At Planet Money, we make podcasts and radio stories about the economy. Recently, we also made some T-shirts.

Thanks to everyone for your questions. It was really fun. You can keep up with us on Twitter -- @planetmoney, @jacobgoldstein and @radiosmith. Kestenbaum is @dkestenbaum, but he's basically a Twitter lurker.

Comments: 271 • Responses: 20  • Date: 

Captain_Serious1937 karma

Planet Money is by far my favorite podcast. How do you guys typically come up with your topics?

jacobjulius30 karma

Coming up with topics is the hardest part. We read a lot. We talk to each other in the office all day long to try to figure out what's interesting. We go places. We call people and ask them questions about the world. Sometimes those questions are just, What's going on?

Captain_Serious1921 karma

Did any of you study economics in college?

jacobjulius29 karma

I did not take a single econ class in college. I was an English major.

dedan315 karma

What's your favorite episode and why? And what other podcasts do you listen to?

jacobjulius26 karma

Favorite episode is a hard one. Chana's story How Four Drinking Buddies Saved Brazil is way up there. Other podcasts I listen to include WTF, Longform, 99% Invisible, Radiolab, This American Life, Fresh Air

benvalpo14 karma

If you could choose one economic concept that everyone on the planet would understand, what would it be and why?

jacobjulius19 karma

Good question! We're all sitting here in the office talking about it.

One big idea that I've been thinking about a lot lately: Productivity gains. Specifically: The way the standard of living rises in the long term is through productivity gains. Sounds boring, but is super important.

We tried to get at this in our recent podcast, The History of Light

MrFusionHER12 karma

Hey guys, I love your podcast, and I appreciate the insight you guys give me about the economy and how it effects the world around us.

a few questions:

*Is there any country right now that you look at economically which you'd say actually scares you in terms of affecting our every day lives as Americans?

*What is your favorite story that you've done with Planet Money?

*Has there ever been a story that you'e set out on that has genuinely surprised you in it's outcome?

Thanks a ton guys!

jacobjulius9 karma

Of your questions, I'm gonna answer the easy one: What was your favorite story that you've done? Picking a favorite is hard. But the story we did last year about the charity that just gives money to poor people was really interesting to work on from start to finish.

TubaMuffinsOG10 karma

Why did you kill off the Planet Money Indicator? Slate's economics podcast is doing something like it now, but it just isnt the same.

jacobjulius13 karma

We got rid of the indicator because we felt like it was getting in the way of the main story in each show. Without the indicator, we're able to get right into the story.

That said, we also miss the indicator. I was just saying yesterday that I could imagine a world where people commonly have some kind of the indicator would be a daily, standalone thing.

gatesvp7 karma

Question: Why are Economists so often "wrong"?

Over and over we see simple Economic predictions simply fall apart when exposed to the real world. What are the Economists of the world doing to fix this issue?

PS: have listened to everything since episode 1, thank you for the podcast :)

jacobjulius7 karma

Lots of smart economists are humble about what they know and don't know. But the ones who get invited to talk on TV (and, ok, sometimes on the radio) are the ones who make bold predictions.

easystormrider7 karma

What is your credit score?

jacobjulius20 karma

Ha! You can ask me anything, but I don't have to answer.

ucla134 karma

I'm assuming many of your listeners haven't seen your faces, so have any of you been recognized by listeners out in public by voice?

jacobjulius4 karma

Never happened to me. I think Adam Davidson said that once happened to him.

monkeythumpa4 karma

Who benefits most from inflation, who benefits the least?

RobertSmithNPR9 karma

Debtors. Creditors.

jacobjulius3 karma


A_Young_Musician4 karma

Love love love the show.. It got me interested in economics, and I've been recently listening all of the old shows from the very beginning. I also just read the book "The Big Short" so my mind is in a very 2005-2008 place right now. Listening to the old episodes I haven't found an episode that really sums up how everything panned out immediately after the crisis, what the government ended up doing about it, and where we stand now in relation to everything that happened. Is it possible to get an episode covering that? Thanks for all the work you all do, and thanks for making me feel smart twice a week! :)

jacobjulius4 karma

Martin Wolf, a columnist at the Financial Times, has a book coming out this fall called The Shifts and The Shocks that covers the ground you're discussing. We may have him on the show.

Subalpine3 karma

What are some tricks you've learned that make dry topics, or people you interview, more compelling?

jacobjulius10 karma

  • We actually try to only do stories on stuff we're genuinely interested in. * Going places, or having some kind of action, helps a lot.
  • Getting people to tell stories -- anecdotes, scenes, details -- rather than (in addition to) talking about ideas.
  • When all else fails, if you're the reporter, be sure to enthusiastically repeat any fact or number after your source in a loud, excited voice.

runbikeski3 karma

Did you ever lose hope that you'd finish the t-shirt project?

jacobjulius9 karma

We definitely misplaced hope a few times. But we never lost it.

demangis3 karma

So I'm looking into the idea of buying a house or two for the sake of renting. Good idea?

Also, are we going through a bubble for artesian foods (fancy beer, artesian licorice, etc)?

jacobjulius13 karma

Re. bubble for artisan foods. I will say that I declared a cupcake bubble four years ago. And that Crumbs Bake Shop, which specializes in cupcakes, filed for bankruptcy last month. That said, being four years early in calling a bubble is, arguably, pretty close to being wrong.

mrfogg3 karma

Do you have any favorite books that have a similar economics/business focus without being totally technical/stale?

jacobjulius5 karma

I loved Lords of Finance, by Liaquat Ahamed. It's a history of the Great Depression as told through the central bankers of the era. And Michael Lewis of course is amazing, especially the Big Short and Liar's Poker.

keithontheweb3 karma

You guys didn't study economics specifically in college. What is your story of becoming interested in economics?

jacobjulius3 karma

In general, I like doing analytical reporting. I was covering health care for the WSJ, which was economics-y. I thought Planet Money was doing really good stuff. They posted a job. I applied for it. They hired me.

runbikeski3 karma

If you could have one special guest (present day or historical) on the show to explain one concept, who would it be and what would they explain?

jacobjulius3 karma

Keynes is a super interesting guy -- not just as an economist but for the whole life he lived. And I bet he would have been a great interview.

radomiq2 karma

It seems like once robots and automation become advanced enough in the near future, there may be a dramatic change in the type of jobs and the number of jobs available to humans. For example, with driverless cars, there would no longer be a need for bus drivers, taxi drivers, and truck drivers. A service like Uber will also not survive in its present form.

Have you considered doing a show on what the global economy might look like in the future when this happens?

Do you think that it will result in a future like the one in Star Trek, where people will have their basic needs met by products produced inexpensively through automation and be able to pursue their interests with more leisure or do you think it will be more of a dystopia where the ones with control of the robots and manufacturing will gain power and control?

jacobjulius5 karma

Two hundred years ago, most people worked as farmers. Today, because of automation (tractors, etc.) a tiny share of the population in developed countries can work as farmers and produce enough food to feed everyone. And, also because of automation, that food is much cheaper -- so people have more money to spend on other things, which in turn creates new jobs.

That's the way automation has worked so far -- temporary disruptions (farmers out of work when the tractor came along) followed by the creation of categories of jobs that didn't exist before (building cars, writing code).

Of course, it's not clear whether the world will continue to work that way.

We've been talking about this stuff a lot in the office. A recent book called The Second Machine Age is all about these questions and is worth reading.

realfood1 karma

When the cost of higher education is significantly outpacing inflation, what will it really cost to send a kid to college in 20 years?

jacobjulius3 karma

I try to avoid making predictions. But I'm going to make one to respond to your question: The price of college will rise at a slower rate in the next 20 years, relative to the past 20 years.

The decline in the rate of increase will be driven at least in part by technological change.

tjrieves1 karma

  • How do you think the social security and tax systems in the United States could be " " fixed, or do you think they even need to change?

  • What country is at the forefront of economic development? How does the US stack up against other countries right now?

  • What are your go-to pizza toppings?

  • What do you think would happen if states chose to get rid of income tax in favor of a slightly increased sales tax?

  • Do you like Phil Collins?

jacobjulius2 karma

  • pass
  • pass
  • cheese
  • pass
  • the first CD I ever owned was No Jacket Required. On a related note, the This American Life rerun that aired last weekend has an amazing Phil Collins cameo.