Cardiff Garcia

Cardiff Garcia is a co-host of NPR's The Indicator from Planet Money. He joined NPR in November 2017.

Previously, Garcia was the U.S. editor of FT Alphaville, the flagship economics and finance blog of the Financial Times, where for seven years he wrote and edited stories about the U.S. economy and financial markets. He was also the founder and host of FT Alphachat, the Financial Times's award-winning business and economics podcast.

As a guest commentator, he has regularly appeared on media outlets such as Marketplace Radio, WNYC, CNBC, Yahoo Finance, the BBC, and others.

In America, default and bankruptcy is almost a rite of passage for people in business. It's certainly nothing to be ashamed of. In China, however, failure to pay your debts is a cardinal sin. Offenders are banished to a blacklist. If you're on the blacklist, you can't buy a plane ticket or stay in many hotels. And your face may be plastered on billboards throughout the city, naming you as untrustworthy. Today on the Indicator, we talk with a coal broker who has been on the list for more than two years.

Who can you trust? How can you tell whether someone who borrows money from you will pay it back? In the U.S., we have a credit score to help make these calls. But in China, no such system exists.

So the government came up with its own equivalent: it will score peoples' trustworthiness using not just court and bank records, but also data from the online shopping companies. Today on the Indicator: China's social credit system and what it might mean for citizens.

The jobs news this week continues to be good: at 3.7 percent, the jobless rate is the lowest it's been since late 1969. But the number doesn't tell the whole story about the state of employment in America today.

Today on the Indicator, we steal from our econ pals to look at the jobs numbers through a few separate lenses. We look at the average number of jobs created over the last six months, which industries are hiring the fastest — and which are shedding jobs the fastest. Plus we look at the unemployment rates for certain demographics.

Team Indicator shares its reactions to the new NAFTA, now known as the USMCA. The deal probably does not represent a huge change to the way these countries trade with each other, but it could have intriguing consequences for America's approach to trade with China.

Music by Drop Electric. Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.

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For almost a century, General Electric was a powerhouse of the American economy, a byword for progress, innovation, and excellence.

GE did everything, from light bulbs to jet engines to medical devices to banking. And it was that last little venture that turned out to be a bridge too far. GE got into the business just ahead of the financial crisis, and once the dust from that debacle had settled, GE found itself more than a little dinged up. A decade later, the company still hasn't recovered. Today on The Indicator, we find out what brought GE to its knees.

Financial bubbles arise because people start taking more and more risks that they don't really understand.

But these bubbles are also fascinating for another reason: they tend to reflect the particular characteristics — the psychological and societal characteristics — of the times in which they inflated.

Today on the show, we speak with Joe Weisenthal of Bloomberg about the bubbles of the past decade, how they differ from earlier bubbles, and what they tell us about the times we're living through.

D.C.'s Billion-Dollar Lawsuit

Oct 1, 2018

Back in the 1970s, black residents made up more than 70% of Washington, D.C.'s population. Since then, that share has fallen to less than half. There are many reasons for this demographic shift, but Ari Theresa, an attorney, says one big one is the city's implementation of an unofficial policy aimed at attracting workers in tech, science education, the arts, media and design — the so-called creative class.

NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley asked us to solve a mystery for him: He's been reporting on corn prices, which have been falling lately, but when he went to get a snack from the vending machine in the press corps break room in the White House, he discovered the price of a bag of Fritos had risen 20% (a quarter!) Today on the Indicator, the case of the pricey Frito! A tale of transportation costs, tariff penalties, and our deep love of salty snacks.

Archival tape from Suspense

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

One of the toughest parts of living in a big city is finding an affordable place to live. That might be getting a bit easier. Here's Stacey Vanek Smith and Cardiff Garcia from NPR's economics podcast The Indicator.

President Trump recently slapped tariffs on another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. The aim is to level the playing field with China on trade. U.S. administrations have been trying to do this for decades, often preferring a multilateral approach. Trump's trade war is simply an attempt to reach the same goal using a different means. The problem with trade wars is that they're unpredictable, and they inflict pain on everyone involved.

The financial crisis was brutal for the American economy, so it's no surprise that we still bear the scars. But some of the lingering damage is evident in areas that you might not expect. Today on the Indicator, where we're a lot more cautious than we used to be.

Music by Drop Electric. Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.

This week, back in 1933, a team of American Geologists from Standard Oil Company in California arrived on the shore of a small, sparsely populated Middle Eastern country called Saudi Arabia. Today on the Indicator: what the team of geologists found and how it changed the economy of a country and the global economy for better ... and for worse.

Archival Footage: "Desert Venture"

Rent!

Sep 21, 2018

Ever since the end of the financial crisis, rents have been rising all across America. A recent report from Zillow put the median monthly accommodation rental payment in the U.S. at $1440.

The good news is, that it is the same as last year. After years of rising, rents are finally leveling off. Susan Wachter of the Wharton school talks with Stacey and Cardiff about what that means for renters and for the entire U.S. economy.

A standout characteristic of emerging economies is their volatility: they have a tendency to boom and go bust, often frequently and often fast. George Magnus, an economist and author of Red Flags: Why Xi's China is in Jeopardy, has been studying China and other young economies to understand why it is that emerging economies experience these ups and downs. He has found that quite often these emerging market boom and bust cycles often follow a similar pattern

Today, an interview with Berkeley Economist Ulrike Malmendier, who has done pioneering work on the psychological effects of living through different economic events — and specifically the effect on our behavior and our willingness to take risk. Based on that work, what were the likely effects of the financial crisis, for us and for the economy?

There are now more job openings than unemployed people. The number of small-business owners that have job openings that they cannot fill is rising. The share of workers quitting their jobs each month is the highest in seventeen years. And of people who went from not having a job to getting a job in the past year, more than seven in ten were not even looking for a job the month before they got one — also a record high.

And that is good news for everyone involved.

1) The number of job openings has surpassed the number of unemployed people:

They were, once upon a time, a fixture in circus tents and at birthday parties, but today demand for clowns is down. Fewer people are interested in becoming clowns. Membership in the biggest clown associations has fallen.

Part of the problem is with the image of clowns projected in movies, cartoons, and books: instead of being fun, they're weird, or creepy, or downright menacing.

Faced with that kind of portrayal, clowns are looking for ways to counter this decades-long narrative. Stacey and Cardiff speak to one of them.

Ten years ago, Financial Times reporter John Auther was so worried about the possible contagion from the collapse of Lehman Brothers that he went down to his bank to shift some of his cash to another bank, ensuring that more of it was insured by the government.

What he saw freaked him out even further. The bank was full of Wall Street professionals — the very people who knew firsthand just how bad the financial crisis really was — all standing in line to do what he wanted to do: move their own personal money to accounts protected by deposit insurance.

New York University's School of Medicine recently announced that every one of its students will receive their education for free. They will graduate with no debt. As the school's benefactor, Ken Langone put it,

"The day they get their diploma, they owe nobody nothing."

NYU says medicine isn't diverse enough, in part because the high price of medical school dissuades people from low income backgrounds, who are often people of color. NYU also said the high cost of med school skews graduates to higher-paying specialties and away from primary care.

It's jobs day. The numbers look good. Employers added 201,000 jobs in August, and the unemployment rate is steady at 3.9 percent.

On today's show, The Indicator's Cardiff Garcia talks with Martha Gimbel, Executive Director of The Hiring Lab at Indeed, where she oversees a team of economists whose very mission is to analyze labor market data.

Over the last couple of days, you sent in truckloads of queries about the job market. Cardiff selected a handful and then Martha answered them, adding her own take on America's employment situation.

NAFTA-splainer

Sep 5, 2018

Cardiff just got back from vacation, and a lot's been happening with the North American Free Trade Agreement while he's been away. There was an agreement between Mexico and the U.S. Canada was in talks at one point, then out, then back in again. Officials flew back and forth. There were lots of headlines. And a deadline. Which was blown.

Phew!

A lot has happened, and we're all pretty confused about what's been going on. So Cardiff thought he'd call Soumaya Keynes of the Economist for a catch-up.

Aging Up

Aug 30, 2018

There's this perception that successful entrepreneurs are invariably youthful, full of ideas and energy, and unburdened by responsibilities that come with middle age. Pair that with the idea that as we get older we decline cognitively, and it makes sense that we think of entrepreneurship as a young person's deal, right?

Ben Jones at the Kellogg School of Management doesn't agree.

Mind The Pay Gap

Aug 29, 2018

There are essentially three reasons why women make, on average, 20 percent less than men in the U.S.

They are job choice, child care, and negotiation.

Francine Blau, an economist at Cornell, has done deep research into the gender pay gap, and joined us to dig into those reasons.

Music by Drop Electric. Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.

A lot of the economists profiled by Linda Yueh in her book "What Would The Great Economists Do?" are household names: John Maynard Keynes, Adam Smith and Karl Marx.

So we asked Linda to talk to us about two economists whose work has been underrated by history. Joan Robinson, which Linda calls probably the most influential female economist of the 20th century, and Irving Fisher, who came up with the highly influential debt-deflation theory but also made some pretty poor calls on the economy.

So today, we play a game called...who's the most underrated?

Today's beach read recommendation is "It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work," by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the co-founders of Basecamp.

The book reflects the authors' approach for how to create a calm company. Its underlying theme is the tension between the environment that people need to do good work, and the environment that actually exists in most workplaces.

On today's episode, Jason talks to Cardiff.

With all the sound and fury that emanates from the various parts of our nation's capital, it's not always easy to pin down President Trump's economic policy — or if he even has one.

Greg Ip, chief economics commentator at the Wall Street Journal, has written a piece identifying a few patterns that suggest an economic philosophy, whether it was deliberate or not, that sets the president apart from his predecessors. Like the extent to which he helps his favorite industries, how focused he is on China, and how often he cites national security as a motive for his policy decisions.

Cryptokitties have gripped the nation. Well, some of the nation. Cryptokitties are digital cartoon cats that you can buy and sell using a cryptocurrency known as Ethereum. There's a real and active market for them, and they rise and fall in value, just like stocks or bonds. One cryptokitty recently sold for $140,000. And the company that creates these non-fungible felines recently landed a $12 million cash injection from venture capitalists.

All companies start out as private enterprises. That means there are only a handful of shareholders in the firm, and sometimes just one. But at some point, the company's owners might decide to 'go public', and put their shares up for sale on a public exchange for anyone to buy.

SWIFT, or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, is a financial messaging system for banks. It's a little company, based in Belgium, but for years it has weilded outsize influence on global finance. Now SWIFT's influence has extended to international diplomacy, and the little Belgian firm has landed smack dab in the middle of a bitter transatlantic dispute that could affect the way America conducts foreign policy.

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