All-In with Chamath, Jason, Sacks & Friedberg - E71: Russia/Ukraine deep dive: escalation, risk factors, financial fallout, exit ramps and more

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Dude, Sax, I love that look.

Look at that shirt.

Look at that, man.

Is it too noisy for a podcast?

No, you look very relatable.

You’re like an American man, just like at home doing stuff.

Is he trying to go full Tucker on us?

It is a really, really horrendous shirt that you’re wearing.

That is a horrible, I mean,

that was the same shirt Tucker was wearing last week.

Oh my God, Sax is gonna be so appealing

to middle America right now, he’s like.

Absolutely, look, he’s going for the everyman.

Yeah, he’s an everyman.

He doesn’t have a blazer on.

He’s trying to get the purple pills.

Are you gonna go chop wood with Tucker?


I may not be a man of the people,

but I do try to be a man for the people.

♪ I’m going all in to let your winners ride ♪

Rain Man David Saxon.

♪ I’m going all in and instead we open sources to the fans ♪

♪ And they’ve just gone crazy with it, love you guys. ♪

Ice Queen of Kinwan.

♪ I’m going all in. ♪

Hey everybody, welcome to another episode

of the All In Podcast.

It’s obviously been an intense week

and there is a topic,

there’s really only one topic to talk about this week

and that’s the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.

With me to break all this down,

I’m gonna take it from a couple of different angles.

The rain man, David Sax with his power flannel on today.

He’s gonna go chop some wood after this,

trying to appeal to the everyman.

Power flannel.

It’s a power flannel, it’s a power flannel.

I think that was gifted by Tucker.

And the sultan of science, hot off the-

How do you know it’s a flannel instead of a cashmere?

How do you know it didn’t come from one of Chamath’s little-

Chamath would never wear that shirt.

If you sent that shirt to Chamath, he’d burn it.

That would go right in his pizza oven.

I wouldn’t burn it, but I would wipe my butt with it.

Here we go, folks.

And hot off the launch of the Cannabeverage printer,

replicator, the sultan of science himself, David Freeburg.

And back from a little holiday.

The dictator himself, Chamath Palihapitiya,

with a Jedi robe.

Tell us about the Jedi robe that you elected for this week,

Darth Palpatiya.

Well, this is-

Darth Palpatine Hapitiya.

Well, I mean, this is, look, this is, yes, it is cashmere.

We’re running out of time.

I have to wear it through the rest of my few garments,

my new garments, before it’s springtime.

And then I have to go to the, you know,

the linen and the cotton.

Got it.

So you’re enjoying the final days of cashmere.

Well, I do, I did find some baby cashmere.

Light, thin, you know,

you can wear them probably until April, maybe even May.

So we have that going for us.

All right, well, there you go.

And is there a specific date that you shift over

from, to the linens and-

To be honest with you, I have a,

I have a team I consult with.

Got it.

The team’s working on that.

They’re working on that.

They’re working on a recommendation.

All right, so we can still laugh.

It’s kind of hard to talk about other topics

when a war has broken out.

I don’t know if I have to go too deep

into recapping what’s happening

because it is a static situation.

But there’s been massive fallout from the war,

both economically, lives lost,

and it’s escalated pretty dramatically.

We had a pretty crazy moment last night.

We’re taping this on Friday.

March 4th, last night, a nuclear facility,

the largest one in Europe, was involved in a firefight.

It seems to have been secured

and the Russians have taken control of it,

but there were people bombing it.

Where to begin here?

I think maybe, Sax, you can start us off

with a little bit of your assessment

of the situation as it stands in week two.

Yeah, I mean, when we broke up last week,

this war was just breaking out

and we were still talking about ways

that we might defuse it.

Obviously, that was too late.

And I think everybody, probably Putin first and foremost,

felt this would be a cakewalk

and it has turned out not to be.

The resistance by the Ukrainians has been fierce

and it’s been sort of galvanized by their leader, Zelensky.

At the very beginning of the hostilities,

he made the decision to stay and fight.

He had that video that came out

with his cabinet standing behind him.

That galvanized all the people of Ukraine

to stand behind them.

And then the West now wants to stand behind

the whole country of Ukraine.

So it’s really been amazing leadership

by Zelensky and it’s too bad in a way

we didn’t have that kind of leadership among our allies

in say Afghanistan.

We had this guy Ghani who got in the first helicopter

out of there when the trouble started.

So his leadership has been strong and admirable

and it’s basically galvanized the West.

And I think that Putin, I think must have underestimated

the level of resistance he would face

and also the unity of the West in terms of sanctioning him.

And providing support for the Ukrainians.

All that being said,

I think we’re now at a very dangerous sort of crossroads

because the situation is very volatile

and you’ve got so much variance

in the outcomes that can occur now.

I think you’re seeing people prognosticate everything

from Kiev gets turned to rubble in the next week

and the Russians basically power through and win

to this turns into a long-term insurgency

to there’s gonna be some sort of uprising in Moscow

and regime change there.

And I think because the variance is so high,

because the two sides are playing for all the marbles,

so to speak, and you’ve even got, I think,

intemperate and insane remarks by Lindsey Graham

basically calling for Putin’s ouster,

which I think is gonna give-

I mean that quote just to pause there.

Yeah, it’s gonna give the Kremlin,

I think a propaganda tool,

but for rallying people internally.

But the point is just,

it seems like we’re playing for all the marbles right now.

And I think that’s a very dangerous place to be.

And I’m seeing insane rhetoric and commentary

by people trying to push us into war.

And so just the other day,

one of the things I tweeted about

is one of the craziest things you hear

is we’re already in World War III.

Well, Kasparov said this,

I mean, he’s kind of known to be a little bit of a hothead,

but you also had Fiona Hill,

who’s supposed to be a Russia expert

from the State Department,

who frequently is the go-to source

for CNN and other publications,

also saying we’re already in World War III.

Well, no, we’re not.

I mean, if we were in World War III,

you’d see the mushroom clouds,

assuming you were still alive and not vaporized.

So it is incredibly reckless

for people to be saying things like this.

And there is just this drumbeat of war

that is being pushed by cable news

and by the Twittersphere.

And just today, thankfully this morning,

NATO announced that it would not be imposing

a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

That was another-

And why is that important?

Explain that.

Well, because there’s all these people who are saying,

well, we shouldn’t send boots on the ground to Ukraine.

We don’t need to get militarily involved,

but let’s do a no-fly zone

to basically help the Ukrainians.

The problem with that is-

Yeah, how do you enforce that?

What a no-fly zone means

is that you’re gonna shoot down Russian planes.


You are going to war.

It may not be boots on the ground,

it’s boots in the sky.

So had we done that,

had we given into the emotional appeals,

and I think we all feel the tug on our heartstrings,

but had we given into that,

we would be potentially in a shooting war with Russia.

And that would be the most serious-

We’re already in, I think,

the most serious foreign policy situation in my lifetime,

and I’m almost half a century old.

So, you know, it’s very dangerous.

And, you know, I’ve been saying for the last month

on this podcast, I’ve been actually advocating

for the cause of not getting militarily involved.

And a month ago,

it seemed like an argument I didn’t need to make.

But now it really does,

because both sides are sort of,

there’s almost a unanimity in Washington

that we need to continue escalating the situation.

Sax, my concern is less about the Washington intent

to put boots on the ground or boots in the sky.

And I’m much more concerned about NATO allies.

There’s 30 member nations in NATO.

And if any one of them does something stupid,

if there’s any action by any even rogue element

within the military or some statement,

even by some politician, some NATO member,

you know, you could see a reaction potentially from Putin.

And then Article 5 kicks in,

which is this collective defense article in NATO.

And then the United States has an obligation

to enter the conflict.

And that’s the one scenario you didn’t mention,

which is the scenario I am most concerned about,

most frightened by,

is we don’t know when or if a Franz Ferdinand moment

could occur here.

That someone does something stupid,

some Polish tank rolls across the border

and shoots down some,

shoots at some Russian, you know, tank,

and then the Russian tank crosses over.

And then all of a sudden,

we’ve got to go to the rescue

and we’ve got to go defend that NATO member.

And then all of a sudden,

this whole thing sparks into a wildfire.

It felt like last night could have been that

when you look at the fog of war,

you know, it was basically this nuclear reactor,

if it explodes, if it has, you know,

an episode would do just tremendous damage

to the whole continent.

I mean, if you’re living in a NATO country or in Moscow,

if that thing had gone up,

which I know is a very,

would be a rare occurrence

and they were shutting it down, et cetera.

So, but there was that rumor last night,

it felt like there could be a tipping point.

Nuclear material is like a whole nother level.

It’s like, it has nothing to do with war at that point.

It has to do with extinction.

You know, a nuclear reactor

is almost like a temple on earth to God.

It’s like this holiest of holies.

No one can, should, or ever could consider that

to be a point in conflict ever.

It’s nothing should be touched,

let the wars of humans continue

on the rest of the earth surface.

But nuclear weapons, nuclear reactors,

that’s unleashing the fury of the gods on Olympus.

And when they come down,

they scorch the earth and nuclear material,

you know, is an extinction kind of,

or is, you know, kind of a cataclysmic event

for this planet.

And so, you know, that goes well beyond this idea of like,

is it NATO or did someone shoot at someone?

Let’s all go fight.

It becomes like almost existential

to the condition of humans.

Well, so what does that say about Putin then?

I mean, Putin targeted that facility.

No, hold on a second.

Hold on, I think that’s fake news at this point.

Do you see the tweet by Michael Schellenberger?

Hold on a second.

You said this is Fog of War.

Last night’s tweet, I did see last night’s tweet.

Okay, so I don’t necessarily think this is Fog of War.

I think this might be disinformation.

So here’s what happened is,

and it wasn’t just misreporting.

Zelensky tweeted out a video

where he basically was saying,

this plant has been attacked, it’s on fire,

it’s gonna be Chernobyl times 10 for all of Europe.

And then the foreign minister of Ukraine

came out with another statement

just like that simultaneously.

So this was coordinated.

And then I saw on all the cable news networks, all of them,

there was no difference between Fox and CNN, MSNBC,

same reporting, they were all in a panic about this.

And then we find out very quickly the truth,

which was confirmed by the White House,

which is no radiation, no explosion.

The fire was sort of tangential.

It wasn’t core to the plant.

So I think we have to be very careful now

to guard ourselves against disinformation

that is designed, frankly, to escalate the situation

and pull us to draw us into a war.

Simultaneous with this,

there was a New York Times op-ed by Zelensky

and one of his aides who was standing next to him

sort of transcribing,

and the headline was something like,

I’m fighting to the last breath.

Look, that is heroic.

I mean, I think we can all recognize Zelensky’s bravery

and courage in doing that.

However, the point of that article

was to tug on our heartstrings,

to get us to involved in the war.

And what he said in that article was,

you don’t need to send boots on the ground,

but impose the no-fly zone,

which we just talked about is a declaration of war.

Yeah, but no, no,

what I was talking about with the nuclear power plant

is not that it wasn’t being hyped up by the media,

certainly like this was becoming like their ratings bonanza,

and they were definitely hyping it up.

And maybe Zelensky was giving a warning,

hey, this could escalate.

But the Russians did target that.

They were bombing around it.

They were firefighting.

So to Freeberg’s point,

this is, I think, crazy behavior by Russian troops,

by Putin to actually try to seize a nuclear power plant.

It seems pretty crazy.

Chamath, you’ve been silent thus far.

Let’s get Chamath involved here.

There’s a 17th century phrase that says,

adversity makes for strange bedfellows.

And I think what happens

when you are in the middle of enormous adversity,

you need to do whatever it takes to win, right?

That’s, I think, why Zelensky is so patriotic

and viewed so heroically around the world now.

He’s trying to defend his country and his people.

I wanna take the counter of, David, what you said.

I actually think we are at war,

but it’s the most positive form of it

in the sense that we are learning

a different kind of warfare.

Now, if you think about how we used to fight

up until basically the Persian Gulf War,

it was armaments and tanks.

And then that evolved in the Middle East

because we had to fight insurgents

and urban terrorism in many ways, right?

I think this is a way in which we are learning

that there’s a different kind of warfare as well,

which is fundamentally economic.

And so it may not take the same shape

as drones and missiles and fire and guns and bullets,

but I think you would be foolish to make the mistake

that we are now not at economic war with Russia.

And at the end of the day, the outcome is the same,

which is either they survive or they don’t survive.

And everything we’ve done points to

that we are willing to fight,

and we are willing to put a lot of economic collateral

and chips on the field in order to win this battle.

So I think in that respect, we are kind of at war.

Did we, are we on, is this a nuclear level

economic decoupling?

But this is my point,

is like everybody has a historical framework

where they want to go back

to how the natural path of escalation works.

And I think this is a very different form of escalation

that we need to consider.

And I think that this is the kind of warfare

that may actually, you know,

be the way in which wars are fought in the future.

You seize assets, you shut off access to supply routes,

you make it impossible for anything to work.

So, you know, I’ll give you a simple example.

A form of warfare is what’s happening right now

in the sense that, you know, for example,

the Russian skies are completely clear,

not just because that, you know,

no external airlines will necessarily fly there,

but because Boeing and Rolls Royce and GE and Airbus

basically pulled all of their support,

all of their parts, right?

We’ve gone to war with respect to their petroleum

and LNG supplies, how?

Not necessarily because we won’t still stop payments,

which we are still enabling,

but because the actual refiners won’t take the oil

and the LNG,

because they then would be subject to sanctions.

The people who would ship that

are no longer taking those payments

or those barrels of oil into the marketplace

because they can’t get insured by international banks.

So in all of these various ways, we are actually at war.

And I think, you know,

maybe this is the way war should be fought in the future

because it’ll save thousands of lives

in the more classic way of describing

how lives are sacrificed for.

I want to make a counterpoint.

My concern, Chamath,

is that we’ve rushed into a reactive response

with respect to sanctions and seizing assets

in a way that may be not be calculated over the long run.

Meaning like, are we setting ourselves up

for another Iraq, Afghanistan situation

where we rush into a war

and we don’t have an exit strategy?

And the issue is that a lot of the assets

that we’ve effectively wiped the value down to zero

have a repercussive effect on global businesses

and the global economy.

As an example, you know,

this company that we were texting about called Luke Oil,

they were worth $60 billion a few days ago.

We effectively wiped them out to zero.

And 65 to 70% of the shares in that company

were held and owned by public retirement funds,

pension funds, mutual funds

that are used for retirees in Europe and the United States.

And so, you know, a significant amount of-

I think this is a complete red herring.

I’ve told you this in the private chat.

I think this is a complete, complete red herring.

And the reason it’s a red herring

is that the global total market cap

of all of these businesses

is meaningfully different than the amount of total capex

that these guys represent.

And in as much as you are going to take the equity values

of certain of these companies to zero,

it’s in the grand scheme of things,

not that much equity value.

We can absorb it.

We’re not talking trillions of dollars.

Forget about the equity value.

Just think about the economic repercussions

where there is leveraged positions

and swaps and derivatives in place,

counterparty swaps in place with a lot of these companies

that are now going to default.

And we’re not going to know that till the end of this month

when everything has to settle

and no one’s going to be able to make their payments.

Small price to pay, Friedberg.

Well, hold on one sec.

This applies both to Russian companies

that are suppliers and buyers of assets,

products and services from international businesses.

And all of a sudden that line item just zeros out.

I don’t believe the economic value of all of that oil

exceeds the market cap of luke oil.

I don’t believe it.

And I don’t believe further

that the economic value that’s held by non-Russian actors

is meaningfully more than a few 10s of billions of dollars.

We’re going to find out pretty quick.

By the way, Russia and the Ukraine combined

account for roughly 25% of global wheat exports.

Let me say it differently.

That wheat goes to Egypt

and from Egypt it goes throughout Africa.

And there’s a lot of nations and a lot of people

that depend on that food supply.

And that food supply is now cut off.

Okay, I understand.

But now we were talking about something different.

You want to talk about wheat, we can talk about wheat.

I’m just talking about generally,

I’m talking about zeroing all this stuff out

and cutting them off completely.

Hold on a second.

One of the things you have to realize, Friedberg,

is that the purpose of sanctions

is to create massive pain that stops a madman dictator

from invading other countries and causing a world war.

So while it is tragic that some pension,

hold on, let me finish, Friedberg.

While it is tragic that people will suffer

and people maybe can’t get their Netflix

or can’t get their Facebook

or some wheat will get disrupted,

all of this is the better choice

than going to war with Putin.

And it’s meant to create pain and suffering.

It does not create pain and suffering,

then Russia will not change.

I understand.

That’s the point of sanctions.

Jake, I totally get it.

I totally understand the intent.

And I totally understand the point.

My point is, have we really done the calculus?

Because when you make this much of an impact this fast,

when you rush into what we might call an economic war,

with such significant abrasion

in such a significantly short period of time,

do we really have a sense of where the calculus is?

Because I don’t know where the wheat imports

are gonna come from for Egypt now.

And I don’t know where the millions of people

that depend on that wheat supply

are now gonna get fed from.

And I don’t think we have an answer.

If we had a strategy that said, here’s the solution,

here’s the solution from an energy perspective,

from a food perspective, from a capital perspective,

to fill all these holes.

Otherwise, we may all end up sharing that cost

over the long run.

And it’s gonna be a big cost to bear.

I think you’re wrong.

And the reason why I think you’re wrong

is we’ve already seen how this has played out before.

In the last two years,

we learned what governments are willing to do

when you have supply shocks and demand shocks.

And what they do is they turn on the money printer

and they create enormous amounts of stimulus.

And what we have now is a point

where if these shocks are really, really,

really meaningful globally,

I think you’re going to see the Federal Reserve

and the ECB and the Bank of Canada

and the Bank of Japan step in in a very coordinated way

to provide liquidity to these markets.

And I think what that has the byproduct of doing

is blunting the economic consequences to everybody

but the person who is sanctioned.

Do you think that’s inflationary as well?


And the other thing, in fact, it’s the opposite.

Look, David and I have been the ones that said

the risk is to a recession.

We are now teetering towards a recession.

Nick, you should throw this thing

that I sent to you guys before.

If you look back over the last 30 or 40 or 50 years

and you look at every single period

of when there has been a recession,

what’s interesting to note is that

it’s not always been the case

that the price of energy has risen by 50% in a recession.

But it is always the case

that when energy prices spike by 50%, we enter a recession.

We will contract as an economy.

The government will have to become more accommodating.

That is the price of this economic war

that we have started.

And I think it’s a just price

because what’s happening is not supportable.

So, Tamar, you are sure that we’re,

or you feel strongly that we’re not entering

into a condition of significant stagflation

where we’re not able to re-stimulate the economy

and we inflate everything with all this money printing.

I don’t even know what stagflation is

to be completely honest with you.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen it.

I know how it’s classically described.

I think it’s like pseudo-intellectual

kind of gobbledygook speak.

What I can tell you is,

I think that prices are too high

in certain core commodities and goods.

I think what’s gonna happen is we are going to find a way

to subsidize those prices coming down.

And I think the simplest way to do it

is for the government to step in and become a buffer.

And it will drive massive deficits.

It’ll drive increasing amounts of debt.

But I think that is a simple way for us

to make sure we put and ratchet the pressure.

And just to speak on this other point,

we have only just begun.

Meaning just today as we started the pod,

Biden came out with an incremental new set of sanctions

on Russian crude.

So we’re not at the, even in the beginning,

we’re at the beginning of the beginning.

I’m just worried this is a new kind of nuclear war.

I mean, it’s frightening.

If this is the new nuclear war,

then it’s a blessing

because we’re not gonna have millions of people die.

Sachs, are the sanctions just right?

Too strong, too little?

I think vis-a-vis like versus going to war.

I think what Freeberg’s saying

is that we’re on an escalatory path here

that starts with sanctions,

then leads to more and more sanctions,

then includes arming the Ukrainians.

And on and on it goes.

That’s a big leap.

And I think-

No, we’re already arming them.

Germans gave the Ukrainians Javelin missiles last week.


Oh, that’s true, sorry.

I know, absolutely.

And there’s a lot more coming.

So, you know, what I would say is,

back to something Jamal said,

which is we’re already at war.

I, you know, call me a non-binary,

call me a non-binary thinker,

but I don’t like dividing our options

in that simply into war and peace.

I think there’s like a spectrum here.

And you could call that spectrum an escalatory path.

So there’s sanctions, there’s arming them,

and so on down the line.

And I don’t like characterizing what we’re in

or what we’re doing as war

because once you’re in war,

then it justifies anything.

And for the other side too.


You’re such a pacifist, Sax.

It’s awesome.

Keep going.

Look, we have to remember-

Wait, no, let me just clarify what I’m saying.


Let me just wait.

I didn’t say we’re at war.

I said we’re at a form of a war.

It’s an economic war.

It’s just a different kind of-

Well, I hope it stays economic then.

You know, I don’t like using that metaphor,

but let’s not debate semantics.

But to Jason’s point, am I a pacifist?

What I would say is, you know, during the Cold War,

we have to remember that this philosophy of containment

that we had,

the goal was to prevent the spread of communism

while conceding that the countries

that were already communist,

that were behind the Iron Curtain,

we would not challenge.

We would not seek to roll that back.


Because we did not want hot war with the Soviet Union.

And everything was calibrated to make sure

that we did not blunder ourselves into nuclear wars,

mutually assured destruction.

And yet it almost happened anyway,

most notably with the Cuban Missile Crisis.

But rules of the game evolved, right?

And so we did things like arm the Mujahideen rebels

in Afghanistan with Stinger missiles.

So that would be sort of the equivalent of the Javelins.

But we sure as hell didn’t put the American flag

or a NATO flag on the boxes

and on the trucks delivering those weapons.

We delivered them through Pakistan, through intermediaries.

There were rules of the game that we all understood.

Now, I hope we are following similar rules,

but it feels to me like we are.

And I think one good thing is that both Biden

and certainly Putin remember the Cold War.

They were very involved in the Cold War.

They’re old enough to remember it.

And hopefully we remember those rules.

The most encouraging thing I’ve heard Biden say

this entire time was when he reiterated

at the State of the Union

that we would not get militarily involved.

It’s very important that he keeps saying that

because the Russians are looking at these statements.

So we just have to remember that, again,

we’re on this escalatory path.

And one of the things that’s going on here

is a purity spiral.

So there’s a social media version of this,

and there’s like a partisan version of this.

So the social media version of this

is that the way that you show

that you’re on the side of the good of Ukraine

is you advocate for the no-fly zone.

You advocate for the escalation.

But if you advocate for slowing down or deescalating

or just taking a breath,

you’re called a Putin bootlicker.

You’re called Neville Chamberlain.

I’ve already gotten about a thousand reply tweets

coming at me saying that.

So the purity spiral on Twitter

that we’ve seen in so many other contexts now

pushes everybody into World War III.

Similarly, there’s a partisan dynamic

where no matter what Biden says or does,

no matter what new sanctions he imposes,

the Republicans will always announce him for weakness.

And the media and Fox News

will always announce him for weakness.

It’s a one-way ratchet.

How much more do you want him to do is the question.

And I think Freeberg asked a great question,

which is, what is the end game here?

What are we trying to accomplish?

And what I’m worried about is the dynamic,

this frenzy that, what Balaji has called

the chimp frenzy of social media, right?

With cable news and now social media and partisan rhetoric,

it all pushes us towards continual escalation

at World War III.

And who are gonna be the grownups who say,

listen, this is foolish, stand down, take a breath.

By the way, we might wanna keep

some of these cards in reserve.

We don’t have to play every single thing right now.

To your point, I saw Lady G trending.

I guess this is his nickname.

But Lindsey Graham literally explicitly said

somebody in Russia needs to assassinate Putin.

I mean, this is a crazy escalation.

And then on the other side, inside the,

you have people saying, Putin’s a genius.

And so-

We are gonna continue to ratchet up

these economic sanctions, guys.

This is the beginning of the beginning

of the economic sanctions.

We’re not even in the middle of them.

What do you think he’s gonna do, Chamath?

What is the exit ramp for Putin if we keep doing this

and he’s in a corner?

I have no idea, but I think that it’s clear,

it’s pretty plain as day if you’re going to be unemotional

and just look at this from the American

and European perspective, which is the only end game now

is regime change, right?

And one step before regime change

is a complete sort of detente and somehow

surrender by Putin in the sense

that he pulls back from Ukraine.

Not if 70% of his people support him,

which is what a polling figure showed this morning, right?


Be careful with those polls.

I mean, people in Russia are not exactly gonna say

I’m anti-Putin in a survey.

Well, J. Cal, I mean, look, you can say that

to kind of defend what you believe about-

No, I’m not saying it to defend what I believe.

I’m saying it pragmatically.

Just suspend it and assume for a moment

that maybe that is the position of those people.

Maybe they do believe in pride of nation,

like the United States would believe in pride of nation.

If we were attacked,

if everyone took economic sanctions against our country,

would we not stand up and defend our president

and our nation and say that our country

is the prime country and our way of living

and our life and we should be left alone?

This is not an issue for the world to get involved in.

Okay, but let’s clean this up.

And so how do you end up, assume that is the case,

how do you end up having a regime change

where you don’t have a country that’s actually in revolt,

but you have a country-

I have no idea, but let’s play this out.

Like, look, let’s just say-

Where people are rallying for what this guy is doing

if that is the case, right?

Let’s move our conversation to exit ramps.

From where we are, there’s two options, right?

There’s two options.

Option one is Ukraine successfully defends itself, right?

And option two is Russia, quote unquote, wins, okay?

Let’s just go down that branch for one second.

Before they settle, there’s a third one, Jamal.

They come to a peace treaty,

which is what’s happened previously.

Oh, there’s a third, and then there’s like,

I guess what you’re saying, Jason,

is like everybody just kind of stops

where they are in place.

Yes, they do a peace treaty.

They give them the east of Ukraine.

Got it.

Well, let’s play it.

So then what happens to all of these economic sanctions?

Are they undone?

That would be part of the negotiation, right?


Maybe undone based on conditions?

The question is, are their reparations paid

one way or the other?

And how do those get funded?

Well, those reparations-

And does the IMF get involved and say,

hey, we’re gonna fund your $300 billion war damage bill

to the Ukraine?

And, you know, there ends up being a-

Do they just confiscate the $650 billion

sitting in foreign bank accounts

that’s owned by the Central Bank of Russia?

Again, like how do you go back and lead a nation?

And how does a nation accept that?

How do they accept that their sovereignty

has now been challenged when a few months ago,

they were the aggressor, right?

I mean, look at what happened to Japan, by the way.

I mean, it’s a very similar kind of psychological shock

that may not be as easy to swallow with modern Russians.

Don’t all roads then lead to,

this is going to take a really long time to figure out?

It’s either gonna take a long time

or it’s gonna catch on fire.

I thought Georgia took like 11 days.

So, I mean, there’s a Sun Tzu quote,

which I don’t wanna butcher,

but it was, build your opponent a golden bridge

to retreat across.

There needs to be a golden bridge here.

We don’t see that.

We did talk about it two episodes ago where we said,

well, we’re not the people running the country.

I’m talking about like, where’s Biden

and where’s the rest of the State Department

in saying, here’s an exit path for Putin

and clearly stated over and over again

and give him something to win, right?

I think we gave a suggestion, David, correct me if I’m wrong

if you suggested or I did two weeks ago

when we started talking about this, which was,

hey, why don’t we just say,

hey, we’re not going to allow Ukraine

to join NATO for a decade.

If you leave now, you know.

We’re so past that.

We’re so past that.

Are we?

That has nothing to do with, I think, what’s going on now.

I mean, you had countries,

you had countries like that came off the sidelines

and have done things they haven’t done 30, 40, 50 years.

And in some cases ever.

I mean, their industry just got gutted this week, J-Cal.

So like, there’s a hundred million people worried about,

there’s a hundred million people worried about food.

If we had done it preemptively, would it have made a difference?

I think it would have made a huge difference.

Like look at Germany as an example.

Germany undid 40 years of policy.

You know, they had consistently been under-investing

relative to their GDP in the military.

And they made an explicit commitment

to basically just ramp that up back above 2%.

You know, they’ve also made commitments

around their energy independence.

You know, Switzerland is freezing bank accounts,

something that they’ve really never done.

And they’ve always stayed neutral.

Sweden sending military support.

So there’s a lot of countries in Europe,

in continental Europe that have found a voice.

Well, it’s terrifying, right, Chamath?

I mean, to live with this threat just east of you,

this would be like us living with this threat

in Central America or something.

This is like two steps away.

And I think that’s what people forget,

is the geography here of, you know,

France, Germany, Poland, Ukraine.

I think this NATO commitment

doesn’t necessarily get it done at this point.

Yeah, I agree with that.

I mean, it didn’t have to be part of anything.

What’s the exit ramp for Putin?

Well, the exit ramp, in my opinion,

is that you ratchet these economic sanctions up so severely

that then, you know, look, the thing is,

hopefully, in the aperture of war,

memories are short in the sense that, you know,

if you ratchet these things up very aggressively,

now all of a sudden something from even two weeks ago

seems like a much, much better place to be, right?

And so that could be an off ramp,

which is like you basically find a way

to take a lot of pressure off these economic sanctions

in return for a detente.

I mean, I don’t know, but I’m making this up.

I have no idea.

I mean, it feels like there’s no exit here

because Putin has a lot of pride and nuclear weapons.

Is this a no exit situation, Sax?

I think there’s always an exit.

We have to be willing to contemplate what that is.

I think, to your question,

let’s go back for a second to your question

of would it have made a difference

if we had taken NATO expansion off the table,

say, last year?

I think this year is probably already too late.

But I think the answer is yes,

regardless of whether you believe

that NATO expansion is a real issue for the Russians

or whether you think that’s a pretext,

because people are in one of those two camps.

Putin has been saying since 2008,

in 2008, there was a NATO summit in Bucharest

in which they basically declared,

they proposed that Ukraine and Georgia

could eventually be eligible for membership.

That basically started this whole thing.

The Russians at the time said

this is an absolute non-starter for us.

It’s a red line.

No way will we allow this to happen.

And in fact, later that year,

they rolled the tanks into Georgia

to put a stop to that idea in Georgia.

In Ukraine, the conversation was deferred.

They had this basically pro-Russian,

democratically elected prime minister,

president, Yukonovich,

who was deposed in a coup in 2014,

a coup that was supported by our State Department

and probably the CIA, okay?

In reaction to that, Putin seized Crimea,

not a year later, not months later, days later.

The reason why he was able to seize it so quickly

is the Russians actually have a naval base there

at Sevastopol, okay?

It’s a leased, the area’s leased from Ukraine,

but they have a naval base there.

It allows them to control the Black Sea.

So the Russian thinking on this,

if you believe it, goes that,

listen, we’re about to have a pro-Western ruler

come into Ukraine, installed by an American-backed coup,

and now we’re gonna lose our main naval base

in the Black Sea and it could be replaced with a NATO base.

There’s no way that’s happening.

So they moved to seize Crimea.

And then after that, they started backing Russian separatists

in the Donbass and the civil war began, okay?

So that basically is what’s been leading up to this.

And then last year, they started getting very exercised

about the possibility of this NATO proposal,

which again, goes all the way back to 2008,

becoming formally recognized and Ukraine joining NATO.

And again, this is from the Russian perspective, okay?

And we could talk about whether it’s a pretext in a second,

but from the Russian perspective,

they said that, listen, and Putin gave a speech like this.

If Ukraine joins NATO, because of Article V,

the next time we have a border dispute,

which is all the time, right?

We could end up getting drawn

into a World War III with you guys.

And so there is no way we’re gonna allow Ukraine

to be part of NATO.

And so they basically by December

had given an ultimatum to the State Department.

Now, what was the response to that?

Lincoln came out at the critical moment and said,

NATO’s door is open and will remain open.

Basically said, you guys can take a hike.

Now, obviously that was extremely provocative thing

and the Russians invaded Ukraine days later.

Now, I think it’s pretty obvious

that if you take the Russians at their word,

that they believe,

forget about whether you think it’s true or not,

but if you believe, take them at their word,

the same word they’ve been saying since 2008,

that this is a red line for them

and they have a serious vital national interest there,

then you should have diplomatically

tried to resolve this issue.

But even if you believe it was a pretext

and Putin is making up this whole red line thing

and his real goal is the expansion of Mother Russia

and all that kind of stuff.

Or reunification.

Or reunification.

Let’s say that’s his real goal.

It still would have been a good idea

for Blinken to basically declare

that we were gonna take NATO expansion off the table,

which is simply an affirmation of the status quo.

It’s not appeasement.

You’re not giving anything up.

You’re reaffirming the status quo.

Why would that have been a good idea?

You’re blocking something from happening in the future.

Why would that have been a good idea?

Because the polling on this showed

that the Russian people by two to one

were in favor of basically taking

this kind of military action against Ukraine

to prevent NATO expansion,

but they were not in favor of doing it

purely for reunification.

So you would have, if this was a pretext

by Putin for his expansionist dreams,

you could have taken away that card

and it would have changed his calculus.

Would it have prevented the war?

We can’t say, but in his calculus,

he’s gotta think, well, wait a second,

maybe the people won’t be behind this.

Here’s the good news too.

If you had given him that chip

and said that we’re not gonna let them into NATO

and then he does invade,

now you’ve proven that this person

is in reunification mode and he’s deranged

and he’s a warmonger and that this could go

to other places and Finland and Poland

and other people have a real reason to be scared.

Yes, he would have much less internal support.

It would have been a much better chess move.

Right, so there was a failure to listen

and this is what concerns me.

So I wanna, you know, George Herbert Walker Bush,

who I think was a great foreign policy president,

only sort of wasn’t so good on domestic,

only got reelected, didn’t get reelected,

but everyone recognized him

as a great foreign policy president.

And he has a quote about this style

of foreign diplomacy that his son practiced,

Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld and the same people now

in the Biden administration,

it’s all the sort of neocon foreign policy.

He said, he called this iron ass foreign diplomacy.

He called Cheney an iron ass

and he called Rumsfeld arrogant.

And, you know, what he basically said

is that these guys he’s talking about,

Cheney and Rumsfeld, they don’t listen.

They just wanna kick ass and take names.

They never wanna listen to the other guy’s point of view.

And, you know, he thought this was tragic.

He thought it ruined Bush 43’s presidency.

And I gotta wonder, I mean,

are we practicing the same style

of iron ass diplomacy here?

You know, well, now it’s too late.

We’re already at war.

I mean, I think if we had practiced,

I think if Herbert Walker Bush and James Baker,

it had been president last year

and James Baker was secretary of state,

do you think we’d be in this mess?

I don’t think so.

I think James Baker would have figured out

a way to defuse it.

Now it’s too late.

Who is the political scientist

that you shared that link from in the group chat

from the University of Chicago

this guy, John Mearsheimer,

who’s sort of king of the realists.

I watched the video from him.

It’s quite convincing that we should have an approach

that was, hey, we don’t need to incite Ukraine to break off.

We could let them make their own decisions

and that we’re kind of taunting the Russians.

And I don’t think, you know,

he makes a pretty convincing argument there.

And I don’t think you need to be a Putin apologist.

You can keep in your head, this person’s a dictator.

This is a communist country.

He’s a murdering sociopath.

And at the same time, we should not provoke him

and let the Ukraine make their own decisions,

but not encourage them to come into NATO.

And we should have taken NATO off the table.

It’s pretty clear that that would have been

a better decision here,

but we still can’t think of an exit ramp here,

which, and I don’t hear Putin talking about,

Putin has never said, I want X.

Well, no, I think, no, there have been times where he,

well, I mean, look, I think his demands

have been an on starter with us.

I think at this point, he wants Crimea.

He wants the Donbass to be independent,

maybe under the suzerainty of Russia,

some protectorate basically.

And he’s talked about this denazification,

demilitarization of Ukraine.

I mean, so now I think the demands are escalated

because they’re at war and-

He’s lost too much.

He needs to get more, right?

I mean, part of the problem is-

You’re saying he’s stuck?

He needs to-

No, I think once you’ve, you know,

once you’ve invested a hundred dollars,

you got to make 150 back.

Whereas before he had invested $10,

he would have been happy taking 50 out.

You know, and I think at this point,

he’s put too much in to walk out

with the same sort of deal, you know,

he was looking at before.

What are the chances he’s overplayed his hand?

Like the economic cost at this point to him,

the loss of jobs, the loss of customers,

the loss of the value of his currency.

I mean, you add all this stuff up,

so much has been taken away.

It’s very hard to see him coming,

feeling like he can come out of this thing ahead.

And so he’s only going to keep plowing forward.

Does he face the risk of ruin, Chamath?

I mean, is this like, at this point-

Well, here’s what I will say.

In 2020, Russian GDP was $1.483 trillion.

Now, what percentage of that do you think

is actually exports versus a domestic economy?

Let’s say half, let’s be, just take a guess, right?

So you’re talking about $750 billion of exports.

So let’s just say that, you know,

between the BOJ, Bank of Canada, ECB,

and the Federal Reserve,

we all just collectively printed $5 trillion.

You can absorb many, many years of Russia’s export loss.

Now, it does have some gnarly implications.

You know, you probably have to work more closely,

for example, with Iran.

You have to get an Iran nuclear deal done.


So that we can get access to their oil, right?

So it blunts the loss of the Russian reserves,

as an example.

You know, we’d have to do some clever things

on sustainability and farming.

My point is, though,

that I think the economic calculus of this decision

is not as grandiose as it once may have seemed

post the COVID scenario where we were printing,

you know, hundreds of billions of dollars a month.

I think there’s a,

the only good news I can take from this, Ax is,

you know, the free world has now learned about

what a dependency,

like we’ve literally woken up from the delusion

that we can intertwine.

Hold on, let me just finish this one statement

and I want to get your feedback on it.

We have woken up from a delusion

that we can intertwine our economies with

rich and nuclear powered dictators in communist countries,

both China and Russia.

And now I think the great decoupling

and the great independence is upon us

with us moving semiconductors back on shore,

going nuclear, maybe fracking seems,

I think even any environmentalist will take fracking

in Europe, fracking in the United States

over a dependency over a dictator.

So is that not a silver lining here?

Yeah, I mean, look, I think it’s so obvious now

to everybody that we need to be energy independent,

that it was insane for us to throw away

that energy independence.

We’ve restricted it.

I think that if there was a bill introduced,

and I think it’s being talked about

to repeal all the restrictions on fracking,

it would pass the Senate 75-25,

meaning all the Republicans would vote for it

and half of the Democrats would vote for it.

So I think everybody’s on board now.

And there was some remarkable,

you see the tweets from Michael Schellenberger about it.

It has come out that, you know who was backing all these-

The anti-fracking, yes.

The anti-fracking environmental movement in Europe.

And they fell for it.

And they fell for it, exactly.

And the Germans fell for it and turned off nuclear.

And now all of a sudden, they’re dependent on Russia.

And he has the pretext to now invade.

Right, these environmental groups in Europe

have been useful idiots for Putin and the Kremlin.

Yeah, that’s what’s so sad.

I think I saw a tweet, it was something to the effect

that 25 years ago or 30 years ago,

Europe actually produced more liquefied natural gas

for Europe than Russia did.

And the whole thing flipped

because all these environmentalists forced Europe

to shut down. They outsourced their guilt.

They outsourced their guilt,

but it turned out that a lot of those organizations

may have been funded by Russia

to basically affect that change.

I wanted to say something, Jason, before,

you know, there’s a common thing that you hear right now,

which is, oh, economic sanctions don’t work.

And I just wanted to talk about that for one second,

which is, I think there’s a lot of people,

there was a lot of chatter

that historically economic sanctions aren’t enough,

which is why you can’t draw a very clear, bright line

between that and military intervention as well.

And I thought, and I, as I thought about it,

this is why I think you can actually fight

an economic battle and an economic conflict

without it pulling you into a military one.

And the reason is actually because of what’s happened

in the last 40 or 50 years.

You know, you have like the most critical infrastructure

in the world, I think is the financial infrastructure,

whether we like it or not, right?

Because, you know, energy infrastructure

tends to be more localized,

other forms of infrastructure are localized.

But the one real asset that is absolutely global

and universal is the financial payments infrastructure.

And, you know, what has really happened

is that you can really cripple a country or an entity

when you blacklist them from these organizations

and these networks.

And so this is why I actually think people underestimate

the severity of economic sanctions if done correctly.

And I think before, you’ve never really,

other than, you know, Venezuela

and a couple of other, you know, North Korea,

North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Cuba,

you’ve never really explored the totality

and the impact of this kind of sanctions

on a large global actor, which were

this is almost greater than sanctions,

you’re being you’re not allowed to participate.

It’s not even like you’re saying you can’t export this,

you can’t import this, it’s you’re now not allowed,

you have no seat at the table.

I think the crude oil example

and the airline industry example

are two incredible examples

of the ripple effects of these sanctions, right?

So again, just to reiterate,

like if you’re a European based refiner,

in order for you to go and buy that oil,

you may have, you know, a working capital line

from a German bank.

Well, that would violate the terms of that bank now.

And so you can’t go and get that, right?

If you actually have that oil on hand,

and you refine it into gasoline,

and you want to put it into the open market,

and you call Flexport as an example and say,

help me get this stuff to XYZ location

or Merced or somebody else, they won’t do it.

I mean, and you look at the tech sanctions

that have started, it sounds minor,

but you have Netflix is pulled out of the country,

Apple is not selling products in the country,

Google is starting to restrict services in the company.

And this is going to have a massive impact

on their ability to just participate in society.

They just turned off proactively this morning.

I don’t know if you saw that,

it was right as we were getting on air.

Facebook’s been banned.

Instagram is still on Twitter still on,

but the Russians now are turning off information

into the country, while every other country,

every other company is turning off their services there.

I think the global economy,

or not even the global economy,

I think Japan, Europe, Canada, America,

can collectively support five, six, $7 trillion

of subsidies to blunt the economic impact

of these sanctions.

That’s effectively shutting Russian exports off

for eight, nine, 10 years.

Think about the, so, you know, this is, that is the damage.

Any thoughts here as we kind of come to no way out here

and just the Russian economy being decoupled?

So I think that if we’re going to figure out a way out,

we need to assess what our objectives,

you know, what our objectives are.

And we talked earlier on the show

about this idea of regime change

and that there wouldn’t be an answer without regime change.

I disagree with that.

You know, just those two words, regime change,

should make everybody cringe

because regime change was the justification

for the Iraq war, for Afghanistan, for Libya, for Syria,

and every single one of those things has been a disaster.

When has the United States of America

successfully achieved regime change in the last 20 years

without creating enormous blowback?

There’s an assumption that somehow,

if Putin gets toppled by an internal coup,

that we end up with Gorbachev 2.0.

Well, maybe we do.

Maybe we end up with a hardliner who’s even worse.

I don’t, you know, I don’t.

So what should the goal be?

Obviously, regime change would be wonderful

if the Russian people chose that.

But what is the-

I’d say ceasefire.

Ceasefire and peace, right?

Yeah, I agree.


I think Putin miscalculated the resolve

of Zelensky and the West.

You know, Zelensky was like this TV actor,

became president.

He was very, before this, he was like 25% popularity.

Now he’s at 90 something percent.

I think Putin underestimated his resolve.


Would you say Putin has lost the information war?

I mean, that’s pretty staggering.

I mean, it’s pretty clear that Putin thought

he could win this information war.

This is the first meme, the first meme war.


I think it is a meme war.

I think we’re being heavily propagandized.

But if-

But the West is winning the propaganda war.

Well, it’s not just the West.

Look at, yeah, but I mean,

look at where you’re sitting, right?

Ukraine is engaged in that effort too, right?

I mean, you had the whole Snake Island thing

where basically the, you know, the Ukrainians-

Did that wind up being confirmed as fake news?

That was fake, okay?

You had Snake Island where the 13 Ukrainian soldiers

said we’re gonna-

Tell them to death off, yeah.

Bring us death rather than surrender.

It turns out they actually surrendered.

You had the old woman walking up to the Russian soldiers

with her-

Tell them to get the hell out of here.

Yeah, exactly, that was a fake.

What else?

I mean, I think this-

Everything’s fake.

This Chernobyl 2.0 was fake.

Oh, the-

Well, that was half fake.

The fighter pilot, the fighter pilot,

was the ghost of-

The ghost of Kiev.

Yeah, exactly.

That turned out to be a fake.

So look, we are being heavily propagandized.

Now, I don’t blame Zelensky or the Ukrainians

for trying to propagandize us

because they’re a small country fighting for their lives.

And if they can pull us into the war, it would help them.

It might also cause World War III.

Or just win hearts and minds and flip Russian sentiment.

There’s something else that’s really interesting.

I just went to the World Bank site

just to check whether the GDP number

that I just gave you was right.

And it is right, but what’s even more interesting

is that Russian GDP has actually decayed 35%

in the last decade.

It peaked in 2013 at $2.292 trillion.

And so, and all the way down to now 1.483.

So I think the point is with, you know,

all of these other things

that they’ve been having to deal with

because of their foreign adventurism,

you’ve seen a contraction of their economy already.

Freeberg, did we over, did the West

and everybody overestimate Russia’s capabilities here?

I mean, is that a possibility?

Because they seem like they’re getting beaten pretty,

they’re being fought back

at a way people didn’t think they would be able to.

First of all, I have no frigging clue.

Second of all, I don’t know like what people think

that they thought they knew or do or don’t know.

But I think importantly,

we don’t really know what’s going on over there.

You know, we are hearing stories every day

that we feel is conclusive and factual

and on the ground reporting.

And then a few hours later,

we find out may or may not actually be true.

You know, this is the fog of war.

And I wouldn’t take anything that I’m reading on Twitter

or seeing on CNN or hearing some commentator

from the United States making some comment about,

nor would I feel the same about any commentator

in the Ukraine or Russia or anywhere else for that matter.

Facts are gonna be facts.

I’m not sure facts are necessarily gonna get to us.

And so I don’t know what’s going on the ground with Russia.

There’s a convoy supposedly

that we know we can see from satellite imagery

that’s moving towards Kiev.

It’s stopped.

We don’t know why it stopped.

There’s claims by one group of people

that says they’re out of food and they’re defecting.

There’s claims by another group of people

that say they’re waiting to encircle the city

and then command pressure

and use this as leverage effectively

to try and get a good negotiated deal to exit.

We don’t know.

And so, you know, for us to be like, you know,

four guys commentating at Starbucks,

I think is a bit of a mistake

because there’s very few facts

that we can actually say is objectively true at this point.

Now, what we do know is Russia has a lot of nukes.

And so regardless of what’s going on the ground

with tactical stuff, you know,

any sort of assumption that leads to our belief

that an alternative intervention

or some other force can ultimately win against Russia

is completely false

because Russia has thousands of nuclear warheads.

And, you know, if Russia wanted to exert

its military authority over anyone in the world, they can.

And so I wouldn’t kind of take any of this stuff

that Russia is gonna lose a war, you know,

a war on the ground in the Ukraine.

I mean, at the end of the day,

they’ve got the ultimate trump card.

Well, and also they haven’t brought out the heavy,

the heavy army.

They’ve got bombers.

Yes, they can bomb Kiev into rubble.


They’ve got those bunker buster bombs.

They’ve got stuff that, yeah.

And what is the strategy here to just-

Listen, they can pull a Grozny.

They can pull a Fallujah.

I mean, look, you know, we, they, we can,

a Dresden, let’s not pretend like we haven’t done it too.

They can bomb the cities into rubble from the sky.

And they’re not, because it would be too bad.

You know, their pullback would be too bad from the West.

We don’t know.

We don’t know, but there’s certainly a strategy.

These guys aren’t a bunch of idiots scrambling around

trying to figure out what to do.

They’ve got the second most powerful military

on planet earth that can literally destroy

every human on planet earth.

They are, they are pretty smart

and they’re going to figure something out

to get themselves some sort of an advantage, ultimately.

What that is, we don’t know.

You know, we’re sitting here trying to figure out

how to play chess and we’ve never played it before.

I mean, Sachs, that might be something worth discussing.

There is a contingent that say, listen,

Putin isn’t thinking about this strictly logically.

Yeah, I understand that point of view.

You hear it a lot on, on the press.

What do you think?

Here’s what I, well, here’s what I think is,

I think Putin underestimated Zelensky’s resolve,

Ukrainian resolve, and I’d say the West resolve.

I think it would be a mistake, however,

for us to underestimate his resolve.


And that’s what I’m afraid of next

is that he doesn’t want to give up.

And listen, to go back to, you know, the Mearsheimer point.

So there’s a school of realism and what Mearsheimer says,

and he predicted a lot of this.

So you have to-

It’s amazing, yeah.

He gave a great talk in 2015.

I watched him right before we got on air.

Right, one of the ways-

We’ll put it in the show notes.

Yeah, one of the ways I assess who I want to listen to

and learn more from is when I see someone

making farsighted predictions that come true,

I’m like, okay-

Pretty good one, yeah.

Yeah, exactly.

You’re like, okay, this guy has a mental model

that seems to predict the world, right?

I mean, like Karl Popper said famously

that the difference between science and religion

is that science makes predictions that are falsifiable.

If you make predictions, one prediction after another

that ends up becoming true,

maybe you have a way of thinking about the world

that is predictive.

This guy, I would just say,

I can’t summarize all of his thinking here,

but I would just say,

I mean, I went down kind of a rabbit hole on YouTube

just watching his stuff.

Obviously, not all of it is right, okay?

But the media has been demonizing this guy

because for the few things he’s gotten wrong

about the situation,

instead of all the things he’s gotten right,

and if you were to do the Washington establishment

by the same standard,

they’ve gotten far more wrong than he has,

especially since the Iraq War over the last 20 years.

But anyway, the point he makes

or one of the points is,

listen, this situation in Ukraine is to the Russians

what the Cuban Missile Crisis was to us,

meaning it is not a pretext for Putin

to go in and expand his empire.

What is really going on here

is they have defined this as a red line

they see as a vital national security interest.

And so we should be thinking about them and their resolve

the way that we thought about the Cuban Missile Crisis.

So in other words,

the Russians are acting like the Americans did

in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

And remember, Fidel Castro thought he had the sovereignty,

he thought he had the right

to go make a treaty and a deal with whoever he wanted.

And he went to the,

freely went to the Soviet Union to try and make a deal.

And the Americans said, no way.

And you know, not in our backyard.

And we imposed a blockade and we were flying the bombers

and Kennedy had advisors and generals

who were willing to go to nuclear war

to win that standoff in that confrontation.

And ultimately the way that they solve the problem

is JFK sent Bobby Kennedy

to go secretly cut a deal with the Russians

to pull the Jupiter missiles, the warheads out of Turkey.

So there’s a quid pro quo.

They kept it secret for six months.

Kennedy got to declare a victory,

but the Russians, the Soviets got something out of it too.

They were able to diffuse the situation.

So if there’s any way to make a deal like that,

I think it would be a good idea.

Yeah, I mean, the reason, don’t you think the reason he is,

don’t you think the reason, Sax, that he is misunderstood

is because we are propagating democracy.

And when we do something, well, it has the shine of,

hey, we want people to be free.

We want individual freedom.

We want individual human rights.

We want individual expression.

These things are the height of human existence.

And when communist countries do it,

well, they’re trying to spread communism and authoritarianism

and reduce human’s individualism and freedoms.

And that is a valid argument.

But he says in his talks, like, listen,

you can put that aside and just say,

you know, missiles in your backyard, not good.

Yeah, exactly.

So this is the fundamental dichotomy

in sort of the foreign policy thinking

or international relations

is between idealism and realism.

Idealism says it’s all about values.

And so we’re going around the world.

We’re promoting democracy.

We’re supporting allies who we think will spread democracy.

There’s good guys and bad guys.

We’re on the sides of the good guys

and that’s who we support.

And we change the regimes that are the bad guys.

But the realists think of this as great power rivalry.

And we have to understand the way

that great powers have always reacted and behaved.

And great powers, whether it’s Russia or the Soviet Union

or us will behave viciously and ruthlessly

towards anything they perceive as a threat

to their national security,

their vital national security interests.

What are your thoughts on this being the moment

we make the next big transition?

We were in a bipolar world order.

We’ve been in unipolar for the majority of our lifetimes

where we only experienced the United States.

And now is this the moment we move to multipolar sex?

Where we’re gonna, or have we moved there already?

It’s a transition that’s happening mainly because of China.

So we’re in, you know, it seems like what we’re doing

is pushing Russia irrevocably into Xi’s arms.

He’s gonna be part of that.

It’s a huge mistake.

He’s part of that.

Well, I’m surprised to hear you say that, J-Kal.

Well, I said it two weeks ago.

I mean, I said, this sounds crazy,

but if we could get Putin to be, you know, in talks with us,

then he’s not in talks with Xi Jinping.

And when you saw him with, you know,

taking pictures with Xi Jinping,

that should have been a red alarm bell

to everybody that our foreign policy is not working.

Because if he’s talking to Xi Jinping, supposedly,

who knows if this is true, again,

fog of war to Freiburg’s point, you know,

maybe Xi Jinping told him,

can you wait till after the Olympics to do this invasion?

If they’re coordinating at that level,

that’s really problematic for the US.

We need him on our side.

We need to get Pakistan on our side, India, South Korea.

We need to build an alliance to deal with the eventuality

of China going into the South China Sea

and taking over Taiwan.

So Chamath, what are your thoughts on,

does this give Xi Jinping a window or not?

And is there any path to getting Russia back

in talks with the West?

Maybe he can help get them restarted

in a way that could normalize relations.

Is this, well, the real question is like,

if you’re Xi, do you look at this and say,

it emboldens me?

Or I have to be even more strategic and crafty?

What do you think?

I say the latter, yeah.


It’s the latter, right?

If Russia had rolled.


This is one good thing and I’ll sort of contradict

what I said a little bit before.

Look, I don’t, I’m not passionately attached

to either the realist or the idealist school of thinking.

I think they’re interesting.

We need to consider both perspectives.

What I would say is that the resilience,

the ferocity of the Ukrainians,

the resistance defending themselves,

giving Putin a punch in the nose,

we can all support that

because we know that Xi is watching.

And if he sees, wow,

the Russians really got a tough time with Ukrainians,

what, you know,

am I going to be facing a similar situation with Taiwan?

And what’s interesting is that the way the Ukrainians,

they basically were willing to arm every man, woman,

and I don’t know, child, but every man and woman there,

they were handing out the AK-47s.

Basically they Israelized, right?

You want to know how Israel has survived in a neighborhood

where everyone wants to kill them?

Every single adult serves in the army and they get guns.

It’s like, you know,

second amendment over there.


Yeah, exactly.

So, yeah.

So I think that the Ukrainians have shown a model

that’s really based on the Israel model,

which is, listen,

if Taiwan really wants to be independent,

every adult there needs to learn how to fight

and they need to have weapons.

And that’s going to be the best guarantee.

We can be their ally,

but that’s going to be the best guarantor

is creating a credible deterrent to Xi moving on them.

I mean, do we transition to another story here?

I mean, this is one of the problems

when we’re living in these kinds of times

is that if you talk about anything other than

this horrible man.

I saw a tweet,

when all the decision trees can go to zero,

meaning that like there’s a 1% chance of,

or 0.1% or 0.01% chance of war three,

the nuclear war, then yeah,

it’s hard to talk about anything else.

It’s hard to think about anything else, so.


I watched Ozarks this week.

Well, amazing.

Is that good?


Is that good?

Ozark is great.

Jason Bateman, amazing.

Jason Bateman is so frigging good on it.

Breaking Bad 2.0.

I just started that series twice

and I’ve fallen asleep in episode one both times.

No, no, no, you gotta keep going.

It rolls.

It’s basically Breaking Bad 2.0.


I started season two of Euphoria.

Oh my Lord.

Oh my Lord.

That is, I will never let your kids watch it.

Oh my God.

It’s either that,

or it’s like the best deterrent.

So like you make them sit and watch it

and they’ll, not only will they never not do drugs,

but like they just won’t do anything.

They’ll just like stay in the house.

It’s scarring.

It’s basically Requiem for a Dream

meets like Disney plus afternoons.

Like these are Disney stars living in Requiem for a Dream.

Do not watch it.

I need to decompress after I watch it.

If you have kids, it’s terrorizing.

It’s terrifying.

It’s terrifying.

It’s absolutely terrifying.

It’s scarring.

It’s very artistic too, I have to say.

I give them a lot of points.

Should we talk about markets?

I feel like there’s a really kind of important discussion

because the markets are so volatile

during these kind of volatile information times,

times of information that’s changing day to day, intraday.

Where do you guys think about

kind of spending your time right now?

Are you kind of just putting your head in the sand

and saying, we’ll pull it out afterwards?

I mean, how do you guys kind of…

I mean, well, what’s funny is like I…

Sax is curled up in a ball.

You know, in times of uncertainty,

you actually want to be deploying.

So, you know, I announced, what was it last week?

I think it was.

The solar deal.

The solar deal, you know,

I put $228 million into this thing.

And then I did another deal.

I put 45 million bucks into this thing

you guys know about, which we haven’t announced yet.


So, but other than that,

I’ve been literally white knuckled.

I don’t like to open the stock app.

There’s no point.

Take some Dramamine before you open

your Morgan Stanley account.

The stock app.

The stock app.

And what’s so funny is like my Bloomberg terminal,

which is right beside me here at my desk,

I have not logged into it.

Oh God.

Put it in a drawer.

Unplug it.

There’s just no point.

At the end of every week, I get a report, right?

Kind of like our P&L.

And I just look at the top line,

like Connor always sends me the top line.

It’s like, you know,

and the last like eight weeks in a row,

we’ve lost 1%.

We’ve lost 2%.

We’ve lost 3%.

The time that…

Sax wishes he lost 1%.

I celebrated.

I got so drunk that night.

I was like, finally.

This is where it really does help, right, Sax,

to think in decades.

Like if you think in decades

and you’re a venture investor,

you can kind of just put this stuff out of your mind,

which is what I’m doing.

And the great thing is I’m seeing amazing companies,

great founders.

Deals are taking longer to close.

People are starting to do diligence again.

And people are discussing what the right valuation

for this early stage startup is,

which is good.

That’s healthy.

I don’t know what you’re seeing

in the early to mid-stage market privately,

but I’m seeing really healthy discussions

and late stage madness is gone.

It’s over.


I mean, I think a hundred times ARR is over,

but no one really knows where it’s landing.

So I’m seeing some deals get done at 60 to 80 times,

but no one really knows where it should be.

I sent you guys this tweet from Morgan Housel,

who is a great guy.

And he has this fabulous tweet.

He says, it says the shock cycle.

And it’s this beautiful cycle.

Assume good news is permanent, oblivious to bad news.

Then you ignore the bad news.

Then you deny the bad news.

Then you panic at the bad news,

but then you accept the bad news.

And then you ignore the good news.

You deny the good news.

You accept the good news.

And then you assume the good news is permanent.

That starts a cycle.

If I could just put it out there,

I don’t know today if you guys saw non-farm payrolls,

but we had a huge print in unemployment,

like really great print,

meaning like a lot of employers

were able to find people to take jobs.

It was a big number.

But the interesting thing about it

was we didn’t see wage inflation tick up with it.

And if I had to look at that,

and if you actually look at a bunch of the earnings reports

that have come out in the last three or four weeks,

I actually think we’re in the part of the cycle here

where we’re starting to ignore the good news.

And we’re so negative,

and we’re so emotionally wrapped up in everything

that people forget that actually the world

tends to keep moving forward, right?

We are not in World War III.

By any measure, we are not anywhere near that, okay?

And so I just think it’s important for people

to take a step back and take a really deep breath.

But I think that there’s a lot of good news out there.

There’s a ton of good news.

And for people who don’t know the term-

And we’re ignoring it.

For people who don’t know the term print,

when we say there’s a print,

that is just a colloquialism in the financial markets

that something was formatted for printing previously

and you got good news.

So an official report is sometimes called,

we got a print.

I agree with, I think what’s going on

is there is some underlying good news, right?

But there’s this overhead of a small chance

of something catastrophic happening.

So how do you price that in, right?

It’s like a one outer, right?

Yeah, exactly.

Quads were set over set.


It’s a one outer to the apocalypse, basically.

If a tiny probability thing happens, the game is over.

So, you know, why even worry?

So it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter.

The cost of your house doesn’t matter

if there’s a nuclear war.

That’s right.

This is the thing that people underestimate

is like, that’s not a risk

that one should be hedging in any way financially, right?

At that point, the only thing that matters

is the health and safety of your family and your friends.

But really, in your immediate family,

like, can you take care of them and make sure they’re safe?

And so, you know, if you’re an investor

in the financial markets or you’re building a company,

managing for that externality, in my opinion,

I’m not sure it makes a ton of sense

because I don’t think you can manage to that externality.

You have no impact on it.

It’s cataclysmic.

It’s something completely out of your control.

Yeah, so I think you have to manage

to the 99.999% of normalized outcomes.

And I think right now,

there are some what’s called green shoots,

meaning like some positive news in the world

and some positive data.

By the way, the other thing that we saw today was,

or this week was Jerome Powell.

And, you know, the Jerome Powell testimony

was also in the middle of massive amounts of bad news,

some actually pretty decent good news,

which was, he said he’s gonna raise

by 25 basis points in March.

Everybody knew that, right?

So we took the 50 basis pointer off the table,

but then he was very clear

that they were going to be data-driven.

And in the language of the Federal Reserve,

what that essentially means is like,

we’re gonna be patient and wait and see.

And if you couple it with what I said before,

which is the economic cost

of these economic sanctions towards Russia

can be calculated.

And I think that we have proven a willingness

to print capital and money.

And so if you put those two things together,

I think there could be a real possibility

that Powell becomes very accommodative.

And, you know, he and Biden

and the entire administration come together

with Europe and everybody else and say,

get the money printer back going,

because we are gonna stand the line

on these economic sanctions.

And we’re gonna, you know,

sort of soft land the economy here,

because we think there’s recessionary risks afoot.

Let me just provide a little bit of a counterpoint,

which is where I’m most concerned.

We don’t know what the repercussions are fully

in a dynamical system of global capital,

of pulling out this much capital

and devaluing assets at this scale so quickly.

The shock to the system,

I don’t think has yet been realized.

And I think we’ll know at the end of this month

when books close,

what things actually do to businesses,

to swap agreements, to trades, you know,

trade balances that are outstanding.

And you could talk about economic stimulus

as being the way to solve that,

but we don’t yet know what’s broken.

And they’re like,

let me just give you guys another example.

Today, corn, I think is trading at 760 a bushel.

That hasn’t happened, guys,

I can’t tell you in how long.

This was a commodity that was trading at 350

a few months ago.

And so we’re now talking about that,

the trickle down effect of that price into the beef,

the trickle down effect

as we’re already seeing in California or San Francisco,

where the average price per gallon of gas at over $5.

The trickle down effect on purchasing behavior,

on businesses defaulting

because suddenly their counterparties dry up.

We don’t know, and we won’t know,

and it’s not just about-

Actually, we know some of those.

We know some of them,

but we don’t know what we don’t know.

And the thing I’m concerned about is this is,

imagine when I say dynamical system

from a physics perspective,

it’s like, take 100 slinkies and tie them together

into a giant graph of slinkies.

And you start punching one of the slinkies like this.

If you punch one or two of the slinkies hard enough,

you don’t know how the repercussions will cause

a slinky all the way over there to suddenly shoot up

or shoot down, but there are-

You’re also denying your ability

to change a difference slinky.

That’s the whole point of a dynamical system.

You could put energy back into it,

but we don’t know what’s broken.

And there could be something that’s irreparably broken.

We’ve gone through these things before,

and I think you’re not learning from history

or you’re at least not willing to admit it, but-

No, I think we’re-

Hold on a second.

We’ve seen it in TARP, okay?

We did not know the total extent of what happened in the GFC.

And we had to invent a financial framework

to soft land the global economy.

We figured it out.

When we went through LTCM and John Merriweather blew up-

Explain what that is.

There was a huge hedge fund in the late nineties

that basically had a massively levered exposure

to the financial markets,

to the tune of like tens or tens

or hundreds of billions of dollars.

Go read the book, When Genius Failed,

if you want to read the story.

It does a good job summarizing it,

but it’s a great story.

Yeah, go ahead.

And again, we had to step in with a governmental framework

and a broad infrastructure of actors across the world

to soft land the financial economy in a way,

not knowing what the actual, what part was broken.

So I just fundamentally disagree with this idea

that we’re running blind.

Yeah, look, we’re talking about,

I’m talking about capital and energy and food.

And some combination of those things

are going to cause some serious deleterious effects

on people and on markets.

And look, I get it, Chamath.

I know that there’s solutions for repair,

and I know that we’re going to act swiftly and aggressively.

And every time, by the way, I just want to point out,

in each of those scenarios you’ve talked about,

we’ve acted more swiftly and more aggressively

than we did in the scenario prior.

And it’s getting to the point that,

what is the value?

How much debt, how much deficit

are we really willing to take on?

Everyone obviously has these kind of

intrinsic existential questions

about how much we really can act long-term

without the dollar collapsing.

But certainly in the context of a global economy collapsing,

the dollar will always be the safe haven.

But there are other things at play here,

like, you know, the cost of gas for the average American,

you know, the amount of wheat and the amount of food

that people in Africa are going to have access to.

What you’re saying here, Freeberg,

is that some of these things we have been through,

and if you look at gas as one example,

I think you’re bringing up the important ones here,

food and energy, gas.

We actually know what happens when gas prices go up.

We saw that not long ago.

People bought more hybrids

and the miles per gallon per car.

You know, when you raise prices, consumption goes down

and people get creative.

Those are long-term adjustments, J. Cal.

I’m talking about the short-term acute effects.

The thing that America has the ability to do

is they have the ability to change the financial incentives

for actors all around the world in a split second.

And behavior can change.

And so I actually think, Freeberg,

the nuanced thing that you’re saying,

which I completely agree with,

but maybe we should say more explicitly is,

it probably is a reasonable way to manage risk

in America, Europe, Canada, Japan.

But what’s going to be very, very difficult

is the impact that this has on emerging markets

in Southeast Asia, Asia, Africa,

could be really, really deleterious for some amount of time.

And sad, and it’s gonna cause a humanitarian problem.

It’s really friggin’ sad and it’s, you know,

whatever progress has been made could be unwound.

I think you’re right.

By the way, I think that that is actually

really the risk that I think

holding the line on these sanctions really does.

It pushes the risk towards EM countries.

And then I think we’re gonna have to figure out

what our moral resolve is to go and fix those.

And that’s my point earlier,

which is we’re gonna bear the cost ultimately.

The United States is gonna have to step up

in a really outsized way to solve this problem.

And while we might not be sending troops on the ground,

we’re gonna end up paying several trillion dollars.

I don’t know that it’s gonna be

just the United States, Freeberg.

The United States seems to be working in coordination

with our allies in this situation.

We’re not acting unilaterally anymore.

That’s a good news.

We’re gonna have an economic cost, right?

There’s gonna be something.

If you’re asking me, there’s no amount of money

that you can actually put on human life.

And so if we can avoid a military war,

I just think that there’s no red line on cost there.

And so if we end up running massive deficits,

and now we’re at 150, 250, 300% of GDP,

I think that morally that is the right thing to do.

Sachs, is the world becoming more idealistic and realistic?

Let me bring Sachs in here.

Sachs, is the world becoming more anti-fragile

slash resilient, pick one of the two, I guess,

to these kind of upending events because of COVID,

because of China pulling out of financial markets?

We just went through this.

Freeberg was like, hey, this is unprecedented.

Actually, I think we have a little bit of precedent here.

We have the complete shutdown of the economy from COVID

in recent memory.

And we have China deciding that all these companies

are no longer public.

We’ve seen, they did their own economic sanctions.

They sanctioned themselves and pulled out of markets.

So what do you think, Sachs?

I think the current crisis is a reminder

that it’s not too anti-fragile.

I think we are in a transition.

The Cold War ended about 30 years ago.

And since then, we’ve been engaging

in this sort of unipolar foreign policy

where America calls all the shots.

Now the world is becoming more multipolar.

I’m not sure it’s all the way there yet.

And you have countries like Russia and China

reasserting themselves,

and that’s making the world a more dangerous place.

Well, you also have the EU working together in unison,

and they seem to be,

maybe they’re gonna become a bigger actor here

because of this, right?

We’re seeing them take a bigger-

That was sort of a positive surprise,

as long as they don’t pull a Franz Ferdinand,

like Freeberg said,

and inadvertently blunder us into a war.

Okay, folks, this is This Week in Dystopian Outcomes.

No, no, let’s talk about something good.

Come on.

In other good news, let’s talk about the big Cartier

breakthrough this week.

There is good news, guys.

Good news is there.

There must be.

The good news is that we’re managing crises after crises.

China crises-

Freeberg, do you want to tell people

about this revolutionary breakthrough in cancer?

I mean, look, there’s just,

there was another Cartier therapy approved,

two of them approved in the last week for myeloma.

Cartier just, I think we’ve talked about it in the past.

You know, every human body has T cells.

They’re a core part of your immune system.

T cells are programmed,

so they have a sensor, you know,

that tells them where to go and what to destroy.

And so, as T cells learn what to destroy,

you know, they can be really effective

at clearing bad things out of your body,

clearing pathogens and invasive things out of your body.

And so, a few years ago, you know,

humans gained the ability to engineer T cells

by adding the genetic code to a T cell,

effectively engineering it to go after a very specific thing.

And so, the big revolution in Cartier therapies

has been in oncology and cancer.

So, you know, programmed T cells

to destroy specific cancer cells in the body

that, you know, you would historically

have had to use really difficult,

systemically challenging drugs like chemotherapies

and so on to wipe out lots of cells,

and in many cases, doesn’t eradicate all the cancer.

And Cartier turns out it can be extremely effective

at finding very specific cancer cells in your body,

and in many cases, causing complete remission in cancer.

And so, you know, there was one Cartier that was approved

that showed, I believe it was an 88 or 90%

complete remission in multiple myeloma,

which is a form of blood cancer.

So, they take your T cells out of your body,

you just get a little blood draw basically,

they go in a lab, they’re zapped with electricity,

which causes them to open up slightly

and an engineered, a little CRISPR edit happens,

and those cells are now edited,

the DNA in those cells is edited,

and now those cells know to go after the cancer target.

You put them back in your body after they grow up

for a few days, and they filter them and test them,

make sure they’re safe,

and after they go back in your body,

the T cells go to work and they clear

all the cancer cells out of your body.

It’s an incredible technology.

Incredible technology.

Cell-based therapies are unbelievable.

Is the name of the company involved in this A2 Bio?

Is that the company?

No, A2 did something else,

so that breakthrough was even more important,

I think, in the long term.

What he’s talking about is Janssen and Legend

are the two companies that basically

got approval from the FDA.

The thing with CAR T is like,

CAR T has been incredibly believed in blood-based cancers,

but that’s an entire category

that excludes solid tumor cancers.

What you’re talking about, Jason, this week as well,

what happened was A2 Bio basically figured out

how to modify these T cells in a way

where you can actually attack and target

a very specific solid tumor.

So there’s a lot more work for those guys,

but if you play that out,

now you have this incredible ability for your own body

to be trained to fight and kill cancer,

whether it’s in your blood or whether it’s the solid tumors.

Now, the price of these therapies today,

they’re charging, call it 400 to $450,000 per treatment.

And by the way, the treatment, it’s a one-time shot.

I mean, it’s like-


Yeah, they pull the blood out of your body,

and then the expensive, challenging part

is how do you take the cells, isolate them,

engineer them, test them, screen them,

make sure they’re safe.

The way that is done today

is very expensive and time-consuming

because the volume is low

and there haven’t been as many kind of engineering

breakthroughs over the last couple of years.

How long does it take, do you know?

It takes months?

It could take a week to four weeks,

so before you get-

For one person, 10 people?

Is it the equipment that’s expensive?

Oh, no, no.

Like, I actually, I invited Chamath to come with me.

We went and visited one of these labs a few weeks ago,

but I won’t get into it.

But it’s unnecessarily inefficient

in the sense that you can charge so much

because when you spend half a million dollars

to treat a cancer patient,

you just save yourself millions of dollars

in long-term care for that cancer patient.

So the price is determined by the alternative cost.

That’s how a lot of drugs are priced.

It’s like, how do you save money over the long run

for the payer, you know, the insurance company?

And so if the insurance company knows over the long run

they’re gonna pay $3 million in care for this cancer,

this type of cancer-

You save them 2.5.

They’re willing to spend half a million dollars

to, you know, to end the cancer.

Is that the right financial calculus for this, Chamath?

So here’s the thing.

So if you look at the actual cost of doing this,

there is a university in the Bay Area

that is doing CAR T therapies,

and their cost is about 40 grand.

They built their own lab to do this.

Got it.

And that, by the way, is also extremely inefficient.

We, I think that over the long run,

we can get the cost of cell therapies below 5,000 bucks.

And when you can do that, by the way,

CAR T can be used not just to go after cancer,

but you can get it to go after autoimmunity.

So people with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis,

there are known B cells in your body

that are making antibodies

that are causing the inflammation in your body,

destroying your own body.

And so down the road,

we could use CAR T to destroy lupus,

to destroy antibodies,

B cells that are producing antibodies

that are, you know,

fundamentally causing autoimmune conditions,

including what we talked about a few weeks ago,

multiple sclerosis,

given that we now have a strong belief

that if you can get rid of the EBV,

Epstein-Barr virus from your body,

you can wipe that out.

So CAR T can in the long run be harnessed,

not just for cancer,

but autoimmunity and potentially other pathogens

in the body in a really targeted way.

And this is kind of the beginning

of what will likely be a multi-decade

kind of new therapeutic modality.

That’s, you know, accelerating.

I had a question for you, Shabazz, though,

on the pricing model here of,

hey, the way we price this is

how much are we saving the insurer?

Is that too much price optimization?

Is there a better model here?

I have no idea.


I would like to talk about something else.

Related to this, Jason,

there’s this massive patent battle going on

for CRISPR. Oh, CRISPR, yeah.

And I think it’s worth, J Cal,

if you can give just a two-second primer,

because I think we should talk about patents

just for a second.

And, you know, there are,

there’s the extreme version,

which is what Elon has done.

And then there’s the other extreme version,

which is these two folks fighting over

what could be a critical vaccine.

Obviously, Elon has gone with putting the patents out,

making his patents open source

and putting them out there

and using them as a deterrent,

like nuclear weapons have been.

But the US Patent and Trademark Office

published a ruling on Monday

in favor of MIT and Harvard over Berkeley.

The ruling cancels certain patent applications

made by the University of California and its partners

regarding a CRISPR system known as CRISPR-CAS9.



The ruling states that they failed

to provide persuasive evidence

that they got the gene editing technology to work

before the broad group did.

The central question and dispute is

which group got to the CRISPR-CAS9 tool?

Basically, the whole thing here, Jason,

is like there was a group

led by these two incredible scientists

who they won the Nobel Prize,

Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier.

They’re Berkeley and she,

Emmanuelle, I think is,

she’s at a university in Germany, I think.

But then there was a different team

trying to develop a system for CRISPR-CAS9

from MIT, Harvard, at the Broad,

and they all filed patents on top of each other

and this whole thing was a thing.

You know, the big implication of all this

is what are companies supposed to do, right?

Because if you are a company that wants to build

a CRISPR-CAS9 gene editing thing,

look, there’s a lot of situations

where a single point edit or a broad edit

can have a meaningful change in your health.

So these are businesses that should exist.

You didn’t know what to do

because if you licensed the IP from the wrong person,

you’d get sued.


And many companies now are like trying to license

both sets of patents.

And I just think to me,

it frustrated me when I read this article.

And you know, this is the conversation I had

with you guys in the group chat,

is I think we need to think of

and imagine a new way for patents to work

because it shouldn’t be the case that,

you know, folks are competing

for what is really effectively credit.

And then what stops behind them

are all the commercial companies and investors

and just the normal individual day-to-day people

who want solutions to solvable problems.

But the reason it doesn’t get to the starting line

is because of patent credit

and having to deal with patent trolls.

And I just think that that’s a terrible situation

for us to be in.

Especially if it’s something

that could change the course of humanity,

almost feels like an arbitrator has to come in here

and force a settlement.

What do you think Freeberg is the right thing to do?

Obviously, we have a tradition of people getting to,

you know, monetize, dare I say.

They’re innovations for some period of time with a patent.

I have multiple businesses I’m involved in

where we leverage CRISPR.

And I will tell you that the, you know,

the group at Harvard,

so the history is the group of Harvard

and the group at Berkeley argue,

each argue that they discovered CRISPR-Cas9

around the same time,

or each argue that they have a right to CRISPR technology

based on their discoveries

that were made around the same time.

And so for years,

each of them have been starting companies

and licensing CRISPR technologies to different companies.

And all of those companies now,

including several that are public,

it turns out that if this ruling, you know,

is to be believed,

they actually have a license to a technology

that they may not actually have a license to.

So there was a company that emerged a few years ago

and actually made an open-sourced version of this system.

And so I have at least one company

in plant gene editing,

where we leverage this open-sourced version of this system.

And many more companies,

many more businesses are embracing

that open-source alternative.

I don’t think that we see this turning out

to be any different than what we saw

with the proliferation of Linux in computer software,

where, you know, Microsoft or whomever was trying to,

you know, make everyone pay a licensing fee

to use their operating system.

And guess what markets discovered?

They discovered that,

hey, if someone is able to make something free

and open-source it, everyone will embrace it.

And here we are,

where most of the internet is run on open-source software.

So, you know, I don’t know what the right thing to do

with respect to patents are,

because, you know, the truth is,

a lot of very difficult, very expensive technology,

R&D dollars go into developing a technology

that is theoretically,

someone could look at it and make a copy of it.

And so I do think that there are rights to defend

with respect to patents.

I think that there is,

if there is something that is a critical resource

that an entire industry really needs to access,

an open-source solution will emerge.

You know, the markets take care of it.

And I think we’ve already seen that with CRISPR.

So, you know, it’s hard to say.

At the end of the day,

you want to license a, you know, patent a molecule

and be the only person that can make that molecule

and make money from it?

Go ahead.

But if everyone’s going to need that molecule

to run their business and to change the world,

someone’s going to make a cheaper alternative

or a free alternative.

That’s just the way markets work, so.

Saks would like to recite a poem for peace.

At the end of the podcast, he’s gone totally soft.

The pacifist, David Saks.

No, I’d like to address what you said

when you called me a pacifist.

Cause I think actually-

Oh my God, here we go, after hours.

This is all in after dark.

Here we go.

He’s an existential pacifist.

Go ahead, Saks.

Read your poem.

When did I become a pacifist?

Well, I’m not really a pacifist.

Look, I still believe in the idea of peace through strength,

like Reagan said, okay?

But I remember when we,

what is the only clean win

that we’ve had in a war since World War II, America has.

Clean win, straight shot.

The first Iraq war when we drove Saddam out of Kuwait.

That was George Herbert Walker Bush.

Our last conventional war.

Well, it was also the last war that we actually won.

Every other war that we’ve done

has been turned into a fiasco.

Winning was pretty easy to define, get out of Kuwait.

The other ones, we were trying to do revolutions.

But remember, everybody wanted him to go all the way

and march into Baghdad and change the regime,

replace Saddam.

And he said, no.

And he had the wisdom to stop.

And everybody called him a wimp,

but he still had the determination and the wisdom to stop.

And then what happened, his son comes in 10 years later

and they finish the job.

They take out Saddam

and they destabilize the entire Middle East.

That’s what the iron asses got us.

So what has turned me against these regime change wars?

It’s, look, when I was in college,

I thought Herbert Walker Bush was a wimp, you know?

And George W. Bush was doing the right thing

going into Iraq 20 years ago.

But we’ve seen the results.

And anybody today who doesn’t modify their point of view

on these regime change wars is a fool.

I mean, they’re not paying attention.

And so for Lindsey Graham and, you know,

these other guys out there to be,

a lot of Republicans to be talking about regime change

as something we should be seriously promoting,

they’ve totally lost the script

and they should be denounced as reckless, dangerous fools.

And look, I’ve seen it on both sides of the aisle,

but what we need to do, now listen,

if it ends up being the case

that the Russian people want to make a change,

that’s up to them.

That’s their call.

Obviously I’m not opposing something

that they might want to do,

but for the idea that that should be our goal,

that’s our end game, that’s our objective,

that is a recipe for disaster.

Yeah, we’ll just wind up getting in a perpetual war.

Then when we leave, it’ll revert.

And that’s what we saw.

It reverts back to communist or authoritarianism.

The people have to really want it.

Revolutions are hard fought and bloody.

And if you think you can just go in there

with a couple of drones and get everybody to decide,

oh, we embrace democracy from this point forward,

because you drone the hell out of the country,

is farcical and it’s proven to be wrong.

100% agreement with you.

No ceasefire is gonna be possible.

I mean, it’s gonna be hard enough as it is

to get anything remotely like a deal,

but it’s not gonna be possible

if you’ve defined regime change as your objective.

That’s way to dig Putin in.

That’s literally what he wants to…

You’re giving him all the pretext he needs

to keep this thing going, if it’s self-preservation.

All right, everybody, there’s your overtime.

Sax’s writers were freaking out in the writer’s room.

I had to get his last point in

before I pinned him as a pacifist.

There are no writers for this stuff, J. Cal,

because look, everybody on cable news

is singing from the same hymnal

and following the same script.

They’re all being the drones of war.

There’s only one critique right now,

which is we’re not doing enough and we’re being weak

and Biden needs to do more.

Not being weak.

I agree.

Having patience is not being weak.

We are doing a lot.

We’re doing a lot and we should be careful.

De-escalation is the opposite of weak.

These economic sanctions are real.

We have to follow through.

And I think we have to make sure

that the economy is supported while we do it.

On that note, let’s pray for peace

and we’ll see you all next week on the podcast.

The All In Summit is May 15th to the 17th, 16th and 17th

are the two days of the conference.

Poker on the 15th, a tournament for charity,

events every night of the week.

And you can apply for a scholarship

at the website

or just type in the All In Summit into Google.

It’ll be the first link.

And 400 of 600 tickets have been allocated,

either sold or for scholarships.

We’re gonna do the best we can

to have as great of an audience there as possible.

And for the dictator Chamath Palihapitiya,

the Rain Man, David Sachs,

and the Sultan of Science,

hot off the launch of Canna,

congratulations, turning literally water into wine.

David Friedberg, I’m Jake Al,

and we’ll see you next time.

Love you, boys.

Love you, besties.




We’ll let your winners ride.

Rain Man, David Sachs.

And instead, we open source it to the fans

and they’ve just gone crazy with it.

The queen of Kinwan.

I’m going all in.

Let your winners ride.

Let, let your winners ride.

Let your winners ride.

Besties are gone.

No, they’re not.

That is my dog taking a notice in your driveway.

Oh, man.

My avatars will meet me at the…

We should all just get a room

and just have one big huge orgy

because they’re all just useless.

It’s like this like sexual tension

that they just need to release somehow.

Let your beat be.

Let your beat be.

Let your beat be.

We need to get merch.

Besties are gone.