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.

Pages

1:59am

Fri August 10, 2012
Planet Money

Why Don't More Unemployed Spaniards Get Jobs In Germany?

Originally published on Mon August 13, 2012 10:22 am

Jobs ahead.
iStockphoto.com

Zoe Chace and Robert Smith are reporting from European borders this week. This is the third story in a four-part series.

The eurozone was supposed to create one big labor market by making it easy to cross borders for work.

But Gerhard Wiegelmann, a CEO in Stuttgart, Germany, can't find enough workers to staff his company — even with unemployment in Spain over 20 percent. He's had to turn down projects because he can't hire enough people.

Read more

11:45am

Thu August 9, 2012
Planet Money

The Marijuana Trade In The Euro's Birthplace

Originally published on Mon August 13, 2012 9:26 am

Marijuana in Maastricht
Ermindo Armino AP

Zoe Chace and Robert Smith are reporting from European borders this week. This is the second story in a four-part series.

Maastricht, a town in the Netherlands, is known largely for two things.

  1. The treaty that created the euro was signed there.
  2. Marijuana is legal there, and it's sold at "coffee shops" around town.

This is the story of the troubled relationship between those two claims to fame.

Read more

2:22am

Thu August 9, 2012
Planet Money

The Building That's In Two Countries At Once

Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 1:43 pm

Hans Hover has one foot in Germany, and one in the Netherlands.
Robert Smith NPR

Zoe Chace and Robert Smith are reporting from European borders this week. This is the first story in a four-part series.

A metal strip on the floor of Eurode Business Center marks the border between Germany and the Netherlands.

On one side of the building, there's a German mailbox and a German policeman. On the other side, a Dutch mailbox and a Dutch policeman.

The building was supposed to make it easy to work in both countries. But it's also a reminder of how the European dream isn't yet a reality.

Read more

2:14pm

Tue July 31, 2012
Planet Money

Does New York City Need More Taxis?

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 11:46 am

A man hails a cab in Times Square.
Lam Thuy Vo NPR

The City of New York is planning to add 2,000 more yellow taxi cabs onto its streets. They'll be wheelchair accessible and raise a bunch of money for the city. The new licenses could fetch up to $1 billion at auction. And the hope is that the extra taxis will make life better for the many New Yorkers without cars.

Read more

3:11pm

Fri July 20, 2012
Planet Money

Just How Blind Are Blind Trusts, Anyway?

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 9:32 am

J.D. Pooley Getty Images

As Mitt Romney has faced questions about his investments and tax returns, the likely Republican presidential nominee has responded with two words of explanation: blind trust.

Romney keeps most of his wealth in a blind trust designed to prevent him from knowing exactly where his money is and what it's doing. It's a long tradition for presidents and candidates, though anyone can set one up if he wants to.

But it turns out that not all blind trusts are equally blind. Some are cast into complete and utter darkness. Others are more nearsighted.

Read more

Pages