The Economic Lowdown podcast series is produced by the Economic Education department of the St. Louis Fed for high school and college students. The series covers topics in economics, banking and monetary policy. The podcasts use clear, simple language to describe the economic concepts presented. In the end, students see how economic principles affect the choices they make in their everyday lives.
Similar topics are available in the Economic Lowdown Video Series.
Episode 1: Opportunity Cost
Three topics in economics are introduced in the first episode: choice, scarcity and opportunity cost.
Episode 2: Factors of Production
The second episode introduces factors of production, the resources that are the building blocks of the economy.
Episode 3: The Role of Self-Interest and Competition in a Market Economy
Adam Smith described self-interest and competition in a market economy as the "invisible hand" that guides the economy. This episode explains these concepts and their importance to our understanding of the economic system.
Episode 4: Inflation
The fourth episode discusses three aspects of inflation: what it is, what causes it and how it is measured. The episode also addresses related topics such as deflation, disinflation and the role of the Federal Reserve in monitoring inflation.
Episode 5: Unemployment
The fifth episode covers the basics of unemployment—how it is defined, how it is measured, and how it is categorized into three types.
Episode 6: Demand
This episode examines the law of demand. A demand curve is simply defined, as are the sorts of changes that might affect that curve—all in less than seven minutes.
Episode 7: Supply
The seventh episode discusses the supply side of the market - the law of supply, slope of the curve and the difference between a change in supply and a change in quantity supplied.
Episode 8: Market Equilibrium
This episode answers a crucial economic question: Where do prices come from? Listeners discover that supply and demand work together to determine the market equilibrium - and the prices of the things you buy.
Episode 9: Functions of Money
Money has taken many forms through the ages: shells, wheels, beads and even cows. All forms, though, have always had three things in common. Find out what in this eight-minute episode.
Episode 10: Labor Market
In this episode, young people who are looking for that first job can learn about the basics of the labor market in this country. A brief explanation is given of the roles played by education, supply, demand, productivity and government regulation.
Episode 11: Externalities
Ever feel as if you are paying the price for someone else’s “deal”? Perhaps you are choking on the pollution from a foundry where cheap widgets are made. That spillover effect is called an externality. There are positive ones, too. Learn more about externalities in this episode.
Episode 12: Price Signals
Prices send signals and provide incentives for buyers and sellers in ways you possibly never thought about. In a market economy, price signals prevent massive shortages and ensure that consumer wants are largely satisfied. In this episode, hear how price signals from gas prices influence decision-making for both a father of three and a production supervisor for an oil refinery.
Episode 13: Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data are among the most important economic data available for measuring economic growth, but measuring the output of a large, dynamic economy is a complex task. In this episode, hear what GDP measures, how it is calculated, how it is useful in determining whether and how quickly the economy is growing, and how GDP can be used as indicator of standard of living.
Episode 14: Getting Real about Interest Rates
Do you know the difference between nominal and real interest rates? In this episode, you will learn how inflation influences the real return on your deposits, how it impacts borrowers and lenders differently, and why price stability—a responsibility of the Federal Reserve System—is important.
Episode 15: Economic Growth
From micro to macro, in this episode, we'll take a look at economic growth—how innovation and technological progress can make things happen for the economy over time by organizing the factors of production to be, well, more productive.
Episode 16: Elasticity of Demand
The word "elasticity" is commonly used to describe things that have a stretchy quality to them. To an economist, however, elasticity can have a whole other meaning. Learn more in this episode.
Episode 17: Public Goods
This episode defines the characteristics of private and public goods and explains why these characteristics help determine who is best positioned to produce each.
Episode 18: The Business Cycle
This episode describes how the economy moves through phases of the business cycle, and the role the Federal Reserve System plays in smoothing some of the ride's bumps.
Episode 19: Costs of Production and the Shutdown Decision
Businesses are especially aware of costs because costs affect profits, and without profits a business might not survive. This episode describes how businesses consider costs when making decisions – including about whether to shut down.
Episode 20: Monetary Policy
When it comes to the U.S. economy, the Federal Reserve has a very important role to play. Whether you realize it or not, its decisions affect you. In this episode, you’ll learn about how the Federal Reserve uses monetary policy to influence the economy.
Episode 21: Fiscal Policy
“Recession” is one of the scariest words in economics. The loss of jobs and income can have lasting impacts on people’s lives. How does the economy get back on track when it’s off course? In this episode, you’ll learn about how the government uses fiscal policy to influence the economy.