Topic: Economics

Current Event May 3, 2016

Puerto Rico in Debt

Civics/Government Economics US government

Puerto Rico is at risk of defaulting on a $400 million debt payment due May 1, 2016. House Speaker Paul Ryan pledged to have a plan ready by then to help Puerto Rico find a way to repay its debt. Many people have started predicting what a collapse of the Puerto Rican economy will mean for bond markets and the U.S. economy. There is currently a plan in Congress to set up a process to restructure Puerto Rico’s debt. Listen to learn more about this crisis and how it might be solved.

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Current Event April 29, 2016

Debate: Should Britain Leave the EU?

Politics Economics

There is an important debate in the United Kingdom about whether they should stay in the European Union or leave. One opinion is that there is a huge amount of discontent with the workings of the European Union and it will dissolve in the future. Another opinion is that the European Union has helped facilitate change in Europe and has promoted democracy, human rights and market economies. Listen as two brothers debate this issue, then discuss your students’ opinions about whether Britain should leave the EU.

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Current Event April 16, 2016

Making Rugs at Colonial Mills

Economics

There is a good chance braided rugs sold across the country were made in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. At Colonial Mills, employees produce beautiful braided rugs. Rug-making was once done completely by hand, but new machines and technologies have sped up the process. Employees have also found other ways to update their products so they look modern and new. Though Colonial Mills has faced challenges like the recent recession, it is a thriving business today. Listen to the story to hear more about this local rug factory has survived and thrived in a changing economy.

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Current Event April 11, 2016

Global Tax Avoidance

Economics Law

A law firm in Panama that sets up shell companies for people around the world so they can hide their financial transactions recently had a huge number of documents leaked to the public. Now these world leaders, movie stars and athletes’ tax avoidance isn’t hidden anymore. Regulators in a number of countries say they will use these documents to identify illegal activity. Following the release of this story, the scandal forced the Prime Minister of Iceland to resign. Listen to this story to hear more about identifying and regulating tax avoidance schemes.

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Current Event March 21, 2016

Economic Effects of Low Oil Prices

Economics

Falling oil prices typically help the global economy. Consumers have more money if they aren’t paying as much for gas, so they spend money on other things which stimulates the economy. Falling oil prices should also mean oil producers are making less money. But this isn’t necessarily true today. Some countries have built up reserves when oil prices were high, to minimize the effect of lower prices. Other countries are experiencing high inflation and economic damage from lower oil prices, subtracting from global growth. Listen to hear more about the effects of cheap oil today.

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Current Event January 14, 2016

Working Women in Japan

Economics Gender

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.

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Current Event November 2, 2015

China’s One Child Policy Ends

Economics Communism Reproduction

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.

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Current Event October 7, 2015

Economic Power of Latinos

Civics/Government Economics Immigration

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.

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Current Event September 23, 2015

Interest Rates At All Time Low

Economics

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.

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Current Event September 16, 2015

Cows and the Stock Market

Economics Mathematics

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.

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Current Event September 11, 2015

Uber Versus Taxis

Economics Law

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.

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Current Event August 30, 2015

China’s Stock Drop

Economics

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.

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Current Event August 20, 2015

Fake Friends

Economics Culture

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

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Current Event June 17, 2015

What Cheap Clothes Really Cost

Civics/Government Economics Religion

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.

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Current Event June 12, 2015

Drones Track Illegal Logging

Life Science Economics Ecosystems

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.

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Current Event June 5, 2015

Does Raising the Minimum Wage Help or Hurt?

Civics/Government Economics Labor

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.

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Current Event May 20, 2015

Train Derailment Reveals Infrastructure Problems

Civics/Government Economics Transportation

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.

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Current Event May 12, 2015

A New Silk Road

Economics Ancient Civilization

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.

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Current Event May 8, 2015

Is the American Dream Out of Reach?

Civics/Government Economics Race Poetry

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.

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