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Best Indicator Episodes (From Planet Money)

Indicator is a little show about big ideas.

Produced by the same icons that brought you Planet Money, this podcast aims to provide its audience with the tools and information they need to make sense of today’s world.

Best Indicator Episodes (From Planet Money)

Over the past few years, current events have been hard to track. With so much going on, it can often feel like you’re falling behind.

But that’s where Indicator comes in! Each episode gives a nuanced and easy-to-digest account of a current event.

From climate change to economic crises to Twitter and everything in between, the team behind Indicator covers everything you need to know in an engaging and informative manner.

Check out the best episodes of Indicator below.

Table of Contents

Blue Skies Ahead

COVID-19 sparked lockdowns across the world. And, while life locked down was difficult, it had one notable upside – few commuters meant less pollution!

Within a few weeks of the Beijing lockdown, people posted photos of the bright blue, unpolluted skies.

This Indicator episode examines the idea that seeing the blue skies again would encourage the people of China to advocate for positive and sustainable change.

This is a great episode to listen to if you’re interested in the battle against climate change.

Available at npr.org.

How Do You Reduce Child Poverty?

Nearly a fifth of the children living in the US are living in poverty.

This dire statistic has resulted in many politicians advocating for a permanent child tax credit expansion.

But is this enough? And more importantly, will it happen?

This episode of Indicator explores the details of this policy.

Hilary Hoynes, an economist, argues that this policy is near-universal, which makes it more popular politically. But is sending money to upper-middle-class families appropriate?

Listen to find out.

Available at npr.org.

An Economist’s Advice On Digital Dependency

On average, adults in the US spend more than four hours on their phones daily.

While this can include work and social time, more often than not, it also consists of a few hours of mindless scrolling.

There is something about this level of digital dependency that feels wrong. So, what can you do about it?

Give this episode a listen and find out! It includes excellent advice from experts on digital addictions.

Available at npr.org.

How WhatsApp Broke Lebanon

Lebanon has had a severe financial crisis for the last three years, resulting in a shortage of electricity, fuel, food, and much more!

But, the lack of money is the primary concern.

Economist Nisreen Salti argues that Lebanon’s issues can be traced back to a bad decision regarding the exchange rate.

The series of events that occurred after this decision was made would throw Lebanon’s economy into disarray.

Listen to this episode to learn more.

Available at npr.org.

Congressional Game Theory

Regardless of how much I can keep up with politics, the process of passing bills always seems to confuse me.

For example, passing the infrastructure bill seemed to be a particularly difficult job for the Democratic Party. My question is, why?

Well, this episode of Indicator explains it all.

Kevin Zollman, an experienced and renowned Game theorist, describes how game theory can come in handy when explaining how politicians attempt to outmaneuver the opposition.

Available at npr.org.

The Money Illusion: Have Americans Really Gotten a Raise?

The wages of many US workers have increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But, it seems as though the benefits of these wage increases were short-lived, thanks to the rise in the price of living.

This episode of Indicator discusses whether the raises received by many Americans are real or whether they are better perceived as an illusion.

Michelle Holder, a renowned economist, argues that the economy has pulled off a disappearing act with wages.

Available at npr.org.

Why Quitting Got So Cool

In September 2021, over 4 million people decided to quit their jobs.

This is significantly higher than the usual amount, which begs the question, why?

Could the pandemic be to blame, or is a more fundamental shift in attitude happening?

This episode explores what this record-high may represent for Americans’ perspectives of work culture.

And, you can hear from some quitters to more deeply understand why so many Americans are turning their backs on their old nine to fives.

Available at npr.org.

Poison Pill, Netflix, And Disney’s Kingdom Explained

This episode is a little different from the others on this list.

It is an ‘Indicators of the Week’ episode wherein the team unpacks numbers that have saturated the news. In this episode, they discuss all-things entertainment.

Specifically, they take a deep dive into why Netflix’s quarterly report was disappointing, the potentially hostile takeover of Twitter, and a Disney World under threat of losing its status as self-governing.

Available at npr.org.

The Palm Oil Price Mystery

The price of cooking oil has significantly increased globally. This can be attributed to a number of causes, such as droughts and the Ukrainian war.

As such, when finding out that the price of palm oil has also increased, you might think… ‘well, that makes sense.

But it doesn’t. The price of palm oil began rising way before the production and transportation of cooking oil started to experience problems.

In this episode, the team investigates the mystery of rising palm oil prices and asks whether Indonesia’s politics could play a role.

Available at npr.org.

Why Women Make Great Bosses

With more and more women taking on executive roles, many people question whether they are making good bosses.

The research is in, and it has concluded that they make excellent leaders!

In this episode, the team looks at one particular study that found that businesses with women in executive roles were, on average, 15% more profitable than those without.

They also talk to Corrine Post, a professor of management at Villanova University, to understand why this is the case.

Available at npr.org.