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Cardiff Garcia

Climate change is snowballing into more extreme weather. Between hurricanes, tornadoes, and yes, polar vortices, life on earth is becoming increasingly disrupted by weather conditions. And that can get expensive. Today on The Indicator, we look at how extreme weather can affect the economy, and what the most costly climate conditions can be.

Today on The Indicator, we answer five questions about jobs. Is the economy creating a lot of jobs each month? Is wage growth accelerating? Are the benefits of this strong labor market also being shared by low-wage workers? Are there still a lot more people who don't have a job but who would like to get a job? And, finally, are there any clouds on the horizon for the job market right now?

Music: "Alright Alright"

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Utilities in the U.S. are generally private companies regulated by government commissions. With a dedicated customer base - everyone needs water and power, right? - and government protection and oversight, utilities seemed like a safe bet for most investors.

The Congressional Budget Office is a non-partisan part of the government that provides analysis about the economy and the federal budget to Congress. One of its new reports centers on the most recent government shutdown, where 800,000 federal workers missed paychecks, and 300,000 of those workers were furloughed.

Today on The Indicator, the shutdown's direct and indirect impacts on the economy.

The World Economic Forum sounds like it should be a gathering of nerdy people in discounted suits in a mid-range hotel in an off-season resort, all standing around drinking Two-Buck Chuck and discussing wonky things like cost-benefit analysis and market-driven incentives.

Research shows students who attend elite universities are more likely to graduate, and they earn higher incomes once they're in the labor market. But low-income students are underrepresented at those universities.

So Sue Dynarski, an economist at the University of Michigan, and her collaborators conducted an experiment to encourage high school seniors from low-income families in Michigan to apply to the school. Today on the Indicator, how that played out.

The trade spat with China has meant China taxing products coming from the U.S., and the U.S. doing the same to goods coming from China. As a result, American goods cost more in China, which can hurt the people who make those goods in America. Today on The Indicator, we hear from a peanut farmer in Georgia, whose business has been hammered by a one-two punch of Chinese tariffs and a hurricane that ravaged his crops.

John Clifton Bogle — "Jack" Bogle, the founder of the Vanguard Group — passed away yesterday, at the age of 89. He was a giant in the financial industry but in a way, his legacy is not about what he did for the financial sector, but rather about the ways that he tried to prevent the financial sector from ripping people off.

On today's Indicator, Cardiff talks with Katherine Bell, the editor-in-chief of Barron's, which covered Jack Bogle's ideas and career extensively over the years, and in fact published Bogle's last major interview.

There are plenty of reasons why the U.S. economy could slip into recession within the next couple of years. There's the trade war with China, slowing economic growth, rising interest rates, dysfunction in the government, and the prospect of fading stimulus.

But what about the other side? What about the case for optimism? Economist Jared Bernstein, an old friend of the show, got in touch because he thinks we shouldn't neglect the positive economic signals that he's seeing right now.

The labor force participation rate is the percentage of adults who have a job, or who are looking for one. In the U.S., about 75% of women ages 25 to 54 participate in the workforce. That's less than men of the same age, who come in at 90%. Still, the number is a big improvement over the early 70s, when fewer than half of women were in the labor force.

Today on The Indicator, we play Overrated/Underrated with a room full of economists at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association. We ask them which economic indicators get too much attention and which indicators we should pay more attention to.

A previous version of this podcast misstated Economist Gray Kimbrough's name.

About 800,000 government workers are missing their paychecks, as the impasse between President Trump and leaders of the Democratic Party stretched into its 21st day. Slightly more than half of those workers are expected to keep working without pay because they provide services that are labeled "essential". The rest of the workers have been sent home until the government reopens.

Trade negotiators for China and the U.S. just finished three days of talks. Both sides are under pressure to make a deal, with the U.S. particularly focused on getting a commitment from China to respect the intellectual property of U.S. companies that do business in China.

Today Cardiff talks to Chad Bown of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and asks what kind of a toll the standoff has taken on the economies of the U.S. and China. What kind of progress did the negotiators make this week? And what can we expect for the rest of the year?

The economy is in good shape, but some people say we could be heading towards a downturn. A number of recession indicators are beginning to flicker, such as a flattened yield curve, strong demand for treasuries and wild swings in the stock market.

The U.S. economy has some very particular tools to deal with recessions, but Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics says the usual monetary and fiscal medicine may not be as effective this time around.

The stock market has been going up and down like a yo-yo for the last few months. And this isn't your typical volatility: 2018 was one of the most volatile years on record for the stock market. But Georgetown economist James Angel says that while the volatility we're experiencing right now might feel scary, it's a lot less worrisome than kind of smooth rise in the market that we saw in 2017. Because that lulled a lot of people: they forgot that the stock market is a speculative arena, and they started to think of corporate shares as a failsafe. And that's never a good thing.

The Phillips Curve measures the relationship between inflation and unemployment. And the Curve predicts that when unemployment is low, inflation tends to rise. Conversely, If unemployment goes up, then inflation should come down. Because then companies don't have to raise wages to compete for workers.

A miniseries called Stockholm premiered last year at the Toronto International Film Festival. In its very first scenes, we learn that a famous Israeli economist named Avishai is a frontrunner to win the Nobel Prize in economics in just five days. But there's one problem: his friends just found him dead at home in his bed, in Tel Aviv.

The Indicator is in Atlanta this week, at the American Economic Association annual conference. So you, dear listener, get a little extra screen time. All this week, we're looking at the ways in which economists are portrayed in television series and in the movies.

Today, we look at shows developed by producer and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. In the TV show The West Wing, President Jed Bartlet is a Nobel Prize-winning economist. In one memorable rapid-fire exchange between the president and his staff, Bartlet and his staff debate the ups and downs of free trade.

The Indicator team is at the American Economic Association annual conference in Atlanta this week. While we're having fun at the con, we thought we'd share the love and give you all a little extra screen time. We're looking at the ways in which economists are portrayed in television series and in the movies, in a series we're calling Economists on Screen.

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