Stacey Vanek Smith

Japan's Ninja Shortage

7 hours ago

Iga, a small Japanese city and the birthplace of the ninja, is facing a serious problem — there aren't enough people training to be ninjas, not even for $85k a year. Today on the show, Sally Herships goes to Iga to discuss the city's plan to use ninjas to fight depopulation.

Music: "Master Chi"

We Hear You

Jul 13, 2018

The Indicator comes out every day, and every day we tackle a different topic: Venezuela, interest rates, plastic straws. And every day, we are lucky enough to get letters from you. Today on the show: We hear you! We respond to some comments, answer a few listener questions and ponder one of life's great mysteries: How, exactly, do you pronounce Hyundai?

Your bank has its own bank account — with the Federal Reserve. That account pays interest of nearly two percent and offers instantaneous payment clearning.

We, on the other hand, get much less than two percent on our own bank accounts, and clearing a check or money transfer can take days. The problems are worse for the large unbanked population in the United States, which faces burdensome costs and inconveniences because they lack access to basic banking services.

The yield curve has a sterling record as a recession predictor. Since 1970, every time the yield curve has inverted — in other words, every time long-term interest rates have fallen below short-term interest rates — the economy has slipped into recession within about a year.

We first checked in on the yield curve in January, after a period of notable flattening. In the time since, it's continued to flatten even more. It has not yet inverted, though it keeps inching closer.

Star Spangled Indicator

Jul 3, 2018

There's a joke in China, that the first people in the world to know that Donald Trump would win the presidency were the flag makers. The reason? People were ordering a lot more Trump flags than Clinton flags.

Flags can be a symbol of national pride, a patriotic rallying cry, but they can also tell us a lot about free trade and the global economy. Today on the show, we speak with the owner of a Chinese factory that makes American flags.

Inflation has climbed above the Federal Reserve's target of 2 percent. According to the Personal Consumption Expenditures price index, the Fed's preferred inflation measure, prices climbed by 2.3 percent in the year through the end of May.

The banking industry's stress tests were put in place after the financial crisis. They're basically hypothetical disaster scenarios designed to test the strength of the financial system

This year's test was arguably one of the toughest ever, and not every bank passed. But recent regulatory changes mean that for many banks, the stress tests could be getting a lot less stressful.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Sallie Krawcheck, formerly a senior Wall Street executive at Sanford Bernstein, Citigroup and Bank of America, recently founded Ellevest, an investing platform for women. We invited her to play a game of overrated/underrated and weigh in on everything from the gender pay gap to South Carolina barbecue to the scourge of the standing desk.

Note: This episode originally ran in 2016.

The Plight Of The Living Dead

Jun 20, 2018

For the U.S. government, keeping track of who's alive and who's not is important. There are after all a lot of benefits associated with being alive — Medicare, Social Security benefits, voting. But the system for confirming who's actually dead is far from foolproof.

The Venezuelan economy has collapsed. Years of economic mismanagement and a deepening political crisis have led to a recession that has almost no parallel in recent memory.

But explaining just how bad things have gotten is also really hard because the normal economic indicators that we use to measure a country's economy have started to sound so so unfathomable — 25,000% inflation, for example — that it feels impossible to get our heads around them.

The trading relationship between the U.S. and China has been tense lately, defined by escalating tariff threats and bellicose rhetoric on both sides. The problem with tariffs though, is that they they often come with unintended consequences.

But if the U.S. wants to address China's questionable trade practices and counteract the negative effects of free trade, what is the government to do?Economist Jared Bernstein walks us through some of the alternative options for dealing with trade challenges.

A 4-year-old kid is given a marshmallow and a choice: either eat the marshmallow in front of her, or wait a few minutes (after the adults leave the room) and be rewarded with a second marshmallow. If the child can successfully wait, she can expect a bright future — or at least a brighter future on average than if she had not waited.

We're in the middle of a dinosaur boom. Commercial diggers are combing the hills of the high plains, hoping to find fossils and strike it rich.

But what happens when you put a price tag on a scientific relic that could spark new discoveries about early life on earth? The market has the answer.

Today on the show: science faces off with business, and the T-Rex that started it all.

This year, Social Security will not make enough money to cover its expenses--it will have to dip into its savings. That savings is slated to run out by 2034. As baby boomers retire, the Social Security equation is changing. Today on the show, we look at possible fixes.

Music by Drop Electric. Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.

The U.S. economy has been humming along for the last few years, but its momentum can mask the financial fragility of millions of Americans adults. A survey by the Federal Reserve reveals just how precarious situation is for a surprising number of people — and how vulnerable they are to the regular ups and downs of the economic cycle.

Vaccines are expensive to develop and it can take decades to get them to market. This means promising vaccines often sit in laboratory freezers during major epidemics. That is what happened during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, which killed more than 11,000 people. Today on the show, how that grim equation may be changing.

Every month, the Labor Department gives us the latest read on how many jobs the economy is creating. That figure has huge influence — it can move stock markets and interest rates — and it can also be way, way off. Today, we talk to an economist who used to help put out the monthly jobs report. She explains how to read that number, which indicator might be better to look at...and why some people might need to calm down about jobs day.

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