Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly
Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly
Hosted by Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood, Make Me Smart With Kai & Molly is now a daily news podcast that breaks down the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and the most complex topics of the week. Together, we make sense of today. Because none of us is as smart as all of us.
You can’t really retire with a 401(k) alone
The vast majority of Americans lacked enough retirement savings even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, some older Americans are leaving the workforce and others have stopped contributing to retirement accounts because they can’t afford to. Just half of workers participated in a retirement plan at work in the first place, partly because employers are not required to offer 401(k)s or other retirement plans. So, where did these plans come from? And, are they actually helping people save? On today’s show, New School labor economist Teresa Ghilarducci walks us through the 40-year decline of retirement in this country, the incentive structures setting up Americans for failure and why there’s some reason for hope in the new presidential administration. Here’s everything we talked about today: Ghilarducci’s first appearance on Marketplace in 2012 “A brief history of the 401(k), which changed how Americans retire” from CNBC “The 401(k) is forty and fabulous” from Quartz BLS data showing just half of private sector workers participate in a retirement plan at work “Few people are tapping 401(k)s, even without withdrawal penalties” from Marketplace “Nasdaq pushes diversity requirements for company boards” from the Washington Post “Don’t forget the other virus: How to keep COVID from reversing progress on AIDS” from Fortune Make Me Smart is powered by listeners like you — become a Marketplace Investor today!
Dec 1
37 min
Schools are closed, bars are open
It’s still too early to know how the Thanksgiving holiday — and some Americans’ refusal to follow the advice of experts and stay home for it — will impact the number of coronavirus cases, but we’re headed for a dark winter indeed. What are teachers to do? We’ll talk about it. Plus, Molly’s sad bitcoin story and the changing GOP line on “mean tweets.” Here’s a list of everything we talked about today: “Teaching in the Pandemic: ‘This Is Not Sustainable’” from The New York Times “Exxon Slashes Spending, Writes Down Assets” from The Wall Street Journal “Bitcoin Climbs to Record High” from The New York Times “With Bank of America Announcement, Every Major US Bank Has Ruled out Funding for Arctic Drilling” from the Sierra Club And finally, this bit Kai caught on CNN this afternoon
Nov 30
19 min
We say it again and again: The stock market is not the economy. Well right now, the economy is trying to limp out of a coronavirus recession, and the Dow just hit 30,000. Our listener wants to know: What does that even mean? For this Whadda Ya Wanna Know Wednesday, we’ll give you a quick refresher. Plus, we’ll answer your questions about tax season and the difference between Janet Yellen’s old job and her (potential) new job. We gotta make it quick, because guest host Marielle Segarra hasn’t done her Thanksgiving grocery shopping yet. Here’s a list of everything we talked about today: “The pandemic-resistant Dow Jones Industrial Average” from Marketplace Morning Report “Here’s what you need to know about paying taxes on unemployment benefits” from CNBC “The K-shaped recovery is getting worse” from the Washington Post “Mnuchin Plans to Put $455 Billion Beyond Yellen’s Easy Reach” from Bloomberg Revisit Kai’s interview with Janet Yellen from last year. >We’re off tomorrow and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday. See you next week! Stay safe out there.
Nov 25
15 min
The cost of racism is incalculable. Here’s a start.
Sixteen trillion dollars is a lot of money. It’s hard to even conceive of a number so big in real economic terms — it’s bigger than China’s GDP, for one thing. It’s also the economic cost of racism in this country in just the past 20 years. And it’s a conservative estimate. Today we’ll do the numbers with economist Dana Peterson, who did the numbers for Citi. Peterson helps us dig into that $16 trillion number, how the study came together, what surprised her about it and how her findings could play into the ongoing conversation around reparations.
Nov 24
35 min
Another COVID-19 vaccine looks promising, but who will take it?
AstraZeneca is the third pharmaceutical company in recent weeks to say it has a potentially viable coronavirus vaccine, and a cheaper one at that. With Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra, we’ll talk about how businesses can influence public health once we have a vaccine, and even dare to imagine a day when kids can permanently go back to school. Plus: The people President-elect Joe Biden has tapped to run the Treasury and State departments. Did you know Antony Blinken has a singing career? Here’s everything we talked about today (if these links don’t work on your device, check out the episode page on “3rd major COVID-19 vaccine shown to be effective and cheaper” from the Associated Press “Vaccination will be required to fly, says Qantas chief” from the BBC “Biden Picks Janet Yellen for Treasury Secretary” from The Wall Street Journal “The end is in sight’: Experts express optimism about COVID-19 pandemic coming to a close” from the Boston Globe “Key government agency acknowledges Biden’s win and begins formal transition” from CNN Antony Blinken’s Spotify page And this Janet Yellen meme
Nov 23
11 min
Please, please stay home this Thanksgiving
No matter who you are — even, say, a New York Times columnist — it’s so important that you stay safe at home this Thanksgiving, because your bubble is likely bigger than you think. Also, the hospitals are already straining ahead of a long winter. We’ll talk about it, plus our favorite Thanksgiving sides in another round of “Half-Full or Half-Empty.” Here’s a list of everything we talked about today: Some background info on Kimberly’s cocktail today “I Traced My Covid-19 Bubble and It’s Enormous” from The New York Times Opinion “One in Five U.S. Hospitals Face Staffing Crises Within a Week” from Bloomberg “Dolly Parton & Friends Set for Live Holiday Special With Pandora” from Billboard Thanks to everyone who joined us live on YouTube today! We’re off next Friday, and planning to be back in December. Subscribe so you don’t miss it!
Nov 20
17 min
This is American exceptionalism
It’s almost hack to say at this point, but it’s worth remembering: If what President Donald Trump and his campaign are doing right now — refusing to concede a called election, eroding trust in the democratic process, asking for ballots to be tossed — if all that was happening in another country, we’d be talking about it very differently. It’s worth unpacking why that is, which we’ll do today. But first: We’ll explain the feud between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Fed Chair Jerome Powell and present yet more evidence that you should stay home for Thanksgiving. Seriously. Join us tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. Pacific time/6:30 p.m. Eastern for our live happy hour episode on YouTube! Subscribe so you don’t miss out. Here’s a list of everything we talked about today (if these links don’t work on your device, try our episode page at “The coronavirus risk for a big Thanksgiving dinner in your community” from The Washington Post “Don’t rely on a negative test result to see your family for Thanksgiving” from CNN “Treasury moves to end several crisis-era programs, drawing pushback from the Fed” from CNBC “Federal Reserve’s Emergency Loan Programs at Center of Political Fight” from The New York Times “Dog at Delaware SPCA for 866 days finds forever home” from Fox 29 Philadelphia This Twitter exchange between Chef José Andrés and Chris Krebs, the recently fired director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Kai’s interview with Andrés from 2018
Nov 19
17 min
We’re on a ‘Groundhog Day’ loop
The bills are piling up for the Trump campaign. Even though its legal challenges to the election don’t seem to be going anywhere, someone’s got to pay the lawyers. We discuss who is on the hook. Plus: We answer your questions about what a Biden administration may mean for businesses struggling during the pandemic, why the Fed’s Main Street Lending Program flopped, and Kai and Molly reminisce about the last time they were in the same place together, pre-COVID-19 (sigh). Here’s a list of everything we talked about today (if these links don’t work on your device, check out the episode page on “Who Is Paying for Trump’s Lawsuits and Recounts?” from Campaign Legal Center “Justice Dept. Intervenes to Help Trump in E. Jean Carroll Defamation Lawsuit” from The New York Times “Wisconsin recount would cost Trump campaign $7.9 million” from CNN “Dr. Céline Gounder, Adviser to Biden, on the Next Covid Attack Plan” from The New York Times “Fed Again Eases Terms for Main Street Lending Program” from The Wall Street Journal
Nov 18
15 min
The war on drugs lost this election. Now what?
One in three Americans now live in a state with legal recreational marijuana, and that wasn’t the only big drug story on Election Day. Oregon voted to decriminalize possession of hard drugs and legalized medical use of magic mushrooms. On today’s show, Beau Kilmer, director of Rand Corp.’s Drug Policy Research Center, will make us smart about the country’s growing patchwork of legalization and how it could reshape the drug economy. Here’s everything we talked about today (if these links don’t work, check out the episode page on “This Election, a Divided America Stands United on One Topic” from The New York Times “1 in 3 Americans now lives in a state where recreational marijuana is legal” from Politico “Zuckerberg, Dorsey Tout Progress in Combating Political Misinformation” from the Wall Street Journal This Twitter account that shows the top-ten best-performing Facebook posts of the day “No, This Election Did Not Go ‘Smoothly‘” from Slate
Nov 17
34 min
Would you take a coronavirus vaccine? What if it came from Dolly Parton?
With the promise of another coronavirus vaccine from Moderna, in addition to last week’s blockbuster news from Pfizer, we were inspired to go back and do the numbers: Once there’s a vaccine for COVID-19, who’s actually going to take it? The answer is … not ideal. Also on the docket for today: high-stakes content moderation, low-stakes voter fraud and, yes, Dolly Parton’s own efforts to fund a coronavirus vaccine. Here’s a list of everything we talked about today (if these links don’t work for you, check out our episode page at “Facebook Has A Rule To Stop Calls To Arms. Moderators Didn’t Enforce It Ahead Of The Kenosha Shootings.” from BuzzFeed News “Why Obama fears for our democracy” from The Atlantic “Second coronavirus vaccine, from Moderna, shows promise” from Marketplace “U.S. Public Now Divided Over Whether To Get COVID-19 Vaccine” from Pew Research Center “Voter fraud alleged in New Zealand bird of the year contest” from The Washington Post “Renowned philanthropist Dolly Parton donates a million to COVID-19 vaccine effort” from PinkNews
Nov 16
15 min
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