Talking Points: Quotations from people in the news
- November 1, 2023: Vol. 10, Number 10

Talking Points: Quotations from people in the news


Steve Eisman, the Big Short investor who predicted and profited from the subprime mortgage crisis: “At this point, there is no evidence that a recession is coming at all. Inflation’s coming down, the economy is strong, and people are getting hysterical because the Fed is saying rates are going to be higher for longer. I’m not so hysterical.”


Mary Barra, CEO of GM, on the autoworkers strike: “I’m extremely frustrated and disappointed. We don’t need to be in strike right now. We put a historic offer on the table that not only has very significant gross wage increases in total through the contract over 20 percent, but we also have job security, we maintain world-class healthcare — there’s so many aspects of this offer we have on the table that really is going to resonate with our employees. We didn’t need to be here.”


Walter Isaacson, biographer and Tulane professor, on the UAW strike: “This is not just about the wages, it’s about the fast move we’re doing to EVs. That changes everything. If you’re building an EV, it’s at least 30 percent — and will soon be 50 percent — less time on the assembly line and less work to be done.”


Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft and founder of USAFacts, a nonpartisan organization created to provide insight into how the nation is being run: “Our population only grew about 1.3 million people last year, almost the slowest it’s ever grown, and 1 million of that came from immigration. So, depending on what immigration policy is and how that affects GDP, the government spend on Social Security and Medicare will increase as a percentage of GDP unless we have more people in the country.”


Ron Baron, billionaire investor and founder of Baron Capital, on SpaceX: “They’re going to have rockets that go from Nevada to Australia. You can move ordinance, you can move air freight, anything you want in 35 minutes anywhere in the world.”


James Stewart, New York Times columnist and author of Disney War on Walt Disney’s plans to nearly double its 10-year investment in theme parks, cruises and resorts: “The cruise ship business seems to be doing well, and maybe there is some growth potential there, but theme parks are not going to be some kind of perpetual double-digit growth strategy, so then the question is, what about streaming? It’s not looking at all good there. … They are confronting an incredibly difficult environment.”


Joanne Lipman, Yale University lecturer and former editor-in-chief of USA Today: “There’s been research — first in Iceland and in the U.K., then globally — looking at four-day workweeks, and they have found that productivity has remained the same, employee happiness has skyrocketed, employee mental health has improved as well. If we were to create the workplace from scratch today, I don’t think it would look anything like five days, 40 hours a week on the premises, but we just haven’t figured out what comes next.”


Prithwiraj Choudhury, Harvard Business School professor, commenting on demands by some companies that employees return to the office: “I’m not surprised at all. By mandating these rigid policies, you’re risking your top performers and diversity. It just doesn’t make economic sense.”


Timothy Wu, Columbia University law school professor and former Biden administration antitrust adviser: “Most of the hospital mergers you look at have led to higher prices, worse patient outcomes and workers getting less money.”


Brian Sathianathan, co-founder of, on Levi Strauss & Co.’s plans to begin testing AI-generated clothing models later this year in a bid to diversify the denim company’s online shopping experience: “AI is revolutionizing the way we approach fashion, especially when it comes to diversifying and creating more representation. With advanced algorithms and data-driven insights, companies are able to demonstrate clothing on different people, and consumers can even see what certain clothing or colors will look like on themselves online.”


Chen Liangshi, who worked on artificial intelligence projects at Baidu and Alibaba, on his decision to leave his native country: “I left China because I didn’t like the social and political environment. I will not return to China until it becomes democratic, and the people can live without fear.”


Scott Sheffield, CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources, on the company’s $60 billion acquisition by Exxon Mobil and the oil giant’s CEO Darren Woods: “This is the best company to take 100 percent stock in the world, in my opinion. What Darren has done with this company over the last few years while turning it around, they’ve outperformed all the measures across all indexes.

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