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The White House is prepared for long-term inflation and supply chain issues
Mar 21, 2022
Episode 624

The White House is prepared for long-term inflation and supply chain issues

Plus, Supreme Court confirmation hearings begin for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo says the Biden administration is “prepared for the worst” when it comes to inflation and supply chain issues as global events continue to bring economic upheaval. We’ll also look at an eye-opening graphic that gives context to just how much the U.S. federal judiciary has been dominated by white men (we know we’re a podcast, but trust us, it’s worth your eyes). And we’ll talk about a harrowing story of Ukrainian journalists escaping the country as Russian forces closed in. That’s a lot of heavy news, but we’ll end with some Make Me Smiles.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

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Make Me Smart March 21, 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.

Kai Ryssdal: Well, it’s a little sigh, a little sigh. Hey everybody I’m Kai Ryssdal. Welcome back to Make Me Smart making today make sense. That’s our thing.

Kimberly Adams: With a big sigh.

Kai Ryssdal: Sometimes they’re like empty sighs. And then sometimes I just need a good breath. And that was just I needed a good breath. That’s all. That happens.

Kimberly Adams: It happens. Breathing is useful. I am Kimberly Adams, thank you for joining us on this Monday. Let’s just get right to the news.

Kai Ryssdal: You go first. Go ahead.

Kimberly Adams: Yes. So of course, we are. We many of us spent a lot of time today watching the Senate hearings for the newest nominee to the Supreme Court. And there are so many side stories going on with this that are just so fascinating. And there’s a lot of really great coverage about Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. And one of the ones that really stuck out to me was this piece in the 19th. And the title of it is “See just how much white men have dominated the federal judiciary,” because much is being made of the historic nature of her nomination. And the fact that she’s a Black woman. And this puts into context, just how long the federal judiciary has been completely homogenous. And the visual graph and the infographic associated with this story is, I mean, the writing is great, not knocking the author. But the graphic is really what you got to click for. Which to describe it, it lists every single year that the federal judiciary has existed. And what are the race and gender of Article Three federal judges by the first year of their federal service 1789 to present, and each one of those years is its own line. And let’s just say you have to scroll for a while before there is any dip or change in that line. So that’s, that’s my story for that. And I know you have one related so well, no, that’s later on.

Kai Ryssdal: Well, that’s my make me smile. But it’s it’s so but there’s I mean, honestly, you just got it, we’ll put this in the show notes, obviously, but you just got to go and scroll because you’re scrolling for forever and ever until you get to the first one, you know.

Kimberly Adams: And the first one in 1928. And then it goes back to no diversity, then a little blip in 1934, back to no diversity 1945 another blip 1950 another Blip 1955. And it’s like these teeny, tiny blips. And then you get to like the 1970s, which is when you really start seeing a difference. So.

Kai Ryssdal: The color coding on this chart, sorry, this will help more when all y’all see it. But the color coding on this chart is white man is one color, and then not a white man is the other color and it’s just kind of stark. It’s just kind of stark, but look, it’s gonna be it’s gonna be a week and a half in the next three days of these hearings, because they’re going to be all over the place. It’s going to get not great. I would just I’m just gonna say it’s gonna get not great. That’s all I’m gonna say. You know.

Kimberly Adams: Okay, well, let’s stay on not great, which is what is happening in Ukraine and not to be flippant. But it’s it’s pretty freakin grim. There was an amazing story that the AP put out by some Associated Press journalists who had to flee the country. And I’m just going to read the first sentence and this tells you so much about it. “The Russians were hunting us down, they had a list of names, including ours, and they were closing in.”

Kai Ryssdal: It’s crazy. It’s crazy. So these these are journalists who got out of Mariupol and and are hopefully on their way to a much safer place. But yeah, it’s it’s a wild story.

Kimberly Adams: And you know, they were basically there’s a scene in this and you really should read the whole thing, where they were in a hospital, covering the news and gunman started pacing the hallways looking for them. The doctors gave them scrubs to disguise them. And finally they were like, where are the journalists? And they were dressed like Ukrainian soldiers. But they didn’t know if they really were. Turns out they were and they were there to evacuate the journalists from the city because they were very worried the Russians were going to get them. But the journalists there, obviously, the Ukrainian people are dealing with so much, but the journalists who are, they’re also putting their lives at risk to try to tell everybody what’s going on. And it’s so important.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah. Which is an equally grim segue into my, one of my items. Just a sort of a potpourri here for me. There’s an article in New York Times today about tactical nuclear weapons. And I would just like to point out that it’s insane to me that we’re having conversations about the potential use of tactical that is to say, smaller battlefield, nuclear weapons, completely insane. I almost cannot process this. And the idea that, yeah, go ahead. What?

Kimberly Adams: I was just saying to put help the rest of us put this in context, when you say smaller nuclear weapons. What do you mean?

Kai Ryssdal: Well, so look, I mean, let’s, let’s say –

Kimberly Adams: Let’s do scale here.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, well, you know, so

Kimberly Adams: We all have this imagery around it. But this is not quite what you’re talking about.

Kai Ryssdal: They’re not city destroyers. They are not things that could take out a country or a capital, they would be used on the battlefield in case there was a mass of armor that somehow the Ukrainian army got and Putin wanted take care of it. Or if he wanted to, as this article points out, just let everybody know that he’s willing to use nuclear weapons, he would just blast one into an uninhabited area of Ukraine and just show that he’s actually just that. Crazy. So these are not the huge mushroom cloud ones. They’re smaller mushroom cloud once I just, it’s just, it’s crazy. To me, it’s crazy to me. Here’s the line right? Estimates show the equivalent of a half a Hiroshima bomb, which is still bigger than what we’re talking abou. if detonated in midtown Manhattan would  kill or injure a half a million people. It’s just, it’s I just I just don’t get it. I just don’t get it. And I think everybody should read this, because these are the stakes now, which the longer this goes on, the worse it gets, the worse it gets.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah, and I think it’s worth highlighting that these are very mobile weapons because they are smaller. And so you’re not talking about World War Two style have to strap it on the plane and and go a long distance like, for all we know, they could be already in the country.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh guarantee. I have very, I have no sourcing on this, but I can guarantee you they’re in the country guaranteed. Guarantee.

Kimberly Adams: I am going to just hope and pray that you are wrong.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, well, me too. All right. Sorry. Moving along, I’m number two, this is from an interview that the Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo did with CNBC today, I just offer it out there as a marker of where we are in this global economy. There was meeting at the White House today with a bunch of CEOs and relevant people in the Biden administration, including Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Commerce, said that the White House is quote, prepared for the worst, which is quite a long term disruption in supply chains and consumer pricing exacerbated obviously, by the war. So what does that mean? Well, look, it means that inflation, which Jay Powell is doing his damnedest to control is going to get worse before it gets better. And that I think, is the key takeaway from that, for me anyway.

Kimberly Adams: And well Powell was saying he’s going to continue to do whatever he needs to do to get in check, which translates to again, supply chains, consumer prices continuing to have issues inflation continuing to go up. Jay Powell promising to respond higher interest rates, more and more to come.

Kai Ryssdal: Right. Right. And then And then finally, a reminder of the last war  that this country was involved with, not that we’re directly involved with Ukraine, but you know what I mean, there was an article in the Washington Post this weekend. I think it came out Friday, about the most recent finance minister of Afghanistan, who now lives in the Washington D.C. suburbs, and drives an Uber and the headline is “Afghanistan’s last finance minister now a D.C. Uber driver ponders what went wrong.” And we should just read it. It’s a quick read. We’ll put it on the show page. It’s just kind of amazing. It’s it’s kind of wild. It’s kind of wild.

Kimberly Adams: Now, as you know, Kai I got stuck in the traffic related to the trucker convoy in D.C. on Friday for a proximately 79 minutes.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh was it that long, I didn’t know is that long? Oh, man. Oh no.

Kimberly Adams: Yes, a 15 minute ride to 79 minutes.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, Kimberly. I didn’t know. That’s terrible. Yes.

Kimberly Adams: Which is why the the cost of that ride share ended up being significantly higher than than I had originally anticipated to put it mildly. But that to say I saw that story on Friday. And as I was sitting in the car, I actually was thinking about it. Like, can you imagine if he was also stuck in this? Like, what you know how that might how you might imagine that, you know, if you’re somebody who’s been through what he’s been through, and then watching people protest, who knows what. Although I should say about the trucker convoy. At one point, when they were going through the city, a cyclist decided to go in front of them. And in D.C. cyclists, and in many places, cyclists on the road have the right of way. And so he just took his time. Cycling in front of this convoy, it was pretty, pretty fascinating. Which I guess is a good enough transition to the Make Me Smile because that certainly made me chuckle.

Kai Ryssdal: Alright, so I’ll pick up on your, on your Ketanji Brown Jackson item. Here’s my Make Me Smile. And it’s not one of those. Haha, this is really cute, make me smiles. It was just a moment that struck me. So she obviously was sitting in front of that long green table in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee all day while the senators went on and on and on and on and on about their opening statements. And they will go on and on and on and on and on, and on tomorrow, the next day with their questions. But then finally, when all the senators were done, she got to make her opening statement. And she thanked her children and her parents and her friends and everybody. And then she spent a moment or two on her husband who was sitting right behind her. And his name is Patrick Jackson. He’s a surgeon. And he was there with I think one of their daughters. And the the thing that got me was that as she was sitting there saying how much that his support and love had meant to her through the course of this thing. He was crying, and it was great. And he was just wiping away the tears and sitting there being incredibly happy and and just moved. And I thought that was cool. That was it. That’s what I got. It was great. Yeah, it was it was really nice. It was really nice. There we go.

Kimberly Adams: Well, my Make Me Smile was also in D.C. Because today is officially well, yes, today, officially, officially peak bloom for the cherry blossoms. They thought it was going to be the 22nd to the 25th. But if you look at the tweet from the National Mall Twitter account, the National Park Service, it says and I quote, “peak bloom peak bloom peak bloom peak bloom peak bloom, peak bloom, peak bloom, peak bloom,” and then lots of flowers.

Kai Ryssdal: Great, that’s great. So listeners may or may not know that you have a regular cherry blossom party. Are you doing it this year?

Kimberly Adams: I am torn. I’m really torn about this. Yes. So the and this is probably a little bit superficial. But the pandemic kind of really became real for me when in 2020, I had to cancel my cherry blossom party cause it was right around that time. And then last year, you know, we were also not in a great place this time of year to be gathering in crowds. And I want to I’m thinking about it. But I’m also watching this latest wave of variants and trying to try to make a decision about whether or not it’s safe. I would love to have it. I still have all of my cherry blossom themed decorations. I have my little guest list from the last time. And I was telling Donna about this party because it’s like last time I did it. It was a 14 hour party.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh my Lord. Oh my Lord.

Kimberly Adams: It was great.

Kai Ryssdal: Wow. I’m sure it was but holy cow.

Kimberly Adams: But yeah, so I’m still trying to assess whether or not I feel like it is safe. So I don’t know. I hope so. But I don’t know for sure. Right. But okay, back to the cherry blossom. So if you cannot in person in D.C. see the beauty of the cherry blossoms in the next week because they don’t last all that long. The National Park Service also has virtual options for how you can tour the cherry blossoms and look around at the tidal basin and lots of videos and lots of photos. And it’s all very pretty. And then the local public radio station WAMU. They have another website called DCist. And on that website it says 17 virtual and IRL ways to celebrate the cherry blossoms with a bunch of things that are happening in DC including and I must mention an anime festival.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh man. Wow anime cherry blossoms. How does that even work? Or is that a separate thing? Am I combining two things?

Kimberly Adams: Cherry blossoms came from Japan and anime comes from Japan.

Kai Ryssdal: Okay. Fair enough connection. Fair enough. Okay. All right. Good moving on.

Kimberly Adams: But now moving on. Well, you know not to move away from the Make Me Smile. And back to what we were talking about earlier. As I was mentioning, with the story out of Ukraine and those journalists, I mean, throughout the industry, it’s a pretty tough time to do journalism. I mean, even though we are not certainly dealing with those sorts of circumstances, we are here dealing with disinformation, conspiracy theories, propaganda, and just trying to stay on top of everything. And we really do our best whether it’s COVID or the war and things that can potentially mean life and death or somebody’s financial future. So we really hope that you might support us, we are still fundraising, and we would love to get your support, Marketplace is in service of the truth. And we really do try to make it accessible for everybody. So if you can, or you can click on the show notes, and we’d appreciate it.

Kai Ryssdal: Very much. Very much. Okay, there we go. Yeah, that’s it. Alright.

Kimberly Adams: So that’s it. Yes. That is it for us today. Tomorrow, Kai and I are going to – oh that’s Jasper sorry.

Kai Ryssdal: Jasper!

Kimberly Adams: Tomorrow. I forgot to take off his bell before we recorded. Tomorrow, Kai and I are going to discuss the Federal Reserve’s attempts to think about equity in their policy making and this was something that was really big issue earlier on the pandemic where they were saying that they were gonna make policy that had racial justice and equity in mind. And we want to check it on how that was good. How that ended up going, especially once that plan collided with rising inflation.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, and what happens now that the feds got to tighten right that the Feds got to raise rates so we will talk about that. We always however want to hear from you if you’ve got a question you want us to answer. Or a comment that you want us to know about send us a voice memo in an email to Or you just plain old call us leave us a voice message 508-UB-SMARt. U-B S-M-A-R-T. Make Me Smart is produced by Marissa Cabrera with help from Marque Greene. Today’s program is engineered by Jayk Cherry they’re on the other side of the glass from me.

Kimberly Adams: Our senior producer’s Bridget Bodnar and the director of On Demand is Donna Tam. There’s no one on the other side of the glass for me. I’m just staring at the wall.

Kai Ryssdal: You got Jasper on the bed though, right?

Kimberly Adams: I do have Jasper. No he’s running up and down the stairs because this is the optimum time for him to make the most noise possible.

Kai Ryssdal: Perfect. Perfect.

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