It’s the end of the week, and we’re settling in for Economics on Tap! We’ll close the loop on some questions we raised earlier about the Federal Reserve and swap lines and explore a story on a group of hospitals teaming up to bring affordable insulin to patients. And of course, a round of the game we’re all here for — Half Full/Half Empty! Our hosts give their thoughts on the State of the Union speech, dynamic pricing for “The Batman,” Hollywood’s silver screen obsession with Uber and Theranos, and a “Reading Rainbow” reboot!
Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:
- “U.S. Funding Markets Show Signs of Stability Despite Russia Sanctions” from The Wall Street Journal
- Cheap insulin for diabetics is next mission for Civica Rx nonprofit drug maker from The Washington Post
- Guy Reffitt’s Son Testifies Against Him in Jan. 6 Trial from The New York Times
- James Fallows: Biden’s State of the Union, Annotated from The Atlantic
- AMC Charges More for “The Batman” Tickets, Like Spielberg Predicted from Variety
- “IRS aims to hire 10,000 workers to reduce crippling mail backlog” from Politico
- “The Dropout” and “Super Pumped” chronicle the fall of Theranos, rise of Uber and the human cost of tech greed from The Washington Post
- “‘Reading Rainbow’ is getting a reboot but without LeVar Burton” from NPR
Make Me Smart March 4, 2022 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.
Kimberly Adams: All right. It’s almost time to go. So many screens.
Kai Ryssdal: Really? Sorry, I’m in the middle of a tweet. All right. Oh, I don’t even have to start, you start.
Kimberly Adams: Hi, I’m Kimberly Adams, welcome back to Make Me Smart. Where we make today makes sense when Kai’s not in the middle of a tweet.
Kai Ryssdal: Well, you know, you got to be multi-platform now. That’s all I’m saying, hey everybody, Kai Ryssdal So good to have you on this Friday happy hour Economics on Tap is what we call it, we will do a little news and play a little Half Full/Half Empty and get you off in to your weekends. If we could do that, which we can. Because this is America.
Kimberly Adams: We can. Yes, yes.
Kai Ryssdal: What are you? What are you? What are you drinking? Now we have to tell people you’re expecting a wine delivery, but it’s not going to come. So what are you drinking instead?
Kimberly Adams: So I decided to experiment today I had some elderberry syrup I got from the farmer’s market. So I’m yeah, I know, I had all these little cups this afternoon because I was trying it.
Kai Ryssdal: For those listening to the podcast and not watching the video, my face was going what? Eldeberry what?
Kimberly Adams: Well. And so I had all these little cups that I was like trying to syrup with different types of liquor to see which one it might work with. And I landed on absinthe. And so it’s elderberry syrup, absinthe and ginger ale, and it’s actually pretty tasty.
Kai Ryssdal: Oh, that’s tasty. I’ll bet you that’s tasty. Good for you.
Kimberly Adams: It doesn’t look very appealing. It’s like a weird, brownish purplish color. But you know, it tastes good. What about you?
Kai Ryssdal: I’m doing my standard beer. I’ve got a Stone FML I don’t know if we can see that. I’m a little late on the on the YouTube here.
Kimberly Adams: I can see it.
Kai Ryssdal: There we go. Yeah, good. So it’s so you know, in half ABV? I think I had one a couple of weeks ago, when, when last we spoke. So you know, just having a beer on a rainy, rainy, rainy Friday afternoon here in Los Angeles, which is alright. Alright, should get into the news portion of the podcast shall wel?
Kimberly Adams: Yes we should do the news.
Kai Ryssdal: Alright, you go first, because yours, yours are off the beaten path. And we need a little bit of that.
Kimberly Adams: Yeah, so the first one is this story from The New York Times, which is about one of these ongoing January 6th trials, a guy named Guy Reffitt, who’s on the stand. He’s on trial for you know, attacking the Capitol, one of many, many people who are. And his 19-year-old son took the stand against him today and testified against him. And what’s striking about this story is it really lays out how his son watched his dad kind of go down this rabbit hole and become a different person to the point that he actually called the FBI on his own dad. And it was such a strong example in this story of how the events of January 6, and really what’s happening in this country is dividing families in some really devastating ways. And I just thought it was a really powerful story. The other one is a little bit more uplifting, which is a Washington Post story about this consortium of hospitals that has gotten together to make their own drugs, to make their own prescription drugs. Because the prices of so many drugs are getting so high and sometimes there are shortages. And they were like okay, we’re not going to rely on pharmaceutical companies anymore, we’re going to make our own. And so the nonprofit company attached to this consortium, Civica RX said this week that they are going to manufacture – and I’m reading from the Post article here – manufacture and sell generic versions of insulin at no more than $30 per vial and $55 for five injector pen cartridges. The list prices for those things right now can be $125 to more than $500. This is a reflection of the fact that Congress has not acted on drug prices and multiple administration’s despite saying that they will have not. But this is a very fascinating experiment to tackle this problem, I think.
Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, no, I think that’s totally right. And the really horrible part of this is that we have it in our power to control this and yet we are not. And I don’t get it. I don’t get it because this is a crippling expense for so many Americans. Right? It’s just it’s, yeah, yeah. I don’t know. What?
Kimberly Adams: I’m sorry, somebody said “Kai, if bonds are the unsung heroes of the financial markets. Why don’t you talk about them in the Marketplace numbers.”
Kai Ryssdal: Oh my God. Seriously? Do you even listen?
Kimberly Adams: Chuck.
Kai Ryssdal: Oh my god, Chuck, you’re killing me. Jesus. It’s in there every day. I’m wasting my time. I’m just – I’ve I’ve thrown away 20 years of my life. That’s all I can tell you. Oh God. Yeah. All right. So super quick and then we’ll get on to Drew Jostad and Half Full/Half Empty because I know that’s what everybody’s here for anyway, on a Friday. I just want to close a loop on something that I talked about with Marielle number of days ago. And that is the demand for dollars in the global economy. Now that Russia has been cut off, we’ve frozen off their central bank, and the dollar, of course, being the world’s reserve currency. So there’s an article in the Wall Street Journal today, which says and I’ll just read you the headline, it says, whoops, says I can scroll there. And no, no, she’s not gonna come in. “US funding market shows signs of stability, despite Russia sanctions.” So here’s the deal. Wait, I gotta let the dog in. Lily come here, come on. Sorry, sorry. It’s raining out. And she likes to be out in the rain. But then she likes to come in and get warm. Anyway. So here’s the deal. The dollar is the world’s reserve currency, people pile into the dollar, in times of stress, and also in the US government debt bonds. Hello, Chuck. Because they are safe, right? They’re backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. And there was some question – that was the dog – early on in this in this invasion of whether or not because we had cut off much of the Russian financial system, that people would be flooding into dollars and trying to get more and would the Federal Reserve have to open swap lines, which is to say you give me some of your currency. And the Fed says here, here are American dollars and you will be safe. Would the Fed have to open swap lines? And what the Journal reports is that no, we are fine. And it appears to be okay. And here’s why that’s important. If the Federal Reserve has to open has to open swap lines, they then will have to print electronically more dollars, Jay Powell will have to go to that special keyboard on the computer in his office that only the Fed Chairman can access and create more electronic dollars in the system. And if he does that, then the challenge becomes more dollars means more money in circulation, which means more inflation, which is what the Fed is trying to control. Hello, if you’ve been reading the news, and that would be at odds with them raising rates and cutting down their balance sheet and it would be macro economically challenging. And so what the Journal is reporting today is we’re fine. There enough dollars to go around. Don’t sweat it. And I just that’s important, and I just wanted to make that make sense for everybody and hope I did. Minus the dogs. Okay. The dogs add good texture. I just yeah. Anyway, so there you go. That’s my news. Dollars. Fine. Feds fine. And, look, the American economy is strong jobs today were great. Inflation is a problem, but I don’t know. There’s also a war. So there’s that.
Kimberly Adams: Indeed, there is.
Kai Ryssdal: Okay. All right. This is my favorite comment ever. And then we’re gonna move to Drew Sharif Islam says K and K looking extra hot today. Let’s move on, shall we? We should put that in a marketing. I’m just saying, I don’t know who does marketing for marketplace anymore. But we should put that in it. Huh.
Kimberly Adams: It’s cause you have your curly hair today.
Kai Ryssdal: I know. Right? I’m off. I’m all frizzy. Anyway, go ahead.
Drew Jostad: All right, your first topic for today? Are you half full or half empty or were you half full or half empty on President Biden’s State of the Union?
Kai Ryssdal: So here’s what was really interesting about that speech, too. Well, there were a number of things. The first one for me was the first 10 to 12 minutes of it the Ukraine bit bipartisan support, lots of standing o’s, what he had to do. And that was it. And then he just into a turn into a laundry list and I’m so bored with laundry list. So that’s number one. Number two is clearly they had this whole speech written a week and a half ago, minus the edits from all the executive agencies and departments. And then Ukraine happened and they had cut off a bunch of stuff to fit it into an hour ish. And so they cut out all the transitions they cut out all the flowery language and they did 12 minutes on Ukraine and then bang bang bang bang bang bang bang laundry list and so I’m mostly half empty on all state of the union’s to be honest with you. I watched them to be clear I enjoyed the spectacle, but I’m empty on them.
Kimberly Adams: I’m not – I’m gonna go straight, like middle of the road half full half empty, just half because yes, laundry list yes to everything you said about, you know, the clear last minute revisions to it. But just as a personal point of privilege, there was something in that laundry list that I really appreciated, which was that he talked about the mental health crisis in this country, including a mention of the renewed focus on mental health parity, which is something that I’ve been covering with our APM team on Call to Mind and so to see the mental health crisis being talked about on that platform and getting that kind of attention I thought was a really good thing.
Kai Ryssdal: Totally fair. Totally agree. Yep. Next.
Drew Jostad: To entertainment, where we will spend some time today are you half full –
Kai Ryssdal: Oh, we will?
Drew Jostad: – Or half empty on AMC charging more for tickets to see “The Batman?”
Kai Ryssdal: Well, so look movies already have dynamic pricing right? If you go at seven o’clock on a look in the normal times when we’re all going to the movies if you go it’s seven o’clock on a Friday night, you’re gonna pay more than Sunday matinee at two so sure, why not airlines do it.I mean, everybody does it. Dynamic pricing is like the thing. Sure, whatever, Half half medium I guess.
Kimberly Adams: I’m going to go half full because I love the experience of going to the movies when I go which is not often but you know, it’s it’s it’s a nice experience and I know that they were at a lot of risk of shutting down and I know you talked to a theater owner quite a bit not quite movie theater owner but those venues were really at risk. So whatever keeps them going is I think a good thing so I’m going to go with half full.
Kai Ryssdal: When was last time Kimberly that you were actually in a movie theater?
Kimberly Adams: When I went to see “Dune” with Noel.
Kai Ryssdal: Oh, did you really? Noel King of NPR and now spectacularly of Vox and Today Explained. Oh, interesting. And what did you think of Dune by the way?
Kimberly Adams: Um, it was okay. Like it was cinema, like cinematically beautiful, but story line? Um, I don’t know. I think I probably read too much sci-fi fantasy to be very impressed by Hollywood interpretations of these types of things. So.
Kai Ryssdal: Interesting.
Kimberly Adams: You know? Yeah. But I – you know, it was a good experience, like going into the movies.
Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, yeah. Look, I missed it. I haven’t been in two plus years. And I honestly kind of miss it. Truly.
Kimberly Adams: Yeah.
Kai Ryssdal: Anyway. Drew.
Drew Jostad: Are you half full or half empty on the IRS trying to hire 10,000 staff members to address their backlog?
Kai Ryssdal: Half full, Come on. You gotta you gotta spend money to make money for crying out loud. This is not hard.
Kimberly Adams: I’ll be half full on the initiative but half empty on them – their ability to find those people in this labor market.
Kai Ryssdal: Totally, very fair point. Very fair point. Yes.
Drew Jostad: Wow, that was fast.
Kimberly Adams: We’re just getting right through it today.
Drew Jostad: I’m not ready with the next one. No just kidding.
Kimberly Adams: I mean, I can fill time because people keep asking about my cat. There he is.
Kai Ryssdal: Yeah. Where’s the cat? Where’s he? Oh, there he is.
Kimberly Adams: People keep mentioning in the chat. “Where’s the cat?” There he is. He’s behind me. Okay, go ahead Drew.
Drew Jostad: Are you have full or half empty on the new shows depicting Theranos and Uber?
Kai Ryssdal: So this is let’s see, ABC has one on Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos. And then one of the streamers has it on on Uber, which is based on Mike Issac’s book, which is called “Super Pumped.” I’m half empty.
Kimberly Adams: With the Elizabeth Holmes one is “Dropout,” I think.
Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, maybe with with, God what’s her name? Amanda Seyfried, I hear. Is, did I pronounce that right? Seyfried. Anyway. She, I’m told she’s spectacular. I don’t want to watch ’em. I lived them and reported on it. And I don’t I don’t need that. But that’s just me half empty.
Kimberly Adams: I mean, I’m gonna go half empty. I’m not interested, particularly in watching them for about the same reasons. The excesses of Silicon Valley, just like I don’t need anymore of it. But on the other hand, I think that we’ll probably look back on these films, sort of like, we’d look back on some of those Wall Street films about, you know, the excesses back in the day, and that still happened, now.
Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, I think that’s totally fair. I think that’s exactly right. Yep. Yeah. Greed is good and all that for sure.
Drew Jostad: All right. Are you half full or half on a reboot of “Reading Rainbow” without LeVar Burton?
Kai Ryssdal: Go ahead, because I don’t have a …
Kimberly Adams: I listened I listened to a story on Morning Edition about this this way. And I and I had, I had I was conflicted. But I’m gonna go half full. Because I think that you know, I loved that show so much. And even if it’s not exactly the same, if so – if kids in a newer generation can can fall in love with reading in that platform, then I’m all for it.
Kai Ryssdal: I totally buy that. I have no opinion because I was not living in this country when I was an age to deal with Reading Rainbow or Mr. Rogers or any of those. So I honest to Pete don’t have an opinion. I heard that whole story this morning on on Morning Edition. Just editorially, I got a little lost in that story, and I think it ended in conclusively to me. But, you know, look, anything you can do to get kids to read. I don’t I don’t care what it is. That’s where I am. Anyway. Boom, done. Alright.
Kimberly Adams: Yes, we made it. That’s it for us. He’s done with us. Basically.
Kai Ryssdal: He’s done with us, that’s what that means.
Kimberly Adams: Done with you. That is it. Today everybody is done with us. The show we’ll be back on Monday. We are still looking for your answers to the Make Me Smart question. Which is what is something you thought you knew that you later found out you were wrong about? And you know, I’m never gonna get over that preposition just hanging there at the end. But go ahead.
Kai Ryssdal: Sorry. I still remember my preposition list from like sixth grade right … So send us everything that you have on your mind your questions, your thoughts, your comments. I don’t care what voice memo or you can email us makemesmart@marketplace,org that or you can just play and pick up the phone and call us. 508-827-6278. 508-UB-SMART and we will get it maybe on the pod. We’ll see. Don’t know.
Kimberly Adams: Maybe.
Kai Ryssdal: Do not know. Maybe. Depends.
Kimberly Adams: Make Me Smart is produced by Marissa Cabrera and Marque Green. Our intern is Tiffany Bui. Today’s episode was engineered by the amazing Drew Jostad. and the senior producer is Bridget Bodnar.
Kai Ryssdal: The team behind our game Half Full/Half Emptu is Steven Byeon, Mel Rosenberg and Emily McCune. The theme music for that game was written by Drew Jostad, the director of On Demand is Donna Tam. And that’s where we are on a Friday afternoon in early March 2022. These are crazy times I just like to say.
Kimberly Adams: Indeed they are. But we persist.
Kai Ryssdal: And yet we persist. That’s right.
Kimberly Adams: And we drink.
Kai Ryssdal: And we drink. Well, you know, you go get your wine from the delivery person and I’m going to have another beer. So there we go.
Kimberly Adams: I think after this particular absinthe cocktail I’m going to be done for the night.
Kai Ryssdal: Oh my God.
Kimberly Adams: It’s a lot of absinthe.
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