Weekly Economics Podcast



Award-winning podcast about the economic forces shaping our world, with Ayeisha Thomas-Smith and guests. New episodes on Mondays.Produced by James Shield. Programme editor for NEF: Huw Jordan.Brought to you by the New Economics Foundation the independent think tank and charity campaigning for a fairer, sustainable economy.


  • Where did our immigration system come from?

    13/08/2021 Duration: 40min

    This week a controversial deportation flight took off for Jamaica. Legal challenges meant that only a tenth of the 90 people due to be deported were on the plane. The planned deportation included people whose lawyers said they had a right to stay in the UK under the Windrush rules, or who had arrived in the UK as children. Critics say that our immigration system is unnecessarily cruel. But what is its origin story? How has it changed over time? And what does it have to do with Britain’s colonial history? In this final episode of the series, Ayeisha is joined by Ian Sanjay Patel, LSE fellow in human rights and author of We’re Here Because You Were There: Immigration and the End of Empire. You can grab a copy of Ian's book here: https://www.versobooks.com/books/3700-we-re-here-because-you-were-there ----- Music by Blue Dots Session and Podington Bear, used under Creative Commons licence. Researched by Margaret Welsh. Produced by Becky Malone. Enjoying the show? Tweet us your comments and questions @NEF!

  • Fighting the climate crisis in the courts

    06/08/2021 Duration: 31min

    With the COP26 global climate conference coming up later this year, we’re spending five episodes this series looking at pressing climate issues. In this episode we’re talking about taking the fossil fuel industry to court. Last week, a government spokesperson said that we should freeze leftover bread and stop rinsing dishes before we put them in the dishwasher to tackle the climate crisis. Meanwhile, the government has approved a new oil field in the North Sea that we’d need to reforest the whole of England in order to offset. Greenpeace has threatened the government with legal action over the new oil field, and they’re not the only ones trying to fight the climate crisis in the courts. So what legal challenges should we be paying attention to? How do they work? And what do they have to do with the climate movement at large? Ayeisha is joined by Tessa Khan, international climate change and human rights lawyer, and founder and director of Uplift. -Support the Stop Cambo (https://twitter.com/StopCambo) and

  • Fast Fashion

    03/08/2021 Duration: 51min

    With the COP26 global climate conference coming up later this year, we’re spending five episodes this series looking at pressing climate issues. In this episode we’re talking fast fashion. Summer is here and Love Island is all over the telly. The show’s sexy singles are competing for big prize money, and the inevitable sponsorship deals with fast fashion brands like Shein, Boohoo and Pretty Little Thing. But these companies have been accused of exploiting their workers and polluting the environment. Our t-shirt label might say ‘made in China’, but the raw materials and finished product have often travelled around the globe before it ends up in our wardrobes. How have we ended up with such a complicated system? What are the costs for our environment, and the people who make our clothes? And what can the fashion industry tell us about how our global economy works? In this episode Ayeisha is joined by Maxine Bédat, director of New Standard Institute and author of Unraveled: the life and death of a garment.

  • How can we tackle the climate crisis while levelling up?

    23/07/2021 Duration: 36min

    With the COP26 global climate conference coming up later this year, we’re spending five episodes this series looking at some of the biggest climate issues. In this episode we’re talking about a just transition. Last week, the prime minister travelled to Coventry to set out his post-pandemic vision for the country. It was anticipated as a flagship moment for the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda, but critics decried the speech as all talk, no action. This comes a month after the Committee on Climate Change said the UK is facing a similar problem when it comes to achieving our net zero targets: lots of ambition, but no detailed plans to get there. So, we need more action on tackling inequality and the climate crisis, but can we do both at the same time? How do we ensure communities aren’t left behind in the move to a low-carbon economy? And what does a successful green transition actually look like for workers in high-carbon industries? Kirsty Styles is back in the presenting seat covering for Ayeisha. She'

  • A climate conversation between two generations

    09/07/2021 Duration: 42min

    With the COP26 global climate conference coming up later this year, we’re going to spend five episodes this series looking at some of the biggest climate issues. We kicked things off last week with Alice Bell explaining everything you need to know about greenwashing. This week the conversation is about the climate movement with activists from two generations. The modern environmental movement has been around for over 50 years. And over the last couple, it’s been reinvigorated by a new generation of young student climate strikers. After a deadly heatwave swept the western US and Canada, and temperatures in Jacobabad, Pakistan soared to a life-threatening 52 degrees last week, how can activists communicate the connection between these events and the climate crisis? Is the new wave of activists more willing to talk about colonialism and capitalism? And what challenges is the climate movement facing today? This week, we’re hosting a conversation between climate activists from two different generations. One is

  • Greenwashing

    02/07/2021 Duration: 36min

    With the COP26 global climate conference coming up later this year, we’re going to spend the next five episodes of the podcast looking at some of the biggest climate issues – starting this week with greenwashing. Last month 20 young people and scientists attempted to occupy London’s Science Museum. They were protesting the fact that a new exhibition on the climate crisis was being sponsored by Shell. Protestors accused Shell of using their sponsorship to ‘greenwash’ its reputation. The occupation ended after the museum swiftly called 40 police officers out to remove them. Greenpeace has recently said that we’re living in “a golden age of greenwashing” and the Treasury set up a new group to clamp down on the practice in the financial sector. But what is greenwashing? Why are companies like Coca Cola and H&M suddenly desperate to prove their green credentials? And is it lulling us into a false sense of security that we’re tackling the climate crisis? Ayeisha is joined by Alice Bell, director of communication

  • The Police Bill

    18/06/2021 Duration: 51min

    Throughout the spring, hundreds of thousands of people across the country marched, signed petitions, and spoke out against the catchily-titled Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Critics say the Bill would curb our freedom of speech and assembly by giving the police new powers to crack down on protest. The Bill was successfully delayed - but it’s due to resurface in Parliament next week. So what’s actually in the Police Bill? How will it affect Black and other people of colour? And why is the government pushing it through Parliament now? Ayeisha is joined by Zehrah Hasan, barrister, & founding member and director of Black Protest Legal Support and Becka Hudson, PhD researcher at UCL and Birkbeck, and criminal justice campaigner. -Read Who dreamt up the police bill? The police, of course by Same Knights https://novaramedia.com/2021/03/25/who-dreamt-up-the-police-bill-the-police-of-course/ -Find out more about Black Protest Legal Support and follow them on Twitter https://blackprotestlaw.org/ @blkpro

  • Culture Wars

    11/06/2021 Duration: 43min

    This week, the front page of the Daily Mail screamed “Outrage as Oxford students plan to axe queen”. In reality, a group of postgrads voted to take down a portrait of the queen in a single common room, in a single Oxford college, because of the portrait’s association with the UK’s colonial history. Whether it’s the interior decor of student common rooms or athletes taking the knee in support of Black Lives Matter, by the time you listen to this podcast, new outrages are constantly emerging. How did we get here? In the middle of a pandemic, why do these debates take up so much media space? And how should progressives respond? The Weekly Economics Podcast is back and for the first episode of the new series, Ayeisha is joined by Hanna Thomas Uose, principal consultant at Align and David Wearing, senior teaching fellow at SOAS and associate lecturer at Birkbeck. -Read the report "Divide and Rule: How the 'culture wars' are a reactionary backlash constructed to distract us, and how to respond" by NEON and Al

  • What will Biden’s America look like?

    01/04/2021 Duration: 42min

    There’s a new president in the Oval Office and he’s ready to make some changes. Joe Biden wants the start of his presidency to be defined by rejoining the Paris climate agreement, vaccinating the country against Covid-19, and pulling the American economy out of a crisis. But will this be enough to tackle the problems that led to the Trump presidency? Is Biden too concerned about building bridges with the Republican Party? And is America finally ready to start taking the climate emergency seriously? In the final episode of this series, Ayeisha is joined by Kate Aronoff, staff writer at the New Republic, and author of the upcoming book Overheated: how capitalism broke the planet - and how we fight back. Kate's book is out in the UK on the 13th May: https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/kate-aronoff/overheated/9781568589473/?lens=bold-type-books ----- Music by Poddington Bear under Creative Commons license. Researched by Margaret Welsh. Produced by Becky Malone. Enjoying the show? Tweet us your comment

  • Changing the rules of our economy to stop environmental breakdown

    19/03/2021 Duration: 47min

    There are just eight months left until the UK hosts the UN Climate Conference. And despite Boris Johnson’s insistence that we will have a green recovery from the pandemic, in the last month there have been a number of climate related controversies, including around the construction of a new coal mine in Cumbria, the Leeds Bradford airport expansion, and plans to cut air passenger duty on domestic flights. Why can’t the economic status quo deal with the climate emergency? What has the fresh attention on climate actually achieved? And what can the pandemic teach us about the climate crisis? In this episode Ayeisha is joined by Laurie Laybourn-Langton, co-author of the new book Planet On Fire, and NEF trustee. -Planet on Fire by Mathew Lawrence and Laurie Laybourn-Langton is out on the 20th April, you can preorder a copy on the Verso website: https://www.versobooks.com/books/3702-planet-on-fire -Find out more about Laurie's work here: https://laurielaybourn.com/ -Head to the Common Wealth website to read abo

  • How can we make sure everyone has enough to live on?

    12/03/2021 Duration: 38min

    Last week a video circulated of 800 people queuing for a food bank in Wembley. Volunteers at the London Community Kitchen said that the number was not uncommon. In Rishi Sunak’s recent budget, he announced that the furlough scheme and the temporary £20 increase to universal credit would continue until the autumn. But even with these measures, it’s obvious that huge numbers of people in the UK are struggling. Furlough has held back a wave of unemployment - but what happens when the scheme ends? Will some jobs not come back after the pandemic? And what about the estimated 3 million people who’ve fallen through the cracks of the government’s Covid support? In this episode Ayeisha is joined by NEF CEO Miatta Fahnbulleh and Sonali Joshi, co-founder of Excluded UK. -For more on NEF's work around strengthening our social security system, head to our website: https://neweconomics.org/campaigns/living-income -More on info about Excluded UK available on their website https://www.excludeduk.org/excluded-uk-an-inclus

  • Why should we care what big tech does with our data?

    08/03/2021 Duration: 52min

    From the A-level algorithm scandal, to parents taking on YouTube, to making Facebook and Google pay for news, people are fighting back against the way big tech companies and governments use our data. So what are companies like Google and Facebook actually doing with our personal data? Is the pandemic being used to surrender our data to private companies? And what role can big tech workers and users play in fighting back? In this episode Ayeisha is joined by Duncan McCann, senior researcher at NEF, Carissa Veliz, associate professor at the Faculty of Philosophy and the Institute for Ethics in AI at Oxford University and Cori Crider, lawyer, investigator and co-founder of Foxglove. -You can read more about Carissa's work, including a survey she did with Siân Brooke on privacy-related negative experiences, on her website https://www.carissaveliz.com/research -Read the article in Glamour Magazine on the risks of 'sharenting' https://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/article/child-privacy-social-media-risks -For more

  • What's Brexit done to fishing and farming?

    02/03/2021 Duration: 31min

    We were supposed to have cast off the shackles of EU rules around farming and fishing. Brexit was sold as a ‘sea of opportunity’. And yet, tonnes of British meat have been left rotting at European ports, while Scottish fishers have had to make a 72-hour round trip to land their catch in Denmark. The PM has said these are just “teething problems”. But are they really? What’s it been like for UK fishers and farmers since we left the EU? And is there a chance we can use Brexit to make our food system better? In this episode, Ayeisha is joined by Chris Williams, NEF Associate Fellow. -To hear more from small-scale fishers on their hopes and concerns for the industry post-Brexit, watch this video: https://neweconomics.org/2018/10/fishing-after-brexit-voices-from-the-coast -You can also listen to Chris talking to fishermen about their experiences on this Radio 4 documentary: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000rm92 -Find out more about the Eastbourne Fishing Quay on our website: https://neweconomics.org/2020/0

  • Vaccine Nationalism

    15/02/2021 Duration: 39min

    By the middle of January, 49 wealthy countries had administered 39 million doses of the Covid vaccine. But the world’s poorest countries had only done 25 jabs, all of them in just one country: Guinea. Not 25 million, not 25,000 - just 25. Why can’t some countries get hold of the vaccine? Why are rich countries buying more doses than they need? And are we seeing the rise of ‘vaccine nationalism’? In this episode, Ayeisha is joined by Miriam Brett, director of research and advocacy at Common Wealth and Tahir Amin, co-executive director of Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge. -For more, read Common Wealth's report on what's wrong with our IP system: https://www.common-wealth.co.uk/interactive-digital-projects/ip-infogram -And Tahir's piece for Foreign Affairs is available here: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2021-01-29/folly-hoarding-knowledge-covid-19-age ----- Music by Poddington Bear under Creative Commons license. Researched by Margaret Welsh. Produced by Becky Malone. Enjoying

  • Is outsourcing out of control?

    05/02/2021 Duration: 39min

    Meagre food packages for kids on free school meals. A £22bn track and trace system that isn’t fit for purpose. And people asked to travel hundreds of miles for a Covid test. What do all of these things have in common? They’ve all been outsourced to the private sector. But why are these vital services being run by the private sector? Are the allegations of cronyism true? And who’s making money out of all this? Ayeisha is joined by New Statesman’s Britain editor, Anoosh Chakelian and David Hall, founder of the Public Services International Research Unit at the University of Greenwich. For more on this area, you can listen to a previous episode we did with Cat Hobbs, director of We Own It campaign, Hilary Wainwright, co-editor of Red Pepper magazine and Sahil Dutta from Goldsmiths University on Public Ownership: https://soundcloud.com/weeklyeconomicspodcast/public-ownership-20 ----- Researched by Margaret Welsh. Produced by Becky Malone. Enjoying the show? Tweet us your comments and questions @NEF! The We

  • Exposing the truth about modern slavery

    29/01/2021 Duration: 40min

    From Sports Direct warehouses to nail bars, awareness-raising campaigns warn that modern slavery is happening all around us. Over Christmas, fashion brand Boohoo cut ties with 64 garment suppliers in Leicester after it came out that factories were paying their workers as little as £3.50 an hour. And this month the foreign secretary said he would clamp down on companies who used forced labour in their supply chains. But how useful is the concept of ‘modern slavery’? What kinds of exploitation does it disguise? And what does it say about how we’ve designed our economy? For the first episode of a new series of the Weekly Economics Podcast, Ayeisha is joined by Emily Kenway, author of new book The Truth About Modern Slavery. Grab a copy of Emily's book, out now with Pluto Books: https://www.plutobooks.com/9780745341224/the-truth-about-modern-slavery/ ----- Researched by Margaret Welsh. Produced by Becky Malone. Enjoying the show? Tweet us your comments and questions @NEF! The Weekly Economics Podcast is br

  • Finding hope during and after the pandemic

    01/12/2020 Duration: 53min

    Joe Biden has defeated Donald Trump to win the US election. Test results from around the world suggest that a coronavirus vaccine is on the horizon. Over the past month there have been more bright spots than usual in a difficult, painful year. At the same time, with the number of coronavirus deaths at their highest since May, many parts of the country still subject to severe restrictions and unemployment skyrocketing, many of us are hesitant to declare that the worst days are behind us. So, how has this year affected our mental health? How can progressives stay well enough to fight for change? And have we forgotten how to feel hopeful? Ayeisha is joined by researcher and author, Christine Berry and Farzana Khan, executive director and co-founder of Healing Justice London. If you have been affected by anything discussed in this episode, you can contact the Samaritans for free at 116 123 or visit https://www.samaritans.org/ Further reading/watching from this episode: -The Impact of COVID 19 on Disabled Wo

  • Should we work less after the pandemic?

    16/11/2020 Duration: 38min

    Setting up a desk area in the kitchen, Zoom call-induced headaches, or getting furloughed and paid to not do any work - this year has shaken up the world of work like never before. The pandemic has made us reimagine how work fits into our economy and our lives. So, with 79% of business leaders and nearly two-thirds of the public open to bringing in a shorter working week in light of the pandemic, should we be thinking more about working less? Could a shorter working week help us recover from coronavirus? Ayeisha Thomas-Smith is joined by Alfie Stirling, NEF Director of Research and Chief Economist, and Anna Coote, Principal Fellow at NEF to discuss their new book with Aidan Harper, The Case for a Four-Day Week. The book will be out on the 27th November, go to the Polity website to grab a copy https://politybooks.com/bookdetail/?isbn=9781509539642 ----- Researched by Margaret Welsh. Produced by Becky Malone. Music by Poddington Bear and Blue Dot Sessions under Creative Commons license. Enjoying the sh

  • Should we shake up taxes to recover from the pandemic?

    06/11/2020 Duration: 43min

    Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said that Britain faces new tax rises in the wake of the pandemic. But over the summer Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds warned against increasing taxes during an economic crisis. Meanwhile, new research has found that increasing numbers of Tory voters are in favour of higher taxes. So, what do Labour and the Conservatives think about tax rises? Should we be changing the tax system during a recession? And if taxes do rise, who should be paying the most? Ayeisha is joined by Robert Palmer, executive director of Tax Justice UK and Anoosh Chakelian, Britain editor at the New Statesman. -Find out more on Tax Justice UK's work on tax and public opinion here: https://www.taxjustice.uk/tax-and-public-opinion.html -Read the report Living on Different Incomes in London: Can public consensus identify a 'riches line'? https://www.trustforlondon.org.uk/publications/can-public-consensus-identify-a-riches-line/ ----- Researched by Margaret Welsh. Produced by Becky Malone. Music by

  • The US election narrative war

    23/10/2020 Duration: 46min

    The US presidential election is less than a fortnight away - and Donald Trump and Joe Biden are pulling out all the stops to get the votes. But after a chaotic debate forced moderators to cut the candidates’ mics to stop them interrupting each other, it’s hard to get a grip on what messages they’re trying to get across. How have the different campaigns been selling themselves? Will Biden’s attacks on Trump be a winning strategy? And how should progressives be pushing for change? Ayeisha is joined by communications expert and principle at ASO Communications, Anat Shenker-Osario. Resources available at https://asocommunications.com/ and https://raceclassnarrativeaction.com/ ----- Researched by Margaret Welsh. Produced by Becky Malone. Music by Poddington Bear and Chris Zabriskie under Creative Commons license. Enjoying the show? Tweet us your comments and questions @NEF! The Weekly Economics Podcast is brought to you by the New Economics Foundation. Find out more at www.neweconomics.org

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