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Mark and Carrie Special: World Cup Politics, the Future of the GOP, and Crypto’s Fraud Problem
7th December 2022 • Trending Globally: Politics and Policy • Trending Globally: Politics & Policy
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We’ve got a lot of exciting new Trending Globally episodes coming up in the next few weeks and months, but this week we’re sharing an episode of another podcast from the Watson Institute: Mark and Carrie. 

The show is hosted by political economist and Rhodes Center Director Mark Blyth, and political scientist Carrie Nordlund. On each episode they discuss, debate, add context to, and, occasionally, make fun of the biggest headlines of the day. The conversations are always thought-provoking and informative, and while the topics are often somber, the show is not. 

On this episode they discuss the geopolitics of the World Cup, the future of the Republican Party, and how FTX’s complicated crypto-scandal fits into the long lineage of financial fraud. They also briefly play with Mark’s dog. 

Listen to more of Mark and Carrie and subscribe. 

Learn about all of the Watson Institute’s other podcasts. 


DAN RICHARDS: From the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, this is Trending Globally. I'm Dan Richards. We've got a lot of exciting new episodes coming up in the next few weeks and months, but this week, we're sharing an episode of another podcast from the Watson Institute.

It's called, Mark and Carrie. And for those of you who aren't familiar with it, the show is hosted by political economist Mark Blyth and political scientist Carrie Nordlund. And each episode, they discuss, debate, add context to, and occasionally, make fun of the news.

The conversations are always thought-provoking and informative. And while the topics are often pretty heavy, the show is not. On this episode, they get into the geopolitics of the World Cup, the future of the Republican Party, and how FTX's crypto scandal fits into a longer lineage of financial fraud. And those are just a few of the topics.

For scheduling reasons, we actually ended up recording this episode in Mark's basement, as you'll hear, which is not as weird as it sounds, because Mark is also a musician, and his basement has wonderful acoustics and audio recording equipment. It also, at the time of recording, had a dog in it, who you will briefly meet.

They started with-- what else-- the World Cup. So without further ado, here are Mark and Carrie.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Well, hello, and welcome to Mark and Carrie. We're back in your basement, which is, like, the second time we're here.

MARK BLYTH: Exactly.

CARRIE NORDLUND: I think I know the answer to this, but are you boycotting watching the World Cup, or are you watching? What's your-- where are you on this?

MARK BLYTH: So I did an interview with a student newspaper about this and found myself getting to a pretty interesting place in the conversation, which was, the best way to boycott this thing is to watch it.


MARK BLYTH: Which is-- what you're watching is an example of sports-washing. Right? So you've heard of greenwashing.


MARK BLYTH: Right. So it's sports-washing, right? And the best thing you can do, rather than, like, I'm above this and I'll ignore it-- right? Because it will continue regardless-- is to watch it.

And if it's truly ridiculous, and if it's Astroturf fans, and if it's just nonsense, then, in a sense, you're part of showing it up.


MARK BLYTH: Right? Unfortunately for that thesis, it seems that it's actually quite a well-run World Cup with genuine fans from around the world that seem to be enjoying themselves. So yes, it does put the moral thing sort of into question in a new way. So in other words, yes, I'm watching it. There you go.

CARRIE NORDLUND: I am an American fan with typical American preferences, in that nothing ever seems to happen in soccer. And so I'm LA-- so I watch it, but I feel like nothing happens. And then, when it does, like, that's the only thing that happens for a long time.

MARK BLYTH: Yes, sometimes it can be like that. It's kind of a tragedy that the most-watched game was the USA-England game--


MARK BLYTH: --which was the worst game of soccer that I've seen in about ten years.


MARK BLYTH: Yeah. But anyway, let's move on to--


MARK BLYTH: Let's think about the other stuff that's going on. There's no beer in the stadiums.


MARK BLYTH: Which is a fun one.

CARRIE NORDLUND: And they did that at the last second, too. The brother of the Emir said he didn't like the Budweiser tents--

MARK BLYTH: Yes, exactly.

CARRIE NORDLUND: --and was like, no, no more.

MARK BLYTH: I mean, I'm with them on that one, because I don't actually think Budweiser is actually beer.


MARK BLYTH: So you know, it is-- it's banning Bud, and I'm all in favor of that one.


MARK BLYTH: There was the whole thing of, you got an instant yellow card if you wore LGBTQ rights armbands.


MARK BLYTH: Which was pretty heavy tactics. So--

CARRIE NORDLUND: But what are your thoughts about this, in terms of-- I don't-- this gets into a whole other thing about sports and the politicization of sport. But there is no-- for all the human rights abuses, there is no-- what's the punishment for Qatar? I mean--

MARK BLYTH: Oh, none. Yeah. Totally.

CARRIE NORDLUND: The world is there. It seems well-run. People-- the fans seem excited.

MARK BLYTH: Well, there's an interesting one as well. I mean, we tend to think about human rights abuses as, someone is taken to prison and tortured, right?


MARK BLYTH: That's not what's happening. The human rights abuses are loads and loads of voluntary migrant workers from poor countries working in appalling labor conditions--


MARK BLYTH: --and being seriously injured, maimed, or being killed. Right? So are those rights abuses or just terrible labor practices, right? There's a lot of things getting thrown into the blender on this one.

In terms of what Qatar gets out of this, you've got to think of that whole region. Think of Manchester City, the biggest club in England, right? They're owned by the [INAUDIBLE] of Abu Dhabi, the neighbors.


MARK BLYTH: Right? All of the airlines-- Qatar, Etihad, Emirates-- right? They're all sponsors of, like, big football teams.


MARK BLYTH: Qatar has, at various points, owned, I think-- or had done sponsorship deals, I should say-- with Barcelona, Bayern-Munich, Roma. They recently bought PSG, Paris Saint-Germain. So this is all part of a sort of giant, if you will, sports-washing, image-branding-- honestly, with a nice authoritarian's-- "look, we buy football."

Now, why would you do this? Partly, it's ingratiating yourself to the Western states that buy your oil and are your security guarantors. But there's also a lot of stuff which goes on under the radar that's very similar at home.

If you think about elite universities opening up campuses in Doha and all this sort of stuff, and if you think about elite American medical institutions having separate wings from people for the Gulf and building ancillary clinics over there-- I mean, we are standing over here throwing our righteousness stones at them, but we do the same sort of stuff. We are total enablers of this whole thing.

CARRIE NORDLUND: So Qatar is not the only country to import laborers. Of course, the United States has a long history with this as well-- and of course, lots of other Western nations, too. But I didn't realize that the laborers often-- I don't in how many cases their passports were taken away and they are not allowed to leave. So--

MARK BLYTH: Right, and that's the rights violation.


MARK BLYTH: But that's incredibly common, right? Not just in the Gulf. I mean, the stories , of, like, Filipinos who leave the Philippines and become domestic servants in India and places in South Asia. Like, the removal of the passport to keep you there, and that sort of stuff-- that's common.

That even happens with certain elite families in England. There's been court cases over this. So that's kind of a general sort of thing.

CARRIE NORDLUND: So it's interesting to think about the elevation of these particular royal, rich families from the Middle East, like, buying their way into certain circles that allows them to then be accepted outside of the terrible human rights abuses.

MARK BLYTH: Yeah, exactly. I mean, as they say, sports-washing. In case anyone's listening and they hear in the background growling and something squeaking, that's the golden retriever saying, can you pay attention to me, please, because I'm a cute golden retriever. But we will keep this in the episode. And Lucy, calm down.

CARRIE NORDLUND: It makes it so much more friendly and less serious.

MARK BLYTH: Exactly. All right, so let's switch it. You must have been super excited-- finally, after months and months of talking about it, the midterms are here, and it was amazing. Right? Everything changed.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Deep breath. I have-- how long is this episode going to be? I think my big takeaways-- I have three takeaways from the midterms, and one is that polling is dead. We've talked about that.

The Republicans flooded the last couple of weeks with all these garbage polls. But polling, essentially, didn't really tell us anything, which is what led to-- or which should have been-- many people thought it was going to be a red wave, but then was red trickle, red drizzle. [LAUGHS]

But so polling is dead. These are not particularly novel thoughts, but we are very, very close--

MARK BLYTH: The polling thing is interesting, right? Because isn't it meant to be sort of-- they call it, in Britain, the silent Tories, right? And it's the silent Republicans.

So the whole thing was, you were underestimating the Republican vote. So the reason they thought there was going to be a wave is because they already had a majority, right? So it wasn't just like they got it wrong. They got the sign wrong. I mean, it was basically the other way around, right?


MARK BLYTH: So polling is really in trouble, right?

CARRIE NORDLUND: Oh, I think so. I mean, just the entire basis of, how do you get a random sample, these days I think is incredibly hard-- and the amount of money that has to be spent in order to actually get that. And then, to just be able to-- like in everything, to be able to tell the good poll from the bad poll, and how do we actually the difference between that and junk science-- the junk statistical science versus the stuff that actually can stand up.

And I think the other thing that was interesting is that we're very closely divided. Power flips as quickly as it does from every two years or so-- is I think one thing that adds to this, like, the US can't get anything done, because the power's switching back and forth all the time.

MARK BLYTH: Years and years ago-- it's kind of funny when I reflect on it. Back in Nineteen Ninty-Four, there's a political scientist, an economist-- did a book together. And it was this whole theory of rational ticket splitting.


MARK BLYTH: So this idea that basically, the public sort of have rational expectations and are long-sighted and have all this information, which is complete nonsense. And somehow, what they were doing was basically, making sure there was divided government, because they liked that.

Because that then gave them stability and all the rest of it. And what a load of rubbish. I mean, people don't know anything, right? It's just, we know now, with the spread of social media, it's just chaos out there-- chaos and conspiracy theories.

And it's just partisan, throwing red meat or blue meat to the base and hope for the best, with maybe one or two wedge issues that kind of get you a little something. Like, if you're in Alaska, but you're OK with fish, you can win if you're a Democrat, right?


MARK BLYTH: If you're Joe Manchin, you can be absolutely conservative, but you can support the Inflation Reduction Act, so as long as you don't do any other stuff.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Yeah. I also-- I think it's interesting on that. I mean, people showed up in Georgia, and they voted for Brian Kemp for governor, the Republican, but then voted for Warnock, the Democratic senator. And this happened in Pennsylvania as well, that they voted for-- they would vote for-- the state leg person-- they'd vote for John Fetterman, the Democrat.

So I mean, you actually saw moments of ticket splitting, which people-- political science didn't think happened anymore.

MARK BLYTH: Right. That's a good example.


MARK BLYTH: As I was saying, it was true when they wrote about it. Then, it stopped being true. And then, it seems as if it's come back, to a certain extent, at least in some places.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Yeah. They're still counting votes in two House districts. So the House has not been fully decided--



MARK BLYTH: I mean, who sent the votes around? The post office? I mean--

CARRIE NORDLUND: Yeah. California, and then Colorado 3, which is Lauren Boebert. She's known as MAGA Barbie. So these votes are still being counted. But as it stands right now, it's, I think, 220-something to 218.

But the Republicans are expected to pick up those two seats. So in the end, it'll be plus Republicans 10 seats, I think, in the House. They were predicting something like 60, so it's still a pretty narrow margin for them.

MARK BLYTH: So should the Democrats be confident going forward? Let's assume the following, right? China doesn't invade Taiwan.


MARK BLYTH: Russia doesn't go nuclear. We're all still here. Inflation abates. The economy gets better.


MARK BLYTH: Are they actually in a re-electable position?

CARRIE NORDLUND: So is there-- is Trump on the ballot? I think that's what is really the question for the presidential.

MARK BLYTH: So let's turn to it. He's back. He's officially back, right?

CARRIE NORDLUND: He's back, yeah.

MARK BLYTH: But he was invited back on Twitter. He hasn't gone back.

CARRIE NORDLUND: No. And I'm curious-- do you think-- I've been reading. He has a contract, which-- I don't know if he's ever paid attention to any contract-- but contract with Truth Social. So this is maybe why he's not back on Twitter.

MARK BLYTH: Maybe. I mean, I'm sure he could un-write that contract if he wanted to.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Yeah. That's what I was thinking, too.

MARK BLYTH: But then, there's the whole sort of, like, maybe it's just liberal reporting bias. But it seems the Republicans aren't thrilled, in part because of the effect that he had in the midterms, right?

CARRIE NORDLUND: Well, it's so interesting. Murdoch-- the New York Post is what he owns, right?

MARK BLYTH: Yeah, well, no, he owns everything.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Yeah. Well, that's true. The first two covers after the midterm were "De-Future," big picture of Ron DeSantis, and then "Trumpity-Dumpity."

MARK BLYTH: Oh, yeah.

CARRIE NORDLUND: So you could tell that the Murdochs are like, we're done with you.


MARK BLYTH: Which actually tells you where the real power lies.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Yes, exactly.

MARK BLYTH: It is not with your electable representatives. It's with who your media barons want to give them a tax break for the next several years.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Yes, yes. But so, yeah, is he on the ballot? And of course, however many days after the midterm, he said, yes, he's going to be. But I mean, he's also done some-- even for him, some pretty nutty stuff.

MARK BLYTH: Yeah. I mean, the white supremacist and Ye dinner-- it's hard to know which one is which in that statement.


MARK BLYTH: You can't make it up. You really can't make it up. So anyway, he's back. It seems to be less of the tsunami and red storm than people had thought. And the Democrats still seem to be alive. The world continues to surprise.

CARRIE NORDLUND: And just one last thing about Trump-- so his endorsements were mixed. He had, I think, 10. If you think of the actual endorsements-- I mean, it's hard to measure the stuff.

Because sometimes they've said, yes, and then he'd pull it back. But he had 10 victories, 10 defeats-- some big defeats like Dr. Oz, for example, in Pennsylvania.

MARK BLYTH: But I mean, in all seriousness, he was a total Muppet.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Yeah. I mean-- oh, Dr. Oz?

MARK BLYTH: He was ridiculous.

CARRIE NORDLUND: I mean, yeah. Yes. So I don't know that that necessarily gives us any real evidence, as to how much-- whether he's got the-- Trump has the juice to stay for another two years. But I mean, he's still front-page news.

I mean, he's the best thing Democrats have going for him, too, especially if Biden, who just had his 80th birthday, runs. I mean--

MARK BLYTH: I know, and the whole thing is, of course, with Biden, he will run if Trump runs. Because if Trump has the "only I can fix it" complex, then Biden has the "only I can defeat Trump" complex.


MARK BLYTH: And it's bad enough with two septuagenarians--

CARRIE NORDLUND: Oh, my goodness.

MARK BLYTH: A near-octogenarian and an actual octogenarian--


MARK BLYTH: Oh, my god. We need to move on. We really do.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Yeah. I mean, it almost makes you want Ron DeSantis to win, just so we have somebody--

MARK BLYTH: Somebody who's actually-- somebody who's actually not seen M.A.S.H when--

CARRIE NORDLUND: Yes, that is true. Yes. Yes. Yeah.

MARK BLYTH: All right. Where else do we want to go? China.


MARK BLYTH: As Trump would say, China.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Yes. The protests there-- if we can call them protests-- are interesting. Because you wonder how long Xi is going to allow these to happen before he just-- is he just letting them have their moment? Or presumably, he's going to have the secret police shut this stuff down pretty quickly.

MARK BLYTH: Well, remember, this is a guy who, in the space of three years, built the equivalent of-- the American prison-industrial complex, and put an entire ethnic group into it in a number in the millions.


MARK BLYTH: So the notion that he's going to be a little bit afraid of a couple of protests in town-- that's not going to happen. So yeah. I mean, interesting stuff there. Apparently, it was exacerbated by Chinese football fans actually watching the World Cup--


MARK BLYTH: --and seeing these people who didn't have masks.


MARK BLYTH: And then, there was the apartment fire, and basically, the frustrations that just kicked off.


MARK BLYTH: I mean, the whole sort of, we're going to go for zero-COVID-- you know, it sounds good. But if you actually say to people, here's what we're going to do, we're never going to stop having lockdowns--


MARK BLYTH: I mean, that's when it gets kind of like, what? Why are we actually doing this?


MARK BLYTH: And rather than sort of signaling the competence of the Communist Party, which is what they always trump, in the other sense of "trump," it is this sort of like, you people have no idea what you're doing. You blew the vaccine.


MARK BLYTH: You came out with Sinovac. It doesn't work very well. You won't ask the West for their stuff. So now, you've got this situation where you're just constantly locking down entire cities. What? It's not really working.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Well, and your citizens are not-- they're actually humans and don't want to be locked up anymore, so much so that they're risking their lives to protest. I have a sidebar question for you.

So China has a huge population. India has a huge-- but neither of them are in the World Cup. Do they not-- I mean, they can build gigantic cities, but they can't--

MARK BLYTH: So it's interesting. I think Modi was also a bit of a soccer fan, but I know that Xi definitely was.


MARK BLYTH: And China has a sort of, like, Chinese Super League. And for a few years before the pandemic, they were offering big salaries to Western players. They were really trying to build this up.

But I don't know if it's kind of fallen by the wayside. The COVID restrictions have done [INAUDIBLE] whatever. But it just hasn't happened for either.

I mean, for India, one of the big sports, of course, is cricket, coming out of that kind of post-colonial legacy, if you want to put it. Sports in China-- I mean, the huge following for British sports teams-- Manchester United have an enormous fan base in China, that sort of stuff.

Their TV rights in China are incredibly lucrative. So it's really popular under-- as a domestic league. But maybe it's just about, like, the Americans. I mean, it just took them 20 years to get it together and actually be good.


MARK BLYTH: So maybe it just takes a bit of time. One thing we should mention, though--


MARK BLYTH: And we actually got an email about this.


MARK BLYTH: We do read your emails-- from a friend in Iran, who basically said, why are you guys not even mentioning the fact that we've got more serious protests? And I think we do need to acknowledge this, because it's one of those things that the West loves to highlight, because it doesn't like Iran.

And then, at points, the heroicness-- well, first of all, the situation that's coming from, basically, killing women, teenage women, by the security apparatus, and then the protests against this-- and you see the way that this bubbled under the World Cup. And you have the Iranian team, basically, doing their team photograph with everybody covering their mouth, right?

As if to say, we're all being silenced. And this is a regime that doesn't screw around, right? Once they decide you need to go, they will kill you. Right? It's not like China-- we'll throw you in jail for a few years. Right? They will actually kill you.


MARK BLYTH: So I actually thought it was incredibly impressive that the Iranian team would even make a gesture like that. I mean, that was incredibly brave. I just wanted to acknowledge that.

CARRIE NORDLUND: No, but I agree with you. Because even with all the-- oh, I'm going to wear the armband for LGBTQ right-- and that they didn't. And the Iranians who-- I mean, the penalty is death. They were the bravest, to my mind--

MARK BLYTH: No, absolutely--

CARRIE NORDLUND: --to actually stand up. I also-- I mean, there are all sorts of different numbers in terms of how many people have been killed, in terms of the protests. But I mean, there was also a report, I think, early in September, that the Ayatollah, who's actually similar age to Joe Biden-- it's actually quite--

MARK BLYTH: Thank you, 80-year-olds.

CARRIE NORDLUND: --was quite ill. So I don't know. I mean, just knowing Iranian politics from very far away, distance, I mean, does this signal something like a change in leadership? Or is this just one of those things that the West is really-- look at these protests, somewhere else in China and Iran, and maybe we look somewhat better in comparison.

MARK BLYTH: Yeah. Well, you know, it's one of those things where, at various points, we think our own regimes are unpopular.


MARK BLYTH: Look no further than Liz Truss.


MARK BLYTH: But you can say a lot of things about Liz Truss, but she wasn't basically out to murder her own citizens en masse. And you really are dealing with an entirely different type of regime, where it's deeply distrusted, if not hated, by large segments of its own population. And they know that, and they will fight back.


MARK BLYTH: Because they know that if they're ever, like, vulnerable and replaced, then there's going to be payback for all the stuff that they've done.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Yeah. They don't screw around. OK, are we going to talk about FTX?

MARK BLYTH: Go on then.

CARRIE NORDLUND: I'm just so-- I've been waiting to hear what your-- I'm so curious what your take on this is.

MARK BLYTH: Well, I mean, we've spoken crypto before. And I've been, shall we put it, a bit of a skeptic, right? This one is actually much more interesting, as to what happens when traditional banking meets crypto or tries to do traditional banking, right?

So how do you make money off of a worthless token that's only got value because other people think it has value? Well, you're going to have to have a place you can buy and sell different tokens, and you can actually make prices, right? So you have this thing called an exchange, right?

Now, why would you put your coins in the exchange, rather than keep them on your computer and trade them yourself? Well, because of ease, liquidity, options-- you can do things. OK, that's making sense. I'm willing to pay you fees.

But to really make it worthwhile, the exchanges basically said, if you give us your tokens, we'll do investments in other tokens, and we will guarantee you a pretty high rate of return for doing so.

CARRIE NORDLUND: And this is what FTX is saying. Sam Bankman-Fried-- Sam--

MARK BLYTH: All these exchanges, basically. They're not just exchanges that charge you a fee because it's convenient for you to buy and sell stuff. They're actually giving you a, quote unquote, "value proposition," which is, I'll give you X percent on a return if you give us your coins. Now, for that to happen, they have to go off and make really risky investments.


MARK BLYTH: And so long as they pay off, everything works. But now, you've got the classic Ponzi. Right so long as the money is flowing in, it's all good. The minute the money drops, it's bad.


MARK BLYTH: And what happened was, it seems that basically, to cover up the losses that they were making, he gave the hedge fund he runs-- it's called Alameda Research-- loads of people's coins to then sort of gamble on resurrection for the losses they'd already made. And of course, the whole thing just went down.

This is a classic story. This is like AIG and the financial crisis being overlevered on insurance contracts, and then basically, banks-- what they call, "gambling on resurrection," the all-or-nothing bet to bring it back, right? So it's kind of funny that despite-- to me, what I think is really interesting is, despite the fact that it's all DeFi, and it's all about crypto, and it's all these exchanges, and it's so new and all that, it's actually a really old story.


MARK BLYTH: There's nothing really that new in it. You've got massively overleveraged.


MARK BLYTH: You took a series of bets, you gambled on resurrection, and down you went. That's an incredibly old story.

CARRIE NORDLUND: So I gave you my money. And then, I wanted it back, because I got nervous, and there was no money--

MARK BLYTH: There was no money, because I'd borrowed it from you on the prior that I'm going to give you money back. [INAUDIBLE] So I'm going to pay you an interest [INAUDIBLE].


MARK BLYTH: But what's actually happened is, it's not really there, because I took it all, and gambled it away on something else, and then I got found out.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Right. And because it was like crypto bros, they're like, no regulation. You can't regulate us.

MARK BLYTH: Right. So at least, when AIG went down, there was the insurance regulator of Pennsylvania, who was backed up by the US government, so you could do something about that.


MARK BLYTH: In this case, no. And you know, to a certain extent, there's a certain poetic justice about this. Right? So if one of your main claims is, like, no government, no regulation, it's the real value, blah, blah, blah, well, yeah, that's what happens when it turns out you've invested in crap. Nobody comes to help you.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Will he-- OK, so here's where I'm going. So Elizabeth Holmes was just sent--

MARK BLYTH: Oh, yeah, there's a news point. Right.

CARRIE NORDLUND: --for 11 years, or--

MARK BLYTH: I wonder how she's enjoying Club Fed.


MARK BLYTH: I wonder where they sent her.

CARRIE NORDLUND: The WeWork guy-- Adam--


CARRIE NORDLUND: He didn't go to jail.

MARK BLYTH: No, because he didn't actually do any fraud.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Well, Sam-- I mean, what I thought was so interesting is, first of all, he's like-- he wears these gigantic [INAUDIBLE]. He's like this wonderkid-- or kind, or whatever it is. And he's like-- everyone's like-- MIT, his parents are Stanford Law profe-- And there's this weird, like, oh, well, therefore, it must be OK.

MARK BLYTH: And that's Elizabeth Holmes' thing. I mean, you're totally right. Right? She's Stanford. She wears a polo neck. She looks like a female Steve Jobs. She's kind of cute. She must be a genius.

CARRIE NORDLUND: So here-- but here's my question. Does Elizabeth Holmes get taken, or-- she gets sentenced to 11 years. Will Sam Bankman-Fried-- will he suffer any penalties?

MARK BLYTH: That's a fascinating one. So somebody I heard on the other podcast I did a while ago was a guy called Dan Davies, who wrote a book called, Lying for Money.


MARK BLYTH: So if you haven't listened to it, listen to it. It's great. Because he's an authority in it. He used to work for the Bank of England.


MARK BLYTH: And it's basically about financial fraud. And the difference between financial fraud and fraud in any other sphere is, fraud in any other sphere tends to be based upon a lie.


MARK BLYTH: And if you can sow the lie, then you've committed fraud, right? But maybe it just didn't work out. Now, you can't do that with Theranos technology, because there was no technology. Because this doesn't work, right?



CARRIE NORDLUND: But she said it did.


CARRIE NORDLUND: So there's the fraud.

MARK BLYTH: And then, she consistently said that, when it was clear that it didn't, right? That's a fraud. Now, Dan's point is that pretty much, anyone in any business-- like, you don't have to be doing a crypto bro thing. You could be running a bakery, right? It's really hard to tell the difference between bad luck, mismanagement, and a fraud.


MARK BLYTH: The very first-time harms-- if you've got a track record, you run three bakeries, they all go bust, people get suspicious, right?


MARK BLYTH: But if I did one and I bought too many chairs, and I opened at the wrong time, and it just ended up sort of all falling apart, and I couldn't do it, and I default on the loans, and I go into bankruptcy-- maybe I took all the loans and stuck them in a bank account somewhere.


MARK BLYTH: And I just run this train into the ground. You're not going to have to go after me to find out, and that's really difficult. Because there's no obvious lie.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Right. So WeWork is like, oh, I tried.

MARK BLYTH: Yeah. WeWork was just sort of, like, a really bad idea backed by a Japanese bank that should have known better.


MARK BLYTH: And to get the guy who was a megalomaniac out of the way, they paid him $1 billion. So he got rewarded for, basically, running a company.


MARK BLYTH: That's slightly different from what we're talking about here.


MARK BLYTH: With finance, it's much more opaque. Even in normal finance-- not just-- you don't even need all the layers of crypto bubble.


MARK BLYTH: It's just much more opaque and hard to find out.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Right. Because I mean, I see a gender thing, too. And like, that Adam Neumann even actually gets more money, and people are like, yeah, the next thing you want to do, like, we're on board for that. But I get your point that there's an actual thing to point with her, and like, no, that just--

MARK BLYTH: That makes a difference.


MARK BLYTH: So that was FTX. Where do you want to go next? Are we still raising interest rates? I don't think so. I think it's pretty much done. It's baked on at this point. Short answer.

If you keep doing this, all the money in the rest of the world is going to run to the United States. You'll have the mother of all currency crises. They don't want that to happen. It looks like one of the perverse effects of China locking everything down is they're not using much gas.


MARK BLYTH: Which means that all the LNG cargoes that are going to Asia are able to go to Europe. Europe's gas storage for Germany is now above what it normally is in the [INAUDIBLE], despite the Germans. Oil prices have fallen or continue to fall.

So if it is the case that most of this is supply-side-driven, and there isn't a kind of unhinging of expectations that we've spoken about before, then you're not going to-- it's not going to be like returning to zero inflation. There's still lots of things that could go wrong.

Again, more China lockdowns mean more supply chain problems, whatever. But the rationale for continued hike up and up and up-- that's getting weaker.


MARK BLYTH: And there's also an awareness now, even at the IMF-- I think it was the IMF that did a piece that said, the problem is if everybody tightens, there's a kind of fallacy, a composition problem. So while it makes sense for any one country to tighten, particularly if somebody else tightens, if they all tighten at once, the sum of tightening is more than any one of them would have wanted done.


MARK BLYTH: Right? So in a sense, you can bind it too much. So yeah, so I think it's like pushing back on the gas pedal a little bit.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Well, I mean, I guess that will make, maybe, the holiday somewhat less bleak, in terms of spending-- consumer spending, then.

MARK BLYTH: One would certainly hope so.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Do you-- just to-- back to crypto for a second-- because I saw something. There's another crypto that has folded, but of course, now, I can't remember the name of it.

MARK BLYTH: Yeah. [INAUDIBLE] I forgot this. Binance is one of the exchanges. That one's still OK. Then, there's another one that's basically in bankruptcy. Well, and again, this is the same-- this is the same as the financial crisis in Two Thousand-Eight, right?

What have AIG and Goldman Sachs and Chase Manhattan and the firms that went down, like countrywide mortgage, all got in common? They're all connected to each other. So if one of them is wildly levered, the problem-- and that hits them, it's going to hit the other one, because they are the counterparty. They're probably just as wildly levered. They are going to go down as well.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Right, right, right. OK. So it's not-- I get your point-- the connection versus, like, some bigger trend that crypto's dead or something like that.

MARK BLYTH: Yeah, it's just-- it's classic banking. They're just massively overlevered and undercapitalized, and they blew themselves up.

CARRIE NORDLUND: I just think your point that it's such an old story-- I mean--

MARK BLYTH: It's such an old story. I mean, you read this stuff, and it's like, oh, don't worry, because with the harsh protocol of, blah, blah, blah, and it's all this programmer language. At the end of the day, it's like, you basically borrowed, short-levered, and you lost the money.


MARK BLYTH: That's it. There's nothing-- there's nothing more complex than that.


MARK BLYTH: What's some fun stuff?


MARK BLYTH: Because we're going into the holidays now.

CARRIE NORDLUND: I don't know if you saw this, but Taylor Swift had, like, 50-something concerts at big arenas that she was selling. Of course, everything was through Ticketmaster. They were doing-- I hope I'm getting all these details right. They were doing, like, a pre-sale, except the pre-sale went bad.

And so everything got flooded. Ticketmaster, of course, like, couldn't--

MARK BLYTH: Crashed.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Crashed. Right. Like, a billion people couldn't get their tickets, but some did. And so what was the interesting fallout from this was that Taylor Swift then called for an investigation into this. And you know, a lot of the sort of, like, snide comments were, is Taylor Swift doing the job of the DOJ, in terms of breaking up a monopoly.

MARK BLYTH: And yes, she is.


MARK BLYTH: God bless her.


MARK BLYTH: Because, yeah, exactly. That's exactly what it is.


MARK BLYTH: I mean, this is just the sort of license monopoly. I mean, I just hate Ticketmaster.


MARK BLYTH: I mean, every time you want to go get a ticket, it's like, yeah, the ticket costs 36, but you're going to end up paying 60.


MARK BLYTH: It's like, come on. What is this?


MARK BLYTH: This is absurd.

CARRIE NORDLUND: All the fees and all the-- yes, all that sort of stuff.

MARK BLYTH: The fees-- I mean, think about all the terrible fees because of all the services they're doing. I get a monopoly to issue a digital token that has a marginal cost of zero [INAUDIBLE] produce.


MARK BLYTH: So I get-- literally, I do nothing except act as an exchange, and I get to double the price.


MARK BLYTH: It's absolutely outrageous.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Yeah. On the royals for a second-- Meghan and Harry's documentary-- docuseries, sorry-- is coming out, like, a month ahead of his--

MARK BLYTH: Ahead of the book.

CARRIE NORDLUND: --of the book, yes, which-- obviously, we'll do a book club about that,

MARK BLYTH: Oh, that's good.

CARRIE NORDLUND: But I think that was all the royal news. I think we'll be able to get in an end-of-the-year episode, and we can talk about our favorite--


MARK BLYTH: We should go back and--

CARRIE NORDLUND: Yes, of course.

MARK BLYTH: What we do is go back-- I mean, not that we have time to do this, but we should go back and listen to all the episodes--

CARRIE NORDLUND: Oh, lord, yeah.

MARK BLYTH: --and then just note all the times we were wrong.

CARRIE NORDLUND: (LAUGHING) Yeah, that's true.

MARK BLYTH: So if anybody who's out there wants to do this for us, go back and listen to all the episodes, and just everything we got wrong, just write down one line. You know, you said this. You got this wrong.


MARK BLYTH: And send it to me or Carrie, right?


MARK BLYTH: And then, we'll totally ignore you. No, then we'll actually use that as the basis for an episode. That'll be great.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Since we started the World Cup, let's end with that. Do you have any favorite highlights, lowlights, et cetera?

MARK BLYTH: To a certain extent, two days ago, my riff on this was that this is the decline of the West.


MARK BLYTH: Right? Because it was just-- anything interesting was happening with-- Germany was crap. England was crap. All the usual sort of suspects, right? And Brazil was awesome. Right?


MARK BLYTH: Really awesome. Argentina was crap, you know. And then, there was one game, which came along, which was Serbia versus-- Serbia versus Ghana, I think it was? It was three-all.


MARK BLYTH: And it was everything that football should be.


MARK BLYTH: It was just a brilliant game. Utterly chaotic, end to end, everybody giving everything.


MARK BLYTH: And just, like, nail-biting. The other one I thought-- I was so sad-- was the-- interesting-- they don't call them South Korea. They call them the Republic of Korea--


MARK BLYTH: --in all the commentary.


MARK BLYTH: --was the Korean game when they went down 3-2. Because they were weak in the first half, but the second half, they just tried so hard. They had so many chances. And you just know it just wasn't going to happen for them. And in a sense, that's football at its best.

CARRIE NORDLUND: I have to say, again, I already said [INAUDIBLE] that I don't watch a lot of soccer-- is that this is the one event-- not even the Olympics, where everybody-- I walked in the class, and they had arrived early and had it on the big-- on the big screen. And it's live TV, which no one watches anymore.


CARRIE NORDLUND: We didn't the outcome yet. Everybody was watching the same thing. And that's just cool, because it happens very rarely.

MARK BLYTH: Yeah, no, you're absolutely right. Because what we've done is we've individuated the screen.


MARK BLYTH: And everybody's watching a different thing, a different time, and there's no sort of community or sense of that. And that's exactly what this creates. Let's not romanticize it. Let's go back to where we started. It's sports-washing, authoritarian regimes, at least in this instance.


MARK BLYTH: Doesn't have to be, right? But it is based upon something, exactly as you say, which is both communal, and shared, and unknown.


MARK BLYTH: There's excitement.


MARK BLYTH: Unless it's the USA versus England.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Yeah. Well, thanks for having us in your basement.

MARK BLYTH: That's always a pleasure.

DAN RICHARDS: Thanks to Mark and Carrie for sharing their conversation with us on Trending Globally. We'll put a link to their show in the show notes, and you can also, of course, subscribe by searching for Mark and Carrie wherever you listen to podcasts. This episode was produced by me, Dan Richards, Sam McKeever-Holtzman and Lella Wirth.

Our theme music is by Henry Bloomfield-- additional music by the Blue Dot Sessions. If you like the show, leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen. It really helps others to find us.

And even better, recommend the show to a friend who you think might like it. If you have any questions, comments, or ideas for guests or topics, send us an email at Again, that's all one word--

We'll be back in two weeks with another episode of Trending Globally. Thanks.




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