The Economy, Explained

This American LifeI know too many moms who aren't really paying much attention to the upcoming election, not only because they're fed up with politics in general, but because honestly, they don't really know what the heck the candidates are talking about.

Don't feel bad about this.

From the European debt crisis to the U.S. deficit, it's hard to understand exactly what's going on if you don't have time to read five newspapers every single day.

Lucky for you, I've found a fabulous resource that explains some of the big issues in plain terms, and even better, makes it entertaining.

Give it a try and you'll be able to discuss everything from toxic assets to bank balance sheets like a pro!

I guarantee it.

The secret ... after the jump.


I've been a devoted fan of the NPR show, This American Life, since the '90s when it debuted. Each week, TAL reporters tackle a theme like pride or cheating or fiascoes, and cover it with fascinating interviews, short stories, and essays.

Over the last several years, This American Life has begun including NPR's Planet Money team in its programming. Planet Money's reporters are dedicated to covering the global economy, while at the same time making it interesting and understandable.

The result: one-hour programs on economic issues that are highly entertaining and highly informative. Listening to these programs gives me that same feeling I had in college, when I had a really good professor who was able to bring a subject to life and make me really understand it for the first time.

Thanks to these This American Life/Planet Money programs, I can discuss toxic assets, the housing market, bank balance sheets, and the European debt crisis like a pro. And now, so can you!

Best of all, it's really easy to listen to the program. I bought the This American Life app for my iPhone -- it's probably the best $2.99 I've ever spent. The app gives me access to every This American Life all the way back to 1995. Now, I listen to the show while I'm doing laundry or driving in the car or waiting at a doctors appointment. LOVE.

You can also listen to any episode of This American Life online (or read a transcript) for free. All of the episodes are fantastic, but here are a few that will help you understand much of what the presidential candidates have been talking about when it comes to the economy:

I find that even the older This American Life/Planet Money episodes are still relevant, because the issues that came to a head in 2008 are still causing trouble today.

Give these episodes a listen the next time you're doing housework or waiting in the car rider pickup line. I've enjoyed them so much that I've wanted to share them with everyone I know ... and, uh, I think I just did!

Do you listen to This American Life?


Image via This American Life

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