Planet Money podcast

Planet Money

·

  NPR  

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

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

 

#355

Summer School 2: The golden ages of labor and looms

Who has the power? Workers or bosses? It changes through the ages, though it's usually the bosses. Today, we look at two key moments when the power of labor shifted, for better and worse, and we ask why then? What does history have to say about labor power right now? We travel to Sicily, Italy in the year 1347, where the bubonic plague is about to strike. The horror known as the Black Death will remake European society in countless ways, but we'll focus on one silver lining: how economic conditions shifted for workers. Then we head about 500 years into the future, to an English factory at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, where textile workers take up arms against the machines taking their jobs and show how rapidly labor supply and demand can change. This is the famed tale of the Luddites, now a byword for knee jerk anti-technology, but the true story has nuance and a desperate but rational violent rebellion. This series is hosted by Robert Smith and produced by Audrey Dilling. Our project manager is Devin Mellor. This episode was edited by Planet Money Executive Producer Alex Goldmark and fact-checked by Sofia Shchukina. Help support Planet Money and hear our bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in [Apple Podcasts] (http://n.pr/PM-digital) or at [plus.npr.org/planetmoney] (https://n.pr/3HlREPz) .Learn more about sponsor message choices: [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) [NPR Privacy Policy] (https://www.npr.org/about-npr/179878450/privacy-policy) ... Read more

3 hrs Ago

32 MINS

32:49

3 hrs Ago


#354

Rooftop solar's dark side

4.5 million households in the U.S. have solar panels on their homes. Most of those customers are happy with it - their electricity bills have just about disappeared, and it's great for the planet. But thousands and thousands of people are really disappointed with what they've been sold. Their panels are more expensive than they should be, and they say it is hard to get someone to come fix them when they break. It turns out this sometimes crummy customer experience is no accident. It ties back to how big, national solar companies built their businesses in the first place. To entice people to install expensive solar panels, companies developed new financing models which cut upfront costs for customers. And they deployed lots and lots of salespeople to grow their businesses. But in the drive to get more households installing solar panels, consumer costs went up and the focus seemed to shift away from making sure those panels actually worked. All of this left some consumers feeling like they've been sold a lie.On today's episode, we look into how the residential solar business model has turned some people sour on solar. And we'll try to figure out where the industry could go from here. Help support Planet Money and hear our bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ [in Apple Podcasts] (http://n.pr/PM-digital) or at [plus.npr.org/planetmoney] (https://n.pr/3HlREPz) .Learn more about sponsor message choices: [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) [NPR Privacy Policy] (https://www.npr.org/about-npr/179878450/privacy-policy) ... Read more

12 Jul 2024

27 MINS

27:22

12 Jul 2024


#353

Summer School 1: An Economic History of the World

Planet Money Summer School is back for eight weeks. Join as we travel back in time to find the origins of our economic way of life. Today we ask surprisingly hard question: What is money? And where did it come from? We travel to a remote island in the Pacific Ocean for the answer. Then we'll visit France in the year 1714, where a man on the lam tries to revolutionize the country's entire monetary system, and comes impressively close to the modern economy we have today, before it all falls apart. Check out our Summer School video [cheat sheet on the origins of money at the Planet Money TikTok] (https://www.tiktok.com/@planetmoney/video/7390045174518254891) .The series is hosted by Robert Smith and produced by Audrey Dilling. Our project manager is Devin Mellor. This episode was edited by Planet Money Executive Producer Alex Goldmark and fact-checked by Sofia Shchukina. Help support Planet Money and hear our bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in [Apple Podcasts] (http://n.pr/PM-digital) or at [plus.npr.org/planetmoney] (https://n.pr/3HlREPz) .Learn more about sponsor message choices: [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) [NPR Privacy Policy] (https://www.npr.org/about-npr/179878450/privacy-policy) ... Read more

10 Jul 2024

34 MINS

34:05

10 Jul 2024


#352

How flying got so bad (or did it?)

We often hear that air travel is worse than it's ever been. Gone are the days when airplanes touted piano bars and meat carving stations — or even free meals. Instead we're crammed into tiny seats and fighting for overhead space. How did we get here? Most of the inconveniences we think about when we fly can be traced back to the period of time just after the federal government deregulated the airlines. When commercial air travel took off in the 1940s, the government regulated how many national airlines were allowed to exist, where they were allowed to fly, and how much they could charge for tickets. But the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 swept all these restrictions aside – and stopped providing subsidies for the air carriers. Airlines had to compete on ticket prices. That competition led to a more bare-bones flying experience, but it also made air travel a lot more affordable. In this episode, we trace the evolution of air travel over the past century to discover whether flying really is worse today — or if it's actually better than ever. We'll board a plane from the "golden age" of air travel, hear the history of one of the original budget airlines and meet feuding airline CEOs. Along the way, we'll see how economic forces have shaped the airline industry into what it is today, and what role we, as consumers, have played. Help support Planet Money and hear our bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ [in Apple Podcasts] (http://n.pr/PM-digital) or at [plus.npr.org/planetmoney] (https://n.pr/3HlREPz) .Learn more about sponsor message choices: [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) [NPR Privacy Policy] (https://www.npr.org/about-npr/179878450/privacy-policy) ... Read more

05 Jul 2024

25 MINS

25:15

05 Jul 2024


#351

The two companies driving the modern economy

At the core of most of the electronics we use today are some very tiny, very powerful chips. Semiconductor chips. And they are mighty: they help power our phones, laptops, and cars. They enable advances in healthcare, military systems, transportation, and clean energy. And they're also critical for artificial intelligence, providing the hardware needed to train complex machine learning.On today's episode, we're bringing you two stories from our daily show The Indicator, diving into the two most important semiconductor chip companies, which have transformed the industry over the past 40 years. First, we trace NVIDIA's journey from making niche graphics cards for gaming to making the most advanced chips in the world — and briefly becoming the world's biggest company. Next, we see how the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's decision to manufacture chips for its competition instead of itself flipped the entire industry on its head, and moved the vast majority of the world's advanced chip production to Taiwan. Help support Planet Money and hear our bonus episode about NVIDIA by subscribing to Planet Money+ in [Apple Podcasts] (http://n.pr/PM-digital) or at [plus.npr.org/planetmoney] (https://n.pr/3HlREPz) . Learn more about sponsor message choices: [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) [NPR Privacy Policy] (https://www.npr.org/about-npr/179878450/privacy-policy) ... Read more

03 Jul 2024

20 MINS

20:15

03 Jul 2024


#350

Do immigrants really take jobs and lower wages?

We wade into the heated debate over immigrants' impact on the labor market. When the number of workers in a city increases, does that take away jobs from the people who already live and work there? Does a surge of immigration hurt their wages? The debate within the field of economics often centers on Nobel-prize winner David Card's ground-breaking paper, "The Impact of the Mariel Boatlift on the Miami Labor Market." Today on the show: the fight over that paper, and what it tells us about the debate over immigration. More Listening: - [When The Boats Arrive] (https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2017/02/22/516691582/episode-654-when-the-boats-arrive) - [The Men on the Roof] (https://www.npr.org/2023/01/18/1149875059/the-men-on-the-roof) This episode was hosted by Amanda Aronczyk and Jeff Guo. It was produced by Willa Rubin, edited by Annie Brown, and engineered by Valentina Rodríguez Sánchez. Fact-checking by Sierra Juarez. Alex Goldmark is Planet Money's executive producer.Help support Planet Money and hear our bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ [in Apple Podcasts] (http://n.pr/PM-digital) or at [plus.npr.org/planetmoney] (https://n.pr/3HlREPz) .Learn more about sponsor message choices: [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) [NPR Privacy Policy] (https://www.npr.org/about-npr/179878450/privacy-policy) ... Read more

29 Jun 2024

25 MINS

25:43

29 Jun 2024


#349

The Carriage Tax (Update)

(Note: A version of this episode originally ran in [2019] (https://www.npr.org/2019/09/12/760148148/episode-956-the-carriage-tax) .)In 1794, George Washington decided to raise money for the federal government by taxing the rich. He did it by putting a tax on horse-drawn carriages.The carriage tax could be considered the first federal wealth tax of the United States. It led to a huge fight over the power to tax in the U.S. Constitution, a fight that continues today. [Listen back to our 2019 episode: "Could A Wealth Tax Work?"] (https://www.npr.org/2019/07/24/744962126/episode-929-could-a-wealth-tax-work) [Listen to The Indicator's 2023 episode: "Could SCOTUS outlaw wealth taxes?"] (https://www.npr.org/2023/11/30/1197958576/could-scotus-outlaw-wealth-taxes) This episode was hosted by Greg Rosalsky and Bryant Urstadt. It was originally produced by Nick Fountain and Liza Yeager, with help from Sarah Gonzalez. Today's update was produced by Willa Rubin and edited by Molly Messick and our executive producer, Alex Goldmark.Help support Planet Money and hear our bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ [in Apple Podcasts] (http://n.pr/PM-digital) or at [plus.npr.org/planetmoney] (https://n.pr/3HlREPz) .Learn more about sponsor message choices: [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) [NPR Privacy Policy] (https://www.npr.org/about-npr/179878450/privacy-policy) ... Read more

26 Jun 2024

18 MINS

18:46

26 Jun 2024


#348

The Vapes of Wrath

When the vape brand Juul first hit the market back in 2015, e-cigarettes were in a kind of regulatory limbo. At the time, the rules that governed tobacco cigarettes did not explicitly apply to e-cigarettes. Then Juul blew up, fueled a public health crisis over teen vaping, and inspired a regulatory crackdown. But when the government finally stepped in to solve the problem of youth vaping, it may have actually made things worse.Today's episode is a collaboration with the new podcast series "Backfired: the Vaping Wars." You can listen to the full series at [audible.com/Backfired] (http://www.audible.com/Backfired) .This episode was hosted by Alexi Horowitz-Ghazi and Leon Neyfakh. It was produced by Emma Peaslee and edited by Jess Jiang with help from Annie Brown. It was fact checked by Sofia Shchukina and engineered by Cena Loffredo. Alex Goldmark is Planet Money's executive producer.Help support Planet Money and hear our bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ [in Apple Podcasts] (http://n.pr/PM-digital) or at [plus.npr.org/planetmoney] (https://n.pr/3HlREPz) .Learn more about sponsor message choices: [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) [NPR Privacy Policy] (https://www.npr.org/about-npr/179878450/privacy-policy) ... Read more

21 Jun 2024

27 MINS

27:24

21 Jun 2024


#347

Why is everyone talking about Musk's money?

We've lived amongst Elon Musk headlines for so long now that it's easy to forget just how much he sounds like a sci-fi character. He runs a space company and wants to colonize mars. He also runs a company that just implanted a computer chip into a human brain. And he believes there's a pretty high probability everything is a simulation and we are living inside of it.But the latest Elon Musk headline-grabbing drama is less something out of sci-fi, and more something pulled from HBO's "Succession."Elon Musk helped take Tesla from the brink of bankruptcy to one of the biggest companies in the world. And his compensation for that was an unprecedentedly large pay package that turned him into the richest person on Earth. But a judge made a decision about that pay package that set off a chain of events resulting in quite possibly the most expensive, highest stakes vote in publicly traded company history.The ensuing battle over Musk's compensation is not just another wild Elon tale. It's a lesson in how to motivate the people running the biggest companies that – like it or not – are shaping our world. It's a classic economics problem with a very 2024 twist.Help support Planet Money and hear our bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ [in Apple Podcasts] (http://n.pr/PM-digital) or at [plus.npr.org/planetmoney] (https://n.pr/3HlREPz) .Learn more about sponsor message choices: [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) [NPR Privacy Policy] (https://www.npr.org/about-npr/179878450/privacy-policy) ... Read more

19 Jun 2024

28 MINS

28:24

19 Jun 2024


#346

What's with all the tiny soda cans? And other grocery store mysteries, solved.

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] (https://x.com/MeCookieMonster/status/1764692032914690276) 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 in a much larger, much weirder 4-D chess game. The name of that game is "price pack architecture." This is the idea that you shouldn't just sell your product in one or two sizes. You should sell your product in a whole range of different sizes, at a whole range of different price points. Over the past 15 years, price pack architecture has completely changed how products are marketed and sold in the United States. Today, we are going on a shopping cart ride-along with one of those price pack architects. She's going to pull back the curtain and show us why some products are getting larger while others are getting smaller, and tell us about the adorable little soda can that started it all.By the end of the episode, you'll never look at a grocery store the same way again. Help support Planet Money and hear our bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ [in Apple Podcasts] (http://n.pr/PM-digital) or at [plus.npr.org/planetmoney] (https://n.pr/3HlREPz) .Learn more about sponsor message choices: [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) [NPR Privacy Policy] (https://www.npr.org/about-npr/179878450/privacy-policy) ... Read more

14 Jun 2024

24 MINS

24:22

14 Jun 2024


#345

Bringing a tariff to a graphite fight

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 batteries.Almost all of the battery-ready graphite in the world comes from one place: China. That's actually true of lots of the materials that go into batteries, like processed lithium and processed cobalt. Which is why it was such a big deal when, earlier this year, [President Biden announced a tariff package] (https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2024/05/14/remarks-by-president-biden-remarks-by-president-biden-on-his-actions-to-protect-american-workers-and-businesses-from-chinas-unfair-trade-practices/) that will make a bunch of Chinese imports more expensive. Included in this package are some tariffs on Chinese graphite. He wants to create a new battery future—one that doesn't rely so much on China. In this episode, we get down on the ground to look at this big supply chain story through the lens of one critical mineral. And we visit a small town that realizes that it might be the perfect place to create an American graphite industry. And we find that declaring a new battery future is one thing, but making it happen is another thing entirely. Help support Planet Money and hear our bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ [in Apple Podcasts] (http://n.pr/PM-digital) or at [plus.npr.org/planetmoney] (https://n.pr/3HlREPz) .Learn more about sponsor message choices: [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) [NPR Privacy Policy] (https://www.npr.org/about-npr/179878450/privacy-policy) ... Read more

12 Jun 2024

25 MINS

25:38

12 Jun 2024


#344

How much national debt is too much?

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 with a number. Their analysis suggested that economic growth slowed significantly once national debt passed 90% of annual GDP... and that is when the fight over debt and growth really took off.On today's episode: a deep dive on what we know, and what we don't know, about when exactly national debt becomes a problem. We will also try to figure out how worried we should be about the United States' current debt total of 26 trillion dollars.This episode was hosted by Keith Romer and Nick Fountain. It was produced by Willa Rubin and edited by Molly Messick. It was fact-checked by Sierra Juarez with help from Sofia Shchukina and engineered by Cena Loffredo. Alex Goldmark is Planet Money's executive producer.Help support Planet Money and hear our bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ [in Apple Podcasts] (http://n.pr/PM-digital) or at [plus.npr.org/planetmoney] (https://n.pr/3HlREPz) .Learn more about sponsor message choices: [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) [NPR Privacy Policy] (https://www.npr.org/about-npr/179878450/privacy-policy) ... Read more

07 Jun 2024

26 MINS

26:50

07 Jun 2024


#343

The history of light (classic)

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 is. It explains why we aren't all subsistence farmers, and why we can afford to have artists and massage therapists and plumbers. (And, yes, people who make podcasts about the history of light.) The history of light is the history of economic growth--of things getting faster, cheaper, and more efficient.On today's show: How we got from dim little candles made out of cow fat, to as much light as we want at the flick of a switch.Today's show was hosted by Jacob Goldstein and David Kestenbaum. It was originally produced by Caitlin Kenney and Damiano Marchetti. Today's rerun was produced by James Sneed, and edited by Jenny Lawton. It was fact-checked by Sierra Juarez. Engineering by Valentina Rodríguez Sánchez. Alex Goldmark is Planet Money's executive producer. Help support Planet Money and hear our bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ [in Apple Podcasts] (http://n.pr/PM-digital) or at [plus.npr.org/planetmoney] (https://n.pr/3HlREPz) .Learn more about sponsor message choices: [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) [NPR Privacy Policy] (https://www.npr.org/about-npr/179878450/privacy-policy) ... Read more

05 Jun 2024

21 MINS

21:23

05 Jun 2024


#342

How the FBI's fake cell phone company put criminals into real jail cells

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 was approached with an offer: Would they like to get into the encrypted cell phone business? What if they could convince criminals to use their phones to plan and document their crimes — all while the FBI was secretly watching? It could be an unprecedented peek into the criminal underground. To pull off this massive sting operation, the FBI needed to design a cell phone that criminals wanted to use and adopt. Their mission: to make a tech platform for the criminal underworld. And in many ways, the FBI's journey was filled with all the hallmarks of many Silicon Valley start-ups. On this show, we talk with journalist [Joseph Cox] (https://www.404media.co/author/joseph-cox/) , who wrote a new book about the FBI's cell phone business, called [Dark Wire] (https://www.publicaffairsbooks.com/titles/joseph-cox/dark-wire/9781541702691/) . And we hear from the federal prosecutor who became an unlikely tech company founder. Help support Planet Money and hear our bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ [in Apple Podcasts] (http://n.pr/PM-digital) or at [plus.npr.org/planetmoney] (https://n.pr/3HlREPz) .Learn more about sponsor message choices: [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) [NPR Privacy Policy] (https://www.npr.org/about-npr/179878450/privacy-policy) ... Read more

31 May 2024

23 MINS

23:59

31 May 2024


#341

So you've been scammed, now what?

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 her quest to get her money back. That journey takes her from the halls of the FBI to the fraud departments of some of the country's biggest financial institutions. And it offers a window into how the systems that are theoretically designed to help the victims of financial cybercrime actually work in practice. This episode was hosted by Alexi Horowitz-Ghazi and Jeff Guo. It was produced by Willa Rubin and edited by Keith Romer. It was engineered by Neal Rauch and fact-checked by Sierra Juarez. Alex Goldmark is Planet Money's executive producer.Help support Planet Money and hear our bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ [in Apple Podcasts] (http://n.pr/PM-digital) or at [plus.npr.org/planetmoney] (https://n.pr/3HlREPz) .Learn more about sponsor message choices: [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) [NPR Privacy Policy] (https://www.npr.org/about-npr/179878450/privacy-policy) ... Read more

29 May 2024

27 MINS

27:03

29 May 2024