13 Comments

  1. I have to say, despite the fact that I loves me some Battle Cattle, this is my favorite members only episode thus far. Never have I been so to hold everyone I know at gun point… okay, dinner party point, and MAKE them listen to something. However, as I am probably unable to make them all sign up for a membership first, I suspect my husband will be my only victim. (He reads economics tomes for fun so he’ll probably be fine but I’ll suggest a g&t accompaniment as a precaution.)

    Thank you for indulging my laziness by not even requiring me to read the book report version and just spoon feeding me Zee’s dissertation. It was fascinating and gave me words for trends and behaviors I’ve seen for years but didn’t have a structure to discuss. For instance, it finally gave me some minimal understanding of how my dad, who marched in the civil rights movement of the 60’s, voted for Trump. Because I gotta tell you, that one’s been a real beast to get my head around.

    And yeah, what Jamie said about how we’ve responded as Gen X’ers, “Ugh… THIS again…” vs the Boomer reaction of being freaked that the system could do this to them and/or a deep anger and desire to blame “them” was dead on.

    Any thoughts on where the Millennials will take things. ‘Cause I’ve got two of them and they are Not AMUSED at any of this bullshit. You’ve never experience annoyed teenager until it’s a 17 year old who can’t vote but “will be saddled with you old people’s Supreme Court picks for the next 30 years.”

    Anyway, excellent job enriching my informational environment. Keep up the great work…

  2. Just finished this episode and loved it. I think Dr. Zee’s take on this stuff is great. One thing that kind of shocked me was that she said not a single person in the focus group has an understanding of what actually happened. By that I think she means that no one understood that trading in mortgage backed securities, or deregulation allowing them to trade in mortgage backed securities, and the lending practices that this lead to was the underlying issue? Am I wrong that that’s what she meant?

    That is surprising because in my own little anecdotal world I’d say that maybe ten percent or more have a pretty good grasp on that.

    1. Actually, it’s worse. What she meant was that they couldn’t even point to the institutions involved, the regulations involved, the products involved. They literally didn’t know where it came from and what it was. They could not name a single culpable person or practice.

  3. Do you, or does she, think that is generalizable, or is it idiosyncratic to her sample? It’s just so different from my anecdotal experience that it is kind of surprising. I would have guess something on the order of one in ten would have some understanding understanding beyond saying “Wall Street” and “Government.” Among my acquaintances it’s certainly a minority that understand more than that, but it’s still a fairly significant fraction and that seems to cross political lines. Admittedly being in healthcare my group of acquaintances are mostly nurses and doctors and probably skews a little more educated, a little more liberal, and a little more affluent than average, but I don’t think it’s all that exceptional a group.

    Either way, pretty sad that people pay so little attention and depend so much on single sources for information.

    1. Unless you’re a high information seeker, I’m not sure where anyone would actually gain an understanding of what happened. So it isn’t a matter of being in the healthcare industry or something along those lines, but I would suspect that the reason why your acquaintances appear to have more knowledge regarding this material likely has to do with information seeking behavior and possibly social behaviors within that particular group (ie, they’re talking about this more than the study’s participants) but the fact remains that news watchers would not be able to gain any degree of understanding of the causes of the 2008 collapse if they simply watched the news without seeking out other sources of information.

      Zee also adds that in surface level conversations people can appear informed when in actual fact they don’t have any real understanding, however to discover that deficit you have to seriously drill down to the core parts. And that was the case for the study’s participants, that they might seem knowledgeable for the first five minutes but as questions were asked it became clear that they knew buzz words but not actual concepts, let alone how they connected.

      1. Disheartening to say the least. I want to think it’s more common for people to do deeper dives on important stories like this and not just take the superficial news reports as the final word. Clearly the evidence doesn’t support this though.

  4. That was another great discussion thanks. By coincidence I read this news item this morning: “In the US between 1978 and 2015, the income share of the bottom 50 per cent fell from 20 per cent to 12 per cent. Total real income for that group actually fell 1 per cent during the period.”

  5. Can Zee make a guess what will happen as cable news collapses ? Will it be Facebook all the way down? What will change in they reporting?

      1. Is there any chance you’ll “reprint” this member’s episode about Zee’s dissertation in Decode the News? I keep wanting to share it with other people, only to remember that alas, it’s not publicly available.

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