Using NPR’s Planet Money Podcast in Principles of Macroeconomics

From William J. Luther:

Unfamiliar with aggregate concepts like gross domestic product and inflation, many introductory students struggle to understand the big ideas in macroeconomics. Macroeconomic educators typically respond with boring lectures aimed at bringing students up to speed; or, by jumping to the interesting topics their students are not yet prepared to consider. In an effort to combat this problem, I have incorporated NPR’s Planet Money podcast into my Principles of Macroeconomics course. I describe the podcast and provide a list of episodes others might find useful. In my experience, the Planet Money podcast is well received. Students enjoy listening to the assigned episodes. They report that it made them more interested in the principles course, helped them understand the relevance of macroeconomics, and increased their understanding of many macroeconomic issues. Most students also feel more comfortable discussing macroeconomic issues having listened to the podcast. And nearly half of those students surveyed say they will continue listening to the podcast after the course ends.

Here is the SSRN link, via Mike Dariano


absolute madness! Here we go...."I don't grant your premise, but..".....GRAVITAS....and here's the kicker...…"And how do you measure that."

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The podcast delivered great... podcast outcomes! As for learning and teaching outcomes, who needs em?

So basically he's just admitting that the Planet Money hosts are better teachers than he is.

He's also admitting that he would rather just tell his students to turn on the radio than actually teach them anything.

I wonder what the kids' parents are paying for this class?

Supplementary readings are a thing in any decent Econ class. I don't see how these are any different.

We cover a lot in the three hours per week we meet. As much as I wish I could spend all of that time telling cute stories and playing great sound bites, I figure I should cover some of the more technical material as well.

Also: telling them to turn on the radio *is* teaching them something. They aren’t going to have access to my (relatively expensive) class for the rest of their lives...

Very funny. While we're at it clearly students should not be required to read a textbook outside class either. Or read a newspaper or pay attention to the economics of the world around them. They can learn every there is to know about economics in a classroom three hours a week for one semester.

"So basically he's just admitting that the Planet Money hosts are better teachers than he is."

If so, that would make him better than many Professors. No one can be the best at everything.

On the margin, sure.

I would love to get that list of episodes!

here's a link that works in place of the ssrn one:[]=Private.Enterprise.v30.n1.2015.Spring_parte9.pdf

I’m traveling at the moment but I’ll post a fresh link when I return.

Hi William, your paper linked above referrences a site:, but I get a 404 error. Would still really like to see this list of episodes!

In macroeconomics that which is neither definitional nor tautological is probably wrong.

Planet money podcasts are excellent. This week they had a nice one on inflation in Venezuela. Good supplemental material.

How come right wing outlets never do anything educational?

Perhaps because you never see it rather than it doesn't exist? As in, Praeger U?

Corporate donors are channeling their funding through the CPB including programs like Planet Money. So the CPB is their outlet. Why not leverage the infrastructure of what's already there? After all the CPB got $445 million Federal dollars in 2016. You could say that right wing outlets have been crowded out.

Yet the Kahn Academy started from scratch just putting videos up on Youtube. Seems kind of implausible that right wing outlets are crowded out of education, learning, discussion and can only occupy the Infowars "the toaster is watching me and reporting to Hillary" type space.

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