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.
Here's the Latest Episode from Planet Money:
People have been arguing over the constitutionality of wealth taxes since 1794, when Washington put a tax on carriages.| Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
Where there are casinos, there are people trying to cheat. And now, they're using iPhones. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
Blackbeard, a filmmaker, and a fight between two powerful forces in American law. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
In the 1600s, a good spice rub was the ultimate display of wealth. People would risk their lives for a sack of cloves. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
We've heard a lot about illegal foreign meddling in the United States elections. But what about legal foreign participation? | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
7 million Americans are at least 3 months behind on car payments. It's a record but is it a crisis? | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
Denmark is a big exporter of human sperm. And mad cow disease may have helped. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
Snakebites are common but antivenom is expensive to develop. So a doctor goes to extreme lengths to find a solution. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
Today on the show, economist Tyler Cowen rates the NBA, Karl Marx, Adam Smith, the humanities, your neighbors, and more. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
A free-love commune of perfectionists in upstate New York embraced the free market, and became a blockbuster brand. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
A hundred years ago, economist Arthur Cecil Pigou explained how to tax things like pollution. Countries are starting to do it. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
A Halloween journey into the economists' worst nightmare, an endless time loop of recession after recession after... | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
Income pools could change the way baseball players, and maybe the rest of us, think about how we get paid. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
Fast food delivery is threatening the french fry. So a band of potato scientists go to work. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
A man in Texas had a dream: To build a whole new kind of city, with no property tax, no debt, and a whole lot of freedom. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
Charlie Shrem went from living in his parents' basement, to bitcoin millionaire, to federal prison in just a few years. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
Sometimes we forget to mention something. And our listeners always let us know. Today on the show, we make good. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
Two years ago, we built a machine that bought and sold stocks automatically based on President Trump's tweets. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
The risk-addicted investor who made WeWork possible and changed the way startups work. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
Investors can fund lawsuits for profit, which gives more people access to the courts. But some worry it will warp the justice system. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
We jog to New Jersey to bet on tennis, we solve a mystery in Las Vegas, and we venture into the world of video game loot. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
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.
All over the world, interest rates are very, very low. In some places, they're negative: you lend out money, and get less back. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
Strikes these days are pretty boring. But they weren't always like this. In the past, strikers risked their lives. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
Hear what ordinary people told Studs Terkel about their jobs in the 70s — and what they have to say now. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
The hidden economy of producers buying and selling sonic snippets, texting each other beats, and angling for royalties. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
Sometimes the way to help yourself is to help your enemy. After WWII, the U.S. launched what might be the most successful intervention in history, rebuilding Germany and also the rest of Western Europe. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
Every dollar bill in the world comes from the same paper mill in Massachusetts. Today on the show, we get a front-row seat to the dollar-making process. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
In the 90s, the government ran an experiment: What happens if we move people out of high-poverty neighborhoods and into low-poverty ones? Housing policy as hope? The results surprised them. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
Kenny takes Jacob on a nerdy quest to find the "typical American." Naturally, it ends up harder—and nerdier—than we planned, and the answer is more subtle than we expected. | Subscribe to our newsletter here.
The top producer of Top Chef helps us spice up this food edition of listener questions. How do you master the salad bar? Why do Americans refrigerate eggs? The story of Choco Pies and more. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
An inverted yield curve has predicted recessions for the past six decades. The curve is inverted right now. What does that tell us? | Subscribe to our newsletter here.
Helium is so special, and so rare, that the U.S. government once tried to buy it all up. And hide it. But the government's helium stockpile is running low. And we need it for MRI machines and NASA rockets.
For a long time, only rich people could afford to put solar panels on the roof. Not anymore. Here's what changed.
Elephants are in danger. Counting them is crucial to saving them. But they're hard to see in the rainforest. So scientists are enlisting the help of AI technology.
A notorious con artist offered Felipe an IT job. He took the job —and tried to con the con man. | Plus, listen to a full double feature all about cons here.
Scientists have studied twins for years, hoping to figure out how big a role genes play in human behavior. Our very own pair of twin reporters are on the case.
Everyone said betting against the entire stock market was a terrible idea. We did it anyway. Today, we find out the results, and revisit the first short ever done in the 17th century.
Today on the show, we ignore the advice of some very smart people and bet against something people love.
Elizabeth Warren wants to tax the wealth of the mega-rich to help fix inequality. Europe tried this, and failed. Can it work in the U.S.?
In 1960, a 12-year-old boy left mainland China, hidden in the bottom of a fishing boat. He later became one of Hong Kong's richest people. His story is the story of Hong Kong.
Cities might be picking up your recyclables, but there is a very good chance they aren't being recycled. And that might be a good thing...if you really care about the planet. Part two of a two-part series. ⎸Subscribe to our newsletter here.
In 1987, an Alabama man had an idea. So he made a deal with the mob. And ended up with 3,186 tons of trash no landfill would take. This is the accidental birth of recycling in the U.S. ⎸Subscribe to our newsletter here.
China is building a high-tech surveillance state to capture minorities' every move and word. We go inside it and find that some Americans are involved. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter npr.org/planetmoneynewsletter
A farmer in Georgia became more in tune with nature. Then eagles started killing his chickens. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter: npr.org/planetmoneynewsletter
Teachers made a deal with the Department of Education. They kept their end of the bargain. Why didn't the government?
Accidentally sending $1,500 to a stranger on Venmo reveals just how hard it is to get your money back in the new economy.
Three stories: A tire-booting vigilante, a surge price conspiracy, and the civil rights fight over parking tickets.
The economic recovery turns 10 this month. Don't get too comfortable. There's plenty to be worried about.
Big cities used to be the land of opportunity for most people. But with changes in work, some economists are wondering: Are cities overrated?
Gyms don't want you to workout. Or at least, not often. It's better for business that way. Economics explains why.
People didn't always know what time it was. But in the nineteenth century, a high school principal, a scientist, and a railroad bureaucrat synchronized the nation.
In Japan, salmon used to be garbage fish. Today, it's a delicacy. How one Norwegian with a lot of extra fish changed the tastes of a nation.
Sometimes an economy can get so strong the power dynamic between bosses and workers flips: Full employment. Are we there yet?
Jordan Thomas is a lawyer who represents some of Wall Street's biggest whistleblowers. The life that led him here is extraordinary.
In which someone runs a science experiment on an actual election, on actual voters, to test the persuasive power of ethically sketchy methods.
After Donald Trump's companies declared four bankruptcies, several major banks stopped loaning him money. But Deutsche Bank didn't.
From renting hotels to a jobs report-like census in the night, we look at ways communities are helping the homeless.
The story of an innovation that changed the way the world works, and of the man who made this innovation possible: Luca Pacioli.
James Holzhauer took data, probability and a lot of practice with a fake buzzer, and turned it into a fortune on a game show.
We answer a bunch of the questions you asked — and even one you *didn't* ask.
A young economist holds a mirror up to her field. And starts a national conversation about women in economics.
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.
Every six hours a new dollar store opens in the U.S. Are they killing grocery stores?
The remarkable story of the online "CAPTCHA" tests we've all taken to prove that we're not robots.
The Indicator from Planet Money explores trade wars, peanuts, hurricanes, and happiness.
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.
How a ruthless dictator, and a bunch of economists known as the Chicago Boys, took Chile from socialism to capitalism.
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.
Copyrighting comedy is expensive. So comedians have devised an informal system of sanctions to protect their jokes from theft. Sometimes it works.
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.
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.
The story behind two sneaky forces that drive us to buy more products, more often: Planned obsolescence and psychological obsolescence.
There's an industry of people working to eliminate bad police behavior. They're not activists or protestors. They're insurers.
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?
When an American company named ABRO learns their goods are being counterfeited in China, they start their own trade war.
The internet was supposed to get rid of middlemen--but instead they are taking over the global economy.
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.
The story of an NBA All-Star and an experiment: To make a desirable basketball shoe cheap enough for anyone.
The story of the day the Federal Reserve got its independence and the fight—an actual physical fight—to keep it.
Airbnb has changed New Orleans. And now landlords and preservationists are fighting over the future of the city.
What does the rise of dominant tech companies say about competition and the state of antitrust law? Third in a series.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Five years ago, two sides met on our show to make a bet about the future of bitcoin. Today, we announce the winner.
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?
Today on the show, we take on one of life's most vexing problems: Sharing.
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.
In 2010, Panera launched several pay-what-you-want cafes. On today's show: How this charitable experiment worked out.
In 1879, Congress and the President were locked in a battle over the rights of African-Americans. It led to the first government shutdown.
On today's show we answer questions about silver dollars, Venmo, and Brexit. Why? Because you asked!
We go inside a professional poker tournament, where some of the smartest betting takes place behind the scenes.
Hackers are an expensive headache for companies. But there might be a simple economic fix.
People are the engine that fuels an economy. But what happens when you start running out of people?
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.
How the card game "Magic: The Gathering" deflated a speculative bubble. You can support our show at donate.npr.org/planetmoney.
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 instance: the graphing calculator. (This episode is from our other podcast, The Indicator from Planet Money. Subscribe to it wherever you get your podcasts.)
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.
How a professor invented a formula for synthesizing cannabinoids and unintentionally helped launch a drug revolution.
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 you get your podcasts.)
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 all. The key to understanding the latest turn in the trade war centers around a giant company most Americans haven't heard of called Huawei. Its rise traces the rise of China's economy and Chinese-style capitalism.
We try to figure out what makes cents.
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?
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.
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.
We talk to Kid Rock about how he tried to cut scalpers out of the business — and still sell cheap tickets to his shows.
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
We go deep inside the market for online mugshots. Is it extortion? Or is it a First Amendment right?
You get what you measure. Work expands to fill the time allotted. Who comes up with this stuff? And is it true?
A quick history of slow credit cards. This video also available here: https://youtu.be/2IksSNiEo2g
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.
How World Patent Marketing stole nearly $26 million. And how the acting attorney general was involved.
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: https://youtu.be/xYDYDThuJe4
To take advantage of the surprising benefits provided by an interlocked economic system on the other side.
The Falcons are trying something radical: Making their food cheaper. It could break stadium economics.
For most of human history, you had to haggle over prices before you could buy something. Then came the idea of the price tag.
Seattle's radical solution to big money in politics: Flood elections with even more money.
Something spooky has been happening here at Planet Money.
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.
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?
The first lottery was a royal affair with poems, golden flatware and invited criminals. Also, how someone won the lottery over and over.
President Trump promised to slash regulations. How has he done?
We try to tell the difference between correlation and causation.
Seth Frotman worked overseeing student loans for the government. He saw things that made him quit, and tell all.
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.
We follow writer Oliver Bullough as he explores how stolen money moves around the world, and what that might mean for democracies.
Ever seen one of those signs asking if you want to work from home? We find out what happens when you call.
We tell the story of a massive crackdown on asylum fraud, and the fallout.
We rethink everything we know about government spending, taxes, the nature of money... All of it.
We propose small fixes for baseball, weddings, salary negotiations and buying your morning coffee. Warning: They may be too rational.
How one man took the onion market hostage.
We crash a party of central bankers to get an answer to one of the biggest economic questions of our time.
In honor of our 10th anniversary, we revisit our very first episode.
What a hole-in-one gone awry says about the state of charity.
Subaru's sales had been slumping for years. Then they went straight to their biggest fans: Lesbians.
That time we accidentally created a cheese surplus so large it had to be stored in a ginormous cave.
California just did away with cash bail. But credit where credit is due. New Jersey already tried something similar.
When food makes people sick all around the country, an army of germ detectives jumps into action.
Today on the show: Could New Jersey become the next Napa?
Six states. Three days. One ugly cookie jar. Today on the show: Yard sale!
The line between trash and recycling is moving a lot these days. It's a tough time to be a recycler.
You have a lot of questions... about tariffs, unemployment rates, and RV dealerships, to name a few. We have answers.
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.
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.
Is there a secretive postal organization fixing international shipping rates, and giving American businesses a bad deal?
There's a simple way to solve the housing crisis in U.S. cities. Only problem is, almost everybody hates it.
What happens when a group of economists applies the number one rule of economics... to number two?
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?
Tax carbon emissions. That's basically the whole plan. What's the hold up?
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.
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.
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.
It takes strategy and skill to sell snacks at a baseball game. Meet the hot dog vending legend of Fenway Park.
A pesticide wreaks havoc. A listener needs a bitcoin detective. And the search for the rarest economic good continues.
Fake product reviews are wrecking the internet. But help is on the way: From a bodybuilding fake review hunter.
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.
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.
President Trump says China is stealing U.S. technology. So we looked into one case. And things got a little complicated.
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.
The medical world has been trying to cure color blindness for centuries. Then a glass scientist figured it out. By accident.
When Florida outlawed partisan gerrymandering, politicians tried to sneak it back in...in disguise.
Meet Sue, the dinosaur who sparked a gold rush for fossils buried in the badlands of North Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.
Meet the man who figured out how to reshape national politics by making tiny investments in the smallest of places.
In game theory, sometimes the best way to win, is to lose.
Today on the show: A small town stakes its future on writing, directing, and starring in a musical.
Gene Freidman built a taxi empire. We visited him before he was in legal trouble.
The World Trade Organization: Can't live with it, hard to crush your trade opponents without it.
Class actions run from big civil rights cases to arguments about pepper. Are they noble, or silly?
We meet the man who invented duty free shopping and find out if these tax free stores are really saving us any money.
Today on the show: A chicken index, some Wall Street investors, and an unlikely whistle-blower.
California is way more than Hollywood. Today on the show, we look at what else is going on in this powerhouse state economy.
Today on the show: How a cheese cartel abandoned the rules of economics and convinced the world to eat fondue.
Unordered trinkets have been arriving at homes around the country. We try to find out why.
Today on the show: the economics of drought, and why the rational thing to do in California right now is use more water.
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.)
Why are used car commercials so annoying? Meet the original sinner.
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.
Today on the show: how an economic fix helped made the deadliest job in America safer, and why people are angry about it.
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?
What exactly would happen if you didn't pay your taxes? Today on the show, we follow one man who did just that.
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.
What happens when you put someone who wants to close an agency, in charge of that agency? Today on the show, we find out.
A man who got caught insider trading explains everything — what he did, how he did it, and why.
Planet Money joins the gold rush 170 years late. And the rules are still about the same. How did that happen?
What do sugar farmers have against candy? A lot, according to candy manufacturers.
How did the social security number become the most important identifier in the United States? And is that even a good idea?
Two guys from different ends of the political spectrum agree that the economy is rigged. And they think they know who's responsible.
There's something wrong with the way we're doing science. Today on the show, we find out how to fix it.
We ponder the price of chicken, safe haven currencies, and the cash value of coupons. Why? Because you asked.
What do human blood, the conservative tax plan, and beer hops tell us about the world? Find out in today's episode.
Vodka is the best selling spirit in the United States, and there are zillions of brands. But is there any difference between them?
How do you reinvent something as simple as the wooden shipping pallet?
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?
If you can't beat 'em, send 'em a valentine.
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.
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.
How does the market for Super Bowl tickets work? And why did it collapse in 2015?
Billionaires, diplomats, thinkfluencers. This is the Davos everyone hears about. Today on the show, we take you to a different Davos.
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?
Douglas Bruce had a bold vision for Colorado.
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.
The wild ginseng market has gone crazy. We go to a farm hidden in the Appalachian mountains to find out why.
Will 3-D printing make gun control impossible?
Why does it take days to send money electronically?
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.
What does a country with no debt look like? To find out, we went back to the United States in 1835.
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.
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.
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.)
Congress just passed the largest tax overhaul in decades. We dig in.
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.
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.
Five reporters go to the New York Produce Show and Conference, each on a mission.
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.
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.
We've got a satellite. We got a rocket. We're heading to the launch pad.
We found a satellite. We tried to figure out what it would do. Now we need to choose our rocket.
We hitched a ride on a satellite. Now we have to figure out what we're going to do up there.
We really are going to space.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Once a year, teenagers from across the country team up and compete to run the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Why do smart people make dumb decisions? Figuring that out won Richard Thaler a Nobel Prize.
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.
In any other industry, it's illegal for a group of companies to get together and cap wages. What makes the NCAA different?
Today on the show: death. We have four stories about how people prepare for death and what they leave behind for the living.
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.
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.
Republicans are proposing big changes to the corporate income tax. Trillions of dollars are at stake. Here's what it all means.
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.
It might just be the secret weapon of the U.S. economy.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
We look at three time bombs Congress is sitting on: The federal budget, the debt ceiling, and DREAMers.
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.
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.
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.
Fake news from Russia helped spark a real war in Ukraine. What can Ukraine's fight against fake news teach the US?
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.
Your phone rings--it looks like your neighbor's calling. But instead, it's the creepiest scam of the year.
Costco made shopping harder, and customers loved it. Now a new company is taking the Costco experience to new extremes.
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.
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.
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.
We answer one of the most important questions in finance: What actually happens at the end of Trading Places?
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.
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.
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.
On today's show: The story of two guys who tried to cut the pay of a CEO at a small pneumatic tool company.
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.
Bail is broken. In New Jersey, defense attorneys, prosecutors, and judges banded together to try a dramatic solution: Blow it up.
We run through the entire federal budget — in 10 minutes. More than $6 billion per second. Go.
We visit a company where people work on figuring out how to make stuff get cheaper.
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.
We visited a libertarian summer paradise. What we found: People paying in gold. Exotic bacon dishes. A nine-year-old selling alcohol.
Flip-floppers, this one's for you. Changing your mind is hard, but it's one of the smartest things you can do.
What happens when an unstoppable shrimp meets an unmovable senator? A researcher goes to Washington to defend herself, her shrimp, and science itself.
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.
Today on the show, a businessman goes to prison, and decides he is going to disrupt the biggest captive market in America.
How a free-love commune embraced the free market and became a blockbuster brand.
The president's budget promises 3% growth. Is that doable? Yes, but he won't like what it would take.
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.
A man goes looking for the invisible wall that traps poor people in poverty. Finding it almost gets him killed.
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.
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.
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.
The creation of the electronic spreadsheet transformed industries. But its effects ran deeper than that.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today on the show, how a New Hampshire hotel filled with boozing economists saved the global economy.
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.
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.
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.
One in three American jobs require a license. Today on the show, why those licensing rules hurt the U.S. economy.
One man figured out how to reproduce the magic of an Irish pub, and ship it in a container to anywhere in the world.
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.
The tricks and mind games tax collectors use to get people to pay up.
On today's show: Snuggies, printer toner, and a banking road trip. Three stories about what happens when you actually read the fine print.
Jason Blum makes a lot of movies and makes them cheap. So why are so many turning into blockbusters?
A populist president versus the most powerful banker in America.
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...
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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?
Early every year, 30 billion bees make their way across the country to California's Central Valley. Here's why.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The man who ran the last bank bailout has a plan to prevent the next one.
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.
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.
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.
A special holiday episode about the epic, decades-long feud between the two companies that make just about every handbell in the world.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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?
Donald Trump is our president elect. We look at three economic indicators to see what they can tell us about a Trump presidency.
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?
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.
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.
Behold the Planet Money economic platform, crafted by brilliant economists of all stripes, and pure poison to any politician who embraces it.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
New show! You asked us questions about the economy and oddities in your world. We answer.
We made an audio glossary for the confusing economic jargon that came up during the first presidential debate.
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.
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?
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.
The internet was supposed to get rid of middlemen--but instead they are taking over the global economy.
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?
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.
For decades, most websites ended in either .com, .net, or .org. But a few years ago, everything changed.
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.
Why is it so hard to knock down 17 vacant houses in a shrinking city?
Last of five episodes. We follow the Planet Money oil to a gas station. And we ask: What would our world look like if there were no fossil fuels?