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 »
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
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 him.
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 maybe we should love: airplane baggage fees. For more: http://n.pr/17srUMx
Red roses are a unique product — a commodity worth double the price for a very short, 24-hour period: Valentine's Day.To cash in on this demand, flower growers have to figure out how to make millions of roses bloom exactly the right amount, at exactly the right moment, in the middle of February — get them from farms in Africa and South America to your doorstep.On today's show: the logistical miracles and wild risks behind getting red roses to your Valentine.
Note: Today's show is a rerun. It originally ran in January 2014. For most of U.S. history, there was no minimum wage. A few times, politicians passed laws tiptoeing toward a minimum. But the Supreme Court struck those laws down. On today's show: how the U.S. finally got a minimum wage. It's a story of exploding bakeries, a blue eagle, and a guy who may or may not have been drunk. For more: http://n.pr/16U53ZW
Pot is now legal in some states. But on the federal level, it's illegal. The legal gray area means banks in the U.S. are wary to give pot businesses access to basic financial instruments – like checking accounts. Today on the show, we visit a country where medical marijuana is fully legal. And we see how bank accounts, loans, and investors can transform an industry.
The world is running out of chocolate. Cocoa is in short supply. Demand is way up, thanks to China and India developing a taste for the sweet stuff. And producing more cocoa isn't so easy. Cocoa is a fussy plant. It doesn't grow in very many places and it gets diseases really easily. Today on the show, we learn about one man in Ecuador who came up with an answer to the global cocoa shortage. A warning here: if you're a die-hard chocolate lover, you might not like it. For more: http://n.pr/1Dg2r5C
They are hundreds of thousands of people out there doing stuff to your internet that you probably think is automatic. They aren't computer programmers, they're just regular people working from their offices, homes and bedrooms. They are the people of Amazon Mechanical Turk.Amazon Mechanical Turk is an online marketplace for work. Businesses use it to farm out tiny little tasks like counting the number of people in a photo, and people around the world race to perform those tasks, sometimes for pennies.Today on the show, we sneak into the land of Mechanical Turk to meet the people inside.
Hernando de Soto wanted to figure out what was trapping people in poverty. "There's gotta be an invisible wall someplace," he thought. "Let's find the wall." Today on the show: How de Soto found the invisible wall that was trapping people in poverty. How it transformed poor countries around the world. And how his discovery almost got him killed. For more: http://n.pr/1K6ddLZ