Robert Smith

Robert Smith is a correspondent for NPR's Planet Money where he reports on how the global economy is affecting our lives.

If that sounds a little dry, then you've never heard Planet Money. The team specializes in making economic reporting funny, engaging and understandable. Planet Money has been known to set economic indicators to music, use superheroes to explain central banks, and even buy a toxic asset just to figure it out.

Smith admits that he has no special background in finance or math, just a curiosity about how money works. That kind of curiosity has driven Smith for his 20 years in radio.

Before joining Planet Money, Smith was the New York correspondent for NPR. He was responsible for covering all the mayhem and beauty that makes it the greatest city on Earth. Smith reported on the rebuilding of Ground Zero, the stunning landing of US Air flight 1549 in the Hudson River and the dysfunctional world of New York politics. He specialized in features about the overlooked joys of urban living: puddles, billboards, ice cream trucks, street musicians, drunks and obsessives.

When New York was strangely quiet, Smith pitched in covering the big national stories. He traveled with presidential campaigns, tracked the recovery of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and reported from the BP oil spill.

Before his New York City gig, Smith worked for public radio stations in Seattle (KUOW), Salt Lake City (KUER) and Portland (KBOO). He's been an editor, a host, a news director and just about any other job you can think of in broadcasting. Smith also lectures on the dark arts of radio at universities and conferences. He trains fellow reporters how to sneak humor and action into even the dullest stories on tight deadlines.

Smith started in broadcasting playing music at KPCW in his hometown of Park City, Utah. Although the low-power radio station at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, likes to claim him as its own.

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Planet Money
10:08 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Identifying The Real Victims In The LIBOR Scandal

LIBOR affects many consumer credit rates, from mortgages to credit cards.
Theo Francis NPR

Originally published on Wed July 11, 2012 4:16 pm

A lot of the coverage of the LIBOR scandal has focused on the ways that Barclays tried to manipulate LIBOR lower during the financial crisis, to make the bank look more secure. This has led some listeners to ask a good question: if rates were being shoved down, doesn't that help consumers? LIBOR, after all, is a financial benchmark that shows up in adjustable rate mortgages and other loans.

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Planet Money
7:13 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Did The Bank of England Urge Barclays to Lie?

Morning light on the houses of Parliament in London, where Bank of England Deputy Governor Paul Tucker faces questions over his role in a banking scandal.
Christopher Furlong Getty Images

The scandal over LIBOR, a key global interest rate, has already hit banks around the world. Today, it moves to the very heart of the British government.

A deputy governor of the Bank of England will be quizzed by parliament on whether he told banks to lie to about the crucial interest rate.

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Planet Money
11:10 am
Fri July 6, 2012

Rigging LIBOR: Banking Scandal Hits Home (Literally)

Lefteris Pitarakis AP

Originally published on Mon July 30, 2012 8:20 pm

The biggest scandal in the world right now has nothing to do with sex or celebrities. It's about an interest rate called LIBOR, or the London Interbank Offered Rate.

Most Americans probably never heard of LIBOR. When I first moved to New York, I hadn't. Back then, I could barely afford my apartment and got an adjustable rate mortgage. And so I wondered: When my rate adjusts, how will I know how much I'll be paying?

I searched through all the documents and it was right there — LIBOR. I would be paying a few percentage points above whatever LIBOR was.

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Business
5:10 am
Fri July 6, 2012

Why The Barclays Scandal Affects More Than Britain

Originally published on Fri July 6, 2012 8:35 am

The Planet Money team digs into the rate-setting scandal engulfing the British bank Barclays. Emails reveal bank employees were shockingly casual and explicit in their communications about manipulating one of the key financial benchmarks in the global economy.

Planet Money
2:16 am
Thu June 28, 2012

Going Public Is A Hassle

Meh.
Richard Drew AP

Originally published on Wed July 11, 2012 4:09 pm

Here's a classic story of how a multimillion-dollar company gets started.

A young guy named Seung Bak is on a trip to China. He gets back to his hotel room late one night and turns on the TV.

"I'm flipping through channels, and in the middle of China they are showing Korean dramas all around the clock," Bak says.

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