Money makes the world go around, faster and faster every day. On NPR's Planet Money, you'll meet high rollers, brainy economists and regular folks — all trying to make sense of our rapidly changing global economy.More from Planet Money »
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 be a recycler.
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 way to measure what's going on in the overall economy. On today's show, we rain on the Dow's parade and explain why a lot of very smart people say we should ignore the Dow. Note: Today's show is a rerun. It originally ran in March 2013.
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 return of the Planet Money indicator. We've got three numbers that remind us where we've been and tell us where the economy is going.
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 it so hard to get through community college? For more: http://n.pr/1F5Bjsi
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 business solution. And then, he got out. Today on the show, a businessman goes to prison, and decides he is going to disrupt the biggest captive market in America.
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 they made their cards, the more the resale value increased—and threatened to send Magic cards the way of the Beanie Baby. Today on the show: how the folks who made Magic cards came up with a plan. A plan to once and for all conquer the science of bubbles, and make a collectible toy that could live forever. For more: http://n.pr/1B6bSiR
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 the show, we look at the ten most shorted stocks out there right now, to see what this list tells us about human nature and the economy. Plus, we end our shorting experiment. For more: n.pr/1EnrK7T
#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 use, don't pay for what you don't use. And it's increasingly popular: Spirit is the fastest growing airline in America. And yet lots of people really don't like Spirit Airlines. In a Consumer Reports survey published in 2013, Spirit finished last among U.S. airlines. How is the fastest growing airline also the least popular? On today's show, we fly Spirit Airlines to Florida and ask the CEO.
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 kidnapping industry in order to find its weak points and better protect the people he loved.
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 journalist wrote more than 30 years ago, "The spreadsheet is a tool, and it is also a world view — reality by the numbers." For more: http://n.pr/1DVdMIv