In the 1970s, Dave Kestenbaum's cousin Dan Weiss got promoted from stocker to gift shop manager at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC. It was a good job... except for the fact that the place was bleeding cash because of apparent embezzlement.
Though the name of the Federal Reserve includes the word "federal," it's not actually part of the government. It's an independent institution tasked with something very simple, but very huge: Creating money out of thin air.
David and Chana buy a toxic asset, from a guy named Wit Solberg, who used to work on Wall Street and now helps small banks who've been saddled with toxic assets. Turns out...it's hard to buy a toxic asset.
David and Chana try to track down the actual homeowners in their toxic asset. The toxic asset is made up of 2000 mortgages all over the country.
David and Chana discover a dark criminal plot inside their toxic asset.
David and Chana meet another toxic asset owner, like themselves. Only difference, David and Chana bought theirs after it was already toxic, for a steep discount, 99% off.
David and Chana's toxic asset, which has acquired the nickname Toxie, gets sick. And the payments that it's supposed to provide them every month stop.
David Kestenbaum finds that the most unforgettable person in this county is a dead guy. A guy named Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Planet Money correspondent David Kestenbaum investigates the growing popularity of pet insurance, and what it reveals about insurance for people.
Alex Blumberg and NPR correspondent (and "Planet Money" reporter) Dave Kestenbaum examine what went wrong with the credit ratings agencies. When all these financial instruments that brought down our economy—the mortgage backed securities, the derivatives—were originally issued, the rating agencies (Standard and Poors, Moody's and Fitch) gave many of these things their top rating of triple-A.
NPR reporter David Kestenbaum tells host Ira Glass about the time, when he was doing graduate work in physics, he and his other single friends decided to figure out the mathematical probability that they'd find girlfriends. They wanted to know what the chances were that there was more than one person in the world for them.
In the war on terror, the government is rounding up foreigners, checking their immigration status, and then, sometimes, deporting them. It won't give out their names.
We hear two stories of everyday life which are more easily understood if one knows some of the laws of physics, specifically the Mediocrity Principle and the Casimir Effect.