Who Makes Cents?: A History of Capitalism Podcast

Who Makes Cents?: A History of Capitalism Podcast is a monthly program devoted to bringing you quality, engaging stories that explain how capitalism has changed over time. We interview historians and social and cultural critics about capitalism’s past, highlighting the political and economic changes that have created the present. Each episode gives voice to the people who have shaped capitalism – by making the rules or by breaking them, by creating economic structures or by resisting them.

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Who Makes Cents?: A History of Capitalism Podcast is a monthly program devoted to bringing you quality, engaging stories that explain how capitalism has changed over time. We interview historians and social and cultural critics about capitalism’s past, highlighting the political and economic changes that have created the present. Each episode gives voice to the people who have shaped capitalism – by making the rules or by breaking them, by creating economic structures or by resisting them.
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-09-07 11:49
last episode published
2019-09-06 17:36
publication frequency
33.69 days
Betsy Beasley& David Stein author  
Betsy Beasley & David Stein owner  
Number of Episodes
Detail page
Society & Culture Education History Higher Education News & Politics



Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors

Nan Enstad on Multinational Cigarette Corporations and Jim Crow Capitalism

Nan Enstad on Multinational Cigarette Corporations and Jim Crow Capitalism   The multinational corporation is a pervasive institution. For example, it’s nearly impossible to listen to this show without interacting with one. But what is the history of t...

Episode 58: Chris Dietrich on the Energy Crisis and the Anticolonial Elite

When we talk about the 1973 energy crisis, we tend to cast it as a moment when Americans questioned assumptions about how the domestic economy worked and the U.S. role in the global economy. We don’t always spend as much time thinking about why the cri...

Liz Montegary on the Political Economy of LGBT Families

We’ve just ended pride month and both the victories and limits of GLBT politics were on view. In San Francisco, protesters engaged in civil disobedience action against the growing corporatization of pride. Activists in San Francisco and elsewhere quest...

Peter Cole on the Power of Dockworkers

We talk a lot about logistics on this show – the industries, like Amazon or FedEx, that have made fortunes managing the movement of goods from one place to another. Logistics companies undergird the globalized economy, making it possible for companies ...

Bernice Yeung on The Fight to End Sexual Violence Against America’s Most Vulnerable Workers

The Me Too movement has brought much needed attention to sexual violence and harassment both in and outside the workplace. It has challenged patriarchal norms and practices and illuminated entrenched power hierarchies. It also drew strength from longer...

Juan De Lara on Logistics and Urban Space

Amazon's withdrawal from New York City has sparked big conversations about companies' impact on urban space, but less attention has been paid to the fact that, as logistics companies, corporations like Amazon have a particular spatial impact. Juan De L...

Randy Shaw on the Housing Affordability Crisis

In major cities across the country, skyrocketing rents and housing prices have pushed out workers and everyday people who are no longer able to afford the cost of living. In Los Angeles, this has led to a spike in homelessness and the increased precari...

Gavin Benke on Enron and the Neoliberal Era

Gavin Benke on Enron and the Neoliberal Era   Frauds. Grifts. Swindles. Scams. These are hardly new things when it comes to the history of capitalism. But that doesn’t mean they each one don't reflect its specific era of capitalism. Instead they both s...

Louis Hyman on the Rise of the Gig Economy

We tend to think about the "gig economy" as a new development - brought into being by Uber and our smartphones. But Louis Hyman shows us the deep roots of casualized and contract labor, tracing the centrality of temps, day laborers, and consultants fro...

Devin Fergus on the Rise of Financial Fees

Over the past few decades, financial companies have begun charging more and more hidden fees. Devin Fergus explains why Americans pay so many fees and how these fees function to redistribute wealth from ordinary Americans to the wealthy - and how this ...

Special Episode on Intersectionality and Capitalism

All too often recently, some have claimed that an analysis that is intersectional militates against one that focuses on class. Well, we’re very excited to bring you a special program this month. Rather than our normal interview format, we’re featuring ...

Jennifer Le Zotte on the Sale and Consumption of Second-Hand Clothing

For decades, consumers of second-hand goods have argued that purchasing used items allows buyers to opt out of capitalism, saving money and environmental resources in the process. As one thrifty advice blog puts it, “Buying used goods cuts down on manu...

Jeremy Milloy on the Political Economy of Workplace Violence

Just last week in the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the court undermined the power of organized labor in the public sector by making it, for all intents and purposes “right to work.”...

Raj Patel and Jason Moore on Capital, Nature, and Cheap Things

When we think about the relationship between capitalism and the environment, it’s all too easy to see them as separate spheres bouncing into one another – capitalism devouring nature, like when a forest is razed for development, or nature threatening c...

Mehrsa Baradaran on Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap

The racial wealth gap is among the most dire problems in contemporary society. As of 2014, Black households had fewer than seven cents for every dollar owned by white households. This situation of racial wealth inequity is disturbingly similar to the o...

Malcolm Harris on Millennials and the Economy That Made Them

Tired of reading endless clickbait articles about which industry millennials are killing today? Our guest Malcolm Harris explains how economic restructuring and the ideology of human capital helped to create the millennial generation - and continue to ...

Keona Ervin on Black Women's Activism in St. Louis

In the summer of 2014, activists in Ferguson, Missouri helped catalyze a cycle of struggle against racist policing, extractive fines and fees, and myriad other injustices that are rooted in racial capitalism and the state. Decades before this in nearby...

Melinda Cooper on Neoliberal Family Values

We often think of neoliberalism as operating at odds with the traditional family. Our guest, Melinda Cooper, shows why neoliberals and social conservatives have enjoyed an alliance over the past forty years, and how neoliberalism has long had anxiety a...

Bryant Simon on the Hamlet Fire and the Politics of Chicken

Consider the chicken nugget. Many of us can see its round shape in our minds, and recall its salty taste. But what is its history? And what does this history have to tell us about food and capitalism, and about one of the most devastating industrial ac...

Laura Briggs on Reproductive Politics

Popular discussions of U.S. politics often distinguish "social" issues from "economic" issues. Laura Briggs shows us how looking at recent U.S. history through the lens of reproductive politics challenges this division.

Lane Windham on Union Organizing in the 1970s

Since the most recent election, we’ve heard a lot of news about the so-called working class. But all too often, this term seems to refer to white men instead of the diverse group of people who actually comprise the working class. Similarly, in the year...

Josh Davis on Activist Business in the 1960s and 1970s

Before Amazon bought Whole Foods, the shopping chain got its start as an activist business more focused on politics than profits. Join us to discuss the rise and fall of activist small business in last third of the twentieth century.

Steve James on Abacus Bank

It has become well known that none of those most responsible for the 2008 recession have faced significant prosecutions or gone to prison for their actions. But one bank did face a severe prosecution in the wake of the recession. On today’s show, we sp...

Emily Hobson on the Gay and Lesbian Left

We often talk about "economic conservatism" and "social conservatism," as if they're entirely divorced topics. Emily Hobson tells us about gay and lesbian activists from the 1960s through the 1990s who understood sexuality and anti-capitalism to be ine...

Nancy MacLean on the Radical Right and James Buchanan

In Nancy MacLean’s new book—Democracy in Chains—she unveils a long history of efforts by right-wing officials and intellectuals to undermine democracy. She foregrounds the importance of the economist James Buchanan to this story. She shows us the histo...

Kim Phillips-Fein on the Fiscal Crisis and Austerity Politics in New York City

Why do budgetary crises tend to lead to politicians and business leaders calling for governments to tighten their purse strings? How can we understand austerity as politics, not just common business sense? This week, we welcome back Kim Phillips-Fein t...

Geoff Mann on the Keynesian Sensibility in a World of Ecological and Economic Inequality

The name John Maynard Keynes is an important one in the history of economic thought. Keynes’s ideas became popular between during the interwar period, between World War I and II, as many sought to navigate the tumult of social and political upheaval el...

Jennifer Haigh on Fiction and Fracking

In our first interview with a novelist, we speak with Jennifer Haigh about Heat & Light, her novel about fracking in rural Pennsylvania.

Ryan Murphy on Flight Attendant Activism

The 1980s were a time of transformation for workers across the U.S., and flight attendants were on the front line of the struggles of the era, as they saw the impacts of deregulation, the breaking of the air-traffic controllers union, and the rising po...

Mehrsa Baradaran on Banking for Lower Income Americans

How does the fact that banks do not have to make their services accessible for all of us impact ordinary people? Why should we see banks as institutions that must be accountable to the public, and what would change in American life if we did? Listen to...

Brooke Harrington on Wealth Managers and the One Percent

In April, the high volume leak of the Panama Papers revealed an often unseen world of money and power. The leak of 11.5 million files came from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, which helps facilitate movement of money across accounts and bor...

Christy Chapin on the Centrality of Insurance Companies to American Health Care

Why is health care in the United States so expensive? Why does the United States find it so difficult to provide quality, affordable health care to most of its citizens? What is the relationship among the government, doctors, and insurance companies? C...

Sarah Jaffe on Social Movements and the 2008 Recession

The recent years since the 2008 recession have seen a growth of protest movements. Sarah Jaffe’s book, Necessary Trouble, describes how people have been fighting back against bank bailouts, budget cuts, police brutality, and much more. Today, we reflec...

LaShawn Harris on Black Women and the Informal Economy

LaShawn Harris discusses how black women in the early twentieth century engaged in the informal economy - performing work that wasn't entirely legal - to get by and get ahead.

Sandy Hager on Public Debt and Inequality

Who owns the U.S. public debt? Why is it such an important commodity in global capitalism? Why does public debt provoke such intense political debate? And how can the quantitative data on the ownership structure of public debt provide insights into the...

Daniel Amsterdam on the Business Campaign to Expand Government Spending


David Harvey on A Brief History of Neoliberalism

Neoliberalism. It is a vexing term, especially for many in the United States. But it means to call attention to the policies that emphasized so-called free markets as well as the increased market regulation of society since the 1970s. Few texts have be...

Sujani Reddy on Nursing and Empire

The history of nursing is inextricable from the history of capitalism and imperialism. Our guest today, Sujani Reddy, helps us understand the history of nursing through the lives and experiences nurses who migrated to the U.S. from India, and what this...

Sherene Seikaly on Economic Thought in British Mandate Palestine

Historian Sherene Seikaly uncovered a group of elite Palestinian men in 1930s and 1940s who articulated a national economic vision for Palestine before the founding of Israel. Listen to learn more about how debates about Palestinian independence from B...

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor on Black Lives Matter and Black Liberation

Few social justice struggles have captivated recent political history like the broad Black Lives Matter movement. From the streets of Ferguson and Baltimore to campaign rally interruptions of leading politicians, we have seen people speak up in outrage...

Eric Rauchway on How FDR and Keynes Ended the Depression

We've been hearing a lot about economist John Maynard Keynes' midcentury economic plans for the U.S. since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008. Are the measures that Keynes and FDR took to combat the Depression in 2008 relevant to the present...

Leigh Claire La Berge on Financial Fiction of the Long 1980s

What stories do we tell about finance? How does financial print culture shape our lives? Our guest today explores the narratives we have been told, and tell, about finance. A literary scholar, Leigh Claire La Berge writes about the representations of f...

Jennifer Mittelstadt on the Rise of the Military Welfare State

Have you seen those Facebook memes floating around, arguing that we shouldn't support a $15 minimum wage for service sector workers because the military doesn't earn a living wage? Jennifer Mittelstadt tells us how these stark lines were drawn between ...

Mike Elk on Media Workers Unite

On this month’s episode, we talk to the journalist Mike Elk about a new group called Media Workers Unite and their “Louisville Statement of Media Workers Rights.” Media Workers Unite are creating a public conversation about the labor conditions of cont...

Phil Tiemeyer on Male Flight Attendants and Sexuality in the Workplace

Today’s guest discusses the history of sexuality in the workplace through the lens of male flight attendants. We speak with Phil Tiemeyer about the shifts and changes in the airline industry across the 20th century. Phil steers us through this history ...

Live Show: Who Makes Cents with Belabored

In July, we joined our friends from Dissent magazine's Belabored podcast to discuss the history of capitalism and how journalists and academics writing about labor and business can work together. Listen to the live recording of our show at 61 Local in ...

Suzanna Reiss on Drug Control, Coca-Cola, and Pharmaceuticals

Today’s guest discusses the history of the coca leaf and the U.S. drug control regime. Amongst other topics, we discuss the importance of coca to both Coca-Cola and Merck and the pharmaceutical industry. For Suzanna Reiss, this provides a way to interp...

Jenifer Van Vleck on Empire of the Air

Today's guest discusses the history of aviation and how this provides a lens to interpret the history of capitalism and U.S. foreign relations across the twentieth century. Amongst other topics, Jenifer Van Vleck tells us how the airline industry helpe...

Deb Cowen on the Deadly Life of Logistics

Our guest today tells us that the seemingly straightforward field of logistics lies at the heart of contemporary globalization, imperialism, and economic inequality. Listen to Deb Cowen discuss how the field of logistics reshaped global capitalism, und...

Kim Phillips-Fein on the businessmen's crusade against the New Deal

Kim Phillips-Fein discusses her book Invisible Hands: The Businessmen's Crusade Against the New Deal.Today we'll focus on the history of resistance to the New Deal. Kim Phillips-Fein details how many of the most prominent elites had their ideas and pra...