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The economy, explained, with stories and surprises. Imagine you could call up a friend and say, "Meet me at the bar and tell me what's going on with the economy." Now imagine that's actually a fun evening. That's what we're going for at <em>Planet Money</em>. People seem to like it.


#201 Planet Money: Monopoly, A Dangerous Game?

August 6th, 2010

Episode 295 of 902 episodes

Playing Monopoly is one of a child's earliest opportunities to manage their own "money" and learn basic economic concepts. As such, it is frequently cited as an effective teaching tool. Daniel Hamermesh, professor of economics at the University of Texas at Austin , and a self-described "monopoly veteran," uses it at the college level, to teach his intro economics classes about marginal benefit. He explains it this way, when you put the first 2 or 3 houses on a property in Monopoly, you get big increases in rent, but adding house number 4 and a hotel only bring dwindling returns. He's also got his own strategy for playing at home with his grandkids "the green properties are losers" and "never buy the utilities." If Daniel Hamermesh is Monopoly's economist champion, Russ Roberts of George Mason University, is its economist defector. While Russ admits to playing as a child, these days he says the only time it's played in his house, is when he wants to teach his kids "how bad" its lessons are. In a 2006 Morning Edition commentary, Roberts said about the game "...only Marxists look at the world of capitalism the way the game of Monopoly does, as an unrelentingly gloomy system of exploitation where the rich eventually wear everyone else down." On today's podcast, we pit Daniel Hamermesh and Russ Roberts against Alex Blumberg and Robert Smith in a heavily edited game of Monopoly to find out what lessons the game has to offer and who has the best strategy for winning.