“There’s this incredible disconnect right now. Unemployment is at 3.6 percent — that’s beyond full employment. Why is everybody so unhappy, or at least, anxious?”

As an expert on global business, economics, and politics, Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett has been closely following U.S.-China trade developments. After recent news of a Phase 1 trade deal in progress, he sat down with Wharton Business Daily host Dan Loney for the show’s debut on SiriusXM Business Radio Channel 132 on Monday, November 4.

Dean Garrett discussed trade war politics, issues in the U.S. workforce, the importance of education, and more in the 15-minute interview. Here are some highlights from the conversation.

Interview Highlights

On How China Trade Negotiations Will Impact American Farmers

“The trade war is really political. So of course, the Chinese have targeted their own retaliatory tariffs on Trump voters. Agriculture [is] a perfect example there. I saw in a recent Donald Trump tweet, he was talking about ‘patriotic American farmers’ which I think tells you everything you need to know. It’s about those Trump voters who have been hurt by the tariffs. Phase 1 of the trade deal is bound to take care of them.” — Dean Garrett

On the Rise of Populism

“There’s this incredible disconnect right now. Unemployment is at 3.6 percent — that’s beyond full employment. Why is everybody so unhappy, or at least, anxious? I think there are two big-picture answers to that.

“One is this reality of stagnant incomes for so many people. But then there’s the go-forward projection where everyone’s worried about AI and what it’s going to do to the workforce. I think it’s that combination of globalization plus technology which really explains the rise of populism that we’ve been experiencing. Not only in the U.S., but throughout the Western world.”

On Education for the Future

“Education has to be a part of the solution. We can’t have set-and-forget degrees — that is, you get educated between 18 and 22 and then you stop. We’re going to live in a world of lifelong learning where everyone’s going to have to update their skills all the time. Universities should play an active role in that.”

On a Leadership Disconnect

“We always decry our leaders for not doing a very good job. I think right now, the thing that our leadership class — both political leaders but also business leaders — are falling short on is they’re not explaining the way the contemporary, global, tech-enabled economy really works. That means there’s this massive disconnect between the political debate and what’s really going on on-the-ground.”

On the Solution to Income Disparity

“I don’t think that the solution is either a kind of wealth tax [like] the Elizabeth Warren proposal, which I think would be pretty hard to implement, or something utopian like Andrew Yang’s universal basic income. I think what we should do is focus more on the private sector and just come to understand this reality that people at the top have done incredibly well. What they need to do is to think much more about including more people in the growth pathway. Again, I think education is a big part of the story.”

On What Keeps Him Optimistic

“Where does my optimism come from? It comes from my view of millennials. I think they’re more purpose, more mission-driven than any previous generation. They think about the impact of what they do on the rest of society and I think that’s going to be the story. It won’t be massive government reducing inequality. It’ll be a change in the way the private sector works and the way the private sector thinks.”

— Gloria Yuen

Posted: November 8, 2019

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