Tony Nash joins Rahul Tandon at the BBC Business Matters podcast and they discussed Joe Biden’s economic plans like the $15 minimum wage and stimulus packages. They also discussed the Covid vaccine supply chain and why some countries are getting them last. Also, what’s the future of Netflix, and lastly, what is Trump’s legacy?
This podcast was published on January 20, 2021 and the original source can be found at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w172x196dhr17jd
BBC Business Matters Description:
US president-elect Biden sets covid-19 stimulus package as early priority for presidency. As Janet Yellan begins her confirmation hearing as treasury secretary we look ahead at the incoming administration’s economic plans – and we look back at President Donald Trumps four years in office, as he prepares to move out of the White House. Also in the programme amid concerns that people living in poorer countries may have to wait months or years to access a coronavirus vaccine, we find out more from Mesfin Teklu Tessema, head of the health unit at the International Rescue Committee. Plus, Netflix reveal blockbuster results; is it one firm that’s been able to capitalise from the pandemic?
RT: We heard from Joe Biden there before using the word “healing.” Is that going to be what he has to do to heal American society because it’s so divided at the moment?
TN: That’s required. Healing takes place on both sides. A lot of the talk on the Democrat side has been about Republicans retreating rather than Democrats calming down the venom they’ve had toward Trump over the last four years. Healing requires Democrats to dial down their attacks on Republicans as much as Republicans accommodating the new administration. It really is, something that I hope the new administration can tell their own party to to stop the vicious attacks come to you.
RT: Big problems need big solutions. Have you been impressed by what you’ve heard from the Biden administration and Janet Yellen so far?
TN: Really, all I’m hearing is that they’re going to throw money at the problem, which is fine. It’s been months. Americans needed more money from D.C. since July. But I’m not seeing much more sophisticated solution than throwing money at the problem. It’s a start. But I don’t know that we necessarily have a direction.
RT: What sort of what sort of policies would you like to see being put into place by to help?
TN: Policies like this 15 dollar minimum wage, if you’re in New York or San Francisco, great. That’s fantastic. Those are expensive cities. But if you’re in Texas where I live, it doesn’t make sense. It’s great that people get a $15 minimum wage, but we just don’t have the cost of living that New York or San Francisco have. Those types of ideas are fine, but we need more detail around indexing that cost of living or indexing that minimum wage by cost of living.
This is why things like minimum wage has typically been left up to the states. The federal minimum wage is incredibly low because those decisions are usually left out to the states. I feel like we have a lot of promises for more money. And again, that’s great. Americans need that really bad.
I run a small company. The PPP has been long overdue. The House of Representatives held that up for six months. We need it and we’re just finishing our application today. But it’s not enough and it’s not in time.
My biggest worry is corruption. Will that money end up in the hands of people who don’t really need it? Will they end up in the hands of politically well-connected organizations or individuals? We saw that last time around with the PPP.
RT: But there are things that can be put in place to stop that. And there is no doubt that many Americans would need that money. That money needs to be spent on infrastructure.
This is a huge problem, isn’t it? We heard from Fatima in that piece there talking about how a health worker in South Africa may well be inoculated after a healthy person in Germany. That cannot be right. Why have we not been able to put an effective system in place here?
TN: There are two issues here. The first that I find incredibly frustrating is these firms have received huge subsidies to develop these vaccines. They’re effectively already paid for billions of dollars. For these companies getting non-profit prices for this, it’s just unconscionable and it’s just unbelievable.
The other issue, though, is a positive issue. The supply chains are in place and there are abilities for companies to get vaccines, not just to South Africa. Some of the innovations that have happened around vaccine supply chains over the past few years have allowed people to monitor the temperature and the quality of those vaccines through the vaccine supply chain. There’s a company here in my town called Blue Maestro that actually has chipsets that flow with those vaccines themselves so that the people who are getting them don’t have to worry.
RT: Those changes are important, Tony, but still, people would be listening to this and thinking, why will some countries not get it till 2022 or is that just the nature of the world we live in?
TN: I can’t believe it’s the nature of the world we live in. It’s the nature of financing the scale of the build out to the vaccine. But again, these vaccine makers have already received billions of dollars, largely from Western countries, mostly from OECD countries, which is on some level one and the same. But Japan, Singapore, other places have given huge amounts of money. China have given huge amounts of money to vaccine makers. The money is there. The vaccines are paid for. So there should be more allocation to these countries. That’s without a doubt.
RT: Traditional TV for my kids, streaming is actually traditional TV. Do you have Netflix? What are you watching? Are you still watching?
TN: I do. My kids watch it a lot more than I do. What she said about the sports content on Netflix is a real issue for them. Hulu and Amazon have much better offerings there. Netflix is in a weird position where they don’t necessarily have the appeal that a Disney plus has, which has had stellar growth. But they don’t have things like live sports that some of the other guys do.
83% of their subscriber growth came from outside of the U.S. So it tells me that their market in the U.S. only has so much room to grow. There is a global opportunity, and that’s great. But until they can adjust their offerings to include some more compelling content, both for young and for people in their prime who want to watch sports, I think their opportunity is limited in the U.S.
RT: One thing that President Trump said when he was coming into power was he was going to shake up the existing political system. He suddenly done that, hasn’t he?
TN: He has and some of the things that sound obvious, like he’s the first president since the 1970s who has not started a new war, that’s a big deal. It really is a blow to the military industrial complex. And Americans appreciate that. Not starting new wars is a huge benefit for the world, but it’s also a huge benefit for Americans who send their kids overseas to fight these things.
RT: When people like you, economists look back at Donald Trump’s legacy, what’s it going to be in a few years time?
TN: He certainly didn’t fit in in D.C. He was somebody who really fit in more outside of D.C. and that’s what he promised. He brought back more hostages from overseas than any other U.S. president. And so those are the kind of things that really hit the heartland and really hit normal, average American citizens outside of the big major cities of New York and L.A. and D.C. and so on and so forth.
RT: Has he fundamentally changed American society?
TN: What Trump has done is forced people to show their true colors. It’s brought out the worst in people and it’s also brought out the best in people. What’s highlighted in media is often the worst part, but there have been a lot of very positive things that have happened in the U.S. over the last four years.
Breaking from the status quo and the bureaucracy in Washington and in government doesn’t really like that very much. But I think it’s been very positive. There are 74 million people in the U.S., more than half the voting population that actually appreciate Trump. So what the U.S. is fed and what international news media feed people about Trump being an idiot, being a buffoon and all this other stuff, half of the U.S. voting population doesn’t believe that.