I've Never Taken an Econ Class and Now I Don't Have To
Mar 12, 2009
In May 2008, the NPR radio show This American Life did a podcast called "The Giant Pool of Money". It went into detail about the housing crisis that was crashing down, and explained the chain of command involved in making the toxic mortgage loans, and so on and so forth. After listening to it, I finally felt like I understood the mortgage crisis for the first time - AND that I could speak coherently about it to others. I sent the podcast to everyone in my address book, burned copies of it onto CDs for people who don't listen to things on their computers or iPods (fools), and it's the only podcast I've saved for more than four months.
Luckily for me, I wasn't the only one obsessed with this podcast. It was so popular that This American Life did a follow-up 5 months later called "Another Frightening Show About the Economy", talking more about the banking crisis. (Okay, skipping over some stuff). Finally, I did some digging and realized that the two guys putting these podcasts together - Adam Davidson and Alex Blumberg - actually have a podcast of their own, called Planet Money. And I'm newly crazed over it.
Planet Money takes global economic news stories and issues and breaks them down into layman's terms in order to give people like myself a real idea of what's going on. They explain carefully what things mean, how banks work, and tell funny stories and then relate it to economic principles. I now know what it would mean to nationalize the banks, and have an opinion as to whether or not that's the way to go -- not because Planet Money told me what to think, but because they broke down the ramifications of doing it versus not doing it, and I was able to come to a conclusion. I understand the difference between statistics about the unemployed and the underemployed, and why each is important in its own way for understanding the job situation in America. And so on (I don't want to brag about how smart I feel).
The episodes are generally 20 - 30 minutes long, and a new one is released every couple of days. Everyone is talking about the economy now - join in the conversation with some solid opinions formed on these "economics for dummies" stories.