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
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Our Editor's Take

Listeners can consider this show an all-access pass to an explained economy. The Planet Money podcast is all about taking the complexities of the economy and making them streamlined. Not only is it easy to understand, but it's fun to listen to, too.

From NPR comes a twice-weekly podcast that takes the economy and makes it an enjoyable discussion. Listeners can expect to hear a little bit of everything-as long as the economy is at the center of it. They'll hear top-notch breakdowns of global economic news. They'll learn the ins and outs of various economic styles. They'll even learn a lot about the richness of economic history.

But that's not all. Listeners will get a front-row seat to witty banter and insightful commentary. They will also hear open dialogue about the economy from some of the top economy experts out there. From recessions and inflation to student loans and ballpark vendors, this podcast delivers.

Launched in 2008, Planet Money has been around the economic block a time or two. This means there are lots of archived episodes and insights to uncover. New episodes come out Wednesdays and Fridays, offering new conversations about the economy. Each episode covers a fresh topic. Listeners can start with any episode. Listen to NPR's Planet Money now on Amazon Music.

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Episodes

What's with all the tiny soda cans? And other grocery store mysteries, solved.
1w ago
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 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 or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
Bringing a tariff to a graphite fight
Jun 12 2024
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 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 or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
How the FBI's fake cell phone company put criminals into real jail cells
May 31 2024
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, who wrote a new book about the FBI's cell phone business, called Dark Wire. 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 or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
Inside video game economics (Two Indicators)
May 8 2024
Inside video game economics (Two Indicators)
Why do video game workers offer labor at a discount? How can you design a video game for blind and sighted players? Does that design have lessons for other industries?These and other questions about the business of video games answered in todays episode. The Indicator just wrapped a weeklong series decoding the economics of the video game industry, we're excerpting some highlights. First, we meet some of the workers who are struggling with the heavy demands placed on them in their booming industry, and how they are fighting back. Then, we check in on how game developers are pulling in new audiences by creatively designing for people who couldn't always play. How has accessibility become an increasingly important priority for game developers? And, how can more players join in the fun?You can hear the rest of our weeklong series on the gaming industry at this link, or wherever you get your podcasts. This episode was hosted by Wailin Wong, Darian Woods, and Adrian Ma. Corey Bridges produced this episode with help from James Sneed. It was edited by Kate Concannon, fact-checked by Sierra Juarez, and engineered by Robert Rodriguez with help from 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 or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
The case of the stolen masks
Apr 26 2024
The case of the stolen masks
About thirty years ago, Yagya Kumar Pradhan woke up to the news that the temple he and his clan used had been broken into. The temple had been ransacked. And someone had stolen two holy Bhairav masks. Yagya says they had been in his family for more than five hundred years – since the 16th century. Yagya is a kind of Hindu priest for his clan. And he says, these Bhairav masks were very holy. People made offerings to them during Dashaun, a festival held in the fall. Yagya thought the masks were gone for good. He didn't realize... they were hiding in plain sight. On today's show: The story of a group of amateur art detectives who use modern tools, subterfuge, and the power of the law to return stolen artifacts to their rightful owners. And we dive into the world of high-end auctions and art museums to ask: Can the art world survive the legacy of cultural theft? Clarification: This episode has been updated to clarify that the reason the Rubin Museum is shuttering its building is not directly linked to repatriation. This episode was hosted by Erika Beras and Nick Fountain. It was produced by James Sneed, edited by Jess Jiang, fact-checked by Sierra Juarez, and engineered by Cena Loffredo. Alex Goldmark is Planet Money's executive producer. Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
How unions are stopped before they start (Update)
Apr 24 2024
How unions are stopped before they start (Update)
(Note: This episode originally ran in 2023.)Union membership in the U.S. has been declining for decades. But, in 2022, support for unions among Americans was the highest it's been in decades. This dissonance is due, in part, to the difficulties of one important phase in the life cycle of a union: setting up a union in the first place. One place where that has been particularly clear is at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.Back in 2008, Volkswagen announced that they would be setting up production in the United States after a 20-year absence. They planned to build a new auto manufacturing plant in Chattanooga. Volkswagen has plants all over the world, all of which have some kind of worker representation, and the company said that it wanted that for Chattanooga too. So, the United Auto Workers, the union that traditionally represents auto workers, thought they would be able to successfully unionize this plant. They were wrong.In this episode, we tell the story of the UAW's 10-year fight to unionize the Chattanooga plant. And, what other unions can learn from how badly that fight went for labor. This episode was hosted by Amanda Aronczyk and Nick Fountain. It was produced by Willa Rubin. It was engineered by Josephine Nyounai, fact-checked by Sierra Juarez, and edited by Keith Romer. Alex Goldmark is our executive producer.Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy