Cardiff Garcia

One way to think of President Trump's trade policy as a sort of soap opera. There are multiple plotlines, there's high drama, and plot twists abound. And on top of all that, you can walk away for a while, come back, and still know the general thrust of the plot — in this case, the thrust being that President Trump has a penchant for blowing up trade agreements (or at least, saying that he will). Today, we catch you up on the latest dramatic developments and answer a big, looming question: are we in a trade war?

CBO vs. POTUS

Jun 12, 2018

The Congressional Budget Office has a long history of disputes with the White House, including the current administration. It has withstood them all.

On this episode of The Indicator, we speak with Alice Rivlin, the first-ever director of the CBO. She explains the origins of the CBO, why it matters, and why the complaints about it from the Trump administration are different from those of the past.

Positively 23rd Street

Jun 8, 2018

Radio reporter Sally Herships, a native New Yorker and longtime friend of the show, has been obsessed with a particular block in midtown Manhattan. Given the crowds and the traffic and the tourists, every inch of the block should be attempting to sell something. Instead it is littered with empty storefronts.

What explains these perplexing retail deserts, both in New York and throughout the rest of the country?

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Healthcare is a giant part of the economy, and a huge drain on the public purse. More than a quarter of federal government spending goes to healthcare, which makes it a very political issue.

President Trump has stated his intention to create a more consumer friendly healthcare system... more market-based. Part of that is increasing price transparency for prescription drugs and medical procedures.

California's cities are in a housing crisis. Almost everyone agrees there aren't enough homes being built. Rents and home prices are skyrocketing, and there's not enough low-income housing to go around.

The California Senate recently voted on a bill to allow construction of apartment buildings near transportation hubs. Senator after senator spoke about the need for more homes. And then rejected the bill.

We asked UCLA's Paavo Monkkonen why Californians say they want more housing, but then reject attempts to make that happen.

President Trump doesn't like Amazon's deal with the USPS. He recently repeated an estimate that the US mail loses $1.47 every time Amazon uses it to send a package.

Tyler Cowen, economist and polymath, gives us his takes on various parts of American life, economic and otherwise.

Music by Drop Electric. Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Dollars And Census

Mar 28, 2018

The Trump administration wants to include a citizenship question in the census. That could have big implications for certain municipalities.

The census determines how much federal funding districts get, and how many congressional representatives they get to elect.

If a citizenship question deters undocumented residents from participating in the census, the districts they live in could end up with fewer representatives.

And a lot less money.

Dollars for Data

Mar 26, 2018

When you get directions from Google Maps or post a photo of the sunset on Instagram, it may not cost you any money but you are paying with something else: your data. Tech companies get to know where you go, what you like, and who you're with.

You may think that's a pretty good trade off, but economist Glen Weyl thinks it's about time we started getting paid for that data. He envisions a world where your posts and likes could be converted into dollars and cents.

Bill McBride has been making accurate predictions on his blog, Calculated Risk, about the trajectory of the U.S. economy since before the financial crisis.

He's been consistently optimistic for years, but he recently revised his usually sunny outlook.

Today he tells us why.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In one of our favorite recurring segments, we ask our guest to tell us about something they read that changed the way they think about the world.

Tyler Cowen is an economist at George Mason University, but here at The Indicator we like to think of him as a speed-reading, hyper-prolific, polymath blogger — who does economics on the side.

We sometimes play a game with Tyler, a game he actually invented for his own podcast. It's called Overrated/Underrated. We ask him about a book, an idea, a movie, or really anything, and then he tells us whether he thinks it's overrated or underrated.

Today we discuss inflation as an economic threat, the influence of lobbyists, infrastructure, and Chinese food.

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