Planet Money

Planet Money is an American podcast and blog produced by NPR. Using "creative and entertaining" dialogue and narrative, Planet Money claims to be "The Economy Explained".


The podcast launched on September 6, 2008, to cover the financial crisis of 2007–08 in the wake of the federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It was created by Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson after the success of "The Giant Pool of Money", an episode they reported for This American Life. In early 2020, Planet Money celebrated its 1000th episode bringing back many former hosts and contributors to mark the occasion.
As of 2018, episodes are hosted by Robert Smith, Stacey Vanek Smith, Kenny Malone, Ailsa Chang, Jacob Goldstein, Noel King, Sarah Gonzalez, Karen Duffin and Cardiff Garcia.


The length of the podcasts ranges between 6–30 minutes. Planet Money uses abridged narratives to tackle popular complex topics like American health care or insider trading, to make economic journalism approachable to audiences that are interested in learning more about popular economic issues without an academic background in economics. The episodes are typically stand-alone. The interviewees or guest. range from academic experts, business professionals or general members of the North American public. Providing listeners with primary source material, the podcast's host contributes contextual framing and commentary. The intimate stories are used as a leading thread and use commonplace language with entertaining plots to describe abstract or complex economic and political issues. This method of entertainment translates political or economic topics, that were historically dependent on academic language and higher education, to stories that engage the general public. This technique allows for larger and/or younger audiences while continuing to maintain contact with original markets by drawing from popular topics within North American culture.
Planet Money also provides regular reports for Morning Edition and All Things Considered and occasional episodes of This American Life. Planet Money was the first to report the small print in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 that allowed deviation from the original Paulson plan. Senator Max Baucus praised the show's attempts to explain the financial crisis "in terms the average American starts to understand". Planet Money episodes have been incorporated into undergraduate microeconomics and macroeconomics courses at some universities.
Planet Money was involved in a series about the Wells Fargo account fraud scandal, which earned NPR a 2016 Peabody Award.

External projects

On February 28, 2018, the first episode of Planet Money Shorts was released. Planet Money Shorts is a monthly video series created by Bronson Arcuri and Ben Naddaff-Hafrey and published by NPR. It can be streamed from their webpage or watched on their YouTube channel.
In 2017, The Indicator was launched as Planet Money's first spin-off hosted by Planet Money's Stacey Vanek Smith and the Financial Times' Cardiff Garcia With a similar storytelling approach, it delivers faster, shorter podcasts, more frequently. Each episode breaks down a big idea, using Planet Money's style of witty entertainment-journalism. Each episode is approximately 10 minutes or less and is published every weekday.
Planet Money has launched unique projects including buying 100 barrels of crude oil and following it from ground to gas tank, launching a satellite, and building an algorithmic trading Twitter bot. Inspired by the book: The Travels Of A T-shirt In The Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli, the Planet Money team made a T-shirt and followed the shirt in a step-by-step journey from resource production to manufacturing. The design for the shirt was a squirrel hoisting a martini glass, which was meant to reference the economist John Maynard Keynes' phrase for the human elements in economics, the “animal spirits.” More than 25,000 of the shirts were sold online. The T-shirt sales were used as an effort that ultimately wound up on Kickstarter and turned out, unexpectedly, to be a runaway hit, raising more than 10x their original target of $50K. As Executive Producer, Alex Blumberg worked with Pietra Rivoli as Project Advisor and Kainaz Amaria, Brian Boyer and Joshua Davis as Managing Producers.