This week’s election may not have turned on the economy. Perhaps it’s because we have moved on from “It’s the economy, stupid,” to a new question, Whose economy? According to our guest on this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, economist and investigative journalist Nomi Prins, we actually have two economies — and they have become permanently disconnected.
Prins, the author of seven books, most recently Permanent Distortion: How the Financial Markets Abandoned the Real Economy Forever, argues that the global economy has become irrevocably splintered. There is the real economy — the one most of us live in, which is measured by productivity and the price of things like gas and groceries. And then there is the financial-market-based economy that drives Wall Street. This bifurcation is, she contends, the result of years of loose money, fabricated by central banks, and the synthetic byproducts of market actions since 2008.
She shows how this is reflected today by the depletion of savings rates, the growing credit crunch, and the stagnation in the current housing market.
Prins talks about the $9 trillion that the Federal Reserve has pumped into the financial system, the growth of inflation, and the built-in incentives for businesses to pass on costs to consumers.
In a broad context, she examines share buybacks, the impact of European markets, the war in Ukraine, and the reality that energy prices are determined not in the US but by global markets.
Finally, she makes a compelling case that the Fed will not be able to control inflation, that its current actions are but a Band-Aid on a gushing wound, and she wonders “why the Fed doesn’t seem to understand basic economics.”
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Jeff Schechtman: Welcome to the WhoWhatWhy podcast. I’m your host, Jeff Schechtman . Some wise man once said that if you lined up all the economists in the world from end to end, they still couldn’t reach a conclusion. Few things are more subject to debate, both bold and nuanced, than the economic state of America and the world. To make matters more complicated, today we seem to have two economies. One that impacts Main Street, the one that impacts the price of gas and groceries, and the other that is about Wall Street, about bankers and billionaires and the Fed. Occasionally, they do meet but not often. They did meet in 1929, in 1987, and in 2008, and the jury is still out about where we are today.
The story of how these two economies interact, who wins and who loses, who pulls the strings, and whether transparency even makes a difference in a world where a small number of players shape financial policy, has been the work of my guest, Nomi Prins. Nomi Prins has spent years looking at this from both the inside, at places like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Lehman Brothers. And in her more recent work, she has examined how these relationships have influenced past events, and how cumulatively it distorts our view of economics today. She is an international economist, and investigative journalist who has authored seven previous books about economics. Her latest is Permanent Distortion: How the Financial Markets Abandoned the Real Economy Forever.
Nomi Prins, welcome to the WhoWhatWhy podcast.
Nomi Prins: Thank you so much.
Jeff: This notion that there are two economies, the Wall Street economy, the economy of bankers and billionaires, and the Main Street economy. This is an idea that has been percolating around for quite a number of years now. And it does seem to have gotten to the point, as you talk about in Permanent Distortion, where we’re never going back to the way it was, that this seems to be the permanent condition of our economics today. Talk about that first.
Nomi: Yes, exactly, and obviously, the idea of how the economy and the markets don’t necessarily connect at many levels has certainly been discussed, where I look at it as being a permanently distorted phenomenon. It has its roots in the financial crisis of 2008, and then more recently in the pandemic of [the] 2020 period, where we do have this external body, the Federal Reserve, that has had the ability to create money, to electronically fabricate money, in order to save the financial system. It was obvious that that was going on in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008. Whereas, perhaps it was less obvious in the narrative after the pandemic of 2020, because the assumption was the Fed was coming in to save the economy.
But what actually happened was it manufactured enough money to send the markets zooming upward, and the economy obviously was still shut. And even when it came back to life, we’re still navigating many issues from people not being able to pay rents, to not having savings in their savings accounts, to supply chain disruptions, causing inflation to go up and just people getting generally squeezed. And so this phenomenon of external money coming in to bolster the markets – it doesn’t come from production, or even profits – is something that I believe has caused the permanent distortion between the economy and the markets.
Jeff: And yet, if we look at all the money that was pumped into the economy during the pandemic, the fact of the matter is that coming out of the pandemic, the savings rate before this current market downturn was higher than it had been in decades.
Nomi: And it shows you how things can change very dramatically with certain policy shifts from the Fed, because right now, it’s lower than it’s been in decades. In fact, it’s plummeted in the last several months below where it had been in the wake of the pandemic. And part of the reason for that is, from the economic standpoint, people are dealing with the inflation of unnecessary items, from fuel to food to rent, and they didn’t participate numerically in the upsides of markets, nor do they have the ability to access cash as cheaply even with higher rates right now than they had been as the Wall Street and financial community does.
Jeff: But another place where these two things came together is in the housing market. Certainly, all the cheap money that the Fed provided made a lot of people very rich on Wall Street, and we can talk about that. But it also gave a lot of people a lot of opportunity in terms of the housing market with interest rates coming down to almost zero.
Nomi: It did, and we did see from the financial crisis period to the pandemic, and then in a sort of accelerated manner in the wake of the pandemic, home prices rose as a result of people’s ability to access money more cheaply than they had in the past. However, not everybody had the same access to even that money, because what happened in the wake of the financial crisis was that banks became much more diligent, if you will, in the manner in which they lend out money. So though they were receiving money at zero, it was really the people that had the best financial situations to begin with, including private equity companies that were able to access a lot of that money as cheaply anyway.
So to an extent, regulations, or self-imposed regulations from the banking system got tighter in the wake of the mortgage subprime crisis in 2008. But yes, still people did have access to cheaper mortgages, and that did create a phenomenon where first-time homebuyers could get and lock in cheaper mortgages and therefore access their step on the housing ladder. But what happened in the wake of the years of money being cheap and the years of money being created, and particularly since the pandemic was that the prices of houses skyrocketed by so much that they became unaffordable, even at those low rates, to many people in the population.
And what we’ve seen in the last seven months is that rates have been hiked up so quickly, and so much in the past seven months by the Federal Reserve, is that most people now can’t be first-time homebuyers, even if prices were to dip from these very high levels that were inflated upwards, because the cost of carrying a monthly mortgage has effectively doubled. And again, that’s in conjunction with the inflationary pressures of other types of items like food and fuel.
So there is a disconnect inside of the economy between what the availability of money, how cheap it had been, [and] how much had been created. Again, for the financial system, the Fed created a total of $9 trillion from the period of time between 2008 and 2020, half of which they created in the wake of the pandemic. That money did not go into the real economy. To an extent, it helped with some of the fiscal stimulus, some of those $600 checks, and so forth, but that’s not what caused inflation. And that wasn’t all of what the Fed created that went into the financial system and lifted up the markets.
So yes, there are assets like houses that do appreciate when rates are cheap that people have access to borrow, but the manner in which the real economy has access to cheap borrowing, how it gets shut out, like now and then borrowing rate rises, and how the financial system manages to still come out okay, because, ultimately, it has a multi-trillion dollar cushion that’s part of permanent distortion.
Jeff: But the financial system is suffering the pain. There are literally trillions of those dollars that have been sucked out of the market over the course of the past 12 months, and it’s interesting to watch the real estate market almost move in the way bond markets move, in that there’s both price and interest rates, and they move counter to each other.
Nomi: Well, what’s happening now is that, as we were just discussing now, those cheap interest rates have now become not so cheap. They’re the highest interest rates in 14 or so years, but more specifically, they have risen very quickly. So people don’t have the ability to even save enough money to make up for that additional increase in interest payments for, let’s say, even the same price house. Now, yes, what that creates is a stalemate in the housing market, where sellers still want the prices that they could have gotten before rates were hyped up, and buyers still can’t afford those anymore. And so there’s a stalemate, and that has created a situation where home prices are dipping slightly and mostly just not moving.
It’s created a situation where mortgage originations have gone down. For example, Wells Fargo, a major bank, in terms of regional mortgages throughout the country, is basically seeing 90 percent less mortgage originations this quarter than it did last year [in] the same quarter. So there’s definitely a shift in the mortgage market and the overall market because rates have gone up. But again, what that’s going to do is it’s going to shut more people out of the bottom part of that market because prices aren’t coming down enough to make up for the first-time homebuyers experience of where interest rates are right now to get into the housing market.
So it’s going to slow things down, house-wise, price-wise, movement-wise, origination-wise, all of that. But it’s also going to create a situation where first-time buyers can’t really enter that market. And also, yes, it’s also creating a deterioration on the balance sheets of banks, not just Wells Fargo, but people are starting to be delinquent on some of the more recent mortgages that were taken out. As rates were rising, people were being suggested that they turn to and therefore take out something called adjustable rate mortgages. What does that mean? Well, it means that if rates continue to go up and you lock in your mortgage while your rates are going to go up and you’re going to have a higher payment. Again, while inflation of other items are also increasing.
What that is doing is causing mortgages to start to become delinquent for people that access those adjustable rate mortgages at slightly better rates than fixed-rate mortgages. These are things we’ve seen before in the market where people are basically trying to get the lowest possible rate that they can, but prices or rates are rising in their face, and they’re having to make up for that shortfall. And it’s creating some issues coming into the housing market overall, and also for creditors and borrowers.
Jeff: It’s also an interesting situation in that housing investors have gotten – and by investors, I don’t mean professional investors – but homeowners got more sophisticated in an era of cheap money. And you saw people that were refinancing over and over and over again. People refinancing just to save a quarter of a point or a half a point. So now it’s going in the other direction. And many of them know even if they buy into this market, they’ll be able to refinance later as rates go in the opposite direction.
Nomi: That’s exactly right. I was one of those people, and that was the [crosstalk]
Jeff: We all were. [laughs]
Nomi: We all were, I mean, that was the smart financial thing to do. People became more financially savvy, and mortgage brokers could make a little bit on the side, and so everybody was going in the same direction, and you’re refinancing at lower rates and locking in therefore cheaper interest payments. That’s one of the other reasons actually that the housing market is at a stalemate as well. It’s more of a hidden reason, but people don’t want to give up [chuckles] 2½, 2¾, 3 percent mortgages on their current residences to go and buy something at 7 or 8 percent, like no one wants to do that. Unless you have a lot of cash on the side and you’re wealthy and it’s a second or third home where you’re leveraging in a different way.
There’s other mitigating factors, but the average person is not going to want to, nor should they do that. And so that’s one of the things that we’re also seeing happening in the housing market as rates have gone up so quickly. It’s not so much the rates have gone up, it’s that they’ve gone up so quickly in terms of that adjustment, and obviously, no one’s going to refinance at a higher rate, because that’s dumb. [chuckles] So all of those businesses for the most part right now are not active.
Jeff: One of the things we’re seeing though is that the financial institutions are suffering in this period as well. I mean, if you look at hedge funds at banks over the past year, in many cases, it’s negative numbers in terms of year to date, and even in the banking sector, it’s at best about 1-1½ percent.
Nomi: Well, no, that is true. What’s happened since March, in particular, is that there has been this guess-what-the-Fed-is-gonna-do game going on in the markets. And as a result of both not knowing for how long or exactly how high the Fed is going to raise rates, and it all happening quite quickly, the markets, who generally don’t like uncertainty – when I say the markets, I mean Wall Street, I mean corporations who are looking at share buybacks, I mean private equity funds, hedge funds, asset managers, you know, the big financial players – they’ve been caught up in this web of uncertainty because ultimately they don’t really care about what’s happening in the economy. They don’t really even care about what’s happening in housing. What they actually care about is how certain cheap money will be available.
And money comes in different forms. And what we’ve seen this year is the uncertainty surrounding those interest rate hikes to ostensibly fight inflation that the Fed can’t actually fight most elements of inflation like food and fuel. But all of this has created more uncertainty, and that’s one of the reasons markets have come off and retirees were looking at their 401K plans this year, seeing an average 24 percent losses up over the year.
On the other hand, the Federal Reserve has maintained most of the $9 trillion book that it has. I think it’s down at about 8.7 trillion, so pretty much around the height of what it created as have other central banks around the world, and what that means is that ultimately that cushion remains in the markets. If the Fed were actually to really tighten and sell off those securities that it created money to buy and are on its books, we would have a massive market crash. They’re not going to cause that.
And so I think what’s going to wind up happening next year is that all of these institutions that have taken these losses are not going to want to have a repeat performance. At some point the Fed will reduce the pace of rate hikes. In fact, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell indicated that after the last FOMC meeting they’ll still be raising rates but at a lower pace. So less of an increase per FOMC meeting, and that’s going to create an environment where Wall Street financial community markets are going to start to breathe the sigh of relief.
And I think that we’re going to see them go back up again. Whereas, meanwhile, people in the real economy are having to deal with the aftermath of rates just being high and the expense of what is now bigger credit card debts that people have taken balances, that people have taken out in order to pay things like electricity bills and food bills, and rent at higher interest rates, they’re going to be stuck with those higher rents on homes because people that can’t convert from rent to mortgages right now, given the high interest rates are stuck dealing with whatever their landlords, for the most part, want to dole out. So they’ll be squeezed on that level.
Personal loans are up, delinquencies are up, auto loan delinquencies are up. And this is all part of the phenomenon of rates having risen so quickly and people getting stuck on that side of the rate cycle. Whereas the markets ultimately don’t care about all of that. What they care about is a sense of certainty as to what the Fed’s going to do and locking in the cost of money.
All of that, so the banks have done okay with [the] exception [of] Wells Fargo; it probably has done the worst of the big banks. But because it relies a lot on mortgages in general for its broader business, we’ve had banks come in this quarter with really good trading earnings and being able to take those chunks of higher interest from their borrowers and not give it to savers on the other side. And also because there aren’t a lot of savers anyway, so they’re not really paying out a lot of interest. They’re taking in more interest. And even though there’s less loans for which they’re taking on more interest, they’re doing okay on that difference. So the financial community is going to spring out of the situation I think relatively quickly next year, and in a lot of cases already is.
Jeff: I agree with you totally about the credit crunch that’s oncoming, but given that, why are we seeing earnings as positive as they are right now?
Nomi: Well, because what’s happening is many companies, for example, McDonald’s, PepsiCo, certain banks, they basically pay electricity companies. They’re able to pass on a lot of these inflationary costs to consumers. Consumers may or may not be buying less, but what they are buying, they’re buying at these more expensive prices. So that’s what keeps the outward appearance of inflation up, but they’re also buying a lot more things on credit, including, again, energy bills. And so companies, again, they don’t really care as long as they can continue to pass on these costs to consumers, and consumers will find a way to pay them, right?
The first way to pay them was to deplete the savings volumes that we’ve seen dramatically dropping these last few months, like dramatically drop. I was looking at a graph of that specific drop from the St. Louis Fed, which keeps the database of all these economic factors going back to whenever they started accumulating data for any one of them, but the one related to savings volume, it literally looks like it went off a cliff. And so companies are the recipients of that cash flow. That’s why they’re doing well. Ironically, even when though the market’s gone down this year, the level of share buybacks has actually increased, and now that even though stock levels are still low at the end of this year, as we approach the end of this year relative to what they were at in March, what this means is that next year there’ll be even more share buybacks.
So again, this all makes corporations look better and use money in a more efficient way for them, and that’s why we see those earnings up. And again, not on every company, of course, but predominantly on many, whereas, the real consumer, the person in the real economy is just being squeezed by yet another one of these factors, which is good corporate earnings.
Jeff: We can’t forget that there is a basic economic cyclical nature to this. This isn’t the first period of inflation. This isn’t the first potentially recessionary period that we’ve been through.
Nomi: We do have, there’s a longer cyclical nature, which is that, we do tend to see recessions in the economy and credit crunches when either inflation is up or, or our rates are going up, and we are starting to see that. We had two economic quarters back to back of negative growth, and a third quarter that was just released was minimal growth, and a lot of that was based on a one-off trade imbalance situation that attributed it to that growth. So our economy is stagnant.
Inflation is up and rates are up, which again is tightening the credit situation for people. So that ultimately could take a year or two to work itself out. The difference right now is that again, there’s external money still on the table from central banks for companies and for the major financial players, and there’s a waiting game going on for how certain other forms of monetary policy can be beneficial or at least more secure for them, and that’s going on as well.
The more cyclical minor period is that we’re heading into the winter, and often, what we see is the cost of energy, of heating homes and businesses, manufacturing, et cetera, increased anyway, and that’s compounded right now by geopolitical tensions with Russia invading the Ukraine, what’s going on in Europe between sanctions, natural gas pipeline sanctions on the way. And that’s increasing the cost of certain energy that would be increased anyway going into a winter. And so that’s why we’re going to see electricity bills go up by more during this period, say from now through February, March, depending on what the weather’s like. And that’s going to again affect the energy sector of the market relative to other sectors.
We also have retail looking at the holidays right now, the retail consumer, and it’s going to be interesting to see whether those higher prices are passed on to consumers and they pay for them, whether they buy less but at higher prices. So it looks like a similar amount or if there are really slash prices and people either buying the same or less. So we’re still going to look at what happens from that standpoint of holiday and end-of-year retail sales as well.
Jeff: All of this is further enhanced by the global environment, as you just alluded to, that none of what’s happening domestically exists in a vacuum. That events in Europe or in Asia have a direct impact on what’s going on in the markets here, both the Main Street markets and Wall Street.
Nomi: Yes, that’s right, and in very specific ways. Natural gas is one very specific way that we can look at what’s happening in Europe and equate it to impact in the US. Now we have for the US predominantly enough natural gas reserves to power the amount of electricity that the US uses as a whole. That stems from natural gas as a source, which is about 35 or so percent. It’s about 40 percent or so in Europe. But the thing is in Europe, because of how that natural gas is reserved and any kind of disruptions in new natural gas coming in through pipelines, for example, [from] Russia and Germany, creates more of a demand on what is available from a supply perspective and that creates higher prices.
And we are net exporters in some cases now of natural gas, but if the global market is pushing prices up, then we’re going to push our prices up to the global market, because that’s the capital markets and the global markets. And then the same companies are going to increase prices for consumers here because those prices will be global prices and that’s just going to happen. So what happens in one area of the world can specifically impact any area of the world.
Jeff: What are the things that concern you that financial markets might do going into next year or that the Fed might do that would have a clearly adverse effect on regular consumers?
Nomi: I think the fact that the Feds raise rates so quickly while people are also facing inflation in so many areas of their lives has already negatively impacted most Americans that don’t have a lot of money stashed away that they can use instead of having to borrow or having to deplete their savings. That’s already happening and it’s going to continue to happen because the Fed is not going to stop raising rates. It’s just indicated it will slow the pace of raising those rates. And so people will still be faced with higher credit payments and higher prices while this is all working itself out.
The Fed could make that worse by, for example, looking at CPI or other inflationary figures going up or spiking, [and] say, into the winter because of energy and deciding, “You know what, we’re not going to reduce the pace of rate hikes- we’re going to increase it,” and that’s just going to make this particular situation worse for people. For the markets, same thing. And then that certainty that they’re hoping for of when rates will stop being hiked as quickly will go away. And then you’ll see the markets come down again as a result of that, and you see that cycle working through.
Jeff: Are you concerned that some of these rate hikes and even ones going forward are not going to have the expected impact on inflation?
Nomi: Oh yes, they’re absolutely not going to have this expected impact on inflation, because expected impact on inflation, which is one of the major narratives of the Fed is that somehow the Fed can control… The implicit narrative is that somehow they can control the cost of fuel or the cost of food or the cost of transportation or the cost of rents, and they absolutely can’t.
One of the things that we’re seeing right now, the housing, we were just talking about the housing market and prices have dipped a bit. There’s not a lot of movement, not a lot of origination. And yet people are stuck paying higher rent which looks like higher inflation. Higher inflation looks like something that goes into the Fed’s overall calculation and keeps their desired inflation figure which is higher than 2 percent.
That’s just one contributing factor that’s actually inflating because of what they’re doing. And then if other factors of inflation are inflating because of what might happen geopolitically or might happen because we have a colder winter, and we need more of a supply of energy to heat our homes and businesses than we thought before. And then Fed says, okay, well, let’s check. Now all of a sudden we have higher energy costs, so we have to be more aggressive with inflation when in fact they cannot do anything about that. Their activity and rates cannot do anything about geopolitical or supply and demand factors related to energy. And so, yes, I’m concerned that they don’t actually understand economics, and they don’t understand how their narrative of being able to fight inflation with just a little bit of economic pain on the side is not what they’re actually doing.
They’re actually going to be causing more economic pain and not being able to fight inflation. They’re going to come to a scenario where they’re not able to get inflation down to 2 percent because they’re just not able to have a real control or any control over food or fuel or rent prices which together are significant components of what they look at in terms of inflationary pressure.
So yes, I’m concerned all the time that they’re not actually looking at what they’re doing and they’re not looking at the bigger picture, and they’re over-promising something on getting inflation down that they can’t actually impact. I wonder why they don’t understand this. I wonder if it’s just to an extent they have to be doing something, and yes, raising rates will have some impact on some components of overall inflation, but that ultimately it’s not actually something that can fight all of the causes of inflation.
And so what’s their plan for that? Are they just going to ignore this fact? Or are they going to decide to turn around and really ratchet rates out? It doesn’t look like they will given what was said at the last FOMC meeting, but that does concern me that they don’t literally understand what’s causing inflation or what they have the ability to move.
Jeff: Is there the assumption that some of it is psychological more than it is monetary policy?
Nomi: That came into some of the things that Powell indicated that somehow if we think there is inflation, then it will allow inflation to happen and therefore inflation will go higher. So it’s psychologically self-fulfilling. I think it’s more that it’s financial in that way we were talking about before: that companies can look at real inflation that they have in raw materials or source materials or fuel costs or transportation costs or what have you, and pass those on to consumers because consumers believe that they’re in inflationary environment so that consumers believe they have no choice but to pay these prices, and so in that way, it’s slightly self-fulfilling. But there’s a lot of assumptions that go into that idea.
I think the more psychological element in all of this is that the Fed is trying to take this role of being able to fight inflation, and that from a more of a political, I think, perspective, feels that this is what it needs to do and other central banks around the world are having to follow suit because we do live in a global international trade and financial community, and if the dollar gets too strong because the US is raising rates too quickly relative to other countries, their country’s currency is weakened, and there’s more of a trade imbalance with respect to that situation. And if their economies are also slowing, then they’re not producing enough to make up for the shortfall in their currency. So, there’s a lot of just factors here which I think go beyond psychological.
Jeff: Before I let you go, talk about how so much of what we’ve been talking about ties into this idea that you put forth in Permanent Distortion about this disconnect between the financial markets and the real economy.
Nomi: So, going back to the concept of permanent distortion, as I write about it in the book, is this idea that there is an outside benefactor to the financial system that will be there in whatever capacity is necessary when there is a crisis that it deems is worthy of throwing money at, and we saw that in the financial crisis of 2008. We saw it on steroids in the pandemic, but that the issue is that when this money is created, when these policies are enacted, there is no general thought for what the ramifications will be, or where the money is actually going. And then when there is some sort of a thought that, okay, well, inflation’s going up, or there’s some outside sign that says that, well, monetary policy among other things has gone off the rails, there’s this much more exaggerated opposing action.
But yet, even though one of those monetary policy opposing actions is raising rates quickly, the Fed is still sitting on an almost $9 trillion book of debt. The Bank of England, as another major central bank in this community, just had to create £60 billion pounds worth of money to buy UK gilt or UK government bonds because its pension system was facing a crisis in government bonds, and it needed to become a buyer, an external buyer to the system of government debt in order for there to be enough demand, in order for the price of those government bonds not to go down so that pensions could have enough of them to pay off pensioners. At the same time, where the Bank of England just enacted one of its largest hikes in history.
So, you have this bipolar scenario right now, which is contributing to permanent distortion because on the one hand it’s squeezing the economy, and on the other hand, after a waiting period, again, where uncertainty as to how rates will continue to move is gone, there is still a monumental tens of trillions of dollar cushion to the financial markets that hasn’t gone away. And that if the economy does weaken enough, and there are signs that it is stretched enough, in any way, or any other crisis comes in, there’s going to be more manufacturing of money thrown at that situation by central banks. We literally just saw an example of that with the Bank of England. The Fed could do that as well. And the fact that it hasn’t really sold off or let a lot of the bonds roll off of its books either and just kept almost 9 trillion there is just an indication that it knows this.
That’s permanent distortion. There’s money on top for the financial community. I’ll throw this word psychology back. Here I’ll use it. There’s a psychological knowledge that the Fed will ultimately create money when it needs to or reduce rates when it needs to, and that’s what the market hinges on, and it can use these facts and this money way more quickly and to propel itself way more higher than ordinary people in the real economy or the real economy can do.
Jeff: Nomi Prins. Her latest book is Permanent Distortion: How the Financial Markets Abandoned the Real Economy Forever. Nomi, I thank you so much for spending time with us here on the WhoWhatWhy podcast.
Nomi: Thank you very much.
Jeff: Thank you, and thank you for listening and joining us here on the WhoWhatWhy podcast. I hope you join us next week for another radio WhoWhatWhy podcast. I’m Jeff Schechtman.
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