The race for ever-faster trades has "absolutely no social value," says a billionaire who helped bring computers to financial markets.
Tagged with “planet money” (19)
Instapaper is a little app that started out as a side project. Now it’s a thriving one-man business. We talk to Marco Arment, Instapaper’s founder and sole employee, about the app economy.
We talk with Nicholas Wapshott, the author of the new book Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics. The fight over their ideas has never been more relevant.
An airline, the price of oil and the financialization of the global economy. On today’s show, author and former banker Satyajit Das talks about his career and the trouble with the rise of finance.
It turns out it’s really hard for a small team of public radio employees to turn themselves into a cutting-edge apparel company.
NPR and Propublica collaborated on a story () related to this interview.
‘Two years before the financial crisis hit, Merrill Lynch confronted a serious problem. No one, not even the bank’s own traders, wanted to buy the supposedly safe portions of the mortgage-backed securities Merrill was creating.
Bank executives came up with a fix that had short-term benefits and long-term consequences. They formed a new group within Merrill, which took on the bank’s money-losing securities. But how to get the group to accept deals that were otherwise unprofitable? They paid them. The division creating the securities passed portions of their bonuses to the new group, according to two former Merrill executives with detailed knowledge of the arrangement. …
Within Merrill Lynch, some traders called it a "million for a billion" — meaning a million dollars in bonus money for every billion taken on in Merrill mortgage securities. Others referred to it as "the subsidy." One former executive called it bribery. The group was being compensated for how much it took, not whether it made money.’
Economist editor Tom Standage says if you want to get a good picture of world history, you should look at spices.
In his book, An Edible History of Humanity, Standage writes about how tall tales of carnivorous birds and flying snakes let Arab middleman charge Europeans inflated prices for cinnamon and pepper for years. Standage says it wasn’t until an Indian ship went adrift in the Red Sea that the Europeans realized there was an easier route to get all those spices they had been craving.
The periodic table lists 118 different chemical elements. And yet, for thousands of years, humans have really, really liked one of them in particular: gold. Gold has been used as money for millennia, and its price has been going through the roof.
Why gold? Why not osmium, lithium, or ruthenium?
We went to an expert to find out: Sanat Kumar, a chemical engineer at Columbia University. We asked him to take the periodic table, and start eliminating anything that wouldn’t work as money.
"How does a guy whose mom is a heroin addict — a guy who drops out of high school, has a kid, and starts working a minimum-wage job at a fast-food restaurant — climb out of poverty?
On today’s Planet Money, we hear the answer from Katherine Newman.
Newman, a sociologist, found 300 people who were working at fast-food restaurants in Harlem in the early ’90s. She followed them for the next eight years and told the story in a book called Chutes and Ladders.
About a third of the people she followed managed to rise out of poverty during that time. A lot, of course, had to do with individual initiative — taking the civil service exam, landing union jobs, that sort of thing."
The lead singer of the band OK Go, famous for the video where they dance on treadmills, talks about the economics of Rock and his band’s decision to leave their label and start their own record company.
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