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In the Balance

The biggest financial stories and why they matter to us all.

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Is Inherited Wealth a Curse?

Does passing down large amounts of money within families drive the gap between rich and poor even wider? It seems that some of the world's richest people, like Bill Gates, recognised this and have pledged to give away most, if not all, of their wealth to good causes rather than their children. Is inherited wealth a curse, both on a personal and macro-economic level? Should we tax it much more heavily, or even ban inheritance altogether? Manuela Saragosa is joined by a global panel of guests to unpick the issues on intergenerational fairness. Contributors: Barbara Blouin, founder of The Inheritance Project, Karen Rowlingson Professor of Social Policy at the University of Birmingham, Edward Wolff, Professor of Economics at New York University and Jørgen Næsje, State Secretary in Norway's Finance Ministry.(Picture: College Republicans Rally For Repeal Of Estate Tax. Washington DC June 2006. Credit: Getty Imgages)


9 Sep 2017

Rank #1

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Would you sign a divorce contract before you got married? Should you? They’re often seen as unnecessary, unromantic, and irreligious, but we hear how prenuptial agreements are on the rise, and not just among the super-rich. We speak to a newly-wed who signed a prenup with her now husband to protect her business interests. One of the UK’s top divorce lawyers tells us they are often better than the default divorce provisions laid out by governments. And a lawyer in Nigeria explains how she’s trying to use them to protect women’s rights. But prenups are not without pitfalls – we also hear how they can be coercive, unfair, and even destroy a marriage before it’s begun.Contributors: Ayesha Vardag, founder and president of London law firm Vardags; Erin Lowry, author of Broke Millennial, a book and website about personal finance; Laurie Israel from Israel, Van Kooy & Days law in Brookline, Massachusetts, and author of The Generous Prenup; Lesley Agams, founder and partner at Demeters Solicitors & Advocates in Abuja, Nigeria, and blogger on women's issues.(Picture: Models of a bride and groom on a wedding cake. Credit: Getty Images)


1 Sep 2018

Rank #2

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IMF: Fit for the Future?

Set up in the 1940s to ensure the world never again faced catastrophic economic recession, the International Monetary Fund has become a controversial presence in the management of the global economy. It is powerful, it is bossy and it is largely controlled by the USA and Europe. One of the IMF's top officials David Lipton, comes on to the show to answer the critics and to outline his vision for the IMF's future. He is joined by former IMF economist Professor Kenneth Rogoff and others who argue it's time for the IMF to reform to meet the needs of the 21st Century. PHOTO: A participant of the left-wing activists and members of the Greek community of Hungary holds a slogan to protest against the political and financial situation of Greece (CREDIT: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images)


8 Feb 2016

Rank #3

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When to retire

At a time when we’re living longer, healthier lives should we do away with the notion of retirement and just keep on working? Are the skills of older people adequate, and are they even wanted in a youth-obsessed society? Ed Butler will be discussing the financial drivers behind working longer, the social benefits of being actively employed and the choices that governments, employers and individuals need to make to prepare for older age.Our guests this week are Samuel Engblom, Policy director at The Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees from Stockholm, Margaret Heffernan, executive coach and author in London and Steve Vernon, author and Research Scholar at the Stanford Center on Longevity, California. Plus, we take a visit to The Common Room, a new concept in intergenerational thinking.(Image: Older woman selling flower bouquet. Image credit: Getty)


16 Nov 2019

Rank #4

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Kilkenomics – is Europe broken?

The EU has a new parliament, new leadership, but the same old problems; Brexit, political populism and an economic slowdown. How will it stand up to the test? In the Balance comes from the 'Kilkenomics' festival of economics and comedy in Ireland, in front of a live audience of festival-goers. Rory Cellan-Jones is joined by a panel of top Irish, European and American economists in Cleere's pub in Kilkenny, along with comedian Colm O’Regan who is reflecting on how small countries cope as part of a big bloc like the EU.Guests: Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Brussels correspondent for the New York Times, David McWilliams academic and economist and co-founder of Kilkenomics, Bill Black, lawyer, author and associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. And In the Balance regular contributor, comedian Colm O'Regan.Producer: Audrey TinlineStudio Manager: Robert Symington(Image: John Cleere pub exterior, Kilkenny. Image credit: BBC)


9 Nov 2019

Rank #5

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Outsmarting AI

Some of the world’s top thinkers on artificial intelligence discuss the threats intelligent machines might pose to humans. With Turkey claiming it may be able to launch autonomous killer drones in the near future, is it time we all thought a bit harder about how we want this cutting edge technology to be deployed? Ed Butler and guests discuss artificial intelligence, from military hardware, to online advertising and insurance. Ed is joined by Dame Wendy Hall, Professor of Computer Science at Southampton University and Co-chair of the UK Government's review on Artificial Intelligence; Helen Toner, Director of Strategy at the Center for Security and Emerging Technology at Georgetown University. And Jaan Tallinn, one of the founders of the technology firm Skype and now co-founder of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at Cambridge University.(Picture: Robotic Androids Taking Charge Of Running A Futuristic City. Credit: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)


2 Nov 2019

Rank #6

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Millennium Development Goals: Judgement Day

To what extent have the Millennium Development Goals helped to eradicate global poverty and improved things for the world's poorest? As the MDGs come to the end of their life, the author of the Millennium Development Goals defends his ambition and the strategies employed to meet the goals; with Mark (Lord) Malloch-Brown, Mark Suzman of the Gates Foundation, and Yasmini Aiya of the Centre for Policy Studies in Delhi Photo: Children collect pieces of coal along the roadside in Bujumbura, Burundi (Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)


10 Feb 2016

Rank #7

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Money and Me

Ask yourself honestly, how closely have you examined your emotional relationship with money? Or is it all a bit too awkward? Financial psychology - a relatively new discipline borne out of the USA - says we should all be doing exactly that. It joins the dots between psychology and financial planning, via behavioural economics and says it can help people understand their true relationship with money. Always in debt, but have a good salary? Ever wondered why your wealthy relative is so mean? Financial psychology might have the answer. Manuela Saragosa unravels some of these riddles with two experts: Brad Klontz, founder of the Financial Psychology Institute and Meghaan Lurtz, incoming president of the Financial Therapy Association.(Picture: Heads made of dollar bills, Credit: Getty Images)


5 Jan 2019

Rank #8

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The Price of Pills

Drug firms are coming under fire from the US, Europe and China over the cost of some of their products. But is it simply the price we have to pay if we want Big Pharma to keep producing life-saving medicines?President Trump has vowed to drive down drug prices "substantially" - we hear why a lack of haggling means the latest patented pills typically cost more in the US than almost anywhere else in the world.We hear from Big Pharma itself - an industry figure tells us high prices reflect the years of research and development that go into new drugs and that, in time, competition does make them cheaper.Plus, does size matter when brokering better deals with the pharmaceutical firms, and in lower income countries what are the other factors pushing up prices?Contributors: Patricia Danzon, professor of health care management at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; Thomas Cueni, director general of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations; and Kalipso Chalkidou, director of global health policy at the Center for Global Development.(Picture: Pills on a US dollar bill. Credit: Getty Images)


22 Sep 2018

Rank #9

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Artificial Intelligence - Friend or Foe?

The development of Artificial Intelligence is being seen as one of the biggest threats to jobs this century. Yet it's a technology that can also help humanity hugely and is forecast to increase global economic growth. So should we be afraid of AI - or should we embrace a future where machines could become as intelligent as humans? In the Balance brings together some of the top thinkers in the debate to ask whether AI is our friend or our enemy.Contributors: Nick Bostrom, founding Director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford UniversityLuis Perez Breva, an expert in the process of technology innovation and entrepreneur, based at MITKathleen Richardson, professor of Ethics and Culture of Robots and AI at De Montfort UniversityKevin Warwick, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at Coventry UniversitySeán Ó hÉigeartaigh, Executive Director of Cambridge University's Centre for the Study of Existential Risk(Picture: A Google Earth map of Paris, France as the company unveils the revamped version of the application April, 2017 at a event at New York's Whitney Museum of Art. Credit: Getty Images)


23 Sep 2017

Rank #10

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Does the office have a future?

Thanks to technology, these days it’s possible to work almost anywhere. You can log on from your kitchen table, in a trendy café or even on the beach. So what’s the point of the noisy, crowded office? Perhaps it’s time we ditched the daily commute and found better places, and better ways, to get the job done. Manuela Saragosa has been discussing, with her three guests, just what kind of spaces we’ll be working in in future, and whether the office has some redeeming features after all.Contributors:Kay Sargent, director of workplace at architectural firm HOKIwo Szapar, remote work advocate & CEO at Remote-howStephen Wood, a specialist in workplace psychology and professor of management at the University of Leicester(Picture:Office worker. Getty Images.)


3 Aug 2019

Rank #11

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The Juggle

How do you juggle the demands of a job and a family? Is there a stress-free and guilt-free way of giving adequate attention to your children and your career?We discuss the daily challenges facing millions of parents all over the world, including the often frantic morning rush, the career opportunities that pass you by, and the difficulty of maintaining a social life. And in this, the last episode of the series, we have three presenters instead of one - Susannah Streeter and Nkem Ifejika join fellow working parent Manuela Saragosa to share some tips. They're joined by Clare Streets, from Birmingham in the UK, who has recently rejoined the world of work after seven years spent raising a family.(Picture: A woman multi-tasking. Credit: Getty Images)


29 Sep 2018

Rank #12

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Universal Basic Income: Has its Time Come?

It is an idea that has been around for hundreds of years - to give everyone in society a regular chunk of money that is enough to guarantee them a minimum survivable standard of living. Often called Universal or Unconditional Basic Income, the idea has supporters on both right and left. It was cast back into the spotlight this year when the Swiss held a referendum on whether to introduce it. Pilot schemes to test the idea are cropping up everywhere from Finland to the Netherlands to the US and Kenya. One reason it is gathering such momentum is concern over new technologies eliminating many low-end jobs. Last week the founder of Tesla Motors, Elon Musk said the impact of automation on the job market meant that some form of Universal Basic Income would become inevitable. But not everyone agrees a Basic Income is inevitable, or even desirable, and for those who do support the idea, there is disagreement over almost every aspect of how it should be implemented. To what extent could it replace the Welfare State? Would it incentivise people to work? Can people be trusted to spend the money wisely? And how could it be funded? The BBC's Ed Butler is joined by a panel of four - professor Louise Haagh, reader of Politics at the University of York and the co-chair of the Basic Income Earth Network; Michael Tanner, senior fellow of the CATO Institute in Washington DC; Michael Faye, co-founder of Give Directly, which is piloting its own Universal Income project in Kenya; and professor Ian Gough of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics.(Photo: Giant campaign poster in Plainpalais Place, Geneva, 2016 saying: What would you do if your income was taken care of? Credit: AFP/ Fabrice Coffrini/Getty Images)


19 Nov 2016

Rank #13

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Starting from scratch

What's the best strategy for starting a business from nothing? What if you have to start over - either in a new country or because of a business failure or setback in life? We hear from a Syrian refugee who started her cheese making business from the ground up and from South Africa we are joined by the managing director of an organisation advising small scale entrepreneurs who are doing business in tough conditions. Also in the programme, Ed Butler is joined by a venture capital funder who invests in tech start-ups and we'll hear from the leader of Britain's top foundation for boosting entrepreneurship, who says it takes a special type of person to start up a business from scratch. Contributors: Razan Alsous, founder of Yorkshire Dama CheeseNeeta Patel, CEO at the Centre for Entrepreneurs; Entrepreneur-Mentor at London Business School Wybrand Ganzevoort, managing director at Collective Value CreationGeorge Davies, partner at Hambro Perks(Picture; A rocket taking off. Credit: Getty Creative)


17 Aug 2019

Rank #14

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How China Curbs Online Gaming

Online gaming and e-sports are huge industries, but there are concerns about over-use and addiction and the way gaming takes up the time of young people. China is forcing some of its biggest games companies to put restrictions on the number of hours a day under 18s can play. But do such curbs make any difference, both to the young gamers and to the gaming business itself? Rory Cellan-Jones hears from a gaming expert and former professional e-sports player, a former online gaming addict and an expert in China's gaming industry.(Photo:Visitors uses console at the Cyber Games Arena (CGA) eSports venue in the Mongkok district of Kowloon in Hong Kong. January 2019.. Credit: Getty Images)


30 Mar 2019

Rank #15

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Brexit: Planning in Uncertain Times

The UK parliament has rejected the Brexit deal struck between the government and the European Union. As the clock ticks to the deadline for the UK to leave the EU at the end of March, In the Balance hears how businesses are planning in times of deep uncertainty. Ed Butler asks business people in the EU and in the UK how they will manage to continue to export and import goods between the UK and the European Union if there is no deal after March 29? And Ed hears from a former senior UK civil servant on the risks ahead for trade - and what would be the best way out of the Brexit impasse?


19 Jan 2019

Rank #16

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The Lehman Legacy

In this special edition we hear personal stories from the Great Recession and ask who has paid the highest price.From mortgage defaults and job losses to stagnant wages, we find out how hard the last 10 years have been for many individuals and families, and ask what legacy the financial crisis has left.Plus, where might the next crash come from, and are we any better prepared to withstand it?Manuela Saragosa leads the discussion with a panel of experts: Adam Tooze, professor of history at Columbia University and author of Crashed: How a Decade of Global Financial crises Changed the World; Pablo Bustinduy, a member of parliament in the Spanish anti-austerity political party Podemos; and Scott Winship, a poverty and inequality researcher, formerly of the Brookings Institution and now directing the Social Capital Project within the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress.Image: Boarded-up windows on a foreclosed home (Credit: Getty Images)


15 Sep 2018

Rank #17

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The Five Generation Workplace

Very soon, for the first time in modern history, five generations will be working side by side. Baby boomers, traditionalists, and Generations X, Y and Z. Is it a manager's dream - or a nightmare? Manuela Saragosa and guests ask why millennials are so hard to manage - and how do you keep older workers motivated throughout a career that could last for 50 years?Contributors: Professor Andrew Scott, Deputy Dean at London Business School and co-author of The 100-Year LifeAli Hall, leadership development coach and Associate Fellow of Saïd Business School, OxfordChip Conley, Modern Elder and former head of global hospitality and strategy at Airbnb


30 Sep 2017

Rank #18

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Can You Disaster-Proof an Economy?

What lessons should we learn from the damage hurricane Irma has inflicted on Florida and the Caribbean, the flooding hurricane Harvey wreaked on Texas and the floods that have devastated parts of South Asia? And how can politicians and aid agencies be persuaded to spend more money preparing for natural disasters, rather than clearing up after the event? Manuela Saragosa talks to one environmental planning expert in Houston, Texas, who says some parts of the city will become uninhabitable. And she hears from experts around the world on the best way to contain the economic damage of future natural disasters.Contributors:Jim Blackburn, Rice University, HoustonMB Akhter, Bangladesh Country Director for OxfamTom Bamforth from Shelter ClusterIlan Noy, Professor at Victoria University in Wellington, holder of the inaugural Chair in the Economics of DisastersChristina Bennett from the Overseas Development Institute(Picture: People shop in a supermarket after Hurricane Irma swept through the area on September 13, 2017 in Naples, Florida. Credit: Getty Images)


16 Sep 2017

Rank #19

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Innovators - Female Entrepreneurs

Could starting up a business be the best way into work for more women across South Asia? Shivaani Kohok asks why only one in four women in India have paid jobs and what's holding them back from entering the workplace. She's joined by three women working with entrepreneurs across South Asia.(Picture: A mother and baby treated by the Sehat Kahani healthtech business)


28 Oct 2017

Rank #20