Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly

By Marketplace

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Subscribers: 1836
Reviews: 9

 Jan 2, 2020

david pegna
 Oct 28, 2019
i really enjoy this podcast, the way you layout the interviews and the lenght of them the topics you talk about and the comedy..

 Oct 1, 2019

 Mar 7, 2019

 Feb 4, 2019


Hosted by Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood, “Make Me Smart with Kai & Molly” is a weekly podcast about the economy, technology and culture. In a time when the world is moving faster than ever, this podcast is where we unpack complex topics, together. Because none of us is as smart as all of us.

Episode Date
A vote for the ERA was long overdue, but it might be too late

Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the equal rights amendment to the constitution last week, giving the ERA the support it needs … about three decades after it expired. Many people, some 80% according to one poll, think the U.S. Constitution already includes equal protections for women’s rights, but it doesn’t. On today’s show, we’re going to look more at how we got to this point and what “equal rights” really means for the women’s movement and the economy overall. Here to guide us through is CUNY professor Julie Suk. Her book about the ERA, “We the Women: The Forgotten Mothers of the Equal Rights Amendment,” is out this summer.

Jan 22, 2020
It’s 2020. And the Cambridge Analytica story? It’s growing …

Remember Cambridge Analytica? You probably wish you could forget. But 10 and a half months from the next presidential election, Brittany Kaiser says there’s still more we all need to know about Big Data and how companies like her former employer are using it to steer democracy. She used to work at CA, and after writing a book and appearing in a documentary about it, she’s publishing a bunch of internal documents showing how the company worked and its reach beyond the United States. For our first episode of the new year, we talk with Kaiser about election interference and her new Own Your Data Foundation. Plus, we’ll catch up on some of your emails and voice memos from the holiday break.

Jan 15, 2020
What’s the big deal about Section 230? (And your 2020 predictions)

The potential for real war in 2020 might make the trade disputes of 2019 seem quaint and distant. But cast your mind back, if you can, to three weeks ago, when the fate of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement seemed to rest in part on a semi-obscure passage of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. It says online platforms are not legally liable for what people say or do in the spaces they run. Trillions of dollars in company valuation and the sharing of content as we know it rests on the rule, which would expand to Mexico and Canada under the trade deal. So is it time to revisit Section 230? If you got rid of it, what kind of rules would replace it? And what platforms would even be left? Last summer, we asked Jeff Kosseff, a professor of cybersecurity law at the U.S. Naval Academy and the author of “The 26 Words That Created the Internet.”

Jan 08, 2020
Something to think about over winter break (plus Kai’s 2020 predictions)

Americans face more than $1.3 trillion in student debt, with less and less assurance the job market’s going to provide salaries to cover it. For all the students home for the holiday break (and their parents) we’re revisiting and interview we did last January with Maura Reynolds, a senior editor at Politico. She’s reported extensively on the school-skills-jobs pipeline. Plus, part two of our annual predictions episode: Last year Kai said “Nothing will change”. Was he right? We talk about it and look ahead to 2020.

Finally, our end-of-year fundraiser ends today. Don’t wait: Become a Marketplace investor right now at

Dec 31, 2019
A very quantum Christmas (and Molly’s 2020 predictions)

It’s Christmas Eve and we’re all out of town. But we’re also in your feed today? It’s almost as if we exist in some kind of quantum state … the perfect time to bring you one of our favorite interviews from the past year: UC Berkeley’s Steven Weber on quantum computing. Plus, we’re breaking our annual predictions episode into three parts. Today, we assess Molly’s 2019 predictions and get her take on what’s coming in 2020.

Dec 24, 2019
We now have Impossible Burgers!

In a few short years, artificial “meat” has gone from co-op curio to heavily hyped menu item at giant chains like Dunkin’ and Burger King. America consumes more meat than any other country, but new widespread awareness of meat’s heavy environmental toll has accelerated the race to find a more sustainable alternative. Larisa Rudenko, a research affiliate in the Program on Emerging Technologies at MIT, joins us to talk about Impossible Burger, lab-grown meat and where this exploding industry is headed. Plus: Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood taste test edible insects and answer a holiday listener question.

By the way, this is our last show before we go on break for the holidays. But don’t worry — for the next three weeks we’ll be revisiting some of our favorite interviews of the year, revisiting our 2019 predictions and creating new ones for 2020. We’ll have new daily Alexa explainers and email newsletters all through the holidays.

Dec 18, 2019
Must. Keep. Growing.

Every single day here at Marketplace, Kai Ryssdal “does the numbers,” talking about how the stock market fared at close. When they are up, we play the happy music. Same with monthly jobs numbers and the GDP. We’ve had a few listeners write in to ask: Why? Does the economy always need to get bigger, all the time, forever? Here to help us sort through this kind of existential question and maybe even figure out some better numbers to “do” is Josh Bivens with the Economic Policy Institute. By the way: We’re still looking for your 2020 predictions! Send them to, and we’ll play some on our last episode of the year.

Dec 11, 2019
Congrats!? Your business has been “rescued”

Toys R Us, Payless, Brookstone, Sports Authority, Gymboree. Maybe you remember shopping at some of these stores. Maybe you remember reading elegies when they shut down. All of these stores were bought by private equity firms that claimed to see value in a fledgling brand. When that didn’t pan out, there were store closures, bankruptcy filings and a lot of layoffs. Many progressive politicians are now pointing to private equity as “exhibit A” in the case for more Wall Street regulation. Joining us to sort through it all is Marketplace reporter Marielle Segarra.

Meanwhile, we’re looking for your 2020 predictions for our annual predictions episode. Send your voice memos to

Dec 04, 2019
Explainathon VI: Return of the Explainathon

It’s time for Kai and Molly to face the gauntlet again. Every six(ish) months or so we put them through an Explainathon, where they try to answer as many of your questions as they can with minimal prep in just 30 minutes! This time, you have all kinds of great questions like: What’s a “currency pact”? How does a fair tax work? Is 401(k) matching making inequality worse? And more. By the way, we’re preparing for a new predictions episode! Turn your crystal ball toward 2020 and tell us what you see coming at

Nov 26, 2019
Is this even working? Economist Esther Duflo is trying to find out.

About 1.3 billion people are in extreme poverty, living on less than $1.25 a day. Meanwhile, some of the most powerful people in wealthy countries, like the U.S., say they want to help alleviate some of that poverty. Every year, individuals, charities and governments pour billions of dollars into aid, development and a range of causes. But how do you know what’s actually working and what’s a waste of time? Our guest today, MIT economist Esther Duflo, just won a Nobel Prize for using a hard science approach to answer that question.

Nov 20, 2019
When student athletes play hard, who gets paid?

The NCAA has been regulating college sports for more than a century, and its ban on student athletes making money from their playing, name and likeness has ostensibly kept the game more “pure.” But pressure has been mounting for years for the NCAA to share some of its billion-dollar business with the athletes that drive it, and a new California law is poised to challenge the old model of “amateurism” in college sports entirely. Today we’re joined by Katelyn Ohashi, a former UCLA gymnast who went viral this year with a floor routine and is now speaking out against the NCAA for preventing her from capitalizing on it.

Nov 13, 2019
Native Americans and the tech economy

Native Americans have the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the country. Technology, particularly new financial tech, offers an opportunity for this historically marginalized group to better access the strong economy. But getting online in largely rural, remote reservations is a challenge — to say nothing about access to capital and credit. Tribal sovereignty can also make access, taxes and generally doing business more complicated. To help talk us through the challenges and potential technology offers, we’re joined by Dante Desiderio, executive director of the Native American Finance Officers Association and a member of the Sappony Tribe.

Nov 06, 2019
We have plug-in cars. Why not plug-in planes?

Planes are bad for the environment, we know this. Innovation in electric cars has surged in the past decade, so why not electric planes? Today on the show, Aviation Week and Space Technology managing editor Graham Warwick talks us through making the friendly skies a bit friendlier.

Oct 29, 2019
VC hype vs. Wall Street

How does a company lose $39 billion in value in just a few weeks? This week we’re diving into all the unicorn companies that rode a wave of venture capital hype onto the rocky, unforgiving shores of the stock market. It’s not just WeWork either — Uber, Slack, Snap and plenty of other tech darlings have struggled after their splashy IPOs. Is it the exception or the rule? And what’s it say about how investors assess a company’s value? Here to help us sort through it is the New York Times’ Erin Griffith, who reports on startups and the VC world.

Oct 23, 2019
Your outfit is trash

What happens to our clothes when we’re done with them, they go out of style or just lose a button? Maybe we donate them, or sell them, but too often we throw them away. And that’s to say nothing about how they’re produced — The clothes we wear are tied to climate change as what we eat or how we get around. And in recent years, the impact of clothing on the environment has drastically increased. That’s the argument fashion reporter Dana Thomas makes in her new book “Fashionopolis: the Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes.” She joins us this week to unpack the problems and explore some potential solutions. Programming note: This week was supposed to be our sixth Explainathon, but we had to delay it a couple weeks. The good news is you have more time to submit your questions!

Oct 15, 2019
Brexit is really, maybe happening this time, probably.

It’s been three years, three months and 15 days since the Brits voted to leave the EU. There have been three prime ministers since then, and so far none of them have successfully brokered a Brexit deal. This time, new PM Boris Johnson says it’s gonna happen by the end of the month, no matter what. To help us sort through what’s going on and what it means for the rest of us, we’re joined by Ros Atkins, who hosts “Outside Source” on the BBC.

Oct 08, 2019
Nuclear, but better

We heard you: After our show on climate change, several listeners wanted to know more about nuclear power and its place in the green energy discussion. Joining us is Suzy Hobbs Baker, the creative director of the Fastest Path to Zero Initiative at the University of Michigan. She’ll walk us through the basics of how nuclear power works, its impact on the environment, its tricky economics and, yes, the image problems it can’t shake. By the way, we have an Explainathon coming up and we need your questions! Send your voice memos to!

Oct 01, 2019
A gig is a gig is a gig

Used to be, gigs were for musicians, artists, folks who did work that didn’t fit neatly in any traditional notion of “employment.” These days, the “gig economy” means something very different: Nearly a fourth of Americans earn money from freelance work, and 44% said “gigging” was their primary source of income. And while the future of work as we know it is still very murky, a new law in California has thrown the gig economy into a transitional moment. Here to talk us through is Marketplace workplace culture correspondent Meghan McCarty Carino.

Sep 25, 2019
We need solutions to climate change, but who’s going to help pay for them?

Tech giants like Google, Apple and Facebook are seemingly unafraid to take on huge challenges. So why are they relatively quiet about climate change? Molly has spent several weeks reporting around Silicon Valley about tech companies and VCs’ relationship to the climate. We’ll hear some of her interview with Danny Kennedy, runs a nonprofit startup incubator focused on clean energy. Plus: Your thoughts on our women at work episode and a bit about Marketplace’s fall fundraiser.

Sep 17, 2019
The economy isn’t working for women who work

Between the ’70s and ’90s, women were entering the workforce in droves. Then female workforce participation peaked in 2000. What happened? And why are women’s wages still stagnant? We’re picking up our series on the economics of inequality, trying to figure that out with some help from Emily Bazelon, an author, lecturer at Yale Law School and a staffer for The New York Times Magazine. Plus: Back to the Dark Place on deepfakes, and departing producer Shara Morris answers the Make Me Smart question.

Sep 10, 2019
Deep thoughts about deepfakes

Deepfake videos can make for a lot of fun … someone’s face on someone else’s body saying something completely out of context — like Bill Hader doing an impression of Tom Cruise with Cruise’s face superimposed. But the implications of this technology are serious, from disinformation to political upheaval. Here to walk us through it is Berkeley School of Information professor Hany Farid. Plus, professional dogsledder Blair Braverman answers the Make Me Smart question.

Sep 03, 2019
So, when’s that recession gonna start?

Talk of a coming recession has only gotten more heated this week, following a meeting of central bankers at Jackson Hole and a bunch of trade back and forth at the G7. Markets rebounded Monday, but the yield curve remains inverted and the global economy is still slowing down. So what now? We called Neil Irwin, senior economics correspondent at “The New York Times,” to help us figure out what we should be watching for, and what happens next

Aug 27, 2019
The “Hunger Games” of streaming

Used to be you signed up for cable and voila, you’re watching your favorite shows (as well as a bunch of stuff you don’t care about, for maybe too high a price). Then streaming came along. First Netflix. Then Amazon. Hulu. And now a whole new batch of subscription services are about to launch: Disney+, HBO Max, Apple TV Plus. It’s getting more complicated and competitive, with content jumping off some platforms and clustering onto others. What services will survive this battle? And why is this happening now? CNBC media and tech reporter Alex Sherman helps us out. Plus, National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman answers the Make Me Smart question.

Aug 20, 2019
What does your privacy mean to you?

Regulators, tech journalists and the most informed consumers have been wringing their hands about “privacy” online for years. But just as more users and regulators start taking notice, heavy hitters like Apple and Facebook are announcing their renewed commitment to “your privacy” … with very different definitions. It’s hard to take control of privacy when you’re not even sure what that means anymore. To help draw some distinctions we’re joined by Laura Moy, associate professor and executive director of Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy & Technology.

Aug 14, 2019
The economy still isn’t working for people of color

We know economic inequality in America is real and keeps growing. We know people of color, especially black people, are hit the hardest. That’s not news. What is new is the wave of politicians, primarily Democrats, who are speaking more candidly about race and inequality than ever before. There’s also new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland into the massive wealth gap between black and white Americans, which has barely changed since the 1960s, thanks, mostly, to unequal pay. Here to help us sort through the numbers is Valerie Wilson, director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy at the Economic Policy Institute.

Aug 07, 2019
It’s time to pay attention to TikTok

Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” the meme turned song of the summer, has been the number-one song in country for a record-breaking 17 weeks. It originally took off on TikTok, a video-sharing app you should really be paying attention to. It’s been downloaded a billion times, and Facebook execs flagged it as competition during recent Congressional testimony. It’s also owned by a Chinese company, Bytedance, that was just hit by FTC fines for collecting children’s data. This week, The Wall Street Journal’s Georgia Wells catches us up on everything we need to know about the favorite app of every kid these days.

Jul 30, 2019
Why even have a debt ceiling?

Kai and Molly are reunited at last, and they’re trying something new. We asked the staff here at Marketplace to send in their burning questions they want to get smart about, including the debt ceiling, that Equifax settlement and CBD. All that, plus your thoughts on our recent episode on ~*~*outer space.~*~*~

Jul 23, 2019
Space — the final business frontier

Fifty years ago today, the Saturn V rocket took off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying the first men to walk on the moon. Today, we’ll mark that milestone by looking ahead to the exploration, colonization and militarization of space. By some estimates, the current space economy is worth $400 billion, and it could reach $1 trillion by 2040. Here to break it all down with Molly Wood is Marketplace’s de facto space reporter Kimberly Adams and Politico’s Jacqueline Feldscher, who co-writes their space newsletter. Plus, we’ll hear from a “space architect,” which is apparently A Thing.

Jul 17, 2019
The end of history (majors)

President Donald Trump gave a speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last week to mark the Fourth of July. Critics and Democrats went after Trump for politicizing the occasion, though many presidents of both parties have done the same in the past. Do such knee-jerk reactions mean we have lost understanding of the importance of history? It’s personal for Kai Ryssdal, an undergrad history major who often finds the past a useful way to make sense of today. Here to talk with us about what history is and what it’s good for (and what it isn’t) is Brian Rosenwald, editor of the Made by History blog from the Washington Post.

Reema Khrais, of the podcast “This Is Uncomfortable,” co-hosts this week, in for Molly Wood. Check out her show for stories about life and how money messes with it here.

Jul 09, 2019
The view from Shanghai

Kai Ryssdal lived and worked in China during the ’90s, and has made several trips there over the past 20 years. But most of the time he keeps tabs on the world’s second-largest economy the way most of us do: through the news. There are the headlines about the trade war, concerns about government overreach, the candidates stumping about China as an economic enemy, this week’s protests in Hong Kong. That’s a lot of noise that often brings us no closer to understanding what life’s actually like in China. To help us with that is Marketplace China correspondent Jennifer Pak, who works out of Shanghai and has reported on the country since 2006.

Jul 02, 2019