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Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly

American Public Media

Hosted by Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood, Make Me Smart With Kai & Molly is now a daily news podcast that breaks down the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and the most complex topics of the week. Together, we make sense of today. Because none of us is as smart as all of us.

Hosted by Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood, Make Me Smart With Kai & Molly is now a daily news podcast that breaks down the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and the most complex topics of the week. Together, we make sense of today. Because none of us is as smart as all of us.


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Hosted by Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood, Make Me Smart With Kai & Molly is now a daily news podcast that breaks down the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and the most complex topics of the week. Together, we make sense of today. Because none of us is as smart as all of us.




We already know what happens in 2024

After watching some of the news out of CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, Kai Ryssdal thinks he has a pretty good idea of where the Republican Party and the U.S. government are headed in the next few years. Today, we’ll kick the tires on that prediction and talk a bit more about the SEC and Elon Musk. The “S” stands for “stonks.” Plus, like we do every Friday, a round of “Half Full/Half Empty.” Here’s everything we talked about today: “3 key takeaways from Friday’s...


Honest pay for honest work … or something

As the Senate pulls the minimum wage hike out of the COVID-19 relief bill (a ruling that came down just after we taped), let’s talk about two very different pay stories. First, Costco says it will pay employees at least $16 an hour— how long before the market laps Congress? Then, former CEO Adam Neumann — remember him? — is still getting paid off of the mess at WeWork. It’s bananapants, folks. Plus: Dunkin’ is getting avocado toast, because apparently it’s 2015, and TikTok had deepfake Tom...


What those huge Texas power bills and Bitcoin mining have in common

Texans are being hit with massive electric bills after last week’s winter storm knocked out much of the state’s grid, which is primarily powered by natural gas. You might not know that many of the data centers mining for cryptocurrency in this country also run on natural gas. On today’s Whadda Ya Wanna Know Wednesday, we’re digging into Texas’ unregulated energy market and Bitcoin’s carbon footprint. Plus your questions about stock trading and stonktails. Here’s everything we talked about...


What can Texas teach us about climate adaptation?

Millions of Texans spent last week without power, boiling water, dealing with burst pipes and collapsed roofs as a “once-in-a-lifetime” winter storm battered the state and infrastructure failed. Climate change is an existential crisis, and it’s already at our doorstep. And for all the money that’s gone toward trying to slow down or reverse that change, relatively little has gone toward adapting to it. On today’s show, we’ll hear from our reporter Andy Uhler and Jay Koh, who runs a private...


500K dead from COVID is a worst-case scenario

It’s not the absolute worst worst-case, but 500,000 dead from COVID-19 is more than what some experts painted as the worst-case scenario back when the pandemic started, and about a third of the way to the death toll if the country had taken no action at all. Today, we’ll do the numbers. Plus: The bond market gains and NASA’s new Martian probe. Here’s everything we talked about today: “US surpasses 500,000 COVID deaths” from USA Today Some looks at COVID modeling from The New York...


We try your “GameStonk”-inspired cocktails

During the GameStop brouhaha, we asked you to send us your stonks-inspired cocktail recipes, and you delivered. In true Economics on Tap style, guest host Kimberly Adams taste tested a few. Plus, a tidbit about the minimum wage tucked into the big economic relief bill, and voters may have gone to the polls in records number in 2020, but now lots of states are considering restricting voting access. We end the show with our favorite game, “Half Full/Half Empty.” Here are links to everything...


What’s going on in Texas is a humanitarian crisis

Like a lot of people, we’ve spent some time today watching this story about Sen. Ted Cruz’s scuttled trip to Cancún, Mexico, but don’t take your eye off the ball. Today, we’ll talk about the crisis brought on by cold weather and infrastructure failures in Texas. Plus, what it takes for a woman to be promoted to general and the Mars rover Perseverance. Here’s everything we talked about today: “Sen. Ted Cruz faces storm of controversy for flying to Cancun as Texas grapples with power...


Congress considers putting pork back in its diet

Guest host Kimberly Adams mentioned the return of earmarks yesterday, and a listener wants to know more about the “currency of compromise.” To help answer that one, we called up Laura Blessing, a senior fellow at the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University. Plus, Kimberly and Kai Ryssdal answer more of your questions about the 10-year Treasury note, women in postsecondary education and, uh, campaign promises. Here’s everything we talked about today: “Can Pork Bring Back...


Why are so many migrant families still separated?

The Biden administration is working to repair norms and rollback policies covering so much from the Trump era. So where does immigration sit in the priority list? The White House already rescinded the “zero-tolerance” policy that separated migrant families, but unwinding rules and reuniting those families are very different things. Today, we’ll talk with The Atlantic’s Caitlin Dickerson about the reunification effort and the lasting impact on families. Here are links to everything we talked...


Yes, Louis DeJoy is still postmaster general

It’s been a while since we’ve checked in on the U.S. Postal Service. We’re about three weeks into the Biden administration, so why is a political lightening rod like Louis DeJoy still running the post office? We’ll explain. Plus: more Elon Musk stonks and a new wrinkle in Kai Ryssdal’s vendetta against his internet provider. And, of course, we’ll finish off with a round of our favorite game, “Half Full/Half Empty.” Here’s everything we talked about today: “How the Stock Market Works Now:...


One thing is still bugging us about GameStop

GameStop closed at $51.10 a share today. We’re far away from the heady days of, uh, two weeks ago. But something has still been nagging at us: Why didn’t the beleaguered video game retailer jump on the opportunity to sell some shares and pay down its debt? Today we finally got an answer, and we’ll take some time to explain. Plus: a little talk about the impeachment trial so far, vaccines and Bitcoin. Here’s everything we talked about today: Microsoft: U.S. should consider Aussie law...


Why is Tesla buying so much bitcoin?

Well, Elon Musk has been tweeting again. Specifically, he’s been tweeting about how much he loves bitcoin, right after his automaker Tesla bought up $1.5 billion worth of it. Is this a distraction from the company’s China troubles? A scheme running afoul of the SEC? An epic bacon win for all the lulz, good sir? Maybe all three? We try and get into Musk’s head on today’s show. Wish us luck. Plus, your questions about minimum wage, interest rates and mRNA. Here’s everything we talked about...


Let’s do the numbers on a $15 minimum wage

Why is it so hard to raise the minimum wage? Even the leading expert on the topic isn’t quite sure. It’s one of the few issues that’s broadly popular with Americans, and even some corporate hard-liners are softening. Democrats have been trying to tie a new federal minimum wage to the COVID relief bill, and the Congressional Budget Office has come out with a new analysis of its impact. Today, we’ll talk with that expert, University of Massachusetts at Amherst economist Arindrajit Dube, about...


Our infrastructure is only as good as our cyber infrastructure

Oh, you say you need one more thing to worry about? Look to Oldsmar, Florida, where hackers seem to have broken into a water treatment plant, temporarily raising the amount of lye in the water. Today, we’ll talk about the cyber arms race and the threats, large and small, that are facing this country. Plus: women’s workforce participation has been set back decades, and Kai Ryssdal looks into minimum wage’s impact on the deficit. Here’s everything we talked about today: “Someone tried to...


Stop talking about how great moms are and help them instead

We’ve been covering COVID’s impact on women in the workforce for a while, and this New York Times profile of three moms “on the brink” hit close to home. Today, we take a step back and look at how these women and their struggles are being framed and reckoned with. Plus: More SPAC news, Valentine’s Day plans and the coverage of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Here’s everything we talked about today: Marjorie Taylor Greene harangues Democrats, the media, some GOP after getting booted off...


The 2020 election is over, but the lawsuits are just starting

Voting tech company Smartmatic is suing several of Donald Trump’s allies, Fox News personalities and the network itself for an eye-watering $2.7 billion in damages over false claims of fraud in the 2020 election. Another company, Dominion, has been rattling its saber as well. Today we’ll talk about where those suits might go and why even the right-wing Newsmax is backing off its #StopTheSteal claims. Plus: Snow cocktails! Here’s everything we talked about today: Democrats Want To Focus On...


What exactly is going on with Jeff Bezos and Amazon?

Amazon, the so-called “everything store,” is increasingly becoming the “everywhere store.” Why would the largest online retailer pivot so hard into brick and mortar? And, oh yeah, what’s up with Jeff Bezos stepping down as CEO? Also on tap for this Whadda Ya Wanna Know Wednesday: Are we headed for a COVID baby bust? What about a recession? And before our Friday happy hour episode: What’s a hazy IPA? Here’s everything we talked about today: Amazon’s delivery speed is facing increasing...


SPACs are turning Wall Street into Silicon Valley

There’s another hot, disruptive force in finance beyond r/WallStreetBets: special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs. A SPAC is basically big pools of money that help take companies public quickly. They attracted big names in 2020, and now individual investors want in. Here to make us smart on the promise and peril of SPACs is Wall Street Journal markets reporter Amrith Ramkumar.


Let’s make like pandas and have a snow day

We can’t lie y’all, we’re fighting off The Dark Place today. On the docket: extremism in Facebook groups, how quickly we’re aging and all the poor folks losing money in “stonks.” Maybe you can listen while you watch these pandas in the snow? Here are links for everything we talked about: “Facebook Knew Calls for Violence Plagued ‘Groups,’ Now Plans Overhaul” from The Wall Street Journal “How Facebook Groups Are Being Exploited To Spread Misinformation, Plan Harassment, And Radicalize...


The fallout from GameStop and Wall Street’s wild week

We just can’t look away from these stonks! The whole affair around GameStop, r/WallStreetBets, Robinhood and the rest is like a car crash — a 20-car pileup of money, power, technology, regulation and more. It’ll be with us for a bit longer here. Today we start assessing the fallout. Plus: We play “Half Full/Half Empty” with outdoor dining, buying American and more. Here’s everything we talked about today: “After GameStop Backlash, Citron Research Will Stop Publishing Short-Seller...