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Episodes

A controversial idea at the heart of Bidenomics
2d ago
A controversial idea at the heart of Bidenomics
Réka Juhász is a professor of economics at the University of British Columbia, and she studies what's known as industrial policy. That's the general term for whenever the government tries to promote specific sectors of the economy. The idea is that they might be able to supercharge growth by giving money to certain kinds of businesses, or by putting up trade barriers to protect certain industries. Economists have long been against it. Industrial policy has been called a "taboo" subject, and "one of the most toxic phrases" in economics. The mainstream view has been that industrial policy is inefficient, even harmful. For a long time, politicians largely accepted that view. But in the past several years, countries have started to embrace industrial policy—most notably in the United States. Under President Biden, the U.S. is set to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on industrial policy, to fund things like microchip manufacturing and clean energy projects. It's one of the most ambitious tests of industrial policy in U.S. history. And the billion dollar question is ... will it work? On today's show, Réka takes us on a fun, nerdy journey to explain the theory behind industrial policy, why it's so controversial, and where President Biden's big experiment might be headed.Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
Rescues at sea, and how to make a fortune
27-01-2024
Rescues at sea, and how to make a fortune
At around 1 a.m. on the morning of November 15, 1994, Captain Prentice "Skip" Strong III woke to a distress call. Skip was the new captain of an oil tanker called the Cherry Valley. He and his crew had been making their way up the coast of Florida that evening when a tropical storm had descended. It had been a rough night of 15 foot waves and 50 mile per hour winds.The distress call was coming from a tugboat whose engines were failing in the storm. Now adrift, the tugboat was on a dangerous collision course with the shore. The only ship close enough to mount a rescue was the Cherry Valley. Skip faced a difficult decision. A fully loaded, 688-foot oil tanker is hardly anyone's first choice of a rescue vessel. It is as maneuverable as a school bus on ice. And the Cherry Valley was carrying ten million gallons of heavy fuel oil. A rescue attempt would put them in dangerously shallow water. One wrong move, and they would have an ecological disaster on the order of the Exxon Valdez. What happened next that night would be dissected and debated for years to come. The actions of Skip and his crew would lead to a surprising discovery, a record-setting lawsuit, and one of the strangest legal battles in maritime history. At the center of it all, an impossible question: How do you put a price tag on doing the right thing?Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy
The Maine Potato War of 1976
13-01-2024
The Maine Potato War of 1976
When you think of a potato, one state probably comes to mind: Idaho. But for much of American history, Maine was home to the nation's largest potato crop. That status had changed by the 1970s, with the West growing more and more of the nation's potatoes. But Maine still had one distinct advantage: A privileged position in the commodities market. The New York Mercantile Exchange, one of the largest such marketplaces in the country, exclusively dealt in Maine potatoes. And two deep-pocketed Western potato kingpins weren't happy about it. So the Westerners waged what's now called the Maine Potato War of 1976. Their battlefield was the futures market: A special type of marketplace, made up of hordes of screaming traders, where potatoes can be bought and sold before they're even planted. The Westerners did something so bold – and so unexpected – that it brought not only the potato market, but the entire New York commodities exchange, to its knees. Today on the show, how a war waged through futures contracts influenced the kind of potatoes we eat. This episode was hosted by Dylan Sloan and Nick Fountain. This episode was produced by Sam Yellowhorse Kesler with help from Emma Peaslee. It was edited by Molly Messick, engineered by Valentina Rodríguez Sánchez, and fact checked by Sierra Juarez. Our executive producer is Alex Goldmark. Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoicesNPR Privacy Policy