Wealth & Poverty

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Episode 692: The Secret Life Of Line 24

Mar 25, 2016

A lot of the stuff on IRS form 1040 — the basic tax form — is straightforward enough. But there are a few lines that you look at and say: What is that? And how did it get on my tax form?

Music: "Starlight." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook

Episode 691: The Great Unbundling

Mar 23, 2016

There's a revolution underway in the world of cable TV--more and more people are getting rid of it. And there are some unforeseen consequences when we cut the cord and go our separate ways. Today on the show, we track the fate of channel 9409.

Music: "One Simple Push" and "Simply Irresistible." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook

Episode 690: All In

Mar 18, 2016

At big money poker tournaments, what you see on TV is just the surface of things. There's a game going on behind the game. We talk to a professional poker player who lost on the first day of a major tournament--then went on to get the biggest payout of his life.

Music: Sarah Chernoff's "Turn The Lights On." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.

Note: This episode originally ran in July 2012.

In this show, we dive deep into the world of offshore companies and bank accounts. We set up our own company in a tax haven and we find the easiest place to register a business anonymously.

Federal Reserve policymakers said Wednesday that the U.S. economy is chugging along at a decent pace with an improving job market.

Still, they fear risks from "global economic and financial developments."

So given that balance of good news and growing risks, the Federal Open Market Committee decided to take no action on the target range for the federal funds rate at the close of its two-day meeting.

In this episode, we follow a debt default drama to its bitter end. Argentina decided that it could take on the world--it defaulted on its loans, dug in its heels and took a hard line against its lenders. The country would not pay what it was owed. Lenders blinked. Victory seemed near. But a group of hedge funds had a different plan. They took the entire country to court.

Note: This episode originally ran in November 2012.

One day in the early 1990s, a man walked into the U.S. embassy in Ecuador. He said he had information somebody would want to hear — information on how to go after some of the most powerful drug traffickers in the world.

Episode 688: Brilliant vs. Boring

Mar 4, 2016

In 2006, Warren Buffett posed a challenge. He bet that the smartest hedge fund managers out there couldn't beat the world's simplest, most brainless investment. In this show, we tell you who's winning.

For more on the bet, see Long Bets.

Many Americans tell pollsters and politicians that they're angry. Why?

At least part of the answer might be tucked inside the February jobs report, released Friday by the Labor Department. Consider this:

The U.S. economy gained 242,000 jobs in February while average wages dropped slightly, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report released Friday.

The unemployment rate held steady at 4.9 percent.

The report indicates stronger job growth than expected, and an improvement over the previous month. January's count of 151,000 new jobs — far lower than had been anticipated — was revised upward, to 172,000. And the job gains for December were also revised upward, from 262,000 to 271,000.

Episode 687: Buy This Passport

Mar 2, 2016

Most of us don't think of citizenship as a product. It's something more: It's part of who you are. In this show, we look at what happens when citizenship goes up for sale. We visit the tiny Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis, where you can buy a passport without ever setting foot in the country.

Episode 686: If Elected President

Feb 26, 2016

Candidates can promise almost anything in a presidential campaign: Free puppies! Everyone gets a jet pack! A lot of it won't actually happen. But today, we put practical concerns aside, and imagine a world in which the candidates' promises actually come true. A world where college is free, and there's no more IRS.

Presidential candidates are making a slew of promises on the campaign trail.

We took a sample of the most economically novel proposals and asked a panel of economists: Are they good or bad?

Our panel includes 22 economists from across the political spectrum. They identified themselves as left, right and center. And some couldn't categorize themselves.

For more: Also listen to the economists explain their comments.

Note: This episode originally ran in December 2012.

In this episode, we visit Fire Station Six in Contra Costa County, California.

Episode 685: Larry vs. The IRS

Feb 19, 2016

A lot of people dream of not paying their taxes. Larry Williams scoured the fine print of IRS code, talked to lawyers, settled on a plan, then just stopped paying taxes. Today on the show, we tell his story. It starts on a fateful camping trip, it winds through a jail cell in Australia and a courtroom in California, and it ends up in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Music: "Jumble Sale." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.

Episode 684: The Return Of The Colonel

Feb 17, 2016

We think of franchises as corporate behemoths: Tons of identical stores all selling the same thing. But actually, each store is run kind of like a small business--and the franchise owners don't always get along with corporate headquarters. In this episode, we look at the secret war going on inside every franchise. It all goes back to a guy with a white beard and a black string tie: Colonel Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Episode 683: Our Valentines

Feb 12, 2016

Regret. Self-loathing. Jealousy. Happy Valentine's Day! We have it all.

All the time here at Planet Money we read stories that other people have done and we say, "Why didn't we do that?" Today on the show, we bring you the little stories that we love so much we wish we had thought of them ourselves.

Our Valentines go out to:

Episode 466: DIY Finance

Feb 10, 2016

This episode originally ran in June 2013.

On today's show, we look at how people create their own financial systems from scratch.

One man has thousands of dollars stashed around his house in different "accounts." Tamara Bullock and Patricia Hamilton are part of an informal savings club. Miguelo Rada has a whole bank in his pocket — he gives out loans and acts like an ATM who looks out for your best interest.

In a closely watched visit to Capitol Hill, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen listed risk factors in the global economic scene, such as concerns over China's currency and market volatility. It's the first time Yellen has testified since the Fed nudged interest rates higher in December.

Sam Whitehead / GPB

The first thing you need to know about Lucille Perry is that she has a great laugh. The second thing is that she works…a lot.

“I got here at 7:00 a.m., and I’ll leave at 4:30 p.m. I have to be to my next job at 5:45 p.m., and I’ll probably get off at 10:00 p.m. tonight,” she said.

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