Michael Pettis: Trade Wars Are Class Wars

In this podcast, Yakov Feygin, Associate Director of the Future of Capitalism Program speaks with economist Michael Pettis about his latest book, Trade Wars Are Class Wars.  

Pettis argues that trade surpluses arise not from cultural reasons, but rather from distortions in the way income is distributed. A trade surplus simply means that households are not consuming as much as they are producing, allowing for their production to be consumed elsewhere. Thus, countries that run persistent trade surpluses restrain the real wages of their populations, driving domestic inequality. This “beggar thy neighbor” strategy simultaneously increases inequality in trade deficit nations by destroying their high paying jobs. Surplus countries such as China and Germany must increase their workers’ ability to consume in order to discontinue this cycle. Without such a rebalancing, the world will remain mired in economic stagnation and growing inequality.  

Pettis was one of the first economists to argue that China, with its closed financial sector, and its government’s willingness to rescue financial institutions is unlikely to suffer a financial crisis. Instead of classic financial bubbles, Pettis fears that without redistributive reforms that increase consumption, China will find itself like Japan: financially stable, but economically stagnant.  

Listen to the full podcast in the video above. Click here for highlight clips and more from the Berggruen Institute’s Ideas Matter Podcast.   


composed by Arswain
machine learning consultation by Anna Tskhovrebov
commissioned by the Berggruen Institute
premiered at the Bradbury Building
downtown Los Angeles
april 22, 2022

Human perception of what sounds “beautiful” is necessarily biased and exclusive. If we are to truly expand our hearing apparatus, and thus our notion of beauty, we must not only shed preconceived sonic associations but also invite creative participation from beings non-human and non-living. We must also begin to cede creative control away from ourselves and toward such beings by encouraging them to exercise their own standards of beauty and collaborate with each other.

Movement I: Alarm Call
‘Alarm Call’ is a long-form composition and sound collage that juxtaposes, combines, and manipulates alarm calls from various human, non-human, and non-living beings. Evolutionary biologists understand the alarm call to be an altruistic behavior between species, who, by warning others of danger, place themselves by instinct in a broader system of belonging. The piece poses the question: how might we hear better to broaden and enhance our sense of belonging in the universe? Might we behave more altruistically if we better heed the calls of – and call out to – non-human beings?

Using granular synthesis, biofeedback, and algorithmic modulation, I fold the human alarm call – the siren – into non-human alarm calls, generating novel “inter-being” sonic collaborations with increasing sophistication and complexity. 

Movement II: A.I.-Truism
A synthesizer piece co-written with an AI in the style of Vangelis’s Blade Runner score, to pay homage to the space of the Bradbury Building.

Movement III: Alarmism
A machine learning model “learns” A.I.Truism and recreates Alarm Call, generating an original fusion of the two.

Movement IV: A.I. Call
A machine learning model “learns” Alarm Call and recreates A.I.Truism, generating an original fusion of the two.

RAVE (IRCAM 2021) https://github.com/acids-ircam/RAVE