It's giving ... Valentines : Planet Money L, is for the way you Listen to Planet Money
O, is for the Only podcast I hear
V, is Very, very, fiduciary
E, is for... ECONOMICS!

Every February, we dedicate a show to the things in our lives that have been giving us butterflies. Whether it's an obscure online marketplace or a piece of stunt journalism that made us green with envy. And then we go out into the world to proclaim our love...in the form of a Valentine. And we have a great roster this Valentine's Day:

- A grocery store in Los Angeles with the very best produce
- A woodworking supply company with an innovative approach to... innovation!
- A basketball player that makes a strong case for taking risky shots
- A book that catalogues the raw materials that shape our world
- A play that connects the 2008 financial crisis to the sale of the island of Manhattan in the 1600s
- And, a podcast that turns corporate intrigue into watercooler chit-chat

So cozy up with a special someone and hand them the second earbud as we take you through our 2024 Valentines!

Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in
Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.

It's giving ... Valentines

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  • Transcript

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

(SOUNDBITE OF COIN SPINNING)

ALEXI HOROWITZ-GHAZI, HOST:

Every February here at PLANET MONEY, we dedicate a show to the things in our lives that have been giving us butterflies. That could be an obscure online marketplace or a piece of stunt journalism that we wish we'd thought of first. And then, as tradition dictates, we go out into the world to proclaim our love in the form of a valentine, which, in the case of my co-host Sarah Gonzalez, brought me recently to a random parking lot in LA.

(Laughter) There she is. Sarah has appeared in the distance.

SARAH GONZALEZ, HOST:

Here I am.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Sarah Gonzalez.

GONZALEZ: Alexi Horowitz-Ghazi.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Happy Valentine's Day.

GONZALEZ: Oh, happy Valentine's Day.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: All right, so you've brought me out to a mysterious, kind of, shopping center - like, a little strip mall. What are we doing out here?

GONZALEZ: So the story is I moved to LA from New York - loved New York...

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Sarah told me how when she first moved from New York to LA a few years ago, she encountered this little disappointment. She'd been told the food was going to be just as good in LA, but every time she tried some new restaurant, she found herself pining for her favorite places in New York. Then, in the middle of her gastronomic dark night of the soul, Sarah discovered something that put her heart and tastebuds at ease.

GONZALEZ: The grocery stores - the New York grocery stores have nothing on the California grocery stores - nothing. The produce selection, it's just unmatched.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Did you bring me here to go to a grocery store?

GONZALEZ: I did.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Very romantic.

GONZALEZ: (Laughter).

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Very - nothing says Valentine's Day like a grocery store. What is this place? Vallarta Supermarket.

GONZALEZ: Vallarta Supermarket.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Now, Sarah said that California grocery stores, in general, just feel like they have such a bigger selection - so much more produce all year-round. Probably because so much of it has grown here in the state, but also New York City grocery stores are just smaller than the national average. And in LA, she now has access to things she could never find in New York, things she lovingly remembers from growing up in Southern California.

Oh, it's fun in here.

GONZALEZ: Look at this. Look at this.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Whoa.

GONZALEZ: OK, this candy - like, this stuff, you have to cross the border to get this kind of stuff. There's agua frescas - like, fresh-pressed juices being made. A lady making tortillas - hand-making tortillas fresh for you. It feels like you're, like, in a little village...

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Yes, totally.

GONZALEZ: ...You know (laughter)?

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: There are all these little islands in the store where someone is making fresh guacamole at a guacamole station. There's a tower of ceviche cups to go, and a Mexican paleta ice cream section.

Could I have a medium horchata, please?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: A medium horchata, OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF LIQUID POURING)

GONZALEZ: Do you see how, like, frothy that looks?

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Oh, my God.

GONZALEZ: It just looks so good. Look at this. Fresh out of the oven, hot torta bread.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: There's just a little bread trolley...

GONZALEZ: Should we get one?

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: ...A little magical...

GONZALEZ: Let's just get one.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: ...Bread trolley.

GONZALEZ: Let's just get one. I'm going to just rip off a piece and eat the cheese inside. Oh, we're going to...

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Cheese?

GONZALEZ: ...Dip - we could dip it in our beans.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Perfect. This is an expert move - expert level right here.

GONZALEZ: This is how you shop at this grocery store. You snack along the way. It's the only way to do it.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Oh, yeah.

GONZALEZ: Yeah.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Wow.

GONZALEZ: This is one of the best snacks in the world - baby plums in, like, a syrupy - this is...

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: This is like a thousand tiny valentines. It's a sonic love letter to Sarah's favorite grocery store.

GONZALEZ: Yeah.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Hello, and welcome to PLANET MONEY. I'm Alexi Horowitz-Ghazi. Today on the show, we hand out the rest of our sonic love letters to all the things that brought us economic joy or learning in the past year. There will be productivity hacks, hot corporate gossip and a celebration of inefficiency.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: PLANET MONEY lovers, welcome back to the show. It is the Valentine's Day show. Next up, my pal Nick Fountain. Nick, thanks for being here.

NICK FOUNTAIN, BYLINE: Aw, thanks, Alexi. Shucks.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: What are you shouting out this year?

FOUNTAIN: Yeah. So Alexi, a bit of preface. I'm sure you have had a job - we have all had jobs where we just sit around all day and complain about how the bosses have no idea how things actually get done and how to make them better.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: It's one of the great pleasures of work.

FOUNTAIN: Exactly. But my valentine this year goes out to a company that I think has figured out how to put that frustration to good use to actually make the company run better.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: All right, I'm intrigued. What are we talking here?

FOUNTAIN: So I don't know if you know this about me, but I used to work in cabinetmaking. I was pretty much a sander.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: That does not surprise me at all. I know you contain vocational multitudes.

FOUNTAIN: I've certainly worked a lot of minimum wage jobs. And because of that job, I became familiar with this company called FastCap in Washington State, which makes supplies for woodworkers.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Very specific.

FOUNTAIN: Yeah. And I just kind of got fascinated by this company. Every day - get this - they force their employees to spend the first 30 minutes of the day fixing the stuff in the production process that bugs them, whether that's shaving two seconds off manufacturing the most popular product or taking out the trash more efficiently or some sort of hack to clean the bathroom every day. There's, like, mandatory improve-the-process time, and they memorialize their greatest hits on YouTube.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RICHARD: Let's go.

LUCAS HOLLAND: Richard (ph) - 2022, just finished this improvement. And I'm making him show it off 'cause it's so cool. What did you do, Richard?

RICHARD: I made this press to take off...

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: So what we're seeing here - there's this guy walking around this sort of factory warehouse space. And he seems to be, like, ambushing his employees, asking them to talk up their favorite improvements that they come up with.

HOLLAND: Yeah. His name is Lucas Holland. He's the head of FastCap's engineering department. And here, for example, he's talking to this one worker, Jamie (ph), who says they used to have this problem. They were getting parts mixed up when they were assembling variations of this one product. And so to fix that, Jamie just color-coded everything.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JAMIE: When you go up to the product itself, you know, oh, this is the color that I need for this product. And the sample also has the same color. So everything matches. So there should be no mistakes.

FOUNTAIN: No mistakes. There's actually a term for this that comes from Japanese manufacturing. It's called poka-yoke. It's this idea that you should streamline processes to make them mistake-proof. And in fact, when I reached Lucas on the phone, he was getting ready to fly to Japan to tour Toyota factories.

Why?

HOLLAND: Because they're the best at manufacturing in the world, and we try to learn everything we can from them.

FOUNTAIN: So first of all, I asked him the question of the day. Would he accept my valentine?

HOLLAND: Yeah.

FOUNTAIN: I think he thought that was a little weird.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Yeah. It sounds like he's, like, audibly backing away from you.

FOUNTAIN: But then he started telling me about what he finds so useful about this little company tradition.

HOLLAND: It's really easy to hire consultants and hire people who come in and try to tell you how they think things should be, but when you get everybody in the company involved in figuring out how to make what they're doing easier, I feel like you get a whole lot more improvement on that. And you get a team atmosphere, too.

FOUNTAIN: And talking to Lucas, I couldn't help but be reminded of this idea that comes from economics, which is called total factor productivity. It's the idea that there's this secret sauce to making the economy more productive that can't be explained by increases in labor hours or new machinery. And a lot of that total factor of productivity growth has to do with just being more efficient with our time and wasting less. And watching Lucas' videos, it feels like seeing that happen in real time.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Did Lucas say whether he does this in, like, the non-work part of his life?

FOUNTAIN: Oh, yeah. Lucas said when you start thinking like this, you cannot stop cutting little inefficiencies out of your everyday life, though he did warn you can try this at home. But do not, under any circumstances, tried to convert your family.

HOLLAND: We try to caution people not to go home and tell their spouses or significant others how much time they're wasting when they're getting ready and they could do it 10 minutes faster 'cause it doesn't make anybody's home life happier.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Yeah, that seems like some solid Valentine's Day advice.

FOUNTAIN: Definitely.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: All right. Thank you, Nick. I hope this next year brings you all of the continuous, tiny improvements you desire.

FOUNTAIN: Poka-yoke right back to you, buddy.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: OK. Next up, we are joined by our resident sports reporter here at PLANET MONEY, producer Emma Peaslee.

EMMA PEASLEE, BYLINE: Hey, Alexi.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: So what have you brought for us from the wild and wacky world of sports? What's your valentine?

PEASLEE: OK. My valentine goes out to this amazing University of Iowa basketball player, Caitlin Clark.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: OK.

PEASLEE: She's on the verge of breaking the all-time scoring record in women's college basketball. And actually, depending on when people are listening to this, she may have already done it.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: So she's a very good basketball player. But why is she your valentine?

PEASLEE: So I want to give her my valentine because the way she plays makes me think differently about efficiency. And obviously, efficiency is a thing economists love.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Yes, as do Japanese manufacturers and our own Nick Fountain, as we've learned.

PEASLEE: Yes. And it's one of the key metrics people use to evaluate athletes. And Caitlin is this incredible scorer. But when you look at this one measure of efficiency, her shooting percentage - basically, how many shots she makes of the ones she takes - it is not remarkable.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: So she's, like, a mysteriously inefficient superstar. I'm intrigued. Go on.

PEASLEE: Right. So her shooting percentage is only, like, 47%, which means she's missing more than half her shots. But focusing on her shooting percentage, this, like, one very narrow definition of efficiency, misses what makes Caitlin so valuable to her team. So to help explain this, I called up Aaron Barzilai, the founder of herhoopstats.com. He's, like, a basketball wonk. He points out the first thing you have to pay attention to with Caitlin is that she's taking so many more shots than other people.

AARON BARZILAI: She's leading the nation in shots per game. She's currently at 22.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Twenty-two shots per game. Does that mean she's, like, kind of a ball hog?

PEASLEE: I mean, people have made that argument about her play style, but what those critics are missing is that it isn't just that she takes a lot of shots. It's the kinds of shots she's taking.

BARZILAI: There's usually this trade off. The more a player shoots, the shots get tougher and tougher.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Tougher and tougher. Like, what does that mean here?

PEASLEE: So in a basketball game, there are only so many easy chances to score. A lot of people with better shooting efficiency are just taking easier shots, like layups. But in reality, those opportunities are limited. If you're going to keep taking shots, eventually you need to take the difficult ones where maybe the offense is stalled out or the clock is winding down. And those are the moments when Caitlin shines. So, like, here, watch this clip from a game last month.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #1: Time winding down. Are they going to get the ball up in time? Clark...

(SOUNDBITE OF TIMER BUZZING)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #1: ...For the win.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #2: This is what Caitlin Clark does, folks. Logo 3s. It's her signature.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: OK. I haven't really watched a lot of basketball, but even I can tell that was pretty sick.

PEASLEE: Right?

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: That was, from, like, halfway across the court.

PEASLEE: Yes. I've watched this clip so many times and I still get chills. And the signature shot of hers is called the logo 3 because she's taking the shot from around the logo in the middle of the court.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: It's almost like a kind of Hail Mary shot.

PEASLEE: Yeah. Maybe for other people. But Caitlin has this shot dialed. This is not, like, a panicky, like, hope it works out kind of shot. She is an expert at these, and that's what makes her so special. Sure, there are more efficient players when it comes to shooting percentage but some of those players are just taking more of the easy shots. Caitlin is a great scorer no matter how difficult the game gets.

BARZILAI: What's unique about Caitlin Clark, you know, it's almost like being able to turn up the treadmill faster and faster. She can take more difficult shots and hit them, you know, more than most humans.

PEASLEE: This is what I love about Caitlin, which gets back to this idea of efficiency. Sometimes I think we chase efficiency for efficiency's sake. We see any amount of waste as bad, but Caitlin's willingness to take these freakishly difficult shots is necessarily going to involve some misses that bring her overall efficiency down, but that is totally worth it for Caitlin and for her team. Iowa is winning more games because of those shots, and now, they're one of the top-ranked teams in the country. Sometimes more waste is just what it takes to win.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLUE DOT SESSIONS' "SCRATCHER")

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: All right. A valentine in defense of inefficiency.

PEASLEE: Sort of.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Producer Emma Peaslee, thanks for bringing your A-game.

PEASLEE: Anytime.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLUE DOT SESSIONS' "SCRATCHER")

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Next up, we have PLANET MONEY executive producer Alex Goldmark. Alex, welcome back.

ALEX GOLDMARK, BYLINE: Hi, Alexi.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: OK. So what or who are you sending your valentine to this year?

GOLDMARK: I am sending it to Ed Conway, a longtime editor at Sky News in the U.K., and specifically for his book "Material World: The Six Raw Materials That Shape Modern Civilization."

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Oh. Sounds elemental.

GOLDMARK: Salt, sand, oil, lots of kinds of things that we cover. And I am sending it to him because when I was reading it, I was like, man, why didn't you call us? We could have made episodes out of so many of these chapters, 'cause he goes the literal distance to the ends of the Earth to watch these industrial processes and meet the people working there, like we like to do in our episodes.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Yes.

GOLDMARK: And the book is packed with answers to questions that I didn't exactly have, but now I'm glad to know, like, trivia. So I thought I could just give you a couple of the easier trivia in the book. You up for it?

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Oh, no. I wasn't expecting a pop quiz, but, yeah. Let's go.

GOLDMARK: It's more like a let's see if we can figure it out together. OK. The first one - steel. Do you know what is steel?

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: I don't know. Is it, like, an alloy between iron and some other metal?

GOLDMARK: Yep. Carbon. Iron and a little carbon. And what I found interesting was, like, if there's too much carbon, it is cast iron. It snaps. If there's not enough carbon, it is wrought iron. It's soft. So there's, like, this Goldilocks amount of carbon in the middle that makes it steel that's shapeable but very strong. And then you get the thing that makes cars and skyscrapers and - OK. You want another one?

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Sure.

GOLDMARK: OK. Oil. You know there are different types of crude oil, like light, sweet crude and sour crude oil? like...

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Yeah.

GOLDMARK: ...Do you know why it's called sour and sweet?

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: I don't know. It feels, like, too obvious to say that they actually taste different. Is it...

GOLDMARK: Well, yeah. It is that. Yeah.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Oh, OK. Yeah. Well, they taste the way that they're labeled.

GOLDMARK: (Laughter) The fuller answer is sulfur.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Oh.

GOLDMARK: Sour means there's a lot of sulfur in it. Sweet has less sulfur. And less sulfur, sweeter, is better. The sour sweet goes back to when people would literally taste it back when, like, oil was used for lamp oil, also. And so sulfur would leave soot. It's worse. It is also worse now because you want less sulfur. And it has to do with how easy or complicated or expensive it is to refine the oil. And so not all oil is equal, is the point.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: All right. I feel like I just listened to a couple PLANET MONEY episodes at triple speed.

GOLDMARK: I didn't even tell you about sand. Sand's, like, the one I was most impressed with.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Sand is for next time. Alex Goldmark, thanks so much for sending your valentine.

GOLDMARK: Thank you, Alexi.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Coming up after the break, we send our valentines to a play about the moral gray area of working on Wall Street and to a gossip show about the juiciest drama this side of the C-suite.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Next up, we have PLANET MONEY producer Sam Yellowhorse Kesler. Hello, Sam.

SAM YELLOWHORSE KESLER, BYLINE: Hey, Alexi. So this year, I'm giving my valentine to a play called "Manahatta."

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Yes. You and I both went and saw this play a few months ago in New York. But for our listeners, just give them a quick plot summary. What's it about?

KESLER: Yeah, it's actually two stories told in parallel with each other. One is set during the early history of the Dutch West India Company and the Native Lenni Lenape people in the island of Manahatta during the 1600s, and the second timeline is more contemporary. It focuses on a Lenape woman who is climbing the corporate ladder at a big Wall Street bank in the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: So a lot of this stuff feels kind of generally in the PLANET MONEY wheelhouse. But why did you want to give it your valentine?

KESLER: The thing I really loved about it is how it managed to capture this tension that I've been feeling, and I'm sure so many other Indigenous people have too, which is this feeling of being Indigenous, trying to work within this economy, and it just kind of feels like the next chapter of colonization. And it can really feel like this impossible knot to untie. And so I called the playwright, Mary Kathryn Nagle, to talk about it. She is also an attorney, and she just had a new baby.

MARY KATHRYN NAGLE: I hope it's OK that I have my newborn baby right here.

KESLER: It's totally OK.

NAGLE: And she's very excited about being on the record.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: What a precocious little baby - already on NPR.

KESLER: Yeah. So Mary Kathryn told me that this play and its main character really were based a lot on her own experience working at this New York law firm.

NAGLE: So I was living in Manhattan, litigating the fallout from the residential mortgage-backed securities crisis.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: OK. So she had kind of a front-row seat to the housing crisis.

KESLER: Yeah, exactly. And she used that experience to craft the story of the play's protagonist, Jane Snake, who moves from her Lenape community in Oklahoma to work on Wall Street in the heart of what used to be Manahatta.

NAGLE: It's a story of homecoming for a young Lenape woman who breaks down all barriers and rises to the top echelons of Lehman Brothers just to end up questioning herself and who she's truly become.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Right. And all of this kind of comes to a head in the play when this mortgage-backed securities frenzy kind of comes home to Jane's family. Her mother ends up losing her home in Oklahoma in a foreclosure.

KESLER: And that's the moment that you see this conflict that Jane has been really trying to run away from, that her success is actually coming at the cost of real lives in her community. And it's a pretty literal moment. Like, Jane's family is being affected by the work she's doing at Lehman Brothers.

NAGLE: I had to deal with some of the similar questions that Jane Snake has to deal with, which is, you know, is my success here in this non-Native white world - is it making things better for my people, or am I just bringing the negative parts of capitalism to my people in a way that's harmful?

KESLER: This play really captured something I felt, that being a part of this economic system as an Indigenous person can sometimes feel like a contradiction or even like a betrayal in some ways. And talking with Mary Kathryn - like, it didn't exactly help me resolve that feeling, but sometimes it's just really nice to speak with somebody who gets it, like, as another Indigenous person, which is why I wanted to give her my valentine.

I hope you'll accept my virtual valentine.

NAGLE: Well, thank you. It's very, very lovely and very touching. And I am very honored to accept this valentine.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: PLANET MONEY producer Sam Yellowhorse Kesler, thank you so much for bringing us your valentine.

KESLER: Yeah. Thank you so much, Alexi.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Finally, today, it is time for my valentine. For that, I've summoned back Nick Fountain to act as my studio confidante.

FOUNTAIN: What do you got on your mind, Alexi? Tell me.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: So I know that our valentines are usually for something that inspired us or made us jealous. But this year, I wanted to give my rose to something that reminded me of why I fell in love with economics reporting in the first place.

FOUNTAIN: Oh. All right, what do you got?

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: It's a podcast I discovered recently called "Corporate Gossip." It's hosted by a sister-brother duo named Becca and Adam Platsky, who do this as sort of a side hustle. And the basic idea behind the podcast is to treat the business world with all of the delicious drama of, like, a sassy reality TV show.

FOUNTAIN: Ooh, love drama.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Like, here's a clip from an episode about the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, David Zaslav.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BECCA PLATSKY: He had just announced a new streaming service with the best name ever - Max. And to top it all off, last year's paycheck just hit the bank...

(SOUNDBITE OF CASH DRAWER BELL)

PLATSKY: ...A quarter of a billion dollars. It's giving robber baron chic.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Super chatty, super fun. And so I called Becca Platsky up to give the show my valentine. And it was just super clear, immediately, how much she loves this stuff. Like, she studied business in college. She's worked in corporate America for the last decade. And talking to her, she was even waxing enthusiastic about accounting.

FOUNTAIN: Rare.

PLATSKY: It's like true crime without the murder...

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: (Laughter).

PLATSKY: ...When you're getting into auditing, and you're getting into forensic accounting and white-collar crime. And it's amazing. It's the plumbing of business, and I think one of the most fascinating things you can study.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: In every episode of "Corporate Gossip," Becca and her brother apply that fascination to everything from Peloton to Rupert Murdoch to Bed Bath & Beyond. And the thing I love about listening to the show is how much time they take to revel in the most absurd little details.

FOUNTAIN: Give me an example.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: OK, like the time former Nissan executive, Carlos Ghosn, threw himself a company party at Versailles and then found out that many of his invited guests were not going to show up.

PLATSKY: Oh, my god. Imagine being a CEO and you can't get enough people to come to your party at Versailles, so you have to hire actors to make it look like there were more people at the party. What a story. I love that episode.

FOUNTAIN: So it's like corporate TMZ, but smarter?

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Yes, exactly. And listening to the show can feel, like, a little bit like snacking on candy, but it's also surprisingly nutritious. Like, for example, their episode on Boeing felt breezy and light. But by the end, you also grasp how over the past few decades, Boeing has transitioned from an engineer-led company to one focused more on cost cutting. And when that door plug fell off one of their planes earlier this year, I knew the backstory.

FOUNTAIN: I could see why you're giving them a valentine. It just seems so much fun and not too dissimilar from what we do.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Yes, totally. And while they don't identify as journalists, their episodes are based on extensive research drawn from books and trade publications and court cases - all in service of trying to make this complicated corporate world accessible enough to talk about at a dinner party or on a date.

PLATSKY: I would love a world in which we can go from talking about who was cast on "Real Housewives Of New York" in one breath, and then in the next breath, talk about regulatory capture and the impacts of deregulation on airports and airlines...

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: (Laughter).

PLATSKY: ...And like, you know, so that's kind of my dream.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: And talking with Becca about all this kind of reminded me about what I love about what we do here on the show. It's this idea that not only are economics and finance worth talking about 'cause they are hugely consequential to the fate of the world, but also because they're filled with this outrageous Shakespearean drama. And the lovely thing about all this was when I gave their show my valentine, Becca gave our show a valentine right back.

So that's why I wanted to give the valentine to you guys, like, the "Corporate Gossip" podcast.

PLATSKY: We're super honored. I mean, PLANET MONEY was an inspiration for our podcast. When we have our vision board, you guys are on it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Becca Platsky, co-host of "Corporate Gossip," thanks for joining us on the show.

PLATSKY: God, of course. I would drop everything for PLANET MONEY.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: (Laughter) That's what we like to hear.

PLATSKY: (Laughter).

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: That's what we want our listeners to do whenever a new episode drops.

FOUNTAIN: On the next PLANET MONEY, a show I'm working on.

So let me - let's just talk about things back when they were normal-ish (ph) and good...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Ha. There's never been a normal time in shipping.

FOUNTAIN: For months now, a militant group has been disrupting shipping around the Red Sea, threatening a huge chunk of global trade. And the U.S. is taking up arms to defend not just U.S. ships but other countries' ships too. Why is that? It goes back to an old idea called freedom of the seas. That's coming up on the next episode.

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HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Today's show was produced by Willa Rubin with help from Sam Yellowhorse Kesler. It was edited by Dave Blanchard and engineered by Cena Loffredo. Fact-checking by Sierra Juarez. Alex Goldmark is our executive producer. Special thanks to Janet Woojeong Lee.

FOUNTAIN: I'm Nick Fountain.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: I'm Alex Horowitz-Ghazi. This is NPR. Thanks for listening.

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