11 episodes

From inflation to GDP, from the stock exchange to bonds, Tim Harford goes back to basics to explain the terms we hear every day, and what they mean for you.

Understand: The Economy BBC Radio 4

    • Business
    • 4.9 • 63 Ratings

From inflation to GDP, from the stock exchange to bonds, Tim Harford goes back to basics to explain the terms we hear every day, and what they mean for you.

    The Economy: 10. Inequality

    The Economy: 10. Inequality

    Why are the rich, rich and the poor, poor, and was it always this way? Tim Harford explains what’s happened to inequality over the last 100 years in the UK and why things might be better than you think. Economic historian Victoria Bateman explains the surprising effect The Great Plague had on income and gender equality.
    Everything you need to know about the economy and what it means for you. This podcast will cut through the jargon to bring you clarity and ensure you finally understand all those complicated terms and phrases you hear on the news. Inflation, GDP, Interest rates, and bonds, Tim Harford and friends explain them all. We’ll ensure you understand what’s going on today, why your shopping is getting more expensive or why your pay doesn’t cover your bills. We’ll also bring you surprising histories, from the war hungry Kings who have shaped how things are counted today to the greedy merchants flooding Spain with Silver coins. So if your eyes usually glaze over when someone says ‘cutting taxes stimulates growth’, fear no more, we’ve got you covered.

    Guest: Xiaowei Xu, Senior Research Economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies

    Producer: Phoebe Keane

    Researchers: Drew Hyndman and Kirsteen Knight

    Editor: Clare Fordham

    Theme music: Don’t Fret, Beats Fresh Music

    A BBC Long Form Audio Production for BBC Radio 4

    • 15 min
    The Economy: 9. International Trade and Currency Markets

    The Economy: 9. International Trade and Currency Markets

    The reason we can eat pineapples and sell aeroplane parts. But why might the value of the pound fall and what does that mean if it does? Tim Harford explains who wins and who loses if the pound is cheap against the dollar and economic historian Victoria Bateman tells the story of a trade deal with Portugal that flooded England with wine and Port.

    Everything you need to know about the economy and what it means for you. This podcast will cut through the jargon to bring you clarity and ensure you finally understand all those complicated terms and phrases you hear on the news. Inflation, GDP, Interest rates, and bonds, Tim Harford and friends explain them all. We’ll ensure you understand what’s going on today, why your shopping is getting more expensive or why your pay doesn’t cover your bills. We’ll also bring you surprising histories, from the war hungry Kings who have shaped how things are counted today to the greedy merchants flooding Spain with Silver coins. So if your eyes usually glaze over when someone says ‘cutting taxes stimulates growth’, fear no more, we’ve got you covered.

    Guest: Professor Richard Davies, The University of Bristol

    Producer: Phoebe Keane

    Researcher: Drew Hyndman

    Editor: Clare Fordham

    Theme music: Don’t Fret, Beats Fresh Music

    A BBC Long Form Audio Production for BBC Radio 4

    • 14 min
    The Economy: 8. Pensions

    The Economy: 8. Pensions

    Why is it so hard to save for retirement? Will future generations even get a pension? Why is the pension age rising and what is the state pension age? Tim Harford explains the problem an aging population is causing for the state pension and explores the gender pension gap. Economic historian Victoria Bateman tells the story of the very first pensions in the UK.

    Everything you need to know about the economy and what it means for you. This podcast will cut through the jargon to bring you clarity and ensure you finally understand all those complicated terms and phrases you hear on the news. Inflation, GDP, Interest rates, and bonds, Tim Harford and friends explain them all. We’ll ensure you understand what’s going on today, why your shopping is getting more expensive or why your pay doesn’t cover your bills. We’ll also bring you surprising histories, from the war hungry Kings who have shaped how things are counted today to the greedy merchants flooding Spain with Silver coins. So if your eyes usually glaze over when someone says ‘cutting taxes stimulates growth’, fear no more, we’ve got you covered.

    Guest: Dr. Rajiv Prabhakar, The Open University

    Producer: Phoebe Keane

    Researcher: Drew Hyndman

    Editor: Clare Fordham

    Theme music: Don’t Fret, Beats Fresh Music

    A BBC Long Form Audio Production for BBC Radio 4

    • 14 min
    The Economy: 7. Jobs and Unemployment

    The Economy: 7. Jobs and Unemployment

    What happens when lots of people lose their jobs? Why might wages be low even though everyone who wants a job, has one? What do we mean by employment and unemployment and what does 'economic inactivity' mean? What is productivity and how does it relate to you and your job? Tim Harford explains, and Cambridge University Economic Historian Victoria Bateman tells the story of what happened when unemployment in the North East of England reached 70%.

    Everything you need to know about the economy and what it means for you. This podcast will cut through the jargon to bring you clarity and ensure you finally understand all those complicated terms and phrases you hear on the news. Inflation, GDP, Interest rates, and bonds, Tim Harford and friends explain them all. We’ll ensure you understand what’s going on today, why your shopping is getting more expensive or why your pay doesn’t cover your bills. We’ll also bring you surprising histories, from the war-hungry kings who have shaped how things are counted today to the greedy merchants flooding Spain with silver coins. So if your eyes usually glaze over when someone says ‘cutting taxes stimulates growth’, fear no more, we’ve got you covered.

    Guest: Professor Richard Davies, The University of Bristol

    Producer: Phoebe Keane

    Researcher: Drew Hyndman

    Editor: Clare Fordham

    Theme music: Don’t Fret, Beats Fresh Music

    A BBC Long Form Audio Production for BBC Radio 4

    • 14 min
    The Economy: 6. Recessions

    The Economy: 6. Recessions

    What is a recession and what causes a recession? Whether something suddenly makes you poorer or just makes you worry about becoming poorer, when you cut your spending in the shops, this affects other people and ripples through the economy. Tim Harford explains the role a government can play in pulling a country out of a recession and Cambridge University Economic Historian Victoria Bateman tells the story of one of our longest recessions that started in 1921.

    Everything you need to know about the economy and what it means for you. This podcast will cut through the jargon to bring you clarity and ensure you finally understand all those complicated terms and phrases you hear on the news. Inflation, GDP, Interest rates, and bonds, Tim Harford and friends explain them all. We’ll ensure you understand what’s going on today, why your shopping is getting more expensive or why your pay doesn’t cover your bills. We’ll also bring you surprising histories, from the war-hungry kings who have shaped how things are counted today to the greedy merchants flooding Spain with silver coins. So if your eyes usually glaze over when someone says ‘cutting taxes stimulates growth’, fear no more, we’ve got you covered.

    Guest: Professor Richard Davies, University of Bristol

    Producer: Phoebe Keane

    Researcher: Drew Hyndman

    Editor: Clare Fordham

    Theme music: Don’t Fret, Beats Fresh Music

    A BBC Long Form Audio Production for BBC Radio 4

    • 14 min
    The Economy: 5. Banks

    The Economy: 5. Banks

    What are banks and what do they do with our money? Tim Harford explains where your money goes when you put it in a bank account and reveals that your bank might actually be a shadow bank. Economic historian Victoria Bateman tells the story of Priscilla Wakefield, one of Britain's forgotten female economists, who created the first saving bank for working-class women in a Tottenham grammar school.

    Everything you need to know about the economy and what it means for you. This podcast will cut through the jargon to bring you clarity and ensure you finally understand all those complicated terms and phrases you hear on the news. Inflation, GDP, Interest rates, and bonds, Tim Harford and friends explain them all. We’ll ensure you understand what’s going on today, why your shopping is getting more expensive or why your pay doesn’t cover your bills. We’ll also bring you surprising histories, from the war-hungry kings who have shaped how things are counted today to the greedy merchants flooding Spain with silver coins. So if your eyes usually glaze over when someone says ‘cutting taxes stimulates growth’, fear no more, we’ve got you covered.

    Producer: Phoebe Keane
    Researchers: Drew Hyndman and Marianna Brain
    Editor: Clare Fordham

    A BBC Radio Current Affairs Production for BBC Radio 4

    • 14 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
63 Ratings

63 Ratings

Fran Gloss ,

Excellent bite size explanations

As always Tim Harford’s style is engaging and straightforward.

HellyOwe ,

Great little introduction to economics

Really enjoying this series is short little beginners guide to the economy. Really understandable and give a really good basic understanding of some key aspects of the economy. Don’t expect anything to too technical - tho is very much for beginners buts it’s still a great little series.

Toxic Plants Blog ,

Don't expect any profound insights

To be fair, the only episode of this podcast I listened to was No. 3: Economic growth and GDP. The concept of economic growth raises some profound questions like: can economic growth go on forever on a finite planet, using more and more resources and pumping more and more CO2 into the atmosphere? If we leave unburnt fossil fuels in the ground (as we are being advised to do by the COP27 conference) what does that do to economic growth? Can economic growth continue when rare minerals like lithium, cobalt and tantalum run short? You could devote a whole podcast to these profound and existential issues. But in this podcast there was only a brief mention along the lines of "economic growth would be a bad thing if it depletes non-renewable resources" and then no more was said about it and the discussion moved on to the various ways of defining GDP. Don't expect any profound insights here: this is a podcast for technicians, not thinkers.

Top Podcasts In Business

Steven Bartlett
BBC Radio 5 live
Ellie McKay
Grace Beverley
Hala Taha | YAP Media
Global

You Might Also Like

BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio
Goalhanger Podcasts
Global
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4