All Episodes

Carl Bildt @ Davos: Green Challenge & Greece's 1st female president

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, gives his thoughts from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland:

What's going to be the European message coming out of and going to the meeting in Davos?

I think is going to be focused on the Green Challenge, the transition to a more sustainable world that is a necessity as we look ahead. And the leadership role that Europe is taking and is even more determined to take by its own actions and by global diplomacy in the years ahead.

Combat online bullying with troll scores?

Twitter doesn't give you a lot of disincentives to be a jerk online. But what if there were a way to measure how much of a jerk someone is and put it right in their profile? Wouldn't that help? I think it's a pretty good idea. Though, you can see the arguments against it.

Is Prime Minister Modi weakened by ongoing social protests?

He absolutely is. They're losing states, the BJP. It is absolutely true that there is strong anti-Muslim sentiment here. But there are also a lot of people among Hindus and in the opposition parties that see an opportunity to rebuild as a consequence. And with the economy doing worse, both those things are hurting him.

Betty Liu explains financial market impacts from global unrest

Betty Liu, Executive Vice Chairman for NYSE Group, explains:

How can global unrest impact financial markets?

So geopolitical events do affect financial markets. And these events are everything from wars, civil unrest, natural disaster, terrorism. During those times, investors flock to safe haven assets. So, that can be gold, it can be defensive stocks that generally have stable earnings and dividends. As you saw back in 9/11, investors flocked to safe haven assets.

CES 2020 update: Ivanka Trump, 5G, deepfakes

There were a lot of people who didn't want Ivanka Trump at CES because she doesn't work a lot on tech policy and a lot of people who are in the tech industry don't like the Trump administration. My view, hey, she wants to speak about tech. She's a pretty senior official. Fine for her to be here. Second controversy: She talked a lot about retraining the workforce. A lot of people who feel like the Trump administration has been anti worker and that's not an appropriate position for her to push. More sympathetic to that argument.

What does the killing of Suleimani mean for Europe?

Great concern for the consequences for the region. Primarily, apart from the stability of Iraq, what's going to happen there? It's a very fragile place. And if that is made into a battleground between the US and Iran, it's going to be very, very negative for the country and for the region. But then, of course, the fear of a further escalation also between the US and Iran. Almost unavoidable by now.

Tech to keep you healthy in 2020

I love to run outside. So, most of the tech I love is outside fitness tech. So, great Garmin watch, its heart rate monitor on my arm. Garmin Pod that I wear on my waistband to check my balance. Little pods I wear on my shoes to check my pronation. All that stuff is great. I did use the Nike Fitness app inside my home for some cross training. And, tons of friends who swear by Peloton even though it's getting a lot of heat.

Carl Bildt on European trade & politics in 2020

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective

Does Huawei have a future in Europe despite US sanctions?

Well, I think decisive will be the independent security and conclusions that the European countries are sort of jointly doing. And the preliminary assessments that have been made is that one has to be careful really on who is let into the core infrastructure of the five key systems. And that, I think will have implications for the future. Huawei and other similar companies in Europe, in the future.

What is the difference between a bull and a bear market?

A bull and bear market generally describes how the markets are trading or how the stock markets are performing. So, if we're in a bull market we're rising at a minimum, 20 percent off the lows. If we're in a bear market we're declining at a minimum, 20 percent off the highs. Now, these terms, bull and bear, are pretty legendary on Wall Street. If you're a pretty optimistic investor, you're called a bull. If you're a pretty pessimistic investor, you're called a bear.

Stories to watch in 2020 (other than the US election)

I'd say it's the economy, where the economy goes. Do the trade deals and the Phase 1 agreement with China really boost economic growth? Is there more capital expenditure? Does manufacturing get back on track? That'll play out in the election, but it's a big story.

What is a REIT?

What is a REIT?

A Real Estate Investment Trust or REIT is a company that owns and manages a group of real estate properties. There are about 225 REITs here in the US that are registered with the S.E.C. and they trade on stock exchanges.

A North Korean Christmas gift for the US?!

How will the US respond to North Korea promising to deliver a Christmas gift for Americans?

Well, I mean, you know, Christmas gifts from the North Koreans, not usually something to get excited about. On the one hand, coal is considered a positive because, you know, they need something to heat their houses. But they've been saying that if they don't get anything good from the Americans that it's not going to be a good Christmas gift, which means nuclear test, ICBM, long range missile. No matter what it is, it's bad. And it implies that Rocket Man lives up to a sobriquet once more. But I think Trump is going to understate it because he really wants to move towards a deal, kind of like he understated when the Iranians hit Saudi Arabia with those missiles.

What do the Dems and GOP still agree on?

They agree on USMCA, the trade deal which looks like it's going to sail through both houses. Already passed the House, will pass the Senate in January. And they agree that deficits no longer matter. Both parties happy to spend tons of money to avoid a shutdown and send everybody home for the holidays. So, deficits don't matter. They all agree on that.

The best business books of 2019

So, my favorite books, I'll list them right now. Scott Galloway, The Algebra of Happiness. If you want something that's going to just smack you right into reality of what it's like to live an authentic life, read Scott Galloway's book. I love his no nonsense talking. Trillion Dollar Coach. This is a book about Bill Campbell. Now, if you don't know Bill Campbell, he was one of the most famous executive coaches in Silicon Valley. He coached some of the biggest tech names out there. And he offers the authors offer many of Bill Campbell's life lessons. And finally, Julie Zhuo's The Making of a Manager, explains what it is you need to do in order to lead properly. Now, I fell in love with Julie's writing, reading her on Medium. And so, I read a lot of her blogs and it's so great to see that she wrote a book that is a collection of her writing.

Why are people protesting in India?

It's against this new citizenship law, that's part of a really strong turn away from economic reforms of Modi as the economy gets worse and instead towards nationalism, Hindu nationalism. And this in particular is allowing all of these different people to come in from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan. You can be Buddhist, you can be Jain, you can be Parsi, you can be Christian, you can be Hindu, but you can't be Muslim.

What does the US-China trade deal accomplish?

Most importantly, it takes off the 15 percent tariffs that were scheduled to go into effect this weekend. Chinese have agreed to buy a bunch of agricultural products and make some structural changes. They've promised these things before. We'll see if they actually deliver.

How easy is it to hack smart toys?

You should be concerned both, that Internet connected toys can be hacked and also that they have shoddy privacy practices. And then the voice files of your kid talking to their teddy bear will end up in the cloud, accessible to all kinds of creepy people. On the other hand, Internet connected toys are great. Kids need to learn about technology. So, tradeoffs.

Boris Johnson won! Where does that leave Brexit?

David Miliband: If only Brexit could get done in 60 seconds? Because the result of the general election obviously means that Britain will leave the European Union, but it does nothing to clarify our future relations with the European Union. The Johnson victory is undoubtedly a very strong one, and he will try and interpret it as a victory for himself and for the Conservative Party and the attraction that they offer to Labour voters

Why is the monthly jobs report important to the markets?

Well, the jobs report is issued every month by the Labor Department, the first Friday of every month, and it really is a key economic indicator. The report surveys 150,000 businesses and government agencies around the country, and the unemployment rate surveys 60,000 households. The jobs report basically signals output, consumer spending. So, as you can well imagine, the stock markets rise and fall based on the jobs report.

Election day! Who will win the UK election?

William Hague: Well, I think that conservatives will definitely have a bigger lead in votes over the Labour Party than at the last election, two years ago. Now that should give them a majority in the House of Commons. But then there will be tactical voting between Labour and Liberal voters against the Conservatives.

Why is Amazon suing the Pentagon?

Why is Amazon suing the Pentagon?

Well, Amazon and Jeff Bezos say that President Trump intervened to block them from getting a giant cloud computing contract with the Pentagon because Trump doesn't like Bezos because he owns The Washington Post. Not sure it will go anywhere. But it does open another avenue into whether Trump abused his office of the presidency.

Will China's tech industry eclipse the US tech industry?

I think the answer is yes. In the past, US has dominated the world in technologies from P.C. operating systems, semiconductors, to servers, and even Internet. But ever since the rise of mobile technologies, China has really leveraged the large market with a huge amount of data and now is beginning to innovate and build great mobile apps on which there's a large amount of data being collected.

How will Google's shift in leadership change the company?

So, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, they were running Alphabet. They've moved away. Sundar Pichai who ran Google now runs it all. How will the companies change? They might just get rid of Alphabet or fold it back into Google or shut down some of those things. A lot of those projects were just kind of crazy dreams of Larry and Sergey's.

What impact will the London Bridge attack have on the UK election?

The short answer to that, I think, is no. I think the vast majority of British people will be thinking above all about their sympathy for the victims of the attack. Two people were killed and the extraordinary life stories that have been told about them really would make you cry for the loss that's been suffered by their family and frankly, been suffered by the whole country.

What's the difference between a mutual fund and an ETF?

So, the main difference is in how they trade. ETFs basically trade like stocks where they're exchanging hands and priced thousands of times, every single day, between the open and close. Mutual funds are priced at the end of the trading day at their net asset value. Also, ETFs are generally more tax efficient than mutual funds.

What's the state of NATO as the alliance turns 70?

Well, it's starting to show its age. Doesn't have the same urgency of purpose that it did when we were fighting the Soviets against the Warsaw Pact. So, a lot of countries don't know why they're in it. Some don't want to spend the 2 percent that has been promised, the nominal goal of GDP that all these countries need to spend on GDP. The Turks hardly acting like an ally these days. And President Macron says is brain dead.

What should you buy on Black Friday?

Tons. And they've been curated really well on We have a whole bunch of reporters looking all over the Internet for good deals. But there are always great electronic deals. You want to get a new TV, a new robot vacuum? Amazon, which is trying to pull you in, will often have its core products at deeply discounted prices. There's lots of stuff, lots of electronics that you can get.

What are the differences between the Tory and Labour Manifestos?

Lord William Hague: Obviously, a big difference is Brexit. The Conservatives say Brexit will happen on 31st of January. The Labour Party say, well, we'll have another referendum on Brexit, although we're not sure which side Jeremy Corbyn is gonna be on. But the big difference is on economics, the biggest we've ever seen between the two main parties.

How does Black Friday impact the economy?

So, Black Friday is known for kicking off the holiday shopping season and the weekend can be critical to retailer's annual performance. Investors also see it as a good indicator of the health of the retail industry. Last Thanksgiving weekend, 165 million Americans went shopping in stores and online. Online alone for Black Friday, they spent $6.2 billion.

What happened in the Hong Kong elections?

Almost all Democrats won. So that means in local elections doesn't have a lot of power, just matter for local issues like potholes and such. Overwhelmingly pro-democracy wins. That certainly means that they're not going to give up in their demands for autonomy vis-a-vis mainland China anytime soon. And the Chinese aren't about to provide that to them. So, I still think we've got problems in Hong Kong.

How will education change in the era of A.I.?

The main thing happening in the AI era is routine jobs will increasingly be done by AI and people have to move on to things that people are really good at. And I'll give you two examples: In school, children study a lot of verbal and quantitative - that's what we are tested on the S.A.T. - but verbal needs to evolve from just being able to spell and put together sentences. AI can do that. It needs to evolve towards communication, connection, trust. This are things only people can do.

As technology and A.I. evolve, do we need a WTO for data?

That sounds suspiciously like a question from someone who watched the recent Democratic debate, because Andrew Yang said we need a WTO for data. Now, I'm not exactly sure what he means, but it would be very helpful to have a World Data Organization that created databases, shared data silos, that companies could access.

Who won the UK debate: Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn?

The great thing about last night's general election debate was that the great British public rumbled at the weakest positions of all the parties. Boris Johnson, they laughed when he said that his fidelity to the truth could know no bounds, and Jeremy Corbyn, when he tried to say he had a clear policy on Brexit.

How will Europe handle the Turkish request to take back ISIS fighters?

Well, it will have to handle it with some sort of reluctance because there was the hope that their problem was going to disappear. But essentially, because the Turks are right, they have to take them back. There is no reason why Turkey should handle this, should be forced to have them in prison forever. So, it will be handled, with some reluctance.

How do SPACs work?

So, SPAC is short for: Special Purpose Acquisition Company. That's when a company raises funds through an IPO and uses those funds to buy an operating business. You've seen SPACs grow in recent years and in fact, we just had one here. Virgin Galactic came public through a SPAC merger.

What changes now that the U.S. softened its position on Israeli settlements?

Not a lot. Keep in mind that this is also the administration that moved the embassy to Jerusalem, from Tel Aviv. Everyone said that was going to be a massive problem. Ultimately, not many people cared. Same thing with recognition of Golan Heights for Israel. This is just one more give from the Americans to the Israelis in the context of a region that doesn't care as much as they used to about Israel - Palestine.

Will the A.I. revolution create or destroy jobs?

The answer is yes. It will create and destroy jobs. Which will be more? Historically looking at technology revolutions - technology revolutions generally create more jobs than they destroy. So, it's likely AI will be the same way. The challenge, though, is that AI, when it destroys jobs, will do so completely. So routine jobs such as back office jobs and assembly line jobs and in the future, jobs like drivers and many office workers that do routine jobs, will be outright replaced by AI.

Why is President Obama warning Democrats?

He's worried that if Democrats nominate a super progressive candidate, particularly on issues like health care, they will lose moderate voters, suburban voters, swing district voters, and hence the key states they need to win to beat Trump. So that's why he's warning.

Why is Instagram hiding "Likes?"

Well, one explanation is that they want to encourage healthy behavior and a like can make us addicted. Second explanation is that they get rid of the likes, they can get more of the cut in the market for influencers, who get money from advertisers, sometimes based on likes.

What's behind the rise of Spain's Vox Party?

I think it was basically the question of Catalonia, the unity of the Spanish nations. And VOX played very hard on that particular issue and it was eating into the support of the other center-right forces there. So, it has now established itself fairly firmly on the Spanish political scene with the consequences that that will have.

What will happen in the U.K. general election?

This election could be like the last British election where the Labor Party really close the gap in the last three weeks. We've got four weeks to go. But on the whole, I think it probably won't be like that. That's because people do want to now resolve the Brexit situation. Most people in the country do. I think the conservatives will run a much better campaign than last time and they have done so far. Jeremy Corbyn isn't the novelty that he was at the last election, and people have decided they don't like him. And the Brexit party has pulled out half its candidates and that helps the conservatives more than Labour. So, at this point, I would predict a small conservative majority. And that would mean Brexit happens, 31st of January, 2020.

What's driving the stock markets record high gains?

Well, there's really no precise answer, but analysts point to several factors. So, number one is strong third quarter earnings. Companies have reported stronger than expected results so far this season. The second is the jobs market. You saw the October jobs numbers exceed economists' expectations. And the third is the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates three times this year. That lowers borrowing costs for consumers and businesses and encourages them to spend more.

Will we learn anything new from public impeachment hearings?

No, but like with Mueller, you know, people weren't reading the transcript, but they did actually listen to Mueller when he gave his speech. Now, the question is: Are they going to take anything different away from the public impeachment hearings? And the answer is, yes. They'll take very different things away, if they're watching on Fox or if they're watching on MSNBC. Still deeply divided and still can't imagine senators on the GOP impeaching, slash, convicting President Trump.

Why do journalists keep sources anonymous?

So, anonymity can be granted for a number of reasons. The main one is a risk of retaliation against the person, against their job, against their personal safety. For instance, if you report in a war zone or on a crime victim. It can also be to protect vulnerable people such as children, or if it's just the only way to get the information out.

Is Michael Bloomberg really running for president?

It's a huge week for Democrats, starting Wednesday. They'll take testimony from State Department officials saying that they believe there was a quid pro quo between Trump and Ukraine aid in return for an investigation of Joe Biden. They need to both shape public opinion and try to crack the GOP wall of support for Trump.

Will Disney Plus win the streaming wars?

I would be a fool to say for sure who's going to win the streaming wars but Disney has the inside track because they can tie their streaming offers to the whole Disney ecosystem, like their parks. And Netflix is not going to be able to make theme parks.

What will the EU's future look like after Brexit?

Well first, when Brexit is finalized it's going to take quite some time. Even if they manage to get their act together on the exit of the European Union, it could take them quite some time to actually leave the corporation. That's going to take at least two years and then it's going to take further years in order to sort of sort out their future relationships. I don't think it will impact that much or the integrity of the European Union. And it's going to take a long time to sort out the entire issue.

Why Do Companies Choose To Go Public?

So, companies choose to go public for many reasons. A major one is that they need to raise capital in order to expand their businesses. They also want to raise the profile of their brand and they want to also allow early investors to exit their shares to monetize the shares that they invested in the company early on. Now, in terms of creatively raising their profile, for example, Chewy's in their IPO, had a dog on their podium.

Will Britain's Election Produce A Hung Parliament?

William Hague: Well, as things stand in polls today, there must be a 50 percent chance of that. But the big decision coming up this week is will the Brexit Party fill the full slate of candidates? If it doesn't, the chances of a hung parliament go down and the chances of a conservative majority go up.

Apple TV+ Is Here! What Are We Excited For?

Yeah, I'm excited. What's wrong with new options, new TV shows, new stuff? In fact, in the current issue of Wired, we have a big article about Ron Moore's new show For All Mankind. So, is it going to be a success for Apple? I don't know. Are all the shows going to work? Almost certainly not. But it doesn't do you any harm to have more choices on what to watch and when you're done with this video.

Will Britain's Election Resolve The Brexit Stalemate?

David Miliband: I think that the general election is going to produce a more polarized parliament. The Conservative Party is going to elect a parliamentary party that is more uniformly Brexitier, with less room for people in the middle ground. And obviously on the Remain side, there is going to be a greater commitment, I think, to follow through on a referendum.

How Does the Stock Market Impact My Daily Life?

The stock market is collectively a place where investors can buy and sell shares. Sometimes people think of the stock market as an economic indicator. Now, a majority of Americans, over 55 percent, are invested in the stock market through things like 401(k)'s, IRAs, and also college savings plans.

What Do All The Global Protests Share In Common?

The fact that the world economy is getting softer means that people aren't going to be expecting as much from their governments. And there's an awful lot of sense that governing leaders are not getting it done for them. That across the board, almost every country that you see major demonstrations right now, not only are the popularity of leaders very low, but the average individual is saying, the middle class and the working class, is saying "these people do not represent me." In numbers that are historic in places like Chile and Ecuador and Bolivia and Lebanon and in other countries around the world. Also not seeing many in Asia because the economy's doing better and because the governments tend to be a little bit stronger.

What does Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's death mean for ISIS?

He was the world's number one most wanted terrorist. The self-declared head of the Islamic State, the caliph, the head of the caliphate that at one time ruled over some 10 million people. His death is an enormous blow to ISIS as he was the spiritual leader and the strategic leader. They will find another leader. ISIS is not going away. But this is a major win for the fight against terrorism and ISIS and a major win for the Trump administration.

What's the Takeaway from Mark Zuckerberg's Testimony on Capitol Hill?

Nobody there likes him. The only compliments he got were from Republicans comparing him to Trump, which Zuckerberg must have been slightly happy about, but maybe not. The other thing I think, I think Facebook is making a mistake having him out there so much, having him gives speeches about free speech. It sets him up as a target and puts him in situations like this where it didn't go very well.

Should China Be Concerned About Slowing Economic Growth?

Communist Party credibility hangs on China being able to sustain growth in and around 6%. And these growth numbers, at least from the state statistical bureau bring us down to 6% in the most recent quarter. So, what China will now be seeking to do is to change its domestic economic policy settings to encourage the private sector back into investing for the future. That's critical, because in the last 18 months they've been sitting on their cash.

Why Is Chile Erupting In Violent Protests?

Well, it's one of the more unusual countries to do so. Usually it's the most stable, certainly wealthiest of the South American countries. And over a tiny hike in subway price. But reality is, a whole bunch of middle and working class, angry that they haven't benefited from the growth in the economy. Kind of like what you're seeing in a lot of wealthy countries around the world. And this is going to make it more challenging to get the kind of reforms done that this leader, President Piñera, actually wants to accomplish.

Are We In The Brexit Endgame?

Lord William Hague: Well, I would say it's the end of the beginning-game. It's the first time the British Parliament has actually seen a way forward, approved a specific form of Brexit. It's the first time we can say there's a deal here, that one way or another is probably going to get through. But even if it does, there's a lot more to come next year on how long is the transition? What's the future free trade agreement?

Is Mick Mulvaney’s time as White House Chief of Staff coming to an end?

I think there's a good chance that it is, given his disastrous press conference and then shaky performance on Fox News over the weekend. You got anonymous leaks coming out of the White House of folks who would like to see him gone. The thing is, Trump hates firing people so he could hang around for a little while, but he is on thin ice.

Why Is The Guardian No Longer Using the Words 'Climate Change'?

The Guardian made a pledge in the past week to start covering climate change, or what they now call the "climate crisis," differently. They're changing their vocabulary. They're also changing their photography away from cliché polar bears and towards more of the human impacts of environmental damage. And they're making commitments as a company to zero net emissions.

What technology helped break a 2-hour marathon race time?

If you watched the video of him, you saw that he was within a pace group, a whole bunch of runners in front of him cutting the wind. Some runners behind him, actually improving his wind resistance by having people behind him. There was a green laser showing him exactly what time he had to run. He had really high-tech gels that he took, these Maurten gels. I actually like those a lot, too. But the main thing were the shoes. These are the early prototypes of the shoes or the first version. He's now in the third version. But what's most important is there is a carbon fiber plate. You cannot bend this thing. So, Nike introduced these shoes, I don't know, two years ago. Now, there's a new generation. It's very controversial.

Will Parliament pass a Brexit deal on "super Saturday?"

What will come out of this week's "super Saturday" sitting?

David Miliband: Firstly, please, let's never again use the phrase "super Saturday" to describe a sitting of Parliament. If it's a national emergency for us to meet on a Saturday, it can hardly be super. Now, we do not yet know whether or not Parliament will meet. If it does, it probably means that the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has got a deal with the European Union and wants to

Would Boris Johnson Be Favored to Win if a General Election Is Called?

The answer to that depends on whether or not you believe the opinion polls, because the opinion polls are clear that Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party are ahead of a divided opposition between Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The lead ranges from 5 to 15 points. What does seem to be overwhelmingly clear is that the leader of the opposition is immensely unpopular, with an unpopularity rating of about minus 50%.

What Are the EU and UK Positions on the Irish Backstop?

In a sentence, the UK position is that there should be a customs border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. But you manage it remotely, sensitively. The EU and Irish position is you can't have a border at all, a customs border even managed away from the border.

How does the Benn Act prevent a No-Deal Brexit?

The Benn Act is named after Hilary Benn, a backbench Labour Member of Parliament, who rallied a parliamentary majority to defeat the government and insists that if the government has not negotiated a deal with the European Union on the three issues: of Northern Ireland, of citizens' rights, and of financial contributions by the 19th of October, then the prime minister is required to write to the European Union requiring or requesting an extension of the Brexit negotiating process from the 31st of October for three months. So, it ensures, this apparently watertight piece of legislation, that the government cannot lead the UK to crash out of the European Union with no deal at all.