charged with wire fraud, the first insider-trading case involving cryptocurrencies. This is our little podcast trial of crypto. Today, the prosecution. Tomorrow, the defense. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Molly Wood Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jul 25, 2022
Why It Seems Like So Many Countries Are Falling Apart
3303
The world is kind of a mess right now. There is a big, bloody, awful war between Russia and Ukraine, which has hugely disrupted global trade, especially in commodities like oil, wheat, and natural gas. Europe is on fire, and the euro is crashing. Boris Johnson is out as the U.K.’s prime minister, and Mario Draghi has resigned as Italy’s prime minister. There are tremors in China, as the world’s second-largest economy fumbles through a ridiculous COVID-Zero policy. In Sri Lanka, crowds stormed the presidential palace after an economic crisis. In Japan, a former prime minister was assassinated. In Turkey and El Salvador, inflation and kooky economic policy has led these countries to the brink. Is this just random chaos, or is there a deeper story to tell? Today’s guest is Ian Bremmer. Ian is a political scientist and the founder of Eurasia Group and GZero media. He is also the author of several books, including his latest: The New York Times bestseller 'The Power of Crisis.' He takes me on a geopolitical catastrophe tour. In the end, we consider the meaning of this moment in history—and why this feels like the end of an era and the beginning of something new. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Ian Bremmer Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jul 22, 2022
The World Is on Fire. Here’s a Realistic Plan to Save Humanity.
3887
The world is on fire. In southern Europe, wildfires are streaking from Portugal to Greece. In the U.K., airport runways melted as temperatures exceeded 103 degrees for the first time on record. In the U.S. this week, about one in five Americans are living in a place that will be even hotter than the U.K.’s historic mark. And what is our government doing about it? Pretty close to nothing. But if you look behind these headlines, there’s something very interesting happening. In the past decade, the price of solar electricity has declined by 90 percent. The efficiency of lithium-ion batteries has increased by 90 percent. Per-capita emissions in the U.S. have declined by a quarter since 2005, falling all the way to levels not seen since 1960. These are technological revolutions worth building on. But they will require that Americans get over their allergy to new construction. And build. Today’s guest is David Wallace-Wells, a writer for The New York Times and the author of the bestseller 'The Uninhabitable Earth.' In this episode, we talk about the future of a hot world, the science of heat, the depressing state of climate policy in Washington, the more hopeful state of climate technology and global adaptation, the end of old-fashioned environmentalism, and the future of a new climate movement. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: David Wallace-Wells Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jul 19, 2022
Three Ways the Elon Musk–Twitter Showdown Could End
2601
Well, that escalated quickly. Let's review, shall we? In January, Elon Musk started buying a bunch of Twitter stock. In February, he kept buying. In March, he owned about 5 percent of the company. In April, he offered to buy Twitter for $44 billion. In May, he tweeted a poop emoji. In June, his net worth crashed. In July, he tried to back out of the deal—and Twitter countersued. It seems very clear from the company's lawsuit that Twitter is prepared to take this all the way, possibly to even force Musk to acquire the company against his will. Big picture, Twitter is in an incredibly strange position. The company's lawsuit portrays Musk as if he's a wayward, flighty, bad-faith grown toddler. But Twitter is also is trying to force this very same wayward, flighty, bad-faith grown toddler to be the proud owner of Twitter. “You’re a jerk, and I hate you, now marry me!" is a weird message to send, even if it makes sense for the Twitter board to pursue this strategy, within the logic of shareholder capitalism. So, who's got the best argument? How will this thing end? Today's guest is Boston College Law School professor Brian Quinn. We do a deep dive into the documents of interest here—what Musk is saying, what Twitter is saying, and who’s got the strongest case. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Brian Quinn Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jul 14, 2022
Burning Questions About the Future of Media: Netflix vs. Disney, TikTok vs. Everyone, and the Metaverse
4481
Will Netflix be the king of streaming in five years? What's the biggest threat to dethrone it: Apple, Disney, or HBO? Are movie theaters back for real? How has the pandemic changed the film industry? Is TikTok the biggest arch-villain in entertainment? Where do hits come from? What is the metaverse, and will I like living in it? Derek has a lot of questions. His guests—Bloomberg entertainment reporter Lucas Shaw, and author of 'THE METAVERSE' Matthew Ball—have many answers. Host: Derek Thompson Guests: Lucas Shaw and Matthew Ball Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jul 12, 2022
Musk Meltdown: Elon’s Breakup With Twitter Is Going to Be Very Messy
1152
Derek has so many thoughts on Elon Musk's bizarre attempted breakup with Twitter—and what comes next—that he has to enumerate them. In this episode, he goes through five reasons Elon is trying to wriggle out of this deal and three ways this saga will end. Host: Derek Thompson Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jul 10, 2022
The Biggest Economic Question of the Moment: Is This Peak Inflation?
2090
The question everybody's asking on cable news right now is whether we're in a recession. I think there's an even more important question to ask: Are we at peak inflation? If inflation U-turns, it means the Fed won’t have to keep jacking up interest rates, won’t have to keep destroying demand, and won’t have to indefinitely pump the U.S. economy with tranquilizing drugs to break the fever. I believe peak inflation is right here, right now. In retail, Target and Gap are slashing prices on inventory. In the car market, used car sales are falling. In electronics, the microchip shortage looks like it’s easing. In international shipping, freight rates across the Pacific are declining. And most importantly, the price of oil, metals, wheat, and corn are all falling. Oil prices are falling really, really fast—and that tends to mean that gas prices will follow. Today’s guest is Noah Smith, the economic writer and author of the newsletter Noahpinion. We talk about the great disinflation, where it’s happening, why it’s happening, what it means for the future of the U.S. economy and politics. This episode was in high demand in our mailbox. And as always, keep it coming. Send your feedback and episode ideas to PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Noah Smith Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jul 08, 2022
Why Are the Police So Bad at Solving Murders?
2965
Today’s episode is about the story of the moment—gun violence. There’s been a surge of violent shootings, mass shootings, and gun-related murders in the last few years. Today, Derek investigates a mystery behind this surge of violence: Why are the police so bad at solving murders? According to FBI statistics, in the 1960s nearly 100 percent of all murders were "cleared" by police, typically by arrest. In 2020, the clearance rate hit an all-time low of nearly 50 percent. Today, half of the murders in the United States go unsolved. Why? Today’s guest is Jeff Asher, a crime analyst, writer, and cofounder of AH Datalytics, which analyzes data for local government agencies like police departments. We talk about seven possible explanations for this alarming trend before settling on one particular explanation that's probably the most important. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Jeff Asher Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jul 06, 2022
Abortion Pills Are a Game Changer, Plus Our Next Big Culture War
2350
In last week's instant reaction pod, Derek said he thought abortion pills were one of the most fascinating and important aspects of the end of the era of Roe. In this episode, he goes deeper into how this new technology could change the abortion debate and national politics. Abortion pills that weren't in use 50 years ago are popular, common, safe, hard to track, and legal in more than half the country. Dozens of conservative states are moving to outlaw most abortions, including medication abortions, but banning pills is going to be very tricky. After all, it’s one thing to shut down a clinic with one address. Banning a pill that you can order online? Banning a pill that goes in the mail? That is much harder. And the lengths to which states might have to go to surveil packages—or to spy on women’s digital activities in order to track down pill buyers—will be invasions of privacy that make a lot of Americans uncomfortable, even those who want to reduce legal abortions. This is the next battleground of the abortion culture war: the pills war. Today’s return guest is Margot Sanger-Katz of the New York Times. Margot explains the basics of abortion pills, and how they’ll change the abortion debate forever. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Margot Sanger-Katz Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jul 01, 2022
Five Reasons Everybody Is Wrong About a U.S. Recession—Including Me
2363
I feel like the theme of this podcast recently has been that everything is going off the rails: the Supreme Court, inflation, oil prices, air travel snafus. Take the economy, for example. My theory for the past few months has been that the odds of a recession are nervously high. But when I start feeling myself become a bit ideological, it’s always worth asking: What if I’m wrong? So what I want to execute in this episode is a bit of a zag. Today's guest, Conor Sen, an economic columnist for Bloomberg, explains why he thinks this economy isn't nearly as troubled as the headlines suggest. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Conor Sen Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jun 28, 2022
The End of Roe v. Wade Changes Everything
2661
We react to the landmark Supreme Court decision and explain how it could affect the future of the court, national politics, fertility and family planning, state law, corporate policy, and more. To further explain the implications of this decision we re-air an interview we did seven weeks ago with Margot Sanger-Katz when news of the Supreme Court leak first broke. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Margot Sanger-Katz Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jun 24, 2022
Why Air Travel Is a Hot Mess Right Now
2691
Lately, it feels like we’re surrounded by systems and industries that aren’t working the way they should. There's an oil shortage, and a baby formula shortage, and a used car shortage, and a microchip shortage. Now, here comes the airline industry shortage. This past weekend, thousands of flights were cancelled because airlines didn't have enough pilots, grounds crew, or planes. People were stranded in airports for eight hours or longer. JetBlue, American, and Delta collectively canceled about 9-10 percent of their flights—between five and 10 times higher than their historical average. And some experts say that if you’re planning to fly at all this summer, things will only get worse. How did this happen? When will it end? Today’s guest is Scott Keyes. He is the founder of Scott's Cheap Flights, a newsletter and business with more than 2 million members. We talk about the origins of the crisis, the economics of the airline industry, and why the decline of business travel is a cannonball in a lake whose ripple effects are wreaking all sorts of havoc. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Scott Keyes Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jun 24, 2022
Why Gas Prices Are Skyrocketing—and an Ingenious Plan to Bring Them Down
2878
Expensive energy is an economic, psychological, and political scourge. Nominally, gas prices are at a record high. Adjusted for inflation, they could break the all-time record if they rise just another 35 cents. We should be desperately curious to solve this problem; so, that’s what this episode is all about. Today’s guest is Skanda Amarnath, the executive director at Employ America, which has quickly become one of my very favorite sources of research and commentary on economics. He is also the coauthor of an ingenious plan to increase oil capacity in a way that could reasonably bring down gas prices. This episode gets pretty deep into the weeds of policy and oil markets. But it was one of the most educational conversations I’ve had on this show. And I hope you find it similarly stimulating. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Skanda Amarnath Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jun 21, 2022
The Big Winners and Losers From the Remote Work Revolution
3047
Most news is all about the immediate present. For instance, everything that is happening in the economy right now could be a historical anecdote in five years. But sometimes, norms change—and they stay changed for decades. I think the remote work revolution is just that sort of a paradigm shift. Here's a stat that should blow your mind: Office occupancy across the U.S. is still just 43 percent of its pre-pandemic high. That means that white-collar offices have had a worse recovery than basically any other economic category—worse than restaurants, bars, stadiums, and even movie theaters. But who is remote work actually working for? What are offices good for? And how will the remote work revolution change the way we relate to each other and the places we live? Today’s guest is Julia Hobsbawm, the author of 'The Nowhere Office,' a new book about the remote work revolution that combines history and reporting to ask a big, beautiful philosophical question: Is remote work making our lives better, or worse? Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Julia Hobsbawm Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jun 17, 2022
The End of the Everything Boom (Plus: The Federal Reserve's Risky Move)
2578
This is a huge week for economic and finance news. On Wednesday afternoon, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 0.75 percentage points, its biggest move since 1994. Derek breaks down what this means for your wallet and the future of the economy. Then he brings on The New York Times' Kevin Roose for a conversation about the end of the "everything boom." For the last decade-plus, just about every asset class has gone to the moon: stocks, housing, crypto. That era is over. But where did the everything boom come from? How did it change our lives, from cheap Uber rides to risky crypto projects? And what does it mean that this era is coming to a close? Derek and Kevin also talk about their idea of a "millennial consumer subsidy"—the notion that for many years venture capitalists subsidized ride-share and delivery companies in a way that was unsustainable and not all that great for the people behind the wheel. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Kevin Roose Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jun 15, 2022
The Big Inflation FAQ: Why It’s So High, How Everyone Got It Wrong, and What's Next
3143
Inflation is the story that everybody keeps missing. In 2020, many people didn't expect inflation to rise. Wrong. In 2021, many expected inflation to be brief or "transitory." Wrong. Last month, many expected inflation to peak. wrong. In May, inflation reached its highest level in more than four decades. But there’s a bigger story to tell here. What are the subtler inflation numbers telling us about the future of the economy? And is the media being too pessimistic about the economy given how strong the labor market has been coming out of the pandemic? To answer those questions, Derek welcomes Justin Wolfers, a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Michigan. As you’ll hear, Wolfers is brilliant, straightforward, and incredibly un-shy about telling Derek when he thinks he's full of it. If you think Derek is full of it, or if you would like to drop a more complimentary line, send your notes, questions, and curiosities to PlainEnglish@spotify.com Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Justin Wolfers Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jun 13, 2022
California’s Elections Sent an Important Message. What Is It?
2592
Today’s episode is about two California elections and the message they sent to the rest of the country. In San Francisco, progressive district attorney Chesa Boudin was recalled by voters after years of complaints about the rise of disorder, shoplifting, and homelessness in the city. In Los Angeles, Republican-turned-Democrat billionaire Rick Caruso had a strong showing running as a crimefighter in the L.A. mayoral primary. In the late 1970s, politics was defined by two topics: crime and inflation. Well, look around today: Various measures of crime are weighing on people, and inflation is near its 40-year high. Are we stepping into a time machine that’s taking us back to the '70s? To answer that question, we have journalist and author Ron Brownstein, a CNN senior political analyst, writer for 'The Atlantic,' and author of the book Rock Me on the Water: 1974, the Year Los Angeles Transformed Movies, Music, TV, and Politics. So if we are headed back to the '70s in a newly waxed maroon Pontiac Grand Am, this is the guy who can tell us what it means. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Ron Brownstein Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jun 10, 2022
Curiosity Corner: America’s Gun Dilemma, the Future of Corporate Politics, Relationship Advice, and More!
2229
Welcome to Curiosity Corner! In our first ever all-mailbag episode, Derek answers a Republican’s question about gun control, explains how American companies became so political, revisits a controversial Amber Heard episode, and explains how the podcast comes together. Finally, in response to a couple that requested a wedding-day video, Derek veers out of the news lane and offers some relationship advice. If you’d like your questions answered on this show, send your first name and city or state to PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. Host: Derek Thompson Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jun 07, 2022
America’s Gun Problem Is Impossible
2935
The Texas school shooting is part of a grisly ritual in American life. A tragedy, followed by mourning, followed by inaction, followed by several months, followed by another tragedy. What can be done? What WILL be done? This episode isn’t about false hope. It’s about information. The New York Times’s German Lopez, who has been reporting on guns and gun control policy for many years, joins the podcast to answer as many questions as we can fit into a show, including: Why are school shootings becoming more common in the U.S.? What are the most successful gun control policies at our disposal? Why doesn’t Washington ever do anything about this problem? What happens now? Oh, and Derek will be off next week. New episodes will return in early June! Host: Derek Thompson Guest: German Lopez Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
May 26, 2022
What's Going on With the U.S. Housing Market?
3364
It's our first Curiosity Corner podcast! We asked you to tell us what questions you wanted us to answer, and a lot of you had the same thought on your mind: housing. In this podcast, we answer: What's going on with the U.S. housing market? Is this a bubble? Is it bursting? Why are homes in America so expensive? Why are we so bad at building houses? Why is there so much homelessness in America's richest cities? The Atlantic's Jerusalem Demsas comes on the show to share her theories with Derek, and Derek explains why he thinks every important question about the U.S. housing market has the same fundamental answer: inventory, inventory, inventory. Keep sending your questions at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Jerusalem Demsas Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
May 24, 2022
Why Does the Internet Hate Amber Heard?
2534
It's the trial of the century—kind of. The legal showdown between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard has captivated the country, and Derek is a bit confused. Why is everybody talking about this miserable celebrity relationship? Why are so many people obsessed with demonizing Amber Heard? Producer Devon Manze explains to Derek why she thinks the trial has conquered the news cycle, and The Atlantic's Kaitlyn Tiffany explains why the internet hates Amber, and what it says about the future of truth, fandom, and who we are on the internet. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Kaitlyn Tiffany Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
May 20, 2022
The Mystery of America's Missing Baby Formula
2819
America's infant formula shortage is very strange and very embarrassing. Nationwide, more than 40 percent of formula is out of stock, and in many states, like Texas and Tennessee, more than half of it is gone. What's going on? The immediate cause is the shutdown of a Michigan plant. But shutdowns and recalls happen all the time, and they rarely cause a national crisis like this. Economist Scott Lincicome says the real culprit lies in America's trade and regulatory policy. He explains how we got here and how we can get back to a rational baby formula policy in America. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Scott Lincicome Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
May 18, 2022
Why the U.S. Could Be Headed For the "Weirdest Recession Ever"
3295
Crypto crashes, rate hikes, recession, fears, and inflation prints: The U.S. economy is in a very bizarre place right now, and Derek needs help explaining it. Michael Batnick and Ben Carlson of Ritholz Wealth Management are back on the pod to reconvene the economic roundtable. We play a game of "Finish the Sentence": The single most shocking stock market stat is …? The long-term bull case for crypto is ... ? The worst sign for the US economy is … ? The BEST sign about the US economy is …? If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. Host: Derek Thompson Guests: Michael Batnick and Ben Carlson Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
May 17, 2022
Market Meltdown: Why Tech and Crypto Are Crashing - and What Happens Next
3262
The stock market is absolutely gross right now. Everything is down, except (as loyal listeners know) the CATAN portfolio. Crypto has cratered, growth stocks have been ravaged, and hedge funds are imploding. Why is this happening? Is this Dot-Com Bubble 2.0? And what does it mean for the future of the U.S. economy, investing, and tech? Investor, entrepreneur, and podcaster Jason Calacanis joins the show. He gives us a brief history of the 21st century tech industry, explains why this is like and unlike the summer of 2000, makes some bold predictions about crypto and the economy, and tells us how he's advising young chief executives. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Jason Calacanis Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
May 11, 2022
The Future of AI Is Thrilling, Terrifying, Confusing, and Fascinating
4194
This might sound like a hot take but it's not: In 50 years, when historians look back on the crazy 2020s, they might point to advances in artificial intelligence as the most important long-term development of our time. We are building machines that can mimic human language, human creativity, and human thought. What will that mean for the future of work, morality, and economics? The bestselling author Steven Johnson joins the podcast to talk about the most exciting and scary ideas in artificial intelligence and an article he wrote for The New York Times Magazine about the frontier of AI. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Steven Johnson Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
May 10, 2022
The 300-Year History of Abortion in America—in 30 Minutes
2559
Sometimes, people ask “why study history?” How about this: American history is the weapon being used to strike down Roe Vs Wade. In the leaked draft of the Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe, conservative Justice Samuel Alito writes that Roe invented a right to abortion that cannot be found in early American history. Is he right? And what’s the true history of abortion in America? That’s the subject of today’s episode—a fast, factual guide to how we got to this moment, reviewing the 300-year history of abortion in America in just 30 minutes. Today’s guests are two historians of abortion in American—Mary Ziegler, a visiting prof at Harvard, and Karissa Haugeberg, assistant professor at Tulane University. If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email me at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com. Host: Derek Thompson Guests: Karissa Haugeberg and Mary Ziegler Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
May 06, 2022
How Would the End of Roe v. Wade Change America?
2807
The Supreme Court is poised to end the era of Roe. In a leaked draft of a majority opinion, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito struck down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that guaranteed constitutional protections of abortion rights. What would happen to abortion rights in its absence? Which states would shutter their clinics? Which states might expand protections? How does the growth of nationwide access to abortion pills fit into all of this? And why was the draft leaked in the first place? This podcast answers all of those questions and more, with two guests: Melissa Murray is a professor of law at New York University, and Margot Sanger-Katz is a domestic correspondent for 'The New York Times.' Host: Derek Thompson Guests: Margot Sanger-Katz and Melissa Murray Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
May 04, 2022
Economic Mystery Hour: How Low Will Stocks Go? Is a Recession Inevitable?
2526
Morgan Housel, author of 'The Psychology of Money' and a partner at Collaborative Fund, joins the show to play stock doctor and diagnose what's killing tech stocks. Then we debate the odds of an imminent recession and talk about how China's bizarre year could weigh on U.S. growth. Finally, we go through all the good reasons and the not-so-good reasons for cancelling student debt. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Morgan Housel Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
May 03, 2022
Why Is It So Hard to Predict the Next Great Quarterback?
2273
This week we have the NFL draft, which is an annual exercise in failure. Every year, some NFL team makes a disastrous quarterback decision but also overlooks a potential star. Why is it so damn hard to predict QB play in football? Are scouts stupid, or is the future just unknowable, or is hiring fundamentally chaotic, or is there something specific about quarterbacking that makes it uniquely difficult to forecast? The economist David Berri joins to share his research on why scouts are terrible at evaluating quarterbacks. His ideas shed light on larger questions like "What is talent, exactly?" and "Does anybody know what they're doing when they're hiring somebody for a new role?" Host: Derek Thompson Guest: David Berri Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Apr 29, 2022
The End of the Golden Age of Streaming
3297
What can save Netflix? Who killed CNN+? What the hell is going on between Disney and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis? It's a big media hellscape roundup. Rich Greenfield, general partner at LightShed Ventures, forecasts a rocky future for streaming. Nick Papantonis, a reporter for WFTV in Orlando, explains that Florida's war against Disney might have some surprising collateral damage. Host: Derek Thompson Guests: Rich Greenfield and Nick Papantonis Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Apr 26, 2022
Instant Reaction Pod! Elon Musk Buys Twitter. So, What Happens Next?
2572
Charlie Warzel, author of the Galaxy Brain newsletter at The Atlantic, joins to talk about what Elon Musk will do to Twitter and how his acquisition could change media, tech, and politics. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Charlie Warzel Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Apr 26, 2022
Why Are American Teenagers So Sad and Anxious?
3865
The United States is experiencing an extreme teenage mental-health crisis. It is one of the most troubling and fascinating social phenomena in the country today. From 2009 to 2021, the share of American high-school students who say they feel “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” rose from 26 percent to 44 percent, according to a new CDC study. This is the highest level of teenage sadness ever recorded. Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at New York University, joins the podcast to explain why. Haidt is the author of The Righteous Mind, and the coauthor of The Coddling of the American Mind. He and Derek debate the role of social media, the evolution of parenting, and the deep root of anxiety in modern life. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Jonathan Haidt Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Apr 22, 2022
How Joe Biden Lost Millennials
3147
The White House has a big youth problem. Since the day of his inauguration, Joe Biden’s approval has declined by about 7 points among Americans over 50—and by an astonishing 19 points among Americans under 35. The pollster and politics writer Kristen Soltis Anderson joins the show to talk about Biden's eroding approval among young people and what it means for November. Then she and Derek talk about what liberals don't get about conservatives, why Democrats overrate the political power of Donald Trump, and whether masculinity could benefit from a liberal rebrand. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Kristen Soltis Anderson Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Apr 19, 2022
The News About Shanghai’s COVID Lockdown Is Shocking. The Reality Might Be Worse.
2901
What’s happening in China’s largest and richest city right now is quite unbelievable. Shanghai is now several weeks into a government lockdown to stop the spread of COVID variants. In a metro with roughly the population of the state of Texas, residents cannot go outside. They cannot walk to grocery stores or pharmacies to pick up essential medicine. If they test positive for COVID, they are removed from their families and taken to quarantine facilities, where conditions are reportedly hellish. As the U.S. enters a stage of normalcy in the pandemic, China is still pursuing a draconian COVID Zero policy at the risk of starving citizens in its richest city. Why? Dan Wang, a Chinese writer and tech analyst, joins the show to talk about what he’s hearing from Shanghai, what China is trying to accomplish, and whether protests could make a difference to the Chinese Communist Party. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Dan Wang Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Apr 15, 2022
Instant Reaction Pod! Elon Musk Offers to Buy 100 Percent of Twitter.
1912
Well, that escalated quickly. Days after Elon Musk become the single largest individual shareholder of Twitter, he has offered to buy the company and take it private. Wait, what? Derek welcomes Stratechery writer Ben Thompson (no relation) to break down the news. Ben explains why Twitter is one of the most important companies in the world, why it's so undervalued, and what Musk could do with it privately. Then we make some predictions. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Ben Thompson Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Apr 14, 2022
When Will the Ukraine War End? (Plus: 10 Good Minutes on What the Hell Elon Musk Is Doing With Twitter)
3570
On today's show, we start with Ten Good Minutes on the extremely funny and very chaotic saga of Elon Musk vs. Twitter. Last week, Musk bought enough Twitter shares to become the company's largest individual shareholder. Then, Twitter announced that Musk would become a board member. Then, Musk tweeted a bunch of embarrassing things about Twitter, suggesting the platform was "dying" and that its headquarters should be converted into a homeless shelter. Then, Twitter announced that Musk would not be a board member. What is happening?! Casey Newton, the author of the 'Platformer' newsletter, joins the show to share his reporting and speculation. Next, we welcome back Paul Poast, a political science professor at the University of Chicago, to talk about why we should fear Russia even though its military has "stunk" so far, why the next chapter of the war could be even bloodier, and when the war might finally end. Host: Derek Thompson Guests: Casey Newton & Paul Poast Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Apr 12, 2022
It's Not Just You: America's Epidemic of Bad Behavior
2636
There is an epidemic of bad behavior sweeping the country. In 2020, homicides increased by a record-high rate. Last year, pedestrian and vehicular deaths went up by a record-high rate. There have been more attacks in hospitals, schools, and stadiums and more unruly airline passengers than any time on record. What on Earth is going on? Today’s guest is Olga Khazan, a staff writer at The Atlantic. She and Derek talk about how America lost its damn mind and review the most obvious and most interesting theories for what's really behind this bad-behavior epidemic. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Olga Khazan Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Apr 08, 2022
Why U.S. Population Growth Crashed to a Record Low
2928
America has never grown at a slower pace than right now. Not only have deaths soared in the pandemic, but immigration is falling and our birth rate is near a record low, as well. Why is this happening? And why is population growth so great, anyway? Today’s guest is Matthew Yglesias, the author of the Slow Boring newsletter and the book 'One Billion Americans.' In this episode, we talk about why politicians won’t prioritize family policy and immigration in D.C.; why population growth is good for Americans today and in the future; why a large U.S. population is good for the world; and whether critics have a case when they say a livable planet can’t take another billion people. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Matt Yglesias Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Apr 05, 2022
Should You Be Afraid of TikTok?
2105
This week, the Washington Post reported that Facebook’s parent company Meta has been paying a Republican consulting firm to slime the reputation of its social media rival TikTok. According to emails shared between Meta and Targeted Victory, Facebook sought to blame TikTok for viral hoaxes that actually started on Facebook and then urged various journalists and politicians to amplify these hoaxes. Today’s guests are the journalists who broke the story: Taylor Lorenz and Drew Harwell. They explain why Facebook is afraid of TikTok; why the campaign to smear TikTok is so hypocritical and creepy; and why there are smarter reasons to be skeptical of an app whose owner has close ties to the Chinese Communist Party. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Taylor Lorenz & Drew Harwell Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Apr 01, 2022
What Is the “Don’t Say Gay” Law Really About? (Plus: The Big Disney vs. DeSantis Showdown in Florida.)
2859
On Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation that prohibits much classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity. The law is called “Parental Rights in Education,” but its critics—which include Democrats, Hollywood, and many outspoken employees of the Walt Disney Company—call it “Don’t Say Gay.” What does the law actually say? And how has it created a firestorm at Disney? In this episode, Derek talks to Dana Goldstein, a New York Times reporter, about the details of the law. Then he talks to Matt Belloni, a cofounder of Puck News and the host of the Ringer podcast ‘The Town,’ about what the debate within Disney says about the future of the culture war and corporations. Host: Derek Thompson Guests: Dana Goldstein and Matt Belloni Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Mar 29, 2022
How Ukraine Wins
2601
Derek talks to The Atlantic’s Anne Applebaum about Zelensky’s global appeal, the roots of Putin's lust for empire, and Ukraine’s prospects for victory. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Anne Applebaum Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Mar 25, 2022
Could Putin’s War Crash the U.S. Economy?
2698
Economic crises are piling up. U.S. inflation was surging before Russia invaded Ukraine. Since the war began, commodity prices have spiked, with gas screaming toward $5 a gallon. And now China is facing a new COVID wave. What is happening, and how will it end? Jason Furman, chief economic adviser to the Obama administration and professor of economics at Harvard University, is back on the pod to answer our burning economic questions, like, “Are we headed back to the 1970s?” Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Jason Furman Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Mar 22, 2022
Five Reasons Putin’s War Was Doomed From the Start
1436
Russia’s military isn’t just a little bit bigger than Ukraine's—it has three times more armored vehicles; four times more ground forces; five times more tanks; and 10 times more aircraft. But for now, David is holding up against Goliath. How is this happening? And how long can Ukraine hold out? Russia military analyst Rob Lee and diplomacy expert Max Bergmann explain how Ukraine is shocking Russia—and the world. Host: Derek Thompson Guests: Rob Lee and Max Bergmann Producer: Troy Farkas Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Mar 14, 2022
Why a No-Fly Zone Over Ukraine Could Be—Literally—the Worst Idea Ever
2223
Three in four Americans say the U.S. and its allies should ban Russian aircraft over Ukraine by establishing a “no-fly zone.” Dozens of foreign policy experts agree. So do many Ukrainians. Is this the policy that could end the war, or is it an idea that could end human civilization as we know it? (Maybe it's both.) The author and foreign policy critic Robert Wright joins the podcast to debate the pros and cons of a no-fly zone. Host: Derek Thompson Producer: Troy Farkas Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Mar 10, 2022
“Every Person Is Ready to Die for Our Country”: Five Ukrainians on Life Inside Putin’s War Zone
1403
Imagine running from your home, from a foreign army, knowing that every decision you make could be the difference between life and death—stay or flee? Turn left or right? Leave at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m.? That is the world in which today’s guests live. Five Ukrainians who live in—or have recently fled from—Kyiv tell Derek what it’s like living in the Ukrainian capital, escaping to Poland, and returning to Kyiv to fight the Russian army. Host: Derek Thompson Producer: Troy Farkas Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Mar 08, 2022
SPECIAL DOUBLE EPISODE: What Putin Will Do Next and the West’s Unprecedented "Financial War" on Russia
3652
There are two wars happening right now. There is a military conflict led by Vladimir Putin in Eastern Europe that we should all hope ends as soon as possible. And there is an economic and cultural war—the world vs. Russia—that we should also hope ends as soon as possible. In today’s episode, two guests discuss each theater of war. Paul Poast, a University of Chicago professor and expert on the economics of war, joins to discuss the latest from the war on the ground. And Robin Wigglesworth, a global finance correspondent with the Financial Times, joins to discuss the global “financial war” against Russia. Host: Derek Thompson Guests: Paul Poast and Robin Wigglesworth Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Mar 02, 2022
Russia’s Economic Meltdown, Putin’s Big Mistake, and the West’s Financial War Against Vlad and the Oligarchs
2068
Things are moving very, very fast in Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine—and in the global response to punish Russia. The U.S. and Europe are not engaged in a literal war against Putin, and hopefully nothing like that will come to pass. But this weekend, they announced a series of unprecedented sanctions and economic penalties that could destroy the Russian economy. These policies are designed to get Putin to end the war before he conquers Ukraine. But they could crash the Russian economy and trigger more global crises. To explain the sanctions, discuss their pluses and minuses, and predict their ripple effects, Derek is joined by Noah Smith, author of the newsletter Noahpinion, and Nicolas Véron, a French economist and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and the European think tank Bruegel. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Noah Smith and Nicolas Véron Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Mar 01, 2022
How Putin's War Will End
2777
Quagmire. Regime change. Conquest. Empire. World War III. Derek considers five ways that the war in Ukraine could end with Paul Poast, a professor of foreign policy and war at the University of Chicago. This is Part 2 of our two-part Ukraine coverage today. For more on why Putin attacked and how war could change the world, check out the previous episode in this feed. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Paul Poast Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Feb 25, 2022
What Vladimir Putin Wants—and How Russia’s War in Ukraine Could Reshape the World
2018
Derek explains why three years—1989, 2008, and 2014—are the key to understanding why Putin is willing to take a massive risk in invading Ukraine. Then, Derek asks five expert guests to walk him through the most important second-order implications of a long major conflict. What are the most important ricochet effects that nobody is talking about? How could the war transform Europe? How could it destabilize Africa and the Middle East? How will it change U.S. politics, or kick off a 21st Century Cold War? Host: Derek Thompson Guests: Charles Kupchan, Liana Fix, Matthew Klein, Alex Smith, Bonny Lin Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Feb 25, 2022
Four Brilliant Frames for Finding the Next Big Thing, With Venture Capitalist Josh Wolfe. Plus, What's Eating Tech Stocks in 2022?
2973
All-star VC Josh Wolfe of Lux Capital joins the show to talk about picking winners and losers, tech's rough start to the year, and his four favorite mottos for detecting BS and seeing reality clearly. Finally, Derek and Josh play a game of "Overrated or Underrated?" for the metaverse, NFTs, and space travel. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Josh Wolfe Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Feb 22, 2022
The Great Debate: What's the Single Most Amazing Sports Statistic in U.S. History?
3444
Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game. Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hit streak. Jerry Rice's gazillion receiving records. Which of these athletic achievements is the most impressive in American sports history? And are any of them the most impressive ever? The Ringer's Ryen Russillo joins the pod to debate the most impressive achievements in football, basketball, baseball, and individual sports. Then, after making selections that will almost certainly infuriate at least half of all listeners, the guys compare the GOATs across sports to name the single most impressive accomplishment ever. (Hint: Ironically, the award goes to a non-American.) Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Ryen Russillo Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Feb 18, 2022
What American Media Is Getting Wrong About Canada’s Big Protests
1699
What if I told you that the anti-vaccination trucker protests in Canada weren’t principally about vaccines or truckers (or even Canada)? The Atlantic’s David Frum joins to set us straight about what’s going on in Ottawa and the meme-ification of protest politics. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: David Frum Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Feb 15, 2022
The Meaning of Life and the Power of Regret
2914
Derek goes deep with bestselling author Dan Pink on his new book, 'The Power of Regret.' This episode was recorded in front of a live audience at the Sixth & I historic synagogue in Washington, D.C. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Dan Pink  Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Feb 11, 2022
Media Gossip Hour: Spotify's Joe Rogan Problem, Facebook's TikTok Crisis, and Crypto's Anonymity Conundrum
3255
Kevin Roose of The New York Times returns to our pod, which is owned by Spotify, to talk about Joe Rogan’s podcast, which is exclusively licensed by Spotify. (That's transparency, folks.) Then we talk about Mark Zuckerberg’s big stock market wipeout, and Kevin explains the latest NFT controversy to Derek like he’s 5 years old. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Kevin Roose Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Feb 08, 2022
This Guy Predicted the 2021 Economy. I Asked Him What's Next.
3001
Jason Furman is a Harvard professor who served as a top economist for the Obama administration. More than just about anybody Derek spoke to last year, he nailed the rise in inflation. What did he see that others didn't? What's happening to inflation, the Great Resignation, labor shortages, and the Federal Reserve right now? And what will happen in 2022? Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Jason Furman Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Feb 04, 2022
One Big Question For: Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Amazon, Tesla, and Meta
2682
They’re the six largest tech companies in the world. What’s the most interesting thing about each of them? Shira Ovide, author of the On Tech newsletter from The New York Times, joins Derek to talk about why Norway is a snapshot of Tesla’s future, why Microsoft is so underrated, and why Apple stands alone among the tech giants in more ways than one. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Shira Ovide Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Feb 01, 2022
Should We Cancel Student Debt?
2360
Americans owe $1.7 trillion in student loans, and some Democrats think the time has come to cancel this burden. Derek shares 10 big student-loan facts that shape the debate. Then Jordan Weissmann of Slate joins the podcast to talk about the proposal to cancel student debt, the best arguments for and against it, the modern history of student loans, and their economic and psychological burden. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Jordan Weissmann Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jan 28, 2022
Crypto Crashing, Pandemic Stocks Plunging: The Story Behind January’s Crazy Stock Market
2811
Morgan Housel, the bestselling author of ‘The Psychology of Money’ and a partner at Collaborative Fund, is back to talk Bitcoin, Peloton, tech stocks, financial media myths, the psychology of stock market corrections, and the long view of investing. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Morgan Housel Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jan 25, 2022
2022 Is Off to a Terrible Start for Democrats
2616
Legendary journalist James Fallows joins to discuss the filibuster wars, Democrats’ Voting Rights Act, the political outlook for Joe Biden and the Democrats, and the media’s negativity bias (as exemplified, one might argue, in the headline to this very episode). Host: Derek Thompson Guest: James Fallows Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jan 21, 2022
The Biggest Losers of the Streaming Wars: ESPN, Movie Theaters, Peacock, and More
3083
Do movie theaters have a future? What should Disney do with ESPN? And is anybody watching Peacock? Derek’s favorite entertainment-media analyst Rich Greenfield joins the pod to talk about the future of TV, movies, and live sports. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Rich Greenfield  Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jan 18, 2022
Everybody Was Wrong About Inflation
2754
Okay, almost everybody. The Biden administration was wrong. Many critics of the Biden administration were also wrong. The Federal Reserve was wrong. Investors were wrong. Banks were wrong. And Bitcoin investors weren't exactly right, either. How did everybody miss the most important economic story of the year? Derek breaks down the highest inflation rate in 40 years and welcomes back his economic roundtable guests, the finance podcasters Michael Batnick and Ben Carlson.  Host: Derek Thompson Guests: Michael Batnick & Ben Carlson  Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jan 14, 2022
Omicron: Feelings vs. Facts
2306
Derek talks about the rise of the "Vaxxed and Done" movement before reviewing the latest omicron data with John Burn-Murdoch, data superstar at the Financial Times. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: John Burn-Murdoch  Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jan 11, 2022
The Biggest Inventions of the 2020s: Cancer Vaccines, Flying Cars, Space Travel, and More
3417
Let’s kick off the new year with a bit of techno-optimism! After a miserable start to this decade, we can still have a Roaring Twenties. In this episode, ‘Plain English’ presents a tour of the frontier of science and technology with Derek’s favorite innovation writer, the economist Eli Dourado. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Eli Dourado Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jan 07, 2022
The Four Ways That America Is Polarizing
2432
David Frum joins Derek to talk about rising and falling polarization by race, gender, education, and place—and what it tells us about America's strange new politics. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: David Frum Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Dec 28, 2021
The Four Biggest Myths of the U.S. Economy. Plus, Omicron in 100 Seconds.
2924
Morgan Housel, Collaborative Fund partner and author of the bestseller 'The Psychology of Money,' joins the pod to debate what we're getting wrong about inflation, the Great Resignation, robots, and investing. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Morgan Housel Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Dec 21, 2021
Elon Musk Is the Person of the Year. Who Is the Person of the Century?
4007
New York Times tech columnist Kevin Roose is back to talk about the Age of Elon, why tech’s most famous founders are acting so weird, and why I’m wrong about remote work. Plus, a 2022 prediction. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Kevin Roose Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Dec 17, 2021
The Elizabeth Holmes Trial With Rebecca Jarvis of 'The Dropout' Podcast
3022
Derek is obsessed with the trial of disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes—and he hopes you are too. Days away from the trial's end, Derek and Rebecca review the most jaw-dropping evidence in the case, the cringiest text messages, the biggest wins for the prosecution, the best moments for the defense, and the larger meaning of the tech trial of the century. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Rebecca Jarvis Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Dec 14, 2021
Media Report Card! Biden Blues, Omicron Fears, Chris Cuomo, and a Celebrity Profile for the Ages
2765
Bryan Curtis from The Ringer’s ‘The Press Box’ podcast joins Derek to hand out grades to the news media for its coverage of Biden, the pandemic, and more.  Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Bryan Curtis Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Dec 10, 2021
Work in America Is Broken—Can Remote Work Save Us?
2466
Derek talks to Anne Helen Petersen, the coauthor of 'Out of Work: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home,' about Americans' relationship to our jobs, work as an identity, and burnout as a policy choice. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Anne Helen Petersen Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Dec 07, 2021
BONUS POD: The Future of Democracy, the Media, and the Economy With Andrew Yang
3915
In our first weekend special, Andrew interviews Derek about the state of the economy, and Derek interviews Andrew about the various plagues of U.S. politics. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Andrew Yang Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Dec 04, 2021
The Bad Guys Are Winning
3242
Derek talks to The Atlantic's Anne Applebaum on the decline of democracy and the rise of a new form of authoritarianism in Russia, China, Europe, and the U.S. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Anne Applebaum Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Dec 03, 2021
The Omicron Variant: So, How Bad Is It?
2183
Dr. Peter Hotez talks to Derek about what we know about the new COVID-19 variant (a little), what we don't know (a lot), and when we'll know more. Host: Derek Thompson Guests: Dr. Peter Hotez Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Nov 30, 2021
Buy or Sell Pandemic Trends: Peloton, Movie Theaters, Masks, and More!
3014
The Atlantic's Amanda Mull joins the podcast to debate Derek about which COVID-19–related cultural trends will thrive or fade in the 2020s. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Amanda Mull Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Nov 23, 2021
We Have to Talk About Inflation
2940
Our first Economic Roundtable discusses rising prices, the Great Resignation, labor shortages, the supply chain mess, Joe Biden’s puking approval numbers, and what the White House can do to turn things around.  Host: Derek Thompson Guests: Michael Batnick and Ben Carlson  Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Nov 19, 2021
The Future Is Going to Be Weird As Hell
2965
In our first episode, The New York Times’s Kevin Roose joins the show to walk Derek through the metaverse, crypto, NFTs, and the maybe-BS or maybe-brilliant future of technology. Host: Derek Thompson Guest: Kevin Roose Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Nov 16, 2021
Introducing Plain English with Derek Thompson
38
Longtime Atlantic writer Derek Thompson breaks down your weekly headlines in his new podcast, ‘Plain English.’ From tech to politics to culture, Derek and his expert guests cut through the noise surrounding the news and tackle the big questions that matter to you. ‘Plain English’ launches November 16, with new episodes dropping every Tuesday and Friday. Host: Derek Thompson Producer: Devon Manze Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Nov 11, 2021