Planet Money

Planet Money

Wanna see a trick? Give us any topic and we can tie it back to the economy. At Planet Money, we explore the forces that shape our lives and bring you along for the ride. Don't just understand the economy – understand the world. Wanna go deeper? Subscribe to Planet Money+ and get sponsor-free episodes of Planet Money, The Indicator, and Planet Money Summer School. Plus access to bonus content. It's a new way to support the show you love. Learn more at


February 21, 2024 19 mins
The Department of Defense's proposed budget for 2024 is $842 billion. That is about 3.5% of the U.S.'s GDP. The military buys everything from pens and paper clips to fighter jets and submarines. But the market for military equipment is very different from the commercial market.

On today's episode, we're bringing you two stories from The Indicator's series on defense spending that explore that market. As the U.S. continues ...
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The Genco Picardy is not an American ship. It doesn't pay U.S. taxes, none of its crew are U.S. nationals, and when it sailed through the Red Sea last month, it wasn't carrying cargo to or from an American port.

But when the Houthis, a tribal militant group from Yemen, attacked the ship, the crew called the U.S. Navy. That same day, the Navy fired missiles at Houthi sites.

On today's show: How did protecting the ...
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February 15, 2024 26 mins
L, is for the way you Listen to Planet Money
O, is for the Only podcast I hear
V, is Very, very, fiduciary
E, is for... ECONOMICS!

Every February, we dedicate a show to the things in our lives that have been giving us butterflies. Whether it's an obscure online marketplace or a piece of stunt journalism that made us green with envy. And then we go out into the world to proclaim our the form of a Valenti...
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February 9, 2024 22 mins
Keith King was upset when his marriage ended. His wife had cheated, and his family broke apart. And that's when he learned about a very old type of lawsuit, called a heart balm tort. A lawsuit that would let him sue the man his now ex-wife had gotten involved with during their marriage.

On this episode, where heart balm torts came from, what relationships looked like back then, and why these lawsuits still exist today (in ...
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There are tons of markets that don't exist because people just don't want to allow a market – for whatever reason, people feel icky about putting a price on something. For example: Surrogacy is a legal industry in parts of the United States, but not in much of the rest of the world. Assisted end-of-life is a legal medical transaction in some states, but is illegal in others.

When we have those knee-jerk reactions and our g...
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It's Groundhog Day, and the eyes of the nation have turned to a small town in western Pennsylvania. And, just like last year, all anyone can talk about is Punxsutawney Phil! It is impossible to find a news story that is not about one furry prognosticator.

Well, almost impossible...

Once again, our Planet Money hosts find themselves trapped in the endless Groundhog Day news cycle, and their only way out is to disco...
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January 31, 2024 15 mins
Note: This episode originally ran in 2015.

German families in the 60s loved tasty, cheap American-raised chicken that was suddenly coming in after the war. And Americans were loving fun, cheap Volkswagen Beetles. This arrangement was too good to last.

Today on the show, how a trade dispute over frozen chicken parts changed the American auto industry as we know it.

This episode was reported by Robert Smith...
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Our friends at NPR's news quiz Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! recently had a very Planet Money guest on their show: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. They asked her about smoking pot, her extremely high scores in Candy Crush, and when to expect the Harriet Tubman $20 bill.

Today, we're sharing an excerpt of that episode with you, along with some exclusive questions just for Planet Money listeners.

You can listen to the...
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January 27, 2024 26 mins
At around 1 a.m. on the morning of November 15, 1994, Captain Prentice "Skip" Strong III woke to a distress call. Skip was the new captain of an oil tanker called the Cherry Valley. He and his crew had been making their way up the coast of Florida that evening when a tropical storm had descended. It had been a rough night of 15 foot waves and 50 mile per hour winds.

The distress call was coming from a tugboat whose engines...
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On today's episode, we have three big economic ideas for your consideration – ideas that could potentially improve the economy and make us more efficient.

First, what if we ban left turns on roads? Then, what if we gave every new baby ... a trust fund? And lastly, what if we completely got rid of U.S. congressional districts?

That's all on today's episode.

This show was hosted by Sarah Gonzalez. It was...
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After very high inflation, the United States is finally feeling some relief in the form of "disinflation." But, why exactly has inflation slowed down?

Three Planet Money hosts try to answer that question while competing to be the winner of our very own reporting challenge: Econ Battle Zone!

It's economics journalism meets high-stakes reality TV competition! Will our contestants be able to impress our celebrity ju...
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On today's show, we look at two indicators of the economic disruptions of the war in Gaza and try to trace how far they will reach.

We start in the Red Sea, a crucial link in the global supply chain connecting to the Suez Canal, with around 15% of the world's shipping passing through it. This includes oil tankers and massive container ships transporting everything from microchips to furniture. With Houthi rebels attacking...
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January 13, 2024 24 mins
When you think of a potato, one state probably comes to mind: Idaho. But for much of American history, Maine was home to the nation's largest potato crop.

That status had changed by the 1970s, with the West growing more and more of the nation's potatoes. But Maine still had one distinct advantage: A privileged position in the commodities market. The New York Mercantile Exchange, one of the largest such marketplaces in the...
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There's this fundamental question in economics that has proven really hard to answer: What's a good way to help people out of poverty? The old-school way was to fund programs that would support very particular things, like buying cows for a village, giving people business training, or building schools.

But over the past few decades, there has been a new idea: Could you help people who don't have money by ... just giving th...
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Picture the Pacific Ocean of the 16th century. Spanish Galleons sail the wide open seas, carrying precious cargo like silver, porcelain, and textiles. The waters are dangerous; ship logs show concerns over pirates. But pirates are not to blame for a mysterious event that keeps happening.

For, you see, one in five of the ships leaving from the port of Manila didn't make it to Acapulco. It's a shipwrecking rate much higher t...
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December 29, 2023 25 mins
It's that time of year again! Our annual year-end tradition of checking in on the stories we've reported and the people we met along the way.

We'll hear from a Hollywood strike captain who tried to pull off one last job, an update from the data detective trying to uncover the truth in academic research, and tribute to a very special member of the Planet Money family.

Check out the original stories:
Vacation, a...
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December 27, 2023 15 mins
Today on the show, hosts from Planet Money and The Indicator debate the economic indicators of this year and next year.

First up, we try to identify the figure that best captured the essence of 2023. The contenders: the possible soft landing, consumer sentiment, and the housing market.

And looking ahead to 2024, what will the economic indicator of next year be? Interest rates, Bidenomics, or junk fees?

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December 22, 2023 31 mins
*Note: This episode originally ran in 2020*

'Tis the season for Americans to head out in droves and bring home a freshly-cut Christmas tree. But decorative evergreens don't just magically show up on corner lots, waiting to find a home in your living room. There are a bunch of fascinating steps that determine exactly how many Christmas trees get sold, and how expensive they are.

Today on the show, we visit the worl...
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December 21, 2023 24 mins
Argentina has been on a decades-long search for economic stability, but it always seems to be out of reach. High inflation has been plaguing the country and just surpassed 160% a year.

Over the past couple of years, the local currency has collapsed. One U.S. dollar used to be worth 20 Argentinean pesos in 2018. Today, one U.S. dollar is worth 1,000 pesos on the black market. And that means for Argentineans, the real prices...
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The research keeps coming in on remote work. New evidence suggests working from home, at least full-time, may not be as productive as we once thought. Economist Jose Maria Barrero and his co-authors have reviewed this and other studies for a recent paper. In this episode, we hear about the challenges that come with working fully remote and some best practices for hybrid work.

This episode was first published as a bonus ep...
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