What Happens When Everyone Stays Home to Eat? (Ep. 412)

Covid-19 has shocked our food-supply system like nothing in modern history. We examine the winners, the losers, the unintended consequences — and just how much toilet paper one household really needs.

Is $2 Trillion the Right Medicine for a Sick Economy? (Ep. 411)

Congress just passed the biggest aid package in modern history. We ask six former White House economic advisors and one U.S. Senator: Will it actually work? What are its best and worst features? Where does $2 trillion come from, and what are the long-term effects of all that government spending?

What Does Covid-19 Mean for Cities (and Marriages)? (Ep. 410)

There are a lot of upsides to urban density — but viral contagion is not one of them. Also: a nationwide lockdown will show if familiarity really breeds contempt. And: how to help your neighbor.

The Side Effects of Social Distancing (Ep. 409)

In just a few weeks, the novel coronavirus has undone a century’s worth of our economic and social habits. What consequences will this have on our future — and is there a silver lining in this very black pandemic cloud?

Why Rent Control Doesn’t Work (Ep. 373 Rebroadcast)

As cities become ever-more expensive, politicians and housing advocates keep calling for rent control. Economists think that’s a terrible idea. They say it helps a small (albeit noisy) group of renters, but keeps overall rents artificially high by disincentivizing new construction. So what happens next?

Does Anyone Really Know What Socialism Is? (Ep. 408)

Trump says it would destroy us. Sanders says it will save us. The majority of millennials would like it to replace capitalism. But what is “it”? We bring in the economists to sort things out and tell us what the U.S. can learn from the good (and bad) experiences of other (supposedly) socialist countries.

Is There Really a “Loneliness Epidemic”? (Ep. 407)

That’s what some health officials are saying, but the data aren’t so clear. We look into what’s known (and not known) about the prevalence and effects of loneliness — including the possible upsides.

Can You Hear Me Now? (Ep. 406)

When he became chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai announced that he was going to take a “weed whacker” to Obama-era regulations. So far, he’s kept his promise, and earned the internet’s ire for reversing the agency’s position on net neutrality. Pai defends his actions and explains how the U.S. can “win” everything from the 5G race to the war on robocalls.

Policymaking Is Not a Science (Yet) (Ep. 405)

Why do so many promising solutions — in education, medicine, criminal justice, etc. — fail to scale up into great policy? And can a new breed of “implementation scientists” crack the code?

Does the President Matter as Much as You Think? (Ep. 404)

We asked this same question nearly a decade ago. The answer then: probably not. But a lot has changed since then, and we’re three years into one of the most anomalous presidencies in American history. So once again we try to sort out presidential signal from noise. What we hear from legal and policy experts may leave you surprised, befuddled — and maybe infuriated.