Episode 855: The Poop Cartel : Planet Money What happens when a group of economists applies the number one rule of economics... to number two?

Episode 855: The Poop Cartel

Robert Smith/NPR
Poop truck in Dakar.
Robert Smith/NPR

Poop is big business in Dakar, Senegal. That's because a lot of the homes have septic tanks, which need to be cleaned out regularly. The best way to clean your tank is by hiring a proper truck, which arrives with a vacuum.

The problem is that for years, the guys who drove the poop trucks operated as a cartel, and they squashed competition and kept prices high. So a lot of people turned to a cheaper alternative: Men who clear out septic tanks by hand, with shovels and buckets, and basically bury the poop in the street. It's terrible work and bad for the environment.

Today on the show: How economists got sewage off the streets of Dakar by making poop-truck drivers compete with each other. In other words, by breaking up the poop cartel.

Music: "Nothing Like That," "Tiddly Winks" and "Money and Fame."

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