Planet Money

Planet Money

www.npr.org/planetmoney
The economy explained. 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.


#592: Bell Wars
Dec 11 • 21 min
A special holiday episode about the epic, decades-long feud between the two companies that make just about every handbell in the world.
#956: The Carriage Tax
Dec 6 • 18 min
The argument over the constitutionality of wealth taxes has been going on since 1794, when George Washington decided to raise money by taxing the rich, through their carriages.
#773: Slot Flaw Scofflaws
Dec 4 • 22 min
Where there are casinos, there are wannabe cheaters. One group of Russian hackers cracked slot machines with math, iPhones, and a whole lot of swiping.
#955: Pirate Videos
Nov 29 • 19 min
On today’s show, Blackbeard the pirate and a fight between two of the most powerful forces in American law: states’ rights and property rights.
#674: We Cooked A Peacock
Nov 27 • 20 min
In the 1600s, a good spice rub was the ultimate display of wealth. People would risk their lives for a sack of cloves. On today’s show, we cook a recipe from the spice trade days.
#954: What Is Foreign Interference, Anyway?
Nov 22 • 22 min
Millions of foreigners with temporary visas live and work in the US. Some of them want to participate in the elections. What’s the line between participating and meddling?
#953: Three Sides Of A Car Loan
Nov 20 • 26 min
There is an alarming trend in the U.S. right now: 7 million people are at least 3 months behind on car payments. It’s a record high, but is it a crisis?
#952: Sperm Banks
Nov 15 • 24 min
Sperm banks are whisking DNA around the world. And a sperm banker in Denmark created one of the biggest sperm operations, with help from his mom’s freezer… and mad cow disease.
#951: Snakebite
Nov 13 • 24 min
There are millions of snakebite victims per year, but antivenom hasn’t really changed since its development over 100 years ago. A doctor goes to extremes to find a solution.
#950: Overrated Or Underrated?
Nov 8 • 14 min
Tyler Cowen rates the NBA, Karl Marx, Adam Smith, the humanities, your neighbors, and more.
#777: Free Love, Free Market
Nov 6 • 22 min
A free-love commune of perfectionists in upstate New York embraced the free market, and became a blockbuster brand.
#949: The Pigou Club
Nov 1 • 21 min
Canada has put a price on pollution. The economist behind the idea thought about it more than a century ago.
#948: A Series Of Unfortunate Recessions
Oct 30 • 16 min
There is one real-life economic monster that can take away your money, your job, and your future: A recession.
#947: Some-of-the-Money Ball
Oct 25 • 21 min
Baseball is a winner-take-all career path. But income pools could change the way baseball players, and other people in high risk/high reward professions, think about uncertainty.
#946: Fries Of The Future
Oct 23 • 21 min
The modern french fry isn’t just crispy and delicious, it’s a technological marvel.
#945: The Liberty City
Oct 18 • 23 min
Von Ormy, Texas is a small city with a big dream: To thrive with almost no regulations, property taxes, or debt.
#753: Blockchain Gang
Oct 16 • 22 min
Charlie Shrem’s odyssey in and out of prison is a parable for everything that has happened with bitcoin during its first years: from idealists to outlaws to respectable citizens.
#944: We Should Have Mentioned That
Oct 11 • 22 min
We answer some of the most popular questions our listeners had after listening to our recent shows: on baseball cards, the repo market, and the least common American.
#763: BOTUS
Oct 9 • 21 min
The Volfefe Index measures how much the President’s tweets affect volatility in the bond market. In 2017, we launched our own investing project based on the President’s tweets.
#943: Unicorn Cowboy
Oct 4 • 21 min
Masayoshi Son raised the biggest venture capital fund in the history of the world, made WeWork possible, and radically changed the way startups work.
#942: Capitalism In The Courtroom
Oct 2 • 21 min
Investors can fund lawsuits for profit, which gives more people access to the courts. But some worry it will warp the justice system.
#941: Three Bets
Sep 27 • 22 min
Planet Money takes a gamble on three stories about bets gone… every which way.
#770: When India’s Cash Disappeared
Sep 25 • 25 min
When India suddenly got rid of most of its cash, in an effort to end corruption and modernize its economy, chaos ensued. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
#940: Interest Rates… Why So Negative?
Sep 20 • 19 min
Interest rates are low and getting lower. Some are even negative. Which means we live in a weird world, where people are lending out money and getting back less.
#658: Strike One
Sep 18 • 17 min
An automakers’ strike against General Motors in the 1930s changed the world of unions forever. Before, striking was dangerous and illegal. Today, it’s a fairly civilized business.
#939: The Working Tapes Of Studs Terkel
Sep 13 • 28 min
In the 1970s, Studs Terkel interviewed scores of people about their jobs for his book Working. Today, we hear a few of those conversations — and follow up with the subjects.
#794: How To Make It In The Music Business
Sep 11 • 22 min
Behind popular music, there is this hidden economy of music producers buying and selling sonic snippets, texting each other half-finished beats, and angling for back-end royalties.
#938: The Marshall Plan
Sep 6 • 21 min
Sometimes to help yourself, you help your enemy. After WWII, the U.S. launched what might be the most successful intervention in history, rebuilding Germany and more.
#371: Where Dollar Bills Come From
Sep 4 • 16 min
Imagine being the company that makes all the world’s dollar bills. We found that company and took a look inside.
#937: Moving To Opportunity?
Aug 30 • 20 min
In the 1990s, the government ran an experiment to test the economic impact of moving people to lower-poverty neighborhoods. The results surprised them.
#936: The Modal American
Aug 28 • 28 min
Who is the average American? Bad question. You end up with a clumpy amalgamation of qualities. If you want to know how real people are living, you want the Modal American.
935: You Asked For A Food Show
Aug 23 • 25 min
How to get the best value from the salad bar? Why do Americans refrigerate their eggs? What’s the deal with Choco Pies? It’s the food edition of listener questions.
#934: Two Yield Curve Indicators
Aug 21 • 18 min
A 13-year-old listener wrote in asking if the inverted yield curve means that a recession is on the way. Today on the show, we try to answer him.
#933: Find The Helium
Aug 16 • 25 min
You need helium to launch rockets into space. It’s also essential for MRI machines and cellphones. But the world is running short on helium. So we’re going looking for more.
#616: How Solar Got Cheap
Aug 14 • 17 min
Solar energy used to be a fantasy. Then it arrived, but was too expensive for most people to afford. Now it’s cheap. Here’s how it happened.
#932: Deep Learning With The Elephants
Aug 9 • 25 min
Counting elephants is key to saving them. But in the rainforest, they’re hard to spot. One scientist is listening for them instead, with the help of artificial intelligence.
#931: The IT Guy Vs. The Con Artist
Aug 7 • 21 min
Felipe was an IT professional looking for a new gig. Then a notorious con artist offered him a job. Felipe took the job — and tried to con the con man.
#930: Twins
Aug 2 • 22 min
Scientists have been studying twins for a long time, trying to figure out how much of human behavior is influenced by the environment, and how much of it is in our genes.
#598: That Time We Shorted America, Part Two
Jul 31 • 19 min
We shorted America, taking a bet against its entire stock market. Today, we find out the results, and revisit the very first person to short a stock back in the 17th century.
#597: That Time We Shorted America, Part One
Jul 26 • 21 min
Today on the show, we ignore the advice of some very smart people and bet against something people love.
#929: Could A Wealth Tax Work?
Jul 24 • 22 min
Elizabeth Warren wants to tackle inequality by taxing the wealth of the mega-rich ($50-million-or-more rich). Wealth taxes failed in Europe. Can they work in the U.S.?
#928: Hong Kong
Jul 19 • 22 min
The Hong Kong protests tap into a complex history between China and the West. It’s a story of isolationism, opium wars, and the rise of capitalism.
#927: The Indicator In The House
Jul 17 • 20 min
One state, two very different stories: Why Huntington Beach won’t build new homes during a housing shortage, and what private firefighters say about their industry and inequality.
#926: So, Should We Recycle?
Jul 12 • 23 min
Recycling in America is on life support. Some towns aren’t even picking it up anymore. And it might be a good thing for the planet.
#925: A Mob Boss, A Garbage Boat and Why We Recycle
Jul 10 • 25 min
In 1987, an Alabama man made a deal with the mob. He ended up with 3,186 tons of trash no landfill would take. It was the accidental birth of recycling in the U.S.
#924: Stuck In China’s Panopticon
Jul 5 • 26 min
The Chinese government is using face recognition, DNA samples and more to track the Uighur population. Americans — some unknowingly — have helped build this surveillance state.
#752: Eagles vs. Chickens
Jul 3 • 20 min
Picture an organic farm, with thousands of free-range chickens roaming on open land. Now picture it from the vantage of a soaring bald eagle. It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet.
#923: Good Teachers, Bad Deal
Jun 28 • 26 min
Thousands of teachers got grants from the Department of Education to help pay for college. Then, some of those same teachers found out they owed thousands of dollars in debt.
#922: The Cost of Getting Your Money Back
Jun 26 • 19 min
It’s easy to reverse transactions on credit cards. But Venmo is a different story. A woman who accidentally sent $1,500 to a complete stranger found this out the hard way.
#921: Tales From The Parking Lot
Jun 21 • 23 min
What can you do when your car is booted in a private parking lot? Is that even legal? Can Uber drivers cause surge pricing? When do parking tickets become a civil rights issue?
#920: What Should We Be Worried About?
Jun 19 • 18 min
Things are looking up in the economy, but there’s still plenty to worry about: Corporate debt, the trade war, and worry itself.
#919: Are Cities Overrated?
Jun 14 • 17 min
Moving to the big city used to provide an escalator to a more prosperous life, even if you didn’t have a college degree. But now economists are wondering: Are cities overrated?
#590: The Planet Money Workout
Jun 12 • 17 min
Barely workout? Gyms like it that way. They’re one of a few businesses that benefit from low attendance. Economics explains why gyms encourage members to commit, but not too much.
#918: The Day Of Two Noons
Jun 7 • 20 min
In the 1800s, every town had its own “local time,” which was not only confusing, but sometimes dangerous. So railroads implemented the standardized time we have today.
#651: The Salmon Taboo
Jun 5 • 16 min
People in Japan never ate raw salmon. Then Norway had a salmon surplus—and persuaded Japanese sushi eaters to try something new.
#917: Quit Threat!
May 31 • 22 min
The unemployment rate in the U.S. is just 3.6%. Many people think we are at, or near, full employment. For the first time in a long while, power is shifting toward workers.
#916: The Whistleblower Whisperer
May 29 • 23 min
Jordan Thomas represents Wall Street whistleblowers in some of the biggest SEC cases against banks. In addition to protecting their secrets, he’s also kept some of his own.
#915: How To Meddle In An Election
May 24 • 23 min
David Goldstein decides to copy Cambridge Analytica and run an experiment on actual voters during the 2017 Alabama special election.
#914: Trump and Deutsche, A Long Affair
May 22 • 26 min
After Donald Trump’s companies declared four bankruptcies, several major banks stopped loaning him money. But Deutsche Bank didn’t.
#913: Counting The Homeless
May 17 • 22 min
From renting hotels to a jobs report-like census in the night, we look at ways communities are helping the homeless.
#407: A Mathematician, The Last Supper, And The Birth Of Accounting
May 15 • 17 min
The story of Luca Pacioli, who brought double-entry bookkeeping to the masses, transforming accounting and businesses around the world.
#912: How Uncle Jamie Broke Jeopardy
May 10 • 25 min
How James Holzhauer built on the strategies of Ken Jennings, Roger Craig, and Monica Thieu, to crack the game show Jeopardy.
#911: You Asked The Listener Question Hotline
May 8 • 20 min
What’s the cost of being tall? Are people less productive when the weather is bad? Why is vanilla so expensive? Answers to those questions and more.
#910: Economics, Sexism, Data
May 3 • 24 min
Alice Wu’s undergraduate senior thesis on gender bias on the Econ Job Rumors forum sparked a movement to address sexism in the field of economics.
#416: Why The Price of Coke Didn’t Change For 70 years
May 1 • 20 min
For 70 years, the price of a bottle of Coca-Cola stayed a nickel. Why? The answer includes a half a million vending machines and a 7.5 cent coin.
#909: Dollar Stores Vs Lettuce
Apr 26 • 20 min
Every six hours a new dollar store opens in the U.S. Are they killing grocery stores?
#908: I Am Not A Robot
Apr 24 • 24 min
The remarkable story of the online “CAPTCHA” tests we’ve all taken to prove that we’re not robots.
#907: Two Spring Indicators
Apr 19 • 21 min
The Indicator from Planet Money explores trade wars, peanuts, hurricanes, and happiness.
#644: How Much Does This Cow Weigh?
Apr 17 • 19 min
We wanted to understand an eerie phenomenon that drives everything from the stock market to the price of orange juice. So we asked you to guess the weight of a cow.
#906: The Chicago Boys, Part II
Apr 12 • 27 min
How a ruthless dictator, and a bunch of economists known as the Chicago Boys, took Chile from socialism to capitalism.
#905: The Chicago Boys, Part I
Apr 10 • 24 min
In the late 1950s and early ’60s a handful of Chilean students went to study economics at the University of Chicago. What they learned changed their country.
#904: Joke Theft
Apr 6 • 26 min
Copyrighting comedy is expensive. So comedians have devised an informal system of sanctions to protect their jokes from theft. Sometimes it works.
#760: Tax Hero
Apr 3 • 23 min
Joe Bankman, professor at Stanford, figured out a way to make filing your taxes easy and painless. Then the tax lobby found out about it.
#903: A New Way To Pay For College
Mar 29 • 19 min
Some colleges are offering students a new way to pay. It’s not a scholarship. It’s not a loan. It’s more like the students are selling stock in themselves.
#902: The Phoebus Cartel
Mar 27 • 31 min
The story behind two sneaky forces that drive us to buy more products, more often: Planned obsolescence and psychological obsolescence.
#901: Bad Cops Are Expensive
Mar 22 • 20 min
There’s an industry of people working to eliminate bad police behavior. They’re not activists or protestors. They’re insurers.
#189: Why A Dead Shark Costs $12 Million
Mar 20 • 19 min
Today’s show is about the fickle market for art. What makes a dead shark cost $12 million, and a photo of steel wool that looks like a tornado cost only $1,265?
#900: The Stolen Company
Mar 15 • 22 min
When an American company named ABRO learns their goods are being counterfeited in China, they start their own trade war.
#724: Cat Scam
Mar 13 • 23 min
The internet was supposed to get rid of middlemen—but instead they are taking over the global economy.
#899: Mexico Fights The Fuel Pirates
Mar 8 • 17 min
Thieves are stealing billions of dollars worth of gasoline in Mexico. The President is taking drastic action to cut them off, and it comes at a serious cost. Content warning: Audio of deadly pipeline explosion.
#785: The Starbury
Mar 6 • 25 min
The story of an NBA All-Star and an experiment: To make a desirable basketball shoe cheap enough for anyone.
#898: Happy Fed Independence Day
Mar 1 • 19 min
The story of the day the Federal Reserve got its independence and the fight—an actual physical fight—to keep it.
#897: New Orleans Vs. Airbnb
Feb 28 • 22 min
Airbnb has changed New Orleans. And now landlords and preservationists are fighting over the future of the city.
Antitrust 3: Big Tech
Feb 22 • 23 min
What does the rise of dominant tech companies say about competition and the state of antitrust law? Third in a series.
Antitrust 2: The Paradox
Feb 20 • 19 min
How Robert Bork won the fight over the very meaning of competition in America, and paved the way for some of the biggest companies we’ve ever seen.
Antitrust 1: Standard Oil
Feb 15 • 23 min
At the turn of the 20th century, Ida Tarbell investigated John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil. What she discovered changed the economy of the United States.
#418: A Fake Bank For Money Laundering Run By The Government
Feb 13 • 19 min
To catch drug traffickers, the U.S. government tried something it had never tried before. It set up and ran a fake offshore bank for money laundering. Fake name. Fake employees. Real drug money.
#893: Our Valentines 2019
Feb 8 • 17 min
We give a shout out to the stuff we’ve been obsessing over in the office — those stories that were so good, we wished we had thought of them ourselves.
#892: The Lost Plane
Feb 6 • 16 min
In December, a commercial flight had to make an emergency landing in Iran. They discovered that landing there would be easy. Getting out – much, much harder.
#891: Who Won The Bet Over Bitcoin?
Feb 1 • 19 min
Five years ago, two sides met on our show to make a bet about the future of bitcoin. Today, we announce the winner.
#825: Who Started The Wildfire?
Jan 30 • 21 min
After a wildfire, teams of investigators start combing the wreckage for clues. Finding the cause means, maybe, finding someone to pay. But where’s the line between a natural disaster and a human one?
#890: The Division Problem
Jan 25 • 21 min
Today on the show, we take on one of life’s most vexing problems: Sharing.
#688: Brilliant Vs. Boring
Jan 23 • 22 min
John Bogle died last week. His creation — the index fund — changed investing. Today, how his invention set off a million dollar bet between some of the biggest brains on Wall Street, including Warren Buffett.
#889: The Pay-What-You-Want Experiment
Jan 18 • 19 min
In 2010, Panera launched several pay-what-you-want cafes. On today’s show: How this charitable experiment worked out.
#888: The First Shutdown
Jan 16 • 15 min
In 1879, Congress and the President were locked in a battle over the rights of African-Americans. It led to the first government shutdown.
#887: You Asked For It, Yet Again
Jan 11 • 25 min
On today’s show we answer questions about silver dollars, Venmo, and Brexit. Why? Because you asked!
#690: All In
Jan 9 • 20 min
We go inside a professional poker tournament, where some of the smartest betting takes place behind the scenes.
#886: The Price of a Hack
Jan 4 • 16 min
Hackers are an expensive headache for companies. But there might be a simple economic fix.
#885: Do It For Your Country
Jan 2 • 18 min
People are the engine that fuels an economy. But what happens when you start running out of people?
#884: The Rest Of The Story, Winter 2018
Dec 28, 2018 • 23 min
We check in on some stories we did this year to see what’s changed. Find a full list of the episodes we referenced at our website, NPR.org/money.
#609: The Curse Of The Black Lotus
Dec 26, 2018 • 20 min
How the card game “Magic: The Gathering” deflated a speculative bubble. You can support our show at donate.npr.org/planetmoney.
BONUS INDICATOR: The Calculator That Time Forgot
Dec 24, 2018 • 8 min
Most products in this world are vulnerable to creative destruction: as new products are developed, they make old ones obsolete. But there are some exceptions — products that persist, resisting change while economic evolution continues without them. For…
#883: A Very Planet Money Christmas Carol
Dec 21, 2018 • 26 min
Charles Dickens wanted to pick a fight with economists. So he invented Ebenezer Scrooge. But did he get it all right? Also: If you want to support our show, head over to donate.npr.org/planetmoney. We appreciate it.
#882: Synthetic Reefer Madness
Dec 19, 2018 • 28 min
How a professor invented a formula for synthesizing cannabinoids and unintentionally helped launch a drug revolution.
BONUS INDICATOR: The Measure Of A Tragedy
Dec 17, 2018 • 10 min
Ricardo Hausmann, a Harvard-based Venezuelan economist, has constructed his own indicator, one that captures the horrifying scale of the economic catastrophe in Venezuela. (This episode is from our other podcast, The Indicator. Subscribe to it wherever…
#881: The Prisoners of the Trade War
Dec 14, 2018 • 17 min
A truce in the U.S.-China trade war seemed close. The leaders of China and the United States were meeting to discuss a fix. And then arrests started. It got even more confusing, so today, we call up our man on the ground in Shanghai to make sense of it…
#539: What’s A Penny Worth?
Dec 12, 2018 • 22 min
We try to figure out what makes cents.
#880: Is Amazon Good For New York?
Dec 7, 2018 • 21 min
It feels like all of New York City is arguing about Amazon’s new office in Queens. But what do the people in Long Island City think?
#533: Why Car Safety Is A Trade Barrier
Dec 5, 2018 • 21 min
The U.S. and Europe just can’t agree on car safety standards. That puts car companies in a weird position, makes cars cost more and just seems kind of random and wasteful.
#879: The Secret Target
Nov 30, 2018 • 23 min
Their plan was dangerous, risky, and extremely unpopular. But America copied them anyway. Today on the show: how a tiny country on the other side of the world changed how America runs its economy.
#468: Kid Rock Vs. The Scalpers
Nov 28, 2018 • 22 min
We talk to Kid Rock about how he tried to cut scalpers out of the business — and still sell cheap tickets to his shows.
VIDEO: The Price Of Coke Stayed The Same For 70 Years — Why?
Nov 26, 2018 • 4 min
For 70 years, a Coca-Cola cost a nickel. The price didn’t change. How is that even possible? You can also watch the video here: https://youtu.be/Bcz0BJGEVUY
#878: Mugshots For Sale
Nov 23, 2018 • 20 min
We go deep inside the market for online mugshots. Is it extortion? Or is it a First Amendment right?
#877: The Laws of The Office
Nov 21, 2018 • 24 min
You get what you measure. Work expands to fill the time allotted. Who comes up with this stuff? And is it true?
VIDEO: Put A Chip On It
Nov 19, 2018 • 4 min
A quick history of slow credit cards. This video also available here: https://youtu.be/2IksSNiEo2g
#699: Kansas City Vs. Kansas City
Nov 16, 2018 • 22 min
A bunch of you asked why so many cities threw billions in tax breaks at Amazon. It reminded us of an episode we did in 2016.
#876: Patent Deception
Nov 14, 2018 • 28 min
How World Patent Marketing stole nearly $26 million. And how the acting attorney general was involved.
VIDEO: A Grave Promise
Nov 12, 2018 • 3 min
If you die in America, chances are the cemetery is going to promise to maintain your grave forever. Americans take this for granted, but it’s a wacky, wild promise that we maybe should not be making. You can also watch this video here:…
#875: Why Did The Cow Cross The Border?
Nov 9, 2018 • 21 min
To take advantage of the surprising benefits provided by an interlocked economic system on the other side.
#874: Hot Dog Hail Mary
Nov 7, 2018 • 19 min
The Falcons are trying something radical: Making their food cheaper. It could break stadium economics.
VIDEO: Inventing Price Tags
Nov 5, 2018 • 5 min
For most of human history, you had to haggle over prices before you could buy something. Then came the idea of the price tag.
#873: The Seattle Experiment
Nov 2, 2018 • 22 min
Seattle’s radical solution to big money in politics: Flood elections with even more money.
#872: The Halloween Tapes
Oct 31, 2018 • 24 min
Something spooky has been happening here at Planet Money.
Video: The Miracle Apple
Oct 30, 2018 • 6 min
We’re kicking off a quick season of our bonus video series, Planet Money Shorts. Watch how apples became brands, and started being more than delicious.
#871: Blacklisted In China
Oct 26, 2018 • 20 min
China is trying a bold experiment to help people trust each other more: The social credit score. Will it work? Does it go too far?
#676: The First Lottery & How To Beat The Odds
Oct 23, 2018 • 23 min
The first lottery was a royal affair with poems, golden flatware and invited criminals. Also, how someone won the lottery over and over.
#870: Trump vs. Red Tape
Oct 19, 2018 • 20 min
President Trump promised to slash regulations. How has he done?
#453: What Causes What?
Oct 17, 2018 • 19 min
We try to tell the difference between correlation and causation.
#869: The Student Loan Whistleblower
Oct 12, 2018 • 20 min
Seth Frotman worked overseeing student loans for the government. He saw things that made him quit, and tell all.
#534: The History of Light (Nobel Edition)
Oct 8, 2018 • 21 min
Bill Nordhaus just won the economics Nobel. In this show: He shows how history of light is the history of economic growth — of things getting faster, cheaper, and more efficient.
#868: Moneyland
Oct 5, 2018 • 21 min
We follow writer Oliver Bullough as he explores how stolen money moves around the world, and what that might mean for democracies.
#680: Anatomy Of A Scam
Oct 3, 2018 • 23 min
Ever seen one of those signs asking if you want to work from home? We find out what happens when you call.
#867: Special Report: Asylum Crackdown
Sep 28, 2018 • 34 min
We tell the story of a massive crackdown on asylum fraud, and the fallout.
#866: Modern Monetary Theory
Sep 26, 2018 • 22 min
We rethink everything we know about government spending, taxes, the nature of money… All of it.
#865: Tweak This
Sep 21, 2018 • 18 min
We propose small fixes for baseball, weddings, salary negotiations and buying your morning coffee. Warning: They may be too rational.
#657: The Tale Of The Onion King
Sep 19, 2018 • 16 min
How one man took the onion market hostage.
#864: The Central (Bankers’) Question
Sep 14, 2018 • 22 min
We crash a party of central bankers to get an answer to one of the biggest economic questions of our time.
For Our 10th Anniversary, Episode #1
Sep 12, 2018 • 29 min
In honor of our 10th anniversary, we revisit our very first episode.
#863: The 13th Hole
Sep 7, 2018 • 20 min
What a hole-in-one gone awry says about the state of charity.
#729: When Subaru Came Out
Sep 5, 2018 • 20 min
Subaru’s sales had been slumping for years. Then they went straight to their biggest fans: Lesbians.
#862: Big Government Cheese
Aug 31, 2018 • 23 min
That time we accidentally created a cheese surplus so large it had to be stored in a ginormous cave.
#783: New Jersey Bails Out
Aug 29, 2018 • 20 min
California just did away with cash bail. But credit where credit is due. New Jersey already tried something similar.
#861: Food Scare Squad
Aug 24, 2018 • 22 min
When food makes people sick all around the country, an army of germ detectives jumps into action.
#444: New Jersey Wine
Aug 22, 2018 • 20 min
Today on the show: Could New Jersey become the next Napa?
#860: The World’s Longest Yard Sale
Aug 17, 2018 • 25 min
Six states. Three days. One ugly cookie jar. Today on the show: Yard sale!
#613: Trash!
Aug 15, 2018 • 15 min
The line between trash and recycling is moving a lot these days. It’s a tough time to be a recycler.
#859: You Asked For Even More
Aug 10, 2018 • 19 min
You have a lot of questions… about tariffs, unemployment rates, and RV dealerships, to name a few. We have answers.
#704: Open Office
Aug 8, 2018 • 19 min
This episode is for everyone who ever had to ask their coworkers to quiet down. Today on the show: We meet the man who stole your office door.
#858: Venezuela’s Fugitive Money Traders
Aug 3, 2018 • 19 min
The Venezuelan government doesn’t want you to know the real value of its currency. But Ruben and Mila figured it out. Now they’re on the lam.
#857: The Postal Illuminati
Aug 1, 2018 • 22 min
Is there a secretive postal organization fixing international shipping rates, and giving American businesses a bad deal?
#856: Yes In My Backyard
Jul 27, 2018 • 19 min
There’s a simple way to solve the housing crisis in U.S. cities. Only problem is, almost everybody hates it.
#855: The Poop Cartel
Jul 25, 2018 • 24 min
What happens when a group of economists applies the number one rule of economics… to number two?
#854: The New Socialists
Jul 20, 2018 • 15 min
Socialism was political poison in the U.S. for decades. Now it’s gaining ground. Who are these new socialists? And what do they want?
#472: The One-Page Plan To Fix Global Warming Revisited
Jul 18, 2018 • 24 min
Tax carbon emissions. That’s basically the whole plan. What’s the hold up?
#853: Peak Sand
Jul 13, 2018 • 18 min
Sand. It’s in buildings, windows, your cell phone. But there isn’t enough in the world for everyone. And that’s created a dangerous black market.
#427: LeBron James Is Still Underpaid
Jul 11, 2018 • 21 min
The best player in basketball is getting hosed. The NBA team owners, the players, the fans and even LeBron James himself want to keep it that way.
#852: Two Summer Indicators
Jul 6, 2018 • 21 min
Two stories from our Indicator team. There’s a province in China that makes many of the world’s flags. It’s a unique window on global trade right now. And we find out why so few teenagers are working summer jobs these days.
#700: Peanuts And Cracker Jack
Jul 3, 2018 • 24 min
It takes strategy and skill to sell snacks at a baseball game. Meet the hot dog vending legend of Fenway Park.
#851: The Rest Of The Story Summer 2018
Jun 29, 2018 • 21 min
A pesticide wreaks havoc. A listener needs a bitcoin detective. And the search for the rarest economic good continues.
#850: The Fake Review Hunter
Jun 27, 2018 • 19 min
Fake product reviews are wrecking the internet. But help is on the way: From a bodybuilding fake review hunter.
VIDEO: The Chicken Tax
Jun 25, 2018 • 3 min
Which came first, the frozen chicken or the tax on foreign trucks? Just kidding, it was the frozen chicken — then came the American tax that helped shape the domestic market for trucks.
#682: When CEO Pay Exploded
Jun 22, 2018 • 21 min
Politicians have argued for decades that CEOs are overpaid. But there’s this precise moment in the 1990s when CEO pay suddenly shot up. We find out what happened.
#849: It Takes Two To Make A Trade War Fight
Jun 20, 2018 • 22 min
President Trump says China is stealing U.S. technology. So we looked into one case. And things got a little complicated.
#848: The World’s Biggest Battery
Jun 15, 2018 • 21 min
California has a ton of solar power. But as soon as night falls, it’s gone. Today on the show: How to bottle the sun.
#847: Inventing Accidents
Jun 13, 2018 • 21 min
The medical world has been trying to cure color blindness for centuries. Then a glass scientist figured it out. By accident.
#846: Ungerrymandering Florida
Jun 8, 2018 • 20 min
When Florida outlawed partisan gerrymandering, politicians tried to sneak it back in…in disguise.
#660: The T-Rex In My Backyard
Jun 6, 2018 • 19 min
Meet Sue, the dinosaur who sparked a gold rush for fossils buried in the badlands of North Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.
#845: REDMAP
Jun 1, 2018 • 21 min
Meet the man who figured out how to reshape national politics by making tiny investments in the smallest of places.
#844: Nice Game
May 30, 2018 • 16 min
In game theory, sometimes the best way to win, is to lose.
#843: Swamp Gravy
May 25, 2018 • 29 min
Today on the show: A small town stakes its future on writing, directing, and starring in a musical.
#643: The Taxi King
May 23, 2018 • 20 min
Gene Freidman built a taxi empire. We visited him before he was in legal trouble.
#842: Showdown at the WTO
May 18, 2018 • 19 min
The World Trade Organization: Can’t live with it, hard to crush your trade opponents without it.
#696: Class Action
May 16, 2018 • 22 min
Class actions run from big civil rights cases to arguments about pepper. Are they noble, or silly?
#841: The Land Of Duty Free
May 11, 2018 • 21 min
We meet the man who invented duty free shopping and find out if these tax free stores are really saving us any money.
#840: Fixing Chicken
May 9, 2018 • 19 min
Today on the show: A chicken index, some Wall Street investors, and an unlikely whistle-blower.
#839: The Indicator Goes To California
May 4, 2018 • 26 min
California is way more than Hollywood. Today on the show, we look at what else is going on in this powerhouse state economy.
#575: The Fondue Conspiracy
May 2, 2018 • 16 min
Today on the show: How a cheese cartel abandoned the rules of economics and convinced the world to eat fondue.
#838: A Series of Mysterious Packages
Apr 27, 2018 • 17 min
Unordered trinkets have been arriving at homes around the country. We try to find out why.
#640: The Bottom Of The Well
Apr 25, 2018 • 22 min
Today on the show: the economics of drought, and why the rational thing to do in California right now is use more water.
#837: The Belt, The Road And The Money
Apr 20, 2018 • 22 min
Today on the show, we connect the dots between New York, Uganda, Prague, and China’s thirst for resources. (Music Credit: Thanks to musician Giovanni Kiyingi for the use of his song “Kaleeba” from the album Amakondeere.)
#836: The Rational Madness Of The Used Car Salesman
Apr 18, 2018 • 17 min
Why are used car commercials so annoying? Meet the original sinner.
#835: Tariffied
Apr 13, 2018 • 21 min
We’re in a full-fledged trade war with China. We dig into the list of tariffs on American products. It gets weird…and delicious.
#661: The Less Deadly Catch
Apr 11, 2018 • 18 min
Today on the show: how an economic fix helped made the deadliest job in America safer, and why people are angry about it.
#834: NDA Tell-All
Apr 6, 2018 • 21 min
Today on the show, we talk to one of the most famous NDA breakers of all time, and ask: Is there a legal way out of your NDA?
#685: Larry vs. The IRS
Apr 4, 2018 • 20 min
What exactly would happen if you didn’t pay your taxes? Today on the show, we follow one man who did just that.
#833: Worst. Tariffs. Ever.
Mar 30, 2018 • 21 min
Tariffs are stupid. This is one of the few things economists can agree on. Today, we bring you the story of the worst tariffs ever.
#832: Mulvaney Vs The CFPB
Mar 28, 2018 • 21 min
What happens when you put someone who wants to close an agency, in charge of that agency? Today on the show, we find out.
#671: An Insider Trader Tells All
Mar 23, 2018 • 19 min
A man who got caught insider trading explains everything — what he did, how he did it, and why.
#831: The Golden Rules
Mar 21, 2018 • 19 min
Planet Money joins the gold rush 170 years late. And the rules are still about the same. How did that happen?
#454: The Lollipop War
Mar 16, 2018 • 21 min
What do sugar farmers have against candy? A lot, according to candy manufacturers.
#830: XXX-XX-XXXX
Mar 14, 2018 • 20 min
How did the social security number become the most important identifier in the United States? And is that even a good idea?
#829: Rigging The Economy
Mar 9, 2018 • 19 min
Two guys from different ends of the political spectrum agree that the economy is rigged. And they think they know who’s responsible.
#677: The Experiment Experiment
Mar 7, 2018 • 22 min
There’s something wrong with the way we’re doing science. Today on the show, we find out how to fix it.
#828: You Asked For More
Mar 2, 2018 • 23 min
We ponder the price of chicken, safe haven currencies, and the cash value of coupons. Why? Because you asked.
#827: Three Indicators
Feb 28, 2018 • 19 min
What do human blood, the conservative tax plan, and beer hops tell us about the world? Find out in today’s episode.
#826: The Vodka Proof
Feb 23, 2018 • 20 min
Vodka is the best selling spirit in the United States, and there are zillions of brands. But is there any difference between them?
#545: The Blue Pallet
Feb 21, 2018 • 16 min
How do you reinvent something as simple as the wooden shipping pallet?
#825: Who Started The Wildfire
Feb 16, 2018 • 19 min
After a wildfire, teams of investigators start combing the wreckage for clues. Finding the cause means, maybe, finding someone to pay. But where’s the line between a natural disaster and a human one?
#824: Our Valentines
Feb 14, 2018 • 20 min
If you can’t beat ‘em, send ‘em a valentine.
#823: Planet Monet
Feb 9, 2018 • 17 min
Investors are pouring money into art, and a lot of it is disappearing into storage. We try to find out where the art goes, and why it goes there.
#337: The Secret Document that Transformed China
Feb 7, 2018 • 17 min
In 1978, a group of farmers in a Chinese village wrote a contract and hid it in the roof of a hut. They were afraid the document might get them executed. Instead, it transformed the Chinese economy.
#822: The Shortest Super Bowl
Feb 2, 2018 • 23 min
How does the market for Super Bowl tickets work? And why did it collapse in 2015?
#821: The Other Davos
Jan 31, 2018 • 18 min
Billionaires, diplomats, thinkfluencers. This is the Davos everyone hears about. Today on the show, we take you to a different Davos.
#820: P Is For Phosphorus
Jan 26, 2018 • 20 min
Phosphate is a crucial element, for farming, and for life. And there aren’t too many places to get it. What if it runs out?
#819: Tax Me If You Can
Jan 24, 2018 • 23 min
Douglas Bruce had a bold vision for Colorado.
#508: A Bet On The Future Of Humanity
Jan 19, 2018 • 20 min
A biologist predicts a population bomb that will lead to global catastrophe. An economist sees a limitless future for mankind. The result is one of the most famous bets in economics.
#818: The Problem Of The Root
Jan 17, 2018 • 22 min
The wild ginseng market has gone crazy. We go to a farm hidden in the Appalachian mountains to find out why.
#817: The Gun Man
Jan 12, 2018 • 27 min
Will 3-D printing make gun control impossible?
#489: The Invisible Plumbing Of Our Economy
Jan 10, 2018 • 23 min
Why does it take days to send money electronically?
#816: Bitcoin Losers
Jan 5, 2018 • 22 min
The Bitcoin market has gone crazy. And it’s revealing something strange. A lot of people can’t find their Bitcoins. We go looking for lost billions.
#273: When The U.S. Paid Off The Entire National Debt
Jan 3, 2018 • 20 min
What does a country with no debt look like? To find out, we went back to the United States in 1835.
#815: The Rest of the Story 2017
Dec 29, 2017 • 20 min
Every year at Planet Money, we take a cue from radio legend Paul Harvey and bring you “The Rest of the Story.” It’s a show where we check in on some of the episodes that we’ve done in the past year, and tell you what’s changed.
#544: The M&M Anomaly
Dec 27, 2017 • 13 min
David Kestenbaum noticed that a pack of Milk Chocolate M&M’s weighs 1.69 ounces, but a pack of Peanut Butter M&M’s weighs 1.63 ounces. He had to know why. But the confectionary world has its secrets.
BONUS INDICATOR: How Airfare Is Changing
Dec 25, 2017 • 6 min
Why flying to small airports keeps costing more and more, just as flying to big airports is getting cheaper. (This episode is from our new podcast, The Indicator. Subscribe to it wherever you get your podcasts.)
#814: The Tax Plan Is Huge
Dec 22, 2017 • 22 min
Congress just passed the largest tax overhaul in decades. We dig in.
#670: The Santa Suit
Dec 20, 2017 • 17 min
Today on the show: A lawsuit over a Santa suit is a window into countless hidden fights that shape the stuff we buy. It’s one man’s battle against the U.S. government — and, in a way, against himself.
BONUS INDICATOR: Forget Neutrality
Dec 18, 2017 • 8 min
From our new podcast, The Indicator: Opponents of net neutrality argue that the government should get out of the way and let the market work, that’s what leads to better service and more choice. We examine that logic.
#813: The Produce Show
Dec 15, 2017 • 25 min
Five reporters go to the New York Produce Show and Conference, each on a mission.
#812: High Rise, Low Returns
Dec 13, 2017 • 26 min
As a businessman, President Trump is known for his towering buildings. Today we tell the story of one of those skyscrapers and what it says about how and with whom Trump does business.
BONUS: The Indicator, From Planet Money
Dec 11, 2017 • 8 min
We’ve made a new show. You can subscribe to it now. It’s called ‘The Indicator’. It’s for those times you want Planet Money to explain the news, quickly. It’s short (about five minutes) and three days a week.
SPACE 4: 3 2 1
Dec 8, 2017 • 25 min
We’ve got a satellite. We got a rocket. We’re heading to the launch pad.
SPACE 3: Rocket Shopping
Dec 6, 2017 • 23 min
We found a satellite. We tried to figure out what it would do. Now we need to choose our rocket.
SPACE 2: Wait, Why Are We Going To Space?
Dec 1, 2017 • 23 min
We hitched a ride on a satellite. Now we have to figure out what we’re going to do up there.
SPACE 1: We’re Going To Space
Nov 29, 2017 • 26 min
We really are going to space.
#807: Anatomy of a Hustle
Nov 24, 2017 • 21 min
What did Paul Manafort do, exactly? Robert Mueller’s indictment is 31 pages of hard-to-understand financial crime. We try to figure it out.
#665: The Free Food Market
Nov 22, 2017 • 18 min
A while back, the charity Feeding America was a mess. It was sending pickles to food banks that wanted produce, and potatoes to Idaho. So they called some economists, and a free food market was born.
#806: Walmart’s Pickle
Nov 17, 2017 • 18 min
Walmart and Amazon are in a battle to be the store where you buy everything. But when both companies sell everything, what sets them apart? Food inventions like a bright, red pickle!
#805: War And Peace And Cows
Nov 15, 2017 • 19 min
In South Sudan, there is a kind of money that works even through bank failures and unstable governments. But when war struck, it upended a whole economy: the economy of cows.
#672: Bagging the Birkin
Nov 10, 2017 • 17 min
Once you’ve got a Birkin bag, you’ve made it. But to get one, you need more than just money. Birkins always seem to be mysteriously out of stock. This is no accident.
#804: Your Cell Phone’s A Snitch
Nov 8, 2017 • 21 min
Timothy Carpenter stole cell phones. Then his phone sold him out to the Feds. Now the Supreme Court has to decide how private our cell phone data should be.
#369: If Teens Ran the Fed
Nov 3, 2017 • 16 min
Once a year, teenagers from across the country team up and compete to run the U.S. Federal Reserve.
#803: Nudge, Nudge, Nobel
Nov 1, 2017 • 18 min
Why do smart people make dumb decisions? Figuring that out won Richard Thaler a Nobel Prize.
#802: The Hotel at the Center of the World
Oct 27, 2017 • 21 min
A Chinese company pays millions of dollars for a failing hotel in a small, rural town. We follow the trail of money, and it explains the world economy.
#579: Is the NCAA An Illegal Cartel?
Oct 25, 2017 • 19 min
In any other industry, it’s illegal for a group of companies to get together and cap wages. What makes the NCAA different?
#801: The Death Show
Oct 20, 2017 • 16 min
Today on the show: death. We have four stories about how people prepare for death and what they leave behind for the living.
#581: Free Money
Oct 18, 2017 • 15 min
Bob Peterson claims to have found the thing people have sought for thousands of years — an investment guaranteed to double in value. He keeps it in a storage locker in Utah. It’s protected by a single padlock.
#800: North Korea’s Capitalists
Oct 13, 2017 • 24 min
Capitalism isn’t supposed to exist in North Korea. But all over the country, small businesses are popping up, growing the nation’s economy. And much of that money is going straight to the country’s nuclear program.
#799: Corporate! Income! Tax!
Oct 11, 2017 • 17 min
Republicans are proposing big changes to the corporate income tax. Trillions of dollars are at stake. Here’s what it all means.
#798: Bad Credit Bureau
Oct 6, 2017 • 19 min
For most of our lives, Equifax has been slurping up our financial data. Now the company’s been hacked and our data is loose. Today, we trace this mess back to two brothers and one fateful decision.
#648: The Benefits of Bankruptcy
Oct 4, 2017 • 21 min
It might just be the secret weapon of the U.S. economy.
#797: Flood Money
Sep 29, 2017 • 20 min
Bill Pennington’s house floods a lot: Three times in the last three years. And every time his house floods, the government pays to help him repair the damage. Is something wrong here?
#524: Mr Jones’ Act
Sep 27, 2017 • 16 min
The government suspended the Jones Act last week, to allow non-US ships to move fuel to victims of hurricanes in Houston and Florida. Which once again made us wonder why the act even exists.
#796: The Basic Income Experiment
Sep 22, 2017 • 26 min
The basic income. A flat payment to citizens, without strings. Is it a progressive fever dream, or sensible policy? We may soon find out. The Finnish Government is testing it on 2,000 citizens.
#795: Is Record Breaking Broken?
Sep 20, 2017 • 22 min
The Guinness Book of World Records had a problem. It was a book. And books aren’t selling as well as they used to. So Guinness changed what they were selling, and who they were selling to.
#794: How To Make It In The Music Business
Sep 15, 2017 • 21 min
Behind almost all popular music, there is this hidden economy of music producers buying and selling sonic snippets, texting each other half-finished beats, and angling for back-end royalties.
#647: Hard Work Is Irrelevant
Sep 13, 2017 • 21 min
Patty McCord helped create a workplace at Netflix that runs more like a professional sports team than a family. If you’re not up to scratch, you’re off the team. Is this the future of work?
#793: This Week in Time Bombs
Sep 8, 2017 • 23 min
We look at three time bombs Congress is sitting on: The federal budget, the debt ceiling, and DREAMers.
#628: This Ad’s For You
Sep 6, 2017 • 25 min
Tom Burrell was the first black man in Chicago advertising. He went on to change the way we think about ads, and the way advertisers think about us.
#792: The Ransom Problem
Sep 1, 2017 • 20 min
When someone has been kidnapped, what do you do? If you pay ransom, you create a market for hostages. If you don’t, people die. Different countries have different policies with different results.
#791: Tips From Spies
Aug 30, 2017 • 15 min
There’s an entire universe of things spies are not allowed to tell us. Today on the show, a few of the teeny things they can say. They might come in handy.
#790: Rough Translation in Ukraine
Aug 25, 2017 • 29 min
Fake news from Russia helped spark a real war in Ukraine. What can Ukraine’s fight against fake news teach the US?
#652: The Hydrox Resurrection
Aug 23, 2017 • 19 min
Hidden in the trash heap of commerce there is buried treasure. Abandoned brands—including trusted, beloved brands—are waiting to be claimed and reborn. Today on the show: A cookie comeback.
#789: Robocall Invasion
Aug 18, 2017 • 18 min
Your phone rings—it looks like your neighbor’s calling. But instead, it’s the creepiest scam of the year.
#653: The Anti-Store
Aug 16, 2017 • 15 min
Costco made shopping harder, and customers loved it. Now a new company is taking the Costco experience to new extremes.
#788: Robert And Kenny Go To The Fair
Aug 11, 2017 • 23 min
When we go to the state fair, we don’t go for the rides, deep-fried tacos or the butter cow. We head straight for the vendor marketplace to meet the masters of the lost art of salesmanship.
#399: Can You Patent a Steak?
Aug 9, 2017 • 19 min
We visit the workshop of the meat inventor who came up with Steak-Umm and KFC’s popcorn chicken. And we try to figure out what meat inventors tell us about patents and innovation.
#787: Google Is Big. Is That Bad?
Aug 4, 2017 • 11 min
Google just got hit with a multibillion-dollar antitrust fine. Here’s what it tells us about competition, market power, and the biggest corporations on the planet.
#471: The Eddie Murphy Rule
Aug 2, 2017 • 26 min
We answer one of the most important questions in finance: What actually happens at the end of Trading Places?
#786: Rest of the Story 2017, Vol. 1
Jul 28, 2017 • 22 min
News moves fast. Some of our best stories from this year have new chapters. Here, we catch up on three: Dirty trademarks, trading bots, and the war against the bald eagle.
#629: Buy Low, Sell Prime
Jul 26, 2017 • 15 min
Sam Cohen buys stuff at big retail stores, then turns around and sells it on Amazon for a quick profit. It defies economic logic. But somehow, there’s a whole multimillion-dollar industry doing this.
#785: The Starbury
Jul 21, 2017 • 23 min
Most athlete endorsements make a product more expensive. But what happens when an NBA All-Star uses his name to make a sneaker much, much cheaper? On today’s show: How that worked out.
#594: Board Games
Jul 19, 2017 • 20 min
On today’s show: The story of two guys who tried to cut the pay of a CEO at a small pneumatic tool company.
#784: Meeting The Russians
Jul 14, 2017 • 20 min
That meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer was two decades in the making. It began in 1996, when an adventurous American went to Russia, trying to make a buck.
#783: New Jersey Bails Out
Jul 12, 2017 • 18 min
Bail is broken. In New Jersey, defense attorneys, prosecutors, and judges banded together to try a dramatic solution: Blow it up.
#782: Budget Time
Jul 7, 2017 • 15 min
We run through the entire federal budget — in 10 minutes. More than $6 billion per second. Go.
#586: How Stuff Gets Cheaper
Jul 5, 2017 • 14 min
We visit a company where people work on figuring out how to make stuff get cheaper.
#781: The Money Fixers
Jun 30, 2017 • 17 min
In Washington, D.C., there is a place where millions of dollars of ripped, burned, and water-soaked dollar bills are made new. On today’s show, we get inside that room.
#286: Libertarian Summer Camp
Jun 28, 2017 • 26 min
We visited a libertarian summer paradise. What we found: People paying in gold. Exotic bacon dishes. A nine-year-old selling alcohol.
#780: On Second Thought
Jun 23, 2017 • 23 min
Flip-floppers, this one’s for you. Changing your mind is hard, but it’s one of the smartest things you can do.
#779: Shrimp Fight Club
Jun 21, 2017 • 23 min
What happens when an unstoppable shrimp meets an unmovable senator? A researcher goes to Washington to defend herself, her shrimp, and science itself.
#778: What the Falcon’s Up With Qatar?
Jun 16, 2017 • 19 min
Qatar was on top of the world. Seemingly overnight, it became a pariah. On this episode, we drill into a rift years in the making: It’s a tale of falcons, kidnapping, and a glowing Saudi Arabian orb.
#610: The Prisoner’s Solution
Jun 14, 2017 • 18 min
Today on the show, a businessman goes to prison, and decides he is going to disrupt the biggest captive market in America.
#777: Free Love, Free Market
Jun 9, 2017 • 22 min
How a free-love commune embraced the free market and became a blockbuster brand.
#776: Here We Grow Again
Jun 7, 2017 • 19 min
The president’s budget promises 3% growth. Is that doable? Yes, but he won’t like what it would take.
#775: The Pigweed Killer
Jun 2, 2017 • 24 min
A battle with a weed divides neighbors and leads one farmer to shoot another dead. Today’s show: The hunt for a better pesticide gets way out of hand.
#599: The Invisible Wall
May 31, 2017 • 18 min
A man goes looking for the invisible wall that traps poor people in poverty. Finding it almost gets him killed.
#774: Unspeakable Trademark
May 26, 2017 • 20 min
You can name your business whatever you want. But the government won’t register it as a trademark if it thinks it’s offensive. It gets weird when you try to decide what is too offensive to trademark.
#773: Slot Flaws Scofflaws
May 24, 2017 • 22 min
As long as there have been casinos, people have tried to cheat them. The latest attempt was by a group of hackers who tried to take down slot machines using math, iPhones, and a whole lot of swiping.
#772: Small Change
May 19, 2017 • 20 min
How fast is the world really changing? The answer has implications for everything from how the next generation will live to whether robots really will take all our jobs.
#606: Spreadsheets!
May 17, 2017 • 20 min
The creation of the electronic spreadsheet transformed industries. But its effects ran deeper than that.
#771: When India’s Cash Disappeared, Part Two
May 12, 2017 • 20 min
What happened when India’s Prime Minister declared most of the paper money in India worthless? We travel to India to see what happened after the country’s demonetization.
#770: When India’s Cash Disappeared, Part One
May 10, 2017 • 23 min
Something incredible happened in India about six months ago. The government declared most of the paper money invalid. Demonetization they called it. Today, we meet the man who came up with the plan.
#769: Speed Dating For Economists
May 5, 2017 • 24 min
We visit a job market created by economists, for economists. It’s a hyper-efficient, optimized system, tested by game theorists, tweaked by a Nobel Prize winner, but it requires comfortable shoes.
#768: A Chat With Ben Bernanke
May 3, 2017 • 18 min
Ten years ago, two little-known funds at Bear Stearns blew up, and the financial crisis was on its way. Today, we ask the person at the center of it all, former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, why it happened.
#553: The Dollar At The Center Of The World
Apr 28, 2017 • 20 min
Today on the show, how a New Hampshire hotel filled with boozing economists saved the global economy.
#767: Georgetown, Louisiana, Part Two
Apr 26, 2017 • 30 min
In 1838, the Maryland Jesuits sold 272 people, slaves, to pay the debts of Georgetown University. We talk with the descendants about what - if anything - they’re owed.
#766: Georgetown, Louisiana, Part One
Apr 21, 2017 • 25 min
For the residents of a small Louisiana town, there’s always been a question about their past: How’d they get there? Solving the mystery only raised more questions.
#765: The Holiday Industrial Complex
Apr 18, 2017 • 18 min
Where do holidays like National Potato Chip Day and Argyle Day come from? We trace the roots of one made-up holiday until we find out who is running the global holiday machine.
#381: When Business Loves Regulation
Apr 14, 2017 • 14 min
One in three American jobs require a license. Today on the show, why those licensing rules hurt the U.S. economy.
#764: Pub In A Box
Apr 12, 2017 • 17 min
One man figured out how to reproduce the magic of an Irish pub, and ship it in a container to anywhere in the world.
#763: BOTUS
Apr 7, 2017 • 18 min
On today’s show, we get in on the future of investing. We build an automated stock-trading bot. It analyzes the twitter feed of President Donald Trump, then trades stocks with real money. Our money. You can follow our bot on twitter, @BOTUS.
#531: The Tough, The Sweet, The Nosy
Apr 5, 2017 • 22 min
The tricks and mind games tax collectors use to get people to pay up.
#762: The Fine Print
Mar 31, 2017 • 19 min
On today’s show: Snuggies, printer toner, and a banking road trip. Three stories about what happens when you actually read the fine print.
#650: The Business Genius Behind Get Out
Mar 29, 2017 • 25 min
Jason Blum makes a lot of movies and makes them cheap. So why are so many turning into blockbusters?
#761: The Bank War
Mar 24, 2017 • 20 min
A populist president versus the most powerful banker in America.
#760: Tax Hero
Mar 22, 2017 • 22 min
One professor had a way to make filing taxes easy and painless. It worked. People loved it. But then a big tax lobby heard about it…
#759: What’s It Worth To You?
Mar 17, 2017 • 18 min
Three short stories about putting a price on something hard to value precisely. We go from $4.66 under a pillow all the way up to $1 trillion across every inch of highway in America.
#522: The Invention Of ‘The Economy’
Mar 15, 2017 • 17 min
A hundred years ago, nobody talked about “the economy.” That’s because easy ways to measure and talk about it hadn’t been invented. On today’s show: how we started boiling nations down to a number.
#758: Can Trump Take The Money?
Mar 10, 2017 • 21 min
The Constitution contains a paragraph known as the Emoluments Clause. It’s 49 words meant to prevent foreign influence on US officials. How does it apply to a president with a global business empire?
#596: Hacking The iPhone For Fun, Profit, And Maybe Espionage
Mar 8, 2017 • 19 min
Wikileaks released documents listing the hacks the CIA uses to spy on people. So we revisit our story on hackers for hire: people hunting for flaws in your phone to sell to people, or even the CIA.
#757: Strong Feelings About Dodd-Frank
Mar 3, 2017 • 25 min
President Trump does not like Dodd-Frank, the 2010 law that transformed banking regulation. On today’s show, we ask: What are the key parts of the law? And how are they likely to change?
#513: Dear Economist, I Need A Date
Mar 1, 2017 • 23 min
Here at Planet Money, we often wonder: how useful is economics in our everyday lives? Could the principles of economics be applied to the most intimate of human experiences, like, say, love?
#756: The Bees Go To California
Feb 24, 2017 • 22 min
Early every year, 30 billion bees make their way across the country to California’s Central Valley. Here’s why.
#654: When The Boats Arrive
Feb 22, 2017 • 15 min
In the span of a few months in 1980, more than 100,000 Cuban immigrants arrived in Miami. So what happened to Florida’s economy with all these new people coming in? And what can we learn from it?
#755: The Phone At The End Of The World
Feb 17, 2017 • 19 min
A charismatic populist president wanted to boost manufacturing and create jobs. She told companies, ‘if you want to sell your stuff here, you have to build it here.’ This is what happened.
#754: I’m So Happy For You!
Feb 13, 2017 • 20 min
Here at Planet Money, our favorite stories are the ones we wish we’d done ourselves. On the show, we call out rivals and colleagues who did what we try to do better than we could have done it.
#753: Blockchain Gang
Feb 10, 2017 • 22 min
Charlie Shrem went to prison. While he was there, he thought up a better way to move money behind bars. Now he’s out and trying to sell his idea to international investors.
#436: If Economists Controlled The Borders
Feb 8, 2017 • 19 min
What would the perfect immigration system look like? We ask three economists and get three very different answers. (None of which include building a wall.)
#752: Eagles vs. Chickens
Feb 3, 2017 • 17 min
Picture an organic farm, with thousands of free-range chickens roaming wide-open land. Now picture it from above, from the vantage of a soaring bald eagle. It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet.
#751: The Thing About That Border Tax
Feb 1, 2017 • 19 min
Over the next few months, we’re going to explain President Trump’s economic plans. Today: a totally new idea for corporate taxes. What’s the plan, what’s the theory behind it, and does it work?
#750: Retraining Day
Jan 27, 2017 • 19 min
When an American loses his/her job to trade, there is program to help. It’s been around for decades. It makes a lot of sense. It is a generous program. And almost nobody’s heard of it. But why?
#632: The Chicken Tax
Jan 25, 2017 • 16 min
President Trump talks about putting tariffs on foreign cars. But there are already tariffs on auto imports and one got there because of chickens in Germany. This is how trade barriers tend to spread.
#749: Professor Blackjack
Jan 20, 2017 • 19 min
Ed Thorp started his career teaching math at MIT. Then he slid sideways into blackjack, changed the game forever, and set his sights on Wall Street investing. He changed that forever too.
#748: Undoing Obama
Jan 18, 2017 • 23 min
Congress writes laws, but the president makes the rules that put the laws in action. President Obama’s staff has been scrambling to lock in rules before Trump takes the helm. But will they stick?
#747: The Man Who Sued Iran
Jan 13, 2017 • 25 min
When Steve Flatow’s daughter was killed in a terror attack, he wanted someone to pay. His target was the Iranian government. His quest would pit him against both Iran and the White House.
#577: The Kansas Experiment
Jan 11, 2017 • 21 min
A Republican governor lives the dream. He cuts taxes dramatically in his state and he promises good times ahead. But the good times do not come.
#746: Wall Street Goes To Vegas
Jan 6, 2017 • 20 min
Wall Street traders and Las Vegas gamblers have a lot in common. But when a Wall Street firm set up shop taking Vegas bets, both sides got a surprise.
#443: Don’t Believe The Hype
Jan 4, 2017 • 17 min
People are talking about how the Dow Jones Industrial Average is about to hit a new record: Twenty thousand. We have a pretty strong opinion about the Dow. We think you should ignore it.
#745: The Rest Of The Story, 2016 Edition
Dec 30, 2016 • 18 min
It’s time for an annual Planet Money tradition—we revisit some of our favorite stories from the past year, and see what’s changed since we turned off our mics.
#744: The Last Bank Bailout
Dec 27, 2016 • 16 min
The man who ran the last bank bailout has a plan to prevent the next one.
587: Jubilee! (?)
Dec 23, 2016 • 20 min
There’s an idea that dates back at least to biblical times. That there should be a moment when debts are forgiven. Its called a jubilee. One country tried it.
#743: 50 Ways to Leave Your Union
Dec 21, 2016 • 17 min
Today on the show, two unions separated by 200 years, an ocean and an exit clause. The United States has no exit clause. It led to civil war. Europe, on the other hand, has Article 50.
#742: Making Bank
Dec 16, 2016 • 13 min
On today’s show, how a band of medieval warrior monks sworn to poverty got into the banking business and changed the way we think about money forever.
#592: Bell Wars
Dec 14, 2016 • 19 min
A special holiday episode about the epic, decades-long feud between the two companies that make just about every handbell in the world.
#741: Amy and Steve vs. Facebook
Dec 9, 2016 • 18 min
The story of a court case. On one side, the best lawyers money can buy. On the other, a night school lawyer who had never argued a case before. The outcome could affect everyone on the internet.
#740: Burnout
Dec 7, 2016 • 19 min
All types of companies are struggling with burnout. Many try to fix it. Most of them fail. One exception: A 26-year-old call center manager, with stress balls and costumes in her arsenal.
#739: Finding The Fake-News King
Dec 2, 2016 • 18 min
We track down a fake-news creator in the suburbs, uncover his empire of fake-news sites, and get him to tell us his secrets.
#534: The History Of Light
Nov 30, 2016 • 20 min
In this episode: How we got from candles made out of cow fat to as much light as we want. The history of light is the history of economic growth — of things getting faster, cheaper, and more efficient.
#738: Russian Cowboys
Nov 25, 2016 • 18 min
Russia’s latest ambition: To build a steak empire. On today’s show, a fourth-generation American cowboy teaches Russian ranchers how to make American-style steaks. Some things get lost in translation.
#737: 17 Deals In 17 Minutes
Nov 23, 2016 • 17 min
We go on a madcap dash through discounts, bargains and tough tradeoffs. Like the headline says: We bring you stories of 17 deals in just 17 minutes (not counting the intro, the ad, or the credits).
#736: Messy Nobel
Nov 18, 2016 • 25 min
What happens when a creativity guru meets the winner of this year’s Nobel Memorial Prize in economics? You get life lessons in making art, and negotiating contracts.
#574: The Buffalo Talk-Off
Nov 16, 2016 • 18 min
The story of a guy who tried to make something of himself by getting into a rough business. And the story of a time when the world went wild for debt.
#735: President Trump
Nov 11, 2016 • 24 min
Candidates promise all kinds of things. But once they get into office, it’s not always possible to carry through on them. We ask, can Trump do the things he’s pledged to do?
#734: The Trump Indicators
Nov 9, 2016 • 13 min
Donald Trump is our president elect. We look at three economic indicators to see what they can tell us about a Trump presidency.
#733: A Trunk Full of Truffles
Nov 4, 2016 • 21 min
Truffles are a lumpy, smelly fungus. They’re also one of the most coveted foods in the world. Why are they so expensive? And why are people willing to pay so much for them?
#413: Our Fake Candidate Meets The People
Nov 2, 2016 • 22 min
On today’s show, Planet Money’s economist-approved fake candidate makes his first ads. Then we nervously watch to see what a focus group thinks of them.
#732: Bad Form, Wells Fargo
Oct 28, 2016 • 17 min
Banks like Wells Fargo have a weapon that can destroy an employee’s career: A form. A long, boring form most people don’t even know exists.
#387: The No-Brainer Economic Platform
Oct 26, 2016 • 24 min
Behold the Planet Money economic platform, crafted by brilliant economists of all stripes, and pure poison to any politician who embraces it.
#731: How Venezuela Imploded
Oct 21, 2016 • 19 min
Venezuela has just about every economic advantage a country could ask for: fertile land, good climate, educated population, and oil, lots and lots of oil. So how did it go so wrong?
#730: Self Checkout
Oct 19, 2016 • 20 min
A doctor treating psychiatric patients in an emergency room created the first self-checkout machine in his spare time. Now he can’t stand self checkout. So we take him shopping.
#729: When Subaru Came Out
Oct 14, 2016 • 19 min
Subaru’s sales had been slumping for years. So the car company took a big risk and targeted a group of consumers that just about everyone else was ignoring.
#627: The Miracle Apple
Oct 12, 2016 • 14 min
How we got from mealy, nasty apples to apples that taste delicious. The story starts with a breeder who discovered a miracle apple. But discovering that apple wasn’t enough.
#728: The Wells Fargo Hustle
Oct 7, 2016 • 18 min
We take you inside the headquarters of Wells Fargo bank. It’s a place where a bunch of young, stressed-out workers were rewarded for doing some very bad things.
#521: The Town That Loves Death
Oct 5, 2016 • 23 min
On today’s episode, we’ll take you to a place where dying has become acceptable dinner conversation. A place that also happens to have the lowest healthcare spending of any region in the country.
#727: You Asked For It, Again
Sep 30, 2016 • 23 min
New show! You asked us questions about the economy and oddities in your world. We answer.
#726: Terms of the Debate
Sep 27, 2016 • 20 min
We made an audio glossary for the confusing economic jargon that came up during the first presidential debate.
#725: Trade Show
Sep 23, 2016 • 37 min
On today’s show: The fight over free trade. Come for the man who dreamed of world peace through trade. Stay for Robert Smith in the mean streets of Seattle.
#555: Why Is The Milk In The Back Of The Store?
Sep 21, 2016 • 16 min
We test two competing theories, from a food writer and an economist. Are customers being forced to walk through the store or is it just practical to keep the milk at the back?
#573: Why Textbook Prices Keep Climbing
Sep 16, 2016 • 15 min
Prices of new textbooks have been going up like crazy — faster than food, cars, even healthcare. On today’s show: Why textbooks have gotten so expensive.
#724: Cat Scam
Sep 14, 2016 • 21 min
The internet was supposed to get rid of middlemen—but instead they are taking over the global economy.
#566: The Zoo Economy
Sep 9, 2016 • 17 min
If you’re a zoo or aquarium and you want a new animal, you don’t use money to get it. You have to find another way. In this episode, we investigate: How many mackerel is a flock of puffins worth?
#723: The Risk Farmers
Sep 7, 2016 • 20 min
There is a mystery in many poor countries. Why don’t farmers specialize and grow more food? Two economists with very different theories go head to head to find out.
#532: The Wild West of the Internet
Sep 2, 2016 • 18 min
For decades, most websites ended in either .com, .net, or .org. But a few years ago, everything changed.
#722: The New Telenovela
Aug 31, 2016 • 20 min
One telenovela actress-turned-executive decided to write a new kind of drama. Her show changed the landscape of Spanish language TV—and of all TV.
#721: Unbuilding A City
Aug 26, 2016 • 19 min
Why is it so hard to knock down 17 vacant houses in a shrinking city?