Can we tame the cycle that causes economic ups and downs? : Planet Money Life has its ups and downs. Same for the economy. Today we ask, can the business cycle be tamed? Two stories of recession and techniques for moderating the ferocity of booms and busts. Plus, how bankruptcy is a secret weapon of the American economy. | Subscribe to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney. | At this Summer School, phones ARE allowed during class... Check out this week's PM TikTok! | Listen to past seasons of Summer School here.

Planet Money Summer School 3: Booms, Busts & Us

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SYLVIE DOUGLIS, BYLINE: This is PLANET MONEY from NPR.

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STACEY VANEK SMITH, HOST:

Hello and welcome to PLANET MONEY Summer School, our sun-filled and, hopefully, fun-filled journey into the heart of the economy. I'm Stacey Vanek Smith. And this season is all about macroeconomics, which deals with the economies of whole countries. And macroeconomics was born to answer one question - how do we tame the business cycle? Because make no mistake, the business cycle is a beast - the ups and downs of the economy, the boom-and-bust cycle. It is ruthless. It can wipe out thousands of businesses, millions of jobs, life savings, inside of a week. And here to walk us into the belly of the business cycle is special guest Atif Mian, a professor of economics at Princeton and author of "House Of Debt," a book about the origins and consequences of the 2008 housing crash. Welcome, Atif.

ATIF MIAN: Thanks. It's great to be here.

SMITH: So, Atif, your book deals with one of the most dramatic and definitely destructive recent examples of a business cycle bust. And in it, you make the point that this big macroeconomic thing - a recession - it is made up of a lot of, you know, smaller human stories - individual decisions and consequences like, you know, a small business going bankrupt or a home foreclosure or things like that.

MIAN: I think economics is not supposed to be like a, quote-unquote, "dry subject" like that. It's really about human beings. It's really about how we connect with each other. So it's a very social science, right?

SMITH: Right. And today we are hearing two very human stories about how deeply the business cycle can affect companies and individuals and also how the business cycle affects inequality in the U.S. And that is also a focus of your work.

MIAN: So I grew up - I was, you know, raised in Pakistan. And I had no idea what economics was. You know, the schooling system there and so on - economics is not really taught. I thought a lot about problems, though - a lot of poverty around me - and that really sort of moved me in many ways. And I thought, you know, I'll build stuff to kind of solve some of those problems.

SMITH: So let's meet the beast - the business cycle. So economists talk about a business cycle as having four parts. There's the expansion, the peak, the recession and the trough. And one of the most sort of interesting features of the cycle is that the expansions tend to be long and gradual, and the recessions tend to be fast and sharp. But before we get into that, I want to talk about this word cycle - business cycle - because that makes it sound, like, natural, like sort of a natural-occurring thing, like the seasons. Is the business cycle - is it natural?

MIAN: So a business cycle is natural in the sense that it's the result of those - some of the very sort of natural forces of how the economy is connected and what people's expectations are. So in that sense, it's very natural. But at the same time, that doesn't mean that it's always inevitable.

SMITH: Well, maybe not inevitable, but definitely hard to thwart, right? I mean, there have just been huge efforts made by many brilliant people for many decades to try to avoid the business cycle, or at least to sort of soften the boom and the bust. And sometimes you'll hear these called countercyclical policies. You'll hear this term thrown around. And those are policies that basically just counteract the business cycle - things like raising taxes during a boom or giving out money during a bust, things that kind of try to go against where the business cycle is. And after a quick break, we are going to hear two stories about some of the countercyclical systems that the U.S. has put in place to try to soften what can really be just the crushing impact of the business cycle on individuals and on companies.

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SMITH: Hello, class. It is time to jump into the economics of the business cycle and take a look at one of the inventions the U.S. has adopted as a way to save businesses that might get crushed under the wheel of the business cycle. Some economists actually say this is the secret superpower of the U.S. economy - bankruptcy. We're going to hear a piece that I reported with Sonari Glinton back in 2015. It is the story of a small business in Charlotte, N.C., that got caught up in the housing bust of 2008.

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RODDEY PLAYER: Hi. Roddey Player here with Queen City Audio Video & Appliances. You won't want to miss our blockbuster Labor Day sale with a...

SMITH: This is the very persuasive voice of Roddey Player. He is the CEO of Queen City Appliances. It's a family business that Roddey really grew up in.

R PLAYER: I was sweeping the floors when I was 8 years old and working on the delivery trucks when I was 12 or 13 years old. And soon as you graduate high school, you can get on the sales floor. So that summer, I was on the sales floor.

SMITH: When Roddey's father passed away, Roddey became CEO. And for years, business boomed. Charlotte was growing, homes were going up all over the place, and all of those new homes, of course, needed stoves and refrigerators. Roddey started to expand his business, all the way up to 17 stores.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: Then 2009 - you see where this is headed. The housing bubble burst - no new homes, no one was buying refrigerators, dishwashers, mattresses at the time.

SMITH: Sales kept dropping and dropping and dropping.

R PLAYER: I don't want to be called the eternal optimist, but I always felt it just couldn't get any worse, and it couldn't get any worse, and it couldn't get any worse.

GLINTON: And, well, it did get worse. The math just didn't add up anymore. The money from sales just wasn't enough to pay the bills. He was going to have to do the thing that had been deep in the back of his mind for a while, the thing that any small business is trying to avoid, especially a family business - bankruptcy.

SMITH: Bankruptcy is a grueling process. There are a lot of steps. The first thing you have to do is call a lawyer. And then you have to sign all of these papers with any of the other owners of the business. In this case, that was Roddey's mother, Frances Player, who was 83 years old at the time. And they went to the office together and filled out the paperwork. They filed for bankruptcy. And that moment, when you file for bankruptcy, everything changes. I hadn't actually appreciated this, but when you file for bankruptcy, it's public and all the details of your failure are also made public. It's there in the court papers for anyone to read - how much you owe, who you owe. It's all out there for anyone to see.

GLINTON: And just minutes after Roddey and his mom filed the documents, The Charlotte Observer published a short story online. Roddey's phone started ringing off the hook. His son, who was away at college, also saw the news.

R PLAYER: He knew things were difficult for us, but I don't - I think the actual filing hit the public airwaves, and, you know, he sent me a text - a simple note - you OK?

SMITH: Roddey was not OK. In fact, even now, when he talks about the bankruptcy, his whole demeanor changes. He looks down, he starts fiddling with things, he gets quieter. He told me that day that he filed for bankruptcy was one of the worst days of his life.

R PLAYER: You know, your friends, your neighbors - it's difficult to walk around town when you've got something like that hanging over your head.

SMITH: Roddey's mom, Frances, had an especially hard time with this. She had helped start this business 60 years before. She still worked there four days a week in accounts receivable. And for her, bankruptcy was just not something you did.

FRANCES PLAYER: I really did struggle with it - lost a lot of sleep over it. Not easy to get up and go to church that Sunday morning, it really wasn't, after it came out in the newspaper.

GLINTON: This was a terrible moment for Roddey and his family. And in most countries, this would have been the end of the story. The banks and his creditors would have come in and repossessed the ranges, the TV sets. Everything would have shut down and all the pieces of the business would have been sold off, and that would have been it.

SMITH: But in the United States, there is another path - Chapter 11, as in Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code. And it is a way for companies that can't pay their bills to not die, to keep going. And the idea predates appliance stores by a lot, actually. It goes back to the railroads. And we learned this from historian David Skeel.

DAVID SKEEL: That was unprecedented in world history. No other country had had a system like this that was designed, not to shut down substantial businesses when they failed, but to reorganize them, to give them another chance, in a sense.

SMITH: So what did the world think of this new kind of bankruptcy?

SKEEL: Well, they thought we were crazy, as they often do.

GLINTON: You can kind of see their point. If you set up a system where, when companies sort of screw up and you forgive a bunch of debt and you let them keep going, then you might end up creating this whole environment where businesses just do crazy, risky things. You can end up encouraging the kind of thing you really want to avoid.

SMITH: Here in America, we came down on the side of allowing bankrupt companies to have a second chance. And when Roddey Player filed for bankruptcy, that's what he decided he wanted - to try and keep going.

GLINTON: When you file for bankruptcy, it's like hitting a big pause button. All the people you owe money to, for a moment, you don't have to pay them.

SMITH: But you do have to make a list for the court of everyone you owe money to - everyone. Roddey's list was 133 pages long. He showed it to me.

R PLAYER: The General Electric Company's on here for, you know, $556,000. Here's a freight company, AAA Cooper, we owed $865,000 to.

SMITH: In all, Roddey was millions of dollars in debt.

GLINTON: For Queen City Appliance to stay alive, Roddey was going to have to convince General Electric and Whirlpool and the banks - he owed a bunch of money to banks - that they would be better off if they allowed him to keep his doors open. Roddey was going to have to put forward a specific plan, and it would be painful, with cuts. In court, there would be an actual vote, where all the people he owed money would decide, yes or no, should Roddey and Queen City Appliance be given a second chance? If they voted yes, then Roddey would actually have to make it work - meet specific earnings targets. And along the way, every little decision he was going to make had to be OK'd by Whirlpool and GE and everyone he owed money to.

SMITH: Every decision Roddey made needed court approval. He had to get approval to pay his electricity bill. He had to get a special approved loan to do that. He even had to get approval to put gas in the delivery trucks.

GLINTON: Roddey started to draw up that plan to submit to court and explain how he was going to fix the business. He hired a turnaround expert who looked through his books and was very blunt.

SMITH: You want to make it out of bankruptcy? You want to be profitable again? You're going to have to close some of your 17 stores.

R PLAYER: And I still have nightmares about that because we, you know, had to eliminate a lot of jobs. And you're sitting across the table from somebody, telling them that you're going have to let them go, you know, it can really, really hurt you, and it scars you, to be honest with you. And I still, to this day, think about those type things.

SMITH: How many stores do you have now?

R PLAYER: We've got four stores, yeah, so...

SMITH: Seventeen stores to four stores is a lot fewer.

GLINTON: But it's a lot more than zero, which would have been the alternative. Roddey had to lay off a hundred and thirty employees, but 75 still got to stay with him.

SMITH: So Roddey filed his plan for how he was going to fix the company. All of his creditors - the people he owed money to, GE, the banks, the electric company - they all voted. And they said, OK, we'll give this a shot. Roddey ran his four remaining stores as efficiently as he could, trying to cut costs at every possible turn and also trying to sell as many stoves and refrigerators as he possibly could. Every week, he had to submit a progress report to the court to show how much money was going out and how much money was going in.

Queen City Appliances was in bankruptcy for a year and a half. But on August 27, 2013, it was over. Roddey got an official document from the court saying his company was no longer in bankruptcy. Actually, he was waiting for it for a few days.

R PLAYER: Take a few extra days than I thought it was, but...

SMITH: Were you checking your email, like, every two seconds?

R PLAYER: Sure, sure, and calling, looking for it and all kinds of stuff. But that was the highlight of the process.

SMITH: It is, like, the shortest legal document I have ever read. There's this big official-looking court seal in one corner and there's just one sentence. It says the Chapter 11 case of the above-named debtor is closed.

Roddey threw a party for his staff. He showed them a documentary about Captain Ernest Shackleton and his crew surviving winter in the South Pole. He handed out Queen City Strong bracelets. He still wears his every day.

GLINTON: And that was that. Queen City was back.

SMITH: We will be back, after a short break, with the rest of Roddey's story and, of course, some economic lessons.

Queen City Appliances has been out of bankruptcy for two years now, and Roddey says the company is doing really well. Profits are way up. He took me to the back of one of his stores, into the warehouse.

So you can show me around, some of the appliances?

R PLAYER: I'd love to - love to.

SMITH: During the bankruptcy, Roddey tells me it was almost empty back here. Now there are huge boxes stacked to the ceiling.

R PLAYER: So dishwashers five-high, you know, laundry products are four-high, row after row of appliances - it just makes you feel good.

SMITH: Looking back on this, though, Roddey doesn't exactly see bankruptcy as one of America's greatest inventions. He seems to see it as a huge pain.

GLINTON: His mom, though, who at first thought bankruptcy was not a thing that good, solid people did, has turned around. She's actually kind of a fan of it.

F PLAYER: I think it's a very, very good way for a company to continue.

SMITH: So you - your mind was changed about bankruptcy.

F PLAYER: Yes, it really was. It would have broken my heart if we'd closed.

GLINTON: And around town, Frances says people were surprisingly accepting of the whole thing. They didn't see it as a failure or them as a failure. Like, that first Sunday morning after they filed for bankruptcy and she was so nervous about, you know, going to church...

F PLAYER: All of our friends - everybody was very supportive.

SMITH: So you went to church and it was OK.

F PLAYER: It was OK. It was - same seat. Same seat for how many years?

SMITH: In the U.S., we've decided we want an economy where the CEO of an appliance store can dream big, expand really fast, and if it doesn't work out, we have a system for dealing with the mess so the business can keep going.

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R PLAYER: So buy local and save more at Queen City, where you'll always find the right product, the right price, and real answers, guaranteed.

SMITH: Hey, class. We're back to talk business cycle with economist Atif Mian. So, Atif, Chapter 11 bankruptcy - this is something that businesses use all the time, of course, but particularly in moments of economic downturn, where, for instance, Roddey Player saw business just kind of dry up overnight because of where the business cycle was. What role do you see bankruptcy playing in the business cycle in this story?

MIAN: Well, the very first thing is that bankruptcy is this example of the helping hand that government is providing - right? - 'cause you could have taken the position and said, well, let them - let the markets handle it, in which case the creditors would have taken whatever they could, and, you know, everyone would lose their jobs, and all the 17 stores, as the story mentions, would have closed down. So think about that for a minute. If they had been forced into complete liquidation and forced to close down, imagine what else we would have lost. A business is not just a bunch of assets. A business also has a number of relationships that they develop - relationships with customers, relationships with suppliers. And those relationships are very important to keep a healthy economy going.

SMITH: One thing I've heard as a counter to that is that, if you do give a helping hand, it can actually potentially exacerbate things. I remember very clearly in the very beginning of the housing crisis, a lot of people were talking about, well, you know, people should have known better. They shouldn't have taken out loans that they couldn't afford. I mean, Roddey, you could argue, shouldn't have expanded as quickly as he did, shouldn't have opened up as many businesses. And if you take away the consequences of that, it might create a situation where people take too many risks, and that can make economic booms really dangerous, right? I mean, people don't feel like there are going to be consequences, so they get careless, so they spend more money, so the economy starts to overheat, and economic bubbles can happen.

MIAN: Yeah, it's a dominant argument. I hear this a lot. We can try to act tough in this moment of trouble, and we can say, no, if you borrowed $100, you must pay back each and every penny of those $100 back. We can try and do that, but we will end up - all of us - being worse off. Why? Because those people are not making that much money anymore. Some of them are laid off. Some of them - they don't have that much revenue through their businesses, as in Queen City's example. So when you force them to pay back the entire 100, what they are going to do is they're going to cut back on their spending even further, and so the economy will contract further.

SMITH: Right. I mean, this was an argument that economist John Maynard Keynes used to encourage things like, you know, government spending during economic downturns to kind of keep people buying things, keep money flowing through the economy. We heard about this, of course, in the very first episode of Summer School this season. We also heard an argument from economist Friedrich von Hayek who said, no, no, no, what we need to focus on isn't how to react to the bust. It's - you know, a lot of it is what happens during the boom - the expansion portion of the business cycle. He says, you know, when things start growing too fast and money starts kind of flying around, the economy can overheat. And Hayek made the point that this part of the business cycle could cause real distortions in the economy, and regular people could get caught up in the crosshairs of this and find themselves in some pretty harrowing situations. And we'll hear one of those stories after the break.

The business cycle - it can be devastating for companies, but also for individuals. And trying to get help to companies and especially to individuals during a bust - that can actually be very, very tricky to do. We're going to play a story that was reported by Adam Davidson and Alex Blumberg back in 2009. And in the story, they're checking in with a man who got one of those shady loans that banks were sort of handing out by the thousands during the housing bubble.

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ADAM DAVIDSON, BYLINE: I met this one guy, Richard. He's a Marine. He's this big guy, over 6 feet tall. And when he came back from Iraq a few years ago, he bought one of these fancy new mortgages with an adjustable rate. Recently, his rate reset. It's gone up by more than $2,000 a month, and he's fallen behind on his payments.

RICHARD CAMPBELL: It got to the point where, at one point, my son had $7,000 in a CD, and I had to break it. And, I mean, that really hurt because I was saving that money for his college. I mean, I put 2,000 back. But it's like you can't have a future. They put you in a situation where after a while, you're going to fail. It's hard.

DAVIDSON: So that was May 2008. Obviously, a lot happened since then. And in the course of that first hour, we learned that Richard had gotten a shady mortgage and that his broker had lied. Though Richard would have qualified for a low fixed rate mortgage, his broker put him in this higher sort of really lousy adjustable rate mortgage because, we think, his broker was able to make a bigger commission. And the broker lied on the application, saying Richard made $195,000, even though Richard only made $37,000 a year at the time.

ALEX BLUMBERG, BYLINE: Right. He was dealing with a group called NACA, the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America. And at that point in spring of 2008, things weren't looking very good for him. But then, when we actually talked to him this week, he had some good news to report.

CAMPBELL: With the help of NACA, the payments were cut in half. So it's very manageable now.

DAVIDSON: Richard went from paying nearly $6,000 a month to just under three grand. But it was not easy. It wasn't like someone just handed him this freebie without any hard work.

BLUMBERG: It was a fight.

DAVIDSON: It was a real fight. It took most of the last year and a half to get to this good situation. The problem was that Richard - and this was typical of a lot of people we talked to - he bought his house not with one mortgage, but with two mortgages. NACA was able, eventually, to solve the problems with the first mortgage. But the second mortgage NACA could not help him on.

BLUMBERG: And so this last year and a half for Richard has been a lot of fighting with one or both of his mortgage servicing companies. He's been waiting on hold. He's been getting transferred to different supervisors. He says he got within a couple of days of actually getting foreclosed on. All that waiting and wondering and just not knowing what his future holds, it's been really stressful for him.

CAMPBELL: Your body just goes through weird things. I didn't know stress was so powerful, you know? Your body goes through a lot.

DAVIDSON: Wait, wait, wait. You fought in Iraq as a marine. And this was more stressful?

CAMPBELL: Yeah, believe it or not. Yeah, it was. It's a lot harder to deal with than, you know, shooting at people and having people shoot back at you. And believe it or not (laughter).

BLUMBERG: It's actually - it's hard to believe (laughter). Would you - I mean, having come back from Iraq, you would - I mean, I'm sure you would have thought, well, that was the most stressful thing I'll ever do, right?

CAMPBELL: Yes. Yeah, I definitely thought, like, you know, once I could beat that, I could beat anything. But, you know, it's a different type of feeling, you know, because they train you for combat in the military. Nobody trains you for this type of stress, no one. In this situation, I felt totally alone. Like, I had no one to turn to.

BLUMBERG: And for Richard, it was particularly bad because he's basically the sole breadwinner for his whole family. And he was thinking that if he'd lose his house, then his mother and his sick brother would have to move back to public housing. And he'd have to give up on this dream that he has to be the first person in his family to really, actually own something valuable, to build wealth for future generations.

CAMPBELL: When you hear people talk about, you know, their family and the money that they have now, it's always that, you know, what their great-grandfather, what their grandfather did. And, you know, in my life, my life's work, I just want to be the grandfather, the great-grandfather that set the foundation for my son and my son's sons and go on, so my generation can actually change. So you know, taking my mother out of the ghetto and putting her into something that she can call her own and we can build something on was, you know, anyone's dream, but especially mine.

DAVIDSON: So Richard's saving grace, it turns out, was one of those local morning shows, "Good Day New York." I've actually never seen it. I guess I should watch it more often.

BLUMBERG: (Laughter) Yeah, exactly.

DAVIDSON: They were talking over the details of President Obama's mortgage relief plan. And Richard was watching this and saying, hey; wait a second. They're talking about me. I fit all those criteria. I have a mortgage I can't afford. But I do have a history of trying to pay it, just not being able to, largely because of a ridiculously high interest rate.

BLUMBERG: And so even though he qualified, though, it took months to figure out how this plan works and then to convince his mortgage company to actually lower his rate. But then, very recently, he got a phone call from a guy at his mortgage company named Peter.

CAMPBELL: He said, Mr. Campbell, we have good news, you know? We're able to modify your loan. And these are the terms. And they started telling me the terms. And, you know, tears started coming to my eyes when he said, we're going to go from 11 and a quarter down to 3%. And then I said, is it fixed, or will it still balloon? He said, there's no balloon. It'll be fixed for the life of the loan. You pay this mortgage for 30 years. The house is yours. Like, when I talk about it now, I still get that warm and fuzzy.

DAVIDSON: What'd you do? Did you call your fiancee? Or how did you...

CAMPBELL: Oh, yeah. I ran around the living room. And then I went and I grabbed her. And I picked her up. And she was like, what's going on? And then I told her. And then we started jumping up and down. It was a beautiful feeling, beautiful feeling.

SMITH: OK. That was Adam Davidson and Alex Blumberg back in 2009. I am here in 2022 with economist Atif Mian. What are your reactions to the story of Richard?

MIAN: It's a great story. I mean, isn't it?

SMITH: Yeah.

MIAN: I mean, you can see in practice the value of easing the debt burden in collective times of trouble. And, you know, again, it's not Richard's fault that the whole world is collapsing around him.

SMITH: Or that his mortgage lender lied about his income.

MIAN: Exactly. Exactly. And there were hundreds of thousands, in fact, millions of such stories. And the one thing I kept thinking as I was listening to Richard's story was, for every Richard, there's also, like, a Nancy or a Bob who did not get what he got, which was a...

SMITH: Yeah.

MIAN: ...Modification of his mortgage. So, in fact, over 4 million homeowners were forced into foreclosure and hence, they lost their homes. Four million were forced into foreclosure. Many more suffered than needed to.

SMITH: One of the things that really strikes me in the story is just how hard Richard was working to try to build wealth. You know, he bought this CD for his son to go to college. He was buying a home. I mean, that really struck me.

MIAN: Oh, that's right. I mean, you know, the phrase that stuck to me is when Richard says they put you in a situation. Like, who's they? What is he talking about, right?

SMITH: Yeah.

MIAN: But you can see that he's talking about something very real.

SMITH: Right. They put you in this situation. I mean, to me, this is really speaking to this idea of economic inequality and trying to change your economic situation and sort of feeling like you're doing everything you're supposed to do, and it's just not possible. Like, there is a system that is working against you - the they. I know, Atif, that you have done a lot of work on economic inequality. And economic inequality in the U.S. was really improving a lot for decades and decades. But it has started to become worse. Inequality has been rising in recent years. What is going on? Why is this happening?

MIAN: The key change that has happened in our economy since the 1980s, which is this rising inequality - kind of these greater pools of money available for people to borrow and lend. That ends up raising the value of this house that Richard is trying to buy. And so while his income is not rising as much, his aspiration of, you know, buying that starter home becomes more and more out of reach.

If you look at a 35-year-old making kind of median average wage, if you took that individual or that couple, perhaps, in 1980 and you said, OK, what's the homeownership rate? What's the likelihood that they would be able to own a house? And now you looked at the same 35-year-old couple earning average median income and you said, OK, what is the likelihood that today, in 2020, they can afford the same house? - there is, like, a night and day difference. Today, it is much more difficult - as much as 10 to 20% less likely that they will be able to own a home.

SMITH: Wow.

MIAN: This is how much more difficult it has become for the average, literally speaking, person or household to buy their first house. So there is something deeper that has happened in the economy that is creating that kind of feeling of unease that Richard talks about when he says, you know, they put you in a situation that is not good. I mean, you could almost think of business cycle as a symptom of this broader underlying disease that we face.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SMITH: OK. We are getting to the end of class. Time to talk about some of the concepts and vocabulary that we've learned about today. Remember, there is a test at the end of PLANET MONEY Summer School, and you can earn your very own real-life diploma. Not sure you can actually or should use it to try to get a job, but it is real. You can put it on your wall.

So some of the concepts that we've learned - first of all, the business cycle. Those are just the ups and downs of the economy. And the business cycle has four parts. Economists think of it in four parts. There's the expansion, the peak, the recession and the trough. A recession, by the way - bonus word - is generally considered to be six straight months of the economy getting smaller - of the economy shrinking. Another word - countercyclical. This is a policy or a plan that tries to counteract the business cycle, that kind of goes against where the business cycle is at that moment. And finally, Chapter 11 bankruptcy. That is a reorganization bankruptcy - that's what they call it - when businesses will hit pause on their debts and reorganize their financial situation to try to make a path forward.

So for homework, think about a moment when you personally felt the effects of the business cycle in some way. And if you'd like a little extra credit, let us know what that moment was. We are on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok @planetmoney, or you can email us - planetmoney@npr.org. Don't forget to check out our Summer School TikToks. They are very glorious. Follow along there for a parallel universe of economic self-education @planetmoney. We'll post links to the videos in our show notes.

PLANET MONEY Summer School is produced by Audrey Dilling with help on this episode from James Sneed and Greg Morton. It is edited by Alex Goldmark. Engineering on this episode by Gilly Moon. Our project manager is Devin Mellor. I'm Stacey Vanek Smith. PLANET MONEY is a production of NPR. And be sure to tune in next week. We will be talking about inflation. Same macro time, same macro place. Thanks for listening.

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