WAMU 88.5 : Freakonomics Radio

Freakonomics: Is A 'No-Lose Lottery' The Answer to America's Savings Problem?

A recent Harvard survey found that half of all Americans, if faced with an emergency, couldn't come up with $2,000 in 30 days. We have a famously low savings rate. Most people would rather spend than save -- and one of our favorite expenditures is playing the lottery. Last year, we spent more than $58 billion on lottery tickets, or roughly $200 per person. As entertainment goes, the lottery is pretty cheap - a dollar and a dream, and all that. But as an investment, it offers a dreadful return, which is why the lottery is sometimes called "a tax on stupid people."

This episode of Freakonomics Radio examines a little-known financial tool that might help people save more money while still giving them the thrill of the lottery. It's called a Prize-Linked Savings (PLS) account, and it pools a sliver of the interest from all depositors and pays out cash lottery prizes. It combines the thrill of the lottery with the safety of a savings account - thus, a "no-lose lottery." In places like England and South Africa, millions of people have been coaxed into saving money via a PLS plan, but state and federal officials in the U.S. aren't very interested. Why? Here's a hint: guess who runs (and profits from) the lotteries in our country? Also in this episode, we discuss financial literacy - or, really, financial illiteracy. In general, Americans aren't very good at the basics of saving, investing and retirement planning. So Freakonomics Radio wants to know: How do we improve our grade? We'll hear ideas for putting financial literacy in school curriculums, and from someone who thinks we shouldn't even try to learn it. And if we can't, can the solution be found in a Los Angeles hospital? Guests also include two members of President Obama's economic team and National Book Award-winner Sherwin Nuland.

WAMU 88.5

Renovation At National Gallery Of Art Brings Subtle But Important Changes

The East Building of the National Gallery of Art reopens this week after a three-year renovation. But even significant changes might go unnoticed.
WAMU 88.5

A Matter Of Taste: What Prix Fixe Menus Say About D.C.'s Dining Scene

Is a meal for a special occasion worth hundreds of dollars?

NPR

Arizona Newspaper Breaks With Tradition, Backs Clinton

For the first time in its 126-year history, the Arizona Republic has endorsed a Democrat for president. The paper acknowledged Hillary Clinton's missteps, but said Donald Trump poses a serious threat.
NPR

When Phones Went Mobile: Revisiting NPR's 1983 Story On 'Cellular'

The report titled "Cellular Phones Are Completely Mobile" features a man who was "among the first 1,500 customers to use a new mobile phone system called cellular."

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