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Overrated/Underrated: Nobel Prizes, Conversations, And Our Descendants
Haberman card. If this is the indicator from planet money. My compadres Stacy is on a much deserved vacation this week, so I called the communist Tyler Cowen to play another round of overrated versus underrated with us. Now, this is the game where we ask our guests about something in the news or something that's on our mind really anything. And the guest then tells us whether that thing is overrated or underrated by society, and we throw a bunch of stuff at our guest in rapid succession makes it really fun Tyler's far as we know actually invented this as a podcast game. And because he has such an eclectic mind, he's always fun to play with. So among the topics, Tyler rates in today's episode are Nobel prizes. Terrace, an economic anxiety has an explanation for the rise of populism. Tyler also has a fascinating book called stubborn attachments. It's coming out later this month. So I saved a couple of questions about it for him as well. And all that is coming up right after the break. Support for this podcast and the following message come from swell investing, would you rather invest for high growth or solve global challenges? Swell aims to do both invest in green tech, clean water and more visit swell investing dot com. Slash NPR for a fifty dollar bonus support also comes from Capital. One capital one's indicator is zero because they offer accounts with zero fees or minimums, and they offer accounts that can be opened from anywhere in five minutes Capital One. What's in your wallet Capital One in a okay, overrated or under with Tyler Cowen. Let's get right to it. The Nobel prize any Nobel prize. The Nobel prize has now become overrated. It's no longer such surprise who's going to win. You can read on blogs or Twitter who deserves to win you already. Think of them as Nobel laureates. By the time, the actual announcement is made. It's really like. Does this apply to awards in general? They overrated, if in novel wins the Booker prize, it was once a big positive now I regard it as a negative. I think that novel is probably too trendy that had to get through a committee committees become more conservative. The most worthy people are picked early on the most awards over time. They decay in quality. Okay. Overrated or underrated the damage from tariffs the economic damage. I'm a complete free-trader. I don't want to have any tariffs for the United States up at that said, I think the damage is somewhat overrated at the moment. President Trump is not very popular with our intellectual class. I myself not a supporter, but I feel that people are being a little too dramatic about the problems that will be brought by our current trade wars. Okay. Overrated underrated economic anxiety as a potential explainer for the rise of popular sentiment across the world in the last few years. I think it's far overrated to me. These are mostly cultural issues. In many countries, you have large numbers of immigrants who may be unpopular and other cases you have gender norms changing very rapidly and people are rebelling against these rapid changes. It's not mainly about economics, and you see, say in Poland, a country that's had four percent growth. Since the early nineties, they have their populous movement. They have their alt-right. It's not mainly about economics, and you know, we're much better off economically than in the nineteen fifties or sixties. And back then we didn't have the current sort of populist movements. Okay, overrated underrated conversations conversations are underrated I think if you imagine the world is changing and some critical ways and you need to catch up that can be hard to get from books, but books are very easy to control technology. We feel very comfortable reading a book if we're well educated, probably we should be talking more to other smart people and actually listening. Okay. That's interesting Tyler, because the reason I ask this question was that you wrote a blog post recently saying most conversations are actually quite bad and you should strive to end them as quickly as possible to get to the really good ones though. Right? So it's like a power law. The best conversations are incredible. So if you're wasting your time with the conversation, you know, break off. Right? And I was going to say also that a strategy of trying to end a conversation because it's an interesting actually might end up having the perverse effect of making the conversation itself. Interesting because you're introducing something unexpected by being weird or rude or aggressive or whatever. I don't think anyone should ever be rude, but just be weird. You know, talk about where you wanna talk about obsessive in certain ways. The other person will decide. Yeah, and they might respond in kind. They might also be weird and suddenly you're in the middle of fascinating conversation. Exactly. So people should be weirder in their conversations that is underrated. Underrated weirdness in conversations, overrated underrated the yield curve as a signal of where the economy's headed. Oh, it's overrated. Yield curve doesn't know much. Very, definitely. So there's an inverted yield curve. People get upset. It's like alchemy we don't know. Recessions are hard to predict. They always will be. There's no definitive signal until the recession actually comes until the recession actually comes Tyler. It is the case that an inverted yield curve yield curve specifically inverted on average for at least a quarter has predicted every recession for like the last few decades and there've been no false signals. In other words, every recession has also been preceded by an inverted yield curve. That's pretty impressive. Don't you think we ought to be paying attention if that happens again? Well, the lags Convery but keep in mind the aren't that many recession. So if you go back in time and you look for a pattern, you can always find a correlation with something, but it. Doesn't mean that's the right predictor next time around fair overrated, underrated academia as a career? Oh, I think it's underrated because of the personal freedom you have to shape your destiny. But what's weird is most people become academics and then don't use that the become conformist. So in that sense, the career is overrated by those who do it and maybe underrated by those who don't. That's that's interesting. So you think there's something about going through the process that makes you sort of reluctant to embrace all of its benefits. You'd beat the life out of people academics. Don't take enough risk. You have tenure, right? And then people don't really do anything with that job security. They just keep on same old same old overrated or underrated blogs. Blogs have now become underrated they were for a while. Massively overrated people now think blogging is dead, but blogging active and all sorts of areas, whether it be healthcare or how to raise your kids or even economics. It's an economical way presenting your thought to the world. And mostly they're free and they're wonderful, and they will always be with us and thank goodness for that Tyler. A couple of questions about a new book that you've got coming out called stubborn attachments. It's like your personal economic philosophical treatise, and it seems in there like there are two big things that are underrated in that really drive the argument. I wanna ask you about those two things. So one, our future descendants, including the people will never meet in like three hundred years, right? Your argument is that we underrate their importance. How so? When future descendants or generations arrive those experiences, those human pleasures or sufferings, they will be as real as current day we are as human beings awfully myopic with so many issues. Climate change is just one obvious example. So in my book I argue we should think much more seriously about the future. It is kind of a weird thing where you know, we have trouble applying the right discount rate to thinking about the future, but especially thinking about the very, very far future. I also stress in the book the power of compound returns compound returns. You get, say growth of three percent year, four percent of year, and then you have growth upon growth. The power of that over decades or centuries is very much underrated. And when it comes to the future, we have the ability to apply compound returns to make the world a much, much better place. Now, the words policies that pursue economic growth underrated extremely underrated. You know any given year, you're only a little better off with a higher growth rate. But if you compound that over decades, it makes all the difference. Your economy will be two, three, five, even ten times richer over enough time. It kind of also makes it a little bit easier to reconcile what seems like attention between pursuing economic growth and alleviating the harmful kind of side effects. But your point is if you look at it in the really, really long term, both of those things need to be gotten right because then it's about Cest. Painful economic growth. Exactly. So if you press people too much or ruin your own environment after a while, your own growth is going to plummet and the title of the book stubborn attachments refers to what I think should be too stubborn attachments, namely economic growth and human rights. And if we were stubbornly attached to economic growth and human rights, the world, especially in the future will be a much much better place account. Thanks man. Thank you card. If.
The Indicator from Planet Money