Charles Wheelan is the author of the best-selling Naked Statistics and Naked Economics and is a former correspondent for The Economist. He teaches public policy and economics at Dartmouth College.

Consider the $20 bill.

It has no more value, as a simple slip of paper, than Monopoly money. Yet even children recognize that tearing one into small pieces is an act of inconceivable stupidity. What makes a $20 bill actually worth twenty dollars? In Naked Money, Charles Wheelan uses this seemingly simple question to open the door to the surprisingly colorful world of money and banking.

Some of you may have been following Shankar Vedantam on NPR or the discoveries of Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Prize winning psychologist on the Princeton faculty, and their demonstration of the irrational ways that people very naturally and ordinarily reach decisions. Indeed, for quite a long time it’s been apparent that rational decision making often demands too much of people. As Cornell’s Vicki Bogan said in a talk in Albany, the rational choice model of economics assumes that people:

Michael Meeropol: GOP Tax Plans

Nov 6, 2015

On November 2, 2015 Josh Barro wrote a column in the New York times presenting details from some Republican candidates’ tax proposals.  (See “Republicans’ Talk of Taxes Leaves Much Unsaid,” New York Times, November 2, 2015, P. A 3)   Instead of being satisfied with sound bites, Barro does readers a service by going into some of the details.  The tax plans I want to highlight are those of Dr. Ben Carson and Senator Ted Cruz.  (He also discusses the plans of Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul and Governor John Kasich.)

Global markets have had a rough week and a half, offering up some stomach-churning drops and rebounds as investors follow roller coaster news of China’s economy. That said, it’s not a hopeless time for your own portfolio. Joining us today to answer your financial questions is Thomas Brockley, senior vice president, financial advisor and branch director of the Capital Region office of RBC Wealth Management in Albany.

  Natural disasters don't matter for the reasons we think they do. They generally don't kill a huge number of people. Most years more people kill themselves than are killed by Nature's tantrums. And using standard measures like Gross Domestic Product (GDP) it is difficult to show that disasters significantly interrupt the economy.

It's what happens after the disasters that really matters-when the media has lost interest and the last volunteer has handed out a final blanket, and people are left to repair their lives. What happens is a stark expression of how unjustly unequal our world has become. The elite make out well-whether they belong to an open market capitalist democracy or a closed authoritarian socialist state.

In The Disaster Profiteers, John Mutter argues that when no one is looking, disasters become a means by which the elite prosper at the expense of the poor.

Wikimedia Commons

Global markets rebounded today following a stomach-churning day yesterday, when the Dow plunged more than 1,000 points in early trading. The plunge followed fears that China’s economy was headed for disaster. But now that they’ve cut their central bank’s interest rate, things appear to have gone back in the green. Economist Hugh Johnson of Hugh Johnson Advisors in Albany joins us today to discuss the global economy.

  Richard H. Thaler has spent his career studying the radical notion that the central agents in the economy are humans―predictable, error-prone individuals.

His new book, Misbehaving, accounts the struggle to bring an academic discipline back down to earth and change the way we think about economics, ourselves, and our world.

Richard H. Thaler is a professor of behavioral science and economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and, in 2015, the president of the American Economic Association.

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

A dramatic drop in the price of oil has dominated business headlines in the last two months, and it’s affecting economies around the world. The outlook in the United States remains positive, but in countries like Russia and Ukraine, it could spell collapse.

Economic inequality and minimum wage are becoming increasingly discussed topics during these turbulent economic times.

Chris Fee, professor of English at Gettysburg College, asks what constitutes a living wage?

Dr. Christopher Fee is a professor and chair of the Department of English at Gettysburg College. Fee has published numerous articles and has given conference presentations on many interdisciplinary topics. He earned his PhD in English at the University of Glasgow.

Have you ever heard of Wynne Godley?  Those who read the front page of the Business section of the NY Times on Wednesday, September 11, might have seen the picture and noted the name.  For others, he will be an unknown. 


  Thirty years ago, China seemed hopelessly mired in poverty, Mexico triggered the Third World Debt Crisis, and Brazil suffered under hyperinflation. Since then, these and other developing countries have turned themselves around, while First World nations, battered by crises, depend more than ever on sustained growth in emerging markets.

In Turnaround: Third World Lessons for First World Growth, economist Peter Blair Henry argues that the secret to emerging countries’ success (and ours) is discipline—sustained commitment to a pragmatic growth strategy.

    Like Freakonomics, Dollars and Sex takes economics and converts it into a science by applying the principles of supply and demand, and other market forces, to matters of love, courtship, sex, and marriage.

As she does in her blog, author Marina Adshade explores the marketplace for sex and love using research, economic analysis, and humor to reveal just how central the interplay of libido, gender, love, power, and economic forces is to the most important choices we make in our lives. Call it "Sexonomics."

Full employment used to be an explicit goal of economic policy in most of the industrialized world. Some countries even achieved it. In Back to Full Employment, economist Robert Pollin argues that the United States--today faced with its highest level of unemployment since the Great Depression--should put full employment back on the agenda.

We speak with Enrico Moretti about The New Geography of Jobs.

On April 17, the front page of the New York Times had an article about two economists.   No, it was not about Ben Bernanke and Alan Greenspan who are very well known.

Instead, the two economists are academics – academics who are not household names.

These two economists, Thomas Piketty and Emanuel Saez, have done path-breaking research to document the incredible increase in inequality that has occurred in the US since about 1980.