The Countdown to Brexit, Plus Adam Gopnik’s Turkey Zen
More than two years after British voters approved a measure to withdraw their nation from the European Union—a gigantic undertaking with no roadmap of any sort —Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled a plan: essentially, that the U.K. would remain in the European customs union, participating in trade with the E.U. and remaining subject to its trade policies, but exit the political process of the E.U. The deal was seen by some as the worst of both worlds, and several cabinet ministers resigned; May could well lose a no-confidence vote in the immediate future. David Remnick talks with the London-based staff writers about the ongoing challenges of Brexit. And the staff writer Adam Gopnik, who’s been preparing Thanksgiving dinner for decades, considers the zen of cooking a turkey.
After the 2008 Financial Crisis, the Economy Was Fracked Up
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act injected almost nine hundred billion dollars into the U.S. economy to help the nation recover from the 2008 financial crisis. Ninety billion dollars went to clean energy, with the intention of jump-starting a new “green economy” to replace aging fossil-fuel technologies. Instead, the bill may have done the opposite. Low interest rates, which made borrowing easier, encouraged a flood of financing for the young fracking industry, which used novel chemical techniques to extract gas and oil. Fracking boomed, and made the U.S. the leading producer of oil and gas by some estimates. The financial journalist Bethany McLean and the investor and hedge-fund manager Jim Chanos tell The New Yorker’s that something in the fracking math doesn’t add up. If interest rates rise, reducing the flow of cheap capital, they believe that the industry will collapse.
Then, the former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson tells Adam Davidson what went wrong in Obama’s policy. Subsidies for specific industries, like solar, can’t change the market significantly enough, Paulson says. In his view—one shared by a growing consensus of economists—we need to correctly assess the costs of carbon emissions to society, and charge those costs to the emissions’ producers: a carbon tax. Then, with a more level playing field, the market can pick the best source of energy.
The Financial Crash and the Climate Crisis
Ten years after the financial crash of 2008, the economy is humming along, with steady growth and rising employment. Yet that crisis continues to shape our world, particularly through the rise of right-wing populism and the ever-worsening climate crisis. Jill Lepore, Adam Davidson, and George Packer talk with David Remnick about how we got here. Two Florida real-estate experts explain why short-term thinking rules the day, and the former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson explains why he has embraced the idea of imposing a carbon tax.
Derek Smalls—Harry Shearer’s Character in “Spinal Tap”—Returns with His Solo Début
Harry Shearer is known for doing many characters, including Mr. Burns and others from “The Simpsons,” but the most famous is Derek Smalls, the saturnine, epically muttonchopped bassist in the movie “This Is Spinal Tap.” Almost thirty-five years after the release of Rob Reiner’s mockumentary about a struggling metal band, Shearer has given Smalls a new lease on life. Although the character is fictional, the new solo album, “ that he produced the record with support from the British Fund for Ageing Rockers, and it contains songs about a toupee (which belongs to Satan) and erectile dysfunction. (You have to give the dysfunctional part, Smalls says, “a good, stern talking-to.”) And they discuss what is clearly a sore subject: the fact that Spinal Tap was never inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Plus, a New Yorker editor picks three favorites for a new parent.
From Mexico, the Reality of the Migrant Caravan
spent a week in Mexico with the so-called caravan—a group of about five thousand migrants, most of them from Honduras, who are making a dangerous journey on foot to the U.S. border. Donald Trump, who has described the caravan as “invaders” who might include terrorists and criminals, is using the issue to galvanize Republicans for the midterms. The reality, which Blitzer describes to David Remnick, is remarkably different: exhausted people walking thirty miles a day in sandals and Crocs, sleeping largely in the open, and wholly dependent on townspeople along their route and a few aid groups for food and water. They travel in a group for protection from kidnappers, criminals, and the notoriously severe Mexican immigration authorities. They know little about how their trek has been politicized in the U.S. Those who make it to the U.S. border will likely be greeted by an overwhelming show of American force, but, for these migrants, almost any uncertainty is better than the certain poverty and violence of their home country. Plus, a group of progressive women in rural Texas has been organizing in secret, but some of them are ready to speak out.