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Our annual cherry blossom episode
Mar 15, 2024
Episode 1119

Our annual cherry blossom episode

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Plus, thoughts on Peeps and pie.

On today’s edition of Economics on Tap, we’ll get into some news while celebrating cherry blossom season in Washington, D.C. The National Association of Realtors agreed to settle a slew of lawsuits and change its rules on commissions. We’ll discuss how the fallout could impact the way we buy and sell homes in the United States. And, an usual political money phenomenon is the hot new thing in political strategy. Plus, we’ll play a blossom-themed round of This or That!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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Make Me Smart March 15, 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.

Kimberly Adams 

Got the cherry blossom allergies to go with.

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh man, I had allergies this week for the first time ever. Are you kidding me? It’s horrible. I don’t know how you people deal with it. It’s terrible.

Kimberly Adams 

It’s the worst.

Kai Ryssdal 

It is the worst.

Kimberly Adams 

Well. Hey everybody. I’m Kimberly Adams. Welcome back to Make Me Smart, where we make today make sense. It is the Ides of March. Friday, March the 15th. Hope you didn’t stab anybody in the back today.

Kai Ryssdal 

Didn’t see that coming. I’m Kai Ryssdal. Thanks for joining us on the podcast and on the YouTube livestream. It is Friday, of course we are going to do a little happy hour today and some other stuff. Oh, my goodness, no stabbing, though.

Kimberly Adams 

No stabbing. Right. So, today we have a special edition of Economics on Tap. It’s our annual cherry blossom party. I should say my annual cherry blossom party because Kai didn’t wear his shirt today, but that’s okay. We love him anyway. As usual, we’re going to get to some news. We’re going to take a break. We’re going to play a game. But before we do that, we’re going to talk drinks, and my drink is of course cherry blossom themed. I have a cherry blossom highball, which has cherry blossom syrup, sake, whiskey and Luxardo cherries topped with a little bit of club soda. So, that’s my drink. What are you drinking?

Kai Ryssdal 

That’s a lot. There’s a lot going on there. My goodness.

Kimberly Adams 

And it’s delicious. Quite refreshing.

Kai Ryssdal 

Good. Good. Good. Good. I am drinking Dinosaur World Modern Times Hazy IPA. ABV is 8.0 for those of you keeping track. It’s actually double IPA. Quite tasty. I’ve become a fan of Modern Times. I think they’re down here in Southern California somewhere. But you know, and I’m going to have another one after the show because I’m going to dinner with my mother-in-law tonight, and nobody needs that. That’s all I’m saying.

Kimberly Adams 

In the chat, shout out to Chris Kircher who says on theme, he’s having a black cherry martini home infused Tito’s with Washington black cherries. Love that. That sounds good.

Kai Ryssdal 

That’s pretty impressive. Home infused Tito’s. My goodness.

Kimberly Adams 

I’m a big fan of infusing like things with different types of whiskies at home. When I was living abroad in Egypt, there wasn’t exactly a large variety of choice, you know when it came to booze, so I was infusing everything. I was making like sage infused bourbon, and you know, pomegranate infused vodka and like all the little things so I can have the cocktails that I wanted. So, all for the infusions. And I see people enjoying my decor. Yes, I went all out for the cherry blossom theme. I’ve got my cherry blossom duvet cover and pillowcases and my flowers and even turned on the little pink lights. I should have put some cherry blossoms on Jasper, but I don’t think he would have tolerated it very well.

Kai Ryssdal 

I would like to have a word with Samuel Purack in the chat. Coffee from the morning with coffee ice cubes and oat milk foam. Look, I’m with you on the coffee ice cubes and a little foam. You can do whatever you want there, but good God man, pour a fresh pot of coffee will you? Come on.

Kimberly Adams 

Oh man. Let’s see what else we have. Let’s see. I hear a lot about Jasper. Okay. Brett Bardot has a bourbon Manhattan. Dan with a Guinness.

Kai Ryssdal 

Here’s one from St. Louis. Sara Smithy. Sorry, I’m butchering your name. I really apologize. Pinot Paris in Tower Grove Park St. Louis. STL. That St. Louis, right?

Kimberly Adams 

That is literally across the street from where I went to school from preschool until I graduated from high school. I ran around that park many times for track and field and that is why my knees are shot.

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh really?

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah. Cause our school didn’t have its own track, so we ran around the park.

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh, there you go. One more. One more nonalcoholic from the YouTube chat and then we’re going. Rohan Calabashswari. He says, “I very much enjoy the P-63.” So that’s, that’s a fighter from back in the second World War. “Kai, please tell me your favorite fighter.” Well, gotta go P-38. Right? But also the Tomcat, the F-14. Gotta do it. That’s it. That’s it.

Kimberly Adams 

Okay. So, that’s it. You’re feeling nostalgia. What’s your news? While I deal with my allergies.

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh, what’s my news? So, I’ve got two actually. One actually aviation related, which is just a quickie. And my first one is not really news. It’s more come on. Sorry, gotta open the door for Bons. Come on. Come on.

Kimberly Adams 

I love how we’re both like handling life. Allergies. Dogs. All the things.

Kai Ryssdal 

Honest to God, allergies are terrible. And look my kids have dealt with it. My wife all the time. I’ve never really had them. And this year, you think it was the end of the world, goes like “Oh my God. Honey, it’s terrible.” She’s like, “cowboy up and take a Zyrtec.” Anyway. No, she loves me very much. So, article in The New York Times today, which I will just read the headline of and kind of let it sit there. “Kushner,” as in Jared, “developing deals overseas even as his father-in-law runs for president.” So, this is amid all the Hunter Biden hysteria. And let me point out, as I’ve said I think on this podcast before. What Hunter Biden has done, while perhaps not criminal was at the very least bad judgment, and his father should have known better and sat him down and said, “Hunter, cut it out.” Right? Forget the gun thing. I’m talking about the Burisma, and you know, Chinese, all that jazz, right? At the very least, looks really terrible. Cut it out. But Jared Kushner went from the White House to getting a $2 billion fund together with money from the Saudis, and now is making deals with like Albania and somebody else’s article points out, and I can’t. I just can’t anymore. Just do the right thing people. Spike Lee said it. Do the right thing. That’s it.

Kimberly Adams 

I don’t think that’s ever been a motivating factor in politics unfortunately.

Kai Ryssdal 

I know. I can’t even. Alright, so there’s that. I just want to be sure everybody saw that because it’s you know, it’s still happening in the Trump family and my goodness. Number two and more substantively, Boeing. Are you kidding me? So, remember that it was the beginning of this week, where, Latam 787 which is, you know, Boeing’s spiffy new airplane plunged like several 100 feet and inexplicably, everybody on the plane basically was hurt. It was like going down a roller coaster. Here is what happened. A flight attendant hit a button on the back of the pilot’s seat while serving a meal. And I’m reading from the Wall Street Journal, “leading a motorized feature to push the pilot into the controls and push down the plane’s nose, according to US industry officials briefed on preliminary evidence from this investigation. The switch on the back of the chair is usually covered and is not supposed to be used when the pilot is in the seat.” She or he the flight attendant hit a button and the pilot when careening into the control. That, I’m just going to say it, that’s bad design. That’s bad cockpit design. Boeing is in such trouble. Such freakin trouble.

Kimberly Adams 

And yet, it’s not like there’s a lot of options on the market globally if you want to buy a plane.

Kai Ryssdal

As we’ve said, right? Totally.

Kimberly Adams

Yeah. Yeah. Okay, well.

Kai Ryssdal 

Anyway. Go ahead. Sorry, that’s my rant. Mine were a little ranty today, so you know.

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah, we get to be ranty. It’s a Friday. I was so fascinated by this National Association of Realtors settlement that broke this morning. It’s a huge deal. So, backstory, the National Association of Realtors and a couple of big real estate brokerages have been getting sued all over the country, saying the way that they set real estate Commission’s is illegal. That it’s basically, what is it, collusion, and that they’re conspiring to keep prices high. And they’re losing, they’re pretty much losing all these cases, and or settling. And so, the National Association of Realtors has reached sort of a nationwide settlement, assuming the federal government signs off on it, that they will pay $418 million in damages. That money would mainly go to sellers and of course, the lawyers. And a bigger deal is that they’re going to amend change slash eliminate some of the rules that create the foundation for the 6% commission on home sales. And that 6% commission is traditionally split between the buyers and the sellers’ brokers. And they would post that on the MLS. And the National Association of Realtors is saying, “we’re not going to do that anymore,” at least not on the MLS. They’re not saying that, you know, buyers and sellers, brokers can’t talk to each other about it. They’re just saying that they’re not going to require it, posted on the MLS. And depending on who you talk to, it either means that, you know, buyers and sellers are going to be able to negotiate those rates a little bit lower or eliminate them altogether. Other people say it means that look, people who don’t have a lot of money are going to struggle to get good representation. What I’m the most curious about is what this is going to do to this sort of sector of the real estate industry, which is real estate agents who just sort of do it on the side. Or who pick it up in between other jobs because if as long as you can sort of get somebody to sign you on, whether you do something or not, whether you help them or not, you still get that commission. Like, there’s quite a few brokers out there and quite a few agents and many real estate agents do wonderful things and are incredibly helpful to their buyers and sellers and life changing and everything. But there are a lot of people out there who just show up and hand you papers and still get tens of thousands of dollars for it, and I will be very interested to see what happens to the size of the real estate industry after this. What was your take on the story when you saw it?

Kai Ryssdal 

Well, I think it’s super interesting. And the thing I keyed in on was, you know, we that is the home buying and selling public pay about $100 billion in commissions every year. So, let’s say the standard 6% commission gets cut in half fish. That’s $50 billion that is not being paid to real estate agents and stays in the pockets of buyers and sellers. I brought that up with Nela Richardson, who’s now at ADP, but used to be the chief economist at Redfin, the online real estate brokerage today on Marketplace. Excuse me. And she pointed out that, yes, fine, that’s all well and good, but given mortgage rates where they are, which is, you know, coming down just a tad, but still relatively high. And the fact that home inventory is so low. A lot of those savings that might have been realized by buyers and sellers will go away because of that crunch, right? A lot of people had been foregoing inspections on homes now that may pick back up now that the real estate commissions are changing, so there’s a great deal of fungibility and how much saving there will actually be. I think it’s a good thing, right? The cabal seems to have been broken. Look, I really liked the woman who sold us our house, but I didn’t really love paying her 6% you know. So, it’s good that it’s been broken. But much like the peace dividend, it may not actually show up. That was Nela’s take.

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah. And some of the folks are saying in the chat and the Discord that it just means that you know, the good listings are going to be on like the dark market or pocket listings or things.

Kai Ryssdal 

Yeah, totally. Yeah. Right. Totally. Totally.

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah. The other story, and it’s a little bit of a longer read, but I would encourage folks to look at it. It’s in Politico Magazine, and the headline is, “An Obscure Group Hounded Kysten Sinema for — and It Worked. Is This a Sign of Things to Come?” Now, Kyrsten Sinema has said that she is not going to run for another term in the Senate, and there are a whole bunch of reasons feeding into that. But what this article highlights is that Kystren Sinema was a subject of a relatively new strategy in money and politics, which is not a single issue, political action committee, but a single opposing a candidate, political action committee. So maybe you’ll have a political action committee that cares about an issue or supports a candidate, and they’ll throw money at it for that reason. But this PAC solely existed to get Kyrsten Sinema out of the Senate, just to make her leave. And for a year and mean, so I’m going to read this. “For years, Sinema was on the receiving end of a relatively unusual political-money phenomenon in the capital’s politics industry: the single-target PAC, an outfit geared toward creating precisely the outcome that became real when the senator announced her exit. For better or worse, it is a model that probably won’t stay rare for long. And whatever you think of Sinema, the effort against her is also likely to speed up some of the most brutal trends in politics, another way for deep-pocketed donors to further wage permanent war on rivals who might not obvious always make such obvious targets.” And later on in the article, it says, “Now, with Sinema on her way out,” the team behind this PAC, “the team is taking a victory lap of sorts — Tell Kiersten I want her to know it was me — and pulling back.” Yes. Anyway, super interesting. And yeah, it was launched in 2021 as Primary Sinema. And then later, you know, went on to just be like Change for Arizona 2024 PAC and a bunch of other names, but the whole purpose, the whole time has been going after Krystren Sinema.

Kai Ryssdal 

Tell me again, how money is speech in politics.

Kimberly Adams 

Because the Supreme Court says so.

Kai Ryssdal

Yeah, I know.

Kimberly Adams 

Cause corporations are people too. Well, that was Mitt Romney. Not the Supreme Court. But anyway. Oh boy, anyway, well, yeah.

Kai Ryssdal 

So, we’re going to take a break cause we’re done with the news. And before we do though, here is the reality. Kimberly and I have a lot of fun on this podcast, especially on Fridays, but you know, most days anyway. But we cannot do it without you. We are on the pointy end of the sword as it were, right? We get to sit in front of a microphone, but there’s a team of people behind us who do the hard work. And we, and by we, I mean you need to help support them. Because none of this comes free. I mentioned this because this is Marketplace’s 35th anniversary. We’ve been doing this for 35 years. We’ve been doing this podcast for like six or eight but whatever. Our journalism matters. Millions of people hear us. Many, hundreds of you, 320 of you are on the livestream with us. We have some fun, but we import important information. And the only way that happens is that if you help us out, right? So, marketplace.org/givesmart is where you go. Please, please give if you can.

Kimberly Adams 

Yes, please. And thank you. Jasper is the one who jingles, so all the animals make noises. But we do have some limited edition thank-you gifts with our old sort of dot com era logo. We’ve got stickers. We got glass mugs. We’ve got canvas tote bags, and since everything retro is, you know, back and yeah, everything. Time is a circle and all the things anyway, and a soft t-shirt, all the classic public media swag, you can get any of those things at different giving levels, there’s always something for you. You can check those out marketplace.org/givesmart, and you can also just opt to give us all your money and we would really appreciate that too.

Kai Ryssdal 

Some significant portion of all your money, you know.

Kimberly Adams 

I should you know, you should save some for you know, cocktails, that’s crucial. Anyway, whatever you can chip in, we’d be grateful and that will keep us going for the next you know, 35 years or so. Hopefully, maybe, possibly. Anyway, you can go to marketplace.org/givesmart. We would appreciate any contribution you can make, and we will be right back.

Kai Ryssdal 

My favorite part of the toss to we will be right back credit is the jingling of the ice cube in your cocktail. That was my favorite part.

Kimberly Adams 

What is it? The ASMR stuff? Anyhow. Now it’s time to play our game. This or That? This time is what we’re playing. Also hosted by the wonderful Drew Jostad. Take it away, Drew.

Drew Jostad 

First question. April showers or May flowers?

Kai Ryssdal

Seriously?

Kimberly Adams

April showers

Kai Ryssdal 

Sorry. May flowers.

Kimberly Adams 

Why?

Kai Ryssdal 

Why? Look, I live in Southern California. I did not come here for the rain. I’m kidding. I like it rains here. No, I like it when it rains here, but you know, I enjoy nice floral bouquets in the air. What can I tell you?

Kimberly Adams 

Well, we get our flowers. The really pretty ones here especially in March and April, so I’ll take, I’m looking outside the window at the magnolias that are already going and waiting for the cherry blossoms. But also, I love the rain. I love the way the rain sounds. I love the way rain smells. I’ve always liked thunderstorms and things and you know. Although I do like gardening. I also have plants inside, and I can sit with my plants inside while it’s raining and listen to the sound of the rain on the window, and it makes me happy.

Kai Ryssdal 

You know what’s great? Valve413 says allergies, which I have a new appreciation for. Let me just say.

Drew Jostad 

Alright, Drew. Next up, Peeps or jelly beans?

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh my god. Sorry, I have thoughts.

Kimberly Adams 

Tell you. The very first job I ever had in journalism was an internship at KTLA Channel 30 in St. Louis, Missouri, and there was a reporter who had a peep sitting on his desk that had been there the like for six years, and it looked pristine. I love peeps, so peeps over jelly beans is my answer.

Kai Ryssdal 

That’s so funny because when I was at KQED, many moons ago, there was a peep that was like, like it was one of those long pushpins and it was pushed pinned into the daily assignment reporter board and it was there for, you know, years and years and years, and it looked absolutely fine. I think peeps are gross. Jelly beans any day.

Kimberly Adams 

Oh, okay. Have you ever seen the Washington Post, like their peep competition that they used to do? It was like the peeps diorama. Oh, my gosh, I have to find the link and maybe we can put it in the show notes. But they were amazing. And they used to do it every spring. I don’t think they do it anymore. So.

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh, look at this. Glitch. Or sorry, Margie Glitch in the YouTube chat. Shout out to the Washington Post peep show diorama contest. Boom. There you go.

Kimberly Adams 

There you go. It was amazing. All right, what’s next?

Drew Jostad 

Moving on to homemade desserts, cherry pie or cherry cobbler?

Kai Ryssdal 

Very good question. Not easy.

Kimberly Adams 

I’ll take the cobbler.

Kai Ryssdal 

Yeah, same same. I think because it’s a crust issue, right? If you have it if you have a cherry pie, then it’s a lot of cherry on top and then the thin crust. A cobbler you get the stuff all together at the same time. Yeah, no cobbler. For sure.

Kimberly Adams 

I feel like, with the cherry pie. It’s never solid enough for me, and pie to me feels like it needs to be a bit more solid. But a cherry cobbler. It’s easier with like the spoon or the fork and like then all the other things.

Kai Ryssdal 

Yep, totally. Okay. You know, it’s funny. It’s just sorry, super quick scanning of the of the chat is that people are like 50/50. We should have made this the poll question.

Kimberly Adams 

This one should have been the poll. I mean, it was pie day yesterday, so people probably a lot of people have pie.

Kai Ryssdal 

Producer fail right there. Let me just say. Producer fail.

Drew Jostad 

You haven’t even heard the poll one yet.

Kimberly Adams 

Okay, okay. Are we at the poll?

Drew Jostad

No, got we got two left.

Kimberly Adams

Okay, let’s do it.

Drew Jostad 

First up. Cherry Blossom trees or Jacaranda trees.

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh, that’s such a good one.

Kimberly Adams 

I have not seen the Jacaranda trees in person, so I don’t feel like I’m entitled to judge. You’ve seen them both, so what do you think?

Kai Ryssdal 

I have seen them both. Here’s the thing. Look, the purple. So, cherry blossoms in Washington obviously, national icon, all that jazz, even though they’re going to cut down a bunch of them to fix the Jefferson Memorial Seawall. Jacaranda trees in Los Angeles and on the West Coast. Purple, really just amazing pop of color in the late spring ish. I’m going to have to go cherry blossom. And here’s why. When Jacaranda blossoms fall, they are sticky and gross. They’re so pretty on the tree, but they fall and it’s like locusts. You know, they’re a little crunchy. They’re all sticky and smeary, and it just, it’s really disgusting. So, I’m going to go with cherry blossoms, which are light and airy. And you know, they fall and whatever.

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah, when they fall it’s just beautiful.

Kai Ryssdal 

Right, right. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah, totally.

Kimberly Adams 

All right, then I’d stick with cherry blossoms. Yes. Cherry blossoms all the way.

Drew Jostad 

Okay, now it’s the poll.

Kimberly Adams 

Okay, folks in the chat, get ready.

Drew Jostad 

Would you rather go to DC for cherry blossom season or California for a wildflower super bloom?

Kai Ryssdal 

So, so, so, when we have a lot of rain out here, which we’ve had the last two years, the wildflowers up in some of the protected areas in the foothills and as you get up into the mountains around Los Angeles and sort of the South-Central Coast, wildflowers go. Excuse me, go crazy. it is almost psychedelic. It’s out of like a Willy Wonka movie. Even though I live here, I have never done that touristy kind of thing, and actually gone to see the Wildflower. So, I personally would do the wildflowers because it is such a different experience than the cherry trees, which are pretty, as I said before, but been there, done that.

Kimberly Adams 

I’m really torn because on the one hand, I would want to see, as somebody was pointing out in the chat. The Super Bloom is intermittent and unexpected. So, you appreciate it more, so that, I would love to see. However, one of my favorite things about the cherry blossoms even though they’re sort of like, similar every year is lots of people try to time their wedding and quinceañera and other kinds of photos to it. So, you get to see all these people like trying to catch it. So, it’s like lots of moments of joy that you kept that you get to see along with the cherry blossoms, and people are just so happy except for the terrible tourists who tear branches off the trees. Don’t do that. It’s a federal offense.

Kai Ryssdal

It is literally a federal crime.

Kimberly Adams

It is a federal crime. Stop it. Anyway, but I like watching people. I have said words to people.

Kai Ryssdal

Have you really?

Kimberly Adams

Yes, I have, including children. But anyway, I would love to see the super bloom. I’m going to go with super bloom even though I do love cherry blossoms. Okay, let us let us close poll and see what everybody said. Oh, April McCaffrey says they had to put up barriers for the wildflowers too. Yikes.

Kai Ryssdal 

I actually believe that, right. And it’s not people plucking the wallflowers. It’s people walking and trampling them. Yeah, so it’s the same thing as the cherry blossoms, do it. But you know, sort of different the flip side of the coin. Yeah.

Kimberly Adams 

All right. So, 65% say they’d rather see California’s wildflowers super bloom, and just a 34% DC’s cherry blossom season, but that’s okay. That’s okay.

Kai Ryssdal 

That’s fine. We’ll allow it. We will allow it.

Kimberly Adams 

Especially if you will have a wildflower super bloom party to counter my cherry blossom party. Yes, yes, sure. Not gonna happen. All right, we’re done. We’re done. Oh, yes. We didn’t have the sting. Are we done?

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh, there it is.

Kimberly Adams 

All right. That’s really it for us today. If you have a question or comment you want to share with us, or your own cherry blossom themed cocktail you think I should try. Or California wildflower super bloom cocktail maybe? Yeah, share with us. You know where to find us. We are at 508-U-B-SMART if you want to leave us a voicemail. You can also email us it makesmesmart@marketplace.org.

Kai Ryssdal 

Make Me Smart is produced by Courtney Bergsieker. Today’s episode was engineered by, I think it’s Jesson Duller, not Juan Carlos. But I could be wrong. Maybe it’s Juan Carlos. I don’t know. Toss up. Thalia Menchaca is our intern.

Kimberly Adams 

The team behind our Friday game is Emily Macune and Antoinette Brock. Marissa Cabrera is our senior producer. Bridget Bodnar is the director of podcasts and Francesca Levy is the executive director of Digital and On-Demand. Do you still have the cherry blossom shirt?

Kai Ryssdal 

I do. It’s in my it’s in. Honestly, it’s in my closet, and I was okay. This is going to sound lame. I was going to go get it, but my wife is on a call in our bedroom. In our bedroom and that’s where my closet is, and so I couldn’t go get it. So here I am.

Kimberly Adams 

Okay, that’s fair. That’s fair.

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