David Kestenbaum

David Kestenbaum is a correspondent for NPR, covering science, energy issues and, most recently, the global economy for NPR's multimedia project Planet Money. David has been a science correspondent for NPR since 1999. He came to journalism the usual way — by getting a Ph.D. in physics first.

In his years at NPR, David has covered science's discoveries and its darker side, including the Northeast blackout, the anthrax attacks and the collapse of the New Orleans levees. He has also reported on energy issues, particularly nuclear and climate change.

David has won awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

David worked briefly on the show This American Life, and set up a radio journalism program in Cambodia on a Fulbright fellowship. He also teaches a journalism class at Johns Hopkins University.

David holds a bachelor's of science degree in physics from Yale University and a doctorate in physics from Harvard University.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: Members of Congress - or at least some of their staff are busy reading the 6,000 pages of one of the largest international trade deals ever - the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the TPP. Lawmakers will vote on it early next year. Our Planet Money team has been going through the document as well, and David Kestenbaum has the story of one thing that was hard to find. DAVID KESTENBAUM, BYLINE: The TPP goes...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Now we have the story of information you get from your doctor as well as information you do not. DAVID GREENE, HOST: A good doctor is a source of information. You can ask what might be causing a bump on your wrist or whether you can take one medication with another one. INSKEEP: Yet, the doctor often will not know the answer to a really basic question, a question you'd ask in almost any other...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ARUN RATH, HOST: As if they didn't have enough, casinos are always looking for new ways to make money. Now, rather than focusing on traditional games of chance like roulette or slot machines, they're toying with new games based on skill. David Kestenbaum of NPR's Planet Money podcast went to Atlantic City to play. DAVID KESTENBAUM, BYLINE: The game was a simple one - throw a ball through a ring 10 feet off the ground 15...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: The U.S. government wants to extradite a stock trader from the U.K. The U.S. says his activities helped trigger the flash crash of 2010. That's when the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell nearly a thousand points in mere minutes. The plunge was sudden and deep because so many stock trades are now done by computers that decide on their own to buy or sell. That reminded us of someone we first met a few...

The online furniture company Wayfair is now one of the most shorted stocks. Our Planet Money team talks to its CEO about what it's like to be running a company when some investors are betting on your fall. Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: Our Planet Money team has been looking into the world of short selling. Shorting a stock is the opposite of buying a stock. It's a bet that the stock will drop in value. In previous stories, we...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: Today is April 1, a day when you are likely to hear - if you haven't already - many bad jokes. In that tradition, we bring you this from our Planet Money team - a particular category of bad joke, one that deals with economics. NPR's Robert Smith and David Kestenbaum scoured the world for the best economics jokes and tried them out on stage. ROBERT SMITH, BYLINE: David, I have always wanted to do...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript LINDA WERTHEIMER, BYLINE: There is a high-stakes international battle going on right now. On one side is Greece, on the other side, basically the rest of Europe. Greece is trying to renegotiate the bailout deal it agreed to after the financial crisis. There have been high-level meetings, lots of back and forth, temporary extensions. In the middle of this is an unusual man, Greece's new finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis....

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: On January 1, 20 states raise their minimum wage and several states have additional increases planned in the coming months. Yesterday, we learned that Walmart will raise its base pay to $9 an hour this April. KELLY MCEVERS, HOST: All this movement on the minimum reminded us of a story that aired on Morning Edition last year. It was from David Kestenbaum from our NPR's Planet Money team. He took us back...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: Our Planet Money team is exploring the world of short selling. Shorting a stock is the opposite of buying a stock. Instead of profiting when the company does well, you make money if the stock price drops. On Morning Edition today, our Planet Money team shorted the entire stock market just for fun to see what it was like. And now they bring us a story from long ago of the very first person to short a...

College textbooks are expensive. You probably already know this. A new biology or economics book can cost $300. And prices have been soaring, doubling over the past decade, growing faster than the price of housing, cars, even health care. But, surprisingly, the amount students actually spend on textbooks has not been rising. In fact, the best data we could find on this shows students have been spending a bit less over time. How is this possible? Well, when prices go up, people usually try to...

The 1964 World's Fair showcased jet packs and new miracles of science. There was an entire house made of Formica. You could wipe it clean with a sponge! The people who put the fair together tried to imagine how the future would look. Here are a few predictions, and how they actually turned out. 1. We had picture phones back then? Vito Turso was at the fair when he used one of the first picture phones . Back then, he was a boy selling pizza at the fair. He says the...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: Milk is one of the most popular items in a supermarket. And yet, it is often found at the very back of the store. One theory is that stores want you to walk further through the aisles so you'll buy more stuff. But there's another explanation that's more innocent. David Kestenbaum with our Planet Money team tried to find out which is right. DAVID KESTENBAUM, BYLINE: To lay out the two theories, we have...

An economic indicator commonly called the VIX, volatility index, is also known as the fear index. Whatever you call it, the index is hitting lows not seen since before the financial crisis.

The other day I went down to the little shop in the lobby of our building for a snack. I couldn't decide whether I wanted regular M&M's or Peanut Butter M&M's so I bought them both. On the way back upstairs to the office, I noticed something strange on the labels. Each had cost $1, but the pack of Peanut Butter M&M's was a very tiny bit lighter: 0.06 ounces lighter! I wanted to know why, so I called a couple of experts and asked for their theories: Theory No. 1: Peanut Butter M&M's...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: Our Planet Money team this week is taking a look at the lowly penny. People discard pennies in bowls by cash registers. They walk by them on the street without a thought of picking them up. In fact, a lot of us don't even pick them up when we drop them. NPR's David Kestenbaum reports that there is one place where people think pennies could really cause some change. DAVID KESTENBAUM, BYLINE: What if,...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: And now, 4,000 years of economic growth in seven minutes. This story comes, of course, from our Planet Money team. David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein bring us the history of light and how the world came what it is today. DAVID KESTENBAUM, BYLINE: Before you could get light at the flick of a switch, there were other options - none of them very good. Jane Brox wrote a book called "Brilliant: The...

Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: On a Friday it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST: And I'm Linda Wertheimer. Think of the Internet as a group of islands. There's one island for all the Web addresses with .COM. That one's very crowded. There is the less popular .NET island. Also our personal favorite, .ORG. Well, now the number of islands is expanding dramatically. There's .BIKE and .PLUMBING, .NINJA and more islands to come. David...

President Obama has called for increasing the minimum wage, saying it will help some of the poorest Americans. Opponents argue that a higher minimum wage will lead employers to cut jobs. Figuring out the effect of raising the minimum wage is tough. Ideally you'd like to compare one universe where the minimum was raised against an alternate universe where it remained fixed. Economist David Card found the next best thing. In 1992, New Jersey was about to raise its minimum wage. Right next door,...

In 1895, legislators in New York state decided to improve working conditions in what at the time could be a deadly profession: baking bread. "Bakeries are actually extremely dangerous places to work," says Eric Rauchway, a historian at the University of California, Davis. "Because flour is such a fine particulate, if it gets to hang in the air it can catch fire and the whole room can go up in a sheet of flame." New York passed a law called the Bakeshop Act. It didn't set a minimum wage — the...

This famous bet — between a biologist and an economist — was over population growth. It started three decades ago, but it helped set the tone for environmental debates that are still happening today. The biologist at the heart of this bet was Paul Ehrlich at Stanford. He wrote a best-selling book in 1968 called The Population Bomb. It was so popular he appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He told Carson, "There are 3.6 billion people in the world today, and we...

We recently published a story about how used clothes that get donated in the U.S. often wind up for sale in markets in Africa. As part of the story, we published some photos of used T-shirts we found in a couple of markets in Kenya. One shirt in particular caught our eye: The shirt had a name inside it (Rachel Williams) and a bat mitzvah date (Nov. 20, 1993). We wanted to close the loop — to find Rachel Williams, and Jennifer of "Dancing with the Toons" fame. So Tuesday, we threw up the...

For more on what Bitcoin is and how it works, see our story " What Is Bitcoin? " Gavin Andresen is chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation . I first talked with him about Bitcoin, the virtual currency, back in 2011 . I checked back in with him this week, because so much has been going on with Bitcoin lately. Silk Road, an underground drug marketplace, was shut down last month by the FBI. Court documents in the case allege that bitcoins were used to try to take out...

What's A Bubble?

Nov 15, 2013

Robert Shiller was surprised when he got the call telling him he'd won the Nobel Memorial Prize in economics — surprised that he'd won (of course), but also surprised that he was sharing the award with Eugene Fama. "He and I seem to have very different views," Shiller told me. "It's like we're different religions." In particular, they have very different views about economic bubbles. "The word 'bubble' drives me nuts, frankly," Fama told me. Fama believes markets are basically rational. At...

For more of our reporting on this story, please see our work in The New York Times Magazine and on This American Life . A couple of months ago, we reported on a charity called GiveDirectly that's trying to help poor people in the developing world in an unusual way: by sending them money with no strings attached. The idea behind this is simple. Poor people know what they need, and if you give them money they can buy it. But to some veterans of the charity world,...

Earlier this week, I bought a Treasury bill. Everybody calls Treasury bills T-bills, and they work like this: The government promises to pay holders of T-bills a specific amount on a specific day in the near future. For the T-bill I bought, the government promised to pay $1,000 on Oct. 31. I bought the T-bill on Tuesday, before Congress had made the debt-ceiling deal, so it was unclear whether I would get paid back on time. If people are worried about a bond, the price tends to fall. But,...

What would happen if Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling and the U.S. defaults on its debt later this month? The broad economic implications are unpredictable, but a default could cause huge trouble for the global economy. But whatever happens to the global economy, one thing is clear: People all over the world who have loaned the U.S. government money won't get paid on time. And lots and lots of people have loaned the government money. Those people are commonly referred to as owners of...

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