Bathtub of Damocles

We start this week easy as one of our hosts reports from wonderfully peculiar city of New Orleans. Then Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) joins to discuss the coming cyberwars and he and James exchange words about football. Then Zachary Karabell joins to talk about his newest book: Inside Money: Brown Brother’s Harriman and the American Way of Power, a history of the legendary private investment firm Brown Brothers Harriman, exploring its central role in the story of American wealth and its rise to global power. And the guys contemplate what’s changed with the latest ceasefire in Israel.

Update: this week’s Lileks Post of The Week is Brooding Over Cicadas? Just Eat Them. The UN Says So by @KellyDJohnston.

Music from this week’s episode: Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe

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  1. Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! Contributor
    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ!
    @Majestyk

    @roblong! We need to have a New Orleans meetup!

    • #1
  2. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Good choice. “Bathtub of Damocles” was the best line to come out of this one, I thought.

    • #2
  3. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Ricochet Audio Network: Ricochet Podcast #465

    Lysdexia strikes again…

    • #3
  4. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Best bit on New Orleans:

    Even after the recent Super Bowl victory of the New Orleans Saints, I have noticed a large number of people implying with bad jokes that Cajuns aren’t smart.

    I would like to state for the record that I disagree with that assessment.

    Anybody that would build a city 5 feet below sea level in a hurricane zone and fill it with Democrats is a genius.

     – “Larry The Cable Guy”

    • #4
  5. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    You should have had a podcast episode with…

    Wisconsin Congressman Mike Gallagher (born 1984)

    Conservative political commentator Mike Gallagher (born 1960)

    George W. Bush Assistant Secretary of Commerce and political advisor Michael Gallagher (born 1964)

    and all the other Mike Gallaghers on wikipedia and elsewhere.

    • #5
  6. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Ethiopia is a landlocked country. Eritrea might one day reunite with Ethiopia but that’s a far way off.

    • #6
  7. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    The reason you got Trump, the reason socialism and populism are an issue today, is because Congress does not understand how to regulate finance. 

    It was absolutely insane to let investment banks go public. That is like compound finance. It doesn’t do anybody any good except the people that are extracting. Extractive finance. Predatory finance.

    Conservatism and libertarianism cannot work or sell in this environment. 

    If the five year treasury goes up two percentage points, every single Western government goes broke. The same time, how can you have a civilization if you can’t get 2% real return on a savings account? How did it come to this?

     

     

     

    • #7
  8. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    I cannot figure out how to Google this, but the EconTalk interview of the physics PhD that was in charge of the math for one of the investment banks in 2008 is must listen. The guy is a total Keynesian, but that is really worth listening to.

    He got really wealthy and now he’s known for photographing lower class and poor people which, I personally find a little disturbing but maybe it isn’t. I just cannot think of that guy’s name.

    • #8
  9. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    I cannot figure out how to Google this, but the EconTalk interview of the physics PhD that was in charge of the math for one of the investment banks in 2008 is must listen. The guy is a total Keynesian, but that is really worth listening to.

    He got really wealthy and now he’s known for photographing lower class and poor people which, I personally find a little disturbing but maybe it isn’t. I just cannot think of that guy’s name.

     

     

    I am so brilliant, so smart, I just cannot get over it. I love myself. lol

    Chris Arnade: That was in many ways one of the first tests of kind of the new financial model, what at that point was–and a test of the new, incoming Clinton Administration, how they would handle their dealings with it in financial markets. Which at that time was undergoing large changes from sleepy, private partnerships to large public companies and largely being deregulated.

    Russ Roberts: And I would add, people investing their own money to a world where people were investing other people’s money.

    Chris Arnade: Right. That was part of the transition–

    Russ Roberts: The transition from partnership to public company is, I’ve suggested, partly the attractiveness of being able to borrow money and should not have been the case, particularly before that.

    Chris Arnade: That’s very much the case. When I joined Wall Street in 1993, it still had the culture of a partnership; and a lot of the senior managers still behaved as if this was their company, in the sense that their money was invested in the company and what happened to the company happened to them personally. That changed over my career on Wall Street. But the Mexico Crisis was in many ways the first test of the new, global financial markets.

    https://www.econtalk.org/chris-arnade-on-the-mexican-crisis-tarp-and-american-poverty/

    • #9
  10. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Dick Fuld had Lehman Brothers leveraged 46 to 1 before they got wiped out. I think it was mostly mortgages. 

    There is no value being added, here. 

    There is an important economic concept called an agency relationship. These are things that are intermediaries, like bankers, finance, various kinds of brokers like real estate brokers and talent agents. That type of thing. Not really productive, but they grease the skids. For thousands of years this was only 15% of the economy. The United States is at 35%. Part of that is we have the rule of law unlike a lot of places, but I think it’s mostly bad. All of that stuff got extra profitable after we closed the gold window. Now look at the country.

    • #10
  11. findlayboy Member
    findlayboy
    @findlayboy

    Just before the 57:00 mark, Lileks starts talking under Rob and Karabell. Some kind of audio sync issue?

    • #11
  12. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    The Cloaked Gaijin (View Comment):

    You should have had a podcast episode with…

    Wisconsin Congressman Mike Gallagher (born 1984)

    Conservative political commentator Mike Gallagher (born 1960)

    George W. Bush Assistant Secretary of Commerce and political advisor Michael Gallagher (born 1964)

    and all the other Mike Gallaghers on wikipedia and elsewhere.

    My boss is friends on facebook with 38 people that share his (somewhat uncommon) first and last names.

    • #12
  13. ToryWarWriter Thatcher
    ToryWarWriter
    @ToryWarWriter

    findlayboy (View Comment):

    Just before the 57:00 mark, Lileks starts talking under Rob and Karabell. Some kind of audio sync issue?

    @blueyeti I experienced this on google podcasts as well.  

    • #13
  14. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    I haven’t listened yet, but Bathtub of Damocles is a very funny title.

    • #14
  15. Wintermute Member
    Wintermute
    @Wintermute

    Very frustrating experience this morning trying to listen as Lileks blithely talks over the guest and Rob Long (as mentioned in comment #11).  This is a cardinal sin for podcasts! Is anybody producing this show?

    • #15
  16. Blue Yeti Admin
    Blue Yeti
    @BlueYeti

    Wintermute (View Comment):

    Very frustrating experience this morning trying to listen as Lileks blithely talks over the guest and Rob Long (as mentioned in comment #11). This is a cardinal sin for podcasts! Is anybody producing this show?

    Yes, I am producing it. It’s true: a short section of James’ audio (about 10-12 seconds in a 90 minute show) was duplicated and placed out of sequence. But you didn’t miss anything because this section is also included in its proper place approximately a minute later in the show.

    I’ve now uploaded a fixed version. If you listen on a mobile device, delete the file you have and re-download the show to get the fixed version. If you listen on the player above, just hit the play button. We regret the error and will have a stern talk with ourselves.

    Last year, we moved the recording of this show to the Zoom platform. Zoom has several benefits: we can easily live stream the live version of the show to Ricochet members (join us — it’s fun!), Zoom makes it much easier to manage the entry and exit of guests (and they all know how to use it as opposed to Skype or other platforms we use such as SquadCast) and we get video for use in marketing and promotion.

    But the audio files Zoom produces are much harder to work with for reasons I won’t bore you with — assuming I haven’t done that already.  The Ricochet Podcast has three hosts, two guests, an opening sequence, music, and several other elements. With that many moving parts and working against a deadline, occasionally, audio can get out of sequence as was the case here. In a 90 minute show that we want to put out before the weekend, it’s not possible to listen back to whole thing before we publish it. 95% of the time, we catch mistakes, but occasionally one gets through.

    Finally, you all know what the Ricochet Podcast sounds like, but have you ever wondered what it looks like? It looks like this (click on it to see a larger version):

    • #16
  17. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Blue Yeti (View Comment):

    Wintermute (View Comment):

    Very frustrating experience this morning trying to listen as Lileks blithely talks over the guest and Rob Long (as mentioned in comment #11). This is a cardinal sin for podcasts! Is anybody producing this show?Yes, I am producing it. A small section of James’ audio (about 10-12 seconds in a 90 minute show) was duplicated and placed out of sequence. But you didn’t miss anything because this section is also included in its proper place approximately a minute later in the show.

    Last year, we moved the recording of this show to the Zoom platform. Zoom has several benefits: we can easily live stream it to Ricochet members, it is much easier to manage the entry and exit of guests (and they all know how to use it as opposed to Skype or other platforms we use such as SquadCast) and we get video for use in marketing and promotion.

    But the audio files Zoom produces are much harder to work with for reasons I won’t bore you with — assuming I haven’t done that already– and occasionally, with 3 hosts and two guests, audio can get out of sequence as was the case here. In a 90 minute show that we want to put out before the weekend, it’s not possible to listen back to whole thing before we publish it. 95% of the time, we catch mistakes, but occasionally one gets through.

    I’ve now uploaded a fixed version. If you listen on a mobile device, delete the file you have and re-download the show to get the fixed version. If you listen on the player above, just hit the play button. We regret the error and will have a stern talk with ourselves.

    Finally, you all know what the Ricochet Podcast sounds like, but have you ever wondered what it looks like? It looks like this (click on it to see a larger version):

    Do they get to pick their own colors? Because I generally think of Rob as kind of purple.

    • #17
  18. Blue Yeti Admin
    Blue Yeti
    @BlueYeti

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    Do they get to pick their own colors? Because I generally think of Rob as kind of purple.

    Click on the image — he is purple. The colors are randomly assigned by the software. But it is weird that it chose purple for Rob. 🤔

    • #18
  19. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Blue Yeti (View Comment):
    But it is weird that it chose purple for Rob. 🤔

    But is it, really?

    • #19
  20. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    Rob – It’s not Lake Pon-char-train.  It’s Ponchuhtrain.

    • #20
  21. Douglas LeBlanc Member
    Douglas LeBlanc
    @DouglasLeBlanc

    I’m a longtime fan of the mothership podcast. In this episode, as in others, we hear James Lileks do a countdown to a transition. Is it a running joke to leave these countdowns in place? It seems like leaving in a distracting stage direction.

    Otherwise, thanks very much for delivering a great podcast each week. I always love hearing such a variety of concluding music.

    • #21
  22. Bugstein Coolidge
    Bugstein
    @Bugstein

    I read all of the posts and especially the one by Blue Yeti.  I am still confused by the competing voices.  Frustrating and hard to follow, but still I love to listen to the guys and their guests.  One of my favorite podcasts😊

    • #22
  23. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Douglas LeBlanc (View Comment):

    I’m a longtime fan of the mothership podcast. In this episode, as in others, we hear James Lileks do a countdown to a transition. Is it a running joke to leave these countdowns in place? It seems like leaving in a distracting stage direction.

    Any time that Rob isn’t ranting, is welcome.  :-)

    • #23
  24. Blue Yeti Admin
    Blue Yeti
    @BlueYeti

    Bugstein (View Comment):

    I read all of the posts and especially the one by Blue Yeti. I am still confused by the competing voices. Frustrating and hard to follow, but still I love to listen to the guys and their guests. One of my favorite podcasts😊

    Delete the copy of the show or your device and download it again and you won’t hear the competing voices. I promise. 

    • #24
  25. Blue Yeti Admin
    Blue Yeti
    @BlueYeti

    Douglas LeBlanc (View Comment):

    I’m a longtime fan of the mothership podcast. In this episode, as in others, we hear James Lileks do a countdown to a transition. Is it a running joke to leave these countdowns in place? It seems like leaving in a distracting stage direction.

    Otherwise, thanks very much for delivering a great podcast each week. I always love hearing such a variety of concluding music.

    This has been fixed now too.

    • #25
  26. WilliamDean Coolidge
    WilliamDean
    @WilliamDean

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Best bit on New Orleans:

    Even after the recent Super Bowl victory of the New Orleans Saints, I have noticed a large number of people implying with bad jokes that Cajuns aren’t smart.

    I would like to state for the record that I disagree with that assessment.

    Anybody that would build a city 5 feet below sea level in a hurricane zone and fill it with Democrats is a genius.

    – “Larry The Cable Guy”

    Cajuns didn’t build New Orleans. Nor do they live in it, to any significant degree.

    • #26
  27. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Ahem.

    Post Of The Week still isn’t posted.

    And isn’t mentioned in the show notes either.

    • #27
  28. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member
    Nanocelt TheContrarian
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Best bit on New Orleans:

    Even after the recent Super Bowl victory of the New Orleans Saints, I have noticed a large number of people implying with bad jokes that Cajuns aren’t smart.

    I would like to state for the record that I disagree with that assessment.

    Anybody that would build a city 5 feet below sea level in a hurricane zone and fill it with Democrats is a genius.

    – “Larry The Cable Guy”

    Actually, the Cajuns didn’t build New Orleans. In fact, when the Cajuns came to New Orleans they were not welcomed, and so had to settle for the swamps and bayous outside of New Orleans (Thibodeax, Lafayette, Napoleanville, Raceland, Lockport, Chackbay, Houma, New Iberia, etc. etc. etc.). The Creoles built New Orleans.  And those who built New Orleans didn’t just build a city below sea level. They built a ship canal that will carry storm surge directly into the heart of the city.

    • #28
  29. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Nanocelt TheContrarian: And those who built New Orleans didn’t just build a city below sea level. They built a ship canal that will carry storm surge directly into the heart of the city.

    It seemed like a good idea at the time.

    • #29
  30. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Couldn’t finish the segment with Zachary Karabell. Too much vocal fry. Is he a sixteen-year-old girl? For heaven’s sake.

    • #30