Planet Money

Imagine you could call up a friend and say, "Meet me at the bar and tell me what's going on with the economy." Now imagine that's actually a fun evening. That's what we're going for at Planet Money.

We try really hard every episode to find creative, entertaining ways to make sense of the big, complicated forces that move our economy. That's why we made a t-shirt and traced the supply chain around the world from cotton field to factory; bought 100 barrels of crude oil and followed it from ground to gas tank; launched a satellite; and built an adorable algorithmic trading Twitter bot.

Planet Money launched in 2008 during the financial crisis and, since then, it has won many awards including a Peabody and an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2017 for our investigation into Wells Fargo's retaliation against whistle-blowers.

In 2017, we launched The Indicator, a shorter, more frequent podcast that takes a number or a term from the news and finds context and big ideas behind it.

You can also hear Planet Money stories on Morning Edition, All Things Considered.

Planet Money and The Indicator are co-hosted by: Ailsa ChangCardiff GarciaJacob GoldsteinNoel KingKenny MaloneRobert Smith, and Stacey Vanek Smith.

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Four hundred years ago, Isaac Le Maire helped found the Dutch East India Company. (You might remember them from history class: Think big wooden boats, trips across rough seas, and lots and lots of spices).

Anyway, Le Maire got caught up in a dispute over some expense reports, and so his co-directors essentially banished him from the spice trade.

Anyone else might've backed away, but Le Maire wanted revenge. And so the short sell was born.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

Feeling sluggish? Having trouble achieving and maintaining productivity growth? Does it feel like investment will never, ever go up? You may be experiencing secular stagnation.

Symptoms include persistently low interest rates and weak inflation. Also, mediocre economic growth, despite a diet of huge deficits and cheap credit.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

Silvio Gesell hated money. A German entrepreneur who moved to Argentina for business in the late 19th century, he witnessed a massive financial crash in 1890 that convinced him that money was behind the world's economic problems: poverty, inequality, unemployment, stagnation.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

Put down those Popsicles. No more sleeping in. Beach time is over.

Economists have long hated summer vacation. All those wasted school facilities! All that educational backsliding! Kids are getting dumber!

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What exactly makes an Irish pub an Irish pub?

In the 1970s, Irish architecture student Mel McNally spent his final year in school studying the design of Irish pubs (partly as an excuse to drink with his buddies). They hit up all the famous pubs in Dublin and brought along their sketchbooks and a measuring tape to answer one question: What makes these places work?

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

Something is strange with the economy.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

In 1944, almost exactly 75 years ago, more than 700 representatives from 44 nations traveled to the Mount Washington Hotel, a secluded resort in the mountains of Bretton Woods, N.H. With World War II coming to an end, they arrived to hammer out a new financial system for the global economy.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

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In the 1950s, Stefan Mandel won the Romanian lottery twice.

And then he took his winnings, packed his bags and settled in Australia, where he won the lottery 12 more times. Yeah, you read that correctly: 12.

So how did this math whiz beat the system?

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

Hongkongers are showing the world how to protest.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

A century ago, stuff was expensive. Back then, people relied on nature to make things: Toothbrushes were made of silver, combs were made of tortoiseshell, and clothes were made of cotton (well, they still use a lot of cotton, but you get the point.)

Then, in 1907, a chemist named Leo Baekeland found a way to take the useless gunk leftover from making kerosene and turn it into plastic. It opened up a whole world of affordable products. Suddenly, everyone could get one of everything.

This is the story of how plastic was first made and how maybe we went too far with it.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

This is the first part in our series on Marxism and capitalism in Chile. You can find the second episode here.

Chile is one of the wealthiest, most stable economies in South America. But to understand how Chile got here--how it became the envy of neighboring countries --you have to know the story of a group of Chilean students who came to study economics at the University of Chicago. A group that came to be known as the Chicago Boys.

Will Scootermania End With A Crash?

May 14, 2019

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

Is Buying A House Overrated?

Apr 30, 2019

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

The gender pay gap exists for a variety of reasons. Discrimination is one; educational experience and job choice are others. The fields that employ a lot of women tend to pay less.

Four new dollar stores will open in the U.S. every single day of 2019. That's a new dollar store every six hours. There are more dollar stores than there are Walmarts, McDonald's and CVS stores combined. And they are setting up in places no one else will go... tiny towns, urban areas, poor communities.

Today on the show, we go to a town that decided there were too many dollar stores. And talk to a woman on a mission to ban them.

The superhero universe may be a fantasy (sorry, superfans), but that doesn't mean superheroes are free from the laws of economics. Quite the reverse, in fact: superheroes are subject to the dismal science, just like the rest of us. That's how Brian O'Roark sees it, anyhow.

More than 60 million years ago, the Tyrannosaurus rex roamed North America. Today, they're fetching 7 figures from museums and private buyers all over the world. There is a thriving market for dinosaur fossils and T-Rex is at the top of the food chain... but some people say this market is bad for science.

Today on The Indicator: the economics of dinosaur fossils. How does one come to own a T-Rex? Who buys them? And... aren't fossils priceless?

If you've ever signed up for anything online, you've probably taken a CAPTCHA test. Maybe you deciphered some scrambled letters and numbers. Maybe you clicked on a bunch of pictures of stop signs. Or maybe you just clicked a box that said "I am not a robot."

These tests are one of the annoyances we put up with to do stuff on the Internet. But the story of CAPTCHA is shockingly interesting. It includes the rise of artificial intelligence, the quest to digitize millions of old books and newspapers, and a shady underworld of human beings paid to solve thousands of CAPTCHAs a day.

In the first few months of the year, the data we got about the economy was a little worrying. As a whole, it made some economists - and some of us - feel a little pessimistic about our economic future. The data pointed to fewer jobs being added to the economy, lackluster retail sales, and lower global growth projections from international agencies like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

But lately, it seems like these indicators have been picking up, which seems to be a good sign for the economy. Today on The Indicator, is everything really awesome?

The U.S. economy is booming. We've seen sustained low unemployment rates, wages are climbing, and thousands of new jobs being added to the economy every month. The headline numbers focusing on the labor market seem great, and they are.

When does a minimum wage become too high?

Apr 23, 2019

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

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