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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3:30am

Thu April 25, 2013
Planet Money

Lady Gaga Writing A New Song Is Like A Factory Investing In A New Machine

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 2:46 am

But is it GDP?
Charles Sykes AP

I spoke yesterday with Dan Sichel, a Wellesley economist and a Lady Gaga fan. Both of these facts are relevant for this story.

The U.S. government is about to tweak the way it measures the economy, and some of the biggest changes will affect the entertainment industry.

Under the current system, Sichel told me, Lady Gaga's sales of concert tickets, online songs and CDs all count toward gross domestic product. But the value of the time she spends in the studio working on new songs isn't counted. That's about to change.

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3:41am

Thu March 28, 2013
Planet Money

When A Famous Hospital Didn't Want An Expensive New Drug

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 10:03 am

Andrei Tchernov iStockphoto.com

Last year, a new drug called Zaltrap was approved as a kind of last-chance therapy for patients with colorectal cancer. Studies suggested Zaltrap worked almost exactly as well as an existing drug called Avastin. In fact, the main difference between the two drugs seemed to be the price.

"I was rather stunned," Dr. Leonard Saltz, who specializes in colorectal cancer, told me.

Zaltrap costs about $11,000 per month — about twice as much as Avastin, Saltz said.

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3:05am

Thu February 21, 2013
Planet Money

Three Ways To Totally Transform U.S. Immigration Policy

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 10:42 am

Immigrants wait for their citizenship interviews at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Jan. 29.
John Moore Getty Images

With immigration policy in the news again, I asked three economists, "Dream big: If you could create any immigration policy for the U.S., what would it be?" Here's what they said.

1. The Best And The Brightest

Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research would give out more visas to highly skilled workers: scientists, engineers, computer programmers and doctors.

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3:34am

Thu February 7, 2013
Planet Money

'Give Me The Money Or I'll Shoot The Trees'

Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 3:07 pm

Pay up, or the bird gets it. (A hoatzin perches on a branch in Yasuni National Park.)
Pablo Cozzaglio AFP/Getty Images

Ecuador's Yasuni National Park is one of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth. But there's a complication: The park sits on top of the equivalent of millions of barrels of oil.

This creates a dilemma.

Ecuador prides itself on being pro-environment. Its constitution gives nature special rights. But Ecuador is a relatively poor country that could desperately use the money from the oil.

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3:38am

Fri February 1, 2013
Planet Money

An International Battle Over One Of The Most Boring Things In Finance

Originally published on Tue February 12, 2013 11:26 am

Jeremy O'Donnell Getty Images

This week saw the end of a years-long, international, multi-billion-dollar battle over one of the most boring things in finance: savings accounts.

At the center of the battle was Iceland, a tiny country where the banks grew into international behemoths during the credit bubble.

The banks got so big partly by convincing foreigners to open up online savings accounts. In particular, lots of people in England and Netherlands opened up "ICESAVE accounts" with a bank called Landsbanki. During the financial crisis, the bank collapsed.

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3:35am

Thu January 24, 2013
Planet Money

Why Is The Government In The Flood Insurance Business?

Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 1:19 pm

Hurricane Betsy hit the Gulf Coast in 1965.
Horace Cort AP

There's a quick, one-word explanation for why the federal government started selling flood insurance: Betsy.

Hurricane Betsy, which struck the Gulf Coast in 1965, became known as billion-dollar Betsy. Homes were ruined. Water up to the roofs. People paddling around streets in boats. Massive damage.

This would be the time when you'd expect people to be pulling out their flood insurance policies. But flood insurance was hard to come by. You could get fire insurance, theft insurance, car insurance, life insurance. Not flood.

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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.

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