Wealth & Poverty

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President Trump recently had a disagreement with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trump says the U.S. has a trade deficit with Canada, Trudeau says it's a trade surplus.

Today on the show we explain how it's possible for both men to be right and wrong at the same time. It turns out that sometimes statistics is more art than science.

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In 1872, Congress passed The Mining Act, a law designed to make mining on U.S. land easy and cheap. The government wanted to encourage westward expansion. They wanted people to head out, find minerals, get rich, and settle down.

The Mining Act of 1872 is still in place, and getting the rights to dig up gold in the US today isn't all that different than it was during the Gold Rush.

Today on the show: How has this system stayed the same for almost 150 years? And why is this country giving away its gold on public land. And its silver, and platinum, and copper....

Updated at 2:59 p.m. ET

The Federal Reserve announced a quarter-point increase in interest rates as expected Wednesday, the first rate move under its new chairman, Jerome Powell. The key fed funds rate was moved up to a target range of 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent.

After the Revolutionary War, one of the first acts of the brand new Congress was to tax goods imported from foreign countries. Since then the debate over tariffs hasn't changed much, but the U.S. economy definitely has.

Music by Drop Electric. Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.

The way most companies first sell their shares to the public is tried and true; hire an investment bank, do a roadshow, agree to a lockup period, etc etc.

But Spotify is doing none of those things. In fact it's not doing an initial public offering at all: it's doing a direct public offering instead.

It's an unusual move. but if it works, it could change the way a big part of Wall Street business is done.

Links:
How ans IPO gets done, step by step (CNBC)

Sugar costs more in the U.S. than in the rest of the world. If you're in the candy business and make millions of lollipops a day, that's a big deal.

On today's show, we visit a lollipop factory in Ohio, whose fifth-generation owners want U.S. sugar to be cheaper, and a sugar-beet field in Minnesota, where fourth-generation farmers want it to be expensive. The two are fighting over one of the largest and oldest and most notorious price control systems in the country.

Ten years ago, the investment bank Bear Stearns collapsed, and the government stepped in to broker a bailout.

William D. Cohan thinks that was a mistake. He wrote about Bear in his book, House of Cards.

He talked to us about what happened then and what's changed since.

Bill McBride has been making accurate predictions on his blog, Calculated Risk, about the trajectory of the U.S. economy since before the financial crisis.

He's been consistently optimistic for years, but he recently revised his usually sunny outlook.

Today he tells us why.

A Quick History Of Slow Credit Cards

Mar 15, 2018

In the mid-'60s, the airline industry had a problem. The 747, the first real jumbo jet, had just been introduced. There were more passengers at the airport than before. More passengers meant longer lines. And that was especially bad because this was the era when customers paid for their tickets right there at the airport — often by credit card.

On April 14th, 1935, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, he thought he was giving Americans some safety in retirement. What he may not have realized was that he was also inadvertently inventing a national identification number.

When it started, people didn't mind carrying around their social security number in their wallet, and blurting it out on the air. Now, it's the key to a person's retirement, finances, and identity. And it's valuable enough to steal.

President Trump recently slapped tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from certain countries, but not because those countries don't play fair on trade.

Instead, the Trump administration cited national security concerns. The move has got him what he wants, but it puzzled America's trading partners. If they retaliate with the same tactic, the damage to the global trading system — and to the rules that underpin the system — could be huge.

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Japan has more government debt (outstanding as a percentage of GDP) that Greece did at the height of its financial crisis. To the casual observer, Japan looks as overloaded as a Vegas buffet. And yet the country is somehow able to keep on borrowing at the same low, low rate. Why?

Also, what British (Indian) car does James Bond drive (but only once)?

Your questions, answered.

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Most products in this world are vulnerable to creative destruction: as new products are developed, they make old ones obsolete.

But there are some exceptions to this rule. There are products that persist, resisting change while economic evolution continues on without them.

Like the graphing calculator.

Economic inequality is complicated and emotional. Conservatives have one set of solutions. Liberals have another. Some groups don't think inequality is such a bad thing. Conversations about it often turn into partisan fights.

But today on the show, we follow two thinkers—from opposite sides of the political spectrum—who have joined forces to find out what's causing inequality. They are Brink Lindsey and Steven M. Teles, and they are the authors of a new book called The Captured Economy: How the Powerful Enrich Themselves, Slow Down Growth, and Increase Inequality.

75.2 percent. That is the prime age female labor force participation rate, the share of all adult women between the ages of 25 and 54 who are working or looking for work.

In the 70s, 80s, and 90s, the number of women participating in the workforce went up and up and up.But, in 2000, that momentum waned.

Updated at 10:40 a.m. ET

The U.S. added a hefty 313,000 jobs in February — the biggest increase in 1 1/2 years — while wages rose more modestly than the previous month. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

The Labor Department also reported strong upward revisions for both December and January. January's figure was revised to 239,000 from 200,000 previously and December was pegged at 175,000, up from 160,000.

Americans are expected to spend $3.6 trillion on physical goods this year. Amazon and WalMart are competing fiercely to see which of them can get a bigger slice of that pie.

Even with the rise of the Internet, almost all retail sales in America still occur in physical stores, so WalMart's massive network of big box outlets gives it an edge.

But Amazon has a secret weapon: Prime.

Note: Today's show originally ran in January of 2016.

A few years back, a famous psychologist published a series of studies that found people could predict the future — not all the time, but more often than if they were guessing by chance alone.

The paper left psychologists with two options.

"Either we have to conclude that ESP is true," says Brian Nosek, a psychologist at the University of Virginia, "or we have to change our beliefs about the right ways to do science."

In one of our favorite recurring segments, we ask our guest to tell us about something they read that changed the way they think about the world.

Cobalt used to be a byproduct of copper mining, used in everyday, boring stuff like tires and magnets.

But that all changed when someone discovered its ability to stabilize the lithium in batteries for electronics like cell phones.

Now it's become one of the most important and sought after metals on the periodic table. Which has implications for big tech firms like Apple.

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