Click the arrow above to listen to the full conversation between David Brancaccio and St. Pete Catalyst Publisher Joe Hamilton.
Beyond your average daily digest of stock market gains and losses, quarterly reports and updates on the S&P 500, APM’s Marketplace Morning Report with David Brancaccio digs into the human elements of our economy.
Those human elements will be a major focus of his discussion at Open Partnership Education Network’s (OPEN) Aresty Speaker Series presentation held Wednesday (tonight!) at the Palladium Theater.
To preview his talk, he spoke with St. Pete Catalyst Publisher Joe Hamilton about the major through lines connecting the economy, politics and human behavior.
Brancaccio talks about his efforts to go deeper, beyond the numbers of his daily Marketplace Morning Report, and into key economic and business themes like sustainability, looming automation, aging, and so much more.
Brancaccio recently produced a radio documentary called Brains and Losses, which investigates the effects of aging on financial vulnerability and exploitation and scammers. As he tells it, there is some interesting new medical research that sheds light on the problem, beyond the conventional understanding of dementia and cognitive decline.
In fact, recent studies have shown that in a normally aging healthy brain, changes to the brain points to some individuals becoming more vulnerable to fraud or exploitation. “It’s almost like our radar for scams may decline some as we get a little bit older,” Brancaccio says. “The good news is that as we get older, we get wisdom because we’ve had so much life experience, and that helps counteract some of this.”
These stories don’t happen in a vacuum either, a point Brancaccio illustrates with numerous stories of real people that he’s met who have been financially exploited. Often, Brancaccio says, it happens to the last person you would think.
He told one story of an school nurse in her seventies, who was cogent, a good driver, funny and completely “with it.” She fell for a scam that drained $30,000 from her bank account and coerced her into spending $166,000 in gift cards. “All of us could fall victim to that,” Brancaccio says.
The markets are in a tizzy this week, thanks to major global uncertainty caused by the coronavirus. But Brancaccio sees longer-term disruption ahead from factors like automation. One special series he has recently worked on is affectionately titled, “Robots Ate My Job.” The series focuses on technological unemployment and automation.
Brancaccio acknowledges that while the American economy has been disrupted over and over again in the past with technology like farming equipment or machinery in factories, many economists that are considered experts believe that this time, automation could be different – leaving people out of work instead of giving them better, higher-paying and safer jobs.
“Nobody says it’s not going to be disruptive,” Brancaccio says. In fact, it could be more disruptive than the last recession. And, as Brancaccio points out, the more uncertainty and disruption pervades, it affects voting behavior and politics.
“We are terrible at re-training people in America,” Brancaccio says. “We have got to change that.” In fact, he says, not only do we need to have a national conversation about how to retrain our workforce, we need to have a national conversation on how to compensate people if they are unable to find the right jobs.
Brancaccio and Hamilton wrap up discussing Brancaccio’s documentary “Fixing The Future,” the power of local, and the future of news.