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Each week Phil Dobbie and Roger Hearing get to grips with one issue that impacts our lives. It could be economic, social, technological or geopolitical. Whatever the subject, they'll talk to the experts who can give help explain what's really going on. And Phil and Roger back it up with their own research and opinions. It's half an hour to get across one of the key issues of the time, and they promise, it'll never be boring. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
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Balls Radio

Phil Dobbie

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Balls Radio is like talk radio, but for thinking people. Now a short regular occurrence, Phil Dobbie offers his opinions on what's happening, in the UK and overseas: politics, social policy, economics, science, religion. Yes, it's another, slightly overweight middle-aged white man telling the world how it should be. But there's nothing alt-right about Balls Radio. And we try and have fun along the way.
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show series
 
It’s a question taxing Jeremy Hunt - cut back on what we all pay to the government, or use his small surplus to prop up schools, hospitals and other neglected public services? Is his budget intended to rescue the UK economy, or to try to lessen an imminent Tory election defeat? Frances Coppola, the economist and author of “The Case For People’s QE”…
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Elon Musk has his fingers in many pies. Social media, space travel, internet access, AI. Even tunnel drilling. He’s grown from developing a modest series of online city guides, to being one of the richest men on the planet. Is he a genius, or simply a Trumpesque style wheeler and dealer? This week phil – not a big fan – asks Steve – massive fan – w…
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Why are the prospects for young people so much worse than for their parents’ generation? They can’t buy a house, their rents are extortionate, they have a massive student debt and there’s no job security, plus they’re inheriting a climate-damaged planet. Is it all down to the greed of the baby-boomers? Or are feckless, apathetic work-shy, oversensi…
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The concept of American Exceptionalism has been talked about for decades, mainly by Americans. Now the term is back in vogue because the US has shown the fastest recovery from the pandemic and subsequent inflation. It’s also a period of intense speculation in US shares, driven by phenomenal rises in the value of big tech stocks. Is this something t…
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Should we have the right to end our lives in the way we choose - with others allowed to help us? Euthanasia is back on the agenda after a number of celebrities pushing for a change in the law. But what about the risks - the sick and elderly feeling they are a burden to be dispensed with? The devaluing of life itself? Dr Sam Carr lecturer at the Dep…
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Rishi Sunak, like most politicians, is adamant that he can grow the economy by getting businesses to be more productive. But can businesses really grow the economy by themselves, if the government just gets out the way? You might think that by employing more people, or creating more widgets, you are helping the economy. But there’s one big constrai…
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Donald Trump could be back in the White House this time next year. Politicians from London to Berlin to Canberra are scratching their heads about how to deal with another season of Trump World - he’s promised to end the Ukraine war in one day, threatened to leave NATO, do deals with authoritarian leaders in Beijing and Moscow. Can the familiar west…
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Have central banks waited too long before dropping interest rates. Over the last week or so we’ve had Jerome Powell, the Governor of the Fed, saying inflation is coming down but they want to see more data before they’re convinced enough to drop rates. The Bank of England’s Andrew bailey said pretty much the same thing. And the ECB. But, as Phil and…
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Many thousands of people are in prison for crimes they didn’t do, and their chances of getting their cases reopened are minimal at best. The Post Office scandal showed how hard it is to reverse a miscarriage of justice, even when the truth is obvious to all. The Criminal Cases Review Commission is slow and inefficient, as has been shown by recent h…
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Yanis Varoufakis joins Steve nd Phil this week to talk about the thinking behind his new book technofeudalism. The ‘cloudists, as he calls them, aren’t operating in the market, they have replaced the market. They learn from us tell us what we want to buy and then sell it to us. Their capital is the algorithm they have developed, but also the inform…
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Unheated classrooms, cancelled trains, delayed operations, potholed roads - it’s hard to avoid the impression that the UK isn’t working properly, that our systems are failing, that something has gone badly wrong. Is this because we have failed to invest? Have we outsourced pubic services to companies that have no interest in maintenance? Or do we h…
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If Trump has one sensible policy its his drive to reindustrialise America. Since he left the Oval Office we’ve had global supply chains challenged by the pandemic, wars and a downturn in economies we used to rely on for cheap goods. The financial advantage of outsourcing to Asia is losing some of its gloss, and the uncertainty of supply has to be a…
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The UK and US launched air strikes on Houthi rebels in Yemen after their missile-attacks on international shipping - could this all turn into a regional conflict? London and Washington tell Iran to stay out, but its backing for Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis suggests it’s already involved. So can this be stopped from exploding …
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Is it right that the growth opportunities of businesses are determined by the vagaries of the finance markets. Companies wanting to raise debt through bonds or bank loans face higher costs right now because of the rise in interest rates. Someone with a great idea could be held back because of the cost of borrowing. Whether its borrowing or issuance…
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It's the biggest year in the history of democracy - more than half of the people on earth have the chance to choose, through the ballot box, who governs them. So why is democracy - the system that gives the ultimate power to the people - in such deep trouble? Autocracies like China say their form of government works better. "Illiberal" democracies …
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As you’ll hear at the start of this week’s podcast Warren Buffet isn’t a big fan of private equity firms. He says they lie, so they are not a good choice for investors, like pension funds, for example. But they are even worse for the companies being acquired by private equity funds. Morrisons is an example. A successful supermarket chain with a lon…
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It's going to be a momentous year in British politics, with a Tory administration staggering towards what almost everyone thinks will be an electoral wipeout, and a Labour leadership desperate to avoid any mistakes on their path back to power. In Scotland the SNP are looking at the damage from a year of savage headlines, and, among the smaller part…
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The UK government has been refusing the pay demands of young doctors in the UK who held a series of strikes in 2023. Their argument is that pay has been declining in real-terms since 2008. Unless pay catches-up there will continue to be a drain of new recruits, which will impact patient safety and put undue pressure on those left working in the NHS…
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A look back at the highlights of 2023 on WhyCurve.com . Phil and Roger covered everything from tax-cuts to racism, from AI to Rwanda, with experts and researchers. So here's a New Year gift - their pick of the best and most insightful discussions of the past year or so. Featuring: Michele Groppi of the Defence Studies Department at King’s College, …
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Our podcast listeners often ask which economics books they should read to get up to speed on some of the discussions we have, and to understand more about the way the economy really works. This week, for those with a wad of book tokens gifted to them at Christmas, we look at a selection that are worth getting stuck into over the holiday period incl…
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The last-minute dash to the shops, the frantic hunt for something just right for your cousin…. The giving season can be tough, but has buying online changed the way we think about gifts? Is it now intangibles - experiences, subscriptions, game credits - that dominate our presents? Are we buying less of the overpriced tat that used to fill our stock…
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Central banks assume there is a natural rate of interest – a point of equilibrium at which the demand for loans matches the supply of loans. They believe if interest rates have been too low, they risk over-heating the economy, risking inflation. But does it work? Steve suggests that interest rates should be fixed, with control of the economy manage…
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Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda bill has passed its first hurdle - it says, as a matter of law, the East African state is “safe”. But is it? Is it a place we could confidently send those who have arrived on our shores seeking asylum, and be sure they would not be at risk? Or is it, in fact, a dictatorship with a history of persecuting and killing those who di…
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Keir Starmer will be the UK’s next Prime Minister. Few things in life are more certain. So why did he see the need to write an opinion piece for the Telegraph extolling the virtues of Margaret Thatcher. He said she had freed up Britain’s entrepreneurial spirit. Really? She also created massive private debt, driven by a tax-incentivised housing bubb…
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The COP28 was big on promises, but can they be taken seriously when the location the president and so many of the participants are signed up to big oil? Is the secret to getting serious on mitigating climate change, getting capitalism on board? So that making money from saving the planet can become a real option? Julian Caldecott, Director of Creat…
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In his election pledges President-Elect Javier Milei promised the people of Argentina two things. First, he would do dollarize the economy. He’d ditch the Peso and replace it with the, already widely used, UD dollar. Secondly, he would abandon the central bank, who he blames for the rampant inflation, which is one part of many fronts of destruction…
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All eyes have been on Gaza since October, but what has been happening in the confrontation between Ukraine and Russia - the biggest European land war since 1945? Has the West lost hope of defeating Vladimir Putin here, and is President Zelenskyy being persuaded to turn a stalemate into some sort of truce? Ukrainian doctoral research scholar and sec…
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Last year net migration in the UK reached 745,000 people. A new record, which amount to more than 1% growth in the population. It’s an unsustainable population growth but Steve Keen argues growth on the planet as a whole is unsustainable. He worries that as climate change destroys food production migrants and UK locals alike will be queuing for rel…
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Jeremy Hunt delivered his Autumn statement this week, with 110 policy measures. The most significant of those was a 2% cut in National Insurance contributions. Roger and Phil ask Simon French, Chief Economist and Head of Research at UK investment bank, Panmure Gordon, whether the main aim of the cuts was to bolster the chances of a win for the Cons…
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George Osbourne was the UK Chancellor wedded to austerity. “More cuts, more difficult decisions” he said at the start of 2014, as he struggled to get the British budget back into surplus. But regular listeners to this podcast know that a government budget in surplus is sucking money out of the economy. Steve Keen reminds us of the logic that shows …
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Drill, baby, drill - but does it make sense to hand out, every year, new North Sea extraction licences for oil and gas as the UK government has promised? Aren’t we supposed to be ending our reliance on fossil fuels? Or is it essential for energy security to harvest what we have on our doorstep? And is the cost of a more rapid transition to renewabl…
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Last Wednesday Optus phone, mobile and internet users in Australia went without and sort of service for a full working day, starting from about 4 in the morning. At he same time, Thames Water in Surrey were slowly connecting back customers who had not had water supplies since the previous Saturday morning. Why are things we have always assumed we c…
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Should animals have rights? Should dogs and cats be able to sue you for not feeding them on time? Should farm animals be able to get an injunction to stop us eating them? There’s a growing movement to recognise that many of our fellow creatures are sentient, feel pain and loss, and therefore, perhaps, should have legal rights. But how could this wo…
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