Stacey Vanek Smith

Note: This episode originally ran in 2016.

The Plight Of The Living Dead

Jun 20, 2018

For the U.S. government, keeping track of who's alive and who's not is important. There are after all a lot of benefits associated with being alive — Medicare, Social Security benefits, voting. But the system for confirming who's actually dead is far from foolproof.

The trading relationship between the U.S. and China has been tense lately, defined by escalating tariff threats and bellicose rhetoric on both sides. The problem with tariffs though, is that they they often come with unintended consequences.

But if the U.S. wants to address China's questionable trade practices and counteract the negative effects of free trade, what is the government to do?Economist Jared Bernstein walks us through some of the alternative options for dealing with trade challenges.

A 4-year-old kid is given a marshmallow and a choice: either eat the marshmallow in front of her, or wait a few minutes (after the adults leave the room) and be rewarded with a second marshmallow. If the child can successfully wait, she can expect a bright future — or at least a brighter future on average than if she had not waited.

We're in the middle of a dinosaur boom. Commercial diggers are combing the hills of the high plains, hoping to find fossils and strike it rich.

But what happens when you put a price tag on a scientific relic that could spark new discoveries about early life on earth? The market has the answer.

Today on the show: science faces off with business, and the T-Rex that started it all.

The U.S. economy has been humming along for the last few years, but its momentum can mask the financial fragility of millions of Americans adults. A survey by the Federal Reserve reveals just how precarious situation is for a surprising number of people — and how vulnerable they are to the regular ups and downs of the economic cycle.

Vaccines are expensive to develop and it can take decades to get them to market. This means promising vaccines often sit in laboratory freezers during major epidemics. That is what happened during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, which killed more than 11,000 people. Today on the show, how that grim equation may be changing.

Every month, the Labor Department gives us the latest read on how many jobs the economy is creating. That figure has huge influence — it can move stock markets and interest rates — and it can also be way, way off. Today, we talk to an economist who used to help put out the monthly jobs report. She explains how to read that number, which indicator might be better to look at...and why some people might need to calm down about jobs day.

When economist Tim Harford was planning a trip to China, he realized he would not be able to access a lot of the online services he has come to rely on: no email, no maps, no internet search. He started to wonder what the value was for these services and he came across a study that look at just that: It put a dollar amount on how much these services are worth to us.

Link:

Using Massive Online Choice Experiments to Measure Changes in Well-being

Money For Moms

May 30, 2018

A fascinating and ambitious new experiment has just launched after six years of careful design by economists, neuroscientists, and other scholars. For the first time, researchers will be investigating the causal effects of lower incomes on the brain development of babies and toddlers.

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