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Episode 883: A Very Planet Money Christmas Carol

Keith Romer

In 1843, the English economy was transforming. The Industrial Revolution was drawing people from the countryside to toil long hours in the new factories that were springing up in the rapidly expanding cities. A new middle class was getting rich, but the profits were not always shared with the poor.

Meanwhile, a new field of study continued to expand its hold on the intellectual scene: something called "political economy." Among its champions were Adam Smith and Thomas Robert Malthus, who preached the gospel of self-interest and warned against the dangers of "surplus population."

All this worried Charles Dickens. So he put pen to paper and created what became a Christmas classic.

Today on the show: How A Christmas Carol took on some of the most important thinkers in the history of economics.

Music: "Winter Wood Mystery" and "Pyramid Thoughts."

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Sally Helm reports and produces for Planet Money. She has covered wildfire investigation in California, Islamic Finance in Michigan, the mystery of declining productivity growth, and holograms. Helm is a graduate of the Transom Story Workshop and of Yale University. Before coming to work at NPR, she helped start an after-school creative writing program in Sitka, Alaska. She is originally from Los Angeles, California.
Keith Romer has been a contributing reporter for Planet Money since 2015. He has reported stories on risk-pooling among poker players, whether it's legal to write a spin-off of the children's book Goodnight Moon and the time one man cornered the American market in onions. Sometimes on the show, he sings.