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.

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4:38pm

Fri January 11, 2013
Business

Hedge Fund Titans Bet Billions On Success Or Failure Of 'Herbalife'

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 6:11 pm

A pair of prominent hedge fund managers have taken opposing positions on the nutritional-supplement company Herbalife. Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management says the multilevel-marketing company is a pyramid scheme and a bad investment. He's shorting the stock. Dan Loeb of hedge fund Third Point says Herbalife is a good investment. He's taken an 8.2 percent stake in the company and is betting that its shares will rise. Melissa Block talks with David Kestenbaum of the Planet Money team.

3:27am

Thu January 10, 2013
Planet Money

The North Dakota Town Where A One-Bedroom Apartment Rents For $2,100 A Month

Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 3:04 pm

Yours, for $2,100 a month
Josh Marston

A plain, one-bedroom apartment in Williston, N.D., rents for $2,100 a month. For this price, you could rent a one-bedroom apartment in New York City.

Williston is not New York City. There are 30,000 residents and one department store. The nearest city is two hours away.

Rents are so high in Williston because the town is in the middle of an oil boom. Unemployment is below 1 percent, and workers are flooding into town.

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6:50am

Fri December 28, 2012
Planet Money

The 'Fiscal Cliff' And The Art Of Negotiating

The tortuous negotiations involved in the "fiscal cliff" talks are like a chess game. The opponents follow rules and techniques. Negotiating is part science, part art, and everyone does it in their daily lives.

4:38pm

Wed December 19, 2012
Europe

UBS To Pay $1.5 Billion In Fines Over Libor Scandal

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 5:43 pm

The Swiss bank UBS has agreed to pay $1.5 billion in fines in multiple countries to settle allegations of manipulating the London interbank offered rate and other benchmark interest rates.

3:24am

Fri December 14, 2012
Planet Money

Why A Principal Created His Own Currency

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 2:43 pm

David Kestenbaum NPR

Shawn Rux took over as principal of MS 53, a New York City middle school, last year. At the time, 50 or 60 kids were absent every day. You could understand why they stayed away: The school was chaos.

Twenty-two teachers had quit, the entire office staff had quit, and hundreds of kids had been suspended. The school was given a grade of F from the city's department of education.

"It was in a bad place," Rux says.

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5:04am

Fri November 30, 2012
Planet Money

Why Mexico Is The World's Biggest Exporter Of Flat-Screen TVs

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 11:04 am

Mark Lennihan AP

Most of the news we hear about Mexico these days is about drug-related violence. But it turns out there's another, brighter story there: The country's economy has been growing at a solid pace for the past couple years, driven in large part by solid exports.

Among other things, Mexico is the world's largest exporter of flat-screen TVs. There are a lot of factories just south of the U.S. border, filled with workers putting together televisions. The individual parts come from Asia, but the final assembly is done in Mexico.

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3:18am

Wed November 21, 2012
Planet Money

How The Government Set Up A Fake Bank To Launder Drug Money

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 1:18 pm

Skip Latson marks the fake opening of RHM Trust Bank.
Bill Bruton

In the early 1990s, Colombian drug cartels had a problem: They had more money than they knew what to do with.

"They were having a very difficult time with just the logistics of laundering millions and millions and millions of dollars every week," says Skip Latson, who worked for the DEA at the time.

So Latson and Bill Bruton, who was a special agent with the IRS, hatched a plan: They'd create a fake, offshore bank catering to the needs of the drug cartel.

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7:48am

Sat November 17, 2012
Planet Money

A Sequester Is A 'Jelly-Like Mass,' And Other Notes On Fiscal-Cliff Jargon

Charles Dharapak AP

Here's a quick rundown on three of the most impenetrable terms related to the fiscal cliff. For more, see our post, The Fiscal Cliff In Three And A Half Graphics.

1. Sequester

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4:04am

Thu November 15, 2012
Planet Money

Why Coke Cost A Nickel For 70 Years

Originally published on Mon November 19, 2012 2:04 pm

An oilcloth sign advertising Coca-Cola from 1905.
The Coca-Cola Company

Prices change; that's fundamental to how economies work.

And yet: In 1886, a bottle of Coke cost a nickel. It was also a nickel in 1900, 1915 and 1930. In fact, 70 years after the first Coke was sold, you could still buy a bottle for a nickel.

Three wars, the Great Depression, hundreds of competitors — none of it made any difference for the price of Coke. Why not?

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5:07am

Fri October 26, 2012
Planet Money

Energy Independence Wouldn't Make Gasoline Any Cheaper

Originally published on Fri October 26, 2012 4:05 pm

Friedemann Vogel Getty Images

Just about every president since Richard Nixon has set energy independence as a goal, and both major candidates have brought it up the current campaign.

As it turns out, there is a place, not so far from here, that has achieved energy independence: Canada.

Canada produces far more oil than it consumes. They're not dependent on the Middle East! They've got all the oil they need!

I called Stephen Gordon, a professor of economics at Université Laval in Quebec City, to ask him about what energy independence means for his nation.

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