David Kestenbaum http://blog.wlrn.org en Volatility Index Indicates Wall Street Is Bored http://blog.wlrn.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 33804 at http://blog.wlrn.org Why A Pack Of Peanut Butter M&M's Weighs A Tiny Bit Less Than A Regular Pack http://blog.wlrn.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 33514 at http://blog.wlrn.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://blog.wlrn.org/post/internet-penny-nothing-sneeze 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 32743 at http://blog.wlrn.org In 4,000 Years, One Thing Hasn't Changed: It Takes Time To Buy Light http://blog.wlrn.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 31743 at http://blog.wlrn.org How One State Convinced Its 'Young Invincibles' To Get Health Insurance http://blog.wlrn.org/post/how-one-state-convinced-its-young-invicibles-get-health-insurance Buying insurance doesn't always feel like it makes economic sense, especially for young healthy people. So why are they still willing to pay? <div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2014 NPR. Thu, 24 Apr 2014 20:37:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 31330 at http://blog.wlrn.org How One State Convinced Its 'Young Invincibles' To Get Health Insurance New Web Addresses Provide Alternatives To Crowded Domains http://blog.wlrn.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 30281 at http://blog.wlrn.org Does Raising The Minimum Wage Kill Jobs? http://blog.wlrn.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 28847 at http://blog.wlrn.org Does Raising The Minimum Wage Kill Jobs? The Birth Of The Minimum Wage In America http://blog.wlrn.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 26591 at http://blog.wlrn.org The Birth Of The Minimum Wage In America A Bet, Five Metals And The Future Of The Planet http://blog.wlrn.org/post/bet-five-metals-and-future-planet 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 17:00:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 25947 at http://blog.wlrn.org A Bet, Five Metals And The Future Of The Planet We Found This 20-Year-Old T-Shirt In Kenya. The Internet Found The Original Owner http://blog.wlrn.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 24988 at http://blog.wlrn.org We Found This 20-Year-Old T-Shirt In Kenya. The Internet Found The Original Owner A Bitcoin Insider On Crime, Congress And Satoshi Nakamoto http://blog.wlrn.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 08:35:00 +0000 David Kestenbaum 24066 at http://blog.wlrn.org A Bitcoin Insider On Crime, Congress And Satoshi Nakamoto What's A Bubble? http://blog.wlrn.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 23724 at http://blog.wlrn.org What's A Bubble? What Happens When You Just Give Money To Poor People? http://blog.wlrn.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 22665 at http://blog.wlrn.org What Happens When You Just Give Money To Poor People? I Lent $999.78 To The Federal Government* http://blog.wlrn.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 22312 at http://blog.wlrn.org I Lent $999.78 To The Federal Government* What A U.S. Default Would Mean For Pensions, China And Social Security http://blog.wlrn.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 21917 at http://blog.wlrn.org What A U.S. Default Would Mean For Pensions, China And Social Security