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1:04 mins

The Problem with Stocks

Jon Talks Stocks and Ukraine

SEC commissioner Rob Jackson gives Jon his thoughts on why the market isn’t held accountable and is less regulated than casinos. Jon also gives his thoughts on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and how Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy went from comedian to courageous leader.

THE PROBLEM WITH JON STEWART PODCAST
Episode 18 Final Transcript

Jon: I think we can all agree the problem with Jon Stewart is this f***ing computer doesn’t work. And I have to restart it all the time. Man, you download one porn site —

Rob: Yeah.

Jon: — from the internet and suddenly.

Rob: You know, these days people are streaming them. We don’t download them anymore. You might want to look into that.

Robby: We’ve made some changes. We’ll send you some links.

Jon: You know, I would truly appreciate that.

[ROB LAUGHS]

[INTRO MUSIC]

Jon: Hello, everybody, welcome, welcome to the podcast. It is The Problem With Jon Stewart. First of all, we’re talking with Rob Christensen and Robby Slowik, who are two of our writers, fabulous individuals and we are back on television as well.

Rob: Yeah baby.

Robby: Yes.

Jon: Our episode drops March 3rd, so please DVR. Is that what people do now? I was going to say VHS, but that’s clearly the wrong initials.

Rob: Back to streaming. Same as the porn, it’s streaming.

Jon: Streaming again?

Robby: Uh huh.

Jon: I got to look into this. The Apple TV+ show is on and our first show is on Wall Street and payment for order flow and the GameStop issue and the apes. And we talked to the SEC Chairman Gary Gensler, and here’s what we learned. And I’m just going to say this straight up and spoiler alert to the entire audience. Everything is copacetic, the whole system. A-OK.

Robby: It’s all cool.

Rob: It’s all good.

Jon: It all, very balanced, very fair. So you’re welcome.

Robby: No notes.

Rob: Yeah. We’ve fixed it just by, just by investigating it.

Jon: It turns out it didn’t even need fixing.

Rob: Yeah.

Jon: It’s all f***ing square dead on. No shenanigans. You know what the, and this I did not realize that, when you go to the Wall Street headquarters, the New York Stock Exchange, right? In Latin above the doorway. This is true. It says “No shenanigans.”

[LAUGHS]

Robby: It says, “No follow up questions, please.”

Jon: That’s right. It says “No shenanigans.” And so everybody, all the brokerage firms, all the big boys, they all walk in there and they all nod to each other with that sense of a communal, “Everything’s on the up and up today, boys, let’s do this thing.”

Rob: So like that doesn’t make me feel good. What if you went to a coffee shop and there was a sign up for the employees that said, “Please don’t spit in the coffee.” Are you confident, then, that the coffee is not spit in? Or is there a reason that sign needs to be up?

Jon: First of all Rob, I want to thank you for taking what I said at face value.

[LAUGHS]

Jon: As opposed to the ludicrous sarcasm that it was. And second of all, I don’t know last time you been to a Starbucks, but if you go in the bathroom, it does say employees must wash hands. So I think that those obvious hygiene questions are actually have to be written out.

Robby: Yes.

Rob: They do.

Robby: There’s a regulator who’s paid 1/30th of what the baristas are paid to ensure hands are being washed. [ROB LAUGHS]

Jon: There is no one, as far as I can tell that is checking. I think it’s a directive that they assume is — I’m going to go with it’s the honor system that they put everybody in the Starbucks on the honor system.

Rob: Yeah. Capitalism as well.

Jon: I think I think capitalism and Starbucks are the two systems in the nation right now that work on the honor system, the only two, as a matter of fact. By the way, the Starbucks bathroom, if I can just take a quick digression, generally very well-maintained. I have always.

Rob: Huh!

Jon: And I say this to all my fellow New Yorkers. If you truly have to take a s*** and I — listen, starbucks are everywhere. I cannot say the same about Dunkin Donuts in terms of the bathroom hygiene in New York City, but Starbucks? Mwah.

Robby: Starbucks, better access to bathrooms. Bathrooms, I’m going to take the Converse point here and say, you absolutely do not want to walk into a Starbucks bathroom unless you are, you have no choice. And even potentially the street might be a better choice.

Jon: Well, look at you. Oh, I’m sorry, Mr. Rockefeller. Not all of us can take the time to go take a s*** at the Met or the Gugenheim.

Robby: You know, maybe a Pain Quotidien? A Pret a Manger!

[LAUGHS]

Jon: Isn’t it sad, though? Do you remember that time in your life in New York when you first got there where that truly was, like, you would have to line up which public places would allow you to go in there and do that? Because, man, there are those nights where you just couldn’t get on that the subway was late, or you couldn’t get a cab and you’re just like, “I’m just going to run to this diner. And you know what? Let me get the cheeseburger deluxe just so they will allow me.”

Robby: Yeah, there’s always the stereotype that New York just reeks of piss, and it does, because there’s not a lot of options for people.

Jon: There really isn’t. And you know, Robby, if I may push back on you and not say it reeks of piss. But there’s I think you’re forgetting, you know, imagine walking through the subway with that smell. But Gershwin is playing.

Robby: Oh, I see.

Jon: You have to romanticize these things.

Robby: Right. Yes, the the Big Apple, the uh.

Jon: Thank you. The city that never sleeps and apparently is taking a diuretic. The city, the city that has a diuretic.

Rob: You could use the restroom here. You could use it anywhere.

Jon: How are you guys doing? We are. We are taping this, by the way, a little bit early. I am heading down to D.C. early in the week — trucker convoy. But I am going to be down there, so we’re taping this on Friday, so the things that we discuss now may have completely changed, fundamentally changed from the time that we are talking about them to the time that people listen to them. I think like a week from now, it’s like a week from now?

Robby: Yes.

Jon: So I wanted to very much talk about the events in Ukraine and in Russia. But Lord knows, man. Six days from now, I mean, that’s that’s a lifetime, but I’ll tell you what will not change in my mind. This Volodymyr Zelensky fella. Boy, I mean.

Robby: Yeah.

Jon: We are comedians. And we know the general brand of cowardice that runs through our business.

[LAUGHS]

Robby: Yeah.

Jon: And the you know that fake braggadocio that comes from standing on stage and, you know, having a heckler and destroying him with a microphone. What this dude is doing…

Robby: Yeah.

Jon: It is incredibly moving. I mean, it’s, we’re watching Shecky Greene transform into Churchill like his grace. And I don’t know if you’ve, have you listened to any of the speeches that he’s given?

Robby: Yeah.

Jon: Remarkable.

Robby: I mean, it’s powerful. Yeah.

Rob: Yeah.

Jon: But just the grace and the Klitschko brothers that are over there. I mean, boy, what a terrible time to kind of notice the real spine of this country. I wish it was not in such terrible circumstances, but as — do you guys feel any of that as a comedian, you know? Does that resonate with you guys at all?

Robby: I can say as I mean, yeah. What’s funny, I guess, is that for the past, like four or five years, comedian gets kind of worn with a bit of a mark of shame in a lot of ways, you know, like —

Jon: Wait. Past four or five years?

[ROBBY LAUGHS]

Jon: Wait, what? Try 40 or 50.

Robby: I think —

Jon: We’re the lowest form of show business. It’s strippers, geeks, comics. I think we’re the we might be the lowest form of show business.

Rob: It’s because we’re half stripper, half geek.

Jon: And that’s I think that’s probably right.

Robby: Yeah. So watching this guy, you know, stand up and, you know, communicate on such a human level to say, you know, attack, attack this region, the region where my best friend’s mother lived, where I cheered alongside you at the European Cup, you know, really just dropping the political bulls*** and connecting on this. I’m a human being. You’re a human being level. It was so touching.

Jon: I mean, in many respects, like they are, they are brethren.

Robby: Yeah.

Jon: It’s it is, you know, New Jersey attacking Staten Island.

[ROB LAUGHS]

Jon: Like it’s — I mean, it’s just the weirdest, you know, there’s so much shared history and we’ve never seen something like this in our modern era. Listen, no one’s going to excuse the larger countries and some of the imperialist adventures that we go on and some of the false justifications that we make for it. But generally, there will be a period of an attempt to paper over a bald nationalism or crass economic interests with some high minded rhetoric about something. Putin was just like, “yes, we are going to go in and kill everybody.” Like it. You’re just like, Wait, what?

Robby: It’s full Bond villain. And I can’t. There’s all these articles. “Why is Putin doing this?” There is not a single logical reason to justify this.

Jon: You know what I keep thinking of? I sort of keep thinking of the comics table at the cellar.

Robby: Mm-hmm.

Jon: And the idea that somebody from that little roundtable has been forced into this incredible feat of courage and statesmanship. And I sort of imagine, you know, you know, when you’re sitting around the comics table, everybody’s telling their horror stories like “I once opened at a fuddruckers and there wasn’t even a — people are just coming in and using the f***ing fixins bar.” And like Zelensky’s at the table, you know, and you’re all telling your horror stories of gigs and things. And he’s just like “I was attacked by the third largest army in the entire, in the entire world.” And then everybody’s just going to be like, “Oh, why do you always bring that up?”

Robby: Yeah, yeah. The booker at the Chuckle Hut shorted me 30 bucks, so I’ve been through it.

Jon: I once did a Roger Paul gig in Rochester. They didn’t feed me for three days, and he’s like, “they had the missiles pointed.” I mean, it’s just. The courage and the humanity that I think I’m also shocked at the humanity that they’re displaying. It’s not. They’re not responding in hatred and in anger. They’re responding in care, in like, look, I don’t know if you saw there was a video, it’s heartbreaking of a man saying goodbye.

Robby: Yes.

Jon: He’s sending his daughter away and he’s going to stay and fight. And it’s — I — boy, there’s a part of me that truly hopes that this is where the social media algorithm will shine. There’s a part of me that hopes that as if, boy, if anything can go viral. Let it be this. Let it be these speeches. Let it be these moments and let that in some way build momentum to end this. That would be.

Rob: Yeah.

Robby: I am. I am praying for that, but it’s just, it’s so dystopian that we are like, please algorithm favor the right side of history.

[ROB LAUGHS]

Jon: I’ll tell you something, man. Artificial intelligence f***ing owes us.

Robby: Yeah.

Jon: It’s it’s driven me down so many rabbit holes that it’s got to give me something. It’s got to provide some measure of redemption for itself that if it can, you know, take this moment. But boy, and I just feel you know, you’re watching a guy drive a country over a cliff in real time, and I don’t, listen — I don’t think this ends well for anybody. But I also don’t think it ends well for Putin and the Russian people. I feel like he is driving the Russian people over a cliff. He is — he’s going to hurt them economically, psychically in so many different ways. And for f***ing what?

Robby: For nothing, for nothing. And they’re going to get hurt bad in this. I mean, they’ll be a pariah country with the inability to access dollars and trade with the West. It’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt them so badly.

Jon: Even, I just, even emotionally, it looks like the kind of psychic wound that a country is going to be. And I understand he’s feeding them a whole nonsense of, “we’re demilitarizing and de-Nazifying.” What was it, de-Nazification? First of all, the guy who runs it is Jewish.

Robby: Yeah.

Jon: Like Zelensky’s a Jewish guy. I don’t. I don’t. You’re going to de-Nazify him? Is that what it’s called now? I’m pretty sure it’s the inverse of that. But f*** man, you know, not to sugarcoat it and not to suggest that we have any deeper, nuanced understanding of the relationship between those two countries. Because as Americans, I can assure you, we do not. We only learn geography when somebody is bombing somebody. I mean, that’s the level of attention that we pay on the world stage. But —

Robby: And that somebody is usually us.

Jon: And that somebody is usually us. And then all of a sudden everybody’s an expert on where Kabul is.

Robby: Yes.

Rob: Yeah.

Jon: Nobody else knows. What do you think? Does a guy like Trump now go, like, how do they turn that? Do they turn that with the, I guess the turn is just like, “this never would have happened with me because he knows I’m strong,” and you’re like, well, maybe he never would have happened with you because he knows that he wasn’t up against anything when you were there. So he didn’t need to do anything. I don’t f***ing know.

Rob: I think Trump’s already said something like, “I alone can fix this Russian problem,” which is —

Jon: Is that really true?

Rob: Yeah.

Robby: Yeah. Well, and that’s the talking point, right? 2014, Crimea. You know, Obama, Crimea. Now Biden.

Jon: Of course that’s the talking point.

Robby: Yeah.

Jon: Where’s the talking point on? Yeah, we had four hundred million dollars worth of armaments that we denied them because you wouldn’t do an investigation into, you know, Hunter Biden or some s***. Listen, those guys all have, we used to call it ballsheimers, ballsheimers was these guys that say f***ing horrendous things and then have the balls to pretend like they don’t remember ever saying. And man, you’ll go back in the archives, this is what we used to do at The Daily Show. You go back in the archives and go this, this, this, this and this. You play it and you think, like the shame would somehow be like the groundhog. You’d see a shadow and have to f***ing disappear for six weeks, no. Shame is not an emotion that exists in that universe.

Robby: Yeah, and it’s so crushing to it, that’s why the fact that you lasted, what, sixteen years, at The Daily — at a certain point, I would be like, “Welcome. Last night, Mitch McConnell said this six years ago. He said the opposite. Here it is. Here’s Doris Kearns Goodwin to tell me that,” you know —

Jon: Well it does, you know? Because at a certain point, what’s wearing on you is impotent rage. Because if you’re not playing right, because a lot of them are playing, a lot of them are creating an urgency and a rage and an upset that they don’t actually feel, it’s performative. You know what I mean?

Robby: Yes.

Jon: But if you’re feeling it. Every night and as best we could, we tried to make a show that was really feeling it, visceral, not not performative. The lack of movement towards the world that you would prefer to live in sort of begins to. To wear you down a little bit to the point where I don’t know if people can see this as a visual if they’re watching this, but this looks like a time lapse —

[ROBBY LAUGHS]

Jon: Of Robby is where we started. Rob is where I was in the middle of it and here I am now.

[LAUGHS]

Robby: We get — there’s so many that makes me feel good.

Jon: The descent of man, this is the descent of man.

Rob: Gives me some hope. Maybe I’ll grow some hair back. You know.

[JON LAUGHS]

Jon: I got to tell you, Rob, that if you keep that beard going, you can just, you could roll that baby right around to the top.

Rob That’s the plan.

Jon: Cut. Here’s what you do. You roll it around to the top. Just cut out the face. Nobody’s nobody’s the wiser. Robby, have you ever been able to grow a beard of that strength and character?

Robby: I can actually grow pretty, pretty big. But like you, it looks more rabbinical than anything else. You know.

[ROB LAUGHS]

Jon: I go from zero to rabbinical.

Robby: Yes.

Jon: In 11 days.

Robby: Me too. Yeah.

Jon: If I don’t keep — the minute, like what he’s got going there is like, there’s a certain menace to it.

[ROB LAUGHS]

Robby: Yes.

Jon: There’s a little bit of like if you see him in a bar, you’d be like, “I’d like to check out that guy’s tattoos and also his criminal record.”

Robby: This man is chopping wood in front of his cabin, and we’re trying to get him back to not after what you guys did to me in Tajikistan. Kind of feel.

[ROB LAUGHS]

Jon: Well, anyway, this is an amazing month for us, we got four, I think, really wonderful episodes, we start with Wall Street. We go to climate change and then we go to, I believe, the media, by the way. Let me say this about the media. These types of stories. Ukraine, a war. This is what they’re actually built for. And when they are matched with their purpose and there is a story equal to it, boy, do they deliver? And they have done a magnificent job of bringing this story, the reality of this story to the public, I have been wildly impressed. And it just shows you what they are capable of. When a story is at the level of urgency that they pretend everything else is, and boy, it’s almost it’s a little heartbreaking. Because you see, just like how talented and how committed and how involved they can be. But when left idle or when left to the currents of their Ratings Overlords. How their natural and innate abilities are perverted into something way more damaging, but f***, man, I don’t know if you’ve been watching the coverage, but they have been on. I believe the phrase is motherf***ing point.

Robby: Yeah. Yeah, I. You said everything perfectly, so I’m not even going to piggyback on that.

Jon: Yeah. Let me just say, except for Fox.

[LAUGHS]

Jon: Those motherf***ers won’t be satisfied until the axis powers get together and have us joining the other team.

Rob: Yeah.

Jon: But and we got that and then we got, of course, the episode that we end with race, which apparently is in no way a tinderbox.

Robby: And folks, we fix it. We solve it.

Rob: Yeah. Race. No problem.

Jon: Robby.

Robby: I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

Jon: Spoiler alert. Son of a b****.

Rob: The two white guys with the same name. We did it. We handled race.

Jon: By the way, this is an all Rob episode. Because I don’t know if you know this so, the person that we talked to in terms of the stock market, this gentleman, Rob Jackson, who was a commissioner at the SEC in the episode, the Apple TV+ episode. We do talk to the current SEC commissioner, Gary Gensler, to find, get some answers. And then Rob can explain to us why we didn’t get any of those answers and has really good insight into why the Securities and Exchange Commission is not able to accomplish the goal of accountability for the stock market. And I think really gives you a really nice insight into that that I hope the episode kind of gins up as well. By the way, there’s going to be a lot of terms in the interview that may not be familiar to you. They certainly were not familiar to me, and to be quite honest with you, I’m not sure they’re familiar to me even now because my brain is mush. But if you’re looking for those terms or any of those meanings, we’ve got him listed in the episode description. So you can just plop in there and you can see them to your heart’s content. So let’s let’s go to this young man, Rob, a different Rob than the Robs. And by the way.

Robby: We’re on stock market theme, because the point was, you’re getting out, you’re getting robbed by white guys.

Jon: Oh oh, if we were a morning show, I would have hit a tremendous amount of noise. [JON MIMICS AIRHORNS AND BELLS]

Jon: All right. Here we go.

[TRANSITION MUSIC]

Interview with Rob Jackson

Jon: We’re talking with Rob Jackson, a former commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, we were talking about the challenges that are facing the SEC. It’s basically the only difference between Wall Street and Las Vegas is Las Vegas is incredibly well regulated. If you cheat there, they will f***ing throw you out. Wall Street, they cannot keep up. And so the question is, how do you create accountability when over the past few years, it’s almost as though the SEC they haven’t given up, but they’ve acquiesced to the way of we’re not going to really send too much to the DOJ. We’re just going to see if we can collect a few fines, continue along our way and go along to get along.

Rob Jackson: So Jon, I think to be fair to the SEC, as you point, as you pointed out.

Jon: Alright.

Rob Jackson: These are folks who are underfunded and undermanned.

Jon: Mm-hmm.

Rob Jackson: As Gensler pointed out to you, during the Trump administration, they had a decrease in their workforce of five percent while the stock market exploded.

Jon: Right.

Rob Jackson: So asking these guys — getting mad at the S.E.C. because they don’t have enough money to do the job of holding people accountable in my mind is a mistake.

Jon: You bring up an excellent point. They don’t have the money or the resources. But if you are tasked with a certain job, you can either raise holy hell that it’s money or you can change your model. I brought up this idea of the APEs. It stands for All People Equal. These guys are, you know, the amateur retail investors. They shared stock tips on Reddit became a force behind GameStop and AMC and and all those various kind of more populist stock movements. They have discovered a lot of the inequities and unfairness and outright cheating within this Wall Street system. That’s not very transparent and is not very open to, especially to the retail investor.

Rob Jackson: Yep.

Jon: When I brought up this idea of like, let them be a crowdsourced way of identifying things that can help you target them more easily. He was like, “We have a whistleblower program. The whistleblower program has given out $7 million,” like it was all very by the book. You’re getting your a**kicked. Throw out the book, and let’s come up with some interesting and novel ways like, you got to figure it out.

Rob Jackson: So listen, I think that’s very fair, and there’s a whole host of things that they can and should be trying. And one of them, by the way, is using social media and trying to understand what investors are seeing and making sure that they have investigators who are thinking through those alternatives. But Jon, I want to say something else, which is the regulated entities, they have lawyers, good ones. And if you go outside the box, they’ll sue you and win. Now your episodes about the stock market, right? It’s about payment for order flow. It’s about the exchanges being for profit businesses. So we tried to make some rules about that. And a couple of days after we announced them, an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal from the chief executive officer of the New York Stock Exchange. Why we are suing the S.E.C. why —

Jon: Why were they suing the SEC?

Rob Jackson: Because we wanted to make some changes to the transparency and the governance of exactly the issues you were discussing on the show.

Jon: Right.

Rob Jackson: So we decided we wanted to make some changes. We made those changes into a rule and they took us to court and beat us. And I got to say, Jon, whatever you want to say about the SCC, when they go outside those lines, the regulated finance industry has really good lawyers and by the way, not for nothing, but some of their lawyers used to work at the SEC.

Jon: Many of them.

Rob Jackson: Absolutely. And these guys go into court and they often are able to keep the SEC from doing its job. I think it’s a huge problem.

Jon: So that’s what I’m saying. It’s like one of those Wild West towns with one sheriff. But the sheriff changes every day because, like, they keep chasing out the old sheriff. And then there’s a new guy in there. There’s a revolving door between corporate America and the SEC. It’s self-regulating in a large extent, payment for order flow is rife with conflict of interest. There’s all kinds of nontransparent fund transfers that don’t go on. The retail investor has difficulty seeing how much of the market is shorted. You know, with GameStop, they were holding, I think, a short position of 140% of the entirety of the company.

Rob Jackson: Yep…

Jon: So within all those parameters, the sheriff in that town has to come up with another way of approaching things because it’s very clear what they have decided is, we’re going to neuter the S.E.C. to the point where we’re comfortable paying whatever tariff they imposed on us to give us the patina of a well-regulated industry, is not well regulated.

Rob Jackson: It’s not well regulated. And you’re absolutely right that the fines that these companies pay, just the cost of doing business with them.

Jon: Right.

Rob Jackson: That’s absolutely right. And what I would say, Jon, is if we were to have a conversation about how to fix that problem.

Jon: Mm-hmm.

Rob Jackson: That conversation has got to include doing something about the amount of money the finance industry gives to Congress. Because as we discussed earlier.

Jon: Right.

Rob Jackson: The amount of money that’s spent by these sort of the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable on these congressional races is so astonishing and completely nontransparent that what we end up with is a system where members of Congress don’t want to fund the SEC to do its job.

Jon: It’s a capture. They’ve been captured.

Rob Jackson: Listen Jon, when I was at the SEC.

Jon: Mm-hmm.

Rob Jackson: Every day I have like a calendar that tells me what I’m doing that day. Half my calendar is meetings with industry, their lawyers or their lobbyists. And by the way, I was a guy who spent more time than most actually meeting with investors rather than the industry or the lobbyists.

Jon: So that was interesting. So you’ve got these two polarities. One is capital formation, where you’re trying to create a system where there’s enough trust in it that people will invest their money into businesses. And those businesses can use that capital to make investments in infrastructure and hire people and all those things. But the other is investor protection. But it seems very clear that investor protection is again a facade to really help lubricate and facilitate capital formation.

Rob Jackson: You know what I don’t understand? What I don’t understand is when people talk about those two goals being in tension with each other.

Jon: Mm-hmm.

Rob Jackson: Why is it in tension with capital formation to protect investors?

Jon: Rob, preach. Preach!

[ROB JACKSON LAUGHS]

Rob Jackson: So in my mind, if you keep people from getting screwed over, that will help capital formation. If you make people believe that the market actually works and isn’t a casino that will help capital formation. But unfortunately, I think the way people are thinking about it in Washington is you have to choose either you make things inexpensive and easy to rip people off or you make them expensive and companies can’t get money. And I always thought this was a false choice, man.

Jon: I think it’s even more sinister than that. I think if you look at monetary policy where they keep interest rates near zero so that you really have no other choice in terms of savings other than to flood the money into the market, which inflates all the assets of the market, you have pension funds that are allowed to gamble with hedge fund operators. So the money that people are saving for their retirement gets flooded into the return that those people get on the games that they’re playing in the backroom casino far dwarf what they’re giving to the pension holders. And what it says to me is not only are they not protecting investors. They are actually lubricating the chutes to get investor money to help them play their casino games. And they refer to it as dumb money. Again, it looks like a scheme to get dumb money so that this, their system of stocks gets over inflated, not to mention the whole derivatives and other nonsense that goes on behind the scenes that’s really not transparent.

Rob Jackson: I noticed in your episode that some of your staff asked you what it must have been like to earn five percent on a savings account.

Jon: Yes.

Rob Jackson: Like that’s like a relic of the past.

Jon: Yeah.

Rob Jackson: And you made a point that I thought was important, which is it’s no longer politically tenable to govern while the stock market falls.

Jon: No question.

Rob Jackson: And —

Jon: No question.

Rob Jackson: I think that’s a problem because the truth is Gary Gensler shouldn’t be in favor of the market going up or down. Gary Gensler should be in favor of the market being fair and protecting the people who are trying to save for their retirement. And I think at a human level, he does feel that way. But the political reality is that if the market goes down, he’s going to be blamed for that. And that’s not a tenable way to be the sheriff. That’s not a way that a regulator can do their job.

Jon: It’s one of those situations where the people that are the insiders of the market resent the retail investors, they really resent this GameStop. You know that they got a little taste of their own shorting medicine and they got put in a short squeeze by the retail investors. They really hate that. But it was, I thought, interesting that the reason that they were upset with the retail investors is that they weren’t playing fair and they weren’t paying attention to the fundamentals of the market. And the balls of the insiders of Wall Street to say that they play by the fundamentals of the market is stunning. I think either completely dishonest or completely divorced from the reality of what exactly is going on in the stock market, and I think you hit it on the head. It’s untenable for monetary policy to drop the value of the stock market. It’s untenable for the government to have any control over how the casino in the back room operates. We’re at the mercy of greed. Like flat out greed presented as free market capitalism. It is not a free market. I don’t even know if it’s capitalism. It’s certainly crony something.

Rob Jackson: The good news about that is that anybody who’s serious about a free market, about actual like sort of a libertarian way of thinking about this, knows that the stock market system we have is broken. I’ll tell you something else. When I went, when I was on the SEC and we made rules to rein in the stock exchanges, I had bipartisan support for that. We lost in the courts. But even members of Congress would say, “You guys are doing the right thing.” Because this is not a free market. It’s not a free market, Jon. When one side is paying another side to get dumb money order flows into a particular place where you can trade against them for profit. That’s not that’s not a free market that’s —

Jon: And hyper inflating the volume and making their money skimming each trade.

Rob Jackson: I think that’s right. And I want to note something that I think is worth noting. Payment for order flow is a real problem. But you talked about it with stocks.

Jon: Yes.

Rob Jackson: Now on stocks, that market has been very, very well developed over years. I’m not saying it’s a perfect market, but it’s a market that works reasonably well. The market where Robinhood really makes its money, the market where payment for order flow is a great source of profit is the options market. There you really make money.

Jon: Why is the options market more lucrative for them than the other? Is that because there’s even less transparency or regulation?

Rob Jackson: Yes, there is more room in between the bidding, the price for an option, in which they can make money.

Jon: Right.

Rob Jackson: There’s more room for options than there is for stocks.

Jon: So to explain to people. Options trading is just the buying and selling of options. Basically, you’re just betting on a stock to go up or down, but not the actual stock. It’s a bet.

Rob Jackson: Right.

Jon: Now why does the option give them more leeway on price?

Rob Jackson: A short way to put this is that dumb money is dumb when it comes to stocks, but it’s even dumber when it comes to options. That is, they have more room on options because they’re going to be able to turn around and find another order that’s even wider apart, and they’ll be able to make the difference.

Jon: And they’ll get that difference.

Rob Jackson: That’s right.

Jon: And it’s not illegal for them to take that difference.

Rob Jackson: No. And not only that, it’s called price improvement, because you see —

Jon: Wow.

Rob Jackson: No, Jon, they’re doing you a favor. You seem ungrateful.

Jon: I’m f***ing Orwellian.

Rob Jackson: So it’s called price improvement because what they’re saying is there’s an there’s a price on the there’s a bid and they ask on the exchange. Here’s what it looks like. And as long as we get you something inside here, we did better for you.

Jon: So when do they establish that range? And is the range different for options or for stocks like will they give you for an option, a bigger range?

Rob Jackson: Yes.

Jon: OK, so that’s where they get the money. OK.

Rob Jackson: And yes, and just to say a little more about that, I think you might ask “Hey Rob, where does the range even come from for stocks?” And the answer is the stock exchanges have what’s called a sort of public data feed. They’re required by law to maintain it. It’s got a bid and an ask and it tells everybody, here’s what the bid and the ask are for stocks during the day that public feed is, as I say, it’s run by the exchanges. Over time, the exchanges became for profit vehicles and they figured out, you know, that public feed, maybe we should have a private feed that’s better.

Jon: Oh, for f***’s sake.

Rob Jackson: That’s faster. And they do, and they charge fees for it to Wall Street.

Jon: So is that when these companies put up a microwave tower or they move their servers closer? Are they trying to jump that feed?

Rob Jackson: Yes. And also what they’ll do is they’ll the New York Stock Exchange itself will make updated feeds more available quicker, faster data, better information, and the brokers will pay for that data so that they can so that they can trade ahead of the feed as well.

Jon: So if you’re a retail investor, the feed that you’re getting is almost like a glimpse into the past. It’s a bit of a time machine, like when you’re seeing that stock ticker on the television, it’s like seeing the light of a different, a distant star. The light you’re seeing isn’t the light of now. It’s light from some time ago.

Rob Jackson: In a way that’s right. And not only that, Jon, but you might say to me, “Hey, Rob, who runs the public feed?”

Jon: Boom, who runs the public feed, rob?

Rob Jackson: The New York Stock Exchange.

Jon: Motherf***er. And they’re for profit.

Rob Jackson: And they are selling a better private feed. So what incentive do they have for the public feed? When I was in office, I gave a speech where I said, this is sort of like letting Barnes and Noble run the public library and then being surprised that the library sucks.

Jon: Right, because they’re trying to sell a different product. So then the question becomes, can the retail investor get the private feed? Or is that something that is only attainable to the large bore investors and hedge funds and things like that?

Rob Jackson: It’s so expensive that it’s almost certainly always the latter. And not only that, but the SEC has done a relatively poor job in getting transparency as to why these prices are what they are and how they get set. And by the way, we tried to change that in the SEC, too. And what do you think the New York Stock Exchange did, Jon?

Jon: I believe they might have sued.

Rob Jackson: They sued us.

Jon: And won.

[LAUGHS]

Rob Jackson: That one’s still in court. That one is still in court. By the way, while we’re talking about this, here’s something else.

Jon: Yes.

Rob Jackson: We said the New York Stock Exchange and other exchanges like it, they’re for profit now. When they make mistakes, they get sued.

Jon: We’re talking about flash crashes and things like that.

Rob Jackson: All kinds of situations they get sued and when they get sued, what they do is they tell the court we’re immune from suit because we’re a regulator, you see. So they get the benefit of being for profit, but also gets a claim being a government like entity when they get sued.

Jon: They’re a utility, when they need to be a utility and a private company, when they need to be a private company.

Rob Jackson: That’s right.

Jon: So this brings us to another area of accountability. You have financial news networks that are 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which have tremendous resources, a ton of financial journalists, certainly people that absolutely understand to a T, the things that you’re saying and the criticisms that you’re raising, but you never hear it on air, the things that you’re saying seem like scandals that can be addressed through good journalism and through tenacious kinds of muckraking. But those financial networks they remind me of like if you ever go to a you’re staying in a casino and like, they have that TV channel, that’s the casino channel. And Suzanne Somers is always on it like blackjack is fun and easy and you can make millions. You know, the financial news networks are abdicating what would appear to be their primary function, which is to hold to account these enormous financial institutions.

Rob Jackson: I think that’s absolutely right. I think we saw that in ‘08 and ‘09, and I think there was somebody who asked them pretty hard questions of Jim Cramer on that subject.

Jon: I don’t recall that because I was, I was pretty drunk during that time, but I’ve since sobered up.

Rob Jackson: I see. And I think it was important that those questions got asked. And let’s face it, Jon. What’s good about being a journalist is that you have people you can talk to. And if you go on TV and make life hard on them, it’s harder to get them to talk to you. And I think that’s a big part of what creates that conflict in financial journalism today. There are some very good journalists who are prepared to hold Wall Street to account, but not as many as we need, that’s for sure.

Jon: And that strikes me as the lowest bar of entry to somebody that would call themselves a financial news network. It’s very clear that the apes have uncovered all kinds of shenanigans and inequities and a two tiered system that they don’t have access to. And I don’t think any of it would come as a surprise to the financial journalists who work in those networks, and yet they don’t seem to have an interest in exposing them and correcting them.

Rob Jackson: Now, I think that’s right. And again, I think there are folks who do that kind of very difficult journalism, but I don’t think those are the folks with the ticker at the bottom of their screen. I think the folks that have a ticker at the bottom of the screen want to deliver in general, news about the second by second develop in the market and they want the news to be good. And in general, I think that’s the way they report it and we see that in the in market behavior. I don’t see a lot of hard hitting interviews there where people are coming on and getting asked really hard questions about, “is this the right system and how do you make your money? And do you feel good about the way you make your money?”

Jon: The journalists that cover finance should be asking the same questions that the SEC is asking. Their interests should be aligned.

Rob Jackson: I think that’s right. And by the way, you know, there are folks out there who do that kind of work, but they’re not the folks who have the biggest microphone. And I have to be honest Jon, I think that’s why if you look at something like ‘08, that’s why it took so long for the journalists to accept that that was happening because everybody was on the phone telling them, “it’s going to be fine, it’s going to be fine.” And let’s face it, Jon, we said earlier, it’s not tenable for politicians to preside over falling stock markets, and it’s not great for financial journalists, either. People don’t tune in to hear the sort of difficult sober truth about, “Hey, you know, we’re kind of in a little bubble here.” That’s not what they’re looking for.

Jon: Right.

Rob Jackson: I think that the markets we’ve created are increasingly volatile and increasingly fragile, and we learned that the hard way at the start of this pandemic, Jon, because at the beginning of the pandemic, before it became clear that Congress and the Federal Reserve were prepared to act aggressively. The stock market went on a terrible, terrible ride, and it was only the existence of these policies you just described that led it back to the market we have now. And I think people who aren’t in the day to day Wall Street game see that and think it’s bull**** and they’re right. It’s not been the American experience or system that the government sits back with Canada money and bails out investors who made mistakes. But that’s the world we have now. Twice Jon, twice in 10 years, the U.S. government has intervened in private enterprise and bailed them out from their mistakes while inequality has risen. I’ll give you an example. When I was on the SEC 2018, 2019, 2020, airlines, which were doing very well at the time, did huge amount of stock buybacks.

Jon: Right.

Rob Jackson: What they decided was, look, we think the stock’s cheap. We’ve got extra cash, we’ll buy back some shares. Then a pandemic happens. Bad for travel, Jon. Now they have a problem. Now, in my view, what’s the solution to that? Well, maybe you shouldn’t have been buying back stock last year, and maybe we need to have a bankruptcy process where the executives and everybody else who made those decisions actually lose some money because of what just happened. What happens instead? What happens instead is says the U.S. government gives them a cannon full of money and bails them out. And I got to tell you, Jon, if you know you’re going to get bailed out, I don’t blame you for doing stock buybacks when times are good.

Jon: No, they’re acting in their own best interest, which makes sense.

Rob Jackson: That’s right.

Jon: I mean, it’s not as though they’re not. But the stock buyback issue for the airlines was an enormous one, they were so flush with cash based on the monetary policy, and when they did all those stock buybacks and when they got hit again, what did we do? We bailed them out again, right?

Rob Jackson: That’s right.

Jon: And yet, you know, the individual traveler or those kind of things can never do it. And the reason they always give you is moral hazard for apparently, if you bail out an individual, it is moral hazard. But if you bail out a corporation, it’s the free market at work. And that’s why it’s so frustrating to hear people say, you know, we can’t help retail and we can’t help the worker because that’s socialism. And that’s the government picking winners and losers. But we pick winners and losers all the time, and we feed those winners’ cannons filled with money.

Rob Jackson: That’s absolutely right. And this is why when I was on the SEC and people would come in to me and make a free market argument, I mean, I have to say I admire the chutzpah in being JPMorgan and coming into my office and saying “free markets” because I’m like, “listen, man, I was there in 09.”

Jon: Right.

Rob Jackson: You got a 25 billion dollar check.

Jon: Yeah. Ain’t nothing close to it. And that’s the thing that’s also strikes me is there’s no strings attached for the most part, to any of this money. And so in a pandemic, the Fed can say, we’re not going to collect any kinds of drawdown fees from the banks in terms of bounced checks or overdraft fees or any of that s***. We’re not going to collect any of it. And the banks can go, “great because we’re going to keep doing that and just keep it. We’re not going to pass those savings on to the consumer. We’re just going to use that as a business model.”

Rob Jackson: It’s funny you say that, so like there’s sort of two ways to think about this. Number one, the government should get out of the business of handing bags of cash to corporations. But if they can’t get out of that business, they should at least drive a better bargain.

Jon: When they gave all that money. I don’t understand why they didn’t have some kind of, and 20 percent of this has to be low interest loans to small businesses.

Rob Jackson: Right, now, to be fair. They did do the Paycheck Protection Program, which had some features that were like that and small business.

Jon: That, but that was much later that was in the pandemic. I’m talking about the two that — listen, I thought the pandemic relief was much more geared on a Keynesian level and and stimulated family. It made much more sense to me, a lot of what they did.

Rob Jackson: Me too.

Jon: I think it may have been poorly constructed and there might have been some fraud with it, but it made much more sense. But you saw immediately. The narrative was if you give people six hundred dollars, they’ll never come to work again. “You lazy f***ing Americans, you essential workers that have been pounding it out on the front lines of a deadly respiratory virus just to make sure that everybody’s avocados come in.” But if I give you $600, like all of a sudden, you’re going to be like, “Hello easy street. I’m never working again.” Like, it’s a bonkers narrative that money corrupts the worker, but it only elevates the corporation.

Rob Jackson: It’s only, it’s the fair thing to do, but it’s also the economically sane thing to do to understand that money is equally capable, if not more so of corrupting a corporation. And to the degree that you keep handing them this money, when there’s trouble, they’re going to keep acting like people who are going to get money when there’s trouble.

Jon: And take that short term gain. So in the future, where do you see the the future of accountability, the future of regulation and, and maybe even the movement of retail investors as a powerful force to recalibrate this market.

Rob Jackson: So first of all, if you want more accountability on Wall Street from the SEC, the first thing you have to do is get some transparency around the money finance gifts to Congress.

Jon: Job one, Job one.

Rob Jackson: Because you looked at Gary Gensler and you said you’re taking coffee donations and you’re up against Jamie Dimon.

Jon: Right.

Rob Jackson: I don’t like your chances.

[TAPE CLICK]

[THE PROBLEM INTERVIEW CLIP]

Jon: The retail investor, they’re at a real disadvantage. And you’re the sheriff. And you’re outgunned. I walked into your coffee room today. There’s a little sign that says “coffee donations welcome.” We’re at the SEC.

Jamie Dimon: Yeah.

Jon: Holy s***.

Jamie Dimon: Now we could use some more resources, that is for sure.

Jon: How outmanned are you? Are you an abacus in a calculator world? Are you analog in a digital world?

Jamie Dimon: It’s hard. It’s hard. Look, we spend, we have about a $2 billion a year budget here. We spend about 350 to 400 million a year on technology, which is probably what one of the top five or six banks spend in a few weeks.

Jon: Right.

Jamie Dimon: You know, on technology,

Jon: I feel like the SCC is put in an impossible position.

[TAPE CLICK]

Rob Jackson: And of course, you’re right, but Congress makes sure that he doesn’t get money, that he needs to do that job, so I think we should sort of put our attention where it belongs, which is to the degree that you can, you can give money in secret to support political campaigns. Corporations are going to do that and it’s going to influence policy. So the first thing I would do would be to say the SEC can and should have a rule that says if you spend money on politics, you’ve got to disclose that to your investors. Now, as I pointed out to you before, Congress has written a law saying the SEC can’t make that rule. Because they like the money they’re getting from corporations. But if it were up to me, if I were in this administration, it would be my first, second, third priority to get rid of that rule and to let the SEC do its job.

Jon: This is purposefully obtuse. Our financial system is designed to be a labyrinth that is impenetrable by anybody that is not a part of it.

Rob Jackson: That’s right. So the first thing you have to do, in my view, is get that money out of the system. So that’s first. Second, I think once you get these resources into the SEC, this is not a sexy answer, but I think it’s the right answer. It’s a technology issue. Like you heard Gensler say that they’re spending 2/300 million a year on technology. I was at the SEC. I saw some of that technology at work and it’s great and the people work very hard. But that’s what Citadel and JP spend on technology in a month.

Jon: Right.

Rob Jackson: That’s not a serious technology span. So you’ll have to have the SEC catch up on things like that. If you want to get those — and then I think you’re right. I think there is some degree to which the American public and retail investors need to be able to talk to the SEC and help them figure out how to move forward on these things. I know the SEC is learning from the GameStop and AMC experiences, but if I’m being honest, I think if we don’t get money out of the political money out of the system, we’re unlikely to be able to do any of that because it’ll continue to be Congress’s view that the SEC shouldn’t get the budget they need for the kind of accountability you want.

Jon: And maybe it’s also a shift that the stock market is not the heartbeat and pulse of the American economy. Our economy is 70 percent consumer spending and a ton of small businesses. And the truth is these publicly traded companies are a portion of it, but a distorted view of what the health of the real American economy is and yet it’s the ticker that you see on TV all day long, and it gives the false impression that the stock market is our country’s economy and I think that skewed picture is what makes it so politically difficult to change anything.

Rob Jackson: I think that’s right, because as we said earlier, it’s just not politically feasible as a strategy, for someone to come out and say, you know, the stock market’s kind of high. We’ve been on a bull run for like 10 years. Maybe that’s not a thing.

Jon: Maybe, maybe the Fed monetary policy is kind of hyper inflating this thing. You know, it’s funny. So my brother worked at the — he was I think he was at UBS for a while or maybe Morgan Stanley. And then he went to the stock exchange and he has tried to explain some of this s*** to me and man it — And he’s probably the smartest person I’ve ever met. And he’ll even draw s*** on a napkin. And I’ll still just be like, “I don’t I don’t know what’s happening here.”

Rob Jackson: It’s set up to be that complicated.

Jon: Yeah.

Rob Jackson: So it’s very, very difficult to understand and fix.

Jon: In terms of your optimism of any of those things changing. What would you say is the most likely to be put into place if any of them?

Rob Jackson: I’m hopeful that in this administration, maybe even this Congress, people are going to say, you know, we shouldn’t have a law that stops the SEC from shining some light on corporate spending on politics. Now, who knows this negotiation? I think it’s going on right now, the appropriations discussions. But I have to say more and more that law seems like an untenable position for people to take, and I’m hoping it’ll change. And if it does, then it will be up to Gensler to make a rule that gives some transparency on political spending. And I think he will.

Jon: Right. Is there anything else within the context of this episode or within the context of accountability within the Wall Street system that you wanted to to get out there before we we let you go?

Rob Jackson: Well, you said one more thing on the show that I think it’s worth talking about. You said it doesn’t seem like a lot of individuals get held accountable when some of these things happen. Seems like the company pays a fine and everybody moves on. And I think that’s right, Jon. And I think it’s become a problem for the credibility of the SEC in the markets more generally. I think when people break the securities laws and walk away with not just their freedom, but their reputation intact, people get the sense that there’s no, why would I listen to the SEC? Why? Why wouldn’t I be Elon Musk and just do whatever I want? Because they’ll settle with me and I’ll write a check.

Jon: And I’ll move on. It’s the vig. It’s the price of doing business.

Rob Jackson: That’s got to change, man and whether it changes through an act of Congress or through an SEC that’s willing to take people to trial, it’s got to change because the idea that people can extend a middle finger to the market sheriff and then move on after they pay a vig, that’s to my mind. That’s the kind of thing that leads people to say, “this is not, this is not a fair game. This is rigged.”

Jon: And not only that, it’s not only sort of financial crimes or financial shenanigans or those sort of murkier areas of, was that insider trading or was that front-running? Did you get a little bit of a jump or an advantage there? It’s money laundering. It’s the kind of s*** that puts people away for 20 years, for 30 years. And if a bank does it even with drug cartel money. “All right. Geez, that’s a, you know what, we’re going to levy a big fine on that one.” But then they just keep doing business.

Rob Jackson: That’s right. And one more.

Jon: Yeah.

Rob Jackson: If you were going to do more on this, I think what you might do is on trading of stocks by members of Congress.

Jon: That they tried to regulate that just last week, I think and Congress was like, “nah we’re pretty happy with how things are.”

Rob Jackson: Look, I’ll tell you right now when I was on the SEC. The first meeting you have when you get that job is “here are the ethical rules.” And they sat down with you — I’m a guy who only owns mutual funds. I don’t trade stocks. They sit down with me and they say, “Just so you know, you can trade stocks whenever you want, you just have to disclose it to us after you’re done.” And I remember saying to the lawyer, “Are you f***ing crazy? What?”.

[JON LAUGHS]

Rob Jackson: I’m a commissioner of the SEC. You want to let me trade stocks? Are you insane?

Jon: Right.

Rob Jackson: Like, I’m not going to trade stocks just because I don’t want to, like, look like the guy that you would be if you were trading stocks as an SEC commissioner.

Jon: Guys that run the regional fed, the very organization whose monetary policy is been inflating stock assets, those guys can trade stocks.

Rob Jackson: In my view, that is bad for everybody, because never will it be the case where guys like you and me are going to look at those trades and be like, “Oh, I’m sure it’s a coincidence or no —”

Jon: It’s a coincidence that they divested all of their funds of pandemic stocks just as this thing was cracked up.

Rob Jackson: And that’s bad for everybody. It doesn’t make any sense at all to let Fed officials, members of Congress, their staff — it doesn’t make any sense at all to allow them to trade like this. It’s bad for everyone. It was bad for me that they let me trade and I didn’t, and they shouldn’t. So that’s a law that I think could pass and will actually, because even members of Congress know that being in a position where people are asking you a year later about trades during a pandemic is bad.

Jon: Excellent. All right, my friend. Well, thank you so much, Rob, for joining us.

Rob Jackson: Thank you, Jon.

Jon: We very much appreciate the conversation. I’m sure it’ll be a continuing conversation and should get fixed somewhere around April. From what I understand, so we should be in good shape. So we’ll check back in after that. But thank you so much for joining us.

Rob Jackson: Thanks again, Jon.

[MUSIC]

Writers Segment

Jon: So I got to tell you guys Rob Jackson, he would I — he’s one of those guys where you’re like, “Oh, you could use your powers for good or for ill.” Like, he’s sharp, but he’s fast talking. And there’s a little bit of like he seems very forgiving of the SEC in a way that I probably am in no way.

Rob: Yeah, I mean, we don’t care. We just want the playing field to be fair. And it seems like the more I learn about the stock market, the less I know about the stock market. I get more confused and more confused until it’s like, “All right, I don’t know what I just bought. No clue.”

Robby: It’s amazing how much, like grown ups and government agencies get to be like, “You don’t get it. It’s hard. It’s really hard.” And you’re like, “OK, but try, you know?”

Jon: Well, that was the whole thing it’s like, you know, if he could just get more resources. And my point was, you could give him all the resources in the world. But if they don’t change their thinking, the thinking is what feels very rigid to me that, you know, you’re up against organizations that are always going to be better financed than you and always going to be more agile than you. And we’ve got to rethink the idea of regulation. I really think regulation should be simplified and the government should complete like the government role should not be regulating minutia. It should be regulating the general confines and parameters of the game.

Robby: Sure.

Jon: And I thought the apes man the s*** that they uncovered. Let them be a tool for transparency. They’re way more active than the SEC. They’re way more committed than the SEC. They’re way more idealistic than the SEC. Use them.

Robby: Yeah. And the things we learned, I think while like learning about the writing this episode, just the insane advantages that these high frequency trading companies have like, someone one of the people we spoke to, he said something that absolutely blew my mind, which is these guys have the capability to trade in microseconds. And I didn’t know what that was. So it’s a millionth of a second. Then basically said the amount of time that elapses between in one minute in microseconds is the same as seconds in 37 years.

Jon: It’s like when you see the stock ticker.

Robby: Yeah.

Jon: You’re watching what companies were worth in the 1830s. You’re so far f***ing behind.

Robby: Yes.

Jon: Meanwhile, these guys have doubled down on speed and moved their stuff closer. And, and that half millionth of a second gets them a micro penny, every transi — like it’s f***ed.

Robby: It’s wild, yeah, it’s an unwinnable game.

Jon: Yeah, I got to tell you something. I agree with you guys and I believe in both of you.

Rob: Well I got a stock tip for you then a few things I need you to put a lot of money into as fast as possible.

[LAUGHS]

Jon: You know what? You can take the Dyker heights out of the boy, but you cannot take the boy — oh wait. No let me reverse.

Rob: Yeah, yeah.

Jon: I don’t remember. I think let me say this to people that have been listening to the podcast on a regular basis or not. Check out this Wall Street episode because I think you are going to dig it. It for me, it was revelatory, infuriating at times, but also kind of a story of you know, everybody’s so mad at the retail investor. Boy, are they, in my mind, they’re the hero of this story. And if we use that energy properly, I think they provide a real pathway to equalizing these markets. We got to figure out a way to hear from people. And also, you know what, I really like when people listen to the podcast and get f***ing angry at like, what’s wrong. And a lot of times it’s experts and then we interview them. And it just starts to build this much more complete picture, so all the Wall Street folks that are going to get really annoyed at us. Well, me, man, put it out there and hopefully then we’ll have you on the podcast and you can set my sorry a** straight.

Rob: Yeah, come on in.

Jon: Wouldn’t that be a nice title for podcast, set my sorry a** straight? Yeah.

Robby: Trademark it.

Jon: Done. All right. In the interest of fairness, this is what we call the fairness doctrine. There has been a preponderance of Robs on this episode. One might say it’s propaganda. It’s pROBaganda. Yeah, you see what I did there? So our only non-Rob participant will be our writer, Alexa Loftus. She’s got her segment. “Let me distract you.” It’s going to take our minds off the stock market. Some of the more depressing headlines with some less depressing headlines. So here’s Alexa Loftus with “Let me distract you.”.

[STATIC]

Alexa: There’s some stressful news out there, i.e. the headlines are bad. It is really bad. I’m talking real. Yu oh, situations. So let me distract you for a moment with some calming headlines that are the audio equivalent of seeing a butterfly land on a baby’s nose.

[TROPICAL MUSIC]

Alexa: A dog house that was hit by a meteorite has sold at auction for $44,000. This is great news because it means I can probably pelt any household object with a rock and make some quick cash. Honestly, what is the difference between a rock and a meteor? Its story? Uh, whatever. Pass me some gravel. Virgin Galactic will fly you to space for the price of a house. Now you can ask yourself, “Do I want the security of homeownership for me and my family for generations? Or do I want to risk my life to float around with a bunch of randos?” Hot off the press from the New York Times, everything you need to know for the perfect couch nap. Take it from me. You only need one thing for a perfect couch nap, and that is for it to be unplanned. And finally, one of the world’s oldest porta potties was discovered in Sicily. This comes months after archeologists were probably like “something smells like s***.” Thanks for letting me distract you. I’m Alexa Loftus. Now, feel free to go back to the Doom scroll.

[TROPICAL MUSIC FADES OUT]

Jon: And that’s it, that’s our show. Thanks to Rob Jackson. Thanks to Rob Christensen, thanks to Robby Slowik. Thanks to all the Robs for joining me today. For more content from The Problem, check out the newsletter. Subscribe at our website. It’s theproblem.com. Check out the Apple TV + show. It’s back on Apple TV+ for the next — It’s week to week for the next four weeks. Watch me grow my Ted Lasso mustache in real time. First episode is going to be on the stock market. Check it out, link in the episode description. We will be back next week. Until then, goodbye.

[OUTRO MUSIC]

Jon: The Problem with Jon Stewart podcast is an Apple TV+ podcast and a joint Busboy production.

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