#619: The Free Throw Experiment04/24/15
Casinos are worried that young people aren't interested in playing slots or other games of luck. They're turning to games that require skill, like basketball.
#399: Can You Patent A Steak?
We visit the workshop of the meat inventor who came up with Steak-Umm and KFC's popcorn chicken. And we try to figure out what meat inventors tell us about patents and innovation. (Today's show originally ran in August 2012.)
#618: The Square Deal
In the early 1900s, the president of the largest shoe company in the world tried to create a Utopia for his workers. He called his big experiment in welfare capitalism: The Square Deal.
#617: How Do You Feel?
Today on the show: how a bunch of rational economists try to deal with our feelings. And the story of a man who came up with five simple questions that he hoped would predict the future.
#616: How Solar Got Cheap
Just a few years ago, solar power was an expensive luxury for the environmentally conscious. Now it's a good deal for lots of people. How did solar power get so cheap, so fast?
#361: The Matzo Economy
How do you make money manufacturing a dry, bland cracker that a tiny percentage of the population eats just one week a year?
#615: A 12-Year-Old Girl Takes On The Video Game Industry
Maddie Messer is 12, and she loves a good video game. One of her favorites is called Temple Run. In fact, it's one of the most successful games out there. Temple Run is free to play—if you play as the default character, Guy Dangerous. But playing as a...
#614: Two Radio Guys Walk In To A Bar
We got on stage at a comedy club to read a bunch of weird economics jokes. We bombed. Today on the show, we do what you're never supposed to do: explain the joke.
One day it's profitable to recycle a bottle. The next day, some number in the global economy changes and that bottle suddenly becomes trash. The line between trash and recycling is moving a lot these days. For a bunch of reasons, it's a tough time to...
#443: Don't Believe The Hype
Turn on the news on any given day, and you're likely to hear about the Dow Jones industrial average. It's one of the most frequently cited measures of U.S. economic health. But the Dow is a seriously flawed stock index, and it's certainly not the best...
#612: The Indicator Strikes Back
Look at the numbers today, and things seem promising for the economy. The unemployment rate is low, and home prices are up. But when you look under the hood, you see that in a lot of ways the financial crisis is still with us. Today on the show: the...
Free community college. When the President proposed making the first two years free for everyone, it seemed like a magic bullet for expanding opportunity. But only one in three students graduate—and money is not the problem. Today on the show: why is...
#610: The Prisoner's Solution
Frederick Hutson is an entrepreneur whose biggest early venture landed him in prison for nearly five years—distributing marijuana through UPS and FedEx. While in prison, he realized that a lot of the problems of everyday prison life could use a...
#609: The Curse Of The Black Lotus
In a classic bubble—housing for example, or tech stocks or Beanie Babies—the fun ends in a crash. Things go belly up, and people can lose a lot of money. The creators of the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering faced such a bubble. The cooler...
#608: Shorters Gonna Short
Planet Money shorted the entire stock market a few weeks ago. We bet that instead of going up, the stock market would go down. So far, America is winning. And we are losing. It's been lonely being a short seller, but we know we are not alone. Today on...
#517: The Fastest Growing, Least Popular Airline In America
Note: Today's show is a rerun. It originally ran in February 2014. It's cheap to fly on Spirit Airlines, but you have to pay extra for perks. And by perks, we mean a bottle of water or space in the overhead bin. It's totally rational: pay for what you...
#607: Captive Market
Someone is kidnapped every day in Nigeria. It's big business, with potentially big rewards in ransom money. And like any business, kidnapping has a particular set of principles and best practices. Today on the show: how a consultant analyzed the...
Spreadsheets used to be actual sheets of paper. Sometimes, a bunch of sheets of paper taped together. Then, in the late '70s, a bored student invented the electronic spreadsheet. It transformed industries. But its effects ran deeper than that. As one...
#605: 'What Goes Up'
Today on the show, the story of Roger Babson, a guy who made a very, very bold prediction, and got it right. He correctly forecast, really, one of the biggest things you could imagine predicting. It’s the story of how he did that, and what happened to...
#604: Hey Big Spender
Today on the show, we bring you three short stories. One about a guy at the center of a high stakes international negotiation.Another about poker players trying not to win money, but give it away. And finally, that thing everyone loves to hate, but...
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