Economics influences every aspect of our lives, whether we learned about it in business school or through unconventional means like playing Animal Crossing. To delve into this fascinating field, there are numerous podcasts dedicated to economics. These podcasts cover a wide range of topics, from investment strategies to in-depth analyses of central banking. While some may question the effectiveness of learning about money through a podcast, it’s certainly more engaging than listening to an animated raccoon. In this article, we’ll explore the nine best economics podcasts that offer diverse and thought-provoking content.
If you’re new to economics and prefer a casual setting, Planet Money is the perfect podcast for you. Hosted by Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson, this podcast originated from the success of their episode “The Giant Pool of Money” on This American Life. Planet Money gained popularity for its entertaining script and unique approach to economic discussions. Since its debut with coverage of the 2008 financial crisis, the show has remained widely popular. It covers a wide range of topics, such as healthcare, investing, and financial fraud, and ensures that each subject is easily understandable. Even if the extensive backlog of episodes seems daunting, don’t worry. Our own Erik Jones has handpicked the twenty best episodes of Planet Money, praising the podcast’s methodology for being the opposite of a dry economics textbook.
Bungacast, also known as Aufhebunga Bunga, is a cult podcast that takes a critical look at modern politics through the lens of Marxist economic theory. The podcast’s name is a clever fusion of the German word “Aufheben,” which carries contradictory meanings such as “to lift up,” “abolish,” “preserve,” and “transcend,” and the infamous phrase “bunga bunga,” associated with the prostitution trial of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. By combining these elements, Bungacast offers a smart, satirical, and smug analysis of neoliberalism alongside the absence of a tangible left-wing opposition. Don’t let the Marxist vocabulary intimidate you. If you can understand “derivatives,” you can certainly grasp “dialectical materialism.”
If you enjoy Pod Save America, you’ll love Pitchfork Economics. This podcast adopts a similar tone and format to its political counterpart and shares its thoughtful perspective. The show favors roundtable discussions led by venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, who warns about the dangers of excessive economic disparity. Hanauer believes that extreme inequality can lead to violence, instability, and even totalitarianism. With episode titles like “We can redefine worker power” and “How to repair the housing crisis,” Hanauer and his guests offer practical solutions to pressing economic issues. While they may not have all the answers, their discussions at the intersection of economics and politics are undeniably compelling.
Economics is about more than just money, as any enthusiastic student of behavioral economics will tell you. Even seemingly mundane things like the placement of wastepaper baskets or the supply chain behind your morning coffee are intertwined with economic considerations. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by the broad scope of economics, tune into Freakonomics Radio, a weekly podcast that delves into the “hidden side” of everything. With its interviews and inclusive approach, Freakonomics Radio embraces a charmingly old-school format. Hosted by Steven J. Dubner, the author of the 2005 bestseller “Freakonomics,” this podcast offers easily digestible economics content that is both affable and informative.
The Ezra Klein Show
A journalist who recently transitioned from Vox to The New York Times, Ezra Klein has taken his award-winning podcast to new heights. The Ezra Klein Show features some of the most thought-provoking conversations of our time, covering a wide range of topics beyond just economics. Klein and his team thoroughly research each subject, enabling them to guide complex debates in new and insightful directions. As an interviewer, Klein approaches every guest with a blend of curiosity, empathy, and healthy skepticism. These qualities make his show one of the top ten podcasts of 2021. Tune in twice a week to explore discussions on modern workplace trends, climate change, and other crucial topics that shape our lives today.
The Economist Asks
The Economist, renowned for its economic insights, offers a diverse portfolio of podcasts that cover various aspects of mainstream economics, including financial markets and geopolitics. Among its offerings, The Economist Asks stands out as an accessible and engaging podcast. Hosted by Anne McElvoy, this chat show brings high-profile journalists and professionals together to tackle pressing questions. Each episode lasts about 20 minutes but provides in-depth analysis. The Economist Asks can serve as a blueprint for other topical economics podcasts, aiming to provide concise and informative content.
Perhaps nothing generates more discussion than capitalism. It’s a ubiquitous yet controversial concept. Capitalisn’t is a podcast that fearlessly asks the tough questions about capitalism’s past, present, and future. Hosted by Bethany McLean, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, and Luigi Zingales, an economics professor, Capitalisn’t boasts an impressive lineup of guests, including Thomas Piketty, Elon Musk, and Yanis Varoufakis. While the show features conversations between the hosts and these renowned figures, it manages to provoke discourse among its audience members, even if they don’t always agree with the guests’ viewpoints.
From The Wall Street Journal comes The Journal, a daily podcast that delivers 20-minute episodes covering topics that might seem like clickbait. Whether it’s discussing Disney’s “wokeness,” a Twitter whistleblower, or an intriguing crypto pig butchering scam, The Journal synthesizes daily news with accessible economic analysis. The podcast, co-produced by Gimlet Media and The Wall Street Journal, claims to cover the most important stories in business. Despite its tantalizing titles, The Journal remains a well-produced and addictively informative podcast.
Upstream is a multi-faceted podcast that manages to produce bi-weekly conversations and quarterly documentaries without losing focus. The show challenges listeners to unlearn preconceived notions about economics. It accomplishes this by examining the intersection of class, race, and history, dismantling the tenets of neoliberalism. Engaging in bi-weekly discussions with left-wing thinkers and speakers, Upstream strikes a balance between storytelling and analysis on a grand scale. Despite the economic challenges of our time, Upstream maintains an optimistic outlook.
These nine podcasts offer a diverse range of perspectives on economics, making them essential listening for anyone seeking a better understanding of this complex field. Whether you’re a seasoned economist or a curious beginner, each podcast offers a unique and thought-provoking experience. Expand your knowledge, challenge your assumptions, and join the conversations sparked by these remarkable shows.
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About the Author
Alice Florence Orr is a staff writer for Podcast Review based in Edinburgh. Her work has been featured in publications like Scottish Review, Like The Wind, and Nomad Journal. Connect with her on Twitter or Instagram.