Wealth & Poverty

Ways to Connect

Musical collaborations between artists who normally do their own thing have been around for a long time. Back in the 80s collaborations were rare enough that when one did become a hit, it was a big deal.

The trend began gathering pace in the 1990s, and hasn't stopped. Today, about 35 percent of the Billboard Hot 100 songs are now collaborations, up from just 5 percent in 1990.

There are a number of reasons for this, but the biggest might be the rising popularity of hip hop.

Back in 1907, America's financial system was pretty unsophisticated. There was no central bank, barely any kind of regulatory framework, and no backstop in case of a crash.

Meanwhile, the economy was growing fast, with people borrowing and investing at a dizzying rate. And when people lost confidence in a kind of unregulated lending institution called a trust, panic spread through the economy.

China is imposing tariffs on about 3 billion dollars worth of U.S. exports. That's roughly the value of the steel and aluminum exports from China that President Trump taxed last month.

On today's show, we look at the list of goods from the U.S. that China is going to start taxing and we talk to a hog farmer who estimates his pigs have already lost 10 percent of their value.

About a month ago, President Trump walked up to a podium, and followed through on a big campaign promise. He said the U.S. was going to impose a 25-percent tariff on foreign steel, and a 10-percent tariff on foreign aluminum.

His announcement was met with a lot of face-palming from economists. Why? Because we've been down this road before.

Today on the show, we learn how the Smoot-Hawley tariff act of 1930 helped tank the world economy. And why it means that today, 90 years later, President Trump has the power to start what many people say is a trade war.

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Mar 30, 2018

One of the most puzzling trends of the last few decades has been the unrelenting rise in the number of people who fell out of the labor force because they were disabled.

The number of these disabled Americans went up for so long that the trend seemed like it might be permanent.

Today on the show, the story of a quietly dramatic turnaround in the U.S. economy. And what we can learn from it.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the CFPB, was introduced in the wake of the financial crisis to protect consumers from banks and lenders. It has become a kind of Rorschach test for how you view the role of government and regulation. Democrats tend to love the CFPB. And Republicans... not so much.

One Republican Congressman, Mick Mulvaney, hated the agency so much, he sponsored a bill to get rid of it

completely. The bill failed, but when Donald Trump was elected president, he named Mulvaney as Director of the CFPB.

Dollars And Census

Mar 28, 2018

The Trump administration wants to include a citizenship question in the census. That could have big implications for certain municipalities.

The census determines how much federal funding districts get, and how many congressional representatives they get to elect.

If a citizenship question deters undocumented residents from participating in the census, the districts they live in could end up with fewer representatives.

And a lot less money.

The thing about prices is they tend to change. But for 70 years, between 1886 and the late 1950s, the price of a Coca-Cola was a shiny nickel.

Think about how crazy that is: Between 1886 and the late '50s, you had two world wars, Prohibition and the Great Depression. But through it all, one constant in life was the nickel Coke.

Healthcare spending represents a huge chunk of the American economy; more than in other places. And it's not because Americans are hypochondriacs.

Dr. Ashish Jha, physician and professor of global health at Harvard, discusses why we spend so much money on medical care and some ways we might be able to spend less.

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