OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Welcome back to ASK ME ANOTHER, NPR's and WNYC's hour of trivia, puzzles, and word games. I'm Ophira Eisenberg and joining me are the co-creators of NPR's Planet Money, Adam Davidson and Alex Blumberg.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Welcome to the show, guys.

ADAM DAVIDSON: Thank you.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Thank you.

EISENBERG: So first I have to ask both of you, we were teasing throughout the show, you know, that we're like, oh, we're going to get investment tips from them, but I know you're journalists. That's not exactly what you're going to do. But I just want to know: Should I buy gold, Alex?

(APPLAUSE)

BLUMBERG: Well, I mean, now is a better time than before because gold is way down. If you bought now you'd be making a slightly less bad mistake than if you bought two months ago.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I feel like my life is a series...

BLUMBERG: Yeah.

EISENBERG: ...of slightly less bad mistakes.

BLUMBERG: You're doing good, then.

(LAUGHTER)

BLUMBERG: That's all we can hope for.

EISENBERG: Planet Money, for anyone who doesn't listen to it start listening to it immediately. And what it is, as described, is explaining the economy, explaining money for entertainment in an understandable way that just anybody can digest.

DAVIDSON: What we say if you went out to a bar and you had a friend and they told you about the economy and that was actually a fun evening.

EISENBERG: Right.

DAVIDSON: That's Planet Money.

BLUMBERG: Yeah. Yeah.

EISENBERG: And how has all that knowledge affected your own life? Has it affected your own spending habits, the way you look at world issues?

DAVIDSON: I was a lot broker before we started Planet Money.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVIDSON: But it might be that being a financial journalist is a really good thing to be in a horrible financial crisis.

BLUMBERG: Right.

DAVIDSON: So I'm not sure if I've learned more.

EISENBERG: Well, that's interesting.

DAVIDSON: Yeah.

EISENBERG: That is the one job that benefits. And the pieces that you do, they're incredible stories, just not all about money - the economy of scalping tickets at concerts, talking about selling rhino horns or...

DAVIDSON: Right. We talked to one of the leading experts that there is in the world on scalping, Kid Rock.

EISENBERG: Kid Rock.

BLUMBERG: Kid Rock, yeah.

EISENBERG: And how did you two first come together to work on the show? How did you meet?

DAVIDSON: Well, we were both, like, broke freelancers in Chicago a long time ago and friends.

BLUMBERG: Yeah, like 15.

DAVIDSON: Twenty years.

BLUMBERG: Twenty years ago?

DAVIDSON: Twenty years ago, yeah.

BLUMBERG: Yeah. I know. Yeah.

DAVIDSON: And then...

BLUMBERG: It's coming up on the 20th anniversary of the party where we met.

DAVIDSON: Yeah. It was Alex's...

(LAUGHTER)

BLUMBERG: I already have your present.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVIDSON: It was Alex's birthday party. I did not like him. I got really drunk and...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I understand why this is more memorable right now to Alex.

BLUMBERG: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Is this true? It was your birthday party?

BLUMBERG: Yeah. I guess so, yeah. Yeah, it was.

EISENBERG: And you were invited.

DAVIDSON: I don't know that I was invited.

EISENBERG: Oh, OK.

BLUMBERG: Specifically not invited. It was really awkward.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVIDSON: Yeah. But, no, we eventually became good friends. And then a lot later I was a business reporter at NPR and Alex was at This American Life and he kept saying we should do something on the mortgage industry. I was like what are you talking about? There's no - we're not doing an hour.

BLUMBERG: I was like America needs an hour on mortgage finance.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Right. It's a missing piece to the puzzle, right?

DAVIDSON: Yeah. I mean, very - I thought it was a crazy idea but we did it.

BLUMBERG: Yeah. We had a bunch of emails back and forth and then, like, at a certain point we were like, ah, I guess it's too late to do that story about the mortgage crisis.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Right there...

DAVIDSON: And then I was like I think it's not too late. I think you're a little - like, you were in the expert world and I feel like the rest of the country is still not caught up, yet. So.

BLUMBERG: Yeah. Then we did it.

EISENBERG: If I were to put you up for this challenge which you're about to go on and told you that at the end of the challenge one of you would win a giant pool of money...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: ...let's say a million tax free dollars.

DAVIDSON: Mm-hmm.

BLUMBERG: Mm-hmm.

EISENBERG: What's the first thing you're going to do with it, Adam?

DAVIDSON: I'd probably finally put a down payment on a place in Brooklyn, I guess. That would...

EISENBERG: Oh, nice. OK. We know what your goals are. Alex?

DAVIDSON: Yeah.

BLUMBERG: I was going to say I was going to split it with Adam.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Ah.

DAVIDSON: Yeah. I was going to - a place for us to finally live together.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: After 20 years on your birthday your present is your roommates. All right. Well, let me ask you this. How risk averse are you to an ASK ME ANOTHER challenge?

DAVIDSON: Not risk averse at all.

EISENBERG: Oh, that's good.

BLUMBERG: Yeah. There are zero stakes. I mean...

EISENBERG: There are zero stakes. Fantastic. How about another round of applause for Adam Davidson and Alex Blumberg?

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: For this next game, I'm going to bring back Jonathan Coulton and our puzzle guru John Chanesky.

JONATHAN COULTON: Hello.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: And also to help us play this little game, we're going to bring out your colleagues from Planet Money, correspondent Robert Smith and producer Caitlin Kenney.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Welcome, Robert and Caitlin. Now, Adam and Alex, we're doing something a little different here because we want to take advantage of your full potential and talent for explaining complicated ideas that an average person can understand. So in this game we're going to give you a list of economic terms and you'll have to describe them to your colleagues so that they can guess the words. It's like charades with words.

JOHN CHANESKI, PUZZLE GURU: Right. But there are some ground rules. First, you can't say any part of the answer. So if you're including the phrase stock market you can't say stock or market, obviously. Second, no cheating. You must try to give a definition or explanation of the term. You can't say it's a three syllable word that begins with S or it's the thing we talked about yesterday in the story meeting. That makes sense, yes?

DAVIDSON: Yes.

GURU: Good.

EISENBERG: And because we really want you to explain things simply, you can only use words that are one syllable long.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVIDSON: Oh.

BLUMBERG: Oh.

EISENBERG: Right? So you can't say money or business or even the word very. Keep it really simple because if you use a multi-syllable word, you'll hear this.

(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER)

EISENBERG: And then you'll have to move on to the next phrase.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: And in case that wasn't interesting enough, we wanted there to be real stakes for this game. So the losing Planet Money team has to give the winning team all of the cash in their wallets.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: It could be a very small pool of money.

EISENBERG: Yeah, we'll find out.

COULTON: We don't know.

EISENBERG: OK. So Adam, you'll be giving clues to Robert and Alex and Caitlin, you can stand back and watch. You'll be next. There are the clues.8

BLUMBERG: I'm not sure Adam knows any one syllable words.

EISENBERG: All right. You have 60 seconds on the clock. Are you ready?

ROBERT SMITH: Ready.

DAVIDSON: Ready.

EISENBERG: Go.

DAVIDSON: Loan for a house.

SMITH: Mortgage.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

DAVIDSON: Grab it, act it. Coin? Wow.

SMITH: Bit coin. Dollar coin? Quarter?

DAVIDSON: Cash. I can't think of a thing.

SMITH: Yeah. It's a coin. A gold krugerrand? A leg of kruggerand? A euro?

DAVIDSON: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

(LAUGHTER)

DAVIDSON: All right. All right. Law man for banks.

SMITH: Law man? A regulator? SEC? The Securities and Exchange Commission? A law man for banks. The guard. The guy who stands in front of the gun.

DAVIDSON: Uh...

(LAUGHTER)

SMITH: No. The...

DAVIDSON: Gives to bad banks.

(LAUGHTER)

SMITH: Law man gives to bad banks. OK. I think it's the Lone Ranger here. OK.

DAVIDSON: Give to bad bank.

(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER)

SMITH: Oh.

(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER)

DAVIDSON: Time?

EISENBERG: Oh, that is time.

DAVIDSON: Wow.

SMITH: Wow.

DAVIDSON: That was brutal.

Whoa. That was hard. How - who was this law man that...

FDIC.

EISENBERG: John Chanesky, how did they do there?

GURU: They got two points.

EISENBERG: Yes, they did get two points.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: That was pretty good. OK, Alex. It's your turn. You'll be giving clues to Caitlin. Just remember one more time one syllable words only. And you also have 60 seconds on the clock. Starting now.

BLUMBERG: One firm all might. Game. Fake...

CAITLIN KENNEY: Monopoly.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

BLUMBERG: No work.

KENNEY: Unemployment.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

BLUMBERG: Low class, high class. Oh, wait. No. Crap.

(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER)

BLUMBERG: Oil rich nations. Oh, oil rich...

GURU: Oh.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

KENNEY: Rent here.

BLUMBERG: Oil rich.

(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER)

BLUMBERG: That's it. Old folks cash.

KENNEY: Pension.

BLUMBERG: States.

KENNEY: Social Security.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

BLUMBERG: Makes cash.

KENNEY: Bank. Fed. Federal Reserve.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

(APPLAUSE)

BLUMBERG: Uh...

(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER)

BLUMBERG: Oh, is that it?

GURU: That's it. Another round. Very good.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Very impressive.

GURU: Very good. Alex and Caitlin got four points that time. Very good.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: That's the end of the first round. For the second round, we're flipping the roles. So Robert, you'll be giving the clues to Adam and you'll, again, have 60 seconds. The clues this time are a little harder. No, I'm just kidding. Sixty seconds on the clock and go.

SMITH: Spare a dime.

DAVIDSON: Lend? Loan? Bailout?

SMITH: (singing) Spare a dime.

DAVIDSON: That's - oh.

(LAUGHTER)

SMITH: A poor out of work old...

DAVIDSON: Social Security? Pension? What? Unemployment insurance?

SMITH: Dip.

DAVIDSON: Depression? The Great Depression?

SMITH: Yes.

DAVIDSON: OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

(APPLAUSE)

SMITH: Low cash for poor work.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVIDSON: Sorry.

SMITH: Least cash...

DAVIDSON: Minimum wage.

SMITH: Yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SMITH: Big price for homes.

DAVIDSON: Jumbo mortgage?

SMITH: Big problem.

DAVIDSON: Oh.

SMITH: Oh, I'm sorry.

(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER)

SMITH: Fed sets this.

DAVIDSON: Interest rate?

SMITH: Yes.

DAVIDSON: Feds funds rate? All right.

(APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER)

SMITH: Oh, that's time.

EISENBERG: That was time. That was time.

DAVIDSON: All right.

EISENBERG: Wow. Well done.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: John Chanesky, what's the score?

GURU: They got three that time. Now they have five. So Alex and Caitlin need to get at least two to win.

EISENBERG: All right. And roles are reverse this time. Caitlin will be clueing Alex. Sixty seconds on the clock. Let's go.

KENNEY: Cash out of check once a year.

BLUMBERG: Earned income tax credit? Taxes?

KENNEY: Yep. OK. And then this is for work.

BLUMBERG: Income tax.

KENNEY: OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

KENNEY: OK. We sell to other...

(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER)

KENNEY: Oh, sorry. OK. Buy too much stuff.

BLUMBERG: Consumption, over consumption.

KENNEY: Mm-hmm. Leads to ruin.

BLUMBERG: Bubble. Housing bubble.

(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER)

KENNEY: Oh, god. Ugh. OK. News about money.

(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER)

GURU: About. Sorry.

BLUMBERG: CNBC.

KENNEY: Oh, all right.

(LAUGHTER)

KENNEY: OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER)

BLUMBERG: Oh.

(APPLAUSE)

KENNEY: Oh, right.

DAVIDSON: It's hard. It's hard, isn't it?

KENNEY: It's hard to use one syllable.

EISENBERG: I know.

BLUMBERG: I know.

EISENBERG: The economy is not a one syllable issue.

GURU: So Caitlin and Alex got one point. It is a tie game.

EISENBERG: Whoa. It's a tie game.

(APPLAUSE)

GURU: Adam and Alex, return to your buzzers, please. Here's your economics question. If your restaurant bill is $25 and you want to leave a 20 percent tip, what's the total charge?

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

BLUMBERG: Five dollars.

DAVIDSON: Thirty dollars.

(LAUGHTER)

BLUMBERG: Oh, wait. Sorry.

GURU: I did say total charge so Adam said 30. That's correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: That means Adam and Robert Smith's team wins. What an amazing wealth of knowledge.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: And one more round of applause for our VIPs Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson.

(APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MONEY")

COULTON: (singing) Money. Get away. Get a good job with more pay and you're OK. Money. It's a gas. Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash. New car, caviar and four-star daydream. I think I'll buy me a football team.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: That was Jonathan Coulton doing Pink Floyd's "Money."

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