Episode 43 - Semper GameStop (w/ Grace Blakeley)Bad Faith
- 809 views
- 4 Feb 2021
We ask Marxist economist, journalist, and author Grace Blakeley about the revolutionary potential of the GameStop short, her read on America's economic response to the COVID crisis, and to explain what quantitative easing is just one more time. Virgil and Brie catch up after a brief hiatus and cover the important stories he missed: dog shampoo, parking, and some socialists on CNN. Subscribe to Bad Faith on Patreon to instantly unlock our full premium episode library: http://patreon.com/badfaithpodcast The Corona Crash: How The Pandemic Will Change Capitalism is available from Verso Books. Grace is also on Twitter at @graceblakeley. Subscribe to Bad Faith on YouTube for video of this episode. Find Bad Faith on Twitter (@badfaithpod) and Instagram (@badfaithpod). Produced by Ben Dalton (@wbend). Theme by Nick Thorburn (@nickfromislands).
Top of the morning to you, very tough of the morning to you, Joe. Are you feeling in a Celtic sort of mood?
I feel like that's oh God, that's like Irish crab.
OK, I thought that was a British thing because we have we have a wonderful, wonderful international guest lined up for you today, the brilliant Grace Blakely, who is a representative of the British people.
And give us give us an update on what's going on there.
They sent their best, you know. Yeah.
You know, it's going to help us figure things out, know we shut things down, isolated these islands. And, you know, she's going to help us make sense of things over there.
But before that, there's there's been some news since I last appeared on this program speaking, which I have to tip my hat to Bree, who held down the fort Friday.
We missed you last week.
Virgil held down the fort with our Ralph Nader episode. I missed myself, too, but I was supremely confident in your ability to defeat this old man, which which he did.
He only got like three percent of the vote and won once every election was was not spoiled.
So what do you do you have for us this week, Virgil, in terms of good faith and bad faith? OK, OK.
Well, you know, I had one bad faith that was this blizzard. Hey, how about the weather, folks? This this blizzard just getting us snowed in.
Has it affected you a lot in Brooklyn? It has affected me a lot in Brooklyn. I was in a car recently and I do not know how how people do that. You know, I don't know how to because I you know, I've used to vehicles going in a garage, a dedicated zone for the vehicle, and people are just like driving around trying to find a parking spot, which I'm writing it off when it's not snowing.
But I don't have to do it when the snow is up to, you know, up to here. I'm the audience can't see this, but I'm indicating a height above someone above me. You can drive.
I can drive. But what do you do? Just like drive into the snow bank and just leave the car there.
You're dropping all kinds of hints about your origin story here. I don't know if you're from a place where people drive, but it's apparently a place where you have garages. And that snow isn't really a factor. Snow isn't really a factor.
No, it's not. But I just don't know how they do it. Are you supposed to, like, get out of the car and, like, plow it and then it's like park there or just like drive into it? Because I would just drive into it. Just like Phuket.
People spent a lot of time digging out spaces. And then there's all this territorial ness that happens around it, because then once you put in the work and you go somewhere, you don't want someone else to take your dugout space up, you put objects in it and then people move the objects. And this is how fisticuffs happen.
It's just a nightmare out there. It's a jungle.
It's a war of all against all. This is why I don't own a car, just not going to do it just now. I also don't know how to parallel park. There's always confuse me.
So you're not only from a warm place with garages, but at some places insufficiently dense. I know. Why do we always play this game?
We always play this game.
I'm just saying you have to play. You're dropping the cookie crumbs here. I'm just.
I'm just. Well, I'm just giving you know, I just want people to know a little bit about me, you know, the shows that I have, the personal touch and, you know, at one piece of information is that I'm not ashamed of is that I cannot mentally visualize parallel parking. I need to some kind of explainer video that I'm just not going to watch. So there you go. Let's you know, we can we can lead into a different topic here.
I do. I do have a bad faith.
And the bad faith is this is one of the little bits of news that I've been, you know, somewhat aware of in the past few days is, you know, part of the show.
Margery Taylor Green, who is she's a Republican congressman from Georgia, the cute on congressman.
And they I guess it was reported that she just wrote some fucked up shit on Facebook, which this is one of those stories that it's like I already knew that I need the news story.
I don't know why it's dropping at this point. I guess, you know, because she's in Congress now and like, it's heating up.
You know, they're running the engine now and they're filling the committee seats and all that.
And it came out. I'm not I'm not going to read these verbatim. You probably get that information on the on the deep web.
But if I believe it's let's see what she says. She's Jewish.
Whether race were responsible for California wildfire in September. I'm sorry.
What Jewish do Jewish, you know, Judaism and run by the Jews like it is like a Jewish conspiracy to manipulate the weather using some kind of space. Right. Essentially to support the California wildfires. And this is done in order to clear away the land so that they could build this high speed, high speed rail between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
And and it's like and this was just old news to me.
Everyone's like having a laugh about it. It's like I remember that. I remember reading this stuff like two years ago.
And I have to remind myself, oh, not everyone's brain is as polluted as mine with the most deranged stuff on here, like other people actively don't seek this out.
But yeah. So I knew all about the weather, anything. It's not true to my knowledge, because I don't think they actually want to build the high speed rail.
I mean, they're doing a bad job like fire or no fire.
Like, I dunno, maybe they did the fire because they're like, you know, we got to we got to get moving. We got to we got to get this thing off the ground.
How do we got changing the weather? It seems a lot more efficient than being a snowbird. I don't know, go to Florida every winter. So the area just proven.
She also harassed one of the Parkland parents. One of the parents of the kids were murdered in the Parkland shooting.
And it's like, you know, that's that's just a thing that right wing people do. I've known about that for a long time, too.
Alex Jones did does that shit all the time. You barely cross the line on that. And I guess I guess the other one was her.
I don't liking a Facebook post that was like, you know, we should kill some Democratic members of Congress, something like that.
Yeah. Yeah. So that's the gist of this person, like a classic Kuhnen person, which is I mean, there is something endearing about it just to have like a genuine maniac in Congress, you know?
I mean, it's because everyone everyone everyone is a fucking fraud and a panderer phony. And, you know, like, he was a real uncut lunatic stuff.
OK, you're not OK by your biocide.
All right. All right, fine. OK, well, this is a bad faith. This is about faith. She's bad. OK, I'm not the. Tiger, I'm just saying it's you know, it's wacky, it's a it's a it's a situation. I also I also I also have my personal view that, you know, she gets paired with Lauren Bobert, who's gotten crazy from Colorado. They're like, oh, these are both the two maniacs.
No, I think Lauren Bover is full of it. I think she's like definitely she's she's part of the conspiracies. And but, Margaret, you know, you can see she's on the outside. You know, she's insincerely that.
Yeah, Lord, Lord, Lord knows she's operating the lasers for all we know, like she's in there in the control room to like, you know, so you're she's just going to say the crazy stuff to, you know, get the get the suckers to give her campaign donations.
Marjorie Taylor Green, she's she's in it for the love of the game, but that's not even the bad faith.
So right now, there's this pressure to get her kicked off her committee assignments, which is, you know, that happened to Steve King, famous Nazi who was in Congress for a long time.
Republicans have some some Republicans have tried to deflect it by getting a lot of Omar kicked off her committee seats and saying, you know, that's the same thing. So rehashing the anti-Semitism allegations.
Yeah, I saw some of that play out frustratingly so. And I'm wondering how it's compounded now. You know, we're recording this not too long after, you know, as he gave this rather harrowing account of what happened the night of the insurrection on our Instagram live.
And that has kind of ginned up, you know, reinvigorated enthusiasm for having consequences, impeachment hearings or next week.
So all of this should continue to be an ongoing news story, but you're right to highlight the origin story of some of these bad faith actors, because it's it's pretty extreme.
Yeah, I, I also you know, I know what Lord Bobert, she's just a small business asshole, like Marcus, the right wing crowd. I don't know what Marjorie Taylor Green's like job is like, what she was doing for Congress other than reading Kuhnen stuff.
Again, I'm not trying to defend her, but, you know, we do have a poster in Congress, a fellow user of the Internet.
And there's no you know, the bad part is that that false equivalency between her and illit over there was just no equivalent of Marjorie Taylor Green on the left.
That's how we balanced the political spectrum, is she was vice president of her husband's construction company in Alpharetta, Georgia, and then she took up cross fit into on social media.
That's how it started. And to publish podcasts.
That's how it's all right. OK, all right. First off, the vice president of her husband's company.
You'll wonder how you got that job to the crosthwaite. That's how it starts, because it's kind of like a cult that it's you know, they start screwing with your brain, your sense of reality.
And it's like eventually you need harder stuff after, you know, it's not giving you the rush anymore.
Then you got to do it on stuff.
I mean, it sounds like a trajectory that I've come dangerously close to. This is why I don't exercise.
There you go. There you go. I only do what you have to choose either. I don't I don't know.
Are you saying if you were in college, you would be the left wing Marjorie Taylor Greene?
Yeah, it's podcasting or exercise, and that's why there are no fit podcasters.
Just a slovenly soft bunch, maybe not slovenly, but OK.
I mean, I personally think Dellec personal delicacy is something of a virtue.
I think we could all stand to be a little more delicate, cuddly, cuddly, shall we say. Speaking of cuddly characters, might that be nice?
Transition. Nice, nice. I want a high five.
You know, my bye babe involves a story from the very end of last month. The news cycle is so fast, it already seems like was a million years ago. But it's literally the funniest thing I've seen this year, which is that this journalist, if you want to call him that, he is a writer for Cuil.
Let a contrarian, like so many there are posted unironically the following. So it turns out I've been using dog shampoo in my hair for the last few months.
I only discovered that I only discovered it when I ran out.
I needed to get more. This is partly my own fault, but it doesn't help that Armand Hammer has the word hetz in like four point typeface. I'm guessing this is common. Now, the clincher of this post is that before you open up the tweet, you just see the top of the shampoo bottle. When you open it up, it becomes clear that there is an enormous picture of a Labrador retriever.
Hey, this is bad faith. This is my bad faith.
Yes. Yeah. That's because the company has acted in bad faith by deceiving this consumer.
Absolutely all. I don't think as a kid, I think he's a very adult man. Second of all, they're truly first of all, the for the small font, like there's no excuse, it really just says soothing oatmeal shampoo for pets. And again, I just really want to be clear on the fact that there is a really large picture of a golden retriever prominently featured on the front of this bottle.
Now, he responded to people who raised this issue like there's a dog on it. Why didn't you realize the dog on it? And so he writes, But, John, it has a pick of the dog in quotes. Does it mean anything? Lots of shampoos I used in the past have pictures of waterfalls or people cleaning dishes or Goslee drawing women frolicking in pastures or dudes under waterfalls with chests provocatively projected outwards or whatever. I've never seen any of those.
What where is that coming from?
Well, OK, benefit of the doubt. Good faith. There are like shampoos and commercials with like frolicking women and flowers and stuff.
But the idea is that you want to smell like flowers, make sure waterfalls, like herbal essences have like lots of flowers and stuff like that.
Really, although I haven't seen the hot guy shampoo, I, I don't go in that aisle. Well, I don't know. I don't generally shop for men shampoos anyway.
But the idea that people would be like, I want this dog since it's people like dogs blows my mind.
People everyone was I was declining this for like a solid twenty four hour cycle. And some folks are pointing out, you know, black Twitter. I had a good time at the saying that this is just like not a thing that we would do.
And I want to second that because I would have taken one look at this. Product and said, this is a blonde on it, it's not for me, OK? It's not your color. This is my color. This is my hair type.
This is obviously not for me.
I mean, I will I mean, this guy's this guy's a buffoon, obviously. But, I mean, I have to, you know, to find him slightly here because just because his dog on the label doesn't mean it's for dogs. It might contain dogs.
It might be for people who own dogs. Yeah. And like you said, it might smell like dogs.
I mean, there's there's a tuna fish on the tuna fish can label.
It tells me it's for tuna fish. Oh, my God.
So, you know, that's. So you're defending this for people who want a dog based shampoo because huskies are known to lather? Well, because there's a lot of freaks out there who like the smell of wet dogs.
I'm not judging them, OK? I mean, what do you want? I don't want to smell like a waterfall. I don't know what that means.
OK, there's there's so many jokes here that I'm going out of my way not to comment on. I'm going to leave those two black Twitter.
They know what I'm talking about and move on to my good faith, which is that CNN lets them left aside, including yours truly.
Sorry. That was my good faith. I thank God I did your good faith. No, I just did a bad faith.
OK, well then let's do a couple good faith, OK?
It was a combination of good faith because that was my good faith. Was, you know, was was that our good friend Liz Breunig went on CNN did a great job.
You did you you know, you did an excellent appearance on CNN.
Yeah. Well, it was also bad faith debut on CNN. They had a graphic up which showed all of the big players and lefty media players like Bad Faith, Current Affairs, MSNBC, Mother Jones said this was not a well designed panel.
I guess Dave Weigel is a he's not a left podcast or.
Oh, no, Dave. Apparently, I think Dave was one of the people who was pushing for this and helped make it happen. But regardless of his own personal politics, he, I think, is savvy enough to understand how much sway and relevance that lefties are having right now on Twitter and how much how much impact the left is having on the discourse more broadly and how the mainstream media is really getting left behind and will continue to do so. They don't have to pay attention, especially in a world where Biden is president and they can't rely on the fear mongering around Trump anymore.
So Zeltzer had us on and it was a really good segment apart from the intro graphic.
And what it really reveals to me is how much farther we have to go in terms of political education for the center, because just the complete inability to use the right lingo he kept referring to us is like the real liberals. Here's the real liberals.
You need to hear this. This is Brian Stelter.
Yeah. And I was doing his best. And I really I do appreciate the effort and I hope he has this back on again. I'm not sure if I'll make it back on again, because I managed to say Glenn Greenwald and Julian Assange within like a thirty second period.
But we'll see. I've only seen clips of this. Did you tell them the name of our show?
Yeah, he talked about it at length and he referred to podcasts like yours being so important like a couple of times. So I think it was it was a big get for the old boys.
Did they get the URL over there, you know, and they used the wrong they use their outdated logo.
That's why we need a Prescot, because you got to you can't trust these dummies network television.
You press kit that says that says, you know, that is the current logo and says we're not liberals.
Like, stop fucking calling us. Well, we'll make sure to get that in next time. Also, we could spent the whole segment explaining why Jesus Lord, not Mother Jones, but that's for the next appearance.
That's for the next appearance where, you know, I'm sure they'll give you a chance to say the URL of the show, where to find the show, which is at, you know, what place we find is a Patriot dot com slash bad faith podcast where you can join the bad faith family.
That sounded weird. You could oh, you can join the bad bunch by subscribing to our show and you will get exclusive episodes are just for subscribers every week, every week. Unlike this episode, which is a free episode.
So we so enjoy freeloaders.
What do you say we do this?
Let's do it. Joining us today, she is a staff writer at Tribune magazine and author of The Korona Crash How the Pandemic Will Change Capitalism, Grace Blakely.
Thanks for having me. It's great to be here. It's great to have you, Grace, in part because I personally have been clamoring for someone to come and explain all that's going on or has been going on the last couple of weeks with the GameStop fiasco. And I will admit to selfishly wanting some feminine energy to do it.
She didn't buy my explanation. I'm tired of Virgile trying to mansplaining GameStop to me older.
I read I read hundreds of posts. And so I'm an expert on the stock market, but she doesn't buy that.
So I can I can I can explain this to you, if that's good. Please believe what happened.
And where are we now and then I want to get into the substance of the article that you wrote in Jacobin. Yeah.
So I'm just going to give you a little bit of a forewarning, like I obviously picked up on this around the same time as everyone else did. Like I heard some chatter a few days before it went really big from several people saying we've become part of this movement and we pull up all these stocks and isn't this great? But it was around that that time that I kind of recognized what was going on and then it kind of blew up. So I will give you my explanation as someone who's looking at this from a political economic perspective rather than somebody who's been involved in it from the outset.
You not not to read it. I may say I'm not one to read it like. Yeah, I'm sorry. God bless you for that. But yeah. So effectively, this has been so Wall Street. That is a side of the credit. You guys know this. It's been around for quite some time now. Basically a bunch of people that decided, well, they figured out that some hedge funds had basically shorted the stocks of a bunch of different companies, including GameStop.
Now, hedge funds are basically kind of financial institutions that specialize in investing the money generally of very wealthy clients. So they are able to do more risky things than, say, like a mutual fund or a pension fund, because the people that that money that they're best investing is supposed to be well informed. They're supposed to kind of have a lot of it. So they can generally kind of take risky positions and they were shorting these stocks. And that is a kind of inherently risky position to take, basically, because when you're shorting a stock, you're making a bet that the price is going to fall.
And there are various ways that you can do that. But generally, they would do this through a kind of covid position. So basically, by borrowing the stock of another entity to own debt, often, what are these kind of mutual funds, big, big investors, and then kind of committing to that back a certain point in time and covering the difference in the price. Now, the reason this is risky is, of course, because if you're betting that it's going to the stock is going to go down in value, it can only go down a certain amount.
It can go down to zero. So you can kind of basically take the difference between the price of both and where it falls to the stock. Obviously, Carol, going up for a really, really long time. At that point, you're you're covering the difference negatively as it was. So you're kind of it becomes a liability for you. And the idea that these guys had was that they were going to try and execute a short squeeze to screw over the hedge funds and also to make a bit of money.
So, yeah, they kind of basically did this online collective action where they were like, we're going to use these new trading platforms that become very popular over the course of the pandemic. We're going to buy up these stocks and try and push the price of these stocks up to screw over the hedge funds. And lo and behold, it works. And we can talk a bit about why it worked and the kind of particular economic and financial conditions that allowed it to work in a bit.
But it worked. And they did screw over the hedge funds and they nearly bankrupted one for a while. It became this kind of like Robin Hood narrative, literally, because they were using Robin Hood as a as a platform to do that, but also because that was this kind of underdog element to it. And, yeah, then it all went to shit.
OK, so let's talk about that. Where are we now? Yeah.
So obviously this exploded into the press when these hedge funds kind of when it was realized that they were being screwed over by this big group of retail investors. Well, screwed over is a very loose use of the time because these investors were literally just kind of doing what people do every day in financial markets, what financial institutions do every day in financial markets. But that was the way that they saw it in a way that a lot of the kind of financial press and insiders saw it.
And as a result, a lot of the platforms that these guys were using kind of stopped allowing the users to buy shares in these companies that were being targeted. And they said you can sell, but you can't buy more. That was at that point, it was felt that that was going to be a kind of closing of ranks that the people who bought these stocks were going to hold onto them and basically try and beat these platforms that financial markets just.
There a game, but there's only so long that you think about any collective action, there's only so long that everyone can hold out, especially when the only real connection that they have is like chatting on on Reddit forums. I imagine there are a lot of like girlfriends, boyfriends of these these people saying, like, please cash out. That's all lifesavings. I don't have partners. Yeah, baby, I happen to know one of my friend's boyfriends who was vaguely involved in this minneapolis' a lot of the above the narrative.
Right, that these are like bottom feeder basement dweller ne'er do wells. This is the narrative that's been put out there by a lot of the financial press and that there's this real kind of outside inside framing of it where the insiders who are typically the ones that are controlling markets and and doing so and untoward in illegal ways often are allowed to do it, get bailed out when they do it. But when it's these people who are from outside of the system, the day trader from New Jersey or who may or may not be living in their parents basement because we live in an economic horror show and then suddenly it's wrong and they're the bad guy and we've got to make it so that they cannot persist.
We got to shut down Robin Hood. We've got to prevent people from buying more stocks, etc, etc..
Yeah, I mean, I think this whole thing, like the thing that it has exposed, the lesson that it has exposed is that the kind of liberal bourgeois ideology about capitalism and about markets is just a cover for a system in which power is very, very concentrated. So if you take the liberal or neoclassical perspective on how capitalism works, it's supposed to be the system of like decentralized competition where small producers go up against one another in these competitive environments.
And in doing so, the market mechanism magically creates these things prices, prices, which magically distribute everything in the most efficient way possible. And the only thing that can stop that is governments. And it's this really wonderful democratic system that gives that makes everyone well-off and not just makes everyone well-off, but makes them as well-off as they could possibly be without making someone else worse off. This is like ideology of neoclassical economics and of the idea that economies are always heading towards equilibrium and that financial markets support that process.
Whereas actually that isn't how capitalism works. And Marxists, people who've studied capitalism as a holistic system, realize that you can't separate economic power from political power in the way that this narrative assumes and that all the institutions that underpin those markets and the act within those markets are mechanisms that exert control over those markets in which kind of structure outcomes in such a way as to benefit the people who already have the power and already have the wealth.
That was a lesson in this, basically that like we don't live in free market capitalism. We live in a kind of very centralized, more centralized capitalist system where the people who make the rules also tend to make the rules in their own interests.
Yeah, we were talking about this a little bit last week with Ralph Nader. I was telling him how taking tort law was a radicalizing experience for me in a way that was very unexpected.
Just because the more general I learned about how our legal system was structured, the more it became clear that it was structured. May the odds ever be in everybody else's favor, in the one person's favor. Right. And that just the process of going to law school, if you have your eyes open even a little bit, is a radicalizing experience. And in this moment, what it felt like was the invisible hand suddenly became very, very visible. And it's attached to someone who is very, very much antagonistic to your interest.
So I want to ask you, how much did the limitation of platforms like Robin Hood, where people were doing a lot of this trading on buying new shares of these stocks, impact the eventual follow the price? And how much was it, this other piece? But you talk about which is the fact that the people involved weren't a natural constituency, weren't a natural kind of like class group that could hold together for the long term?
Yeah, I mean, it's hard to say at this point, right? Because this big fall in the price, which has happened fairly recently has is still happening. It's difficult to say what exactly broke the people that were holding these shares, but I'm sure that part of it was the decision by some of these platforms not to allow people to buy anymore. I mean, it was once that momentum stopped, once the price stopped, taking up it up and up and up, people then suddenly started to think, OK, well, I have to make a decision now.
Do I stay in and basically commit the amount of money I've committed to this, knowing that it's very risky and uncertain, but doing so of political commitment? And again, that comes down to that question about the fact that these people are not a cost, they are not a people necessarily with a similar set of material interests that would kind of bind them. They're not even a class kind of in themselves that they go to class for themselves and yeah, at that point, the fact that these platforms have gotten in the way and also that that was there's a sense that that was this combined assault from the establishment, I think then led people to basically think, right.
Well, a lot of people to think, right. Well, it's not worth it. And of course, some people did stay in, did commit to this, and they lost a lot of money, like people have lost hundreds of thousands of hours.
Yeah, there's a lot of you know, there's a lot of unsophisticated investors who got swept in on this. And I think I think some of the criticism of I think there is a good faith criticism of Wall Street banks, which is, you know, some of these day traders. I have a lot of money. They're very sophisticated and they have a sense of when to get out. And they have you know, they can make material gains by not just screwing over the head of hedge funds, but by, you know, screwing over some creditor who just was unemployed.
Just got a stimulus check.
I've read recently some articles suggesting that some of the big accounts on Wall Street that have either been sponsored by or bought by financial institutions or powerful investors and are being used like I don't know if that's true. This is just something that I've seen being speculated about. I would not be surprised. I mean, obviously, you know, like lots of big financial institutions are now going to see this as a mechanism as as part of that strategy. Right. You're probably going to see a lot of them getting onto Reddit in one way or another.
Part of the narrative that I've seen, and this is you know, this is the positive framing of this, is that these old stodgy hedge funds, you know, they don't they don't know what. Right. It's about. We're we're we're Internet based and the polite term here, we're Internet dipshits and we're utterly powerless.
But we can do one thing. If we get together, we can we can screw these guys over because they don't they don't read read it, they don't read 4chan or whatever. But that is just not the case. And, you know, the hedge funds and these are these incredibly, incredibly sophisticated social media like analysis.
Analysis. Yes, exactly. Like this reminds me of I was listening to a show, you guys know Troche Futures, our friends in the UK talking about how there are increasingly so a lot of investors are using algorithms to analyze the speech patterns of like CEOs and executives, board members when they're talking about the performance of their companies and combining that with like social media analysis to determine which stocks are favored, underpriced, like these people know what they're doing when it comes to technology, like investing in financial markets.
Just investing in capitalism more generally is like a technological arms race. So, yeah, I think this whole narrative of like the Reddit chadds versus the kind of Wall Street nerds is probably a bit of wishful thinking on these people's part, unfortunately.
So is the goal then when financial institutions get involved in these Reddit channels to also participate in this kind of market manipulation, if you want to call that, call it that going forward? Or is it that we're saying that they bought this, they got involved, they bought the stock off of these folks to sell it and drive the price back down to provide cover for those who shorted in the larger institutions?
That had a lot on the line.
So I think answering this question requires looking at some of the big trends that we've been seeing in financial markets recently and maybe thinking a bit about how financial institutions are positioning themselves with regards to those trends, as well as with regards to these ones. I mean, the big thing at the moment is, is policy. Well, you know, people who are in these these spaces will call policy, which is basically talking about quantitative easing, because the way in which central banks have just created new money and pumped it into asset purchases, which has just driven stock prices just through the roof, this is until the kind of the collapse we saw earlier this year.
Wall Street, the longest bull run in history, the S&P 500. It's been the longest bull run in history. Things like the market capitalization to GDP ratio, which measures the kind of total market capitalization of stocks in various indices against GDP, was through the roof. It was like higher than the financial crisis, higher than the tech bubble. This was just really creating a very both volatile environment, especially with the wider economic context, but also one in which it seemed like everything was overvalued.
And in the context that everything's overvalued, everyone is desperately seeking out the next big thing. That's what happens when there's a bubble. But when we're in this situation now, where it seems like we're in a kind of mega bubble, where you have bubbles in lots of different areas like, you know, Bitcoin and lots of tech stocks and things, it creates this kind of volatility. And like I said, that's what makes it into this kind of arms race between these financial institutions, because you have to be able to generate a certain return for your investors.
And if you fail to do that, then you're out. It's the kind of logic of of competition as it manifests itself in financial markets. So these people are going to do whatever they need to do to. Generate the returns that they want to make for their clients and to get their commissions and to get their bonuses, and if that means like logging on to Reddit and like having personal accounts where on their lunch breaks they sit around and try and coordinate a different sort of thing to boost the prices of stocks that they hold, then I'm sure they will do that.
They'll probably come up with more sophisticated ways of doing it.
But, yeah, they're going to do whatever they need to do to to make money or be in a situation where this asset bubble, this has to be maintained by. That is the primary objective of every government and every central bank, either by low interest rates or just pumping money into the economy. Because you remember when the stock market crashed back in March as the pandemic was beginning and that felt like a real correction.
And immediately Congress turned on the fire hose, immediately passed the two trillion dollar package, included some money for the little guys and then trillions of dollars in loans to big corporations.
Yeah, I mean, I think if we were ever going to see a recalibration of central bank policy, it would have been during that that dip, because that was a sense that this wasn't the fault of central banks. Obviously, if there had been a halt to quantitative easing any point before that, it probably would have had quite severe ramifications for financial markets and central banks would be blamed for causing a crash, which would be very problematic politically. The fact that this then happened potentially gave them an out, if not to unwind that that balance sheets at least to kind of, you know, step back from the QE fire hose, like, cut it down a little bit.
But instead they turned it all the way up. And I think there are two reasons for this. The first one, and this is what, you know, central bankers will say themselves because they will say that they are nonpolitical entities that have no relationship with other political or economic institutions. Basically, this is required for financial stability. And Paul is right. And this is an interesting part of the argument about the structural power of finance in our economy.
One of the ways in which this is an important argument, because in a sense, it's true that had central banks not done what they did, the recession probably would have been worse. I mean, it would been worse because wealthy people wouldn't have been as wealthy because they will have potentially lost a lot of money either through decline in house prices, the value of their pension pots, whatever, but like that would have had an impact on the recovery.
But it also would have cut to the core of what a lot of people see as the central problem such banks are facing at the moment, which is how the hell are you supposed to stop QE, let alone unwind QE, without creating havoc in financial markets and without making a lot of people very, very angry at you. But then there's the political reason for this. And, you know, as much as central banks, all nominally independent, they obviously very clearly influenced by wider political considerations.
This is why worries about the article really. It's like there's a reason that various different, like neoliberal politicians over the last 40 years have been desperate to encourage ordinary people to invest in stock markets. It's part of a wider hegemonic strategy that seeks to convince everyone that everyone could be middle class and also links the interests of that middle class to the very, very wealthy at the top of society and says, look, if these politicians are undertaking policies that are inflating asset prices, that are increasing wealth inequality, the vast majority of that wealth is going to go up to the very, very top to the top one percent don't know one percent.
But if the middle class is getting a fraction of that, it's becoming slightly better off. Then, you know, that provides some sort of foundation for for that model continuing.
I want to if I can just take a step back and explain quantitative easing, because I suspect that there are some people listening who might have gotten a little wobbly in the knees during that poor rotation, my myself included. So when we're talking about quantitative easing, we're talking about injecting large amounts of money into the financial sector to stabilize the economy.
Yeah, let's I mean, let's start with, like, who's doing it. So this is a central bank policy nominally and most have been most kind of developed economies. Central banks are independent from the government. So you have the Treasury that does kind of direct government spending and manages fiscal policy through taxes and spending. And then you'll generally have an independent central bank like the Fed or the Bank of England, which basically controls monetary policy. So this is everything to do with money.
They set interest rates, which is what most people will be familiar with when we're talking about central banks. But we got to a problem in the wake of the financial crisis, which was the interest rates were very, very low, and yet that wasn't stimulating demand. Now, the reason that interest rates are supposed to stimulate demand is because it makes borrowing cheaper and it makes saving less attractive. So people are supposed to save take out savings from that savings and spend them and as opposed to borrow more money and spend that.
The problem that we had after the financial. Crisis was that we had a big debt overhang. It was this big debt driven crisis. We saw an explosion in household debt, of course, the economy and also in corporate debt as well, which has skyrocketed since then, but particularly household debt and households with trying to what economists call repair their balance sheets, which basically pay off their debts and accrue some savings. In that context, trying to incentivize people to borrow with cheap borrowing wasn't really going to work.
The only people it was going to work for was largely people who already had healthy balance sheets, who already had assets. So very, very low interest rates after the financial crisis largely helped the wealthier, particularly people who already owned homes. And this has been a big part in the UK of the growing intergenerational divide in homeownership. Is the a lot of people who were able to purchase homes before the crisis were then able to purchase second homes during the very low interest rate period after the financial crisis and become landlords.
So low interest rates wants to be raising demand. So what central banks did is borrow a policy that was developed by the Bank of Japan in the wake of its housing bubble, which happened in the nineteen nineties, and create new money which central banks are able to do. Like a lot of money creation happens via private banks through loans, but central banks do create new money themselves and they basically use this new money to purchase different kinds of financial assets.
Mostly that was government bonds. Now, central banks had already been involved in the bond markets because it's part of the set of tools that they use to influence interest rates. But the shift was towards buying long term government bonds. So central banks bought government bonds in the bank in the U.K., the Bank of England ending up holding a huge chunk of outstanding government debt. And they did this in the secondary market. So they bought these bonds of other investors.
Now, this was supposed to there were a lot of different initial theories as to how this would work. There was one kind of bogus thing that was like, oh, this will increase lending because it will give banks more money. Now, that's bogus for a whole lot of reasons that we won't go into. But effectively, the way ended up working was that investors got given this money. They gave the government their bonds. They had this pot of money.
They have to maximize their returns. They have a fiduciary responsibility to their investors. They need to get the highest returns they possibly can. So they they took their money and they were like, right, where can we invest it to generate the highest returns that basically led to this flood of money that's been created by central banks going into stock markets, into housing markets? A lot of it went into the global south, which is a big part of the debt crisis we're seeing now because that money flooded in and now it's flooded out because of this crisis.
As a result, we have the really huge imbalances that we see at the moment in financial markets. So things like, you know, in the US there has for a long time been this bubble and corporate debt because it's been so cheap for corporations to borrow from banks, but also from financial markets by issuing bonds. So that was this really big rush into high yield corporate bonds. Now, why would a corporation, Aleksa, issue bonds that have high interest rates as it cost them more because they call access to credit because they're not a good bet.
So these were not really often financially stable companies, but because there was all this money floating around and that was what we're going to check our money into this anyway. Does this ring any bells? Pretty thousand seven. It was obviously much less significant, but it was still important. So we had the massive increase in corporate debt. We had rising house prices again, particularly places like London, where housing is very integrated into into financial markets, the massive boom in US equities and a big lending spree and lots of other parts of the world.
And that created a huge amount of instability. It was kind of really it's almost like a house of cards. And the issue that we have today is that this is not something that's been done before, let alone on the scale. It's it's being done on now. So no one really knows what's going on. And when no one really knows what's going on, that creates volatility, it creates uncertainty and it creates crazy swings. Because if you don't have a foundation upon which you can accurately value a company or stock or a bond because there's so much money sloshing around everywhere, then you're just going to follow patterns.
You're not going be able to do value investing and not be able to say this stock is worth this much because this company is this good. You're just going to follow what everyone else is doing. And that's what we're seeing at the moment.
And so much of the conversation among the financial insiders throughout this GameStop brouhaha has been about how it's absurd that the price skyrocketed because obviously the company isn't valued accurately. It's absurd because I mean, this is like a blockbuster style company that's completely out of business. And there's all this conversation about value, value, value in the counterpoint is that nothing is being appropriately valued. I mean, obviously, this was an inflation, but that the overarching problem in. All of these crises, it seems the instability is driven by the fact that, one, the financial markets are so complex even to people who are on the inside of them, that there's a lot of opportunity for three card monte to continue all the gambling metaphors.
And two, that it is very difficult to appropriately and accurately value something. I remember when I started as a paralegal after college at a boutique firm, I was doing a lot of this work. We were told 11 people in the world understand this financial instrument you're working with. You're responsible. You're supposed to be the 12th. And we were supposed to think this was heady stuff and feel really good about ourselves for having to explain our books heaped on our desks because we tried desperately to figure it out as overpaid paralegals.
But there was this sense that even in other people at the firm, even though other people in the industry didn't know what was going on.
And lo and behold, about six months after I started working there, we had the financial crisis. Yeah, great job. You're welcome. I did my best.
Yeah, no, that's completely right. The law being a really important mechanism through which capitalism is kind of coded. There's an interesting book called The Code of Capital, which is from a kind of liberal progressive economist to the institutional economist that just looks at the importance of the law for the modern capital accumulation, but also those points that you're making at the beginning about the value it brings back the central question that neoclassical economics doesn't have an answer to that mainstream economics doesn't have a lot to do, which is what is valued.
Now, Marxists have an answer to that. It's hotly debated and you'll find a lot of people with very, very different interpretations about what the labor theory of value is, how applicable, how applicable. But it is even whether Marx actually did have a labor theory of value. But Marx is have an understanding of where profits come from, how profits are generated in the production process for the middle class. The Economist, there is just this sense that prices of value are the same thing.
Value is just an expression of how much you want something, how much utility something gives you. And so it becomes very difficult to disentangle value from price. And this becomes challenging in an ordinary commodity markets. In financial markets, it's very, very difficult. Obviously, asset prices are governed by different, different kind of logics and commodity prices. But the point remains, you know, it's difficult to wade into a financial market and say this thing is not as valuable as everyone else thinks it is because financial markets are supposed to be efficient.
And that's usually how a lot of hedge funds make a lot of money. It's by wading into the books, by potentially doing some dodgy stuff to figure out what's really going on inside a company and saying actually everyone else is wrong. This is not valuable. This is not going to produce any profit over the long run. But generally the cases in which that happens and it's done successfully is is rare because markets are supposed to be efficient. Allocate the capital.
They're supposed to give you an indication as to the future profitability of all these companies.
But not everything is is a you throw. Exactly. It's it's a guess. Yeah.
Also, the stock ahead would point out another thing that the stock market is supposed to do is raise funds for companies.
Right. And he pointed out that something like three percent of the money that private firms raised did come from actual stock offerings. And the rest of it just comes from other sources.
Yeah. So firms can raise money in different ways. They can issue so they can issue stock, obviously. But the stock is generally not preferred because firstly it conveys ownership as well. Generally, like most kinds of stock, if you buy the stock, then you're a part owner of that companies you can potentially influence the the decisions are being made by that company, but also because obviously, if you're issuing more stock, then it's diluting the value of the existing stock.
So it's making the people who own that stock less wealthy. They can also issue bonds, which is kind of borrowing from financial markets. They can borrow from banks. Yeah, there's lots of different ways that the corporations can can raise funds. And this differs from place to place. So like the US and the UK have much more developed and sophisticated capital markets that firms rely on than other parts of the world that rely more on bank financing. A lot of places in Europe rely more on bank financing.
And there are some interesting questions there as to how capital markets could be used theoretically by a kind of socialistic, progressive government to direct capital more effectively and more efficiently. Whether you're talking about sustainability, whether equity. Yeah, but broadly. Yeah, broadly speaking, this particular attempt to kind of privately influence the direction of capital allocation in favor of a small number of retail investors was, I think, probably not a model for organizing or for direct action.
That's kind of the argument you make. In your article, is that as fun as the story is and as much as it has the valence of one of these David and Goliath tales, but we shouldn't look to this as a model for activism, in large part because it does get people to invest in the idea that a winning stock market is their friend and best media of having their fortunes linked with the one percent instead of forming an antagonistic labor class. But I want to ask you this.
So often on this show, we talk to people who emphasize the importance of labor activism for all the reasons we understand and know, but also who highlight how difficult it is given how diminished our labor participation is in the country.
Do you have any kind of optimism or is there any potential edge here, opportunity here for people in lieu of other opportunities to try to strategically continue to do things like this GameStop fiasco and expose, at the very least, the extent to which the invisible hand is the fiction that all of these economic premises like ability to pay equals willingness to pay are in fact fiction.
That valuation valuations in large part are fictions. Is there no benefit to doing that kind of thing? And do you think it's possible for people to continue to create these kinds of moments?
So I think the first thing I want to say about that is that this whole saga is, I think, indicative of the kind of the forms of resistance that you get at a point of very deep and profound contradictions within the capitalist system, but in which the kind of countervailing forces that might exist that might be able to kind of resist that that might have the incentive and the ability to resist that and transform the system just aren't organized and coordinated enough. And that is the real problem here.
And that is actually why I think we can have some sympathy for these guys, because, you know, you're look at you as a as a kind of individual young person trying to make it through the pandemic and get out the other side and think about where we're going to be in 10 years. How are you ever gonna be able to buy a house? I going to raise a family? How are you going to pay your rent at the end of the month, let alone all that?
It's very difficult to see how you could change anything. And it's very easy to become hopeless and to become completely disillusioned. And this is kind of part of this whole, you know, narrative that that was there was a point in time where I perhaps was still living in it, where it's easier for most people to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism, which is a I think Jamison quite originally, and Marc Fisher, to have this idea, this ideology, capitalist realism, that is kind of impossible to imagine that we could ever move beyond this, this system, which is so wide and vast and complex and deep, the system that structures not only the way that we work and the way that we spend, but it structures all very sense of who we are, structures our relationships with each other.
It structures our politics, our entire society, imagining a world beyond that, when you are in it, when you all constructed and constantly being reproduced or reconstructed by it is very, very difficult. Now, Marx's answer to this was, of course, that capitalism creates a class of people with both the incentive and the capacity to use those moments of crisis to kind of break through the dominance of these social relations and build something new in that place. And that was supposed to be the kind of the proletariat, the working classes and a specific kind of working class generally like, you know, organized urban workers who are together on a on a shop floor, who are both treated like appallingly, who are overworked, underpaid, but also exist in this space where they can organize, where they can talk and have to be educated to a certain level to be able to perform the task.
They have to perform that that allows them to kind of generate some understanding of the system. Now, the problem, ever since pretty much Marx wrote that has been the extent to which that the agent, that kind of revolutionary agent, can generate a kind of form of class consciousness that can become a kind of class for itself and can actually genuinely pose a threat to the system. And recently that has become a much deeper problem, which is the question of does the agent even exist anymore?
And on the surface, again, it comes back to this this stuff that we've been discussing in the program so far. If you look at developed Western societies, it's easy for people to say, as many do, oh, there's no such thing as the working class anymore. Everyone's middle class. Actually, this was I've been going back over over Grabowsky recently because I'm using it for my book. And I pulled up this quote earlier, which I think really brings this out, which is the bourgeois class.
Poses itself as an organism in continued movement, capable of absorbing the entire society, assimilating it to its own cultural and economic level. This idea that everyone could become middle class, a lot of people have been taken in by that. Of course, this is all about the reorganization of global capitalism, such that whilst we have a growing middle class in the global north, it's generally based on the outsourcing of labor to many parts of the global south and the kind of reorganisation of the production process such that people managing production, people kind of speculating about what's going on in production, can exist in these countries with strong labor rights.
And the people who are actually producing the stuff can exist with countries without strong labor rights. And that, again, creates a much deeper problem about. Right. So the people who are potentially the kind of revolutionary agent are dispersed all around the world, generally in very authoritarian states and are often cut off, not really don't conceive of themselves as this kind of coherent Asian working class that's going to overthrow the system and the people who are living in states where there is perhaps the greatest potential, the capacity to organize, because there's high levels of education that's more kind of developed, public services, etc, are generally not in those conditions that that Marx would want to talk about.
So that is the context in which we find ourselves. And obviously it's an incredibly challenging context. And it was supposed to be a challenging context because that's a big part of what neoliberalism was about. It was about disguising this divide between labor and capital, disempowering the working classes, kind of taking away the idea of the revolutionary agent, and therefore taking away the idea that there could ever be life beyond capitalism. And how we get out of that is like such a multilayered question that, yes, comes down to how we organize, how the labor movement works.
But it also is is like much more expensive than that. It's like what forms of protest and direct action can we use to recenter this this contradiction? How can we orientale selves towards the state? How should we oriental selves towards the rest of this global movement? Where were the weaknesses of this model? What's going to happen with the next kind of crisis that it generates? So, yeah, I mean, I've already I've I've gone on way too long on that subject.
But in terms of the general question as to how we like Rehame power and revive the labor movement, that's I think especially for a lot of leftists who have for the past five years or whatever, been focusing on the electoral roll. It should be our number one priority. And I think a lot of it comes down to political education. So a lot of the kind of thing that unions have become is that the only time I really get like a communication from my union is when they're offering me life insurance or like a cheap deal or something like that.
So there's no real kind of attempt to engage the rank and file to translate this relation between a worker and a boss into a wider social relation that can galvanize political action. Political education is a big one that my friend Leo Panitch recently passed away last year, was really, really keen on that and really centered that in his discussions of this question. And yeah, I think that should be the that should be the start. You can ask me how we do that, if you will.
Have already been speaking for way too long.
That is the question, right? Whenever we have these conversations, I'm very keen to drill down to that next level because I do think that that's where you discover the difference between what amounts to kind of a platitude and what amounts to a real plan of action. And there are people who would, I think, very happily stay in platitude space because for reasons they may or may not be actually invested in change. But I think that listeners start to zone out.
I mean, start to disengage when they're just told for the zillionth time how difficult everything is.
No one, no one has a problem with it being difficult, but they do want to know that there are opportunities to take advantage of.
So I do want to ask, if not this, if not GameStop, I can see an argument that says everybody thinks they're bourgeoise. Why not allow them to mobilize their bourgeois identity and co-opt bourgeois systems and at least throw monkey wrenches into the machinery in lieu of or while we are re educating and reengaging people in traditional labor organizations.
But in lieu of of those kinds of efforts, what is the next step in the education process? How much does economic education of the type that you're giving us in this program play a role?
I completely agree with that point about by virtue of the wealth system that we live in, the societies that we live in, the societies in which. We're trying to organize they're not dominated by any stretch of the imagination by by middle class groups, but the middle class is a very substantial section of the population of one kind or another. However you want to define that, whether it's like professional managerial jobs or asset ownership or whatever, we have to find ways of being able to encourage that group to identify with their existence as as workers or at the very least, not as the top one percent.
This is what the whole many in the field think distinction is, right. Like the success of neoliberalism was always about encouraging that group, that middle group in the global north to align with the people at the very top. So we have to figure out ways to highlight that antagonism between the many in the few, between the one percent and everyone else, whilst giving people a sense of their own power. And this is the point I made in the article.
I think there are lots of different ways that you can do that. And it doesn't it isn't just labor organizing. I mean, the first thing I would say to anyone who's listening to this is if you're not a member of a union, join a union. Right? No one join a union if you want maybe show up to your branch meetings or whatever it is in the US every now and again, maybe like talk to your colleagues about it.
But I was actually watching. There's this funny show on Netflix at the moment, superstore that if you see it, it's clearly modeled on warb. And it's like a really interesting popular account of like the challenges of trying to form a union and like and actually organize. I think that was a really good pop reference to that. So, yeah, like joining union number one. But there are all sorts of different forms of direct action, of protest, of organizing that people can do and that are actually already happening.
Like we can talk about this from a theoretical perspective, but like good organizers know these things and what they need to be doing.
So whether we're thinking about, for example, in the UK Extinction Rebellion, which has had some good organizing tactics and some houses as well, but they did a good one recently, which was shutting down the Murdoch press, which put all this stuff out about how climate change wasn't real, wasn't as big as everyone said. It was a really good example of an interesting direct action that highlights this antagonism, highlights a bad guy and encourages people to feel powerful.
Because, look, we had this impact on the system. We stopped the presses for a day that's that's big and that's interesting. We have actually seen an increase over the course of the pandemic, which is a reversion of a very long trend of people, more people joining unions. Again, in the UK. We have to show Love Island, which is like a kind of like The Bachelor, but like with one of the people who was on that had been a flight attendant and said, join a union like this is going to be really important.
So stuff like that where it becomes better represented in like kind of popular culture, lots of different forms of protest have increased in different parts of the world in recent years. So, I mean, sometimes that's like anti Brexit protests, which I wouldn't agree with, but at least they're giving these middle class people that experience of getting out in the streets and resisting and organising through to anti-austerity protests. Participation cuts their other identities as well. The people may like lock onto you more than this labour capital once they're like Detta organizing, for example, joining a debtors' union, joining a renter's union.
The rent unions have been so, so, so powerful over the course of the pandemic. Places like ACORN and especially in the US, where you have these huge corporate landlords like Blackstone, which own vast swathes of these cities and can really you can really kind of highlight that labour capital stiction that through that kind of organizing. Yes, I think there's loads of different stuff that's going on. And to be honest, I've said this many, many times now, I could be wrong and end up looking really stupid.
But I think there is this like undercurrent of discontent and kind of a real desire to actually organize and get out on the streets, which when this ends, I think is going to explode like a little bit.
I hope this being covid lockdown or whatever, whatever way we're in right now.
Well, I do want to also ask you, since retainment covid about your latest book, The covid Crash, what can people expect if they crack open its covers yet?
So I wrote this quite quickly over the course of the first lock down last year. I can imagine, and I'm very jealous. I can't even get a book proposal together. Here you are already with the covid book out. Yeah, I mean, I'm glad I did it. It was it was a gamble because writing about history, as it happens, is always challenging. But I'm really glad I did it. And it's it's a short book. It's broken down into four chapters and it links to the first chapter, picks off with my first book, Left Off, which is Stolen How to Save the World from Financialization.
And that is basically looking at some of these issues we've been talking about actually on the show today about the creation of this middle class with unit is invested in financial markets and the the impact that this had on the kind of social relations that underpin capitalism. And so I pick up that say, right, we had all these problems of the economy before it hit, a lot of which had to do with financialization and illiberalism. Some of them were just to do with the nature of capitalism, like ecological crisis that made us very vulnerable and has put us into a situation where.
In the second chapter I describe as a kind of move towards a much more concentrated and centralized form of monopoly capitalism. We have a very small number of very, very powerful interests that I argue, and this is the argument of my next book, which I'm currently writing prolific.
But we kind of basically don't we don't live in a free market economy. We live in a kind of a substantially planned economy. But the planning is not social democratic planning. It's not socialist planning. It is a form of kind of oligarchic plotting that brings together big businesses, big financial institutions and capital estates. I talk about that in the next part and then also about how the crisis is playing out at the international level and why we need a global great new deal to deal with it.
Oh, well, that sounds like good stuff. I think so. But The New York Times The New York Times called it the purest iteration of the socialist critique of capitalism for the pandemic age so that, you know, they didn't think it was a good thing.
I think I was going to say, you can't buy that good. Because I made it. I meant it as. I wanted to. Before we wrap up, just get your sense of I don't know how closely you've been following any of our stateside covid relief efforts. Yeah. And how it compares. I mean, as an outsider's perspective, who hasn't been doing the best job in the new global context of managing it?
But it does seem we look everywhere with envy because our job is so terrible. What do you make of this latest brouhaha around relief checks, the two thousand incoming fourteen hundred and now phaseouts being introduced so that there's income thresholds that will further diminish that number, the effort to make it a bipartisan issue and get these 10 Republicans on board and dilute the amount further for that reason. All of this, what's your make?
So I like the main way in which I consider it. Consider this is from a political perspective, like the move from two thousand dollar stimulus checks to fourteen hundred dollar stimulus checks is why people hate politicians like the way that he was so easily able to just weasel his way out of that promise, a promise that won him the seats that he needed to be able to pass. That that kind of stuff in the first place is just astonishing. It actually reminds me of.
So there is a brilliant sociologist. It was a pretty casualties in the UK called Ralph Miliband, Ed Miliband stats brilliant Marxist sociologist, wrote about the state and he had this. He wrote about the various coalition governments that Labour had got into during. It was like the 30s or 40s or something. And he was like they wanted to be in a minority. The leadership wanted to be a minority government because they didn't want to have to pass radical legislation.
And when they became a majority, they were like, shit, what are we going to do? Like we have all this power now. How do we like continuing to continue to tread this line where we actually don't want to do some of the stuff? We have to pretend like we want to do some of this stuff. So I feel like Biden's now in that position, which is worrying on the kind of like the substance of it. Like I was always, you know, I think it's, again, indicative of the position that the left is in, that the big demand that everyone's been fighting for is these universal relief checks that are going to everyone without anything else on top of that.
And my concern is, is that for the majority of people, that money is going to go to paying off debts, to paying rent, to making ends meet for the people at the very top. It's going to inflate that already substantial shareholdings or whatever for the middle classes is basically all going into the stock market as we're going into GameStop. And as a result, it's probably going to increase wealth inequality in an ideal world. I would want that to be combined with a wealth tax of some kind.
Of course, it does not reflect the position where that those checks would need it because people needed that to survive. I'm not saying that that shouldn't have been the case, but I was always concerned from the very beginning that this was going to create more financial instability, that it was going to create higher levels of wealth inequality. Yeah, I think that's that's still a problem. We're going to end this crisis where a bunch of people who've basically been able to keep their salaries and have way less expenditure have accrued huge, huge savings.
They're going to go to the economy, spend a shitload of money, and everyone else is going to be screwed over. They're just as bad as they were before.
Ed Miliband, father, a Marxist historian, much like Kamala Harris. Yes.
Yeah, there's many examples. Hilary Benn and Tony Benn.
Yeah, I bit of what I want to see people do. Yes. And their kids. Because liberal politicians.
Yeah, it's the generation. It's also because. Yeah, it was just part of that. You know, there was this moment where like socialism was in the air like everyone cool was a socialist. And then you had like fucking the 80s, the 1980s and. My mother always says that I think I reflect sometimes that she spent her entire 20s in the 80s. Like, wow, that's just not even fair, she's born in nineteen sixty, I just like I just reflect on that.
I think God I should Collamore I went on rising this morning and we had this conversation about these stimulus checks and preparation I was looking at. It was like two hundred and fifty odd billion that went to big businesses in the spring last spring with no conditions, no means testing, obviously, and no conditions in terms of having to keep people on the payroll, which is ostensibly the whole point of the thing. Right. The whole point of all these checks and all this money ostensibly, is that people can stay home, we can get covered under control, and we can all be waltzing around and going to the beach like they are in Australia in six months or whatever.
And of course, we just keep dripping, trickling and dragging things out that everyone is compelled to continue their own same behavior. There's this push now to reopen restaurants in schools. It's almost as if the government has just decided we're going to like power through this. There no death toll that's too high. And now we're talking about, a, the difference between the means tested bailout and the original two thousand dollars is something like a savings of about the same as was given to the billion the rich in the spring.
And nobody cares. You know, we're talking about the original plan giving checks to like ninety five percent of Americans versus 70 percent of Americans.
We're talking like 80 billion, 80 million people, 80 million people who are now not going to have the kind of support that would arguably help with the behavioral shifts that we need to get covered under control. This is not an abstraction. And this is coming from the party that says we believe in science. And that's why you had to vote for us over Trump. It's unconscionable. I don't even know what to say at this point, but I am gratified that despite the fact that Jeff Bezos, his newspaper, is talking about people don't need money because they'll just use it to pay down debt as they like, that's on a meet like that's in other ways.
Like that is a big fat, not golden toilets or whatever that the public seems to be sufficiently outraged. And this is a real kernel of consciousness that's germinating around this particular issue just because two thousand dollars is such a iconic, easily recognizable promise and people are understandably feeling shafted. Silver linings.
Yeah. I mean, I think, again, it just comes back to this question of like the stuff that these politicians think that they can get away with, like regardless of any of the arguments for or against this particular policy. You campaigned on it. You campaigned on it in this incredibly important race that is going to completely transform the nature of your presidency. And you have such little respect for the people who came out to vote for you that you can just immediately go back on that whilst thinking that they're all going to be any consequences.
This is why people don't vote, right?
Exactly. Well, Grace, where can people find your work? Where can they buy all of your many books and where can they find you on social media?
So I agree slightly with Tooheys on Twitter, and you can buy my latest book from the website and just follow me on Twitter takes on all things finance, Marxist political economy, which is some people's cup of tea.
It's very it's very much you find those links in the description of this episode.
Thank you so much for your time. You've been very generous and for walking us through. It is a very complicated subject matter and a really approachable and delightful way. Much appreciate it.
Thank you so much for having me, guys. And it is great to be here. OK, well, that does it for this episode, I learned a lot, I'll have to Google a couple of other things.
I knew all the stuff, but I wanted her to explain it to the audience. Right. Because I read those posts already, like wanted to use and yeah, I read a post about that. So I got the gist of it.
Yeah. I mean, that's they're big enough that I don't mind asking the question for the audience. I'll be the foil.
It is good that you did because that was that, that is exactly the kind of thing that is completely inscrutable, like the actual mechanics of it.
But Greece does a great job of explaining it.
Like she's really good at that. She does. Can I confess I have a little bit of a thing where if I watch too much British programming or am engaged in conversation for too long with a British person, I will start to do a little bit of mimicry, which is not the best.
Oh, everyone does that. Everyone does that.
It's I, I was I was talking with an Australian person the other week and it was like impossible to not to resist the urge to start kind of like talking how you imagine Australian person dogs.
How's your Australian accent.
Pretty bad. Pretty bad.
Well, no, like doing an accent, but I just mean, like, I don't like calling it mate or something. It's it's it's awful.
That's what the worst one time there was like this like British Tea Shop in the neighborhood. It sold like all manner of British things.
And I went in there once and the Englishman behind the counter says Neilly responded, It was like a tiny shop.
And there was just like me, my, you know, friend and her in there. And I kinda just I had to press through. I had to.
You going to commit to the big dick, you know, as a podcast or.
You know that I'm bright and I'm sure I'm sure I'm sure that I'm sure that happens all the time because the stores manufactured for you to back like that inside and they've curated the British vibe and resist it.
That's that's a testament to good marketing. Speaking of good marketing, you know, there's premium episodes of the show that you can buy.
And maybe if you listen to them, you'll start to talk like me and Brianna with your with your friends and you'll just be oh, God, I don't know.
Don't actually don't talk like I do do an impression of us or send it to us. We would hate that.
Whether or not you adopt our subtle regional accents, you can find our programming. I put you in DOT Bad Faith podcast. We just did a really great episode with the one and only Ralph Nader next week. We have a really excellent episode coming up on Monday with David Deyn explicating all that. There is to know not only about Biden's first hundred days, but we can expect from the stimulus, et cetera, but also this really interesting emerging story about Katie Porter losing an important seat on the Financial Services Committee and the involvement, perhaps passive aggressive or outright aggressive involvement of Auntie Maxine Waters.
Check that out, patrón dot com slash Bad Faith podcast. Also subscribe to us on YouTube videos of of this episode and other episodes. Look, get all manner of video. Frankly, that's a run. I'm going to go right. YouTube dotcom slash bad faith podcast. Here you go.
Yeah, that's one of the things is bad faith pod. And that's what screws me. I think it's the Twitter that's bad faith pod. I don't know.
It fills in regardless. The people are smart.
Our listeners are brilliant individuals and I know that they can find find a way.
Well, the subscribers are I mean, I don't know what these other companies are doing. I don't care for the patriarch. OK, let me spell it out for you real easy.
That's what that's what I'm good at explaining. That's what I'm explaining for the owner. I already do that information right about it. OK, let's let's get out here. That's the great episode.
Great episode. Virgile. Keep the faith. Keep the. A man like that is hard to find, but I do it in my mind. Amy? And if he happens to be free on. That's too bad. So I must dream, I have to go.