Economics in Plain English: Introducing The Atlantic's Video Explainer Series

Why does bottled water cost so much money? Are the machines really taking our jobs? What is money, anyway? Here, let us tell you.
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One of the core principles of The Atlantic's business coverage has always been that economics should be kind of fun. Not just "readable." Not just "informative." Actually fun.

So, one month ago, we announced a new video explainer series called "Economics in Plain English" and asked you to submit questions. We sifted through more than 300 submissions, which ranged from the super-serious ("explain monetary policy's effect on long-term interest rates") to the super-not-serious ("why are cupcakes cheaper than Banh Mi sandwiches?").

We've picked our six favorites across a wide range -- from highbrow to lowbrow, trivial to weighty, practical to theoretical -- and filmed three-minute videos answering each question in a way we hope is not just watchable and not just informative (although hopefully both of those things) but also just plain fun.

In the next two weeks, we'll be rolling out the videos on the following topics, in roughly this order:

1) Why is bottled water so expensive?

2) Are bottomless drinks actually a good business?

3) Are the machines taking our jobs, and should we be scared?

4) Are the rich hoarding the economic pie?

5) What's the difference between fiscal policy and monetary policy?

... and, finally, because it seemed like an absurd challenge:

6) What is money?

Some of these topics naturally lend themselves to a bit more fun than others. We'll take any excuse to talk business over bottomless mimosas (#2) or visit a northeast D.C. pie shop to discuss income inequality (#4). On the other hand, comparing the effect of tax-based stimulus to quantitative easing (#5) in an accurate and amusing way was a slightly different challenge.

Thanks for your great questions. We hope you have as much fun watching the answers as we had fun filming them.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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