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Two in-depth interviews every week with scholars, policy makers, and business executives on frontier ideas & urgent issues in our world. Sponsored by the Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy and Finance and the Griswold Center for Economic Policy Studies at Princeton University. Hosted by Tiger Gao '21 and other undergraduate Princetonians. Visit us on policypunchline.com
 
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show series
 
Since the race towards high-powered, destructive bombs during World War II, nuclear technologies have captured the public’s imagination in the discourse over energy and society. Large-scale nuclear fission, which involves the splitting of an atom, has been particularly crucial in the energy mix and electricity production in many Western countries o…
 
Liam Vaughan’s newest book explores the “Flash Crash” that took place on May 6, 2010. In the span of five minutes, S&P fell 5% and a trillion dollars of valuation was wiped out. Within around 20 minutes, the markets picked back up and resumed to normalcy. The crash was later attributed to Navinder Sarao, or Nav, a London day trader who lives with h…
 
How did the Indian-Americans vote in the 2020 Presidential Elections? Was the nomination of Kamala Harris a decisive factor? How different will India-US ties be in a Biden administration? How did the Narendra Modi administration in India handle the COVID-19 pandemic? What are some of the most grave challenges being confronted by the Indian democrac…
 
A seasoned entrepreneur and financier, Tom Leyden is well versed in every aspect of the solar world. In this episode, Tom speaks about his start in the solar space, how it has evolved over the years, and what he sees as the future of the technology. Tom narrates his experiences in Africa and Southeast Asia advising companies and governments on sola…
 
Nate Silver, widely considered as the preeminent election forecaster, uses Bayesian methods in his models. What is Bayesian statistics? It just happens that some of our team members have been studying Bayesian concepts, so we hope this explanation could be somewhat helpful in informing you of the foundational methodology that Silver uses to forecas…
 
Tiger Gao and Marc Chaaban react to the election outcome so far and discuss why it’s an indictment on the Democratic Party and a victory for Trump. Does the failed expectations of polling consensus represent an error in election predictions or a cognitive dissonance about the true political feelings of Americans? Have the democrats failed to put fo…
 
Trey Gowdy is a former federal prosecutor and Congressman from Greenville, South Carolina. Known for his ability to persuade, question, and debate in courtrooms and Congressional hearings, Mr. Gowdy rose to fame within the Repubican Party. He resigned in 2018 when he could no longer tolerate the hyper-partisanship and polarization of political disc…
 
Dan Kammen is the Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy at the UC Berkeley. Well-rounded in issues across the entire energy sphere, Prof. Kammen has also served in both the Obama and Trump administrations among other public facing duties, in addition to being a founder of and advisor to several private companies. In this interview, Prof. …
 
Katharina Pistor is Edwin B. Parker Professor of Comparative Law and the director of the Center on Global Legal Transformation at Columbia University. Her most recent book, "The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality," examines how assets such as land, private debt, business organizations, or knowledge are transformed into capit…
 
In his 2019 book "Islam, Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment: A Global and Historical Comparison," Prof. Ahmet Kuru tackles the question of why Muslim-majority countries have historically exhibited high levels of authoritarianism and low levels of socio-economic development in comparison with the rest of the world. He rejects the two mainstream …
 
"Seeking Virtue in Finance: Contributing to Society in a Conflicted Industry" is the newest book by JC de Swaan, a lecturer in the economics department at Princeton University, where he is affiliated with the Bendheim Center for Finance, and a partner at Cornwall Capital, a New York-based investment fund that the movie "The Big Short" portrayed. At…
 
David Pakman hosts The David Pakman Show, an internationally syndicated television, radio, and Internet political program. In 2005, at the age of 21, Pakman began hosting a local radio station as a "hobby", and by 2011 the show aired on 100 stations and outlets. He was for some time the youngest nationally syndicated political host.In this intervie…
 
Arvind Panagariya is Jagdish N. Bhagwati Professor of Indian Political Economy at Columbia University and the former and first Vice Chairman of the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog). Previously, he was the Chief Economist of the Asian Development Bank. In this interview recorded in the spring of 2019, Prof. Panagariya discuss…
 
What does it mean to pursue an intellectual life? What are the preconditions for intellectual pursuit, and is it available to everyone? In this long interview, Zena and Tiger go through some of the most contentious debates in academia and beyond – from whether solitude and suffering are required to live out an intellectual life, to whether liberal …
 
Dan Berkovitz is one of the five Commissioners at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). This interview touches on a wide range of matters in financial regulation. We first discuss the functions of the CTFC – how it regulates commodities, futures, and swaps which all play an important role in our markets despite sounding like abstrac…
 
What are the SEC enforcement stories behind major cases of fraud such as the Fyre Festival and Elizabeth Holmes’s Theranos, or famous settlements such as with Elon Musk and Wells Fargo? Stephanie Avakian is the Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. She has worked on some of the most complex and intriguing investigations, settlements, an…
 
Kruskaia Sierra-Escalante is a Senior Manager of Blended Finance at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is the private arm of the World Bank. The blended finance unit manages more than $1 billion in donor-contributions for climate-smart co-investments in IFC projects. In this interview, we talk about what blended finance is, and how …
 
Rachel Glennerster is the Chief Economist for the UK Department for International Development (DFID), which is the UK's ministry for international development cooperation. Previously, she was the Executive Director of J-PAL (the Jameel Poverty Action Lab) at MIT. This March, Prof. Glennerster gave the closing keynote remarks at the 2020 annual conf…
 
Scott Morris is a Senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, where he directs the US Development Policy Program and co-directs the Sustainable Development Finance Program. He previously served as deputy assistant secretary for development finance and debt at the Treasury Department under the Obama Administration. In that capacity, he led U…
 
Matt Arnold is the Global Head of ESG at J.P. Morgan Chase and has been a pivotal figurehead in integrating sustainable energy practices into large corporations. One important topic in light of the Covid-19 crisis and the recent Black Lives Matter protests is ESG – environmental, social, and corporate governance. ESG has been a discussion topic in …
 
Brad Setser is the Steven A. Tanenbaum Senior Fellow for International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations. He previously served as the deputy assistant secretary for international economic analysis in the U.S. Treasury from 2011 to 2015. In this interview, Dr. Setser discusses how tax avoidance schemes by corporations could distort conve…
 
Quantum computing is the latest “buzz-word” in the tech industry – with over $450 million of private funding investments made between 2017 and 2018 – but what are quantum computers and how will they spark the quantum revolution? Do they truly live up to the “hype” or are the challenges facing them not resolvable in the near future? In this episode,…
 
Robert Frank is the H. J. Louis Professor of Management and Economics at Cornell University. His newest book “Under the Influence, Putting Peer Pressure to Work” discusses how social environments profoundly shape our behaviors and how we can unlock the power of social influence – through fascinating ideas from behavioral contagion to consumption ta…
 
IBM Chief Economist Martin Fleming discusses Covid-19’s immediate impacts on labor markets and the long-term trends for the future of work – from automation to artificial intelligence. Given how millions of people have to work from home today, there have been countless research reports springing up talking about “the end of work as we know it.” Som…
 
Made popular by Nobel Laureate and economist Paul Romer, charter city is a new vision for building prosperous cities that can unlock economic potentials and solve common issues in urbanization and poverty for their citizens and countries they are part of. In this episode, Dr. Mark Lutter, Founder of the Charter Cities Institute, discusses what char…
 
Nicholas Lemann’s recent book, “Transaction Man,” is an account of the United States economy in the 20th and 21st century, how it has transformed over time, and the impacts of such transformation on all of us. Specifically, Prof. Lemann examines three remarkable economic and social thinkers who he calls, “Institution/Organization Man,” “Transaction…
 
Alan Blinder was the Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System under President Bill Clinton. In this episode, we seek to answer questions on the Fed’s unprecedented actions in light of the COVID-19 crisis and their long-term implications, from whether the injection of liquidity is propping up the financial markets in unh…
 
What is gerrymandering and how does it affect people’s electoral rights? How can we use technology and data to empower communities to get the representation they deserve? More importantly, why is 2020 important besides the presidential elections, and how can it shape American politics for at least another decade? In this interview with Princeton pr…
 
“Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, The Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party” is the latest book of Princeton politics professor and historian Julian Zelizer. The book explores how the 50th House Speaker Newt Gingrich started an era where Republicans practiced a ruthless style of partisanship that ignored the conventional…
 
In late June 2020, Covid-19 claimed one of the largest giants in the energy industry: Chesapeake Energy. Chesapeake is a leader in the fracking industry that had been on the rocks for a few years now. In this episode, we detail the rapid rise of the fracking industry with Russell Gold, WSJ senior energy reporter in Texas. Gold’s first book, "The Bo…
 
Museums and galleries have been closed since March under lockdown rules, and there are growing fears among curators that many museums may never open again due to financial difficulties. James Steward is the Director of Princeton University Art Museum, where he leads a staff of 110 with an operating budget of $20 million and collections of over 110,…
 
How can we use evidence, not predetermined cultural scripts based on past pandemics, to evaluate the current Covid-19 crisis? This is the question Dr. Merle Eisenberg raised in his recent Washington Post op-ed. When we talk about coronavirus, we often hear anecdotes from the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. Why do we focus so strongly on this particular …
 
Multiple tech companies (Amazon, IBM) have—in a rather surprising turn of events—pledged to stop providing facial recognition technology to police departments in light of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. In this episode, Dr. Annette Zimmerman of Princeton University gives context to the wider public debate on algorithmic justice and the biases of ar…
 
Jan Vogler from the University of Virginia analyzes the European Union as a polycentric governance system. He is particularly interested in the question of whether this institution with multiple layers of decision-making and a mix of shared and individual responsibilities of governments at different levels can effectively respond to the many challe…
 
Stadiums closed; mass sporting events canceled... tough days for the sports industry, which is projected to lose $61.1 billion in revenue in 2020 due to Covid-19, according to one new research study. The NFL is preparing for its season this Fall – how is the league navigating decision making and planning during this time? Tiger and Arjun invited Mr…
 
On April 25th, the West Texas Intermediate price for oil futures delivered in May collapsed to -37 to -40 dollars a barrel at one point. It has never happened that oil prices fell into negative territory. While the oil crisis has seemingly stabilized, tons of questions remain. Prof. Jason Bordoff, the founding Director of Columbia University's Cent…
 
Given the tragic incident of the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent protests, it’s probably the right time to talk about protests. What are the effective ways to protest? How have the shape and form of protests transformed throughout the past decades as black people fought for their rights? And certainly, how justified is violence or how ef…
 
When we interviewed the famous and controversial Princeton ethics philosopher Peter Singer, he brought up an interesting study by economist Paul Frijters that claims the current set of economic lockdowns are causing 70 times more life years lost than Covid-19 otherwise would had we done nothing. It was surprising to hear such a perspective, since t…
 
There has been so much hype about contact tracing technology and how it will be the key to reopening the country. Google and Apple, for example, are building a system to track contact between people who might spread the disease. The idea is simple: since Bluetooth is constantly scanning for other devices, your phone can use wireless signals to see …
 
Bruce Schneier is a public-interest technologist, and his latest book "Click Here to Kill Everybody" seeks to explore risk and security questions in today's hyper-connected world with smart thermostats, "Internet of Things" home devices, self-driving cars, and other "mini computers" that are easily hackable and pose grave security threats. In this …
 
Many studies have come out suggesting a disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minority groups during this Covid-19 crisis. And certainly one cannot attribute this phenomenon simply to the virus itself, but much due to the underlying structural fractures of the American society in its treatment of racial and ethnic min…
 
What can we learn about all the misinformation about Covid-19? Are they mostly incorrect but uncorrelated health tips, or are there specific narratives behind those misinformation that seek to lay groundwork for the post-pandemic public discourse? Are they simply "fake news" spread around by well-meaning citizens, or perpetrated by state actors and…
 
"Jim Simons is the greatest money maker in modern financial history." Since 1988, Renaissance Technologies' flagship Medallion hedge fund founded by Simons has generated average annual returns of 66 percent, racking up trading profits of more than $100 billion. No one in the investment world comes close. Warren Buf­fett, George Soros, Peter Lynch, …
 
Keith E. Whittington is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University. He is the author of several important books on constitutional theory, including "Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy: The Presidency, the Supreme Court," and "Constitutional Leadership in U.S. History." He has published widely on American cons…
 
Alp Basaran is a Congressional candidate for the NJ-09 district. If elected, he would be the 5th Muslim American, 3rd formerly undocumented, and 1st Turkish American Congressman in U.S. history. In this episodes, Alp discusses his values and main policy proposals – universal healthcare, free education, immigration amnesty, and fair economy for all.…
 
Arthur Caplan is founding head of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU School of Medicine. He is a pioneer in designing public health policies, from founding the National Marrow Donor Program to creating the U.S. system of organ donation and distribution. Dr. Caplan has been busily advising public health officials on the Covid-19 crisis and educat…
 
Facebook invested $5.7 billion for a 10% stake in Indian telecom operator Jio Platforms Ltd, the biggest telecom operator in the country with more than 370 million subscribers. The deal not only made Facebook the largest minority shareholder in the Indian telecom network, but also brought India’s emerging tech scene back into the global spotlight. …
 
"What are the economic consequences of an influenza pandemic? And given the pandemic, what are the economic costs and benefits of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI)?" In a recently published economics paper, Prof. Emil Verner and his co-authors find that cities that intervened earlier and more aggressively in the 1918 Spanish Flu did not perfor…
 
Melissa Reynolds is Perkins-Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Princeton University. A historian and humanist, Dr. Reynolds recently published an op-ed in Washington Post comparing the coronavirus epidemic to “the sweat” outbreaks in 15th century Europe. She suggests that, despite the obvious advances in modern medicine since t…
 
Another wave of reflections for capitalism is now kindled by the Covid-19 crisis. Will the fiscal stimulus uplift the average Americans or end up exacerbating inequality? How is the crisis revealing fundamental fractures of the American and Western societies? The world as we have known it for the past decades has come to a stop, and the global soci…
 
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