The Longest Long Shot

On this week's Freakonomics Radio: When the uncelebrated Leicester City Football Club won the English Premier League, it wasn’t just the biggest underdog story in recent history. It was a sign of changing economics — and that other impossible, wonderful events might be lurking just around the corner.

Diamonds Are a Marriage Counselor’s Best Friend (Rebroadcast)

On this week's Freakonomics Radio, we meet a young Michigan couple who win a diamond at a charity event and then can't decide what to do with it. Sell? Set it in a ring? Or stash it in the laundry room and just keep fighting about it? We also hear from Edward Jay Epstein, who wrote a book about trying to resell a diamond, and we learn the strange, shady history of how diamonds have come to be as "valuable" as they are.

How to Create Suspense

This week on Freakonomics Radio, we were inspired by a fascinating research paper called “Suspense and Surprise” by the economists Jeffrey Ely, Alexander Frankel, and Emir Kamenica. We speak with all three of them about what makes a particular sport suspenseful (or boring), what makes a movie thrilling (or, as in the case of M. Night Shyamalan, increasingly not), and why these things are worth discussing within the realm of economics. We'll also hear from practitioners of the art of suspense, including novelist Harlan Coben.

“If Mayors Ruled the World”

Season 5, Episode 30 This week, Freakonomics Radio expands on an idea from political theorist Benjamin Barber, who wrote If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities. Barber argues that cities are paragons of good governance — compared, at least, to nation-states — and that is largely due to their mayors. Mayors, Barber argues, are can-do people […]

The Three Hardest Words in the English Language

Season 5, Episode 29

This week on Freakonomics Radio we ask: what are the three hardest words to say? Conventional wisdom suggests “I love you.” But c'mon, people say that all the time. What about “I don’t know?" We'll argue that our inability to say these words more often can have huge consequences.

Then, Stephen Dubner talks with Kevin Kelly, a self-described old hippie and onetime editor of hippiedom’s do-it-yourself bible, The Whole Earth Catalog, who went on to co-found Wired magazine, a beacon of the digital age.

Reasons to Not Be Ugly

Season 5, Episode 28

This week, Freakonomics Radio takes a look at the “beauty premium” and, conversely, the downside of ugly. Do cuter babies get more attention? Are good-looking students graded more charitably? How do ugly people fare in the marriage and labor markets?

Then, it isn’t easy to separate the guilty from the innocent — but a clever bit of game theory can help. The goal, as Steve Levitt puts it, is “to get the bad guys to come forward and tell you who they are.” It’s a trick that Levitt and Stephen Dubner, in their book Think Like a Freak, call “teaching your garden to weed itself.”

Is the World Ready for a Guaranteed Basic Income?

Season 5, Episode 27

On this week's Freakonomics Radio: a lot of full-time jobs in the modern economy simply don’t pay a living wage. And even those jobs may be obliterated by new technologies. What’s to be done so that financially vulnerable people aren’t just crushed? It may finally be time for an idea that economists have promoted for decades: a guaranteed basic income.

Also, what is the long-term impact of suddenly acquiring a valuable asset? An 1832 land lottery in Georgia randomly rewarded roughly 20 percent of its participants with a large tract of land. Two researchers used U.S. Census data to track how this new wealth changed the lives of these families.

Are Payday Loans Really as Evil as People Say?

Season 5, Episode 26

This week on Freakonomics Radio: critics — including President Obama — say short-term, high-interest loans are predatory, trapping borrowers in a cycle of debt. But some economists see them as a useful, if expensive, financial instrument for people who might otherwise not have access to cash. As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau promotes new regulation, we ask: who’s right?

To learn more, check out the podcast from which this hour was drawn: “Are Payday Loans Really as Evil as People Say?"

The Perfect Crime

Season 5, Episode 25

This week on Freakonomics Radio, what’s “the perfect crime?" It turns out that if you are driving your car and run over a pedestrian, there’s a good chance — especially if you live in New York — that you’ll barely be punished. Why?

Also, where have all the hitchhikers gone? Thumbing a ride used to be commonplace. Now you're more likely to see it happen in the opening scene of a slasher movie. Maybe that explains it.

Should Tipping Be Banned?

Season 5, Episode 24

This hour of Freakonomics Radio is all about tipping. As we all know, the practice of tipping can be awkward, random, and confusing. What you might not know is that it is discriminatory, and according to at least one academic's research, correlates with corruption. We talk with a professor who has written over 50 papers on the subject.

Then, we explore the warped restaurant business model: kitchen wages are too low to hire cooks, while diners are put in charge of paying the waitstaff. So what happens if you eliminate tipping, raise menu prices, and redistribute the wealth? New York restaurant maverick Danny Meyer is about to find out.