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Hacking the World Bank: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Since its inception in 1944, the World Bank, a multilateral organization charged with financing the development of poor nations, has been led by macroeconomists, bankers, and government insiders. The White House’s 2012 nomination of President Jim Yong Kim – a physician, anthropologist, and academic who used to advocate dismantling the Bank — broke the mold. He is the focus of our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast, “Hacking the World Bank.” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

In less than three years, Kim has overhauled the Bank and laid out ambitious goals — including a 2030 deadline to rescue the more than 1 billion people who live in extreme poverty. Kim is also — along with the Bank’s chief economist Kaushik Basu — eager to apply the insights of behavioral economics to development policy. That is the focus of Kim’s conversation today with Stephen Dubner. Read More »



Why Doesn’t Everyone Get the Flu Vaccine? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast


What if there were a small step you could take that would prevent you from getting sick, stop you from missing work, and help ensure you won’t play a part in killing babies, the sick, and the elderly?

That actually exists: it’s called the flu shot. But a lot of people don’t get it. Why? That’s the question we try to answer in this episode of Freakonomics Radio. (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.) Read More »



Should the U.S. Merge With Mexico? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

There seem to be two global winds blowing in opposite directions: companies are merging like never before while nation-states from Spain to Iraq to the United Kingdom are threatening to break apart.

What if the United States bucked the trend of nation-states and instead went the way of companies? What if, for instance, the U.S. decided to merge with Mexico? Welcome to Amexico, with a population of nearly half a billion people and the best hamburgers and enchiladas in the world. Is this as crazy as it sounds? That’s the question we explore in our latest Freakonomics Radio episode, “Should the U.S. Merge With Mexico?” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.) Read More »



How Can Tiny Norway Afford to Buy So Many Teslas? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast


Until recently, tiny Norway (population 5 million) has been the second largest market for Teslas (after the U.S.). Earlier this year, Tesla’s Model S became the best-selling car in the country ever for a one-month period. Not bad for a luxury electric vehicle whose base price in Norway is over $100,000. What’s behind this Tesla boom?

That’s the question we try to answer in this episode of Freakonomics Radio. It’s called “How Can Tiny Norway Afford to Buy So Many Teslas?” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

It turns out that Teslas, along with other electric vehicles, are massively subsidized by the Norwegian government. Read More »



Regulate This! A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast


A battle is being waged between the Internet and the State, and this episode of Freakonomics Radio gives you front-row seats. It’s called “Regulate This!” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

At issue is the so-called sharing economy, a range of services that facilitate peer-to-peer transactions through the Internet. Companies like Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft have seen rapid growth and eye-popping valuations, but as they expand around the world, they are increasingly butting heads with government regulators. Read More »



Why America Doesn’t Love Soccer (Yet): A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

With the 2014 World Cup getting underway in Brazil, we’ve just released an episode called “Why America Doesn’t Love Soccer (Yet).” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

The episode tries to answer a few questions:

1. Why doesn’t America love soccer the way the rest of the world does?

2. Would that change if the U.S. ever managed to win a World Cup?

3. Is No. 2 possible without No. 1?

Read More »



Why Everybody Who Doesn’t Hate Bitcoin Loves It: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

After being bombarded by email requests for months, Freakonomics Radio has finally caved and made an episode about Bitcoin. It’s called “Why Everybody Who Doesn’t Hate Bitcoin Loves It.” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.) The gist: thinking of Bitcoin as just a digital currency is like thinking about the Internet as just e-mail. Its potential is much more exciting than that.

Bitcoin is often described as “virtual gold” — as well as everything from a “bubble” to a “Ponzi scheme” to “a haven for individuals to buy black market items.” But what excites some people, like Silicon Valley veteran Marc Andreessen, is Bitcoin’s potential as a new technology that could underlie any number of transactions, well beyond the simple swapping of currency. Read More »



Why Are Japanese Homes Disposable? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

In most countries, houses get more valuable over time. In Japan, a new buyer will often bulldoze the home. Why? That’s the question we try to answer in our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast, “Why Are Japanese Homes Disposable?” (You can subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

Jiro Yoshida, a professor at Penn State University who specializes in real-estate economics, tells us that, per capita, there are nearly four times as many architects in Japan as in the U.S. (here’s data from the International Union of Architects), and more than twice as many construction workers. There is also a huge demand for new homes. When you put all those numbers together, it sounds like a pretty typical housing boom — and yet Japan has a shrinking population and a long-stagnant economy.  Read More »