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Political Economy Forum

Political Economy Forum

By University of Washington
The Political Economy Forum of the University of Washington discusses cutting-edge academic research in the area of Political Economy.
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#10 - Economic Literacy - w/ Beatrice Magistro

Political Economy Forum

#82 - Labor Unions and Corporate Revolutions - w/ Bella Wright, Asher Goldstein, and Weston Beckmann
In this episode, UW undergraduate students Bella Wright, Asher Goldstein, and Weston Beckmann speak to host Nicolas Wittstock about the current state of US labor unions, recent efforts to unionize at Starbucks and Amazon, as well as applications of game theory in these contexts. 
August 03, 2022
#81 - Finance and Clean Energy - w/ Brett Christophers
In this episode, Prof. Brett Christophers of Uppsala University speaks to host Nicolas Wittstock about the difficulties of obtaining financing for clean energy projects despite recent cost reductions of renewables. 
June 30, 2022
#80 - Human Trafficking in the US - w/ Rachel Castellano and Ryan Goehrung
In this episode, host Nicolas Wittstock speaks to Rachel Castellano and Ryan Goehrung, both PhD Candidates in the Political Science Dept. at the University of Washington, about their work on Human Trafficking in the US. In a recent paper, Rachel and Ryan explore the T-Visa program, intended to offer survivors of human trafficking a form of legal relief. US Department of Labor list of goods produced with forced labor:
June 23, 2022
#79 - Why We Fight - w/ Chris Blattman
In this episode, Morgan Wack speaks to Prof. Chris Blattman of the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, discussing the roots of war and paths to peace, which Blattman writes about in his recent book: "Why We Fight". 
May 16, 2022
#78 - The Franchise Economy - w/ Mark Schwartz
In this episode, Prof. Mark Schwartz of UVA discusses the cause of reductions in US economic growth since 1970, arguing that industrial organization plays a key role.
May 09, 2022
#77 - Silicon Valley and the Origins of US Big Tech - w/ Margaret O'Mara
In this episode, Prof. Margaret O'Mara of the University of Washington discusses the origins and workings of the US Tech industry - in reference to her 2019 book: The Code - Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America. 
May 02, 2022
#76 - China Goes Green? - w/ Judith Shapiro and Yifei Li
In this episode, Prof. Judith Shapiro of American University and Prof. Yifei Li of NYU Shanghai discuss their book "China Goes Green: Coercive Environmentalism for a Troubled Planet?". Here, the authors discuss the varied impact of environmental policies under authoritarian government - and seek to evaluate the prospect of and rationale behind China's ambition to become an "ecological civilization". 
April 04, 2022
#75 - US Income Inequality Reconsidered - w/ Vincent Geloso
In this episode, Prof. Vincent Geloso of George Mason University discusses historical US income inequality, the "U-Curve", and whether our thinking about income inequality should be reconsidered in the face of new evidence. 
March 28, 2022
#74 - The Promise of Access - w/ Daniel Greene
In this Episode, Prof. Daniel Greene of the University of Maryland speaks about his book "The Promise of Access", which evaluates the attraction of simple technological fixes to complicated social problems like poverty in the United States. 
March 11, 2022
#73 - The Profit Paradox - w/ Jan Eeckhout
In this episode, Prof. Jan Eeckhout of the University of Barcelona Pompeu Fabra, speaks about his most recent book: "The Profit Paradox - How Thriving Firms Threaten the Future of Work." 
March 02, 2022
#72 - The American Political Economy - w/ Jacob Hacker
In this episode, Prof. Jacob Hacker of Yale University discusses American Political Economy - Politics, Markets, and Power - co-edited by Jacob Hacker, Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Paul Pierson, and Kathleen Thelen. 
January 24, 2022
#71 - The Politics of Automation - w/ Daron Acemoglu
In this episode, Prof. Daron Acemoglu of MIT speaks to Nicolas Wittstock about recent research on automation and US labor markets. 
January 12, 2022
#70 - There's no such thing as a free market - w/ Steven Vogel
In this episode, Prof. Steven Vogel of University of California Berkeley speaks to Nicolas Wittstock about Steven's book Marketcraft - how governments make markets work. 
January 03, 2022
#69 - Should the West continue to promote democracy? - w/ Herrold and Prakash
In this episode, Prof. Catherine Herrold of Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs and Prof. Aseem Prakash of the University of Washington discuss with Nicolas Wittstock the track record of democracy promotion abroad. Herrold and Prakash argue that instead of recreating Western institutions across the world, promoters of democracy should rather aim to empower local initiatives of Pluralism. 
December 21, 2021
#68 - The Promise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution - w/ Victor Menaldo
In this episode, Prof. Victor Menaldo speaks to Nicolas Wittstock and argues that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will create a jobs boom rather than technological unemployment.
December 13, 2021
#67 - Implications of Automation in Administrative Agencies - w/ Ryan Calo
In this episode, Prof. Ryan Calo speaks to Nicolas Wittstock about interdisciplinary work in the UW Tech Policy Lab and UW Center for an Informed Public. What's more, they discuss Ryan's work on the increasing use of automated tools by administrative agencies. 
December 06, 2021
#66 - Tech Platforms and how to govern them - w/ Blayne Haggart
In this episode, Prof. Blayne Haggart of Brock University speaks to Nicolas Wittstock about how to regulate platforms. 
November 29, 2021
#65 - Economism and Bad Economics - w/ James Kwak
In this episode, Prof. James Kwak of UConn School of Law speaks to Nicolas Wittstock about the impact of overly simple economic models on policy debates. James Kwak's 2017 book Economism makes the forceful case that simplistic Econ 101 ideas pervade policy discourse and sometimes even economic policy. 
November 22, 2021
#64 - Drugs in Third Reich Germany - w/ Norman Ohler
In this episode, Norman Ohler speaks to Nicolas Wittstock about "Blitzed - Drugs in Nazi Germany", Norman's work on the invention, use, and impact of methamphetamine in Third Reich Germany. 
November 15, 2021
#63 - Chicago's new PhD Program in Political Economy - w/ Scott Gehlbach
In this episode, Prof. Scott Gehlbach of the University of Chicago speaks to Nicolas Wittstock about Chicago's new PhD program in Political Economy. 
November 08, 2021
#62 - The Evergrande Crisis and Property Rights in China - w/ Susan Whiting
In this episode, Prof. Susan Whiting of the University of Washington speaks to Nicolas Wittstock about the crisis of Chinese real estate developer Evergrande as well as its implications for the wider Chinese Political Economy. 
November 01, 2021
#61 - The Political Economy of Gifting - w/ Tony Gill
In this episode, Prof. Tony Gill of the University of Washington speaks to Nicolas Wittstock about gifting. While some have suggested that gifting is economically inefficient - Prof. Gill argues that this view misses the important social functions that rituals like gifting play. In fact, Prof. Gill argues that these social rituals have important economic implications as well. 
October 25, 2021
#60 - Return of the Pragmatic Center after Germany's 2021 Federal Election - w/ Niko Switek
In this episode, returning podcast guest Niko Switek - former DAAD Visiting Professor in the Henry M. Jackson School and Department of Political Science at UW - discusses the outcome of the 2021 German Federal Elections with Nicolas Wittstock. 
October 20, 2021
#59 - Free Enterprise: From New Deal Opposition to Proclaimed Common Sense - w/ Lawrence Glickman
Prof. Lawrence Glickman of Cornell University speaks to Nicolas Wittstock about the history and impact of the idea of "Free Enterprise" on American Politics. While Free Enterprise has attained the status of common sense, Prof. Glickman traces the origins of the term and showcases the significant changes in meaning it has experienced in US political rhetoric. 
October 04, 2021
#58 – The State of the Clean Energy Transition – w/ Bruce Usher
Prof. Bruce Usher of Columbia Business School speaks to Nicolas Wittstock about the current state of the transition towards renewable energy and the challenges ahead.
September 20, 2021
#57 - Building a Human Future in the Age of AI and Robots - w/ Frank Pasquale
Prof. Frank Pasquale of Brooklyn Law School discusses his 2020 book "New Laws of Robotics - Defending Human Expertise in the Age of AI" with Nicolas Wittstock. Here, Prof. Frank Pasquale warns of hasty implementation of AI systems and robots in varied areas of life before ensuring that technologies serve humans - rather than the other way around. 
September 13, 2021
#56 - China's War on Big Tech in 2021 - w/ Rogier Creemers
Rogier Creemers of Leiden University joins Nicolas Wittstock to discuss the recent efforts by Chinese policymakers to regulate its digital technology industry. 
September 06, 2021
#55 - The White Working Class and Rightwing Populism - w/ Joan Williams
Prof. Joan Williams of UC Hastings discusses her book "The White Working Class - Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America" with Forum Fellow Nicolas Wittstock. In the book, Williams argues that arrogance and inability to understand the lives of working class Americans on the part of well-educated Liberal elites, is driving working class Americans towards rightwing Populists.  This podcast is produced by Matthew Dagele, Morgan Wack, and Nicolas Wittstock. Our theme music was created by Ted Long. Any questions or feedback, please contact
August 30, 2021
#54 - Privacy is Power - w/ Carissa Véliz
Carissa Véliz - Associate Professor of Philosophy at University of Oxford - discusses her 2020 book - "Privacy is Power" with Nicolas Wittstock.  This podcast is produced by Matthew Dagele, Morgan Wack, and Nicolas Wittstock. Our theme music was created by Ted Long. Any questions or feedback, please contact
August 23, 2021
#53 - Development, Inequality, and Corruption in Latin America - w/ Leticia Abad
Prof. Leticia Arroyo Abad of CUNY Queens College speaks to Forum Fellow Nicolas Wittstock about political and economic development in Latin America and the state of scholarship on the region.  This podcast is produced by Matthew Dagele, Morgan Wack, and Nicolas Wittstock. Our theme music was created by Ted Long. Any questions or feedback, please contact
August 16, 2021
#52 - Property rights and corruption in feudal England - w/ Sean Bottomley
Senior Fellow Sean Bottomley of Northumbria University speaks to Nicolas Wittstock about the Court of Wards - a medieval legal institution in England. Sean's research uncovers the effects on property rights and investment this court had - especially when used by cash-strapped monarchs to raise revenue from their feudal subjects. 
August 09, 2021
#51 - Education systems and technological change - w/ Marius Busemeyer
Prof. Marius Busemeyer of Konstanz University speaks to Nicolas Wittstock about education and vocational training systems. To invest in and improve education is the object of almost every conversation surrounding the public policy implications of technological change. But how are education systems currently organized and what effects would adaptations have?
August 02, 2021
#50 - Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose? The follies of persistence studies - w/ Abad and Maurer
In this episode, Prof. Leticia Arroyo Abad and Prof. Noel Maurer speak to Nicolas Wittstock to present their criticisms of “persistence studies” - accounts of economic history that seek to explain present conditions by evaluating the causal effect of things that happened long ago.
July 26, 2021
#49 - The Political Economy of Pandemics in the US - w/ Abad and Maurer
Prof. Leticia Arroyo Abad and Prof. Noel Maurer speak to Nicolas Wittstock about their research on the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic - and its parallels with the 2020 Covid-19 epidemic.
July 19, 2021
#48 - Has Big Tech oversold its productivity? - w/ Victor Menaldo
In this episode, Victor Menaldo speaks to Nicolas Wittstock about his forthcoming book on productivity within the US technology sector. Robert Solow famously declared in 1987 that “you can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics”. Extending this observation to the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution, economists like Robert Gordon have voiced similar skepticism. Victor Menaldo presents preliminary results from his forthcoming book on productivity within the US technology sector.
July 12, 2021
#47 - Is Silicon Valley upending Democracy? - w/ Carles Boix
In this episode, Prof. Carles Boix of Princeton University discusses his latest book - “Democratic Capitalism at the Crossroads - Technological Change and the Future of Politics” with Nicolas Wittstock. The two debate the effects of recent technological changes on the economic structure of rich societies - and what their political effects might be.
July 05, 2021
#46 - The Meritocracy Trap - w/ Daniel Markovits
In this episode, Prof. Daniel Markovits of Yale Law School speaks to Nicolas Wittstock about the US labor market, education system, and economic inequality. In his book "The Meritocracy Trap", Prof. Daniel Markovits argues that the US meritocratic system favors richer children, while creating enormous educational demands. As a result, the middle and lower classes are increasingly locked out of meaningful economic engagement, while high-skilled workers are trapped in a constant cycle of education, fierce competition, and evaluation. 
June 28, 2021
#45 - The Geography of Innovation in the US - w/ Enrico Moretti
In this episode, Prof. Enrico Moretti of the University of California, Berkely speaks to Nicolas Wittstock about the economic geography of the United States. In particular, they discuss why certain industries agglomerate in some cities, and why other cities struggle to attract innovative businesses. 
June 21, 2021
#44 - Innovation to Combat Climate Change - w/ Ralf Martin
In this episode, Dr. Ralf Martin of Imperial College London speaks to Nicolas Wittstock about two recent papers that Martin co-authored. The conversation focuses on how consumer preferences can induce companies to invest in more climate-friendly technologies - and how governments seek to use the post-pandemic moment to increase investment in R&D.
June 14, 2021
#43 - The Digitization of State Repression - w/ Steven Feldstein
In this episode, Senior Fellow Steven Feldstein of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program discusses his new book, The Rise of Digital Repression: How Technology is Reshaping Power, Politics, and Resistance, with Forum Affiliate Morgan Wack. The conversation touches on the recent spread and use of digital repression technologies around the world. Rooted in Steven’s own research, the episode and the book detail the real world consequences of extant technologies while debating the impending consequences of AI and big data while providing a look at active forms of resistance being undertaken by governments and civil society actors.
June 07, 2021
#42 - Improving Democracy through Debate - w/ Mark Alan Smith
In this episode, Professor Mark Alan Smith of the University of Washington speaks to Forum Fellows Morgan Wack and Nicolas Wittstock about reforming democratic political institutions. Specifically, they discuss the concept of deliberative democracy - which seeks to create institutionalized opportunities for citizens to discuss and debate issues.
May 31, 2021
#41 - Anger, Populism, and Modern Economics - w/ Mark Blyth
In this episode, Dr. Mark Blyth of Brown University discusses his most recent book, Angrynomics, with Forum Affiliate Morgan Wack. In just under an hour, Mark details everything from the history of capitalism and the causes of economic collapse to the rise of contemporary populism and the European Super League. By differentiating between public and private forms of anger, Mark provides a new framework for understanding the impact of discrepancies between lived experiences and economic talking points.
May 24, 2021
#40 - Political Economy of Cancel Culture - w/ Victor Menaldo
Victor Menaldo speaks to Nicolas Wittstock about a political economy approach to explaining the phenomenon of cancel culture.
May 17, 2021
#39 - Radical Markets for Radical Democracy - w/ Glen Weyl
Glen Weyl speaks to Forum Fellow Nicolas Wittstock about his work with RadicalXchange and the reform agenda they propose. In his 2018 book with Eric Posner, Glen Weyl suggests radical reforms to private property, the voting system, immigration, antitrust policy, and the way that technology companies handle data. In this podcast, Glen reflects on the motivations behind the reform agenda laid out, the effects that the policy ideas have had thus far, and how his thinking has evolved.
May 10, 2021
#38 - Democratic Backsliding in American States - w/ Jake Grumbach
Jake Grumbach, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington joins Forum Fellows Morgan Wack and Nicolas Wittstock to discuss the indicators and causes of American democratic backsliding. Jake is the author of the forthcoming paper “Laboratories of Democratic Backsliding.” Coverage of the article, which details his development of the State Democracy Index utilized to assess subnational institutions and policies, has extended to pieces in The Economist, New York Times, New York Magazine, Vox, and The Washington Post.
May 05, 2021
#37 - Can Taxes Improve Politics? - w/ Jonathan Weigel
In this episode, Jonathan Weigel discusses his work with DRC officials to improve tax collection efforts and the political participation of local communities with Forum Affiliate Morgan Wack. Throughout the episode they touch on the importance of taxation for development, the role local elites can play in harnessing communal knowledge to improve compliance, and the integration of digital technologies in low capacity states.
April 26, 2021
#36 - State v. the Internet? - w/ Natasha Tusikov
In this episode, Natasha Tusikov discusses the co-edited volume "Power and Authority in Internet Governance: Return of the State?" with Forum fellow Nicolas Wittstock. In this book, the authors discuss challenges arising in different areas of internet regulation.
April 19, 2021
#35 - Invention, Innovation, and the British Industrial Revolution - w/ Anton Howes
In this episode, Anton Howes - head of innovation research at The Entrepreneurs Network, discusses the history of invention in Britain with host Nicolas Wittstock. Anton argues that Britons were infected with an "improving mentality" some time in the 15-hundreds. As a result, inventors created networks, shared research, and assisted each other in their efforts to improve anything they could. The results of this mindset shift are still with us today, as we reap the benefits of steady technological improvements, medical breakthroughs, and the resulting prosperity.
April 12, 2021
#34 - Beautiful game, troubling results? - w/ Leah Rosenzweig and Yang-Yang Zhou
Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr. Leah Rosenzweig and Assistant Professor Dr. Yang-Yang Zhou discuss their recent paper "Team and Nation: Sports, Nationalism, and Attitudes Toward Refugees." In addition to a discussion about the paper, which examines the impact of an Africa Cup of Nations football match between Kenya and Tanzania on nationalist attitudes and perceptions of refugees, Leah and Yang-Yang detail policy implications, the politics of refugees and sport, and their ongoing work in the region. For the show notes accompanying this episode please visit the UW Political Economy Forum website.
April 06, 2021
#33 - Capitalism without Capital - w/ Johnathan Haskel
Prof. Johnathan Haskel and Forum Fellow Nicolas Wittstock discuss Johnathans' book "Capitalism without Capital - the rise of the intangible economy" (with Stian Westlake). In it, the authors argue that that business investment in intangible capital - like software, knowledge, networks, patents, and processes - are growing in economic importance. This has crucial consequences, as these economic assets have special properties that make them categorically different from more conventional ones.
April 02, 2021
#32 - Selling your Soul or Hedging? What are Income Pools?
Selling your soul or sharing risk and gain access to productive networks? Income share agreements are controversial but may offer an opportunity to those who are shut out. Forum fellows and friends discuss how income share agreements might enable people to pay for college and pool risk in the knowledge economy
March 26, 2021
#31 - Why So Many Journalists Are Killed In Democracies - w/ Sabine Carey
Professor Sabine Carey of the University of Mannheim speaks to Forum host Nicolas Wittstock about her work on the killing of journalists. Perhaps counterintuitively, journalists are most at risk in democratic countries rather than autocracies. Professor Carey explains the logic of resorting to violence in different institutional settings. 
March 24, 2021
#30 - How Dictators (ab)use Democratic Institutions - w/ Anne Meng
Anne Meng - Assistant Prof. of Political Science at University of Virginia and Forum host Nicolas Wittstock discuss how dictators use seemingly inclusive political institutions to cement their power. This podcast is hosted by Morgan Wack and Nicolas Wittstock and produced by Matthew Dagele.
March 15, 2021
#29 - Special Townhall Discussion *Crossover with Neither Free Nor Fair?*
In this special, crossover episode with the Neither Free Nor Fair?, Professors Long and Menaldo are having an open, live discussion with Forum affiliates and friends on the Biden Agenda, the state of American democracy, COVID, and social media in politics. This podcast is hosted by Morgan Wack and Nicolas Wittstock and produced by Matthew Dagele.
March 05, 2021
#28 - Automatic Voter Registration to the rescue? - w/ Ellen Seljan
Professor Ellen Seljan from Lewis & Clark speaks to Forum Fellow Nicolas Wittstock on her recent work on the effects of automatic voter registration. This podcast is produced by Matthew Dagele, Morgan Wack, and Nicolas Wittstock. Our theme music was created by Ted Long. Any questions or feedback, please contact
March 02, 2021
#27 - Online Foreign Influence Operations - w/ Shelby Grossman
In this episode, Research Scholar Dr. Shelby Grossman and Forum Affiliate Morgan Wack discuss Shelby's work with the Stanford Internet Observatory combatting the global spread of political "influence operations". They also examine the impact of these operations and a collection of impressive efforts aiming to limit the dissemination of disinformation online. This podcast is produced by Matthew Dagele, Morgan Wack, and Nicolas Wittstock. Our theme music was created by Ted Long. Any questions or feedback, please contact
February 22, 2021
#26 - Far-Right and Far-Left in Europe - w/ Niko Switek
Niko Switek, the DAAD Visiting Assistant Professor for German Studies at the Henry M. Jackson  School for International Studies and the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington speaks to Forum Fellow Nicolas Wittstock about the recent success of far-right and far-left Green parties in Europe.  This podcast is produced by Matthew Dagele, Morgan Wack, and Nicolas Wittstock. Our theme music was created by Ted Long. Any questions or feedback, please contact
February 16, 2021
#25 - Prison Gangs and Governance - w/ David Skarbek
In this episode, Forum affiliate Megan Erickson speaks to David Skarbek of Brown University about his research on prison gangs and how prison systems are organized in different countries.  This podcast is produced by Matthew Dagele, Morgan Wack, and Nicolas Wittstock. Our theme music was created by Ted Long. Any questions or feedback, please contact
February 08, 2021
#24 - Understanding Adam Smith -w/ Glory Liu
Harvard Social Science Fellow Glory Liu speaks to Forum Fellow Nicolas Wittstock about Adam Smith's reception in the United States.  This podcast is produced by Matthew Dagele, Morgan Wack, and Nicolas Wittstock. Our theme music was created by Ted Long. Any questions or feedback, please contact
February 01, 2021
#23 - Deplatforming and Impeachment - w/ Long and Menaldo
Prof. Victor Menaldo and Prof. James Long of the UW Political Economy Forum discuss their recent piece on Section 230 and Trump’s deplatforming in the Seattle Times, and obscure features of the Constitution regarding Impeachment and the upcoming Senate trial.
January 29, 2021
#22 - Economic Perceptions and Policy Preferences - w/ Asli Cansunar
Assistant Professor Asli Cansunar and Morgan Wack discuss how perceptions can shape policy preferences. They also touch on the influence social media and local conditions serve in shaping individual economic perceptions.
January 25, 2021
#21 - Free Speech on Social Media - w/ Roddy Lindsay
Prof. Victor Menaldo and Nicolas Wittstock host Roddy Lindsay, CEO of Hustle and opinion columnist at The Information, to discuss the implications of President Trump's ban from Twitter for free speech on social media. 
January 18, 2021
Long and Menaldo: Insurrection, Sedition, Coup -- oh my! *Special Cross-over episode*
Prof. Victor Menaldo of UW Political Economy Forum discusses with James whether the mob that attacked the Capitol is a coup attempt, insurrection, or sedition, the 25th amendment, and future prosecutions. James and Victor also discuss these issues in a recent piece published in The Conversation: Why Trump’s challenges to democracy will be a big problem for Biden.
January 07, 2021
Mark Alan Smith: Can Science Resolve Political Debates?
Professor Mark Alan Smith and Forum Fellow Nicolas Wittstock debate to what extent the results of scientific inquiry can inform public policy and resolve political disputes.
January 03, 2021
Magistro and Menaldo: Populist Economic Policy
PhD Candidate Beatrice Magistro and Professor Victor Menaldo make the case that all populist leaders pursue similar economic policy - regardless of their professed ideology. Almost without exception, these policies hurt the very people populists claim to champion. 
December 21, 2020
Dennis Young: Immigrant Detention Centers
Dennis Young, PhD student in Political Science at the UW,  presents his research on Immigration Detention Centers in the US. 
December 14, 2020
Will Gochberg: Land Rights in Uganda
Will Gochberg, Postdoctoral Research Associate at Washington University in St. Louis speaks to Morgan about his dissertation project on community-level dynamics of land rights in Uganda.
December 07, 2020
#15 - Big Tech and Antitrust Policy - w/ Victor Menaldo
In this episode, Professor Victor Menaldo and Nicolas Wittstock explore the facts, logic, and evidence behind the consumer welfare approach to antitrust. That approach asks very simple questions: what is the effect of mergers between competitors or the behavior of firms with market power on prices and innovation? Since the early 1980s, this paradigm—away from a populist “big is bad” approach—has undergirded some of the greatest innovations the world has ever seen, including smartphones, software, and digital platforms that connect the globe together while charging a price equal to zero for their services. The consensus that antitrust should be exclusively about the price of goods and services and innovation is currently under attack by some scholars, pundits, politicians, and advocacy groups. Critics claim that lax antitrust has led to increased market concentration and monopolies in the tech sector, ushering in “less entrepreneurship”, “restrictions on free speech”, “lower privacy protections”, and “the abuse of consumer data”. Companies like Amazon are accused of harming players up and down the retail supply chain from selling their own goods in a digital marketplace they control or pricing out brick and mortar retailers. They are also accused of exacerbating inequality and being too systemically important due to their size, market impact, interconnectedness, and low “substitutability”. Finally, there is the fear that big tech firms’ economic power translates into political power and is bad for democracy. We  set the record straight on what digital platforms actually are (explain the economics of multi-sided markets),  what market concentration actually says about competition and consumer  welfare (fewer rivals may imply greater efficiency and thus lower  prices), how to define and measure “monopoly” (none of the big tech firms satisfy the  definition), how to identify whether firms abuse their market power to crimp competition (a technical issue that is actually quite rare) and what remedies, if any, should be employed by  policymakers in relation to digital platforms. We suggest that breaking up big tech is a radical solution in search of a problem.
November 30, 2020
Heath on International Scrutiny and Working Conditions in Manufacturing
UW Economics Professor and Forum Co-Founder Rachel Heath joins Forum Fellow Morgan Wack to discuss her paper on the effects of international scrutiny on worker conditions, wages, and contracts in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza factory collapse as well as contemporary issues in the global manufacturing sector. See links on the showpage here. 
November 23, 2020
Long and Menaldo on Coups and Contested Elections in the US
Victor Menaldo and James Long of Political Economy Forum discuss why a coup is unlikely in the US, the anxieties & realities of political transitions, and what the historical record can teach us about contested elections. See links on the showpage here.
November 14, 2020
#11 - Politician Performance Transparency - w/ Guy Grossman
Forum Fellow Morgan Wack hosts Guy Grossman, Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, founder and director of U Penn’s Development Research Initiative (PDRI), and faculty affiliate of Stanford University’s Immigration Policy Lab (IPL).
November 07, 2020
#10 - Economic Literacy - w/ Beatrice Magistro
In this episode,  Nicolas Wittstock hosts  PhD Candidate Beatrice Magistro. They discuss Beatrice’s dissertation on the relationship between financial and economic literacy and policy preferences in Italy and the UK. They discuss her motivation to pursue this topic, its importance in today’s context of rampant populism and protectionism, the findings from her four papers, and future directions for research. During the episode they discuss the following works: Financial literacy and support for free trade in the UK  The effects of financial and economic literacy on policy preferences in Italy Party cues or policy information? The differential influence of financial and economic literacy  Financial literacy and time preference: A classroom experiment
October 30, 2020
#9 - Gig Economy and Social Welfare Legislation - w/ Ben Glasner
In this episode of the Political Economy Forum Podcast, James Long hosts  Victor Menaldo and Ben Glasner. They discuss the gig economy and the future of work. The topics range from Ben's dissertation on the role of labor market protections and the social safety net among the self-employed and independent contracts, Victor’s hobby horse of automation and the future of work, and the role COVID-19 might play in it all. The conversation bounces around as James, Victor, and Ben debate the changing nature of work, and what it might mean for the modern  American economy.  The session ends after consideration of what role a  Keynesian response to the current economic turmoil might play in the coming months and years.
October 23, 2020
#8 - Heidegger and Totalitarianism - w/ Mark Menaldo
In this episode of the Political Economy Podcast Nicolas Wittstock hosts Mark Menaldo and Victor Menaldo. They discuss Mark's forthcoming piece on the existential philosopher Martin Heidegger and his influence on politics.  They discuss the different branches of philosophy, including metaphysics, namely, the study of reality, and the origins and consequences of postmodernism. One of the main topics they cover is whether the "Continental School" of philosophy tends to complement totalitarianism versus other schools of thought, such as classical or the so-called analytic approach inaugurated by the philosopher of language Ludwig Wittgenstein and represented by writers like George  Orwell. They also discuss the political dysfunction that racks the  United States and how it relates, if anything, to these issues. During the episode they discuss the following works: Philosophy in the Shadow of Nazism Goethe's Metamorphosis of Plants Orwell's Politics and the English Language
October 19, 2020
#7 - Liberalism, Academic Freedom, and Science - w/ Menaldo and Wittstock
This episode is a conversation between Professor Victor Menaldo, Jesse – a friend of the forum who works for a Big Tech company – and Nicolas Wittstock. The conversation revolves around a recent piece published on Areo, authored by Victor Menaldo that discusses modern threats to Liberal Democracy around the globe.
October 12, 2020
#6 - Neither Free Nor Fair? Presidential Debates--Special Crossover Episode!
A special crossover episode of Neither Free Nor Fair? with the Political Economy Forum, James Long, Victor Menaldo, and Mark Smith discuss the presidential debates, whether the remaining debates should be canceled or not, and the role of debates to democracy.
October 05, 2020
Neither Free Nor Fair? - *New Podcast on Election Security*
In this new podcast series, “Neither Free Nor Fair?” we will try to make sense of the evolving threats to election security and democracy in the US and around the world. The series is produced by the Political Economy Forum at the University of Washington and hosted by me, James Long, Associate Professor of Political Science and co-founder of the Forum. I research and teach on elections, corruption, and democracy in a global context, and for more than a decade, have observed elections in Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East. Each episode, global experts from academia, advocacy, policymaking, and the tech industry will join me to discuss how we can apply lessons from around the world to understand threats to elections in the US, and how these lessons inform the conversation around the fate of global democracy in the 21st century. We hope you’ll join us.
September 26, 2020
#5 - Populism vs. Liberal Democracy - w/ Menaldo and Wittstock
In this episode of the Political Economy Forum Podcast, Professor Victor Menaldo and Nicolas Wittstock discuss the meaning and virtues of Liberal Democracy and the political earthquakes that Populists have provoked across contemporary democracies. The conversation mentions works by North, Wallis, and Weingast, Levitsky and Ziblatt, John Wallis, Cas Mudde, Magistro and Menaldo, and Munger and Munger, as well as a New York Times op-ed by Victor Menaldo and Seattle Times op-ed by Menaldo. This podcast is produced by Matthew Dagele, Morgan Wack, and Nicolas Wittstock. Our theme music was created by Ted Long. Any questions or feedback, please contact
September 25, 2020
#4 - The End of Capitalism? - w/ Victor Menaldo
In this episode, Professor Victor Menaldo and Nicolas Wittstock discuss Capitalisms historical trajectory and the pathbreaking economic expansion of the last 250 years as well as concerns over the current economic performance of industrialized economies. The conversation mentions works by Deirdre McCloskey, James Bessen, Robert Gordon, Haber and Calomiris, Ronald Coase as well as Daron Acemoglu. Produced by Nicolas Wittstock Any questions or feedback, please contact
September 23, 2020
#3 - On Science and Evidence-Based Policymaking
In this episode, the founders and organizers of the UW Political Economy Forum discuss the importance of the scientific method to improve how policymakers make decisions. Professors Rachel Heath, James D. Long and Victor Menaldo discuss how scientific inquiry is conducted in political economy and public policy – the pitfalls of relying on intuition and ideology when deciding on policy – and how to ensure that dysfunctional approaches to solving problems get weeded out. The conversation repeatedly makes references to a recent post on Ronald Coase’s contribution to evidence-based policymaking as well as a more general post on the topic by Victor Menaldo. Produced by Nicolas Wittstock Any questions or feedback, please contact
September 14, 2020
#2 - Is Cancel Culture Threatening Free Speech?
“If we don’t try to solve the fundamental problem behind the speech that we dislike and work only to mitigate the symptom — by censoring it — we drive the problem somewhere else.” This week, Professor James D. Long hosts an eclectic group of thinkers to discuss the recent op-ed by Professor Victor Menaldo on free speech and liberal democratic politics, published in the Seattle Times. They are joined by Susan Whiting, Professor of Political Science at the UW, Jamie Mayerfeld, Professor of Political Science and Adjunct Professor in Law, Societies and Justice, Brian Leung, PhD student at the UW and Hong Kong pro-democracy activist, as well as Mark Smith, Professor of Political Science and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion and Communication. At the end of the conversation, Jamie Mayerfeld recommends an article by Magnus Vindig on Compassionate Free Speech. Produced by Nicolas Wittstock Any questions or feedback, please contact
September 02, 2020
#1 - What is Political Economy? - w/ Heath, Long, and Menaldo
In this episode, University of Washington Professors Rachel Heath, James Long, and Victor Menaldo discuss what Political Economy is and what it has to offer. 
September 02, 2020