Current Event January 19, 2016
The recent Syrian refugee crisis highlights the central issue of sovereign borders. Countries spend millions of dollars every year to protect their borders and tightly determine who can enter. An economics professor wants to see a world with open borders. He says open borders with no discrimination against where someone is born, and technology that allows ideas to flow freely, could double the global gross domestic product. Listen to hear this interesting description of a world without borders.
Current Event January 14, 2016
Child care is at the center of economic policy in Japan. As Japan’s population ages and shrinks, the country is looking to give the economy a boost by attracting more women to the workforce. The problem is young mothers have a difficult time finding daycare due to limited child care options. And Japanese culture sees caretaking and household duties as women’s domain, so parents typically do not share the work at home equally.The government is taking steps to help more women join the workforce.
Current Event November 2, 2015
For 35 years, the Chinese government limited families to having one child. This week that policy changed and most families now have the option of having two children. The Communist party declared the previous policy a success. Population control was part of a political plan to reduce the number of people and raise the per capita income. Families who want to have more children welcomed this announcement. Others were more cynical, asking if the government will now force them to have more children. Listen to this story to hear various opinions about this policy change in China.
Current Event October 7, 2015
When Donald Trump announced he was running for President he made derogatory remarks about Mexican immigrants, characterizing them as criminals. The Latino community responded not with riots and protests, but with their economic power. In reaction to Trump’s remarks, companies that see a lot of revenue from Latino customers pulled out of Trump owned products or events. Macy’s will no longer carry Trump’s menswear line, NBC will no longer allow him to host and Univision will no longer air beauty pageants that he partially owns. Latinos’ purchasing power is expected to reach $1.5 trillion this year. Listen to hear more about how Latinos are using their economic influence.
Current Event September 23, 2015
Interest rates in the United States are currently lower than they have ever been. Economists are divided about whether the Fed should raise the rates. The last time interest rates were raised was 2006. At that time, keeping the rates low prevented more companies from failing, households from going bankrupt and a likely depression. Recently the Fed met to decide whether or not it was time to raise the interest rate. This radio story aired before the decision was made, and discusses the pros and cons of each option.
As a follow up you may also want to listen to this story to hear why the Fed made its decision to leave rates where they are, for now.
Current Event September 16, 2015
There is a phenomenon that drives everything from the stock market to orange juice prices. By taking the average of all guesses about something, you can collectively get the right answer. This was put to the test at a county fair using a cow named Penelope. People guessed the weight of a cow and the average of over 17,000 guesses was within 5 percent of Penelope’s actual weight. This story about the wisdom of crowds will help you explain how the stock market works.
Current Event September 11, 2015
Uber is a leader in the “sharing economy.” It brings together people who need rides with people who have cars. But its business model has been challenged by the traditional taxi business as well as by its own drivers. Uber drivers argue that they should be classified as employees and not contractors. In California, the law states that employers have to reimburse employees for expenses to do their jobs. Now a federal lawsuit is digging into this issue. Use this story to spark a debate among your students.
Debate It! Uber Versus Taxis: Should Uber drivers be classified as employees or independent contractors? Provide evidence for your opinion.
Current Event August 30, 2015
Since June 2015, the stock market in China has been posting losses, falling as much as 11% in one week. The crash in China has spilled over into global markets. Last week the Dow Jones, a U.S. stock market index, closed below 17,000 for the first time in almost a year, possibly due to fear that the plunging Chinese economy will bring others down with it. The government in China has been trying to manage its economy by cutting rates and announcing a surprise currency devaluation, but these efforts are not stopping the drop. What more can they do? Listen to hear from investment experts about the stock market crash in China.
Current Event August 20, 2015
In South Korea people like to impress their neighbors and one of the biggest opportunities is a wedding. Weddings can turn into elaborate productions instead of a celebration of love. In a trend that started in the 1990s some brides families hire guests to fill out the party. The additional people are sometimes needed to help the bride avoid humiliation, or “save face.” Often the groom does not realize people are playing a role. In this story you’ll hear how there are agencies devoted to assign role-playing actors to participate in a variety of occasions, such as playing fake parents, fake spouses and fake office employees
Current Event August 18, 2015
Farm work is on the decline, but work in agriculture-related business is booming. Two ways that technology is transforming the farming business is in creating websites where farmers can find bargains on seeds and selling technology solutions to help farmers collect and monitor data. Listen to hear the many new jobs that are being created using technology in interesting ways to improve farming businesses.
Current Event June 17, 2015
As people head out to buy summer clothes a new documentary called “The True Cost” asks people to stop and consider all it takes to create affordable clothing. Clothing is a rare product where the price of a dress or shirt has dropped, but the cost to create it hasn’t. The increased production of clothing and the decreased cost has negatively affected workers across the world. It’s also had an impact on the environment. Listen to learn more about the economics of T-shirts that cost $5.
Current Event June 12, 2015
Rainforests are one of the most diverse and important ecosystems on Earth. Many rainforests have been protected as conservation areas or trusts. Unfortunately, some of these areas are so large and remote that they are almost impossible to monitor. A conservation group in Peru is fighting against deforestation by using drones. Small low-flying light weight airplanes can fly over and take pictures of parts of the remote jungle to find deforestation. Listen to learn more about the use of drones to protect the rainforest.
Current Event June 5, 2015
The Los Angeles City Council has voted to increase the city’s minimum wage from the current $9.00 to $15.00 by 2020. The move has workers cheering and critics making predictions about how it will hurt local businesses. Listen to learn more about this increase and its potential impact.
Current Event May 20, 2015
Last Tuesday, May 12, 2015, an Amtrak train traveling from Washington, D.C. to New York City derailed when going around a sharp curve at over 100 miles an hour. At least eight people were killed and 200 injured. As the cleanup and investigation continues, people are looking for answers. Listen to this story about the history of Amtrak’s founding and funding and how this has shaped the troubled rail system’s infrastructure.
Current Event May 12, 2015
The Silk Road is an ancient transcontinental trade route that connected Asia and Europe. The Silk Road led a period of trade and prosperity that is remembered in Chinese history as an era of power and prestige. The modern Chinese government is hoping to recreate the Silk Road and connect China to Africa, Europe and other parts of Asia. Some argue that this new goal is a great way to improve connectivity and promote economic development, while others question their motives. Listen to learn more about the ancient Silk Road and the potential impacts of creating a modern one.
Current Event May 8, 2015
How realistic is the “American Dream”? Is upward mobility a reality for everyone today? Are people still better off than their parents? These are the questions driving a study of economic mobility by economists at Harvard and UC Berkeley, as well as the radio reporter in this story. With a focus on Dayton, Ohio, its past and present, this story analyzes the modern factors that stunt economic mobility in West Dayton and other neighborhoods like it. It looks at whether the “American Dream” is truly attainable for everyone.
Current Event May 5, 2015
On average, women are paid less to do the same jobs as men. This pay inequity often starts with salary negotiations. Men are much more likely to negotiate a higher salary and women are more likely to accept what is first offered to them. This initial gap then continues throughout careers even when people switch jobs. Companies are trying to address this gender gap in pay by publishing salaries online or establishing set pay for different positions. Listen to learn more about this problem and some new solutions.
Current Event May 1, 2015
On the morning of April 12, 2015 Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man from Baltimore, was arrested by police and fell into a coma as a result of spinal cord injuries sustained while in police custody. He died on April 19th, a week after his arrest. The officers involved have been suspended with pay but there have been no public answers about what happened. Peaceful protests in Baltimore turned violent, leading to riots and property destruction. This incident tapped into anger and resentment in a city known for racial segregation, economic marginalization and police violence. Listen to learn more about the way these tensions played out in one neighborhood during the violence.
Update: The six police officers involved in Gray's death were charged with a range of crimes including murder. They have pled not guilty.
Current Event April 12, 2015
The United States, Iran and five other world powers have agreed on the basic principles of a nuclear accord. This agreement is being presented as a victory in the U.S. and Iran but the two sides are offering different stories on some of the key points of the deal, including when economic sanctions will end. Listen to learn more about how these differing narratives may lead to problems finalizing the deal.