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Learn more at edwardjones.com. Good morning. Jane Pauley is off this weekend.
I'm Mo Rocca, and this is Sunday morning. Unemployment is down. Inflation is up. The economy is in uncharted waters, and no one seems certain about what's next or what to do.
We've asked John Dickerson to help us add it all up. You hear it everywhere. Recession, recession. Are we in a recession? We'll get the big picture.
Everybody is saying where is the economy going, and I think a good point to make is it's hard to predict the future, but right now it's hard to predict the present. And we'll boil it down for the little guy. Go ahead, scream. Go ahead, go ahead.
What you can do to protect yourself when you're done screaming. Ahead on Sunday morning. Ben Mankiewicz catches up with one of the busiest men in show business actor James Hong. Robert Costa looks ahead to November's critical midterm elections, plus a story from Steve Hartman. And let's just say there's something fishy about the Alaskan ice cream Jonathan Vigliati will be sampling. It's the final Sunday morning of the month, July 31st, 2022. And we'll be back in a moment. You've heard all about it. Inflation, recession, an economic future that's uncertain at best.
We asked our John Dickerson to turn to the pros. In the world of economics, there's the macro. I would say for sure the economy has overheated.
And the micro. Prices are up, interest rates are up, and then gas prices are up. And you can understand why so many people are worried. The big picture. Everybody is saying where is the economy going, and I think a good point to make is it's hard to predict the future, but right now it's hard to predict the present.
And the smaller picture for each household. Even if you're doing well when you hear recession, when you hear inflation at a 40-year high, that makes you feel like, well, what's going to happen to me? To look into the economic fog from different angles, we talked with Lloyd Blankfein, formerly the CEO of Goldman Sachs and now its senior chairman, and Michelle Singletary, author and Washington Post personal finance columnist. My colleagues and I are acutely aware that high inflation imposes significant hardship. Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve, announced on Wednesday that the Fed is again raising interest rates to combat inflation, which in June stood at 9.1 percent over a year ago, the biggest increase in more than 40 years. It is essential that we bring inflation down to our 2 percent goal if we are to have a sustained period of strong labor market conditions that benefit all. And on Thursday, the government reported that the gross domestic product fell for the second straight quarter, a signal that the economy may be in a recession, though we'll have to wait months to see if the economists assign that formal term. There's a not insubstantial chance that we have a recession.
I don't think it's baked in the cake. Some people say we're already in a recession. A lot of people say a soft landing is very, very unlikely. Soft landing. That's what the Federal Reserve is trying to engineer, raising rates to cool the economy without initiating a job-killing recession.
It's very hard to do. In most recessions, you don't have a soft landing. The Fed tightens and jobs are lost. Companies, you know, not only reduce their hiring plans, they shrink.
We're starting from a different place. The financial system is in good shape. There's more jobs and there are people to fill those jobs. Constantly, people are hearing about how bad things are. How much attention should they pay to what the Federal Reserve does, what the gross national product is when they're making their financial decisions?
It is very important to pay attention to it. What the Fed is doing is trying to beat back inflation. And so by raising rates, it's going to cost you more if you need a mortgage. It's going to cost you more if you need an auto loan.
It's going to cost you more if you are carrying credit card debt. So how did we get here? Do you think we're in a classical economics 101 moment, or is the current situation in the economy the result of the pandemic, supply chains that were disrupted because of the pandemic, or are those really the same thing? Well, 50 years from now, when they write about the history of the period, they'll put it in its place and it'll fit nicely, neatly in the pattern.
But where I'm sitting now, it seems quite different. We shut down the economy. People were kept out of their jobs. It was like we shut off a valve.
It wasn't the natural order of things. The unemployment rate now stands at 3.6 percent, about where it was before the pandemic, an almost 50-year low. Yet 58 percent of Americans are believed to be living paycheck to paycheck. That's the category that is the most difficult.
It makes me tear up because people are like, well, what do you advise for them? And I wish I had a PAC answer, but I don't, other than you got to spend smarter. Save whatever you can. And perhaps, you know, housing, that's one of the biggest areas of people's budget. If you can live with someone or have a roommate. Singletary and her family live that advice.
Her three 20-something kids live at home, saving their money instead of putting it toward rent. But if you're feeling comfortable, says Singletary, don't take rash action, selling stock that over time will rebound if you keep it. And keep spending.
She worries the public might slip into a doom loop, which will scare the country into an even worse economic spot. Those are the folks we need to not panic because we need you to spend. We need to go out to the restaurants.
And when you go out, tip that server more than 20 percent. You know, be generous. You can't afford to be generous because if they pull back, the very thing that we're trying to avoid, which is a deep recession, will happen. We might go into recession.
We might not. But if I were managing the risk in my old job, managing the risk of a big building or in my household, if I thought there was a 30 percent chance, let alone a 60 percent chance of a severe slowdown, you know, I'd be starting to get very conservative about what I spent. What difference does it make whether Lloyd Blankfein thinks there's a 70 percent chance or a 30 percent chance?
A 30 percent chance is a very big risk to go to sleep with every night and worry about what might happen in the next week or the next couple of months. Singletary is the director of a ministry at her church, where she helps parishioners with their finances. Recession or no recession, she has one consistent sermon. Now one thing I hope that we learn now and through every type of economy is to not rely so much on debt. We are living the American dream on borrowed money. We borrow for our homes. We borrow for our cars. We borrow to send our kids. We borrow to go on vacation. We even borrow to eat a meal out when we put it on a credit card.
And then when we have an economic downturn, people don't have a cushion. And so I try to get people to hate debt. I hate debt. I hate debt so much that if it was a person, I'd slap it.
That's how much I hate it. Could fear of a recession actually cause a recession? Right now we're on a recession or the front end of a recession.
Singletary and Blankfein agree on this. There is a glut of economic and political punditry that makes people jittery. While you're living in the micro, they advise taking the macro, long-term view. Because over time, the U.S. economy has always recovered.
The system we have is kind of nimble and resilient. You're always anxious about things that are unresolved compared to things that happened in the past that are already in the canon, already in the history books, and you know the world didn't come to an end. Don't panic. Well, no, you know what? Panic. Go ahead. Scream. Go ahead.
Go ahead. Let it out. Because we shouldn't tell people not to panic. It's human to panic when you see all these headlines. But don't act on that panic in a way that will be worse for you. Sir, I have this under control.
Again, you deliberately disobey me and cause another mind to be compromised. And now you know what we must do. That's actor James Hong in his most recent movie, one of literally hundreds of film and TV credits to his name.
And Ben Mankiewicz tells us at 93, James Hong shows no signs of slowing down. A sit-down interview with James Hong can morph unexpectedly into an episode of Dancing with the Character Actors. Should we dance a little? I'm looking forward to the dance.
Is that now? Are we dancing now? You have to think this is an old man.
James Hong can dance all he wants. At 93, his nearly 70-year Hollywood career is certainly worth celebrating. I've been an actor since 1953 or 4. Probably the only living guy that has worked with Groucho Marx. That's where it began with Groucho. We'll get to that in a minute.
Today, 445 screen credits later, Hong has been in Chinatown, Blade Runner, Bonanza, The Big Bang Theory, and a memorable episode of Seinfeld. Just like that. Telephone for Cartwright. You no answer.
She swear and I hang up. You might have been in more movies and TV shows than anyone else ever. I would think so. The major, you know, movies and TV. There's some guys that have been in stage plays and such, you know.
Who goes to plays? Forget the 445 credits. That he even has four credits is a tribute to his fierce determination. The son of Chinese immigrants, Hong was born in Minneapolis in 1929. It was Chinatown, but in Minneapolis, Chinatown consists of two Chinese stores. And one of them was your dad?
Yeah. He had an herb store and we live on the second floor. As a young boy, Hong didn't speak much English. That made him a target in school. I think my class was, you know, probably 500 kids. I was the only Asian student. So the bullies would pick on me and beat me up. So because, you know, bullies are bullies, right?
They'll just pick on the underdog. Hong's parents wanted him to be an engineer. That's what he studied in college. Then he was drafted to fight in the Korean War. What was it like to be a Chinese American in the Army? One of my Army fellow mates there said to me, you know, James, I think you might have a problem because if you are in an American Army outfit, charge the Koreans, they will shoot you because you're an American.
And if you retreat, the Americans will shoot you also because they think you are a kook dressed in an American outfit. So he got me a little bit perturbed with that statement, you know. Hong entertained troops by doing impressions. He got laughs. And then he got an idea. After the war, he moved to Los Angeles, where he pursued his new dream, showbiz.
A big break came when he appeared on Groucho Marx's radio show, You Bet Your Life. Where are you from, Jim? Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Minnesota? Of course, I thought you might be because Hong is a fine old Scandinavian. Next came small parts on TV, often demeaning. He was the Chinese soldier, the Chinese prisoner, the guy running a Chinese laundry. You didn't play fully rounded characters. You played stereotypes and that's it. If you didn't play the roles that were given to you, you would be not working at all. So in a sense, in order to keep up my craft, I had to take these roles as the Chinese railroad worker or laundryman and so forth. Though he was getting more work, Hong was also forced to confront racism. One incident still stinks.
That's a very hurtful thing. And I was in London doing The Son of Charlie Chan. It was a rifle that fired the shot, right? J. Carroll Nash was the Charlie Chan. Every day he had to push his eyes up like this and he had to push his eyelid against that piece so that you wouldn't see the space between the piece and his own eye of doing everything. That got under his skin. So one day he was on camera, I was off camera. I missed one line. He says, what is this?
A school for Chinese actors? And, you know, I was shocked. I didn't know what to do. He started to advance me.
I had my fist cleansed. I thought he was going to slug me or something. You know, he walked past and had me fired. And I went to his dressing room and apologized. I said, I'm sorry, Mr. Nash.
You know, I missed the line. He wouldn't forgive me. He had me fired. Don't talk about it.
It just hurts too much. So essentially he got you fired because you had the audacity to be of Chinese descent in a movie filled with Chinese people. That's right.
I think he just went very prejudice. By the 1970s, Hong had already amassed a few hundred credits, including playing Faye Dunaway's butler in Chinatown. He's also in the sci-fi classic Big Trouble in Little China, a role he happily recalls. A girl with green eyes to satisfy Qing Dai, a girl brave enough to embrace the naked blade.
And when I found her, I shall marry her. I don't understand. More recently, he's been in every iteration of Kung Fu Panda. And just a few months ago, Hong finally received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is a living character actor legend and a champion for standing up against racism and fighting the stereotypes faced by Asian Americans in Hollywood and beyond. In every role I played, I tried to make it a human being. And that's why I think I kept working because I think not only the studio, but the people saw that James was portraying a Chinese as a real person and not just a cliche character. It's not easy to do to impart humanity into a character that is written so stereotypically. Yes, that's true. The characters keep coming.
And at 93, Hong already has projects lined up to add to those 445 credits. Are you going to retire? Whether it's nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune to die. OK, what was the question now? I think we have our answer. You're not you're not retiring. What's that word? I mean, I if I were making a movie, I'd hire you for something. I'd be the first person I'd hire.
Yeah, well, it has to be at least double scale. OK, well, then you're out. I knew it. I knew it. Hi, podcast peeps. It's me, Drew Barrymore.
Oh, my goodness. I want to tell you about our new show. It's the Drew's News podcast. And in each episode, me and a weekly guest are going to cover all the quirky, fun, inspiring and informative stories that exist out in the world because, well, I need it. And maybe you do, too, from the newest interior design trend, Barbie Corps, to the right and wrong way to wash your armpits. Also, we're going to get into things that you just kind of won't believe and we're not able to do in daytime television. So watch out. Listen to Drew's News wherever you get your podcasts.
It's your good news on the go. This is Intelligence Matters with former acting director of the CIA, Michael Morell. Bridge Colby is co-founder and principal of the Marathon Initiative, a project focused on developing strategies to prepare the United States for an era of sustained great power competition. The United States put our mind to something we can usually figure it out.
What people are saying and what we kind of know analytically and empirically is our strategic situation, our military situation is not being matched up with what we're doing. Follow Intelligence Matters wherever you get your podcasts. Steve Hartman this morning has proof that the sky's the limit. I chose to tell this story mainly for an audience of one. Yes. This is my nephew, Ted.
And as I first reported a few months ago, Ted says at times his blindness feels insurmountable. I see. I thought like I was doomed.
That does sound a little immature, but... A woe is me kind of feeling? Yes. I really want to be like everybody else sometimes, you know. And that's why, when I heard about this drag racer attempting to set a new world speed record, I thought Ted and others like him had to meet the driver. In 2012, Dan Parker of Columbus, Georgia got in a crash. He suffered a traumatic brain injury so severe it blinded him. I never imagined I'd be back in the seat of a race car, but I've been a racer my whole life.
I just had to figure out another way to do it. A machinist by trade, Dan got adaptive equipment so he could make parts, and then designed this entire race car. That's just amazes me. What does he look like? A mustache and a beard. I have a mustache. You have a mustache? See?
Blue screws? I hope nobody sees them. Oh, don't worry about it.
That won't be an issue. Anyway, back to our story. Dan was attempting to set the Guinness record for fastest car driven blindfolded. Of course, no blindfold was needed, but he did have a special audio guidance system, and for safety purposes, a sighted driver next to him, hands hovering over the steering wheel just in case.
It wasn't necessary. Dan went 211 miles an hour, set a record, and more importantly, an example. Ted, I want you to know that blindness is not where to stop. I want you to know that blindness is not what is stopping you. Surround yourself with believers and go for your dreams.
You can make excuses or make it happen. Dan says inspiring the Teds of the world is the main reason he did this. And if my nephew is any indication, it was well worth the drive. If you can do that, well then I think I could easily pursue my dream. Wait, what about flying a plane?
Our original story ended with that light bulb moment. And among those watching was Sydney Irish of Roosevelt, New York, who offered to give flight to Ted's dream. You ready to go? I'm ready. Okay, pull back and you're up. This is so fun. I'm flying! For the kid who once thought he was doomed just because he couldn't see, the kind inspiration of others has clearly opened his eyes. And you are down! Wow.
I can't even explain how much fun this was. On this last day of National Ice Cream Month, our Jonathan Vigliati is serving up a very different kind of frozen treat. Morning rush hour moves at a different pace in the Arctic outpost of Bethel, Alaska. More than 400 miles from Anchorage, the only way to get there is by boat or plane. But in Bethel, travel is still an obstacle.
The main road is a frozen river six months out of the year. And along that seasonal path, native Alaskan Lori O'Brien treks in search of the key ingredient to her generation's old dessert. Oh, nice out, nice out, nice day. We drilled through a four-foot sheet of ice, baited a hook, and then waited for a bite. Oh, oh my God, I do have one on the bottom here.
That's pretty good. Your very first pike. My first pike. Pike fish. Not exactly something you'd expect to find in a dessert, but a key ingredient in a guduk, also known as Eskimo ice cream.
Like most traditional native dishes, it features only ingredients hunted and gathered. Of course, I've been doing this ever since I was born. Ever since you were born. How many years young are you? Eighty-four.
Eighty-four years old. Village elder Esther Green still uses a recipe passed down by her mother. What is a guduk used for? As a dessert to eat with fish, and the oil helps you physically to stay healthy. Of course, no two households make a guduk the same way.
Lori O'Brien has her own approach. Can you just measure with the palm of our hand? So, so far these don't look like ingredients that go in an ice cream.
Oh, no. For someone who knows what ice cream is, like vanilla or chocolate or cookie dough ice cream, this doesn't look like making ice cream. The first tedious steps are boiling and deboning the fish. Once clear, the mixing begins. We add the seal oil. And reindeer fat. After about 30 minutes, Lori adds our catch of the day.
And we have about a 10-day window. And locally picked salmon berries named for their color, not taste. The final ingredient is snow from the backyard.
So here is Eskimo ice cream. It's surprisingly sweet. The berries are what I taste most.
I can taste the fishiness of it, too. It does not taste like Häagen-Dazs. It can't be found like Häagen-Dazs, either. Where in town? What store can I go into to get some?
It can't be bought in the store. It goes back to your senses and your palate. When you have a food that only your mother made, it brings you back to those times.
It connects you back to your history. Here's what it looks like. If you know your food, how to get it, where to get it, how to handle it, you have plenty of food to eat. And hopefully plenty of Eskimo ice cream. Midterm elections are just 100 days away.
We asked Robert Costa for a status report. God bless you, Speaker Boehner. Conventional wisdom says midterm elections are no fun for the party in power. Voters are typically grumpy and decide to toss them all, or at least some of them, out. In the House, Democrats hold a nine-seat majority. In the 50-50 split Senate, 35 seats are in play.
In the states, Republicans control a majority of governors' mansions, with 36 of them in contention. When people look into the proverbial crystal ball, they often say, Democrats have really no shot this time around. But there's a risk in making a prediction 100 days out.
I mean, I think there's always a risk, right? I think we all remember, those of us who covered 2016, how many prognosticators assumed that Hillary Clinton was going to be the president of the United States, and she didn't. So things certainly have the potential always to change. NPR's Asma Khalid, who covers the Biden White House and co-hosts NPR's Politics Podcast, says recent Supreme Court decisions have put abortion rights and gun safety on many voters' minds, but the dueling threats of inflation and recession remain front and center. The consistent theme for months that I've heard from voters is a frustration around rising prices.
I mean, these are sky-high levels of inflation, not seen in my lifetime. Also on the ballot, American democracy itself. The January 6 hearings have drawn millions of viewers.
For three hours, he refused to call off the attack. And the Justice Department has been probing former President Trump's inner circle. And as we learned this past week, asking witnesses about Mr. Trump himself. I always say I ran the first time and I won.
Then I ran a second time and I did much better. We got millions and millions more votes. Trump is even teasing an early entry into the 2024 presidential race, to the chagrin of some Republicans who fear Trump's continued focus on his 2020 loss chains them to a losing issue. Yet Republican election deniers are running across the country.
As for President Biden, by some estimates, his approval rating is on par with Donald Trump's back in the darkest days of COVID, around 40 percent. This bill will reduce inflationary pressures on the economy. But a breakthrough climate and spending bill, backed by West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, could give Democrats a shot in the arm, says NPR's Asma Khalid.
If there is anything that could potentially boost a Democrat's chances in November, I really do think it is giving members of Congress something to take home to their districts. I'm Mo Rocca. Thanks for listening. Please join us when our trumpet sounds again next Sunday morning. Yes, there are bad people in the world. The best way to protect the good people is to convict the bad. So here's to us. The Good Fight, the final season, now streaming exclusively on Paramount Plus.
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