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Trying to explain the bank runs? The “takeconomy” might deserve some of the blame.

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At a press conference on March 19, 2023, Credit Suisse chair Axel Lehmann blamed part of the bank's failure on a "social media storm."

Credit Suisse Chair Axel Lehmann blamed his bank's failure partly on a "social media storm." Content creator Kyla Scanlon highlights the role of social media in the instability that has jolted global finance. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

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While a number of factors contributed to the swift collapses of Silicon Valley Bank and Credit Suisse, social media accelerated those downfalls. And for content creator Kyla Scanlon, the “takeconomy” might deserve part of the blame.

Everyone has a take nowadays, a narrative. That narrative might be influential, but it might be something different from the truth.

“You had social media risk, which is a risk that nobody’s really sure how to price,” Scanlon said. “Nobody’s really sure how to evaluate the power of Twitter in causing a bank run.”

Scanlon, who creates popular economic explainers on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, coined the term “takeconomy” in a recent newsletter. She spoke to “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal about the idea and what it’s like to make economic explainers for social media right now. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Kyla Scanlon: Very excited to be here. Thanks for having me back.

Kai Ryssdal: Very different circumstances, though. Last time, it was all inflation and how you got people to pay attention to that. Now it seems there’s a sort of a different vibe in the air.

Scanlon: Yes, absolutely. Yeah, very much a different vibe.

Ryssdal: So we should say here, I think you really try to educate people about this economy, right? That’s, that’s your thing?

Scanlon: Yeah, I try my best.

Ryssdal: And oh, look, you do a good job. And we talked about that last time. Here’s what I want to know before we get into the substance. How has the change in the economic situation changed the way you do what you do?

Scanlon: Yeah, I try to be gentler, right? So, I think things are a lot scarier. It’s a lot bigger. And you have to be very cautious in the word choices that you use, the facial expressions that you make. Because when people are watching your videos every day, they can notice small discrepancies.

Ryssdal: It’s so interesting, you concentrate on your facial expressions because of course on TikTok and Instagram, it’s all visual and you are right out there. So to the nuts and bolts, what do you make of this moment that we’re in?

Scanlon: What part of it?

Ryssdal: OK, all right. Well, let’s go through big to small. Well, first of all, the whole thing, right? We got the [Federal Reserve interest rate decision] coming up tomorrow. We have a banking situation, I will let you call it a crisis if you want. We’ve still got inflation. What are you thinking?

Scanlon: Yeah, I mean, it’s supertough. But I think the Fed has a really tough decision tomorrow. You know, like, they’ve raised rates to the point where a little banking situation was caused, and we still have inflation. So I think that’s either showing the limits of the Fed toolkit, showing that fiscal policy probably needs to step up and then also showing that maybe the Fed went a little bit too hard in the paint [sic] with raising rates for a while.

Ryssdal: Yeah, [Chair] Jay Powell and the paint. So, I want to get back to you for a minute and how you do what you do. You know, one of my mantras all the years doing this job is, look, if you don’t understand the economy, it will one day rear up and bite you in the tuchus. And sadly, I have been proven right many a time. I wonder how you, as you try to reach your audience — which we talked about last time, right? — how you make them understand that.

Scanlon: Like that they need to understand the economy?

Ryssdal: That they need to know. You need to know this or it will hurt you.

Scanlon: So I think No. 1, people do want to understand, but they don’t even know where to start. And then No. 2, people who don’t want to talk about the economy, they’re more often doing it because it’s big and scary, and it’s a big, scary thing to understand. And so for me, when I try to explain stuff, I try to use words like “vibes” to view things like sentiment. You know, using the characters and the skits really helps convey how people should feel about stuff, like if you see a character make a face or based on that script, people do want to understand, and we just have to give them the toolkit.

Ryssdal: We should say here, and we should give out the handle: It’s @kylascan on virtually every platform. I personally recommend the TikToks and the Instas. Let me get you back to the vibe, though. Last time we had you on, we talked about the “vibecession” and how you had coined that term, and it was getting all kinds of pickup and people were basically like, yeah, that’s exactly right. You now have a thing called the takeconomy. Explain that.

Scanlon: It’s sort of funny. Credit Suisse cited this too. They were like, Twitter is the reason that our bank blew up. And same with Silicon Valley Bank. You had social media risk, which is a risk that nobody’s really sure how to price. Nobody’s really sure how to evaluate the power of Twitter in causing a bank run. But I feel like there’s these incentives in place for different types of people to really incite rage and fear into the hearts of many in order to like, get a bag, right? It’s just very valuable to be very loud, even if you’re wrong, which is unfortunate.

Ryssdal: It is indeed. What happens now, do you suppose, once we’re through this tough spot, right? I mean, we’re gonna get through Powell tomorrow. We’ll have another banking thing happen, or maybe not. [JPMorgan Chase CEO] Jamie Dimon is gonna save the world, or maybe not. And then what?

Scanlon: Yeah, I mean, it’s interesting with Jamie Dimon and JPMorgan. It’s literally just like the panics of 1907.

Ryssdal: History matters. I say that all the time, history matters. Y’all can look it up.

Scanlon: I mean, I think there’ll be more regulation in place for sure. I think that we’ve seen a lot of unprecedented action from policymakers on this, like the Treasury, the [Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.], the Fed all getting together and making this big decision, all the central banks coordinating so we could do swap lines, all the big banks coordinating so they could save First Republic. We’ve seen a lot of collective action, and I’d be curious to see how that transfers over into the future. Like, how are all these entities going to work together moving forward?

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