David Kestenbaum http://krwg.org en Evaluating The Benefits And Costs Of Patents http://krwg.org/post/evaluating-benefits-and-costs-patents Transcript <p>RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: <p>The electric car company Tesla recently took the unusual step of effectively giving up all its patents. That means any competitor is now free to take the company's ideas and run with them. Thu, 17 Jul 2014 09:21:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 70694 at http://krwg.org When Ikea Raises Its Minimum Wage, Where Does The Money Come From? http://krwg.org/post/when-ikea-raises-its-minimum-wage-where-does-money-come Ikea, a company famous for keeping its costs down, recently announced that it would raise the average minimum wage for its retail workers to $10.76 an hour. Why would the company volunteer to pay its workers more?<p>"By taking better care of our coworkers," says Rob Olson, the acting president of Ikea U.S., "they will take better care of our customers, who will take better care of Ikea. We see it as a win-win-win opportunity."<p>Win. Win. Win. Sounds like a free lunch. Fri, 11 Jul 2014 07:31:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 70268 at http://krwg.org When Ikea Raises Its Minimum Wage, Where Does The Money Come From? Volatility Index Indicates Wall Street Is Bored http://krwg.org/post/fear-index-rate-reflects-investor-boredom An economic indicator commonly called the VIX, volatility index, is also known as the fear index. Whatever you call it, the index is hitting lows not seen since before the financial crisis. Thu, 12 Jun 2014 09:12:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 68150 at http://krwg.org Why A Pack Of Peanut Butter M&M's Weighs A Tiny Bit Less Than A Regular Pack http://krwg.org/post/why-pack-peanut-butter-mms-weighs-tiny-bit-less-regular-pack The other day I went down to the little shop in the lobby of our building for a snack. I couldn't decide whether I wanted regular M&M's or Peanut Butter M&M's so I bought them both. On the way back upstairs to the office, I noticed something strange on the labels. Each had cost $1, but the pack of Peanut Butter M&M's was a very tiny bit lighter: 0.06 ounces lighter!<p>I wanted to know why, so I called a couple of experts and asked for their theories:<p><strong>Theory No. Thu, 05 Jun 2014 22:08:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 67713 at http://krwg.org Why A Pack Of Peanut Butter M&M's Weighs A Tiny Bit Less Than A Regular Pack On The Internet, A Penny Is Nothing To Sneeze At http://krwg.org/post/internet-penny-nothing-sneeze <div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.<img src="http://www.google-analytics.com/__utm.gif?utmac=UA-5828686-4&utmdt=On+The+Internet%2C+A+Penny+Is+Nothing+To+Sneeze+At&utme=8(APIKey)9(MDAxODc1ODA5MDEyMjg1MDYxNTFiZTgwZg004)"/></div><p>Transcript <p>RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: <p>Our Planet Money team this week is taking a look at the lowly penny. People discard pennies in bowls by cash registers. They walk by them on the street without a thought of picking them up. In fact, a lot of us don't even pick them up when we drop them. Thu, 22 May 2014 09:05:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 66646 at http://krwg.org In 4,000 Years, One Thing Hasn't Changed: It Takes Time To Buy Light http://krwg.org/post/4000-years-one-thing-hasnt-changed-it-takes-time-buy-light Transcript <p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>And now, 4,000 years of economic growth in seven minutes. This story comes, of course, from our Planet Money team. David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein bring us the history of light and how the world came what it is today.<p>DAVID KESTENBAUM, BYLINE: Before you could get light at the flick of a switch, there were other options - none of them very good. Jane Brox wrote a book called "Brilliant: The Evolution Of Artificial Light." In the tropics, she says, people would catch fireflies and make a sort of firefly lantern. Fri, 02 May 2014 20:44:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 65343 at http://krwg.org New Web Addresses Provide Alternatives To Crowded Domains http://krwg.org/post/new-web-addresses-provide-alternatives-crowded-domains Transcript <p>STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: <p>On a Friday it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.<p>LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST: <p>And I'm Linda Wertheimer. Think of the Internet as a group of islands. There's one island for all the Web addresses with .COM. That one's very crowded. There is the less popular .NET island. Also our personal favorite, .ORG. Well, now the number of islands is expanding dramatically. There's .BIKE and .PLUMBING, .NINJA and more islands to come. Fri, 04 Apr 2014 08:59:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 63363 at http://krwg.org Does Raising The Minimum Wage Kill Jobs? http://krwg.org/post/does-raising-minimum-wage-kill-jobs President Obama has called for increasing the minimum wage, saying it will help some of the poorest Americans. Opponents argue that a higher minimum wage will lead employers to cut jobs.<p>Figuring out the effect of raising the minimum wage is tough. Ideally you'd like to compare one universe where the minimum was raised against an alternate universe where it remained fixed.<p>Economist David Card found the next best thing. In 1992, New Jersey was about to raise its minimum wage. Thu, 06 Mar 2014 22:41:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 61394 at http://krwg.org Does Raising The Minimum Wage Kill Jobs? The Birth Of The Minimum Wage In America http://krwg.org/post/birth-minimum-wage-america In 1895, legislators in New York state decided to improve working conditions in what at the time could be a deadly profession: baking bread.<p>"Bakeries are actually extremely dangerous places to work," says Eric Rauchway, a historian at the University of California, Davis. "Because flour is such a fine particulate, if it gets to hang in the air it can catch fire and the whole room can go up in a sheet of flame."<p>New York passed a law called the Bakeshop Act. It didn't set a minimum wage — the minimum wage didn't exist yet in the U.S. Fri, 17 Jan 2014 08:39:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 57995 at http://krwg.org The Birth Of The Minimum Wage In America A Bet, Five Metals And The Future Of The Planet http://krwg.org/post/1968-bet-centers-around-how-many-people-earth-can-sustain This famous bet — between a biologist and an economist — was over population growth. It started three decades ago, but it helped set the tone for environmental debates that are still happening today.<p>The biologist at the heart of this bet was Paul Ehrlich at Stanford. He wrote a best-selling book in 1968 called <em>The Population Bomb.</em> It was so popular he appeared on <em>The Tonight Show</em> with Johnny Carson.<p>He told Carson, "There are 3.6 billion people in the world today, and we are adding about 70 million a year. And that's too many. Thu, 02 Jan 2014 10:22:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 57013 at http://krwg.org A Bet, Five Metals And The Future Of The Planet The Great Handbell War http://krwg.org/post/great-handbell-war Jake Malta left his job as chief engineer at Schulmerich, the world's biggest handbell company, in 1973.<p>But Malta couldn't stop thinking about bells. He had a vision for a perfect bell — a bell he had never quite achieved at Schulmerich.<p>So he set up shop in his living room. "He had a folding table, two of them, stretched out with all of his drafting supplies and piano behind him," his daughter, Joann, says.<p>He traveled to Europe and studied the physics of bells. He made sketch after sketch. Tue, 24 Dec 2013 22:27:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 56559 at http://krwg.org The Great Handbell War We Found This 20-Year-Old T-Shirt In Kenya. The Internet Found The Original Owner http://krwg.org/post/we-found-20-year-old-t-shirt-kenya-internet-found-original-owner We recently <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2013/12/10/247362140/the-afterlife-of-american-clothes" target="_blank">published a story</a> about how used clothes that get donated in the U.S. often wind up for sale in markets in Africa. Wed, 11 Dec 2013 19:44:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 55672 at http://krwg.org We Found This 20-Year-Old T-Shirt In Kenya. The Internet Found The Original Owner Meet The Humble Container That Moves The Global Economy http://krwg.org/post/meet-humble-container-moves-global-economy NPR's Planet Money team is manufacturing its own T-shirt. After the women's shirt was assembled in Colombia, they voyaged by container ship to Miami. The container, a big standardized box that moves easily from truck to ship to train, is the unsung hero of the global economy. It was invented in the 1950s and dramatically reduced shipping costs, ushering in a new era vastly different than the world retired stevedores remember. Fri, 06 Dec 2013 00:47:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 55298 at http://krwg.org Meet The Humble Container That Moves The Global Economy A Bitcoin Insider On Crime, Congress And Satoshi Nakamoto http://krwg.org/post/bitcoin-insider-crime-congress-and-satoshi-nakamoto <em>For more on what Bitcoin is and how it works, see our story </em>"<a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/08/24/138673630/what-is-bitcoin" target="_blank">What Is Bitcoin?</a><em>"</em><p>Gavin Andresen is chief scientist at the <a href="https://bitcoinfoundation.org/" target="_blank">Bitcoin Foundation</a>. I first talked with him about Bitcoin, the virtual currency, <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/08/24/138673630/what-is-bitcoin" target="_blank">back in 2011</a>. Fri, 22 Nov 2013 08:00:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 54422 at http://krwg.org A Bitcoin Insider On Crime, Congress And Satoshi Nakamoto What's A Bubble? http://krwg.org/post/whats-bubble Robert Shiller was surprised when he got the call telling him he'd won the Nobel Memorial Prize in economics — surprised that he'd won (of course), but also surprised that he was sharing the award with Eugene Fama.<p>"He and I seem to have very different views," Shiller told me. "It's like we're different religions."<p>In particular, they have very different views about economic bubbles.<p>"The word 'bubble' drives me nuts, frankly," Fama told me.<p>Fama believes markets are basically rational. At any given moment, he says, prices reflect the collective wisdom of everyone in the market. Fri, 15 Nov 2013 08:06:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 53937 at http://krwg.org What's A Bubble? What Happens When You Just Give Money To Poor People? http://krwg.org/post/what-happens-when-you-just-give-money-poor-people <em>For more of our reporting on this story, please see our work in </em><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/18/magazine/is-it-nuts-to-give-to-the-poor-without-strings-attached.html?_r=0" target="_blank">The New York Times Magazine</a><em> and on </em><a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/503/i-was-just-trying-to-help" target="_blank">This American Life</a><em>.</em><p>A couple of months ago, <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2013/08/23/214210692/the-charity-that-just-gives-money-to-poor-people" target="_blank">we reported</a> on a charity called GiveDirectl Fri, 25 Oct 2013 07:29:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 52520 at http://krwg.org What Happens When You Just Give Money To Poor People? I Lent $999.78 To The Federal Government* http://krwg.org/post/i-loaned-99978-federal-government Earlier this week, I bought a Treasury bill.<p>Everybody calls Treasury bills T-bills, and they work like this: The government promises to pay holders of T-bills a specific amount on a specific day in the near future. For the T-bill I bought, the government promised to pay $1,000 on Oct. 31.<p>I bought the T-bill on Tuesday, before Congress had made the debt-ceiling deal, so it was unclear whether I would get paid back on time.<p>If people are worried about a bond, the price tends to fall. Fri, 18 Oct 2013 07:26:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 52078 at http://krwg.org I Lent $999.78 To The Federal Government* What A U.S. Default Would Mean For Pensions, China And Social Security http://krwg.org/post/what-us-default-would-mean-pensions-china-and-social-security What would happen if Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling and the U.S. defaults on its debt later this month? The broad economic implications are unpredictable, but a default could cause huge trouble for the global economy.<p>But whatever happens to the global economy, one thing is clear: People all over the world who have loaned the U.S. government money won't get paid on time.<p>And lots and lots of people have loaned the government money. Those people are commonly referred to as owners of Treasury bonds. Thu, 10 Oct 2013 07:00:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 51520 at http://krwg.org What A U.S. Default Would Mean For Pensions, China And Social Security An Aerogramme From Professor Higgs, Nobel Winner http://krwg.org/post/aerogramme-professor-higgs-nobel-winner Well, it's happened. Tue, 08 Oct 2013 18:42:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 51402 at http://krwg.org An Aerogramme From Professor Higgs, Nobel Winner One Key Thing No One Knows About Obamacare http://krwg.org/post/one-key-thing-no-one-knows-about-obamacare Tuesday is a big day for Obamacare. The online marketplaces where people can shop for health insurance are supposed to open for business.<p>No one really knows who is going to sign up — not the Obama administration, not the insurance industry, not the president's critics. Yet the success of the law hangs on this question: Will the right mix of people sign up? In particular, will healthy people buy health insurance?<p>"The danger if you don't get young, healthy people signing up ... Mon, 30 Sep 2013 07:36:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 50781 at http://krwg.org One Key Thing No One Knows About Obamacare Ecuador To World: Pay Up To Save The Rainforest. World To Ecuador: Meh. http://krwg.org/post/ecuador-world-pay-save-rainforest-world-ecuador-meh The government of Ecuador has abandoned a plan that would have kept part of the Amazonian rainforest off limits to oil drilling. The initiative was an unusual one: Ecuador was promising to keep the oil in the ground, but it wanted to be paid for doing so.<p>The oil sits under the Yasuni national park, one of the most biodiverse places on Earth — orchids, jaguars, monkeys, birds. To get to the corner of the park that holds the oil, you have to take a plane, then a motorboat, then paddle a canoe. Mon, 02 Sep 2013 07:21:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 48743 at http://krwg.org Ecuador To World: Pay Up To Save The Rainforest. World To Ecuador: Meh. Cash, Cows And The Rise Of Nerd Philanthropy http://krwg.org/post/cash-cows-and-rise-nerd-philanthropy <em>For more of our reporting on this story, please see our recent column in the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/18/magazine/is-it-nuts-to-give-to-the-poor-without-strings-attached.html" target="_blank">New York Times Magazine</a>, and the <a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/503/i-was-just-trying-to-help" target="_blank">latest episode of This American Life</a>.</em><p>This morning, <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2013/08/23/214210692/the-charity-that-just-gives-money-to-poor-people" target="_blank">we reported</a> on a charity called GiveDirectly th Fri, 23 Aug 2013 21:01:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 48183 at http://krwg.org Cash, Cows And The Rise Of Nerd Philanthropy The Charity That Just Gives Money To Poor People http://krwg.org/post/charity-just-gives-money-poor-people <em>For more of our reporting on this story, please see our <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/18/magazine/is-it-nuts-to-give-to-the-poor-without-strings-attached.html" target="_blank">recent column in the New York Times Magazine</a>, and the <a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/503/i-was-just-trying-to-help" target="_blank">latest episode of This American Life</a>.</em><p>There's a charity called GiveDirectly that just gives money to poor people in Kenya. No strings attached. Fri, 23 Aug 2013 07:24:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 48105 at http://krwg.org The Charity That Just Gives Money To Poor People Why Doesn't Everybody Buy Cheap, Generic Headache Medicine? http://krwg.org/post/why-doesnt-everybody-buy-cheap-generic-headache-medicine Why does anyone buy Bayer aspirin — or Tylenol, or Advil — when, almost always, there's a bottle of cheaper generic pills, with the same active ingredient, sitting right next to the brand-name pills?<p>Matthew Gentzkow, an economist at the University of Chicago's Booth school, recently tried to answer this question. Along with a few colleagues, Gentzkow set out to test a hypothesis: Maybe people buy the brand-name pills because they just don't know that the generic version is basically the same thing.<p>"We came up with what is probably the simplest idea you've ever heard of," Gentzkow says. Fri, 05 Jul 2013 02:03:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 44715 at http://krwg.org Why Doesn't Everybody Buy Cheap, Generic Headache Medicine? Economists Have A One-Page Solution To Climate Change http://krwg.org/post/economists-have-one-page-solution-climate-change Climate change seems like this complicated problem with a million pieces. But Henry Jacoby, an economist at MIT's business school, says there's really just one thing you need to do to solve the problem: Tax carbon emissions.<p>"If you let the economists write the legislation," Jacoby says, "it could be quite simple." He says he could fit the whole bill on one page.<p>Basically, Jacoby would tax fossil fuels in proportion to the amount of carbon they release. That would make coal, oil and natural gas more expensive. Fri, 28 Jun 2013 07:46:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 44263 at http://krwg.org Economists Have A One-Page Solution To Climate Change A Surprising Barrier To Clean Water: Human Nature http://krwg.org/post/surprising-barrier-clean-water-human-nature In many parts of the developing world, drinking a glass of water can be deadly — especially for young children, who can die of diarrheal diseases contracted from dirty water.<p>So getting clean water to people in the developing world has been a top priority for aid groups for a long time. But it's been a surprisingly hard problem to solve.<p>For a while, aid workers largely treated clean water as an engineering problem: If there's no clean water in a village, dig a well. Thu, 20 Jun 2013 07:03:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 43713 at http://krwg.org A Surprising Barrier To Clean Water: Human Nature Who Hides Money Outside The Country? http://krwg.org/post/who-hides-money-outside-country Over the past decade, some 39,000 people have come forward voluntarily to tell the IRS about offshore money they haven't been paying taxes on. This group provides a small window into the world of people who are hiding money in offshore havens. (It's a world we've been trying to learn more about, partly by <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/07/27/157499893/episode-390-we-set-up-an-offshore-company-in-a-tax-haven" target="_blank">setting up an offshore company in Belize</a>.)<p>The names of the 39,000 aren't published anywhere, and they're not eager to be interviewed. Tue, 14 May 2013 19:34:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 41137 at http://krwg.org Who Hides Money Outside The Country? Lady Gaga Writing A New Song Is Like A Factory Investing In A New Machine http://krwg.org/post/lady-gaga-writing-new-song-factory-investing-new-machine I spoke yesterday with Dan Sichel, a Wellesley economist and a Lady Gaga fan. Both of these facts are relevant for this story.<p>The U.S. government is about to tweak the way it measures the economy, and some of the biggest changes will affect the entertainment industry.<p>Under the current system, Sichel told me, Lady Gaga's sales of concert tickets, online songs and CDs all count toward gross domestic product. But the value of the time she spends in the studio working on new songs isn't counted. Thu, 25 Apr 2013 07:30:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 39793 at http://krwg.org Lady Gaga Writing A New Song Is Like A Factory Investing In A New Machine When A Famous Hospital Didn't Want An Expensive New Drug http://krwg.org/post/when-famous-hospital-didnt-want-expensive-new-drug Last year, a new drug called Zaltrap was approved as a kind of last-chance therapy for patients with colorectal cancer. Studies suggested Zaltrap worked almost exactly as well as an existing drug called Avastin. In fact, the main difference between the two drugs seemed to be the price.<p>"I was rather stunned," Dr. Thu, 28 Mar 2013 07:41:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 37879 at http://krwg.org When A Famous Hospital Didn't Want An Expensive New Drug Three Ways To Totally Transform U.S. Immigration Policy http://krwg.org/post/three-ways-totally-transform-us-immigration-policy With immigration policy in the news again, I asked three economists, "Dream big: If you could create any immigration policy for the U.S., what would it be?" Here's what they said.<p><strong>1. The Best And The Brightest</strong><p>Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research would give out more visas to highly skilled workers: scientists, engineers, computer programmers and doctors.<p>In this universe, with fewer low-skill immigrants, low-skilled labor would be more expensive. So, food would cost a bit more. Child care might, too. There could be fewer restaurants. Thu, 21 Feb 2013 08:05:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 35539 at http://krwg.org Three Ways To Totally Transform U.S. Immigration Policy