tv WSJ at Large With Gerry Baker FOX Business November 20, 2020 9:30pm-10:00pm EST
"mornings with maria with" on fx business. start your day with us every week day. that'll do it for us today. thanks for being with me this weekend. have a wonderful thanksgiving, everyone, and i'll see you again. ♪ ♪ gerry: welcome "the wall street journal at large." with, whenever the standoff over the presidential election ends, the man who's unaugust rated is going to face a unique set of challenges. there is, of course, the immediate issue of the coronavirus. between now and the new president taking office, it looks, unfortunately, as though the virus will have claimed many more lives and spread further across the country. that'll probably also mean more economic pain as states impose new restrictions on our daily lives. a vaccine, we know, is on the way, but it'll probably be several months before we're on
top of the virus. assuming it is joe biden who takes office in january, what's he going to do? so far thanks to a very protective press corps, mr. biden hasn't faced too much tough questioning. take these examples from at the launch of his economic plan this week. >> what do you see as the biggest threat to your transition right now given president trump's unprecedented attempt to obstruct and delay a smooth transfer of power? >> i want to get your thoughts on the president's tweet. how did you interpret that, and at the end of the day, do you want him to concede? >> what is your message to people who are considering, for example, getting together with their families and others for thanksgiving? would you consider -- would you urge people to reconsider their plans? gerry: not exactly an interrogation chamber. anyway, his first task would obviously be balancing the needs of the economy with the demands of public health. he's been critical of president trump's handing, but not always completely clear what exactly he would do differently. beyond covid-19, there are big
economic challenges. now, it's true that before the virus hit the economy was in pretty good shape with unemployment at a 50-year low, wages rising and inflation just about dead. but once the immediate threat of the pandemic is past, there will be what economists i call scarring in the economy. many buzzes will be gone for good, companies may be cautious about rehiring, and changes in the way that we all work and live may mean that many jobs will not come back at all. how is president biden going to handle that? beyond that lies even larger challenges. for one, today's economy is increasingly unbalanced with many sectors dominated by a handful of companies, amazon, apple, facebook, google and microsoft exercise a power that's not been seen in modern history. those five companies between them now account for almost one-quarter of the total valuation of the top 500 u.s. companies. domination by big companies is also true in finance, consumer goods, telecoms and elsewhere. and the pandemic seems to have led to an even greater
concentration of that power. that's something that president biden may want to deal with. and there are other tasks, of course. take trade. president trump took a very different line from his predecessors in confronting china, trying to force it to change unfair practices. then there's education. democrats want to cancel debt for millions of students, but is that fair on other americans who have already paid off their debts? then there's also energy. in the last few years the u.s. has become energy independent. president-elect biden has talked about transitioning out of fossil fuels in purr if suit of a green agenda, but can he do that without killing hundreds of thousands of existing jobs? how would he deal with these immediate and longer-term channels? someone who is well placed to answer those questions is gene sperling, former director of the economic council for both president obama and bill clinton. also author of a new book.
jeep, thanks very much for joining us. >> thanks for having me. gerry: president-elect biden's going to be taking office right in the middle of this covid crisis with lockdowns and, unfortunately, over the next couple of months, it doesn't look like it's going to get much better. what exactly is going to be the job on day one for a new biden administration? >> well, i think, unfortunately, right now we face, you know, not just a fiscal cliff, truly a humanitarian cliff that is coming if we do not get action. i mean, this economy has benefited significantly from very bold fiscal action that took place in the cares act. you know, right now the headline unemployment number might sound okay, but if you look at the pain out there, there are as many as 26 million people who have either lost their job or out of the work force or have seen their pay cut. we had the highest rise in long-term unemployment, 1 is.93
million -- 1.93 million, in a two month period that we've seen since we started keeping records in 1948. and look at the cliffs we're facing. on december 31st the eviction moratorium ends, the foreclosure moratorium ends. if nothing happens, joe biden could literally be dealing with a rye sis of homeless -- crisis of homelessness and eviction right as he comes in. and unemployment insurance, there may be as many as 10-12 million people who could lose their unemployment insurance. so this is, obviously, terrible from a macroeconomic point of view, to have that kind of loss of demand which could get significantly worse as he comes into president. but from a humanitarian point of view, you know, this is a crisis. we've seen the food lines, we've seen -- there is a lot of pain and suffering. so i think the hope is something big and bold will happen before he gets there. but if not, his very first step is going to have to be dealing
with this economic emergency -- gerry: when you talk about -- are we talking about another cares act? is again, maybe we'll get something in the transition period, but if we don't, are we talking about something on the scale of the cares act, $2-3 trillion? is that the right kind of mention? >> you know, if you look at -- you know, rumors were that when pelosi, speaker pelosi and secretary of the treasury mnuchin were getting close to a $2 trillion amount. but the key thing is you've got to do something on long-term unemployment, extending the benefits, keeping some form of bonus. you've got to-astronaut9 and local government -- state and local governments who have now laid off over a million education workers and have seen a 10% fall in their revenues, and you've got to do manager on the rental crisis -- something on the rental crisis. and i say this not just for the renters, but the landlords too. we've got to do something. is so these are very critical, among the critical things that have happened. and certainly, when you look at
the food lines, we need to do more on the nutrition relief. gerry: we've got to take a quick break, but before we do, obviously, all eyes are on georgia right now two senate runoffs there. i'm sure you'll be rooting hard for the democrats to win those, but let's say they don't or they don't one both of them and joe biden doesn't have a democratic majority in the senate. there's a lot of interest in what president biden might be able to do without even getting legislation through the senate, maybe through executive action. is that something that you think he should be seriously considering, loans maybe from the treasury? what can he do if he isn't able to get the main bottoms, the main parts of his package to congress? >> listen, i don't think anybody should have any, you know, illusions. there's nothing that's going to stimulate the economy like the type of, you know, build back better job mobilization that he's called for. a major push in green infrastructure, in
manufacturing, made in america, in care jobs, more high quality, hue-paid care jobs -- high-paid care jobs. these are the things that will-deal with, as you said, jobs that may have been been lost permanently. there are way of creating a job mobilization while dealing with national problems. and you mentioned scarring. you know, it's not just about getting back to full employment, it's about how fast you get back. and the longer you take, it means more young people come into a weak market, more young people go through the pain of long-term unemployment. so, yes, of course, if there's divided government, joe biden will have to try to still make the progress he can on a infrastructure bill, on manufacturing and, of course, look for what you can do without congress, executive action. on major fiscal stimulus, there's very little substitute for -- gerry: let me -- [inaudible conversations] sorry, i've got to take a quick
break. when we come back, we'll be looking at some of the other issues that president biden will be tackling. stay with us. ♪ ♪ [ engines revving ] ♪ it's amazing to see them in the wild like th-- shhh. [ engine revs ] for those who were born to ride, there's progressive. to syour body needs routine. system, centrum helps your immune defenses every day, with vitamin c, d and zinc. season, after season. ace your immune support, with centrum. all otc pain relievers including volthave one thing in common none are proven stronger or more effective against pain than salonpas patch large there's surprising power in this patch
♪ ♪ >> immediate $10,000 forgiveness of is student loans. it's helping people up. they're in real trouble. they're having to make choices between paying their student loan or paying the rent, those kinds of decisions. it should be done immediate lu. gerry: that was joe biden talking about the possibility of forgiveness of student loans, and i'm back with economic adviser to president obama and bill clinton, gene sperling. canceling student debt, obviously, was very much talked about during the campaign and even talking about it now as something biden could do perhaps even without legislation. some think it's very unfair because it represents forgive, for some people but lots of people have paid off their student loans. what do you think he should do about in this. >> well, remember, joe biden's vision was to have a world where tuition in community college and
in four-year public colleges for people in the middle class under $125,000 would be, would be free so that the experience of going to college, of seeking a higher education, of getting a skill would not make people be saddled with debt. part of that was also to relieve the existing debt on people right now. you know, i certainly favor his proposal. and i understand the arguments people make. but let's remember $10,000 would alleviate the debt of 40% of existing borrowers. and, you know, i know some comments have said, well, maybe it's not the best stimulus because it's spread out. but it's not supposed to be just a stimulus. it certainly would help people with $200 of extra spending a week, but, you know, the federal reserve now estimates that 20% of the reason there's been a reduction in first-time home buying by younger e people is student debt. and if it's african-american --
and it hits african-american and latino borrowers even worse. so i think, you know, i think what biden's calling for, a $10,000 debt cancellation in addition to his plans, of course nothing's ever perfectly targeted. but i think this would be helpful not only in relieving the payments people have, but i think it will have a wealth effect. it will make people more willing to buy a home, start a business, maybe even just purchase a car but able to do those without feeling that weight -- gerry: got it, understood. gene, very quickly because we don't have a lot of time, just quickly on trade, is president biden going to call off the trade war with china? >> i think what you're going to see is a more effective and coordinated trade effort. if you look at things like, you know, why does china end up hurting u.s., you know, steel and other things, a lot of it is because they have over capacity.
they're over subsidizing. and what he believes is that the way to pressure and isolate china is to bring your allies together. so i think you're going to see him pressuring and coordinating and using the entire global community to pressure and isolate china. gerry: very quickly, you played very important role es in the last two democratic administrations. are you packing your bags and heading to washington again? [laughter] >> you know, right now i'm sitting near santa monica. it's a pretty nice place to be quarantined -- gerry: but if you get that call, if you get that call from president-elect biden, you'll be going back to the white house, will you? >> you know what? smart people don't comment on personnel, wise people don't on any personnel, is certainly not about themselves. but thank you for asking. gerry: i will talk that as a yes, gene. gene sperling, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. coming up, big companies are getting bigger, and they're increasingly pushing their own political agenda.
what effect is that having on democracy and capitalism? my next guest will talk about that. ♪ ♪ research shows people remember commercials with nostalgia. so to help you remember that liberty mutual customizes your home insurance, here's one that'll really take you back. wow! what'd you get, ryan? it's customized home insurance from liberty mutual! what does it do bud? it customizes our home insurance so we only pay for what we need! and what did you get, mike? i got a bike. only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ (vo) i'm a verizon engineer and today, we're turning on 5g across the country. with the coverage of 5g nationwide. and, in more and more cities, the unprecedented performance of ultra wideband. the fastest 5g in the world.
it will change your phone and how businesses do everything. i'm proud, because we didn't build it the easy way, we built it right. this is the 5g america's been waiting for. only from verizon. adapting. innovating. lsetting the course. but new ways of working demand a new type of network. one that's more than just fast. you need flexibility- to work from anywhere. and manage from everywhere. advanced technology. with serious security. and reliable coverage, nationwide. forward-thinking enterprises, deserve forward-thinking solutions. and that's what we deliver. so bounce forward, with comcast business.
how? they went to golo.com. now it's your turn to lose weight quickly and easily with golo. head to golo.com now. that's g-o-l-o.com. ♪ ♪ gerry: already big companies are getting bigger and bigger. they dominate our world now, companies like amazon and google especially control much of the information that we need to power our lives. now, this isn't only a concern for considers, the small is a concern, of course, but it's a concern for off democracy. these companies are led and dominated by people with a very clear set of ideologies, and they're increasingly determined to use the economic power they have to promote those agendas. it's been called woke capitalism. gone are the days when chief executives focused on their companies' top and bottom lines. now they're on a mission. they want to change the way we
all think about issues like immigration, race, gender, sexuality, the climate. they're leveraging their economic power to spread a progressive gospel. it's an accelerating trend that should concern conservatives but also all of us who believe in the free exe change of ideas. as someone who's thought a lot about this topic is scientist, founder and chief executive officer as well as author of "woke economics: inside corporate america's social justice scam" that's coming out in 2021. peter, thanks for joining me. >> thank you for having me. ing. gerry: tell us how we got to this situation where chief executives of these powerful companies are no longer simply chief executives of companies focused on their companies' financial performance, but are increasingly playing this huge role in our lives in terms of promoting a particular agenda. >> it traces back to the 2008 financial crisis when the public changed expectations of what it wanted to see out of companies. that was crony capitalism at its worse worst with the 2008
bailout. the problem is that that resulted in crony capitalism 2.0 which is instead of infecting denial crass through the front door, through just lobbying or putting your alumnus if you're a wall street bank in the seat of u.s. treasury secretary, now it's influencing our democracy through the back door by taking on the role of government, but e taking on the role of democracy to influence our public values in ways that may not be legislated through congress, but are done through the back door on areas ranging to environmentalism and social causes that really don't have to do with the original purpose for why society created corporations, to provide products that all people know. it was a post-2008 move. jiu-jitsu-style move made by silicon valley and wall street to create a new form of crony capitalism that involves influencing through the back door rather than just doing it through the front door through lobbying and direct influence of government. gerry: now owe these -- you know
these chief executives, we're pursuing a new kind of capitalism where we're no longer just concerned about the bottom line and our shareholder, but we're concerned about society, and we have obligations to a broader society. why are they wrong about that? >> one of the things i talk about in few book is that the great secret of 21st century modern capitalism is the act, it's like a magic act of pretending like you care about something other than profits precisely to make more profits. gerry: and one of the things i think we've seen is a broader -- what this does is it creates, it fosters a greater mistrust, right? people used to just expect to get jeans from their retailers, they didn't expect. to get a corporate message. and this was a broad or mistrust. but just quickly, we've seen that miss trust spreading to areas like science. we have now i think the public that's deeply mistrustful of government scientists.
tell us what's going on there and how this is more broadly affecting it. >> sure. i think this is really not just a story about woke capitalism, it's a story about institution allying. and i think the american people, i'm sad to say, no longer really trust scientists like they used to. and part of the reason for that, gerry, is that today -- maybe with the best of intentions -- many scientists overstate the certainty of their claims in the hope that more people will listen to them, and that backfires. then big tech gets involved. you have a scientific industrial complex that limits the bounds of open debate, it censors what you're able to see on social media or the internet. that then backfires too. then you get politicians who shout from the hills to believe the science, something that sounds more like a cult call, and that back backfires too. humility really the withdraw forward. gerry: just briefly, tell us what we can do about this. how can we go about restoring
people's trust in companies, in experts, in scientists? we've got such a past here that there is -- we need to do something. more briefly, what can we do? >> the answer is simple. it's more honesty. companies are allowed to pursue profits, they're not only allowed to pursue profits, that is what society created them to do. in fact, our great social contract in the birth of the corporation was for companies to stay exclusively focused on pursuing profits rather than infecting our moral norms and democracy. the scientific method is about humility, it is about uncertainty, it is about skepticism, and scientists should no longer project false confidence. i think this is part of a broader cultural movement of the restoration of honesty. and i think that that ultimately re, when we lose trust in our institutions, we lose trust in each other, and when we lose trust in each other, we have a divided nation. i think this actually goes to the heart of what might be bothering us in our current moment in our history. i think the way forward is
simple honesty, and that's what my critique is all about as well. gerry: vi e celeb, we look very much forward the reading that book. thanks for joining i. >> thank you. gerry: despite a pandemic, it's thanksgiving, and there's still reason to count our many blessings. i'll have more on that next. our new house is amazing. great street, huge yard. there is a bit of an issue with our neighbors fencing. neighbor 1: allez! (sound from wind chimes) neighbor 2: (laughing) at least geico makes bundling our home and car insurance easy. which helps us save even more. neighbor 2: hey, sarah, hey, peter! neighbor 1: touché. neighbor 2: ahhh! neighbor 1: pret! neighbor 2: en garde! for bundling made easy, go to geico.com
lexus has been celebrating driveway moments. here's to one more, the lexus december to remember sales event. get 0% financing on all new 2020 and 2021 lexus models. experience amazing at your lexus dealer. my hands are everything to me. but i was diagnosed with dupuytren's contracture. and it got to the point where things i took for granted got tougher to do. thought surgery was my only option. turns out i was wrong. so when a hand specialist told me about nonsurgical treatments, it was a total game changer. like you, my hands have a lot more to do. learn more at factsonhand.com today.
did you try it yet? comparing plans? oh yeah. they sure can change year to year. i found lower premiums - and lower prescription costs. and those new insulin savings! hundreds of plans, $35 a month. that'll save you money. so uh, mark? on medicare.gov now. open enrollment ends dec 7th. comparing plans... ...really pays. paid for by the u.s. department of health & human services.
meet omnipod - it delivers insulin through a tubeless pod. just one small pod replaces up to 14 injections! and today - you can get started with a free 30-day omnipod dash trial at omnipod.com. no more daily injections. it's game-changing! get started with a free 30-day omnipod dash trial today. go to omnipod.com for risk information, instructions for use and free trial terms and conditions. consult your healthcare provider before starting on omnipod. simplify diabetes. simplify life. omnipod. ♪ ♪ gerry: i was planning to close with observations about bias in the media or some other aspect
of modern culture that gets under the skin, but there's too much of that already. we need to step back from the endless feuding, the restless determination to find fault with each other and the world and find time instead to acknowledge our blessings. that's, of course, what thanksgiving is all about. nations are in many ways defined by their ritual, and it's no accident that thanksgiving is almost a uniquely american tradition. generous, positive, full of gratitude for the life that we've been given, whatever the hardships. as an immigrant to this country, i'm extraordinarily grateful for the many weesings besnowed on me and my family. i know for most americans this won't be a typical thanksgiving, you may be subject to unusual -- a painful are e minder that 2020 has not been our best of years. but please do take it from someone who budget born here but who's come to know and love this country, america is still the nation whose citizens have extra
special reasons every year to count their blessings. that's it for us this week. be sure to follow me on twitter, facebook and instagram. i'll be back next week with more in-depth interviews right here on "the wall street journal at large." thanks for joining us, and have a happy thanksgiving. ♪ ♪ jack: welcome to "barron's roundtable" where we get behind the headlines and prepare you for the week ahead. i'm jack otter. with covid-19 vaccines coming soon, where's the market headed now? ed car denyny showers his scenario. and the later, the global economy is beginning to recover from the pandemic, an expert investment panel says it's time to look overseas. but we gun with what we think are the three most important things investors ought to be thinking about. stocks were resilient this week in the