Slightly wonky economics shows

Curated by Brendan Greeley, host of FT’s Alphachat

Brendan Greeley is the US editor for FT Alphaville. He writes about economics, finance and, when he is allowed to, boats. Here, he presents a collection of podcasts about economics and finance, for listeners who started with Planet Money or Freakonomics, and are ready to get a little wonky. But only a little.

I started out as a podcaster. Well, that’s not completely right; I started out writing brochures and websites for the reinsurance industry. But one of my first jobs in media was at Radio Open Source in 2005, the first public radio show to also have a podcast. I went around public media at the time, telling everyone that podcasting was coming. (I mean, eventually it did.) Then I went to The Economist, because I had sold them on the idea that podcasting was coming. (I mean, eventually it did.) And then I gave up podcasting, moved to print, and started writing about economics.

This means I know a lot of the people who make podcasts now. I worked with Sitara Nieves at The Economist; now she’s the head of on-demand at Marketplace. Ditto with Sruthi Pinnamaneni, now at Gimlet’s Reply All. And it means, because I’ve bounced from The Economist to Bloomberg Businessweek to Bloomberg TV to The Financial Times for the brief history of podcasting, I know most of the people in this list.

That is to say, it’s not a curated list, necessarily; it’s my own list, what I listen to on a weekly basis. I know of these podcasts because in some cases I helped create them, and in most cases I’m friends with the people who make them. That means it’s definitely not a list of economics for newbies. Rather, it’s the slightly wonky stuff, not completely inaccessible, that helps me in my job as an economics reporter and, in some cases, triggers fond nostalgia.

View, follow, and listen to the whole collection of shows on RadioPublic, available on iPhone and Android.

FT Alphachat

They say make the thing you want to listen to, and so Alphachat is a record of what Mark Blyth of Brown University and I happen to be curious about. We’ve talked to Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller about storytelling in financial markets. We talked to University of Georgia law professor Mehrsa Baradaran about the long history of black banks in America. And we spent a delightful fifty minutes once talking to Adam Tooze, a historian at Columbia University, about everything.

Bloomberg Surveillance

This is my alma mater — I worked with Tom Keene at Bloomberg TV. The program is heavily steeped in financial markets, anchoring those discussions in foreign policy and economics, because ultimately the value of an asset is a consequence of something happening in the actual world. Really. It is. Tom Keene is a legend on Wall Street. Be prepared to look things up, but enjoy it.

No Jargon from the Scholars Strategy Network

This one is just delightful. It’s like going to college lectures, only they’ve carefully found only the most conversational professors, and forbidden them from speaking anything other than plain English. Episodes tend to be focused on public policy, which necessarily includes a lot of economics.

Trade Talks from the Peterson Institute for International Economics

A couple of years ago this podcast wouldn’t have made any sense, but now trade is about everything, and everything comes back to trade. Soumaya Keynes of The Economist and Chad P. Brown of Peterson completely know what they’re talking about, and do fun things like have Paul Krugman on to talk about the actual subject he got his Nobel for. You know: trade.

Money Talks from The Economist

This is a relaxed conversation among what The Economist calls the “back half of the paper” — its business and economics correspondents. It’s pitched at the same audience as the paper, so if you’ve ever picked up The Economist at the airport and then actually read it on the plane, the show is aimed at you.

Conversations with Tyler

Tyler Cowen is an expert in everything. He’s written books about how cultures spreads, how we might have reached the end of economic growth, and how to find good restaurants. (Look in strip malls, where property prices are lower, and you’re likely to find the best foreign cuisine.) He’s a thoughtful person who has read all the research. He’s on the conservative side, with an ideology that could best be described as “congenitally curious.”

The Indicator from Planet Money

Are you ready to move on from Planet Money? Are you? ARE YOU? Cardiff and Stacey explain what’s happening in clear English, but also let themselves get obsessed with things. Like the yield curve, which is actually a pretty important way of understanding how investors see the future, one that’s useful even if you’re not an investor. The Indicator is what finance TV should actually be.

Odd Lots

A weekly show from Bloomberg about obsessions: those of Joe Weisenthal, a frantically productive writer and the head of Bloomberg’s markets coverage, and those of Tracy Alloway, formerly of FT Alphaville, formerly in Abu Dhabi, now in Hong Kong. They work well together, and they’re obsessed with interesting things, like poker odds and 17th-century stock bubbles.

Behind the Money

Aimee Keane of the Financial Times treats business events the way This American Life would: thoughtfully, and at length. Episodes lean on the FT’s business reporting, and it’s an amazing way to learn everything you know about something you hadn’t known about.


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