Anti-semitism was tragically back in the news in recent days with the hostage-taking at the Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. But was this event covered the way it should have been? Barely.

And this tells us a lot about anti-Semitism during these times. Is this period different? Have we entered a ‘new normal’ for anti-Semitism? Is it just the extremes or are there now more enablers?

In these conversations, we’ve talked a lot about tensions on the Russia-Ukraine border. But what we haven’t talked about is whether Putin is actually trying to re-assemble the former Soviet Union, whether the US and NATO are prepared to arrest his march, and whether Putin has successfully driven a wedge between the US and Europe.

What are the stakes for us?

On this podcast series, and in many other discussions and debates in think tanks and in the media, we often speculate about the likelihood of a kinetic conflict with China – is it inevitable? Or is it highly unlikely? But today we want to consider how a war would actually start, however grim this topic may be. It’s often hard to visualize what the trip wires would be. Admiral James Stavridis co-authored an entire book with Elliot Ackerman on the subject. It’s called “2034: A Novel of the Next World War”.

Admiral James Stavridis is a retired four-star U.S. naval officer. He is currently Vice Chair, Global Affairs and Managing Director of The Carlyle Group, a global investment firm. He is also 12th Chair of Rockefeller Foundation board. Previously he served for five years as the 12th Dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He led the NATO Alliance in global operations from 2009 to 2013 as 16th Supreme Allied Commander with responsibility for Afghanistan, Libya, the Balkans, Syria, counter piracy, and cyber security. He also served as Commander of U.S. Southern Command, with responsibility for all military operations in Latin America from 2006-2009. He earned more than 50 medals, including 28 from foreign nations in his 37-year military career.

China is poised to pass one of the great demographic inflection points” – that’s according to the Financial Times. The inflection point the FT is referring to is that of diapers for the elderly growing into a larger market than diapers for infants. China won’t be the first. As far back as a decade ago in Japan, adult diapers started outselling infant diapers.
What does that tell us about demographics, not just in China, but about the developing world as a whole?

We are in the midst of a larger global trend that has not received enough attention: crashing fertility rates and shrinking populations.

The Covid-19 recession technically ended in April 2020. At two months, it was one of the shortest economic recessions in history. Since then, we have experienced record inflation. Last summer, we sat down with Mohamed El-Erian, who was an early voice warning about the coming inflation, how to understand it, and what its implications could be. But were the inflationary trends already in place prior to the pandemic? Did the covid response policies of governments here and abroad accelerate those trends? And how do we unwind an inflationary cycle? Today we are reposting that conversation with. Dr Mohamed El-Erian is President of Queens’ College, Cambridge University. He serves as part-time Chief Economic Advisor at Allianz and Chair of Gramercy Fund Management. He’s a Professor at The Wharton School, he is a Financial Times contributing editor, Bloomberg Opinion columnist, and the author of two New York Times best sellers. He serves on several non-profit boards, including the NBER, and those of Barclays and Under Armour. From 2007-2014, Mohammed served as CEO/co-CIO of PIMCO, which has over two trillion dollars under management. He worked at PIMCO for a total of fourteen years, and was chair of President Obama’s Global Development Council. He also served two years as president and CEO of Harvard Management Company, the entity that manages Harvard’s endowment. He has been chair of the Microsoft Investment Advisory Board since 2007. He holds a master’s degree and doctorate (economics) from Oxford and received his bachelor and master degrees from Cambridge University. Mohammed is expert in a lot of things when it comes to the financial markets and the macro economy, especially inflation. So he’s going to help us make sense of the madness. Is this inflation transitory or is it here to stay for a while, and if so, what should we do about it?

This week we are re-posting some of our episodes from 2021 that are most relevant right now. We’ll start with Matt Pottinger on recent developments in China. China’s borders have been sealed for almost two years. And those borders will be closed for the foreseeable future. That, obviously, is a result of the pandemic; but, is there a larger grand strategy at play? For decades now, China’s coupling with western economies has been the dominant theme of the global economic landscape – beginning with China’s 2001 accession to the World Trade Organization. But that’s been changing. Fast forward to a speech by President Xi Jinping to mark the hundred year anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. He spoke before a massive crowd in Tiananmen Square: “The Chinese people”, Xi said “will never allow any foreign force to bully, oppress, or enslave us. Anyone who tries to do so shall be battered and bloodied colliding with a great wall of steel forged by more than 1.4 billion Chinese people using flesh and blood.” Last summer, Chinese regulators announced an investigation into DiDi Global, a ride-hailing company, right after its IPO. DiDi had raised $4.4 billion in the biggest Chinese IPO in the U.S. since Alibaba’s in 2014. There have been similar moves against other Chinese companies listed in the US. Where will this go? Consider this: There are approximately 244 U.S. listed Chinese firms with a total market capitalization of around $1.8 trillion. Are we witnessing the decoupling of the US and China economies? Is this the one issue on which there seems to be a bipartisan consensus in the US? Is the Biden administration cementing the Trump policies towards China or reversing them? How is China dealing with the pandemic and how will it factor into the Chinese Communist Party’s next moves? There’s no better guest to help us understand what’s going on than Matt Pottinger. Matt covered China and lived in China as a journalist for Reuters and then The Wall Street Journal. He covered the first outbreak of SARS in China. He then, in his early 30s, made quite a career change. He enlisted in the US Marine Corps, and served in multiple combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Later on, Matt played an instrumental role in the geopolitical story of our time: reshaping the West’s relationship with China, when he served as the deputy National Security Advisor in the Trump administration, and he was the architect of the administration’s strategy towards China. Today, he is regularly called upon from policymakers on both sides of the aisle, to consult on US policy towards China. As we enter a new phase of pandemic, what is going on with the US-China relationship and how will it play out?

What about Omicron has most surprised the scientific community? What does it tell us about vaccines and where we’re heading? These are among the big questions we have for Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former Commissioner of the FDA and author of The New York Times Bestseller: “Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic”. Scott currently serves on the boards of Pfizer, Illumina, Aetion, and Tempus. He is a special partner with the venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates, and a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

You can order Scott Gottlieb’s book here:

Russia poses a threat to Ukraine, again. But what about Russian President Putin’s threat to the unity of Europe, and what do recent developments tell us about global perceptions of America’s geopolitical strength? Is Russia a declining power or is Russia on the march? Could it be both?

Our guest, Richard Fontaine, is CEO of the Center for American Security. He was formerly the top foreign policy advisor to Senator John McCain, deputy staff director on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and an official of the US State Department and National Security Council.

In this decade we may finally experience a true crack-up in higher education. There have been comparable periods on American college campuses in the past (in the 1960s and 1980s, for example).

But our guest today, historian Niall Ferguson, believes what’s happening now is on a whole other level. Niall is doing something about it — he’s starting a new university. Niall argues that parents — who had enriching and intellectually diverse experiences when they went to college — don’t fully appreciate that their own children will experience something completely different when they go off to university. Niall Ferguson has taught at Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford and New York University. He’s authored 17 books. He’s currently at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University where he is the MIllbank Family Senior Fellow, and Managing Director of Greenmantle, a macroeconomic and geopolitical advisory firm.

The first of our two-part conversation with Naill Ferguson is on applied history’s lessons of the 1920s and the 1970s…for the 2020s.

Niall is a historian and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and he previously taught at Harvard, NYU and Oxford. He’s the managing director of Greenmantle, a macroeconomic and geopolitical advisory firm. Niall is also the author of 17 books including “The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook” and “Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe”.

Welcome to our new podcast, “Call Me Back”, where we try to zoom out from minute-to-minute news and look back to how we got here, what we can learn from earlier decades and where we might be going in these roaring and raging 2020s.

In each episode, I’ll call a friend who is deeply immersed in some of the most transformative issues of our time.

The recent electoral outcomes in Virginia, New Jersey, New York City, Buffalo, Minneapolis and other areas across the country were as much to do with the pandemic — and the economic and cultural shocks from the pandemic — as anything. Was it a political blip or some kind of realignment?
Where does the Democratic Party go from here? And what about the Republican Party? What does it mean for Joe Biden and Donald Trump? Is the Glenn Youngkin campaign a model for our future politics?
Matthew Continetti is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, founding editor of The Washington Free Beacon, and a columnist for Commentary Magazine. He’s also the author of several books. He has a new book being released in April 2022, called “The Right: The Hundred-Year War for American Conservatism”.

Have we revolutionized vaccine development? What does this mean for our lives and our health well beyond the vaccine for Covid-19? Could this kind of life sciences revolution only happen in America? And what about Operation Warp Speed? Is it a model for future public-private partnerships to solve big problems?

Greg Zuckerman of The Wall Street Journal joins the podcast to discuss his new and fascinating book, “A Shot to Save the World: The Inside Story of the Life-or-Death Race for a COVID-19 Vaccine.”

In the middle of the pandemic, Dr. Nicholas Christakis released a sweeping book, called “Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live.” In it, he drew on scientific, medical, and sociological research, and assessed the transmission of the virus, responses worldwide, and prognosis for the pandemic’s end, including some bold predictions. The paperback edition is just out with some new material.

During the pandemic, standardized tests were suspended in an entire range of educational institutions. Will these changes be temporary or permanent?
More than 600 of these institutions switched from a mandatory to optional test for the 2020-21 application season, and many just flat out refused to accept a test at all in their application process. According to the editor in chief of the Princeton Review, “That is a tectonic change for many schools.”
According to Smithsonian Magazine, “The pandemic sped up changes that were already afoot; even before Covid, more than 1,000 colleges had made the tests optional. Many had been turned off by the way the tests perpetuated socioeconomic disparities, limiting their ability to recruit a diverse freshman class.”
Concerns about disparities in outcomes, at the core of this massive shift, have been behind Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s agenda in New York City, including his past efforts to eliminate the entrance exam for the City’s seven specialized high schools. While that effort has experienced a setback in the State Legislature, the fight will likely carry on by other political leaders. And more recently, the Mayor announced a plan to make sweeping changes to the gifted program in the City’s elementary schools. There are similar efforts in other cities across the country.

Joining today’s conversation is Adrian Wooldridge, a longtime journalist at The Economist, where he is political editor and writes a column on British life and politics, and before that he penned the Schumpeter column on business, finance and management. He was previously the Washington bureau chief for The Economist, where he also wrote the Lexington column. Prior to his role in Washington, he was The Economist‘s West Coast correspondent, management correspondent and Britain correspondent.

JASON RILEY’S BOOK: “Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell”

Books and essays discussed in this episode:

Shall We Wake the President: Two Centuries of Disaster Management from the Oval Office by Tevi Troy

On this podcast, we’ve talked to a lot of policy-makers, pundits, professionals and practitioners about big picture trends they are observing and experiencing as a result of the pandemic.

Today, however, we are going more micro. We’ll talk to a venture capitalist about his portfolio of start-ups, and how those companies have been impacted by changes in the way we work and live, and what they tell us.

To find the published pieces discussed in this episode:

“What the Coronavirus Crisis Reveals About American Medicine”, by Sid Mukherjee, The New Yorker (April 27, 2020)

The Pandemic has either caused a crack-up in our politics or accelerated the crack-up that was well under way. And just when it looked like things were stabilizing, the politics of Covid have evolved along with the Delta variant. Ground zero for how this is playing out right now is California.

California is home to approximately 40 million people and the 5th largest economy in the world. It’s about to have an election on whether to re-call its incumbent governor, Gavin Newsom. How California voters have experienced government regulations — from lockdowns, mask mandates, school closings, and not to mention double-standards — shapes the political environment there.