Surprisingly Awesome

Lots of things in the world seem ordinary. But when you dig deeper, it turns out, they’re fascinating. Surprisingly Awesome tells those stories.

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#5 Interest Rates

December 15, 2015

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Show Notes

Just because it has the word "interest" in it doesn't mean it's interesting to a teenage girl.

The Facts

Surprisingly Awesome’s theme music is "How We Do" by Nicholas Britell.

Our ad music is by Build Buildings.

This episode was edited by Alex Blumberg and Peter Clowney and produced by Chris Neary and Rachel Ward, with help from Julia Kumari Drapkin.  It was mixed by Michael Garofalo.


In an earlier version of this episode we mischaracterized the pope. We went totally overboard on his credentials: We called him the "physical manifestation of God on earth," but really he's the Bishop of Rome, and the leader of the worldwide Catholic church. Thanks to the helpful listener - a seminarian - who pointed this out to us.


Ministry of Supply


Additional Reading

"Debt into Growth: How Sovereign Debt Accelerated the First Industrial Revolution," by Jaume Ventura and Hans-Joachim Voth

A History of Interest Rates, by Sidney Homer and Richard Sylla

Lending to the Borrower from Hell: Debt, Taxes, and Default in the Age of Philip II, by Mauricio Drelichman and Hans-Joachim Voth

Money, Markets and Trade in Late Medieval Europe, edited by Lawrin Armstrong, Ivana Elbl and Martin M. Elbl

The Moral Economy: Poverty, Credit, and Trust in Early Modern Europe, by Laurence Fontaine

Prometheus Shackled: Goldsmith Banks and England's Financial Revolution after 1700, by Peter Temin and Hans-Joachim Voth 

Unsettled Account: The Evolution of Banking in the Industrialized World since 1800, by Richard S. Grossman


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"The Giant Pool of Money," This American Life

Julie Hewett 

Sarah Quintana

Panorama Jazz Band

The Three Muses

Miss Sophie Lee

Louisiana SPCA

Aurora Nealand

John Boutte

Basin Street Records