Episode 857: The Postal Illuminati : Planet Money Is there a secretive postal organization fixing international shipping rates, and giving American businesses a bad deal?
NPR logo Episode 857: The Postal Illuminati

Episode 857: The Postal Illuminati

Kenny Malone
Planet Money package
Kenny Malone

When you order stuff online, it may cost less to have it shipped across the world than across the street.

Take the Mighty Mug. It's a travel mug that's almost impossible to knock over, invented by a guy in New Jersey named Jayme Smaldone. A few months ago, Jayme realized he could order a knockoff Mighty Mug from China and get it shipped for less than it would cost him to ship his mug to a neighbor.

The reason for this price gap, Jayme claims, is a secretive group of postal policymakers that meets every four years to fix international shipping rates. A kind of postal illuminati.

Today's episode: A conspiracy theory that's actually real. How the decisions made behind closed doors make it cheap to buy things from across the world, but are also distorting the global economy.

Music: "Sunburn."

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