Bloomberg’s Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway take you on a not-so random weekly walk through hot topics in markets, finance and economics.
South Korean boy band BTS is rarely connected to economics, but as the biggest success to come out of K-Pop, it arguably should be. On this week's episode of Odd Lots, we speak to Euny Hong, the author of 'The Birth of Korean Cool,' about how South Korea made cultural exports a key plank in its economic development strategy.
Jun 10 2019
Earlier this month, President Trump escalated the trade tensions against China by limiting exports of U.S. technology to Huawei. But what is Huawei, and why is this such a big deal? On this week's episode, we speak to Dan Wang, a technology analyst at Gavekal Dragonomics, about the importance of Huawei to the Chinese tech industry, the specifics of what Trump just did, and the far-reaching fallout that we could see from this new phase of the trade war.
Jun 03 2019
Investors are often said to exhibit herding behavior when they follow each other into crowded positions — creating market bubbles that are susceptible to sudden pops when everyone begins stampeding for the exit. This week we take the analogy literally and speak to three professors who have created a mathematical model to examine why cows synchronize their behavior and — crucially — why they stop. Jie Sun, Erik Bollt, and Mason Porter, the authors of "A Mathematical Model for the Dynamics and Synchronization of Cows," extrapolate their findings to humans and modern markets. This episode is co-hosted by our resident bovine expert, Lorcan Roche-Kelly.
Oct 28 2016
Among the biggest trends in the world of markets is the rise of passive investing. Rather than pay high fees to active mutual fund managers (who often fail to beat the market), people are pouring money into passive strategies that track major indices, but with little cost. So what are the ramifications of this trend for investors who choose to remain active? On this week's Odd Lots podcast, we speak with Michael Mauboussin, who heads global financial strategies at Credit Suisse and is not just an expert on the world of investing, but also on the role of luck in success. As he sees it, trading is like a game of poker, and in poker you want to play against weaker, less-skilled players. But as more and more of those less-skilled players opt not to trade (choosing passive strategies) then the game gets harder.
Feb 17 2017
In developed economies, younger generations have faced stagnant wages, mediocre employment prospects and dizzying costs of homeownership. One culprit: The generations that came before. Policies that helped older generations recieve strong pensions and affordable housing have made life more difficult for the young. In this week's Odd Lots podcast we talked to Laura Gardiner of the Resolution Foundation about her new report on "renewing the generational contract" between generations.
Aug 22 2016
In this age of algorithms and quants, you hear less and less about good old stock picking. You know, like the style of investing associated with Warren Buffet or Benjamin Graham. But that doesn't mean you can't still dive into a balance sheet or cash flow statement in order to divine a stock's true worth. On this week's Odd Lots we speak to Aswath Damodaran, a professor at NYU's Stern School of Business, and the foremost expert on stock valuation. He explains his general approach to valuing stocks, and how he might use that framework on companies like GE, Tesla, and Uber.
Nov 20 2017
The stock market is currently in one of its longest bull markets ever, but that doesn't hold a candle to what's going on bonds. According to Paul Schmelzing, a PhD candidate at Harvard and a visiting researcher at the Bank of England, you have to go back more than 500 years (!) to find a bull market in bonds longer than than the one we're experiencing now. After bonds tumbled since last summer (especially since the election) there's a lot of interest in whether we're on the cusp of a major downturn. In this week's Odd Lots, Schmelzing walks us through the history of bull and bear markets in bonds and explains why we could see some gigantic losses ahead.
Jan 13 2017
Markets are at their most exciting when they're in a bubble. Spectacular fortunes can be made and lost in the blink of an eye. So how do bubbles form and end? On this week's episode of the Odd Lots podcast we talk to Scott Nations, the president and chief investment officer of NationsShares, and the author of "A History of The United States in Five Crashes." We discuss with him various stock market crashes and bubbles in U.S history, and what they all have in common.
Aug 28 2017
When it comes to millennials, the media has certain tropes that it likes to go back to. Millennials love avocados. Millennials aren't into homebuying. Millennials are always killing off this or that product or service. But what if the consumption lens is the totally wrong way to talk about this generation? On this week's Odd Lots podcast, we speak to Malcolm Harris, the author of "Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials," about what he says is a more useful frame for understanding the economic stresses millennials face.
Apr 23 2018
Matt Boesler, an economics reporter for Bloomberg, had the opportunity to report from Beijing for a few months in 2018. He shares with us his experience there, and what he learned from the opportunity.
Jan 28 2019
Plenty of people pay their kids an allowance to teach them the value of hard work and earning money. But our guest on this week’s Odd Lots podcast takes it to the next level. Toby Nangle is a fund manager at Columbia Threadneedle Investments, who also happens to be fascinated with the question of how money and banking really work. So rather than just give his kids a typical allowance, he uses their spending money to run monetary experiments. How do children react to higher rates on savings? How do they react to negative interest rates? What are the ramifications of his policies on his own internal household wealth inequality. In this episode, Nangle talks about what he and his kids have learned in the process.
Mar 27 2017
Dani Rodrik, a professor of International Political Economy at Harvard University, was writing about the downside of globalization before it was cool. The rise of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, the U.K.'s decision to leave the European Union and the expansion of nationalist political parties around the world has since given fresh impetus to the notion that globalization isn't working for everyone. In this episode we discuss how we ended up with 'hyperglobalization,' what the technocrats got wrong, and what exactly can be done to fix it.
Oct 21 2016
The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro have been tainted by protests, economic slowdown, and a massive political scandal. In this episode we take a look at Brazil's boom and bust as told through the prism of the country's elite. Alex Cuadros is the author of "Brazillionaires: Wealth, Power, Decadence, and Hope in an American Country." He tells how a commodities boom gave rise to larger-than-life Brazilian billionaires including mining mogul Eike Batista, soybean farmer-turned-senator Blairo Maggi, and beer-and-burger-king Jorge Paulo Lemann. He tells us why 'Brazillionaires' sometimes argue over their place on public wealth rankings, what happened when Batista's Porsche went missing, and how Brazil's billionaires favor dead bugs in their decorating.
Aug 15 2016
A few weeks ago on the Odd Lots podcast, we talked to Paul Schmelzing, a Ph.D candidate at Harvard, who explained how the bull market in U.S. Treasuries could come to a screeching halt. This week we examine the other side of the debate. Our guest is Srinivas Thiruvadanthai, director of research at the Jerome Levy Forecasting Center in Mount Kisco, New York. He explains how a combination of structural factors in the global economy and massive levels of debt could depress interest rates on government debt for years to come. In addition to explaining why the bond bull market of more than three decades can survive, Thiruvadanthai explains what everyone gets wrong on how inflation occurs.
Mar 10 2017
In recent years, one of the easiest ways to make money in this market has been to bet on low volatility. Up until recently, markets have been exceptionally tranquil, and trades predicated on that tranquility continuing have made a fortune. But two of the most popular vehicles for making that trade, XIV and SVXY got obliterated in one day in early February. On this week's episode of the Odd Lots podcast, we speak to Pravit Chintawongvanich, the head of Derivatives Strategy at Macro Risk Advisors about the episode. He explains what the short volatility trade was, how specifically these funds operated, and how they ultimately became victims of their own success.
Feb 19 2018
The hit show Seinfeld is often referred to as the show about nothing, but maybe it's actually a show all about economics. Alan Grant is an associate professor of economics at Baker University and a proprietor of The Economics of Seinfeld, a website that catalogues all the ways the legendary sitcom imparts valuable economic lessons. In the latest edition of the Odd Lots podcast, Grant talks about what you can learn from watching the show, and the specific lessons of various episodes, including The Chinese Restaurant (a lesson in opportunity cost), The Contest (a lesson in time preference) and the apartment (rationing mechanisms and rent control).
Aug 29 2016
It's been 10 years since the start of the credit crunch that eventually led to the global financial crisis. For many investors, the events of 2007 to 2008 shook their entire understanding of how markets are meant to work. In this week's episode of the Odd Lots podcast we speak to Mark Dow, a global macro trader and financial blogger, as well as a former economist at the U.S. Treasury and the International Monetary Fund.
He walks us through some of the most important lessons that investors should have learned from the crisis, including why central bank stimulus efforts haven't had as much of an effect on the real economy, and why oil matters much less to the world than it once did. We also take a brief interlude to learn how a macro manager analyzes U.S. jobs numbers as they come out.
Aug 14 2017
By now, almost everyone in financial markets is familiar with ETFs (exchange-traded funds), and how they allow investors to move quickly in and out of a basket of stocks with a few clicks. But perhaps people don't realize quite how revolutionary they are, and how much of an impact they've had on the financial system. On this week's episode we talk to Eric Balchunas, an ETFs analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence and Joel Weber, the editor-in-chief of Bloomberg Markets magazine about how extraordinary ETFs are, how far they've come, and how they're about to evolve and get even more gigantic.
Oct 23 2017
All great civilizations eventually collapse. It's inevitable. So what are the signs of their demise? On the latest edition of Odd Lots, we speak with Arthur Demarest, a professor at Vanderbilt University who specializes in the end of civilization. Demarest is an anthropologist and archaeologist who's most well known for his work on the Mayans. He tells us about his work, what he's learned -- and what we should be watching out for today.
Nov 18 2016
For centuries, markets were highly-personalized things, often controlled by select groups of people who traded based on long-established and closely-knit relationships. Closed networks -- such as merchant guilds in 16th century Europe -- could ensure trust between buyers and sellers by pushing out bad actors. But then, something happened that would eventually become the foundation of all modern markets. In the 1500s, new trade routes and the arrival of the printing press helped erode the power of merchant guilds and give way to a much more open system of trading where strangers could interact with each other.
On this edition of the Odd Lots podcast, Prateek Raj gives his theory about why modern markets first took hold in Northern Europe, and what this 500-year-old period of disruption can tell us about the world today.
Jan 15 2018
Welcome to Part IV of the Odd Lots LIBOR series, in which Tracy Alloway and Joe Weisenthal take a look at life after LIBOR, the interest rate tied to more than $350 trillion worth of financial assets.
It's one thing to talk about transitioning away from LIBOR, but it's another thing to actually do it. On the fourth episode of the series, we speak with Tom Wipf, Vice Chairman of Institutional Securities at Morgan Stanley, and the chair of the committee charged with sunsetting the rate. He takes us inside the effort to replace an interest rate that is entrenched in millions of financial contracts and tells us how it’s going.
Jun 04 2020
Welcome to Part III of the Odd Lots LIBOR series, in which Tracy Alloway and Joe Weisenthal take a look at life after LIBOR, the interest rate tied to more than $350 trillion worth of financial assets.
SOFR is the Federal Reserve’s preferred replacement for LIBOR, but it’s not the only alternative reference rate around. On the third episode of the series, we speak with Richard Sandor, a serial innovator in financial markets, and the CEO at American Financial Exchange. He explains why he thinks his own proposed rate, called AMERIBOR, could be a suitable benchmark and replacement for Libor.
Jun 03 2020
Welcome to Part II of the Odd Lots LIBOR series, in which Tracy Alloway and Joe Weisenthal take a look at life after LIBOR, the interest rate tied to more than $350 trillion worth of financial assets.
Troubles with LIBOR have kickstarted a massive project to transition to a new benchmark interest rate for financial markets. On the second episode of our series, we speak with Joe Abate, money market strategist at Barclays, about the proposed replacement known as the Secured Overnight Financing Rate, or SOFR. How is it different to LIBOR and what are the downsides of having an interest rate tied to actual marketplace transactions?
Jun 02 2020
Welcome to the Odd Lots LIBOR series, in which Tracy Alloway and Joe Weisenthal take a look at life after LIBOR, the interest rate tied to more than $350 trillion worth of financial assets.
On the first episode in our LIBOR series, we speak with Richard Robb, a former interest rate trader who was one of the first to warn about potential manipulation of the Libor rate to which trillions of dollars worth of financial assets are tied. Robb, who’s now CEO of the hedge fund Christofferson, Robb & Company and teaches at Columbia University, warned of problems in the interest rate as early as the mid-1990s. He also had a front-row seat to witness the benchmark’s downfall after the 2008 financial crisis. He talks about what went wrong.
Jun 01 2020
When people talk about the dominance of the U.S. dollar in global commerce, they often refer to it as a unique privilege of the United States that its currency is the world’s safe haven. But it’s not so clear who really benefits from the unique role played by the greenback. For one thing, there are wide swathes of U.S. workers whose industries are hurt by its strength. On this episode, we speak with Yakov Feygin, the Assistant Director of the Future of Capitalism project at the Berggruen Institute about the global winners and losers of the dollar system.
May 28 2020
The economic crisis will result in an extraordinary amount of pain for emerging markets. In addition to the health disruption, the global economic collapse means that in many cases, exports have come to a standstill. So how can poorer countries be helped right now? On this episode, we speak with three experts in the field of sovereign debt. Lee Buchheit is formerly at Cleary Gottlieb and is considered to be the world’s foremost expert on sovereign debt law and restructurings. Mitu Gulati is a professor at Duke University School of Law and Ugo Panizza is a professor at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. The three have been working throughout the crisis to help put together a comprehensive aid plan for EMs. They talk to us about what it would look like, and why moving it forward has proven to be so difficult.
May 25 2020
Even with the recent stock market rally, expectations are poor for a robust recovery in the U.S. So what does history teach us about what works and what doesn’t? Richard Werner is an economist at Linacre College at the University of Oxford, and the proponent of what he calls the “Quantity Theory of Credit.” On this episode, he tells us about what he learned studying years of the Japanese economy, and what it means for the current crisis.
May 21 2020
How should the government address the economic crisis? On this episode, we talk with Mark Cuban, the Shark Tank co-host and billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, who has been outspoken about what he sees as necessary to address this crisis. He explains to us why he thinks the government should directly get in the business of hiring millions of people, along with other ideas to keep people employed and stimulate demand. We also talk about the NBA, his plan to fix healthcare, as well as his future political ambitions.
May 18 2020
With the acute phase of the health crisis having faded in China, factory activity has ramped up again. One big problem though: With the economy so depressed everywhere else, demand for the goods made in those factories has fallen off a cliff. This is just one way in which the virus is massively exacerbating trade imbalances that existed prior to this crisis, and which are now shaking the global economic order. On this episode, we speak with Matt Klein, an economics columnist at Barron’s, and the co-author of the new book Trade Wars Are Class Wars about the interplay of the crisis, world trade, geopolitics, and domestic political tensions.
May 14 2020
Countries around the world are undergoing an unprecedented, simultaneous real economic shock. So how should policymakers respond? Richard Koo is the Chief Economist at the Nomura Research institute, and is well known for having popularized the concept of the “Balance Sheet Recession” drawing on his work from Japan’s post-bubble era. In today’s episode, he talks about how his work applies to this crisis, what can be done to revive growth, and why the aftermath will be so difficult.
May 11 2020
We’ve seen a huge market crash this year and a number of firms reporting portfolio losses. So why were so many big investors crowded into the same trades, and what does it say about investing as a whole? Should investors be playing up to their competitive advantage, or following the crowd to profit from momentum? Steven Abrahams, head of investment strategy at Amherst Pierpont Securities, has written a new book about competitive advantages in investing. We talk to him about how different types of investors place their money and why some portfolios can survive better than others.
May 07 2020
During the last crisis, the economist Nouriel Roubini earned the nickname “Dr. Doom” for his ominous prognostications about the economy and financial system. While he prefers the moniker “Dr. Realist” Roubini is once again extremely negative. On this week’s episode he explains why he sees a poor recovery, then a bout of inflation, and then ultimately a depression in the wake of this crisis.
May 04 2020
The hunt is on for a clinical therapy to prevent or treat COVID-19. But what’s the best way to go about this? How can governments accelerate this process? And what can governments do now to help a robust economic recovery? On this week’s Odd Lots, we speak with Bill Janeway, an economist and venture capitalist, who has written extensively on how the government can accelerate innovation by the private sector. He explains how his thoughts translate into the medical space and the post-crisis economy overall.
Apr 30 2020
In 2018, Columbia history professor Adam Tooze published his magisterial work “Crashed”, which framed the Great Financial Crisis as essentially a crisis of the global dollar system (as opposed to merely a housing bubble). Now we’re experiencing numerous systemic frailties all at the same time, amid extraordinary difficult times for the real economy, the financial system, and virtually every government around the world. On this week’s episode, Tooze compares and contrasts the last crisis to this one, and how it might permanently change our world.
Apr 27 2020
The fate of the economy remains extremely unclear. However there is little doubt that the Fed has taken dramatic steps to arrest the crisis. Not only has Jerome Powell’s Federal Reserve dusted off old tools that were designed during the last crisis, it’s engaged in unconventional actions, such as lending directly to municipal authorities, as well as becoming a player in the market for private sector corporate debt. Amid this crisis, Nathan Tankus, a researcher at the Modern Money Network, has emerged as one of the foremost experts on what the Fed has done, and what it’s capable of doing, through his widely read newsletter. He joined us on this episode to explain and contextualize the historic nature of the Fed’s actions so far.
Apr 23 2020
With major economies around the world coming to a screeching halt, emerging markets are in a squeeze of historic proportions. Not only are they being buffeted by a domestic health crisis, but export industries are getting clobbered at the same time as access to dollars is drying up. On this episode, we speak with Brad Setser of the Council on Foreign Relations on the historic nature of this episode, which countries are particularly vulnerable, and what policies might allow for a way out.
Apr 20 2020
Commerce and payments are increasingly digital. This shift from physical to electronic is one that governments and businesses are eager to accelerate for a host of reasons. But what gets lost when we no longer have access to physical cash? On this episode, we speak with Rohan Grey, President of The Modern Money Network and the research director of the Digital Fiat Currency Institute about how governments can introduce digital currencies that enable electronic commerce, while preserving the privacy protections of physical cash.
Apr 17 2020
At the end of March, Congress passed the CARES Act in an attempt to mitigate some of the massive economic devastation being caused by the coronavirus crisis. A key piece of the legislation includes grants for small businesses that keep employees on their payroll during the emergency. On this episode, we speak with Florida Senator Marco Rubio about the program, what's working, what isn't, and what it will take to move the economy back towards full employment.
Apr 15 2020
With the U.S. economy going into a deep slump, the Federal government has attempted to counteract the pain by increasing spending. But for cities and states, it’s virtually impossible for them to run counter-cyclical fiscal policy. Furthermore, the crisis is draining local coffers due to public health expenditure and the collapse of tax revenue. This has already led to the start of a state and local austerity wave (spending cuts, layoffs, etc.) that could take years to reverse. On this week’s episode, we speak with three people who have been writing about this aspect of the crisis, and how it could be addressed by both the Fed and the U.S. Treasury. We’re joined by Skanda Amarnath of Employ America, Yakov Feygin of the Berggruen Institute, and Alex Williams, a grad student at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, to discuss the shape of the problem and the way back to economic health.
Apr 13 2020
Earlier this year on Odd Lots, we did an episode about Korean structured investment products that were sold to retail investors, whose performance was tied to various market indices around the world. Crucially, those payouts were premised on there not being a major crash in those world markets. Obviously, we’ve seen quite the crash. So, for this week’s episode, we’ve gone back to Benn Eifert, the CIO of QVR Advisors, to check out the state of them now. And we also talk, more broadly, about the extreme volatility we’ve seen around the world, and what drove that, and whether or not we’ve seen the worst.
Apr 09 2020