Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly

Marketplace

Each weekday, Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood make today make sense. Along with our supersmart listeners, we break down happenings in tech, the economy and culture. Every Tuesday we bring on a guest to dive deeper into one important topic. Because none of us is as smart as all of us.

All Episodes

By now, you’ve probably heard that Jerome Powell has been nominated to serve another four years as chair of the Federal Reserve, our nation’s central bank. As we talked about on the show Monday, the decision boiled down to a political calculus. But what does the Fed do anyway? And why do we need it? “The main reason why the Fed itself was created was because in the lead-up to 1913, which is when it was created, there were a bunch of bank runs. It was sort of every bank for itself back then, where banks would issue their own money. There wasn’t a central source of money printing. And so, if one bank maybe ran into trouble, people would run and pull their money out,” said Victoria Guida, who covers the Federal Reserve for Politico. So basically, the Fed is supposed to be there when things go wrong to maintain the health of our economy. But the Fed does a lot of other things, like control borrowing costs and regulate banks. On the show today, Guida explains the evolution of the Fed and how it touches the life of every person in this economy and may be making wealth inequality worse. In the News Fix, we stick with the theme of the day and highlight a story about why presidents shouldn’t mess with the independence of the central bank. Also, inflation is coming to a dollar store near you. Later, we’ll hear from a listener who is changing up his holiday shopping habits this year and talk Thanksgiving turducken-inspired cocktails! Here’s everything we talked about today: “Biden renames Powell to lead Fed, risking the left’s wrath” Guida’s latest in Politico “Did the Federal Reserve make economic inequality worse?” from Marketplace “Turkish lira in historic 15% crash after Erdogan stokes fire sale” from Reuters “Dollar Tree hikes prices 25%. Most items will cost $1.25” from CNN Read the transcript here. We will be off the rest of the week for the holiday break. We are so grateful for our listeners and wish you a happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 23

32 min 53 sec

President Joe Biden says he wants to reappoint Jerome Powell to serve as chair of the Federal Reserve for a second term. It’s a big deal, but it wasn’t unexpected. We’ll explain the political calculus behind the decision. Plus, we’ll highlight a few long reads you may have missed over the weekend, including one about how China is winning the clean energy contest. And a “Turducken”-inspired Thanksgiving dessert, plus we ask listeners to share their version of a “Turducken” Thanksgiving cocktail. Here’s everything we talked about today: “President Biden’s Appointments for the Federal Reserve” from The New York Times “How the U.S. Lost Ground to China in the Contest for Clean Energy” also from The New York Times “Why Japan Appears Immune to Global Inflation Surge, So Far” from The Wall Street Journal “‘Buy the Constitution’ Aftermath: Everyone Very Mad, Confused, Losing Lots of Money, Fighting, Crying, Etc.” from Vice “The Amazon lobbyists who kill US consumer privacy protections” from Reuters “US lawmakers call for privacy legislation after Reuters report on Amazon lobbying” more from Reuters “Amazon Leaks” from Reveal “Kenosha protesters demonstrate Sunday after Rittenhouse acquittal” from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Check out these really funny photos of animals in the wild The Wongducken Read the transcript here. Tomorrow, we’re doing a deep dive into the Federal Reserve. If you have a question about the central bank and how it works, send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Nov 23

16 min 6 sec

Austria is getting ready for another round of COVID-19 lockdowns. With vaccine mandates hitting a roadblock in the United States and the fully vaccinated rate under 60%, we discuss the likelihood of another winter wave in America. Plus, we follow the drama over the auctioning of a rare copy of the U.S. Constitution. And, the hosts play our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty. Here’s everything we talked about today: “Austria lockdown starts Monday; tourist travel ‘will not be possible'” from USA Today “Copy of U.S. Constitution Sells for $43.2 Million as Crypto Group DAO Is Outbid” from The Wall Street Journal “Citadel CEO Ken Griffin pays $43.2 million for Constitution copy, outbidding crypto group” from CNBC “UC slams the door on standardized admissions tests, nixing any SAT alternative” from The Los Angeles Times “Ford Scraps Plan to Develop an Electric Vehicle With Rivian” from The Wall Street Journal “United Airlines Resumes Hard Liquor Service Before Holiday Travel” from Business Insider “MoviePass relaunch may happen soon, says cofounder” from Fast Company “NYC to host New Year’s Eve in Times Square for fully vaccinated attendees” from CNBC “Reese’s reveas its largest peanut butter cup yet” from CNN “Staples Center to be renamed Crypto.com Arena as part of 20-year naming rights deal” from The Athletic Read the transcript here. Thank you for everyone who joined us on YouTube today. We’re live Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for happy hour! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Nov 20

29 min 2 sec

Crypto enthusiasts came through. They’ve raised $40 million to buy a rare copy of the U.S. Constitution that’s up for auction to put it back in “the hands of the people.” We’ll explain how this all ties into what’s happening in the crypto space. Plus, why inflation is hitting some parts of the United States harder than others and the problem with Biden’s plan to open ports 24/7. Oh, and smiling quokkas! Here’s everything we talked about today: “A group of crypto investors is trying to buy a copy of the Constitution — for $40 million” from CNN “Truckers Steer Clear of 24-Hour Operations at Southern California Ports” from The Wall Street Journal “Where Inflation Is Highest in US” also from The Wall Street Journal “US auctions off oil and gas drilling leases in Gulf of Mexico after climate talks” from The Guardian “Furor Over Peng Shuai’s #Metoo Accusation Challenges China” from The New York Times Smiling quokka’s  Video: “Top Gun,” Ohio State vs. Purdue halftime Read the transcript here. Join us on YouTube Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Nov 19

16 min 41 sec

Texas is throwing a bit of shade at California. In a recent ad, it says Texas ports are open and ready to solve the nation’s supply chain problems. But can ships really be diverted from the Port of Los Angeles to Houston? It’s not as easy as it sounds. Plus, we’ll answer your questions about why skyscrapers keep lights on at night, ESG investing and the origin story behind a piece of Marketplace merch. Here’s everything we talked about today: “Why Container Ships Can’t Sail Around the California Ports Bottleneck” from The Wall Street Journal “Column: More nonsense from Texas Gov. Abbott” from The Los Angeles Times “Why Is New York City’s Skyline Always Lit Up?” from The New York Times “Is ESG investing really socially responsible?” from “Marketplace” Our episode on ESG investing: “Can capitalists save the planet?” Get your Marketplace Vintage Kai Tee  Read the transcript here. Thanks to those of you who sent us questions this week. If you have a question you’d like our hosts to answer in a future episode, call us at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278) or send a voice memo.

Nov 18

14 min 45 sec

At the start of the pandemic, and even a little before (remember the U.S.-China trade war?), some folks wondered if we were about to see the end of offshoring and whether U.S. companies would start to bring factories and jobs back from overseas. The process is known as onshoring, and the idea was that everything from personal protective equipment to semiconductors would soon be made in the USA, driven mostly by Donald Trump’s tariffs and the pandemic’s supply chain shortages. So that got us wondering, are we doing that? Is onshoring happening? “You got me. I think we economists have been intellectually dishonest and just putting this narrative out. But nobody’s actually gone to check to see what’s really happening,” said Megan Greene, an economist and senior fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School. Greene said there’s not a ton of good data out there, but the data we do have shows onshoring is just not a thing right now. On the show today, Greene does some myth busting about why companies aren’t rushing to bring production back to the United States. She also explains why globalization isn’t over and what the future of global supply chains might look like. In the News Fix, an awesome tech story about NBA star Stephen Curry followed by a bizarre crypto-themed one. Plus, space junk is a growing problem. Then, we hear from listeners who are part of the Great Resignation movement. And a listener calls in with thoughts on that newborn baby smell. Here’s everything we talked about on the show today: “Don’t believe the deglobalisation narrative” Megan Greene’s latest from The Financial Times “No, the Pandemic Will Not Bring Jobs Back From China” from Foreign Policy “Carbon Tax, Beloved Policy to Fix Climate Change, Is Dead at 47” from The Atlantic “Crypto Investors Want to Buy Rare Copy of U.S. Constitution” from The Wall Street Journal “In basketball, the right tech can improve your shot” from “Marketplace Tech” “Russian anti-satellite missile test endangers space station crew” from Reuters “The Smell of Newborn Babies Triggers the Same Reward Centers as Drugs” from Smithsonian magazine Read the transcript here.

Nov 17

32 min 13 sec

We often look to history to stop us from making the same mistakes we’ve made in the past. But as American policymakers mounted their economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they looked to the Great Recession, and they may have overcorrected a bit. We’ll discuss how the crises compare and why it may explain a lot about where we find ourselves today. Plus, Wall Street is worried about the “antiwork” movement, and a listener sent us a story about a lost teddy bear with a happy ending. It’s making us smile. Here’s everything we talked about today: “How America’s Pandemic Economic Response Fought the Last War” from The New York Times “How the U.S. Hid an Airstrike That Killed Dozens of Civilians in Syria” also from The New York Times “‘Antiwork’ movement may be long-run risk to labor force participation: Goldman Sachs” from Yahoo “Elon Musk Sold $5 Billion In Tesla Stock This Week As Shares Plunged Following Twitter Poll” from Forbes “Elon Musk faces a $15 billion tax bill, which is likely the real reason he’s selling stock” from CNBC “Girl reunited with teddy bear lost nearly a year earlier in Glacier National Park” from NBC News Read the transcript here. If there’s something making you smile on this Monday, let us know. Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).  

Nov 16

16 min 42 sec

The United Nations COP26 climate summit is going into overtime because there’s still a lot of work left to do. We’ll explain why the meeting has been a disappointment both in terms of results and in terms of what it’s meant for the spread of climate misinformation. Plus, good news on the vaccine beat. Mandates work! Also, happy birthday, Molly’s mom. And … we have Make Me Smart T-shirts and sweatshirts! You can get yours at Marketplace.org/shop. Here’s everything we talked about today: “These researchers are trying to stop misinformation from derailing climate progress” from NPR  “Opinion | Social Media Is Polluted With Climate Denialism” from The New York Times  “COP26 Live Updates: Negotiators Race to Reach Climate Deal” from The New York Times Twitter thread from NBC’s Ben Collins on vaccine mandates “YouTube Will Hide ‘Dislike’ Counts to Avoid Creator Pile-Ons” from Bloomberg “Walmart is using fully driverless trucks to ramp up its online grocery business” from CNBC “There isn’t enough space for all the trees companies want to plant” from Marketplace “The Popularity of E-Bikes Isn’t Slowing Down” from The New York Times “McDonald’s teams up with Mariah Carey for holiday promotion” from CNBC “Arby’s Is Launching a French Fry Flavored Vodka, Available in Crinkle and Curly” from People Read the transcript here. Thanks to everyone who joined us live on YouTube for this episode! We’re live Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for happy hour! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Nov 13

24 min 48 sec

Electric truck startup Rivian made its debut in the public markets. It’s sold less than 200 vehicles, so how could the company be valued at $86 billion, more than Ford and almost the same amount at GM? We’ll explain what’s really going on in the EV market. Plus, a true hollowed-out shell of story about our climate and why COP26, the United Nations conference, probably won’t help much. Also, Iceland trolls Mark Zuckerberg, and we’re here for it! Here’s everything we talked about today: “Rivian Shares Surge in Largest U.S. IPO Since 2014” from The Wall Street Journal “World’s militaries avoiding scrutiny over emissions, scientists say” from The Guardian “Justice Department Sues Uber Over Charging Wait-Time Fees for Disabled People” from The Wall Street Journal “Nuclear Fusion Is Close Enough to Start Dreaming” from Bloomberg “Biden Marks First Veterans Day in Two Decades Without a War Underway” from The New York Times “The Icelandverse”  Read the transcript here. Join us on YouTube Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Nov 12

16 min 12 sec

We’re inflating! Today, we got word that consumer prices jumped the highest they ever have in the last 30 years. One listener wants to know how much of that has to do with former President Donald Trump’s trade tariffs. The answer? Not as much as you’d think. Plus, we’re fielding your questions about who is or isn’t keeping governments and businesses accountable on climate action, and the origin of “bananapants.” Here is everything we talked about today: “U.S. Inflation Hit 30-Year High in October as Consumer Prices Jump 6.2%” from The Wall Street Journal “Yellen says reciprocal lowering of tariffs could help ease inflation” from Reuters “Q&A: Understanding Paris Agreement NDCs” from the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions Wonk out with the October jobs report (Table A-15 is on page 28) And the episode that made “bananapants” a thing on “Make Me Smart” Read the transcript here. Thanks to all of you who submitted a question. If you’d like the hosts to answer a question in an upcoming episode, call us at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278) or send a voice memo.

Nov 11

14 min 28 sec

Listeners, it’s time to talk about the Great Resignation. That’s the name used to describe this moment in time as a large number of American workers quit their jobs at unprecedented rates. “I also like a lot of other great R-words. I use the Great Reshuffling to talk about the uptick in migration and business formation. I talk about the Great Rudeness when it comes to the fact that a lot of people have been sort of locked in their houses for the last year or at least going out less, or, you know, being rather jerkish to flight attendants and waitstaff. And I also call it the Great Reset, because … I think a lot of people are not only rethinking what exactly they want to do for eight hours a day in their next job, they’re also thinking about rethinking about their relationship with work,” said Derek Thompson, who has been writing about this phenomenon for The Atlantic. According to the Labor Department, 4.3 million workers left their jobs in August. The quits rate, as it’s called, is up to 2.9%, the highest since the department started keeping track. We usually look at the quits rate as an indicator about how optimistic workers are feeling about their ability to find another job. On the show today, we’ll talk about the reasons driving people to leave their jobs right now, why it might actually be a good thing for the American workforce and what it means for our complicated relationship with work. In the News Fix: a portrait of some of the underrepresented voices in our economy and what happened when they banded together. Plus, we’ll highlight a couple of the less talked about parts of the infrastructure package. Also, after one of our hosts (it was Kai) reveals his dislike for the Great Resignation moniker, some listeners call with their own suggestions. And what a pup taught a “Make Me Smart” listener about her love for dogs. When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week we’re doing the numbers on health insurance and explaining HIPPA and the problems with being underinsured. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here. Here’s everything we talked about today: “The Great Resignation Is Accelerating” from Derek Thompson in The Atlantic “The Religion of Workism Is Making Americans Miserable” also from Thompson in The Atlantic “The Great Resignation’ Misses the Point” from Wired “Inside the fast-food workers’ rebellion at a McDonald’s in Bradford, Pa” from The Washington Post “Congress’ new mandate to carmakers: Figure out a way to stop drunk driving” from NPR ICYMI: Our episode on Modern Monetary Theory Read the transcript here.

Nov 9

34 min 51 sec

After years and years of trying, Congress finally came through with a bipartisan infrastructure bill. On the show today, we’ll discuss what’s actually in the bill and what it means for the economy. Plus, you may have noticed more and more businesses are pulling back on what they offer their customers without reducing their prices. Well, it’s not your imagination, it’s a thing dubbed “skimpflation.” And, finally, we end the show on a literal smile! Here’s everything we talked about today: “Roads, transit, internet: What’s in the infrastructure bill” from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch “Countries’ climate pledges built on flawed data, Post investigation finds” from The Washington Post “Moms with access to remote work were most likely to leave their jobs in pandemic, new research shows” from The 19th Opinion | “American Airlines’ cancellations are a window into why people are so upset with the economy” from The Washington Post Here’s a photo of a smiley face on the side of a hill in Oregon Video: Jurassic Park but with a cat! Read the transcript here. Don’t miss tomorrow’s deep dive into the Great Resignation. If you’ve quit your job during the pandemic, we want to hear from you. Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Nov 9

19 min 38 sec

The stock market might not be the best way to understand how the economy’s doing, but the bond market is a different story. On the show today, Kai gives us his read on the bond market and the clues to our economic future it can provide. Plus, we discuss a big labor and sports story: NFL star Aaron Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19. And we wrap up the week with our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty. U.S. 10-year Treasury note prices  “Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers tests positive for COVID-19, source says“ from ESPN “Aaron Rodgers tells radio show he is unvaccinated, getting Covid advice from Joe Rogan” from CNN “Elon Musk Says Tesla Hasn’t Signed Contract With Hertz Despite Earlier Announcement” from The Wall Street Journal Meghan Markle is calling U.S. senators to pass paid leave from Insider “Can a magic box full of new tech help solve the climate crisis?” from “How We Survive” “For hotels, leisure travel is roaring back” from “Marketplace” “How NFTs could change the music industry … for better or worse” from “Marketplace” Read the transcript here. Thanks to everyone who joined us live on YouTube for this episode! We’re live Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for happy hour! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Nov 6

26 min 42 sec

In a new securities filing, Exxon says some of its oil and gas reserves may face impairment, which means they will likely have to stay in the ground because of climate change. On the show today, we’ll discuss why this is big deal. Plus, the incoming New York City mayor wants to get paid in bitcoin, Hawaii is welcoming back tourists and tacos in space! Here’s everything we talked about today: “Exxon warns some assets may be at risk for impairment due to climate change” from Reuters “Hawaii Eases Covid Restrictions and Reopens for Tourists” from The New York Times “New York City’s mayor-elect says he wants to get paid in Bitcoin” from The Verge “NASA’s Latest Breakthrough: ‘Best Space Tacos Yet'” from The New York Times “Republican Edward Durr, Truck Driver Who Spent $153 on Campaign, Defeats New Jersey Senate President” from Yahoo And a photo of Willow. Willow wants to play ball, not take pictures. Read the transcript here. Join us on YouTube Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Nov 5

13 min 45 sec

Gas prices are up, and one listener wanted to know who is and who isn’t to blame. On the show today, we do a little fact-checking on who’s really responsible for the high price at the pump. Plus, we’ll answer a lingering question about the carbon tax and explain how companies make money from the stock market. And Molly shares some important news about a big change she’s making. Here’s everything we talked about today: “Why politicians have little sway over gas prices” from “Marketplace” “Three Reasons Why Gas Prices Are So High Right Now” from Business Insider ICYMI: our episode on the case for a carbon tax MIT’s study on carbon taxes “Understanding how an IPO gets priced” from “Marketplace” Read the transcript here. Keep sending your questions. Call us at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278) or send a voice memo.  

Nov 3

18 min 3 sec

Economics is a social science. It involves theories and models and lots of math. So why is it so hard for economists to agree? And why is there often a disconnect between what economists say will happen and what actually happens in the real economy? That’s something Molly has been wondering about. So we turned it into a show and called in some help. Colin Camerer, the Robert Kirby professor of behavioral economics at the California Institute of Technology, says there’s a big divide between microeconomics and macroeconomics. “It’s a little bit like geology, where we understand a lot about about rocks and mountains and how old they are, that’s micro, and earthquake forecasting, in which we know that there will be a big quake … but we don’t know if it’s gonna be next year, five years, 10 years … that’s kind of like macro.” On the show today, Camerer explains the role economists play in society and how we should be thinking about what they tell us, especially since their findings sometimes drive public policy debates. In the news fix, America is in a AI battle with China, and it’s not looking great for team USA. Plus, who is really benefiting from Zillow’s failed plan to flip thousands of homes? We’ll also hear from listeners who have mixed feelings about the outcome of the COP26 climate summit and an answer to the Make Me Smart question that has us wondering whether anything we know is true anymore. Here’s everything we talked about today:  “A New Study of Economics as a Science Says It’s Still Dismal” from Wired “What economists have gotten wrong for decades” from Vox “US has already lost AI fight to China, says ex-Pentagon software chief” from the Financial Times “Zillow Seeks to Sell 7,000 Homes for $2.8 Billion After Flipping Halt” from Bloomberg “COP26: 7 climate takeaways from Day 1 of the Glasgow talks” from CNN Read the transcript here.

Nov 2

37 min 10 sec

The big story from the weekend is the start of the United Nations COP26 climate conference. And even though we’re watching it, we’re wondering if the meeting will lead to any major changes to get a deal done. We’ll discuss the meeting’s potential. Plus, an update on New York City workers and COVID-19 vaccine mandates, and the Halloween supply chain. Here’s everything we talked about: “Climate finance could make or break the COP26 summit. Here’s why” from Reuters “Warnings of violence before Jan. 6 precipitated the Capitol riot” from The Washington Post “Thousands of New York City Workers to Lose Pay as Vaccine Mandate Starts Monday” from The Wall Street Journal “China Locks 30,000 Visitors Inside Shanghai Disneyland After One Guest Got Covid-19” also from The Wall Street Journal “Biden Finds Raising Corporate Tax Rates Easier Abroad Than at Home” from The New York Times “Covid Deaths Top 5 Million Even as Vaccines Slash Fatality Rate” from Bloomberg “How The Supply Chain Stole Halloween” from The New York Times Here’s the dog who dressed up as the Evergiven  Read the transcript here. Finally: We need your voice memos! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood to answer! Here’s how to do it.

Nov 2

17 min 47 sec

Even if you don’t know the name Marc Andreessen, you’ve probably interacted with one of his companies. He’s the man behind some of the very first web browsers, Mosaic and Netscape, a Facebook board member and a venture capitalist with investments Twitter, Lyft, Roblox, Airbnb, Stripe and more. He’s also getting into crypto, and that makes us nervous. On today’s show, Kai talks about it with guest co-host Marielle Segarra. Plus: the Starbucks’ unions, new vaccine approvals and another round of our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty. Here’s everything we talked about today: “FDA Clears Pfizer Coronavirus Vaccine for Young Children” from The New York Times “Starbucks workers will vote on union at 3 Buffalo stores” from ABC News “Big Hires, Big Money and a D.C. Blitz: A Bold Plan to Dominate Crypto” from The New York Times “Pandemic Cigarette-Smoking Boom Appears to Be Over” from The Wall Street Journal And our Half Full/Half Empty topics: SPACs in the dictionary, Patagonia’s Facebook boycott, Hertz’s green pledge, the McRib NFT and Marielle’s new fridge. “Jumping the shark” Read the transcript here. Thanks to everyone who joined us live on YouTube for this episode! We’re live Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for happy hour! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Oct 30

21 min 25 sec

Earlier today, Mark Zuckerberg announced he’d be heading Facebook’s new parent company, Meta. It will also cover WhatsApp, Instagram and any future properties, including the virtual reality “metaverse” that inspired the company’s name. We’ll also talk about more infrastructure bill struggles and a new universal basic income effort in Los Angeles on this not-so-grim Hollowed-Out-Shell Thursday. Here’s everything we talked about on the show today: “Facebook changes corporate name to Meta” from The New York Times “Mark Zuckerberg is betting Facebok’s future on the metaverse” from The Verge “Los Angeles is launching the US’ biggest universal basic income pilot” from Yahoo “Woman sues Kellog over lack of strawberries in strawberry Pop-Tarts” from The Washington Post “The Facts on Trump’s fraud letter” from The Wall Street Journal “America’s economic recovery hits a major roadblock” from CNN Join us on YouTube Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Oct 29

13 min 15 sec

Last week, we took a deep dive into the world of decentralized finance, or DeFi. And y’all had some follow-up questions! Today we’re answering a few from listeners about possible uses of DeFi, possible risks and how regulation might work. Here’s everything we talked about on the show: “Cryptocurrency-based decentralized finance takes on Wall Street” from Fortune “What’s DeFi? Crypto-based decentralized finance explained” from CNBC “FATF Will Finally Publish Crypto Anti-Money Laundering Guidance Next Week” from Coindesk via Yahoo “How to green cryptocurrencies” from Politico “Bitcoin’s Most Profitable Use: The $540 Billion Overseas Remittance Business?” from Investopedia Read the transcript here. Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Oct 28

13 min 9 sec

How big is your carbon footprint? Do you really know? If it was taxed, you’d find out one way or another. Maybe the cost of carbon gets added on like a sales tax, or maybe the producer gets hit with additional taxes and passes the cost onto you, like a tariff. Either way, you’ll learn something. It’s an idea some Democrats have been kicking around. So has the European Union. Ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, which starts this weekend in Glasgow, we’re going to step back and explain the carbon tax. Joining us to help with that is economist Shi-Ling Hsu, a professor at Florida State University College of Law and author of “The Case for a Carbon Tax.” Here’s everything we talked about today: “The 5 most important questions about carbon taxes, answered” from Vox A nifty map of existing carbon pricing programs around the world “Ahead of COP26, UN report says G-20 is failing to fight climate change” from The Washington Post “Disneyland ticket prices rise as much as 8%; parking up 20%” from the Los Angeles Times “Hey, Kid, Wanna See Some Leaked Facebook Docs?” from Gizmodo “Biden names Jessica Rosenworcel as first female FCC chair” from The Washington Post Molly’s interview with Rosenworcel on “Marketplace Tech” Read the transcript here. Finally: We need your voice memos! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood to answer! Here’s how to do it.

Oct 27

33 min 38 sec

The whistleblower-driven “Facebook Files” investigation at The Wall Street Journal has expanded to include a whole consortium of journalists and a flood of reporting. Oh, and it’s called “The Facebook Papers” now. We’ll talk about the high-level stuff and the company’s response at today’s blockbuster earnings call. Later on, we’ll talk about a disappointing update to the family leave proposal from the White House and hear a spooky song from a listener. Here’s everything we talked about today: A handy Google doc with all the “Facebook Papers” stories (h/t Katie Harbath) “Four revelations from the Facebook Papers” from the Financial Times “Zuckerberg slams recent negative press before painting rosy, futuristic vision for Facebook” from CNBC “How Frances Haugen Became a Power Player in the Facebook Leaks” from The New York Times “Taxing Billionaires to Pay for Biden’s Agenda: What to Know About the Democrats’ Plan” from The Wall Street Journal “How 4 Weeks of US Paid Leave Would Compare With the Rest of the World” from The New York Times “Hertz Orders 100,000 Tesla Model 3 Cars for Rental Fleet, TSLA Stock Surges” from Bloomberg Read the transcript here. Finally: We need your voice memos! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood to answer! Here’s how to do it.

Oct 26

17 min 16 sec

We’ve been gripped today by the tragic accident on the set of the Western movie “Rust.” Star Alec Baldwin’s prop gun discharged while shooting Thursday, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding Joel Souza, the film’s director. The investigation is ongoing, but the reporting that’s come out of the New Mexico set so far indicates this is a much more complicated story about labor unions and workplace safety. We’ll talk about it today, plus Facebook’s rebranding and the merits of closed captioning. And, of course, we’ll play our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty. Here’s everything we talked about today: “Haugen claims backed by new Facebook whistleblower filing with SEC” from The Washington Post “Donald Trump Does a SPAC Deal” from Bloomberg “Trump SPAC skyrockets as much as 1,657% since deal was announced” from CNN, plus this thread “Alec Baldwin ‘Rust’ camera crew walked off the set in protest before the fatal shooting” from the Los Angeles Times “Alec Baldwin Was Told Gun in Fatal Shooting on Set Was Safe, Officials Say” from The New York Times And our Half Full/Half Empty topics: bitcoin ETF, the Earthshot prize, PayPal acquiring Pinterest, Facebook’s new name and AMC adding closed captioning Read the transcript here.

Oct 23

25 min 50 sec

We’re talking about twin reports from the federal government today, focused on the risks climate change poses to the American economy and global security. It’s, uh, not good. We’ll talk about what’s in each, why the White House wants that information out now and the Joe Manchin of it all. Plus, Big Tech earnings, Jerome Powell’s next moves and a little WeWork news on this grab bag of a Hollowed-Out Shell Thursday. Here’s everything we talked about on the show today: “Report: Climate change is an “emerging threat” to U.S. economic stability” from Axios “White House, intelligence agencies, Pentagon issue reports warning that climate change threatens global security” from The Washington Post “Apple’s ad business sees windfall; is accused of breaking its own privacy rules” from 9to5 Mac “Snap plummets 22% after missing on revenue expectations” from CNBC “Facebook stock drops after company warns Apple’s privacy changes to have bigger Q3 impact” from TechCrunch “Facebook plans to change company name to focus on the metaverse” from The Verge “Fed cracks down on trading by top officials in wake of scandal” from Politico “Scoop: “How about zero?” Manchin, Sanders get heated behind closed doors” from Axios “Adam Neumann hosts booze-soaked party as WeWork stock soars in debut” from The New York Post “Djokovic will need to be vaccinated to play Australian Open: minister” from Reuters Read the transcript here. Join us on YouTube Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Oct 22

19 min 38 sec

When President Joe Biden announced last week that the Port of Los Angeles would begin operating 24 hours a day, it left one of our listeners asking why the port wasn’t doing that already. We answer that, and ponder future supply chain relief. Plus, we answer some additional questions about the Great Resignation, Zoom’s carbon footprint and banana pants! Here’s everything we talked about on the show today: “Pay or delay: Importers caught in shipping backup face limited options” from “Marketplace” “Biden announces Port of LA will be open 24 hours a day in effort to ease cargo backlog” from CBSLA “COVID pandemic is not the supply chain’s only problem” from The Washington Post “Trucking industry not confident in Biden’s 24/7 port plan” from the Commercial Carrier Journal “The Great Resignation Is Accelerating” from The Atlantic “The Great Resignation goes global” from the Washington Post “How to reduce the environmental impact of your next virtual meeting” from MIT News “Are Zoom video calls destroying the planet?” from Sustainablog Read the transcript here. Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Oct 21

15 min 8 sec

Imagine what it would be like if you didn’t have to wait days for your paycheck to be processed by the bank. Or getting a loan without having to go through a bank loan officer. That’s finance, decentralized. Fans of decentralized finance believe DeFi has the potential to make our current financial system more efficient, accessible and affordable by getting rid of intermediaries like banks, brokers and exchanges. “The goal of DeFi is to make financial services more democratic,” says Linda Jeng, a visiting scholar of financial technology and adjunct professor at Georgetown Law. “That means more open access. Anyone should be able to use it. It’s about empowering the customer. So users get to decide the rules of the game.” There’s a lot of hype around DeFi. It’s gone from $1 billion industry in 2018 to $90 billion in 2021. But there’s not a lot of regulation. On the show today, we’ll talk about the risks and rewards of decentralized finance. In the newsfix, we’ll stay on the DeFi theme and discuss a new Securities and Exchange Commission report on the GameStop brouhaha and explain why coal-fired power is on the rise in America. Plus, a “Make Me Smart” listener weighs in on the difference between sailing and yachting. When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week we’ll explain the business behind Halloween candy and haunted houses. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here. Here’s everything we talked about today: “Crypto Banking and Decentralized Finance, Explained” from The New York Times “Crypto’s ‘DeFi’ Projects Aren’t Immune to Regulation, SEC’s Gensler Says” from The Wall Street Journal “Coal-fired power is on the rise in America for the first time since 2014” from CNN “Behind the Energy Crisis: Fossil Fuel Investment Drops, and Renewables Aren’t Ready” from The Wall Street Journal “Explainer: Why did the SEC release a report on GameStop?” from Reuters “Joe Manchin’s ‘blind trust’ is an utter farce | Will Bunch Newsletter” from The Philadelphia Inquirer “Algorithms are often biased. What if tech firms were held responsible?” from “Marketplace Tech” Read the transcript here.

Oct 20

23 min 49 sec

Here’s a sign that we need action on climate change. Water levels in one of the world’s most iconic lakes, Lake Tahoe, have plummeted. That’s not good. Federal climate legislation could help, but basically the entire GOP and Democrat Joe Manchin are opposed. We’ll discuss what means for our climate priorities at home and abroad. Plus, the superrich are getting richer, and a poetic Make Me Smile moment. Here’s everything we talked about today: “Joe Manchin reportedly opposes key Biden climate program” from NPR “Lake Tahoe waters plummet due to drought and climate change” from the Los Angeles Times “The myth of the climate moderate: Joe Manchin isn’t a centrist” from Vox “Video Message of the Holy Father on the occasion of the Fourth World Meeting of Popular Movements (EMMP) (16 October 2021) | Francis” from the Vatican “Zillow Pauses Homebuying as Tech-Powered Flipping Hits Snag” from Yahoo “Jerome Powell Sold More Than a Million Dollars of Stock as the Market Was Tanking” from The American Prospect “Top 1% of U.S. Earners Now Hold More Wealth Than All of the Middle Class” from Bloomberg “Netflix Estimates ‘Squid Game’ Will Be Worth Almost $900 Billion” from Bloomberg Monday’s listener-submitted Make Me Smile Read the transcript here. What’s making you smile these days? Let us know. Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Oct 19

17 min 19 sec

This week, Apple and Netflix fired employees who also happened to be involved in speaking out against their respective employers. What does this all mean for how we think about work? We’ll discuss it. Plus, it turns out Americans want smaller government and we end the week with a round of our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty. Here’s everything we talked about today: “Opinion | Americans want smaller government, Gallup has found. Democrats should heed the message and revise their agenda.” from The Washington Post  “Rising Rents Stoke Inflation Data, a Concern for Washington” from The New York Times “Column: Imagine what else lurks in those 650,000 emails” from The Associated Press “Netflix just fired the organizer of the trans employee walkout” from The Verge “Apple just fired a leader of the #AppleToo movement” from The Verge “More buildings being converted to apartments than ever before” from Marketplace “You do want fries with that: Wendy’s and Google bet on drive-thru AI” from Marketplace “Best Buy makes bigger push into home healthcare with acquisition of Current Health” from Seeking Alpha “McDonald’s launching Beyond Meat’s “McPlant” burger in 8 US cities” from Forbes “Social media users turn traditional Christmas tress into spooky Halloween centerpieces” from The Daily Mail Read the transcript here. Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

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Oct 16

25 min 43 sec

We’re barely getting out of one fight over the debt ceiling and we’re already looking down the road to the next one. Will the GOP come around before the December deadline? We’ll discuss why this game of chicken might not end well. Plus, China says RIP to LinkedIn, and Nokia is dropping a new brick phone! Here’s everything we talked about today: “White House banking on another McConnell retreat over the debt ceiling” from Politico Grey Horse newsletter on the mental and emotional effects of social media  “Microsoft Folds LinkedIn Social-Media Service in China” from The Wall Street Journal “Lawmakers pressure secretary of state to act on “crisis” posed by “Havana syndrome” as cases mount” from CBS News “Nokia releasing new version of 6310 phone —  and it still has Snake!” from The Daily Mail “How space researchers knew that 90-year-old William Shatner didn’t have to worry about his age” from CNN Read the transcript here. If you or someone you care for is in distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (en Español: 1-888-628-9454; deaf and hard of hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.  

Oct 14

16 min 51 sec

The House of Representatives might’ve voted on a short-term spending solution on the debt ceiling, but one of our listeners is still wondering where the debt limit came from and why it’s a thing. We’ll get into the history, which goes back to World War I. Plus, we’ll answer your questions about retirement, carbon capture and the landscape services industry. Here’s everything we talked about today: “U.S. House votes for short-term debt ceiling fix, averting default” from Reuters The 1954 article on the history of the debt limit  from The Monkey Cage blog “Carbon capture technology has been around for decades — here’s why it hasn’t taken off” from CNBC “How Elon Musk will award $100 million in carbon capture contest” from NBC News Some stats on the landscape industry Read the transcript here. Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Oct 14

18 min 9 sec

We’ve gone from lead-acid batteries in our cars to the lithium-ion batteries that power our phones and devices in a relatively short amount of time. The next generation of batteries will need to be big enough to power homes, cities and our electrical grid because experts believe that’ll be key to our transition away from fossil fuels. “Batteries have really been called the glue of the clean-energy economy because … the wind doesn’t always blow, the sun doesn’t always shine … and so we need to have not only enough storage for the few minutes or the few hours between uses, but we need to be able to provide that super-high-reliability storage for hours, days, weeks and seasons,” said Dan Kammen, an energy professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and adviser for innovative energy solutions at the U.S. Agency for International Development. Our current go-to battery technology is lithium ion. But there are so many other technologies coming online that will become the core of our clean energy economy. On today’s show: one of the most hopeful climate-related deep dives we’ve had in a while. We’ll talk with Kammen about some of the latest battery technology and what it’s going to take to make it cheaper, greener and accessible to all. Side note: Molly Wood is doing a whole podcast on lithium batteries called “How We Survive.” Don’t forget to subscribe! In the news fix, we get hard numbers on how climate change is affecting people all over the world and explain the latest fight over vaccine mandates in Texas. Plus, a listener gives us a firsthand account of the oil spill off the coast of Southern California, and an answer to the Make Me Smart question that will get you thinking about your toothbrush. When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week we’ll explain the global supply chain mess, a new form of advertising in the NBA, and the cult success of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here. Here’s everything we talked about today: “World’s largest energy storage system completes Phase II in Moss Landing” from The Monterey Herald “The Battery Boom Will Draw $620 In Investment by 2040” from Bloomberg “Renewable energy: getting to 100% requires cheap energy storage. But how cheap?” from Vox “At least 85 percent of the world’s population has been affected by human-induced climate change, new study shows” from The Washington Post “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott bans any COVID-19 vaccine mandates — including for private employers” from The Texas Tribune Read the transcript here.

Oct 12

34 min 11 sec

Netflix suspended a trans employee who took to Twitter to criticize Dave Chappelle’s special over transphobic comments. It’s not the only example of workers flexing their power. Meanwhile, companies are struggling to figure out how to deal with it. Plus, Apple is still having trouble in the health care space. And, we’re celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day! Here’s everything we talked about today: “Netflix suspends trans employee who tweeted about Dave Chappelle special” from The Verge “Apple dreamed of making healthcare easy. Then it silenced its medical experts.”from Business Insider “Facebook To Limit Politics, Boost Friends, Says Spokesman On ‘Meet The Press’” from Deadline “Gas-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers to be banned under new California law” from Arts Technica “Trump holds fast to his election lies as the GOP establishment hugs him tighter” from Politico Read the transcript here. Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).  

Oct 12

17 min 59 sec

If you take away anything from the October jobs report, it should be this: More than a year and a half into the pandemic, women keep losing jobs. And it’s probably because we still haven’t figured out child care. Today, we’ll talk about some of the possible long-term effects of women leaving the workforce. Plus, Google and YouTube take big steps against climate deniers, and the “Bad Art Friend” drama is really all about Facebook. Then, a special guest surprises the hosts on Half Full/Half Empty. Here’s everything we talked about today: “September jobs report shows unemployed are still struggling with child care and reluctant to return to low-paying jobs” from The Washington Post “White House Weighs Wide-Ranging Push for Crypto Oversight” from Bloomberg “Google, YouTube to prohibit ads and monetization on climate denial content” from Axios “Biden Signs Legislation to Compensate Victims of Mysterious “Havana Syndrome” from The New York Times “Who is the Bad Art Friend?” from The New York Times “The WhatsApp outage and its global economic implications” from “Marketplace Tech” “American Women Quarters Program”  “USPS is trying out a new business, which could transform how millions access cash and pay bills” from The Washington Post “Fat Bear Week Crowns Its Winner” from CNN Read the transcript here. Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Oct 9

22 min 44 sec

On this hollowed-out shell Thursday, we waste no time getting to the dark place. The Biden administration released reports today detailing just how big of an impact climate change will have on our lives, from more traffic, to higher rates of depression and anxiety, and even more bugs. We’ll talk about those challenges. Plus, other stories of note, including a big win for Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Then, a beef over Bruce Springsteen lyrics has finally been put to bed. Here’s everything we talked about today: “Biden administration releases alarming reports on climate change challenges” from NBC News “Caesars Palace To Host 3-Day Climate Denier Conference” from HuffPost “Ireland Signs On to Global Deal Seeking to Curb Tax Avoidance” from The Wall Street Journal “The trillion-dollar coin scheme, explained by the guy who invented it” from Vox  “San Francisco to Ease Some Face-Mask Requirements” also from The Wall Street Journal Tweet thread about the correct Bruce Springsteen lyrics Read the transcript here. Join us on YouTube Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Oct 8

15 min 22 sec

You’ve heard about bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but how are they different from a digital dollar? On this Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday, we’ll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a digital dollar as the Federal Reserve ponders making its own digital currency. Plus, we’ll explain the economics behind robocalls and vaccine mandates. And we get an email from a listener and her cats who want to know what’s up with pet food shortages. Here’s everything we talked about today: “What exactly is a digital dollar, and how would it work?” from Popular Science “China’s digital yuan is a warning to the world” from Wired “Tired of robocalls? The FCC is stillllll trying to stop them” from “Marketplace Tech” “THE ANNOYANCE ENGINE: Spam robocalls became profitable scams by exploiting the phone system, but you can stop them” from Business Insider “Fact check: Workers fired for refusing a vaccine are unlikely to qualify for unemployment” from USA Today “Half of unvaccinated workers say they’d rather quit than get a shot – but real-world data suggest few are following through” from The Conversation The Pet Food Institute on the pet food supply challenges  Read the transcript here. Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Oct 7

18 min 8 sec

What do corporate lawyers, political operatives, and right-wing groups have to do with the Indian Child Welfare Act? A whole lot. ICWA has been around for almost 40 years. It provides protections for Native American kids who are up for foster care or adoption and it says Native kids should be placed with extended family or stay with native communities whenever possible. It doesn’t seem terribly controversial on the face of it. But the child custody law has drawn the attention of groups who see the chance to undo ICWA as the first step into doing away with a whole chain of legislation around Native sovereignty, with huge implications for land use, water rights and gaming rights. In short, a successful legal challenge to this one law, which has now reached the steps of the Supreme Court, could mean a lot of money for a whole lot of non-Native people. “I always say that federal Indian law is the canary in the coal mine, like what the courts are willing to do to tribes. I think everyone should be concerned about and this case for this term, I think will be will be an important one to watch,” said Rebecca Nagle, independent journalist and host of the podcast “This Land,” which focuses on ICWA in its latest season. On today’s show, we’ll dig into the fight over ICWA, the players involved and who stands to benefit if it’s found unconstitutional on the basis of race. In the news fix, we’ll talk about Facebook whistleblower testimony, COVID’s two-month cycle and the cost of living in flood zones — speaking of the effects of climate change, Molly’s super secret project, the “How We Survive” podcast, launches tomorrow. Plus, the birds of “Make Me Smart.” When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week we’ll explain the history behind historically Black colleges and universities, how pumpkin-spice beer became a thing and why Sherlock Holmes continues to be one of the most popular fictional detectives of all time. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here. Here’s everything we talked about today: “This Land” podcast “The Native adoption case that could dismantle the Indian Child Welfare Act, explained” from Vox “A Court Battle Over a Dallas Toddler Could Decide the Future of Native American Law” from The Atlantic “Facebook whistleblower will urge U.S. Senate to regulate company” from Reuters “The price of living near the shore is already high. It’s about to go through the roof.” from The Washington Post “Covid, in retreat” from The New York Times Molly’s “secret” project: “How We Survive” Read the transcript here.

Oct 5

38 min 59 sec

Facebook went down for six hours today. The outage happened a day after a former employee went on national television saying the company has put profits above, well, everything else. We’ll talk about how this could’ve happened and what it meant for global commerce. Plus, the federal debt limit debate is at DEFCON 2, and New Zealand gives up on its yearlong, zero-COVID strategy. And, it’s Fat Bear Week! Here’s everything we talked about today: “Gone in Minutes, Out for Hours: Outage Shakes Facebook” from The New York Times “Battling Delta, New Zealand Abandons Its Zero-Covid Ambitions” from The New York Times Signs the debt limit has turned into DEFCON 2  “Company That Routes Billions of Text Messages Quietly Says It Was Hacked” from Vice   “Hollywood Crew Union Votes to Authorize Strike Against Studios” from The New York Times It’s Fat Bear Week  Read the transcript here. Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Oct 5

17 min 30 sec

With the debt ceiling crisis still pending, a popular old idea has sprung up: a trillion-dollar coin. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said it’s a no-go, but how come? We talk about what the trillion-dollar coin is and why it isn’t the best (or worst) idea. We also discuss Google backing out of the finance game and share some interesting sound from Disneyworld’s 50th anniversary. Finally, a round of everybody’s favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty! Here’s everything we talked about on the show today: “The trillion dollar coin idea is back as a wacky way to prevent financial Armageddon” from CNN “Google is scrapping its plan to offer bank accounts to users” from The Wall Street Journal “What would the trillion dollar coin look like?” from Marketplace “FAA plans to reduce the time planes spend taxiing on the runway” from Marketplace “NYC hopes congestion pricing can reduce traffic. How has it worked elsewhere?” from Marketplace “Macy’s is trying to block Amazon from advertising atop its Herald Square store” from CNBC “Grocery store opens chat registers for lonely customers” from Vice Read the transcript here. Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Oct 2

23 min 44 sec

Let’s talk about the results of Facebook investigating itself. TLDR: The company says the research it did — on its apps having a negative effect on young people — isn’t what we think it is. Plus, Sen. Joe Manchin is “feeling his oats,” and get ready for slower mail delivery. Here’s everything we talked about today: “Facebook grilled by Senate over company’s impact on kids” from CNN Facebook’s research  “Covid is killing rural Americans at twice the rate of people in urban areas” from NBC News “USPS First Class Mail delivery is getting slower: Here’s why” from Fast Company “Manchin proposed $1.5T top-line number to Schumer this summer” from Politico Manchin’s deal sheet The tweet that made Molly lol Join us on YouTube Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Oct 1

18 min 15 sec

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, there could be “catastrophic economic consequences.” But what does that mean for the average American? We’ll get to the bottom of this listener question. Plus, we’ll do the numbers on the high cost of child care and the defense budget. Then, bird watching anyone? We break down what “hawks” and “doves” have to do with monetary policy. Here’s everything we talked about today: “Here’s what the debt limit standoff means for you” from CNBC “Janet Yellen: Congress, Raise the Debt Limit” from The Wall Street Journal “Why Daycare Workers Are So Poor, Even Though Daycare Costs So Much” from The Atlantic “‘The pay is absolute crap’: Child-care workers are quitting rapidly, a red flag for the economy” from The Washington Post “Study says nearly half of defense spending for 9/11 wars went to private contractors” from PBS Newshour “The Pentagon Has Never Passed An Audit. Some Senators Want To Change That” from NPR “The economic shorthand of hawks and doves” from Marketplace Read the transcript here. Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).  

Sep 30

16 min 28 sec

The U.S. in the middle of resettling tens of thousands of Afghan citizens around the country. At the same time, it’s turning away Haitians and Central Americans at the U.S.-Mexico border. What gives? “The reasons why they may be migrating are very similar, in terms of fleeing persecution, war, violence; the difference is where they seek that legal relief,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, the president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, a nonprofit organization that’s helped resettle refugees for decades. On the show today, we’ll dig into the U.S. refugee system, how it got to be this way and how we can rebuild a system that is more just. We’ll also talk about a major victory for garment workers in California and what that might mean for their counterparts nationwide. Plus, we’ll get an update on the debt troubles of China’s Evergrande and hear from listeners about their parent-child “Make Me Smart” listening teams. When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week we’ll explain why Costco hot dogs are so cheap, the fight over Apple’s app store and the economic consequences of hurricanes. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here. Here’s everything we talked about today: “Afghan refugees and Haitians at the Texas border: Who’s worthy of US protection?” from Vox “The Biden administration will raise the cap on refugee admissions to 125,000” from The New York Times “The evacuation of Afghan refugees is over. Now what?” from The Brookings Institution “California Ends ‘Piece Rate’ Work For Garment Workers, Guaranteeing Minimum Hourly Wage” from HuffPost “Garment Workers, Paid Per Piece, Say They’ll Keep Fighting to Change System” from NBC News “Evergrande Bondholders Mull Next Steps in Wake of Missed Payment” from The Wall Street Journal  “Yellen tells Congress that U.S. will run out of debt ceiling flexibility on Oct. 18”  from The Washington Post Read the transcript here.

Sep 28

23 min 55 sec

You know it’s a big deal when people retire early from jobs where people never retire early. Two Federal Reserve presidents stepped down after making controversial trades in the financial markets the Fed was actively trying to stabilize in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. We’ll discuss why the resignations matter. Plus, a few other stories you might’ve missed over the weekend, including one about dentists fighting a plan to add dental coverage to Medicare. And a Make Me Smile moment from a fellow listener. Here’s everything we talked about today: “Dallas Fed President Kaplan to retire early on Oct. 8, citing trading disclosure ‘distraction'” from CNBC “Beijing Claims Victory Over Huawei Executive’s Return”  from The Wall Street Journal “Fuel pumps run dry in British cities, sowing supply chain chaos” from Reuters “Dentists’ Group Fights Plan to Cover Dental Benefits Under Medicare” from The Wall Street Journal “A day-by-day guide to Congress’s high-stakes budget week” from The Washington Post “R. Kelly is convicted on all counts after decades of accusations of abuse” from The New York Times “Simone Biles is excited for highly anticipated Gold Over America Tour” from CNN Read the transcript here. Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Sep 28

14 min 49 sec

China is making big crypto moves. Today, it made all financial transactions involving cryptocurrencies illegal. It also banned crypto mining. At the same time, it’s launching its own digital currency. We’ll dig into what it might mean for crypto’s future. Plus, one thing that hasn’t got better during the pandemic: Mothers are still having a hard time returning to work. And now it’s because of a shortage of child care workers. Also, we nerd out about copyright law and wrap up the week with a round of our favorite game, “Half Full/Half Empty.” Here’s everything we talked about today: “China Cracks Down Harder on Cryptocurrency With New Ban” from The New York Times “Disney Sues to Keep Complete Rights to Marvel Characters” from The New York Times “Tough Biden calls on Trump executive privilege headed for Jan. 6 probe” from Politico “‘Can’t Compete’: Why Hiring for Child Care Is a Huge Struggle” from The New York Times “Six United employees ask court to block vaccination requirement” from CNN “More Corporate Climate Commitments Are Essential to Limiting the Effects of Global Warming” from Just Capital “All this talk about the Fed “tapering” bond-buying — what’s it to you?” from “Marketplace” “Vinyl records are selling at twice the clip of a year ago with no signs of slowing down” from “Marketplace” “NYC passes new protections for delivery app workers” from “Marketplace” “New emoji are about to drop, but where do they come from anyway?” from “Marketplace Tech” Read the transcript here. Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Sep 25

24 min 47 sec

It’s tradition. Every couple of years, Democrats and Republicans fight over raising the federal debt ceiling, or the limit of how much money the government can borrow to pay its bills. Right now is one of those times. Should this tradition be broken? We’ll discuss. Plus, Boris Johnson takes aim at Kermit the frog and Brandi Carlile’s upcoming SNL appearance has us grinning. And we’re taking your make me smile submissions. Here’s everything we talked about today: A tweet on Nancy Pelosi’s debt ceiling remarks “House Panel Expands Inquiry into Climate Disinformation by Oil Giants” from The New York Times “Every season except summer is getting shorter, a sign of trouble for people and the environment” from The Washington Post “Redfin CEO, Zillow pour cold water on TikToker’s iBuyer theory” from Inman British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Kermit the frog joke Brandi Carlile’s SNL tweet  And her Grammy performance Read the transcript here. Join us on YouTube Fridays at 3:30 p.m. Pacific/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode! Subscribe to our channel and sign up for notifications so you don’t miss it.

Sep 24

16 min 18 sec

Progressive Democrats are pressuring President Joe Biden to replace Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. But how did a non-economist even come to head the Fed anyway? That’s one of the listener questions we answer on this Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday. We’ll also talk about mismatching in the labor market and who the United States is borrowing money from. Plus, Molly reveals her super-secret project! Here’s everything we talked about: “The long and twisting story of how Jay Powell became our next Federal Reserve chair” from Marketplace “Progressives led by AOC call for Biden to replace Fed Chair Powell” from CNN “The debt-ceiling fight, explained” from The Washington Post “A record number of job openings, but only so-so on the hiring front” from “Marketplace” “3 ‘mismatches’ that explain the labor shortage” from Business Insider “What is geoengineering—and why should you care?” From MIT Technology Review Molly’s super-secret project: “Introducing ‘How We Survive'”  Read the transcript here. Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Sep 23

19 min 11 sec

Congressional Democrats are working on a $3.5 trillion bill that would vastly expand the social safety net. But what exactly is this thing we call the social safety net? “We’re talking about things like the earned income tax credit, child tax credits, a cash transfer program called TANF, or Temporary Assistance [for] Needy Families … but if you think about how long it might take you to get on your feet, it is a relatively meager and challenging system to subsist on,” said Tina Sacks, associate professor of social welfare at the University of California, Berkeley. The idea that the government should help catch Americans if they fall on hard times started during the Great Depression, for obvious reasons. But Sacks says today that net doesn’t work as well as it should. There are a lot of gaps in the system, and at the end of the day our programs are pretty meager compared to those in other developed nations. On the show today, Sacks walks us through the ins and outs of the social safety net. What it looks like in practice and whether the Democrats’ plan could make a real difference. Later, we’ll talk about the next legal fight over reproductive rights, hear from a listener who makes us smart about toaster ovens and a callout for all your Duo voice memos! When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week we’ll explain so-called name, image and likeness compensation deals and how they’re changing the game for student athletes, along with the origin of potato chips. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here. Here’s everything we talked about today: “From Cradle to Grave, Democrats Move to Expand Social Safety Net” from The New York Times “Pandemic Aid Programs Spur a Record Drop in Poverty” from The New York Times The Uncertain Hour’s podcast on the history of welfare reform “The Time Tax” from The Atlantic “Texas doctor who defied state’s near-total abortion ban is sued” from The Los Angeles Times Professor Caitlin Myers’ tweet thread on economists’ amicus brief against a Mississippi abortion law “A ‘Righteous Strike'” from The New York Times’ The Daily podcast Read the transcript here.

Sep 21

29 min 36 sec

A massive real estate company is freaking out the global markets. The Evergrande Group is sitting on tons of debt, and investors worry it could go broke and send ripple effects throughout China and beyond. We’ll explain the Evergrande crisis. Plus, you’re awesome! A big shoutout to all the “Make Me Smart” listeners who helped us beat our fundraising goal. And please send photos of you in your banana pants! Here’s everything we talked about today: “Evergrande Blowup Ensnares Stocks With Very Little Link to China” from Bloomberg “Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power: Excerpt” from New York Magazine “Opinion | Janet Yellen: Congress, Raise the Debt Limit” from The Wall Street Journal “Covid-19 vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds is safe and shows ‘robust’ antibody response, Pfizer says” from CNN “My 80s TV!” Read the transcript here. Our show needs your voice! Tell us what you think of the show or ask a question for our hosts to answer! Send a voice memo or give us a call at 508-82-SMART (508-827-6278).

Sep 21

19 min 8 sec

Today, a group of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted to reject a plan from the White House to approve vaccine boosters for most Americans. That was followed up by a vote to approve boosters for people who are at serious risk of coronavirus disease or over the age of 65. We’ll talk about what makes the discussion around boosters so complicated. We’ll also talk about the Pentagon’s acknowledgment of a drone strike gone very wrong. Finally, we wrap up the show with a round of our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty. Give now to support the show you love and to get the “Make Me Smart” banana pants and ringtones! Marketplace.org/givesmart. Here’s everything we talked about on the show today: “Pentagon acknowledges Aug. 29 drone strike in Afghanistan was a tragic mistake that killed 10 civilians” from The New York Times “FDA panel backs COVID-19 boosters only for elderly or high-risk Americans” from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch “Employers’ new strategy: Come for the work, stay for the college tuition” from Marketplace “More than 80 percent of Americans want their paycheck the day they earn it” from The Hill “Cup Noodle company introduces 4 soup-flavored sodas” from ABC7 Chicago “Will ‘South Park’ creators remake Colorado’s legendary Casa Bonita?” from Marketplace Read the transcript here.

Sep 18

22 min 52 sec

Today we get hallowed out from more revelations from The Wall Street Journal’s ongoing reporting of what goes on behind the scenes at Facebook and the tradeoffs the tech giant makes in order to stay a tech giant. We also take a look at the Federal Reserve’s review of its ethics rules. And a Make Me Smile courtesy of listeners like you. Here’s everything we talked about on today’s show: “Facebook Employees Flag Drug Cartels and Human Traffickers. The Company’s Response Is Weak, Documents Show” from The Wall Street Journal “Instagram boss Adam Mosseri on teenagers, TikToks and paying creators” from Recode Media “Instagram boss says social media is like cars: People are going to die” from Mashable “Powell opens review into Fed ethics rules after backlash over trading” from Politico “Newsom California recall election’s costly lessons” from The Los Angeles Times Read the transcript here. Give now to support the show you love and to get the “Make Me Smart” banana pants and ringtones! Marketplace.org/givesmart.

Sep 17

14 min 39 sec

A lot of things are affected by inflation. How come minimum wage isn’t one of them? On today’s show, we get to the bottom of one listener’s question about minimum wage, but we can’t promise the answer is logical. Plus, we explain the big deal with TikTok and check out some weird beers! Here’s everything we talked about on the show today: “These two charts show how much minimum wage workers have fallen behind” from CNN “Why can’t our political system address our biggest problems?” from The Washington Post “When it comes to raising the minimum wage, most of the action is in cities and states, not Congress” from Pew Research Center “Let’s do the numbers on a $15 minimum wage” from Make Me Smart “TikTok rolls out features to help teens’ mental health as Instagram comes under fire” from CNBC “How TikTok went from dance videos to meaningful activism” from Vogue “TikTok becomes the most downloaded app of 2021 first half” from Technotifiction Read the transcript here. Give now to support the show you love and to get the “Make Me Smart” banana pants and ringtones! Marketplace.org/givesmart.

Sep 16

14 min 45 sec