For years, economists promised that global free trade would be mostly win-win. Now they admit the pace of change has been "traumatic." This has already led to a political insurrection -- so what's next?
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If you'd like to listen to free economic radio without ads the place to do that is sticker premium five dollars a month and you can get. Free month trial by going to stick your premium dot com and use a promo code freak. You also get access to all our bonus. Episodes and you'll be supporting our show to that sticker premium. Dot, com, promo code for thanks, I entered the profession. Late actually had several failed careers prior to economics, but David order, a! U t! Oh, are you want to look at them I'm a labour economist it MIT, and what does labour economists do? I work a lot on skill demands and changes in lay rockets out you with technology treat as well as order said he came late to academia did suffered Robin for awhile, while and also spent several years directing a nonprofit and sentences go. They did computer education for the poor and then
who did a lot of work in the fast food. I spent a month working Mcdonald and half year working at public GINO which is a kind of pizza franchise in the Boston area, so I do a lot of blue collar work. I also workers attempt by did no light construction incoming. They also fix cars and motorcycles and electronics, so otter hasn't spent his entire don't hurt in the ivory tower, and that is reflected in his choice of economic specialty I think we labour economists like to think of ourselves as being closer to the people, I'm pretty cock. Of how tough the labour market for them for the last thirty five years. For the past several years order, and several colleagues, including Gordon Hansen, David Doorn, therein awesome o glue Brendan Price and cover much lacy, have been analyzing huge datasets to try to sir and important economic question. The objective was to understand how I China's very
rapidly rising exports. United states were affecting- U S, labour markets today, Humphrey Economics, radio, the answer to that question, how it relates to american political rhetoric and what economists got wrong, I think, if we have realised how traumatic the pace of change would have been We would at a minimum, had much better policies in place I'm happy from W and Y see studios. This is frequent comics radio broadcasts that explores the hidden side of everything. Here's your host Stephen Governor, our previous episode, looked at
degree to which the american dream has been damaged. Your twice ass likely, to realize the american dream, if you're growing up in Canada there, then the? U S. This topic was a main feature of the twenty. Sixteen presidential came. Sadly, the american dream is dead. for who killed the american dream. Donald Trump, had a long list of suspects, but very near the top was China. We can continue to allow China to rape, our country and that's what they're doing it's the greatest staffed the history of the world. This was a theme that President Trump return to during his inaugural speech, we ve made other kind these rich, while the wealth strengthen confidence of our country, has dissipated over the horizon,
One by one, the factory shuddered and left our shores with. Not even a thought about the millions and millions of american workers that were left behind during the campaign, many people had been so focused on trumps outrageous persona that perhaps they saw his claims about. China and trade is similarly outrageous, hyperbolic at best outright Roy or at worst, was in the: U S a willing partner and an architect of the huge push towards globalization. We divorced, sending low wage manufacturing jobs overseas, believing we'd get cheaper imports and newer, better jobs to replace the offshore one. So how well, as that dreamy scenario, worked out, I'm much less
when about it than I used to be but start with a bit of history between the? U S and China. The adversarial relationship kicked off by Communist Revolution in nineteen, forty, nine blossomed into a full blown cold war which began to fizzle out quite shockingly in nineteen. Seventy one. That's when President Richard Nixon Devout Anti Communist that point reached out to check Now as a partner, the meeting between the leaders of China and the United States is to seek normalization relations between the two countries. China was from a perpetual state of economic crisis from the mouths a tongue era, Ford and We didn't have its act together as a as a trading country or producer and was largely closed David order again, and it was until Deng Xiaoping. I took power
began change things in the late nineteenth seventies and began what he called reform in opening, which meant setting out export zones in the southern parts of China across from Hong Kong. Allowing foreign direct investment allowing use of market prices alive for mobility of labour, so over the course twenty years about a quarter, A billion people migrated out of a relatively simple rural agriculture into citys cities to do production, jesting, Annabelle between ninety ninety one in two thousand thirteen chinese exports grew from roughly two per cent of the world's total we, twenty percent in China March, from being you thirty or forty years, behind the frontier of action to being the world class producer with at that time, lots of available labour and lots of available land and water resources. Other countries had taken the same route as China, but China was different in several ways, but most significantly in size. So if a country like,
Vietnam, Cambodia, something went through the exact same developmental process as China. It would quickly run out a couple. Today, after very little, while it would have made all the you know, the eye phones in the apparel and the choices when it could, then wages would rise. Prices would rise and would just be a blip on the world scale, but because China is so enormous and had so much slack. It took decades for that string to play out, and in that time it was just producing goods high quality. Goods at low prices that were extraordinarily competitive by world standards, and this had the effect of displacing alot of competitor countries production, including the United States, so David. You and some colleagues have taken a hard look at how globalization has had some profound effects, so tell us Broadly, what you know and how you know it sure so
I must have known forever or you know, since the nineteen Fifty's, globalization or the integration in trading partners are real GDP, raises national incomes in both countries, thither consenting partners but can have adverse distributional consequences. Adverse distributional consequences, Economists speak for a rising tide that does not lift all boats, so even as it makes a country wealthier, it can make some people in that country poorer in absolute terms, so it can grow the size of the pie but make some slices sufficiently smaller than in net they contract. However, literature had failed to find any strong evidence that those adverse distributional consequences were coming to pass the litter. sure, being the economics literature, meaning that, as economists watched globalization accelerate, it seem to be working out pretty well. I think labour economics sort of
Fifteen years ago, a lot of people sought as oh well now, er studying well functioning markets about characterizing equilibrium, spinning white vision. We should turn our attention to the developing world where all the problems are, that view turned out to be illusory, or at least short But now we we have lots of problems that people recognize that and they serve see labor as being part of the big challenges facing lots of countries, including the belt world, in terms of income distribution. Oportun. it s hard at changing, share of national income going to capital versus labour, the rule of law obligation in shaping opportunities and even the way that labour markets feed into political outcomes and people sense of of a party identity and the type of candidates it they both. For that said, David order is not willing to throw his profession under the bus. I dont think the old evidence was incorrect. There, too, big differences,
the last two decades referred to earlier periods. One is a lot of our trade prior to China's rise with blood was North North trade, nor trading between wealthy nations. So you know, we sell aircraft engines to France and by you know, you know with cheese and wine and renewed our memory Mercedes from Germany and so a lot of high school people, trading, Heisel goods and we're trading on the basis of taste. Like I like your vehicles, are you like my aircraft? It's not trying to see who can make the cheapest version of X Y rosy were often focusing on a set of expensive goods in which we all are differently good at different subsets. But when China opened up that changed a lot of or trading there is labour intensive goods, nothing that China was selling United States, especially up until recently couldn't be made in the U S it just couldn't be made as cheaply. So this is actually about price competition rather than simply having a better or different variety. On the surface
that might seem fine again, it would mean Americans and many others getting to buy cheaper goods because their made in China, but of course the calculus is trickier than that. So when the United States trades with developing world we're gonna, typically export skill and so products, new aircraft, engines, electronics, movies tv programmes and use a lot of highly educated labour and we're gonna tend to import low skill or what we call labour intensive products like footwear and textiles and leather goods, things that require a lot of hand assembly, and so what does that do
when we export those high school intensive goods were basely, raising demand for skilled or educated workers. The United States, when we import knows labour intensive goods, we're gonna, reduce demand for blue collar workers, who are not doing. Scotland has her production. Now we benefit because we get lower prices on the goods we consume an. We sell the things that were good at making at a higher price to the world, so that raises gdp, but simultaneously attends to make high skilled the educated labour are better off, raised their wages and tend to make low skilled manual intensive labors worse off, because there is less demand for their services. So there's gonna be fewer than employed or they're going to be employed at lower wages, so the narrow you can show. Analytically is gonna be positive, but the redistribution consequences are many of us. Would you that, as advert because we would rather redistribute from rich to poorer than
for the rich and trade, is kind of working in the redistributing from port, a rich direction in the United States, the scale of benefits in harm's, or rather in commensurate so every individual's. You know. I have less expensive consumer items because of imports from China, but it has. My employment or my wages, for on many others on the order of at least a million? U S manufacturing workers, it meant the end of their jobs and, in many cases, the end of their industries, but that wasn't even the worst of it. Coming up on for economics, radio, the true breadth of the problem- and we too
about solutions. I dont think there are any easy solutions. I dont think. If I were you know labour secretary, I would just be able to get in, and you know turn this ship around. That's coming up right after the break David order. Lieber economist at MIT has spent the past few years, working with fellow economists to measure the effects of global trade, especially between the. U S and China. A lot of political rhetoric argues that China has damaged the: U S: economy via currency manipulation, making chinese goods even more attractive to american consumers single greatest tool. They have currency manipulation and their grandmasters. They do. I congratulate them. I'm not angry at China angry at our
hungry for allowing them to doing ok, orders, research tells a story that is in some ways more complicated than Donald Trump explanation and in some ways simpler. What occurred is not. but the result of currency manipulation or cheating or unfair trade deals. It was a function of China's extremely rapid development which byways a of very good thing: oh brought. Four hundred million Chinese out of poverty raised incomes in Central South America caused investment throughout Africa right. This is The best thing to happen to the global middle class in at least a millennium, her head, but it was. It was tough on you as manufacturing, very tough, especially after two thousand one when China was accepted into the World Trade Organization. China's entrance into the World Trade Organisation has enabled the greatest job theft in the history.
In our country, we can certainly estimate that more than a million manufacturing jobs in the U S were directly eliminated between two thousand two thousand seven. As a result of China's accelerating trade penetration in nice. It's not that doesn't mean a million jobs total. Maybe some of those workers moved into other sectors, but we ve looked at that and as best we can find in that period. You do not see that country allocation, so we estimate that as much as forty percent of the drop in. U S manufacturing between two thousand two thousand seven is attributable to the trade shock that occurred in that period, which is really following China's accession to the deputy o in two thousand and one are you controlling for the effects of technology here
yes, it's the best. We can do the best we can. We do have measures of serve exposure to automation and so on, and I and this as far as we can tell that that's not really the main driver I think its regional argue well, you know, given fifteen or twenty more years, it would have been right. So the the question then, is well what happens? Where did those workers go? in economic whole, economic model, they just obviously reallocate their next best opportunity. Ah, the lovely language of economics once again, Causelessly reallocate to their next best opportunity. Meaning that some American who loses manufacturing job just hops over to the next good job which just happens to be allowable near where he's already living and for which you just happens to be perfectly qualified, for which, as you know, some other sector elsewhere, manufacturing elsewhere in services,
in kind of that plays out across the entire United States, so even though its very concentrated locally diffuses over space. So it's my small relative to the entire labour market, and so it shouldn't really have a big local, a fact it should be very long lasting. So that's the economic fear, is that what David order and his economist colleagues song in reality, that's all we see, we see those falls in manufacturing. Employment correspond to about. Equally large falls in overall employment rates over the first ten years in those trading patted location. So every half a point: the manufacturing falls we the about total decline of about a half a point. So some people are leaving labour market. Some people are going into unemployment, somebody we're going on to disability, and so the reallocation process seems to be slow frictional ends.
goring, okay, so until scarring those words sounded fairly clinical and academic, but what you're describing what you're describing here is really bad a correct and be I'm just curious. Before we move on. You looked at a whole lot of different manufacturing ecosystems, I'm sure there's, very answer, I'm assuming their great variants from one to the next can talk about some the system, some manufacturing industries or jobs where people did do a better job, adapting you actually that the real differentiate or is the kind of skill levels, the worker so high. air paid and more highly educated workers, they seem to reallocate successfully out of manufacturing into other jobs, so the shock to manufacturing effect we won in the meat Lee targeted industry, but the differentiate or is not what industry were specifically but house killed. You were initially so the hr person at a big text,
a firm gets a nature job elsewhere, and the manufacturers on the line are probably not in line. Workers are much less likely do so exactly right and what I want what's important emphasise enough. I say shortly to furniture, that's not just one plant right. There are multiple plants in Yo Tennessee ten thousand plus workers, and they all kind of shut down with a few years of each other, and so you can think of is it's like. You know a cistern element, a blight that sets in right. Look there. Three thousand counties: I'd states if ten thousand workers were eliminated. You know three from each county. You wouldn't even notice it right, but if if ten thousand workers are looming simultaneously from your you know, labour market, that's very noticeable and it has come to add on effects because he will then you those manufacturers, also stop. You know, bind the delivery services in the catering services, people have less incomes and go out to dinner, less so all kinds of credit,
Adverse multiply airs not huge, but noticeable and measurable set in. Maybe this is not a multiplier made them defining it wrong, but what about with all those relatively low skilled workers out their floating around looking for jobs? Presumably that the lower the wage of other existing jobs are now yes gap. That's what we find actually that you see a kind of decline in their wage level, not just in manufacturing. Ah, you also see people going on using public transfer benefits like unemployment in tray adjustment, but actually much more a numerically quantitatively large. Are I disability, Medicare Medicaid,
food stamps, ten, if early retirement, so those programmes actually or numerically fiscally much much larger. Look at all those downstream effects from China's manufacturing growth that David order identifies in the: U S: job loss, wage, depression, higher welfare, ending in another research paper. He and his colleagues found yet another downside. Many economists had suspected that greater competition with China would create incentives for american companies to invest more in research and development and become more innovative, but it has worked out that way. Instead order and his colleagues found chinese competition has lowered profit margins for american manufacturers, leaving less money for, r and d in resulting in less innovation. People like you, meaning economies, not like you, David order, necessarily you don't have been telling us for for several decades now that guy,
polarization would be largely win win when I'm not so naive as to know as to think that there are no losers. I get that, but that Overall, we wish we American shook sit back and relax that it would be good for them. Gideon. U S residence so I dont feel that way any more and tell me if I'm wrong, do not feel that way. An addition. If I'm wrong, maybe to blame you and you're a cohort a little bit. I think if we have realised how traumatic the pace of change would have been, we would at a minimum, had much better policies in place to assist workers in communities that suffered. These very severe and immediate consequences- and we might have tried to moderate the pace at which had occurred and let me add another factor that really augments this is. We also had a huge trade deficit, and that meant that we see
it did a lot less manufacturing cement that workers had to make a tougher transition out of manufacturing into something altogether new, and I think that up to the challenge it made it harder for people to reallocate who is one thing you're going. You know, they're they're, gonna textiles and moving into automobiles or tools, but that's not happen there getting out of textiles moving into Walmart moving into a fast food. I think the other thing that We have to recognise that economists have tended not to emphasise is that jobs aren't purely income. They are part of identity, they structure people's lives, they give them a purpose and a social community and a sense of of relevance in the world, and I think that is a lot of the frustration that we see in manufacture intensive areas. We saw that actually, the recent election people feel like their place.
In the universe. Releasing the economy has really been kind of reduced I made less liable and I think that that's costly, even beyond the direct financial pause. So president trumped did not choose you David order, as they. Secretary buddy did choose some one else with a fast food background, Andrew Poster, whose chief executive of the company behind hearty using Carl's Junior yeah, so it had been you end and maybe someday will be what to do about it. You acknowledge this you're not a sanguine as you were or thought you might have been. You acknowledged that term the degree of pain and the pace of change has been really severe. Tell us some things that are potential remedies, or at least better thinking frameworks to approach the future of labour in this country. So it's a challenging question. I don't think there's
are any easy solutions. I dont think. If I were you know labour secretary, I would just be able to get in and you know turned the ship around, but a couple things I do would do. One thing is, I would expand, be earned income tax credit, which is a O federal wage subsidy for people with low incomes. I it's a really generous and effective programme, but is targeted at adults with dependent children, primarily women. So if you're, a mother with too dependent children, you can get up to six thousand dollars a year in the IPCC, support up to a household income about forty thousand dollars, so it it raises incomes and also causes people to participate more lay market. It makes low paid work better paying effectively, but
you're. If you're a man without dependent children, you can get about four hundred dollars a year total. For me, I t seek not six thousand four hundred dollars here and many of the men that or you are struggling for employment, that many of them do have children. They just can't clean them as dependence or Tipp. There often the frequently not married to the mothers. So this is a group that is experiencing falling wages, labour force participation rates are declining among less educated man, even less educated young men, so one Paul, see I would use is to provide european compact credit, basically makes it more rewarding, financially rewarding more worthwhile to work. That's one thing I do think there are tax changes that we ought to make. The
could be beneficial are one of them is actually being talked about in the Trump administrations, the so called border adjustment, which is away complicated story, but it's like a value added tax and if it were used to offset other taxes like our payroll tax, for example. Right now, our peril tax raises the cost of producing the United States but form
Greece, when the import here they dont pay our peril tax. If we had a value added tax that would be levied both on things produce domestically and on things that are imported, if it were used to offset the payroll tax, why that would have the effect of basically making imports a little bit more expensive, relative domestically produced goods. I don't think that's a terrible idea. Many countries do something that looks a bit like that. I think the other things are importantly, our skills investments and then, I think, also things that make the quality of life better for people with low incomes, including, I am afraid to say, at the affordable care act, which is a very good policy that we will be saying goodbye to soon. So those all sound, interesting and perhaps viable and perhaps useful, but most of them are coming primarily from one direction, which is basically there there costly ways to support.
The people who have lost out because of this economic change? What about reversing bat dynamic? So I'll be asleep? This president, that's his gospel on labor front today, which is reassuring, or I don't know what you call it, of carrier, we don't let him get away in the first place, what's It's your view on that will so the borders they talk about actually would have the effect of of encouraging domestic production. You know a number of things for for many of them. whose labour intensive jobs are not going to come back. Even if the production return to nice daisy would be done with a lot more machinery and robotics. I think manufacturing will continue to occur in the high seas. I just don't think it's gonna use that much labour. I think it's it's perfectly reasonable to aggressively enforce our trade deals. There are certainly countries that dump product
its deal, intellectual property that create anti competitive barriers in their own country. So the? U S, can't export them, even though is importing from them, but I dont think we can turn back. The clock and moreover, member, that many of those imports for one they do to make consumer prices lower and to their often input in two things that were making and then exporting or consuming domestically right. So as soon as you start, taxing chinese goods, your taxing TK, parts and end up in GM in our foreign fear. Chrysler automobiles, so you'll quickly find that there is alive. Opposition from U S, manufacturers to restrict on trade or anti terrorist You might think own we're doing you a favor where you are making your products more competitive, will not have importing lawyer components. President Trump has
accused of ignoring evidence on a lot of France. In this case, when it comes to the costs of globalization, it strikes me that his views are kind of align quite closely with the views of of economists like you who do do see, evidence that supports. That, at least, is proclamations about the costs of globalization. Where do you find yourself on that spectrum, whether politically per se or just philosophically I will? I wouldn't hurt present from makes a lot of unfounded claims about trade that I do not agree with, for example, that NAFTA was a disaster if the United States A very, very little evidence to suggest that was true was actually mostly o a winter United states an end, but pretty modest. I also know strongly disagree with
I fear that we shall be slapping extremely high tariffs on importers. I think that would be quite damaging to the: U S: eye simulator, don't favor strong arm and companies to keep employment here if it's going to deter other from creating jobs here out of fear that they'll then be forced to retain them. So I don't even think trade has been a Annette that has United States. I just think it's created real concentrated adverse impact, which I know Trump was right to recognize and that's where I am more in sympathy with the administration than on other point. I finally say that a good example of where bad thinking and bad trade policy has come in immediately is, in this whole debate around the Trans Pacific Partnership, which was basically a forward looking trade agreement that was set up as a bulwark against chinese domination of Asia.
tromp set on the campaign trail. China will take advantage of us really T Bp, like they always do that GDP is a horrible deal. It is a deal that is going to lead to nothing but trouble. It's a deal that was designed for China let it come in as they always do through the back door and trot totally take advantage of everyone. I dont think, even though the pointed China was not a signatories in teepee, he and China was a country drew loudest to see it crash and burn out, because it was basically establishing rules of the game among in Asia and North America, United States that would uphold intellectual property agreements, freedom and transparency of contracting market access, and so on. So we know that the rules of the game in Asia, China, will now think we're like those rules nearly as much. So that's just the kind of bluster against trade. ignorant and harmful to U S, interests and really harmful to our allies, including most especially Japan,
David. I know you said that economics wasn't entirely wrong on this prediction: that global trade would kind of work out. Okay, but I do think a lot of people would disagree. Obviously it's a it's a matter of them degrees, So, if that's my view- and I think that you know many- are most- economists were wrong when something is basic and important as this. Why should we ever listened to what You wonder, flee educated egghead economists have to say when it to something as important in broad is met, We cannot make issues that will affect my actual life. You can predict all you want about currency, stories abroad, etc. But if it's my life, my livelihood, my job my feet we my ability to provide for them, you guys are supposed to be the non partisan, smart, a political cohort out there.
trusted you and now I'm sorry. I did because if I hadn't, I might have changed course, fifteen or twenty. Ago, and while I might not be in great shape and certainly be embarrassed shaped- and I am now. Well, I don't know that you be in better shape, you be indifferent shape and a different group of people would be benefiting. I dont think we'd be wealthier, but I think it is a really good question think economists have learned a lot from the data and its actual credit to the From that were not just asserting, were testing and win the facts, change we change our opinions and the Evidence that economists were relying on YO up through the two thousand wasn't incorrect for its time. It just turned out not to be fully predictive of what happened. Next, and that's you know that sort of cold comfort. I realized, but we're in the budget
Where are we now understand better what the consequences were and we can make better policy going forward and also, if we didn't, have economist sort of trying to assess and answer these questions. We be relying on a lot of wrong and bad ideas about the gold standard about trade is only good if you export and bad. If you imports, that you know the most important thing to do in recession and stop spending. So the country you know, saves you was theirs tons and tons of bad. economic reasoning out. Their contemporary economics is quite imperfect, but I think it's at least guided by evidence and economists, are fully capable of changing their views. Based on events, I do not think the perfect and actually is nearly ideological as it was twice five years ago, when it was guided so much by fury. Now it's really good by data in no case in point the work that we ve done. It has been somewhat controversial, but large economies have really embraced and said: oh yeah, while we were surprised- and these changes- how we think,
again I don't. I don't want to claim that we were some upstarts. We just happened. the right data and on come away with conclusions that none of us were expecting? But I think that you know that's about its good social science does were not. King with natural laws that our aid can be as neatly summarised as newtonian physics. I have no idea if you ll agree, but David order strikes me as a particularly keen and fair minded analysed and observer of the? U S, labour markets, it doesn't seem as if he's got a horse in the race doesn't seem as if he's got his thumb on the scale. and is inciting useful, at least as useful as a diagram. This can be once you're already sick. They just one caveat. I add to his message. It has to do with the predictions that economists made about how chinese manufacturing would affect the American
labour market: the evidence that economists were relying on up through the two thousands wasn't incorrect for its time. It just turned out not to be fully predictive of what happened next this programme is gone on and on about the folly of prediction, in fact, there is a free economic radio episode from years ago called the folly of prediction. We talked about how, when the most common explanations of smart people when their predictions turn out to be inaccurate, was it well. We did the best we could considering the information we had at the time. If we had better information, we could have made a better prediction, but you know what, if you had better information at the time, you will have to make a prediction: the future would have been obvious that's the thing about the future is rarely obvious, which leaves a lot of room for all kinds of people to make all kinds of predictions that may or may not come true. I'm not calling
David order. Here again I really appreciate his transparency and his doggedness, but the story of chinese Manufacturing and american labour is, Yet another reminder of how humble we should be when we make a prediction and how cautious we should all be. When we hear one thing about this, if the vast vast majority of political pundits and tv journal and even the most revered analytics peaks got the two thousand sixteen presidential election so wrong. and that's a simple binary choice, blue team versus the red team? Then, how much harder is it to predict the downstream consequences of something is vast and broad as a mobile labour. Up you mean to get our preachy. I knew that is not the free economic way. But I will say this: beware the Pandit tree, no matter how
EL degree they are well spoken were well Croft, don't assume they can know the future any better. you, do don't assume you're such a genius either coming up next time, unfair dynamics, radio, it's an egg heads guide to watching the Superbowl will tell you how you can optimize the experts whether you are a football act or a total newbie. We talk to some the smartest NFL players past and present two times Superbowl champion just in Tuck AIR Winston, in Baltimore Ravens Lyman John Herschel, who is getting his Phd in math at MIT. So if you look at a wide receiver, what does that wider see we're doing on past plays where the main route coming? it is not to decide what is he doing when it's a runaway
Is he running them off? His aegis jogging is talking to the corner back. We also talk to our resident for economics, egghead, Steve Leavin. The other thing that special about the Superbowl and if you are not a fan but are forced to attend insuperable party, I would highly recommend gambling, and is one in all our egg heads agree is the best part of super Sunday. You will enjoy the commercials. I can assure you out further to the commercial. The commercials are really funny. I give special attention to the adds its next time and financed radio. Economic radio is produced by w when my studios and w production. This episode was produced by Gregory's, asking our staff, also
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Transcript generated on 2021-01-24.