NPR Planet Money

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: NPR Planet Money Website

: Podcast

: 29 episodes

The economy, explained, with stories and surprises. 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. That's what we're going for at Planet Money. People seem to like it.

NPR Planet Money

#901: Bad Cops Are Expensive

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: Mar 22nd, 2019

There's an industry of people working to eliminate bad police behavior. They're not activists or protestors. They're insurers.
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NPR Planet Money

The Fake Review Hunter

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: Jun 27th, 2018

Fake product reviews are wrecking the internet. But help is on the way: From a bodybuilding fake review hunter.
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NPR Planet Money

The World's Biggest Battery

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: Jun 15th, 2018

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.
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NPR Planet Money

How Venezuela Imploded

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: Oct 21st, 2016

Things are pretty bad right now in Venezuela. Grocery stores don't have enough food. Hospitals don't have basic supplies, like gauze. Child mortality is spiking. Businesses are shuttering. It's one of the epic economic collapses of our time. And it was totally avoidable. Venezuela used to be a relatively rich country. It has just about all the economic advantages a country could ask for: beautiful beaches and mountains ready for tourism, fertile land good for farming, an educated population, and oil, lots and lots of oil. During the boom years, the Venezuelan government made some choices that add up to an economic time bomb. Venezuela didn't save its oil money. It used it to subsidize goods and services for the people, but in some unusual ways. Another choice: instead of making stuff at home, Venezuela imported almost everything it could. The government also kept tight control on the exchange rate between Venezuelan bolivars and U.S. dollars. As long as the price of oil was high, there weren't serious problems. Then oil prices came down.
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NPR Planet Money

Self Checkout

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: Oct 19th, 2016

Howard Schneider was a doctor treating psychiatric patients in the ER when he decided to transform the grocery store experience. He set out to invent the self checkout machine. Some parts of the design were pretty straightforward, like reading barcodes and taking payments. Other things, it turned out, were not so easy. Like figuring out when people are stealing. Schneider solves these problems. Or at least makes a machine that's good enough to use. In 1992, he eventually convinces a grocery store to install the machines. The result? Angry shoppers. Now, hundreds of thousands of grocery stores all around the world use self-checkout machines. But customers are still frustrated.
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NPR Planet Money

Trade Show

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: Sep 23rd, 2016

It's been a rough year for people who believe in free trade. In June, the UK decided to leave the European Union-the biggest free trade block in the world. A potential trade deal between the U.S. and Europe seems to be falling apart. And the Trans-Pacific Partnership - a trade deal between the U.S. and 10 other countries - has two very prominent opponents: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. On today's show, we pack 240 years of trade history into 22 minutes. There's a Scotsman who was captured by gypsies (possibly), a man who dreamed of world peace (truly), and Robert Smith in the streets with revolutionaries (sort of).
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NPR Planet Money

The Risk Farmers

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: Sep 7th, 2016

We recently visited a man who may be the best apple farmer in Lesotho. He wanted to expand his business - but he was wary of going all-in on apples. This is a common issue in the developing world: Farmers don't grow enough of the things they're best at growing. Why not? Two economists - who work across the hall from each other, and who have devoted their careers to studying ways to help the poor - came up with very different answers to that question. And they decided to figure out who was right.
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NPR Planet Money

Unbuilding A City

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: Aug 26th, 2016

Shrinking cities have a problem: Millions of abandoned, falling-apart houses. Often, knocking them down is the best solution. But it can be remarkably hard to do that. On today's show, we visit a single block in Baltimore and figure out why it's so hard to knock down buildings - even when everybody wants them gone.
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NPR Planet Money

Can A Game Show Lose?

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: Jul 27th, 2016

Imagine you're a contestant on the hit game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? You're on the final question for one million dollars. You think you might know the answer, but you're not certain. The spotlights are beating down on you, the dramatic music is playing, your hands are shaking with adrenaline. In this situation, you are not the only one freaking out. The show's producers are backstage sweating bullets over what you're going to do. It's their job to set up the rules just right, so that there's drama, tension, and the promise of a massive payout... without actually giving out that massive prize all that often. If contestants won a million dollars all the time, the show would go broke.
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NPR Planet Money

When Women Stopped Coding

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: Jul 22nd, 2016

Mark Zuckerberg. Bill Gates. Steve Jobs. Most of the big names in technology are men. But a lot of computing pioneers, the ones who programmed the first digital computers, were women. And for decades, the number of women in computer science was growing. But in 1984, something changed. The number of women in computer science flattened, and then plunged.
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NPR Planet Money

Paying for the Crime

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: Jul 20th, 2016

On November 2nd, 1983, Darrell Cannon was awoken by a pounding on his door. It was the Chicago police. They told him he was a suspect in a murder case, and they wanted him to confess that he was involved. When he didn't confess, the cops put him a car, drove him to a rural site, and tortured him. Darrell gave a confession that would land him in prison for more than 20 years. And Darrell's torture: It was not an isolated incident. A group of Chicago police officers tortured confessions out of some 118 suspects over a span of 20 years. Years later, Chicago has offered the victims a reparations package - in the form of an apology, acknowledgement, counseling, a memorial. And some money. Today on the show: Darrell Cannon's story: a tale of violence, payback, and how to make things right.
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NPR Planet Money

Is A Stradivarius Just A Violin?

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: Jun 22nd, 2016

Violins and violas are like living, breathing things. Many are hand-crafted with wood from a tree. Each one is different. And you know the story-Antonio Stradivari was the master. Some say he was the greatest maker of stringed instruments to ever live. The Stradivarius is one of the most powerful and expensive brands in the world.
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NPR Planet Money

A Bank Without Interest

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: May 13th, 2016

Stephen Ranzini runs University Bank in Michigan, and he prides himself on serving the local community. But one day, a Muslim man walked into his office and said: If your bank is so great at community service, how come you're not serving my community? According to many scholars, Islamic law prohibits charging interest. Interest, of course, is pretty fundamental to banking. Stephen Ranzini decided to find out: Is it possible to do what a bank does without charging interest?
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NPR Planet Money

Put A Chip On It

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: Apr 13th, 2016

Credit cards and debit cards have tons of safety features. The extra security code on the back. Sometimes your picture. Your signature. That little hologram of a bird that nobody looks at. But, until recently, there's been a big safety feature missing from credit cards in the U.S.: The chip. It was rolled out to stop fraud in France decades ago. It worked. Every other major economy adopted it, except us. Until now. What took so long for it to get here? And now that it is here, why have so few stores adopted it? Today on the show, we bring you a brief history of what's in your pocket. It's a story of convenience vs. fraud-and it also includes a hippie inventor, the origin of the last great upgrade on your card, the magnetic stripe, and why it takes so long to "dip the chip."
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NPR Planet Money

The Experiment Experiment

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: Jan 15th, 2016

A few years back, a famous psychologist published a series of studies that found people could predict the future - not all the time, but more often than if they were guessing by chance alone. The paper left psychologists with two options. "Either we have to conclude that ESP is true," says Brian Nosek, a psychologist at the University of Virginia, "or we have to change our beliefs about the right ways to do science." Nosek is going with Option B - and not just for psychology experiments. He thinks there's something wrong with the way we're doing science. And he launched a massive project to try to fix it.
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NPR Planet Money

Auditing ISIS

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: Dec 4th, 2015

When ISIS takes control of a town, they also take control of its businesses and its economy. Today on the show: We examine a budget that got smuggled out of ISIS territory. We hear what it's like to live under an ISIS regime, including where people keep their money, how taxes get collected, and a $50 dollar candy bar.
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NPR Planet Money

The Great Inflation

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: Nov 20th, 2015

For much of the 70s inflation was bad. Prices rose at over 10 percent a year. Nothing could stop it. President Gerald Ford tried to cut inflation by asking Americans to spend less.
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NPR Planet Money

The Tale Of The Onion King

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: Oct 14th, 2015

Vince Kosuga was an onion farmer back in the 1930s. A pretty successful one. But farming wasn't enough for him. He also liked to make bets on wheat and other crops. Then he had an idea: Why not try his luck with the crop he knew best? Today on the show, how Kosuga made millions on the greatest onion trade the world had ever seen. We tell you about a scheme to corner the market that got so out of hand that it eventually caused the Chicago River to flow not just with water but with America's onions. Onion farming hasn't been the same since.
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NPR Planet Money

Pay Patients, Save Money

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: Oct 2nd, 2015

We shop around when we get a plane ticket or buy a couch. But we spend thousands of dollars on health care without comparing prices. Today on the show: What happens if we pay patients when they choose the cheaper option?
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NPR Planet Money

The Scariest Thing In Hollywood

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: Sep 11th, 2015

Rob Cohen revolutionized car chase movies with The Fast and the Furious franchise. After Hollywood turned on him, he got a knock at the door with a very lucrative offer. Today's show: the economics of the low budget production house that gave Rob Cohen a chance to prove himself again.
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NPR Planet Money

China, China, China

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: Sep 9th, 2015

What's going on in China? Is the second largest economy in the world about to come crashing down? On today's show: how to view the stock market, why even Chinese officials don't trust the country's official economic numbers, and the big shift behind it all.
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NPR Planet Money

The Benefits of Bankruptcy

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: Sep 5th, 2015

When Roddey Player's family business started going south after 60 years, he did everything he could to avoid the big failure: bankruptcy. But what's painful for Roddey might just be the secret weapon of the U.S. economy. On today's show: we go to Charlotte, North Carolina and follow one company's path through bankruptcy with creditors, debts, pride and shame, all jumbled up in this very American idea that has helped set our economy apart for more than 100 years.
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NPR Planet Money

The Last Euro In Greece

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: Jul 8th, 2015

Finance is a little like plumbing: it's not until the pipes fail that we really want to know what's happening. As the standoff between Greece and rest of Europe continues, Greece has had to shut down some major parts of its financial plumbing to stop major leakages. The effects are widespread and weird. Families are hoarding gasoline. Bean and rice imports are drying up. ATM lines resemble a slow-motion bank run. It's a lesson in the usually invisible things that keep an economy together.
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NPR Planet Money

I, Waiter

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: May 16th, 2015

Service jobs were a refuge for people when robots took factory jobs. Service jobs seemed safe-you needed the human touch. But robots are making headway there, too. They're checking us in at hotels, renting us cars and ringing us up at the supermarket. Today on the show, we go out for pizza at a place where machines have taken over parts of the server's job. Waiters are the latest group of workers meeting the machines that might replace them.
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NPR Planet Money

Gold Standard, R.I.P.

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: Jan 16th, 2015

Franklin Delano Roosevelt ignores the advice of America's big-name economists - and listens instead to a guy who helped take care of the trees on his estate. Montagu Norman, head of the Bank of England, gets a coded message at a critical moment - and completely misunderstands what it means. On today's Planet Money: The gold standard and the Great Depression.
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NPR Planet Money

The Gold Standard

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: Jan 14th, 2015

On today's show, we visit the charming curmudgeon and respected finance writer James Grant. He says we should go back on the gold standard. His basic argument: Under the gold standard, money holds its value. Central banks can't create (or destroy) money at a whim. He says that under the gold standard, "the value was fixed. We adjusted our affairs to this North Star of value."
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NPR Planet Money

The Town That Loves Death

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: Feb 28th, 2014

People in La Crosse, Wisconsin are used to talking about death. In fact, 96 percent of people who die in this small, Midwestern city have specific directions laid out for when they pass. That number is astounding. Nationwide, it's more like 50 percent. In today's episode, we'll take you to a place where dying has become acceptable dinner conversation for teenagers and senior citizens alike. A place that also happens to have the lowest healthcare spending of any region in the country.
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NPR Planet Money

Where The Planet Money T-Shirt Began

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: Nov 15th, 2013

After years of planning and months of production, the Planet Money T-shirts are here. They'll be in the mail soon. We promise. The shirts were touched by people in rich countries with advanced degrees and by people working for some of the lowest wages in the world. They traveled thousands of miles across three continents. Over the next several weeks, we'll tell the story of the shirts, and of the world behind them. Today, we begin at the beginning: where the cotton in our shirt came from.
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NPR Planet Money

How Four Drinking Buddies Saved Brazil

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: Oct 1st, 2010

Brazil is booming, but for most of the 20th century it was an economic mess. For a while, inflation was so high that grocery stores were raising their prices every day. Shoppers would run ahead of the guy changing the price tags, so they could pay the previous day's price. A series of leaders tried and failed to stop inflation. One guy instituted a price freeze. Another froze peoples' bank accounts. None of it worked. Then, the government brought in in four economists who had been talking to each other for years about how to fix Brazil's inflation problem. Their solution: Create a currency that doesn't exist. No coins, no bills.
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