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Planet Money and This American Life’s show on health insurance companies including why prescription drug coupons could actually be increasing how much we pay, and prevent us from even telling how much drugs cost. (13 1/2 minutes).  Listen here.

Economists: ‘Cadillac Tax’ May Mean Higher Wages

One of the biggest sticking points with the plan to overhaul health care has been how to pay for it. The Senate wants to impose a so-called “Cadillac Tax.” That is, a tax on the most expensive health care plans. Economists say in the long run the tax would result in companies offering less expensive health plans. The money the company saves would then translate into higher wages.  Listen here.

Anatomy of a Bank Takeover

The story of what it really looks like when a bank fails and is taken over by the FDIC.  Listen here for the NPR story and here for a longer This American Life version.

Who’s Hiring These Days? The FDIC

With some banks closing and many others announcing massive layoffs, this is clearly not a good time to find a job in the financial industry. But business is booming for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The government agency insures bank deposits and takes over whenever a bank fails — an almost weekly occurrence these days.  Listen here.

After A Pirate Negotiation, A Personal Connection

Our last story explored the business plan of Somali piracy.  Per Gullestrup ransomed his ship, his crew was released and headed home. The pirates, in the Gulf of Aden, headed off.  But the story didn’t end there.  Listen here.

Behind The Business Plan Of Pirates Inc.

Piracy off the coast of Somalia has become an international problem — and an international business. Navy SEALS rescued an American merchant captain earlier this month after Somali pirates raided the Maersk Alabama as it was making its way around the Horn of Africa to deliver aid.

But the issues of criminality and the potential for violence aside, a closer look at the “business model” of piracy reveals that the plan makes economic sense.  Listen here.

Coats, Ships and Pita Bread

People talk about “the global economy,” but many connections are hard to see.  What’s the connects clothes shopping in England to a shipping company in Copenhagen to a bakery in Egypt?  Listen here.

What Exactly is a Trillion?

The International Monetary Fund this week estimated that it will eventually write down $2.7 trillion dollars in assets.  Just what is a trillion.  Some ways to think about it.  Listen here.

Name this Economic Downturn

The subprime crisis, the credit crunch, the recession — all are clearly part of one enormous economic mess that, at the moment, is nameless.  There’s no question that we’re living through a historic downturn. But what will we call it?  Listen here.

How 6 Parts Nearly Delayed World’s Biggest Airliner

In a global economy, an airplane’s production can be threatened by events thousands of miles away. Here’s how six pieces of metal nearly cost engineer Ben Hempstead half a million dollars and held up the largest passenger plane in history.  Listen here.