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A new round of student debt relief
Apr 8, 2024
Episode 1134

A new round of student debt relief

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And, happy solar eclipse day!

The Biden administration is in a mad dash to address student debt relief ahead of the presidential election. A new plan could benefit tens of millions of Americans. We’ll explain. Plus, a Kai rant about a CEO who gets too much attention. And, there seems to be a market for everything! We’ll tell you about a new fad involving kids and mini pencils.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

We love to hear from you. Send your questions and comments to makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

Make Me Smart April 8, 2024 Transcript

Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.

Kai Ryssdal

That’s all we need. You, me, and Jayk. You, me, and Jayk.

Kimberly Adams

Let’s do it then.

Kai Ryssdal

You, me, and Jayk. It’s the title of my new podcast. Hey everybody, I’m Kai Ryssdal. Welcome back to Make Me Smart, where we make today make sense.

Kimberly Adams 

And welcome back, Kai.

Kai Ryssdal

Thank you.

Kimberly Adams

I’m Kimberly Adams. Thank you for joining us on this Monday, April 8, and happy eclipse day. I just popped out on the patio to safely with the eclipse glasses have a little look here in DC, got a little slice of it. Nothing too serious.

Kai Ryssdal 

How does it look? You guys are going to get like 90% or something, right?

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah, but right now it’s not. Later on. Are you going to get any of it? You can’t see anything where you are.

Kai Ryssdal 

We got like, 49%. I just went out. I don’t have eclipse glasses, so I just went out. And I did that, you know, you look at the sidewalk through leaves and the shadow on the sidewalk, and you can sort of see it. And I could sort of see it. It was a little blurry. But you know, it was okay. It was alright.

Kimberly Adams 

My mother just sent me photos of her and some of her siblings up in Bloomington, Indiana watching it, getting ready for it. And it’s funny. I had an interview today with a professor, and it didn’t occur to me that she was at the University of Indiana, Bloomington. And she was like, if you can talk right now, I can do the interview, but then I got to go to the eclipse.”

Kai Ryssdal 

Look, I can’t blame her, right? You can’t blame her. If I were in the path of totality, I’d be sitting there doing nothing. I actually would be doing what my eldest son is doing. He drove from Washington DC out to like, Cleveland. And he just sent a picture in the family chat of him and some buddies having martinis in the eclipse. Oh, to be young and stupid.

Kimberly Adams

That feels very classy.

Kai Ryssdal

Yes, yes. Yes. Yes. Anyway, what do you got?

Kimberly Adams 

But wait, what kind of glasses were they having the martinis in?

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh, little plastic tumblers. I don’t know. They’re college, or just out of college.

Kimberly Adams

At least it wasn’t red solo cups.

Kai Ryssdal

No. No, it was not red. That’s true. That’s true. Yes.

Kimberly Adams 

That’s all I wanted to do.

Kai Ryssdal

All right. Fair enough. What do you got?

Kimberly Adams

Well, speaking of young folks. Well, I guess not so young folks. What’s it called? Today, the Biden administration announced another round of student loan forgiveness slash assistant debt relief. And they have been trying at this six ways to Sunday, and every single attempt is being, you know, challenged and sued and whatever. But for all it’s worth, lots of people are actually getting relief. I think at this point, most of us know someone who’s gotten some debt relief. And I think that the Biden administration’s is in a bit of a mad dash to get the most visible results of their policies that they can before November because a lot of the work that the Biden administration has done is stuff that’s going to show up later, like the Chips Act, the Inflation Reduction Act. A lot of the visual, or at least the way that most people are going to feel these things are going to be years down the road, and he’s not going to get credit for it. And so, it’s fascinating to watch them try to do as much as they can, that they can visibly say, this is something that we did that you can see right now, and we can definitely get credit for. And, you know, it was for what it’s worth, not necessarily a campaign promise, but a campaign indication that he’s going to at least make an effort at this.

Kai Ryssdal 

Yeah. And he’s getting, you know. Look, he gave it a shot. The Supreme Court said no, and other courts, you know, are weighing in, and we’ll see where this one goes. What’s interesting to me is that he’s not. And this is very American of the body politic. He’s not getting credit for having tried. You know?

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah, that’s a good point.

Kai Ryssdal

So, you know.

Kimberly Adams

Yeah, I was over the weekend looking at some numbers on student loan burden in the United States. And like, there are still billions of dollars being held by people who are over 62 years old. Like people over 62 still hold a significant, like burden like something upwards of like one or two million borrowers that are over 62, and still paying off their student loans, which is wild to me.

Kai Ryssdal 

But think about that. That’s 40 years after graduation, you know, NPR had a good piece this morning, pointing out about this latest effort by the Biden administration. And one of the things that the reporter pointed out was that a lot of people now owe more than they borrowed. Thank you to interest rates and all of that, which that’s got to be debilitating. You know, I’m lucky enough to be able to pay mine off. But, man, it’s got to be debilitating.

Kimberly Adams 

My parents told me, and I was so frustrated because I wanted to go to a different school than I did. But that school would have required me taking out roughly like, a quarter of a million dollars in debt over time. Cause I was not getting enough like student aid. Versus I could go to Mizzou for free with scholarships and grants and things like that. And my parents’ MO always was if you get a scholarship, you can go anywhere you want in the world. If not, we will pay to send you to any community college in St. Louis. And as frustrated as I was as a teenager to not be able to leave Missouri when I wanted to. I have forever been grateful to have not taken on student loan debt, especially to see how it’s affected other people like I don’t think I would own my home right now if I had student loans.

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh, for sure. For sure, you wouldn’t. Absolutely. Yeah, no question about it.

Kimberly Adams

Very fortunate.

Kai Ryssdal

Alright, so mine is as I wrote in the rundown. Mine is today’s installment of Jamie Dimon gets too damn much attention. So, Jamie Dimon runs the biggest bank in the country. It’s amazingly profitable. $50 billion last year. That’s all great, but every utterance out of his mouth gets way too much coverage. It’s not like they’re freaking all pearls of wisdom. It’s frankly sometimes self-serving. Sometimes it’s wrong, as he has been many times in the past 18 months, two years talking about interest rates and how a quote hurricane was going to hit the American economy. I mentioned this because Dimon’s annual letter to shareholders is out today. 61 pages, Mr. Dimon wrote, or his staff wrote for him talking about the economy. And the headline in the Wall Street Journal today is “Jamie Dimon Warns US Might Face Interest-Rate Spike.” Well, yes. And also, the sun might explode. It’s just you know; these things could happen. I just think it’s really irritating to me when people get too much credit for just being a guy in a position to power. Mostly it should be said, a white guy. Dimon has been, you know, wrong so many times in the past. And look, clearly, he’s doing something right running his bank, but the idea that he can actually tell us what’s going to happen with this economy is just not grounded in fact. I mean, nobody can. We don’t know. We don’t know. And that’s it. He’s just irritating.

Kimberly Adams 

It’ still wild to me how confident people are with their projections of this economy after having learned nothing. It seems in the last couple of years, when it has been demonstrated over and over and over again, that the post pandemic economy is not, not that we’re completely out of it. But it’s not an economy that we have seen before. It is fundamentally different in the way that the supply shocks hit, the way that demand change, the way that, you know, millions of people globally died, and many people are dealing with long COVID and the emotional trauma it did to the world and how that’s changed everyone’s shopping and living behaviors like, and people are still like, oh, yeah, let’s still use the old models and just pretend like everything is the same.

Kai Ryssdal 

Right. Right. Totally, totally. Totally, totally. Not to name drop. But I did a thing with Jay Powell a week ago, Friday at the San Francisco Fed. And I asked him basically that question. I was like, you know, is it so bad for the Fed to say, yeah, we just don’t know. And he said that we say that all the time. We just don’t know what’s going on. We’re doing the best we can with the data we have. And that I think is the best way to be humble, you know.

Kimberly Adams 

And people are still like, what they’re really doing is this. It’s a signal of such and such.

Kai Ryssdal 

I don’t think there’s a whole lot of three-dimensional chess going on here. Anyway, that’s my rant for the day. Happy Monday, everybody.

Kimberly Adams 

Happy Monday. Let’s do some smiles. We kind of did my smile at the top. Excited about the eclipse. I’ve been watching NASA’s live stream, because you know, it’s better.

Kai Ryssdal

No, and It’s cool.

Kimberly Adams

And they’re just sort of following the totality across the country. And I’m sure you can rewatch it later if you miss it. But I just think it’s cool. What’s also cool is just how excited people get about it, ad it’s an opportunity to learn about space and science and it makes me happy.

Kai Ryssdal 

Totally. I think it’s really cool, I think is really cool. I think the saturation coverage is a little much, but it is pretty cool.

Kimberly Adams 

Oh yeah. Like I didn’t need the weeks and weeks and weeks of coverage leading up to it.

Kai Ryssdal

Right. Right. Right.

Kimberly Adams

Thanks, but no.

Kai Ryssdal 

So, today in there’s a market in everything. Another piece in The Wall Street Journal today, actually, the end on that paper, which is their quirky little column that goes on the front page. Kids in school today having smart devices and computers and all that jazz, are trafficking in pencils, like little tiny nubs of pencils that they have intentionally ground down and they’re trading in for candies and stuff. It’s kids of today, man. It’s just weird. It’s kind of amazing.

Kimberly Adams

Why? I don’t understand.

Kai Ryssdal

Because they can. Because they’re quirky and they are things of a, they are relics of a time gone by, right? They don’t need pencils much anymore. Tests are automated these days. The SATs are now on computers and all that stuff. It’s kind of wild. Kind of wild.

Kimberly Adams 

I’m reading this. It says, “’They’re a status symbol,’ said Nora Rodriguez, an eighth grader in Peachtree City, Georgia. She has grown out of the mini pencil fad because ‘why?’ she said with an older kid attitude, yet she still has favorites and keeps them in a pencil pouch with her eyelash curler, lip gloss, mirror, and brush.” Oh, my gosh.

Kai Ryssdal 

It’s great. It’s a little bit of kids today, and it’s a little bit of there is a market in everything. Just put a little smile on your face.

Kimberly Adams 

I still have many pencils in a drawer. Clearly, I need to be marketing myself.

Kai Ryssdal

Yes, you do.

Kimberly Adams

I wonder if I can put it on eBay or something.

Kai Ryssdal 

You totally could. Write them down really small, like two inches, and then sell them. They’ll go. Anyway. Any who.

Kimberly Adams 

Oh my gosh, that’s amazing. All right. That is it for us today. Join us tomorrow for our weekly deep dive. We’re going to talk about what’s going on in the electric vehicle market right now, and how competition from other automakers are stacking up against Tesla cause we always love to talk about Tesla, don’t we?

Kai Ryssdal 

The times of EVs. That’s why Janet Yellen was in China. She was talking about that a little bit. Make Me Smart is produced by Courtney Bergsieker. Today’s program is engineered by Jayk Cherry. Ellen Rolfes writes our newsletter. Our intern is Thalia Menchaca.

Kimberly Adams 

Marissa Cabrera is our senior producer. Bridget Bodnar is the director of podcasts. And Francesca Levy is the executive director of Digital.

Kai Ryssdal

And there we have it.

Kimberly Adams 

All right. I thought Yellen was in China for the overcapacity.

Kai Ryssdal 

Well, yeah. Part of which is clean energy, right? Their production of that stuff. Yeah.

Kimberly Adams 

I learned that word last week, and I was like, oh, I’m going to deploy this everywhere. Overcapacity.

Kai Ryssdal

Overcapacity.

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