Alex Blumberg

Alex Blumberg is a contributing editor for NPR's Planet Money. He is also a producer for the public radio program This American Life, and an adjunct professor of journalism at Columbia University. He has done radio documentaries on the U.S. Navy, people who do impersonations of their mothers and teenage Steve Forbes supporters. He won first place at the 2002 Third Coast International Audio Festival for his story "Yes, There is a Baby." His story on clinical medical ethicists won the 1999 Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI) award for best radio documentary.

In 2008, Blumberg collaborated with NPR economics correspondent Adam Davidson on a special This American Life episode about the housing crisis. Called "the greatest explainer ever heard" by noted journalism professor Jay Rosen, the Giant Pool of Money became the inspiration for NPR's Planet Money.

Blumberg has a B.A. from Oberlin College.

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1:36pm

Fri August 12, 2011
Planet Money

Preschool: The Best Job-Training Program

Job training.
The Co-Op School

When economist James Heckman was studying the effects of job training programs on unskilled young workers, he found a mystery.

He was comparing a group of workers that had gone through a job training program with a group that hadn't. And he found that, at best, the training program did nothing to help the workers get better jobs. In some cases, the training program even made the workers worse off.

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1:59pm

Fri May 13, 2011
Planet Money

An Internet Rock Star Tells All

Jonathan Coulton's songs almost never get played on the radio. He doesn't have a contract with a music label. Yet he's a one man counterargument to the idea that musicians can't make money making music.

In 2010, Coulton's music brought in about $500,000 in revenue. And since his overhead costs are very low, most of that money went straight to him.

Did he ever expect to make that kind of money as a musician?

"Of course not," he says. "This is absurd."

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3:53pm

Wed May 4, 2011
Planet Money

A Former Crack Kingpin On The Economics Of Illegal Drugs

The academic argument against drug criminalization goes like this.

When you make a drug illegal, you make it harder and riskier to produce. That makes it more expensive.

But demand for many drugs is what economists call inelastic: No matter what drugs cost, people will still pay. So making drugs more expensive through criminalization just sends more money to drug dealers.

That's the theory, anyway.

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4:02pm

Mon March 28, 2011
Planet Money

'Kill Them, Bury Them': The Rise Of Fannie And Freddie

Before the financial crisis, many Americans had never heard of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Today, we own them.

The federal government took over Fannie and Freddie after bailing them out in 2008. The bailout cost taxpayers more than the bailouts of GM, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Citigroup combined.

By 2010, roughly 90 percent of all new mortgages issued in this country went through the U.S. government. For all intents and purposes, the $1.5 trillion U.S. mortgage market is now a government-run industry.

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4:01pm

Mon March 28, 2011
Planet Money

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The Bailout Of Fannie And Freddie

This is part two in our three-part series on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Read part one, "Kill Them, Bury Them," and part three, "What's Next?"

By the beginning of the 21st century, almost half of all the mortgages in America were made through Fannie and Freddie.

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