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The Indicator from Planet Money

The Indicator from Planet Money

A little show about big ideas. From the people who make Planet Money, The Indicator helps you make sense of what's happening today. It's a quick hit of insight into work, business, the economy, and everything else. Listen weekday afternoons.


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Jobs Friday: The case for better wages

Today's jobs report found that workers received a small raise last month. And, yes, higher pay is great for attracting workers and boosting morale, but sometimes it can even pay for itself.
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2021: A year in indicators

After a tumultuous 2020, we welcomed the new year by picking three indicators to watch for economic recovery. As 2021 wraps up, we revisit those indicators to see how they've fared. Our old friend Cardiff Garcia returns for this walk down indicator memory lane.
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Falling down the "junk insurance" rabbit hole

If you Google "Obamacare signup," good luck finding It'll be buried under several ads trying to lure you to something less healthy. Today's show looks at a classic bait and switch.
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Women, career and family: A conversation with Claudia Goldin

Caregiving responsibilities for women have drastically increased since the start of the pandemic. And with new demands at home and at work, many women have struggled to find a balance between work and family. On today's show, economist Claudia Goldin joins us to talk about that and other issues in her new book, "Career and Family: Women's Century Long Journey Towards Equity."
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The rise and fall (and rise?) of organized labor

In the wake of the "great resignation", organized labor may be having a moment in the U.S. Tens of thousands of workers have protested working conditions at companies like John Deere and Kellogg's and, in recent months, workers across the country have chosen or threatened strike action. Today on the show, author Erik Loomis shares how the history of America's unions explains today's labor movement.
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Indicators-giving! How much does Thanksgiving cost this year?

How much will Thanksgiving dinner cost compared to last year? Today on the show, the Indicator team gathers around the virtual Thanksgiving table to let you know how much prices have changed for each holiday favorite.
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Ticket scalpers: The real ticket masters

Ticket scalpers. They're the bane of every fan's existence because they manage to snag concert tickets before fans can even get their webpages to load. An economist would tell you the story is more complicated than that.
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Jeromonomics 2.0

Today President Biden reappointed Jerome Powell as chair of the Federal Reserve. So we revisit a recent episode about Jay Powell's first term and his approach to steering the economy ? Jeromonomics.
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BONUS: Wisdom From The Top

This episode is from our friends at the podcast Wisdom From The Top, featuring our very own Stacey Vanek Smith!

Stacey Vanek Smith has reported on business and the economy for over 15 years now, first for public radio's "Marketplace," and now as the host of Planet Money's daily podcast "The Indicator." Over that time, she's seen the same barriers blocking advancement for women in the workplace again and again. Recently, she's started to recognize that a lot of tools to move past those barriers can be found in the work of Italian philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli.
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An exuberant bid for the Constitution

It's that time again! A crypto group fails to buy an original copy of the U.S. Constitution, succeeds in renaming LA's Staples Center, and warnings the economy might be too exuberant.
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Rumor has it Adele broke the vinyl supply chain

We're in the midst of a vinyl boom and chains like Walmart have been cashing in. But so have stars like Adele, who reportedly pressed over 500,000 records for her new album, "30." Today on the show, has Adele really clogged the fragile vinyl supply chain, or should we go easy on her?
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Should Americans buy less stuff?

Americans love to shop, and consumer spending has only increased since the start of the pandemic. Even the supply chains are tired. That's why one Bloomberg columnist believes it's time for an intervention.
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Toyota Camry, supply-chain hero

Toyota pioneered just-in-time production. But this lean method is dangerous when car parts are in short supply, like in a pandemic. Today: How Toyota invented and reformed just-in-time production.
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'The China Shock' and the downsides of globalization

Trade with China made American goods cheaper and lifted millions of Chinese people out of poverty. At the same time, it devastated communities across America's heartland. What have we learned from the "China Shock"? And what can we do to prevent something like it from happening again?
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Why quitting got so cool

This episode is all about quitters! Over 4 million people quit their jobs in September. That's a record high following another record quits rate in August. What does this trend say about America's evolving workforce, and when did so many people start saving "rest eggs?"
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Indicators of the Week: Broadband, bonds, and break-ups

It's Indicators of the Week! General Electric splits into three separate companies, the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill promises faster internet speeds, and interest rates for government debt inched up.
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The Money Illusion: Have Americans really gotten a raise?

Although workers across the country have seen an increase in wages, the cost of things like gas and food have also been increasing. This leaves workers wondering whether these raises are real or just an illusion.
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Global food, local sauces

Adnan Durrani loved sourcing ingredients from all over the world for his food company Saffron Road. Then the pandemic hit. Now Adnan is totally reconsidering the benefits of globalization.
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iBuyers, Zillow, and 'the lemons problem'

With troves of data at their disposal, iBuyers like Opendoor, Redfin and Zillow have been trying to make money buying homes online and selling them ? quickly. Armed with high-tech algorithms, what could go wrong? Lemons, for one thing.
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The Great Hesitation: a Jobs Friday rom-com

It's Jobs Friday, and we blow our first air horn in months! Albeit, a slightly muted one. Last month, the economy added more jobs than expected. But there are still millions of people staying out of the workforce. Why?
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Landlords need help too

For renters to receive emergency rental assistance, they usually need cooperation from their landlords. This is also true vice versa. On today's show, we hear about the struggles of two mom-and-pop landlords with renters who left them holding the bag.
Check out some of Chris Arnold's earlier reporting on the challenges renters are facing during the pandemic:
Why rent help from Congress has been so damn slow getting to people who need it

Georgia County Tried To Help Everyone Facing Eviction. Now A Crisis Looms

With The Eviction Moratorium's End Looming, Black Renters Likely To Be Hit Hard
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Could Elon Musk really solve world hunger?

Just 2% of Elon Musk's wealth could supposedly help solve world hunger. But how was this estimate calculated, and is solving this issue as simple as a billionaire writing a check?
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Tangled up and beige: The Beigies are back!

The Beigies are here again! October's Beige Book entries captured the seismic shift in the way we live during the pandemic, and things got a little emotional.
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Rage against the customer service worker

As if they don't have enough to worry about, restaurant, retail, and airline employees are still facing customer meltdowns over COVID-19 precautions. We ask a 'customer whisperer' if these explosive customers can be defused.
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Are you afraid of inflation?

Boo! The Indicator team invites you to listen to a spooky episode about an invisible monster that has given our economy a fright. Listen at your own risk...
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Is the economy going stag(flation)?

GDP numbers for the third quarter just dropped and they are... not awesome. With the economy experiencing slower than expected growth and rising prices, are we entering into a period of stagflation?
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Can the Fed help solve climate change?

From buying green bonds to monitoring bank lending, some central banks have already created policies to help fight climate change risk. Should the Fed be next?
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Revisiting the ABLE Act

When Chip Gerhardt's daughter Anne ran into some issues with Social Security disability benefits, his job as a lobbyist became very personal.
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Squid Game: Debt, decisions, and the paradox of thrift

In the Netflix show Squid Game, 456 desperate players compete to the death in a series of children's games for millions of dollars. How did their debt impact their decision making?
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Indicators of the Week: IPOs, ETFs, GHGs

It's Indicators of the Week! The U.S. is using a lot more coal for electricity, the first Bitcoin ETF is finally here, and WeWork officially debuted on the New York Stock Exchange.
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Say my name

Repeating a customer's name is a classic sales technique used by telemarketers to car salesmen. But can a salesperson use a customer's name too much?
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Keep calm, it's just the bullwhip effect

The Indicator team plays a beer game to understand how the bullwhip effect tangles supply chains. And no, it's not beer pong.
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Labor market trick or treat

Trick or treat! As we all know, some indicators are sweet, but others are scary. Luckily, one economist is here to help us separate the tricks from the treats in our labor market.
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BRAND new friends

In advertising, there's always been an unspoken rule ? never praise your competition. But one marketing professor's research shows that approach can actually be good for businesses and their brand.
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Indicators of the Week: strikes, prices, Black Friday deals

Indicators of the Week! Prices are up again, but is it fair to call this 'transitory' inflation? Black Friday deals are early at stores anticipating supply-chain shortages. And America is on strike.
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Congressional game theory

For months, lawmakers have been negotiating two big spending bills with no end in sight. Game theory could explain the hidden strategies behind the congressional chaos.
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Simon says we're stuck with the debt ceiling

The debt ceiling approaches. A congressional standoff ensues. It wasn't always this way. So why did the debt ceiling get built? And how do other countries control their debt?
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A Nobel prize for an economics revolution

Joshua Angrist, Guido Imbens and David Card won the economics Nobel on Monday. On today's show, we talk to the Princeton professor who mentored two of the winners.
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Jobs Friday: Where are all the older workers?

Sure, some seniors took the pandemic as an opportunity to ride an RV into the sunset, but there's a darker story unfolding in today's jobs report. Today's show looks at the challenges many older worker can face as they try to reenter the workforce.
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A new decade for Bond

Daniel Craig's tenure as James Bond is coming to an end with the release of No Time To Die. With Amazon acquiring MGM, where does the 007 franchise go from here?
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Technology brought to you by the s-curve

A lot of things grow slowly, then fast, then slow again. From the growth in smartphone users to the rise of vaccinations, the s-curve explains a huge part of technological, scientific and economic change.
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Facebook tries to save face

Facebook's status hasn't been so hot of late. From internal documents leaked by a whistleblower to outages of hours. How does a company with millions of dissatisfied customers turn its image around?
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Revenge of the math club

In the high school lunchroom version of business school, finance majors were the popular jocks and logistics majors were... the math club. But nowadays, they're sitting at the cool kids' table.
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No Dental, No Power, No Agents: Indicators Of The Week

Indicators of the Week! Dentists resist the Biden administration's spending plan. China is rationing electricity. And Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson negotiates his own contract, agent-free.
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Japanese Anime, Made In China

Anime is a twenty-billion-dollar industry and it is growing fast. But traditionally, anime is produced in Japan. What happens when other countries try producing Japanese-style animation?
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Rebuilding Paradise

The 2018 Camp Fire burned down much of the town of Paradise, Calif. Over the years, wildfires in the West have become more frequent and intense. But Paradise is rebuilding for a more resilient future.
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How WhatsApp Broke Lebanon

Lebanon's economy is in freefall. The World Bank calls it one of the worst financial crises in a century. We look back at Lebanon's optimistic years, zooming in on the one key decision that started this house of cards. And we ask what this can teach us about booms and busts in general.
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The College Admissions 'Melt' Down

What is "melt" and why are college admissions departments sweating over it this year?
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Indicators Of The Week: Evergrande, Stuck Ships, Town Managers

From ghost apartments empty in China, to a backlog of ships in Los Angeles, to towns struggling to find city managers... yes, it's time for Indicators of the Week!
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Why An Aging China Matters

For decades China exported better and cheaper stuff. But now China's experiencing a factory worker crunch. It's been a long time coming.
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