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    Make Me Smart

    Each weekday, Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal and Kimberly Adams make today make sense. Along with our supersmart listeners, we break down happenings in tech, the economy and culture. Every Tuesday we bring on a guest to dive deeper into one important topic. Because none of us is as smart as all of us.
    enMarketplace250 Episodes

    Episodes (343)

    Kamala Harris and the glass cliff

    Kamala Harris and the glass cliff

    It’s official, folks. Over the weekend, President Joe Biden dropped out of the presidential race and Vice President Kamala Harris stepped in. Some are pointing out similarities between VP Harris’ eleventh-hour candidacy and the “glass cliff effect,” when a woman is put in a position of leadership to fix a company in crisis. We’ll get into it and fill you in on how the Harris campaign is leaning into memes to attract the Gen Z vote. Plus, gaps in China’s newly released economic plans leave questions about the country’s ability to turn things around.

    Here’s everything we talked about today:

    Got a question or comment for the hosts? Email makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

    Make Me Smart
    enJuly 23, 2024

    What happens to Biden’s campaign money if he quits the race?

    What happens to Biden’s campaign money if he quits the race?

    In May, President Joe Biden’s campaign said it had a hefty $91 million stashed in the bank. If Biden were to end his candidacy, what would happen to all that cash? We’ll get into it. And, we’ll explain why the federal government’s plan to phase out its purchases of single-use plastics could have a sizable impact on the country’s use of plastic overall. Plus, we’ll get nostalgic for DVDs and paper checks during a game of Half Full/Half Empty! And, would you talk politics in the office?

    Here’s everything we talked about today:

    Got a question or comment for the hosts? Email makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

    Make Me Smart
    enJuly 20, 2024

    The elephant in the room at the RNC

    The elephant in the room at the RNC

    This week Sean O’Brien became the first ever president of the Teamsters union to speak at the Republican National Convention. We’ll explain why this ruffled some feathers and what it could mean for the relationship between unions and the Democratic Party. And, we’ll get into how the lock-in effect is shaping today’s housing market and why the Federal Reserve won’t wait for inflation to fall to 2% before lowering interest rates. Plus, when it comes to avoiding online misinformation while a crisis unfolds, patience is a virtue.

    Join us tomorrow for Economics on Tap. The YouTube livestream starts at 3:30 p.m. Pacific time, 6:30 p.m. Eastern. We’ll have news, drinks and play a round of Half Full/Half Empty!

    Make Me Smart
    enJuly 18, 2024

    The populist threat to climate action

    The populist threat to climate action

    The transition to our clean energy economy is already underway. But progress on climate change may slow down as climate populism on the far right is taking root in developed economies. We’ll explain why cheaper, green technologies might be the antidote. Meanwhile, in Arizona, ballooning costs for a school voucher program triggered a state budget crisis. Plus, NASA blasted a Missy Elliot song all the way to Venus at the speed of light!

    Here’s everything we talked about today:

    Got a question or comment for the hosts? Email makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

    Make Me Smart
    enJuly 17, 2024

    Want to protect our democracy? Start here!

    Want to protect our democracy? Start here!

    If you’ve been feeling hopeless about the news, the election, the economy, the climate crisis and everything else that’s going on, today’s episode is for you. Emily Amick, lawyer and co-author of “Democracy in Retrograde: How to Make Changes Big and Small in Our Country and in Our Lives,” argues we can all become better participants in our democracy. And we don’t need to have a gazillion dollars to do it. On the show today, Amick explains why we should treat civic engagement as self-care, how to find your civic personality and ways to cultivate a news diet that doesn’t put you in a doom loop. Plus, the moment she realized our democracy was headed in the wrong direction.

    Then, we’ll get into how voters in Utah fought to protect the power of citizen-led ballot initiatives and why shoppers hide purchases from their romantic partners. Plus, an anime cosplayer was wrong about what it would take to create her own costume.

    Here’s everything we talked about today:

    How are you getting involved in civic life? What helps you fend off feelings of hopelessness? Let us know at makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

    Make Me Smart
    enJuly 16, 2024

    The deluge of Trump news

    The deluge of Trump news

    We’re still processing the news of the shooting at Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Pennsylvania over the weekend. On top of that, a federal judge dismissed the classified documents case against the former president. We’ll get into the news and why it matters how we talk about it. Then, we’ll explain why eviction rates remain above pre-pandemic levels in many parts of the country. Plus, some good news from the world of science about a malaria vaccine rollout in Ivory Coast and a $14 million investment in battery recycling.

    Here’s everything we talked about today:

    We love to hear from you. Send your questions and comments to makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

    Make Me Smart
    enJuly 15, 2024

    A funding freeze for Biden

    A funding freeze for Biden

    In the aftermath of the debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, money’s been talking. Major donors to a key pro-Biden super PAC are reportedly putting donations worth $90 million on ice if Biden stays in the race. We’ll get into what the funding freeze means for the future of Biden’s campaign. Plus, guest host Sabri Ben-Achour makes us smart about cricket protein powder. And we’ll play a round of Half Full/Half Empty!

    Here’s everything we talked about today:

    Before you get your weekend started, send your questions and comments to makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

    Make Me Smart
    enJuly 13, 2024

    A new normal for interest rates?

    A new normal for interest rates?

    If you’re waiting for interest rates to fall back to the near-zero levels of the 2010s, don’t hold your breath. On Capitol Hill this week, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told senators that era is probably over. We’ll get into it. And, we’ll unpack why more NATO members are spending more on defense and what’s causing widespread financial strain for hospitals and health systems. Plus, how things could change for federal agencies and lawmakers in a post-Chevron doctrine world.

    Here’s everything we talked about today:

    We love to hear from you. Send your questions and comments to makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

    Make Me Smart
    enJuly 11, 2024

    Who’s ready for retirement?

    Who’s ready for retirement?

    For the oldest members of Gen X, retirement is right around the corner. But a new report from BlackRock found only 60% of Gen X feels on track to retire, the lowest of any generation. We’ll do the numbers on which Americans feel confident in their retirement savings and what could explain generational and gender gaps. And, we’ll get into a social media horror story playing out at a Pennsylvania middle school. Plus, Team USA gymnasts will bring the sparkle factor to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

    Here’s everything we talked about today:

    We love to hear from you. Send your questions and comments to makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

    Make Me Smart
    enJuly 10, 2024

    The problem with the American 30-year mortgage

    The problem with the American 30-year mortgage

    The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is as American as apple pie. But it wasn’t always this way, and it’s putting the housing market in a tough spot lately.  A substantial amount of homeowners with low-rate mortgages are choosing to stay put in their homes rather than selling and buying a new one at higher rates. It’s created what’s known as a lock-in effect. On the show today, Andra Ghent, professor of finance at the University of Utah, explains how a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage became the norm in the United States, why it’s now putting the housing market in a bind, and how our mortgage system perpetuates inequality. Plus, could the Danish mortgage model work here?

    Then, we’ll get into why the Federal Trade Commission is eyeing pharmacy benefit managers, the third-party companies that negotiate drug prices between health insurance providers and drugmakers. And, an editor at The Points Guy shares the story of a travel lesson learned.

    Here’s everything we talked about today:

    We love to hear from you. Send your questions and comments to makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

    Make Me Smart
    enJuly 09, 2024

    Let’s get smart about the 1.5 degree global warming limit

    Let’s get smart about the 1.5 degree global warming limit

    In June, global temperatures had surpassed 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for 12 months straight, encroaching on the goal set in the Paris climate accord. We’ll explain why scientists use 1.5 degrees as a key benchmark and why it’s important to have hard conversations about climate change. Then, we’ll get into an investigation revealing how insurers profited from false diagnoses of Medicare patients. And, a billion-dollar donation to a medical school and new developments in textile recycling make us smile.

    Here’s everything we talked about today:

    We love to hear from you. Send your questions and comments to makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

    Make Me Smart
    enJuly 09, 2024

    From “This Is Uncomfortable”: The high price of cheap clothes

    From “This Is Uncomfortable”: The high price of cheap clothes

    Hey Smarties! We’re on a little break for the Fourth of July holiday. So today we’re bringing you an episode from our friends at “This Is Uncomfortable.” It’s all about the fashion industry and the workers who make the clothes we buy (and often throw away). In this episode, producer Alice Wilder introduces us to one garment worker’s personal fight for fair pay and the push to improve conditions for garment workers like her.

    Make Me Smart
    enJuly 05, 2024

    From “Million Bazillion”: Why is there so much gold at Fort Knox?

    From “Million Bazillion”: Why is there so much gold at Fort Knox?

    Hey Smarties! We’re off for the Fourth of July holiday. So today we’re bringing you a super fun episode of “Million Bazillion” that’ll teach you and your kiddos about a bit of our nation’s history and a highly secretive landmark. It’s all about Fort Knox, known as one of the most secure places in the world, and why it holds so much of the country’s gold. Plus, its role in stabilizing the U.S. economy in a time of crisis.

    Make Me Smart
    enJuly 04, 2024

    Our GPS system is wearing down

    Our GPS system is wearing down

    Much in our modern lives depends on GPS. But the United States’ GPS system is getting old and hasn’t kept up with international competition. We’ll get into how this leaves the U.S. vulnerable to national security threats. And, new data shows that as abortion protections have eroded across the country, more young women have been getting sterilized. Plus, one nonprofit’s work to give kids who’ve aged out of foster care a bona fide college move-in experience, and a women’s soccer stadium’s surprise success story.

    Here’s everything we talked about today:

    We love to hear from you. Send your questions and comments to makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

    Make Me Smart
    enJuly 03, 2024

    The evolution of the American office

    The evolution of the American office

    It’s been about four years since the great remote work experiment took off for many employees who work computer-bound jobs. After plenty of back and forth between return-to-office mandates and work-from-home advocates, neither side really won. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the share of Americans doing some or all of their work from home has leveled off to about 35%. On the show today, The New York Times’ Emma Goldberg explains who’s working from home these days and how it’s impacting both employees and their bosses. Plus, the commercial real estate question looms large over the remote work debate.

    Then, we’ll get into why the Joe Biden administration’s new protections for workers in extreme heat could be threatened by recent Supreme Court rulings and a potential second Trump presidency. And, the CEO of GS1, the company administering retail barcodes, didn’t see the QR code takeover coming.

    Here’s everything we talked about today:

    We love to hear from you. Send your questions and comments to makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

    Make Me Smart
    enJuly 02, 2024

    A one-two punch for the power of federal agencies

    A one-two punch for the power of federal agencies

    A Supreme Court ruling today gives companies a dramatically wider window to challenge federal regulations with lawsuits. We’ll get into why this is particularly important in light of a separate decision to overturn the Chevron doctrine, and how it could impact other federal regulations like the Federal Trade Commission’s ban on noncompete clauses. Then, we’ll discuss the Supreme Court’s decision on former President Donald Trump’s immunity case and where the heck we go from here. Plus, what you can do to protect the health of our democracy.

    Here’s everything we talked about today:

    We love to hear from you. Send your questions and comments to makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

    Make Me Smart
    enJuly 01, 2024

    Our take on the debate (and drone light shows)

    Our take on the debate (and drone light shows)

    There were no fireworks for the Democratic Party during last night’s debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. While Trump made false claims throughout the night, Biden did little to assuage fears that he’s not up to the job. We’ll get into how the Biden campaign’s fundraising strategy is already shifting and what it might mean for downballot races. Then, we’ll weigh in on Fourth of July travel and drone light shows during a game of Half Full/Half Empty!

    Here’s everything we talked about today:

    We love to hear from you. Send your questions and comments to makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

    Make Me Smart
    enJune 29, 2024

    SCOTUS shakes up SEC

    SCOTUS shakes up SEC

    The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a huge blow to the Securities and Exchange Commission today when it ruled against its use of in-house judges to enforce securities fraud laws. We’ll get into why the decision will make the SEC’s job harder and what it could mean for other federal agencies. Plus, we’ll bust a common myth about Social Security and explain why homeownership is key factor in how Americans are faring in this economy.

    Here’s everything we talked about today:

    We love to hear from you. Send your questions and comments to makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

    Make Me Smart
    enJune 27, 2024

    Keeping up with the Supreme Court

    Keeping up with the Supreme Court

    This year’s Supreme Court decision season has been a busy one, and it’s not over yet. We’ll get into the court’s leaked opinion on emergency abortions and two other expected decisions that have the business world watching. Plus, another round of Cybertruck recalls and why it’s fine to keep referring to X as Twitter (per one Supreme Court justice).

    Here’s everything we talked about today:

    We love to hear from you. Send your questions and comments to makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

    Make Me Smart
    enJune 26, 2024

    Are we living in a K-shaped economy?

    Are we living in a K-shaped economy?

    In the wake of the COVID-19 recession, many economists were describing the United States’ economic recovery as K-shaped. Basically, high-income Americans bounced back quicker than those at the lower end of the income scale. So, did we ever ditch that K shape? The person who coined the phrase “K-shaped recovery” back then, says no. On the show today, Peter Atwater, president of Financial Insyghts and adjunct professor at the College of William & Mary, explains why he believes economic inequality has grown since the pandemic recovery, why considerable wage gains for low-wage workers tell only part of the story and the risks of letting a K-shaped economy run wild.

    Then, we’ll get into how the fragility of global shipping supply chains could be playing into Federal Reserve decisions on interest rates. And, happy wedding anniversary, Susanna!

    Here’s everything we talked about today:

    We love to hear from you. Send your questions and comments to makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

    Make Me Smart
    enJune 26, 2024

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