Cardiff Garcia

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President Trump often says a, quote, "deep state" is trying to bring him down, and some career civil servants have said they've been retaliated against after conservative media questioned their loyalty to Trump. Well, today the State Department's inspector general found that this actually happened to one high-ranking foreign policy official. And for more on this, we are joined by NPR's Bobby Allyn here in the studio.

Hi, Bobby.

BOBBY ALLYN, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.

SHAPIRO: What specifically was the inspector general looking into here?

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This week's retail sales numbers suggest that the American consumer is spending less. That's especially true in what's called the fast-fashion sector. Stacey Vanek Smith and Cardiff Garcia from our economics podcast The Indicator From Planet Money explain.

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Now, are millennials really as bad as some people say? Cardiff Garcia and Sally Herships from our daily economics podcast The Indicator from Planet Money say, maybe not.

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The gender pay gap exists for a variety of reasons. Discrimination is one; educational experience and job choice are others. The fields that employ a lot of women tend to pay less.

More than 60 million years ago, the Tyrannosaurus rex roamed North America. Today, they're fetching 7 figures from museums and private buyers all over the world. There is a thriving market for dinosaur fossils and T-Rex is at the top of the food chain... but some people say this market is bad for science.

Today on The Indicator: the economics of dinosaur fossils. How does one come to own a T-Rex? Who buys them? And... aren't fossils priceless?

In the first few months of the year, the data we got about the economy was a little worrying. As a whole, it made some economists - and some of us - feel a little pessimistic about our economic future. The data pointed to fewer jobs being added to the economy, lackluster retail sales, and lower global growth projections from international agencies like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

But lately, it seems like these indicators have been picking up, which seems to be a good sign for the economy. Today on The Indicator, is everything really awesome?

The U.S. economy is booming. We've seen sustained low unemployment rates, wages are climbing, and thousands of new jobs being added to the economy every month. The headline numbers focusing on the labor market seem great, and they are.

Today on the show, two indicators from our sibling podcast, The Indicator from Planet Money.

First, The Indicator goes to Georgia, to talk with a peanut farmer dealing with two major economic disasters: A hurricane and a trade war with China.

Then The Indicator turns to the World Happiness Report, and finds that the United States of America, despite its prosperity, only ranks 19th in overall happiness, which is kind of sad.

When Benjamin Franklin said the only two certainties in life are death and taxes, he wasn't talking about income taxes. America didn't really even have an income tax until 1913. Up until then, the U.S. relied on tariffs to raise revenue.

On today's Indicator, we explore the history of the income tax in the U.S. to find out how and why the government came up with the idea of taxing people's pay.

Q-W-E-R-T-Y, or "QWERTY," are the first six letters on most keyboards in English-speaking countries. That letter sequence seems random. And over time, some have tried to break our QWERTY spell with different letter sequences, but QWERTY has always prevailed — and the reasons contain some economic lessons.

To tell this story, we brought in economist Tim Harford, host of "Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy" for the BBC World Service.

International trade may have made the world a more peaceful place, and the economies that partake in trade more efficient. But the gains that have come from international trade haven't been spread evenly around the world. Some workers do better than others, and some economies have benefited more than their counterparts. Which means there are many critics of international trade out there, some of whom serve in the highest levels of government. At one extreme, these trade skeptics say we should turn back the clock on trade.

President Donald Trump just announced plans for a new round of U.S. tariffs on European products. The list includes aircraft materials, wine, cheese, motorcycles ... and even escargots. The new round appears to be retaliation for Europe's subsidies to planemaker Airbus. It's part of a spat that goes back nearly 15 years... and it's complicated. Because Europe has accused the U.S. of subsidizing its own planemaker, Boeing. Today on the show, a look at what's behind this latest round of proposed tariffs — and what this means for the economies of Europe and the U.S.

Happiness — it's something that most of us would say we seek in life, and there's plenty of differing opinion about what makes human beings happy: could it be love? Or family and friendships? Maybe it's money!

Happy Jobs Friday! Employers added 196,000 jobs to the economy in March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The unemployment rate is 3.8%, and wages grew by 3.2% since last March.

Plus, middle and high-wage industries have faster jobs growth than low-wage ones, but low-wage industries are seeing faster wage growth.

Peter Lorentzen is an economist at the University of San Francisco. He spoke with Cardiff Garcia about a paper he wrote on the effects of the Chinese government crackdown on corruption — and whether it was an attempt by Xi Jinping to consolidate his authority or a sincere effort to make the Chinese government bureaucracy work better.

Consumer confidence has been falling lately. Not by a ton, but it's at its second lowest rate in a year. It's measured by the Conference Board, which crunches a bunch of data and issues a Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) every month. Because consumer spending makes up roughly 70 percent of the economy, economists and politicians pay a lot attention to the way consumers feel, and regard the CCI as an important gauge of the health of the economy.

There's a big debate going on right now about the economy: whether it's headed for a downturn, or in good health. Today on The Indicator, Cardiff and Stacey lay out both sides.

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The global market for diamond jewelry is worth $80 billion a year. Money is flooding into this industry, but why when demand for diamonds isn't as lustrous as it once was? Cardiff Garcia and Sally Herships have more from the Planet Money podcast The Indicator.

Venezuela's economy is collapsing all around 27-year-old economist Gabriela Saade. She spends her days poring over Venezuela's staggering economic data. But she also sees Caracas changing all around her — spotty power and running water, closed storefronts, long lines at the grocery stores for limited food. Today on The Indicator, Gabriela walks us through a day in her life.

Gabriela Saade is a 27-year-old economist living in Caracas. Every day, she pores over data about her country: poverty rates, population movement, government revenue. Today on the show, she gives us three indicators that tell us about the crisis happening in her country.

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

Tyler Cowen is an economics professor at George Mason University and a columnist at Bloomberg Opinion. He hosts the podcast "Conversations with Tyler," and his new book is called "Big Business."

Today on The Indicator, we play "Overrated, Underrated," a game we stole from him (with his permission!) We hear his take on work from the late, libertarian economist Milton Friedman, dual-class voting shares, and neighbors.

Why Are Venezuelans Starving?

Mar 20, 2019

People are starving in Venezuela. There isn't enough food. What little food that is available is becoming increasingly expensive due to hyperinflation. The result is a humanitarian crisis.

But it wasn't always that way. In the past two decades, Venezuela's leaders have turned a country that was one rich in agriculture into an economy focused almost entirely on the production of oil. And when the price of oil tanked, so did Venezuelans' ability to access food.

Today on The Indicator, how this came to be.

This week's news stories about corruption and cheating in the college admissions process is an eye-opening lesson in how much people value getting their children into certain schools.

Lori Loughlin, who played Aunt Becky on the TV sitcom Full House, paid $500,000 to get her two daughters into the University of Southern California. That seemed like a lot to us... and raised the question: is a slot at a top-tier university worth that kind of money?

Saying 'I Do' To Lab-Grown Diamonds

Mar 14, 2019

The global market for diamond jewelry is worth $80 billion dollars a year. Money is pouring into the industry, but why - when demand for diamonds isn't as sparkly as it once was?

There's a new player in the space that might change the market in the near future. It's a different kind of diamond – one grown in a lab. But man-made rocks come with some big marketing problems. Traditionally, luxury products are about scarcity – not accessibility. And, unlike other consumers, high end shoppers can be attracted to high prices.

Attention is a scarce resource. So are concentration and mental energy. But how do our brains decide which stimuli will attract these scarce resources? Enter cognitive economics. A new field in economics that borrows from neuroscience and psychology. Mathematician-turned-cognitive economist Leigh Caldwell joins to explain how it works.

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