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 plus.npr.org/planetmoney

Episodes

June 14, 2024 24 mins
There's a behind the scenes industry that helps big brands decide questions like: How big should a bag of chips be? What's the right size for a bottle of shampoo? And yes, also: When should a company do a little shrinkflation?

From Cookie Monster to President Biden, everybody is complaining about shrinkflation these days. But when we asked the packaging and pricing experts, they told us that shrinkflation is just one move...
Mark as Played
Graphite is sort of the one-hit wonder of minerals. And that hit? Pencils. Everyone loves to talk about pencils when it comes to graphite. If graphite were to perform a concert, they'd close out the show with "pencils," and everyone would clap and cheer. But true fans of graphite would be shouting out "batteries!" Because graphite is a key ingredient in another important thing that we all use in our everyday lives: lithium ion batt...
Mark as Played
June 7, 2024 26 mins
Most economic textbooks will tell you that there can be real dangers in running up a big national debt. A major concern is how the debt you add now could slow down economic growth in the future. Economists have not been able to nail down how much debt a country can safely take on. But they have tried.

Back in 2010, two economists took a look at 20 countries over the course of decades, and sometimes centuries, and came back...
Mark as Played
June 5, 2024 21 mins
For thousands of years, getting light was a huge hassle. You had to make candles from scratch. This is not as romantic as it sounds. You had to get a cow, raise the cow, feed the cow, kill the cow, get the fat out of the cow, cook the fat, dip wicks into the fat. All that--for not very much light. Now, if we want to light a whole room, we just flip a switch.

The history of light explains why the world today is the way it i...
Mark as Played
There is a constant arms race between law enforcement and criminals, especially when it comes to technology. For years, law enforcement has been frustrated with encrypted messaging apps, like Signal and Telegram. And law enforcement has been even more frustrated by encrypted phones, specifically designed to thwart authorities from snooping.

But in 2018, in a story that seems like it's straight out of a spy novel, the FBI ...
Mark as Played
May 29, 2024 27 mins
We are living in a kind of golden age for online fraudsters. As the number of apps and services for storing and sending money has exploded – so too have the schemes that bad actors have cooked up to steal that money. Every year, we hear more and more stories of financial heartbreak. What you don't often hear about is what happens after the scam?

On today's show, we follow one woman who was scammed out of over $800,000 on h...
Mark as Played
May 24, 2024 25 mins
On today's episode, we ride through the streets of San Francisco with a long-time junkman, Jon Rolston.

Jon has spent the last two decades clearing out houses and offices of their junk. He's found all sorts of items: a life-time supply of toilet paper, gold rings, $20,000 in cash. Over the years, he's developed a keen eye for what has value and what might sell. He's become a kind of trash savant.

As we ride with ...
Mark as Played
May 22, 2024 27 mins
By one estimate, 40 percent of American workers get laid off at least once in their careers. And when that happens, companies will often say, "It's not personal. It has nothing to do with you or your performance. We're just changing priorities, making a strategic shift."

It's like the business version of: "It's not you, it's me." And just like a breakup, it feels terrible.

This happened to a man we're calling V,...
Mark as Played
Last month, the world narrowly avoided a cyberattack of stunning ambition. The targets were some of the most important computers on the planet. Computers that power the internet. Computers used by banks and airlines and even the military.

What these computers had in common was that they all relied on open source software.

A strange fact about modern life is that most of the computers responsible for it are runni...
Mark as Played
May 15, 2024 18 mins
In the past few months, the price of gold has gone way up – even hitting a new high last month at just over $2,400 per troy ounce.

Gold has long had a shiny quality to it, literally and in the marketplace. And we wondered, why is that?

Today on the show, we revisit a Planet Money classic episode: Why Gold? Jacob Goldstein and David Kestenbaum will peruse the periodic table of the elements with one goal in mind: ...
Mark as Played
Karen McDonough of Quincy, Mass., was enjoying her tea one morning in the dining room when she saw something odd outside her window: a group of people gathering on her lawn. A man with a clipboard told her that her home no longer belonged to her. It didn't matter that she'd been paying her mortgage for 17 years and was current on it. She was a nurse with a good job and had raised her kids there. But this was a foreclosure sale, and...
Mark as Played
Why do video game workers offer labor at a discount? How can you design a video game for blind and sighted players? Does that design have lessons for other industries?

These and other questions about the business of video games answered in todays episode. The Indicator just wrapped a weeklong series decoding the economics of the video game industry, we're excerpting some highlights.

First, we meet some of the wor...
Mark as Played
Today on the show, the story of the modern consumer movement in the U.S. and the person who inspired it: Ralph Nader. How Ralph Nader's battle in the 1960s set the stage for decades of regulation and sparked a debate in the U.S. about how much regulation is the right amount and how much is too much.

This episode was made in collaboration with NPR's Throughline. For more about Ralph Nader and safety regulations, listen to ...
Mark as Played
May 1, 2024 22 mins
(Note: This episode originally ran in 2021.)

Millions of American workers in all sorts of industries have signed some form of noncompete agreement. Their pervasiveness has led to situations where workers looking to change jobs can be locked out of their fields.

On today's episode: how one man tried to end noncompete contracts in his home state of Hawaii. And we update that story with news of a recent ruling from t...
Mark as Played
April 26, 2024 18 mins
About thirty years ago, Yagya Kumar Pradhan woke up to the news that the temple he and his clan used had been broken into. The temple had been ransacked. And someone had stolen two holy Bhairav masks. Yagya says they had been in his family for more than five hundred years – since the 16th century.

Yagya is a kind of Hindu priest for his clan. And he says, these Bhairav masks were very holy. People made offerings to them d...
Mark as Played
(Note: This episode originally ran in 2023.)

Union membership in the U.S. has been declining for decades. But, in 2022, support for unions among Americans was the highest it's been in decades. This dissonance is due, in part, to the difficulties of one important phase in the life cycle of a union: setting up a union in the first place. One place where that has been particularly clear is at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanoo...
Mark as Played
April 19, 2024 25 mins
For the last year and a half, the story of FTX has focused largely on the crimes and punishment of Sam Bankman-Fried. But in the background, the actual customers he left behind have been caught in a financial feeding frenzy over the remains of the company.

On today's show, we do a deep dive into the anatomy of the FTX bankruptcy. We meet the vulture investors who make markets out of risky debt, and hear how customers fare...
Mark as Played
What's going on with consumers? This is one of the trickiest puzzles of this weird economic moment we're in. We've covered a version of this before under the term "vibecession," but it's safe to say, the struggle is in fact real. It is not just in our heads. Sure, sure, some data is looking great. But not all of it.

What's interesting, is exactly why the bad feels so much worse than the good feels good. Today on the show,...
Mark as Played
April 12, 2024 20 mins
TikTok, and other apps like it, are filled with financial advice. Some of it is reliable, some... less so.

There are videos about running a business, having a side hustle, generating passive income. And also, there are a lot of tips and tricks, many of them questionable, about saving on your taxes.

On this show, we run some of the greatest hits of TikTok tax advice by some bonafide tax experts. We'll talk about...
Mark as Played
April 10, 2024 17 mins
This episode originally ran in 2015.

About one hundred years ago, a scientist and statistician named Francis Galston came upon an opportunity to test how well regular people were at answering a question. He was at a fair where lots of people were guessing the weight of an ox, so he decided to take the average of all their guesses and compare it to the correct answer.

What he found shocked him. The average of their...
Mark as Played

Popular Podcasts

    Current and classic episodes, featuring compelling true-crime mysteries, powerful documentaries and in-depth investigations.

    Stuff You Should Know

    If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks, then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.

    The Nikki Glaser Podcast

    Every week comedian and infamous roaster Nikki Glaser provides a fun, fast-paced, and brutally honest look into current pop-culture and her own personal life.

    White Devil

    Shootings are not unusual in Belize. Shootings of cops are. When a wealthy woman – part of one of the most powerful families in Belize – is found on a pier late at night, next to a body, it becomes the country’s biggest news story in a generation. New episodes every Monday!

    Start Here

    A straightforward look at the day's top news in 20 minutes. Powered by ABC News. Hosted by Brad Mielke.

Advertise With Us
Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.

Connect

© 2024 iHeartMedia, Inc.