Om 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.
In the first half of March, three banks - Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank, and Silvergate - all had relatively classic bank runs and collapsed. Which sparked some major banking stress. As a result, the Federal Reserve got a lot of requests to use one of its oldest and most important tools for soothing such troubles: the discount window. The discount window is like a safety net for banks. And recently, a lot of banks have needed it. So, what is the discount window, where did it come from, and how does it work? And, amidst all the recent banking turmoil, has it been working the way it should? In this episode, we crack open the discount window. This episode was produced by Emma Peaslee with help from Willa Rubin. It was engineered by Katherine Silva. It was fact-checked by Sierra Juarez and edited by Sally Helm. Jess Jiang is our acting executive producer. Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.
Earlier this month, we saw the largest bank collapse since the 2008 financial crisis. For many of us, seeing Silicon Valley Bank's meltdown brought us right back to that time 15 years ago, at the beginning of what would become the Great Recession. In early 2009, one or two banks were failing every week. That's when Planet Money reporter Chana Joffe-Walt went inside one of those banks: the Bank of Clark County, in Washington State. Her reporting on the inner workings of a bank collapse and government takeover helps explain exactly what happens when a bank goes under, minute-by-minute. This story originally aired in March 2009 on This American Life, from WBEZ Chicago. We're airing it for the first time in full on our podcast. This version of the story was produced by Dylan Sloan and edited by Dave Blanchard. It was fact-checked by Sierra Juarez and engineered by Katherine Silva. Jess Jiang is Planet Money's acting executive producer. Music: "Butter" "Bassline Motion" and "Fantasmi." Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.
Richard J. Lonsinger is a member of the Ponca tribe of Oklahoma, who was adopted at a young age into a white family of three. He eventually reconnected with his birth family, but when his birth mother passed away in 2010, he wasn't included in the distribution of her estate. Feeling both hurt and excluded, he asked a judge to re-open her estate, to give him a part of one particular asset: an Osage headright. An Osage headright is a share of profits from resources like oil, gas, and coal that have been extracted from the Osage Nation's land. These payments can be sizeable - thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars a year. Historically, they were even larger – in the 1920s the Osage were some of the wealthiest people in the world. But that wealth also made them a target and subject to paternalistic and predatory laws. Over the previous century, hundreds of millions of dollars in oil money have been taken from the Osage people. On today's show: the story of how Richard Lonsinger gradually came to learn this history, and how he made his peace with his part of a complicated inheritance. This episode was produced by Willa Rubin with help from Alyssa Jeong Perry and Emma Peaslee. It was engineered by Brian Jarboe and fact-checked by Sierra Juarez. It was edited by Keith Romer, with help from Shannon Shaw Duty from Osage News. Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.
Sometimes you hear these stories about an airplane that suddenly nosedives. Everyone onboard thinks this is it, and then the plane levels out and everything is fine. For about 72 hours, people and companies that had deposited millions of dollars at the Silicon Valley Bank — many of whom were in the tech industry — thought they had lost absolutely everything to a bank collapse. Two weeks later, the situation at Silicon Valley Bank has leveled off. The FDIC seized the bank and eventually made all of its depositors whole. But to understand what that financial panic felt like, we retrace the Silicon Valley Bank run and eventual collapse. We hear from four people who were part of the bank run — when they realized early rumblings, what it felt like in the full stampede, what hard decisions they faced, and what the aftermath felt like. And along the way, we uncover the lessons you can only learn when you think the entire world is ending. This episode was reported by Kenny Malone, produced by Alyssa Jeong Perry with help from Dave Blanchard, engineered by Brian Jarboe, fact-checked by Sierra Juarez, and edited by Jess Jiang. Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.
Since we started Planet Money Records and released the 47-year-old song "Inflation," the song has taken off. It recently hit 1 million streams on Spotify. And we now have a full line of merch — including a limited edition vinyl record; a colorful, neon hoodie; and 70s-inspired stickers — n.pr/shopplanetmoney. After starting a label and negotiating our first record deal, we're taking the Inflation song out into the world to figure out the hidden economics of the music business. Things get complicated when we try to turn the song into a viral hit. Just sounding good isn't enough and turning a profit in the music business means being creative, patient and knowing the right people. This is part three of the Planet Money Records series. Here's part one and part two. Listen to "Inflation" on Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube Music, Tidal, Amazon Music & Pandora. Listen to our remix, "Inflation [136bpm]," on Spotify, YouTube Music & Amazon Music. "Inflation" is on TikTok. (And — if you're inspired — add your own!) This episode was reported by Erika Beras and Sarah Gonzalez, produced by Emma Peaslee and James Sneed, edited by Jess Jiang and Sally Helm, engineered by Brian Jarboe, and fact-checked by Sierra Juarez. Music: "Inflation," "Superfly Fever," "Nola Strut" and "Inflation [136bpm]." Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.
Silicon Valley Bank was the 16th largest bank in America, the bank of choice for tech startups and big-name venture capitalists. Then, in the span of just a few days, it collapsed. Whispers that SVB might be in trouble spread like wildfire through group texts and Twitter posts. Depositors raced to empty their accounts, withdrawing $42 billion in a single day. Last Friday, after regulators declared that SVB had failed, the FDIC seized the bank. As the dust settles on the biggest bank failure — and bank rescue — in recent memory, we're still figuring out what happened. But poor investment choices, weak regulation, and customer panic all played their parts. We'll look into the bank's collapse to understand what it can teach us about the business of banking itself. This episode was produced by Willa Rubin, with help from Dave Blanchard. It was edited by Keith Romer, and engineered by Brian Jarboe. Fact-checking by Sierra Juarez. Our acting executive producer is Jess Jiang. Music: "I Don't Do Gossip," "Groovy Little Penguins" and "Vision." Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.
Over the past year, dozens of shows have been disappearing from streaming platforms like HBO Max and Showtime. Shows like Minx, Made for Love, FBoy Island, and even big budget hits like Westworld have been removed entirely. So why did these platforms, after investing millions of dollars in creating original content, decide not just to cancel those shows, but to make them unavailable altogether? We dive into the economics of the television industry looking for answers to a streaming mystery that has affected both fans and creatives. And we find out what happens when the stream runs dry. This episode was produced by Willa Rubin with help from Emma Peaslee. It was edited by Keith Romer. Engineering by Josh Newell. Sierra Juarez checked the facts. Jess Jiang is our acting executive producer. We want to hear your thoughts on the show! We have a short, anonymous survey we'd love for you to fill out: n.pr/pmsurvey Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.
As a kid, Ryanne Jones' friend accidentally hit her in the mouth with a hammer, knocking out her two front teeth. Her parents never had enough money for the dental care needed to fix them, so Ryanne lived much of her adult life with a chipped and crooked smile. Ryanne spent a while as a single mom working low-wage jobs, but she had higher aspirations: she interviewed dozens of times a year for higher-paying roles that she was more than qualified for. But she never landed any of them. And to her, it really seemed like the only thing standing between her and a better job was her rotting, brown front teeth. Our physical appearances can communicate a lot about our financial status. There are some things, such as clothing, that we have more control over. But there are other things that we don't — and they can have serious long-term economic consequences. This episode was originally run as part of Marketplace's This is Uncomfortable podcast. Reported by: Reema Khrais Edited by: Micaela Blei. Produced by: Zoë Saunders, Peter Balonon-Rosen, Megan Detrie, Hayley Hershman and Daniel Martinez. The Planet Money version was produced by Alyssa Jeong Perry. Mastered by: Charlton Thorp Music: Wonderly Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.
The 90s sit-com Seinfeld is often called "a show about nothing." Lauded for its observational humor, this quick-witted show focussed on four hapless New Yorkers navigating work, relationships...yada yada yada. Jerry, George, Elaine & Kramer set themselves apart from the characters who populated shows like Friends or Cheers, by being the exact opposite of the characters audiences would normally root for. These four New Yorkers were overly analytical, calculating, and above all, selfish. In other words, they had all the makings of a fascinating case study in economics. Economics professors Linda Ghent and Alan Grant went so far as to write an entire book on the subject, Seinfeld & Economics. The book points readers to economic principles that appear throughout the show, ideas like economic utility, game theory, and the best way to allocate resources in the face of scarcity. On today's show, we make the case that Seinfeld is, at its heart, not a show about nothing, but a show about economics. And that understanding Seinfeld can change the way you understand economics itself. This episode was produced by Alyssa Jeong Perry with help from Emma Peaslee. It was edited by Keith Romer. It was mastered by Robert Rodriguez and fact-checked by Sierra Juarez. Jess Jiang is our acting executive producer. Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.
If you are a congressperson or a senator and you have an idea for a new piece of legislation, at some point someone will have to tell you how much it costs. But, how do you put a price on something that doesn't exist yet? Since 1974, that has been the job of the Congressional Budget Office, or the CBO. The agency plays a critical role in the legislative process: bills can live and die by the cost estimates the CBO produces. The economists and budget experts at the CBO, though, are far more than just a bunch of number crunchers. Sometimes, when the job is really at its most fun, they are basically tasked with predicting the future. The CBO has to estimate the cost of unreleased products and imagine markets that don't yet exist — and someone always hates the number they come up with. On today's episode, we go inside the CBO to tell the twisting tale behind the pricing of a single piece of massive legislation — when the U.S. decided to finally cover prescription drug insurance for seniors. At the time, some of the drugs the CBO was trying to price didn't even exist yet. But the CBO still had to tell Congress how much the bill would cost — even though the agency knew better than anyone that its math would almost definitely be wrong. We want to hear your thoughts on the show! We have a short, anonymous survey we'd love for you to fill out: n.pr/pmsurvey Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.
More than 20 years ago, something unusual happened in the small town of Dixfield, Maine. A lady named Barbara Thorpe had left almost all of her money—$200,000—to benefit the cats of her hometown. When Barbara died in 2002, those cats suddenly got very, very rich. And that is when all the trouble began. Barbara's gift set off a sprawling legal battle that drew in a crew of crusading cat ladies, and eventually, the town of Dixfield itself. It made national news. But after all these years, no one seemed to know where that money had ended up. Did the Dixfield cat fortune just...vanish? In this episode, host Jeff Guo travels to Maine to track down the money. To figure out how Barbara's plans went awry. And to understand something about this strange form of economic immortality called a charitable trust. This episode was produced by Willa Rubin with help from Dave Blanchard. It was engineered by Josh Newell. Sally Helm edited the show and Sierra Juarez checked the facts. Jess Jiang is Planet Money's acting Executive Producer. Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.
This episode originally ran in 2020. In 2005, Franklin Leonard was a junior executive at Leonardo DiCaprio's production company. A big part of his job was to find great scripts. The only thing — most of the 50,000-some scripts registered with the Writers Guild of America every year aren't that great. Franklin was drowning in bad scripts ... So to help find the handful that will become the movies that change our lives, he needed a better way forward. Today on the show — how a math-loving movie nerd used a spreadsheet and an anonymous Hotmail address to solve one of Hollywood's most fundamental problems: picking winners from a sea of garbage. And, along the way, he may just have reinvented Hollywood's power structure. This episode was produced by James Sneed and Darian Woods, and edited by Bryant Urstadt, Karen Duffin and Robert Smith. Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.
Every year, the U.S. government spends more money than it takes in. In order to fund all that spending, the country takes on debt. Congress has the power to limit how much debt the U.S. takes on. Right now, the debt limit is $31.4 trillion dollars. Once we reach that limit, Congress has a few options so that the government keeps paying its bills: Raise the debt limit, suspend it, or eliminate it entirely. That debate and negotiations are back this season. One thing that is in short supply, but very important for these negotiations, is good information. Shai Akabas, of the Bipartisan Policy Center, knows this well. Right now, he and his team are working on figuring out when exactly the U.S. government could run out of money to pay its obligations — what they've dubbed: the "X Date." Shai is determined to help prevent the U.S. government from blowing past the X Date without a solution. But this year's debt-ceiling negotiations are not going very well. Which is daunting, because if lawmakers don't figure something out, the ramifications for the global economy could be huge. So, how did Shai become the go-to expert at the go-to think tank for debt ceiling information? It started in 2011, back when he and current Chair of the Federal Reserve Jay Powell, armed with a powerpoint and the pressure of a deadline, helped stave off economic disaster. Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.
A lot of the time, economic policy can seem pretty impersonal — cold, hard, data-driven. But at the heart of the Federal Reserve are people: fallible, complicated people who are just doing their best to steer the economy in the right direction. Often, we remember them just for their economic decisions. But today, we're airing two episodes from our daily economics show The Indicator that profile the people inside the Fed. First, we're heading back to the 1970s to revisit Arthur Burns' oft-criticized stint as Fed chair. Next, we have a conversation with Mary Daly, the current president of the San Francisco Fed, about her remarkable path from high school dropout to one of the most important economic voices in the nation. These two Indicator episodes were originally produced by Viet Le and Brittany Cronin. They were fact-checked by Sierra Juarez and Dylan Sloan and edited by Kate Concannon. The Planet Money version was produced by Dylan Sloan, engineered by Josh Newell and edited by Dave Blanchard. Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.
Every Valentine's Day, we at Planet Money consider the things that we love, the things that we can't stop talking about, the things that get our hearts racing...in a good way. And we give them valentines! This year our valentines go out to: ImportYeti, a website that lets you see exactly where U.S. companies are importing goods from. Economic data revisions, those tweaks to the data that make things like the jobs numbers even more accurate. The office (the place, not the show). Audio description, narration designed to make TV and movies more accessible to people who are blind or low-vision, but which offers benefits to the sighted as well. This show was produced by Emma Peaslee. It was edited by Keith Romer, and engineered by Robert Rodriguez. Jess Jiang is our acting Executive Producer. Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.
Take a look in any supermarket ice cream freezer section and you may see a mystery. There are big containers of the typical ice cream brands: Breyers, Turkey Hill, and Edy's. And there are specialty brands that make gelato, low-fat and vegan ice creams. And then there are the fancy pints: which is mostly Ben & Jerry's and Häagen-Dazs. Häagen-Dazs has flavors like vanilla, chocolate, pistachio—the sort of flavors that run smooth. And then Ben & Jerry's specializes in chunky flavors: Cherry Garcia, The Tonight Dough, Chunky Monkey, etc. The two hardly ever cross into the other's turf. Why? It's possible they are experiencing something common to natural competition—they are specializing in what works best for them. But, as Christopher Sullivan of the University of Wisconsin-Madison suspects, the two companies may be engaging in what is known as "tacit collusion," where two parties silently agree to... stick to their own territory. We try to get to the creamy core of what makes up a conspiracy, and how the consumer eventually loses out in this cold, cold war. Today's episode was produced by Willa Rubin and Alyssa Jeong Perry. It was engineered by Josh Newell and fact-checked by Sierra Juarez. It was edited by Jess Jiang. Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.
Anyone who has tried shopping for day care knows that it is tough out there. For one, it is hard even to get your hands on information about costs, either online or over the phone – day cares will often only share their prices after you have taken a tour of their facilities. Even once you find a place you like, many day cares have waitlists stretching 6 months, 9 months, a year. Waitlists are a classic economic sign that something isn't right, that prices are too low. But ask any parent and they will tell you that prices for day cares are actually too high. According to a recent report from the U.S. Treasury, more than 60% of families can't afford the full cost of high quality day care. Meanwhile, day care owners can barely afford to stay open. No one is happy. On today's show, we get into the very weird, very broken market for day care. We will try to understand how this market can simultaneously strain parents' budgets and underpay its workers. And we will look at a few possible solutions. This show was produced by Sam Yellowhorse Kesler. Emma Peaslee helped book the show. It was mastered by Gilly Moon. Keith Romer edited this episode. Jess Jiang is our acting Executive Producer. Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.
It's Groundhog Day, and once again, the eyes of the nation have turned to a small town in Western Pennsylvania. Every February 2nd, the only story anyone can talk about is whether or not Punxsutawney Phil will see his own shadow. If he does: six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't: spring is on its way. This year, in a cruel twist of fate reminiscent of the 1993 movie Groundhog Day, two Planet Money hosts have found themselves facing a curse. They'll be trapped in this never-ending groundhog news cycle until they can find a new February 2nd story to tell...something that has nothing to do with one furry prognosticator... something that changed the economy forever. So rise and shine campers, and don't forget your booties as we journey through a series of Groundhog Days past to try to find a historical scoop. This show was produced by Dave Blanchard and edited by Sally Helm. It was engineered by Robert Rodriguez and Gilly Moon and fact-checked by Sierra Juarez. Planet Money's acting executive producer is Jess Jiang. Subscribe to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney
A great economics paper does two things. It takes on a big question, and it finds a smart way to answer that question. But some papers go even further. The very best papers have the power to change lives.That was the case for three economists we spoke to: Nancy Qian, Belinda Archibong, and Kyle Greenberg. They all stumbled on important economics papers at crucial moments in their careers, and those papers gave them a new way to see the world. On today's show - how economics papers on the Pentecostal church in Ghana, the Vietnam war draft, and the price of butter in Sweden shaped the courses of three lives. This episode was produced by Sam Yellowhorse Kesler. It was edited by Keith Romer. Sierra Juarez checked the facts, and it was mastered by Natasha Branch with help from Gilly Moon. Jess Jiang is our acting executive producer. Subscribe to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney
Monopoly is one of the best-selling board games in history. The game's staying power may in part be because of strong American lore — the idea that anyone, with just a little bit of cash, can rise from rags to riches. Mary Pilon, author of The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World's Favorite Board Game. But there's another origin story – a very different one that promotes a very different image of capitalism. (And with two sets of starkly different rules.) That story shows how a critique of capitalism grew from a seed of an idea in a rebellious young woman's mind into a game legendary for its celebration of wealth at all costs. This episode was made in collaboration with NPR's Throughline. For more about the origin story of Monopoly, listen to their original episode Do Not Pass Go. This episode was produced by Emma Peaslee, mastered by Natasha Branch, and edited by Jess Jiang. The Throughline episode was produced by Rund Abdelfatah, Ramtin Arablouei, Lawrence Wu, Laine Kaplan-Levenson, Julie Caine, Victor Yvellez, Anya Steinberg, Yolanda Sangweni, Casey Miner, Cristina Kim, Devin Katayama, and Amiri Tulloch. It was fact-checked by Kevin Volkl and mixed by Josh Newell. Subscribe to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney
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