Pop Trends, Price Culture

Pop Trends, Price Culture is the podcast with strong opinions and strong language about the intersection of psychology and markets. You can download or listen online (it's free). Host Robert Folsom presents real people and real stories with as they meet in the crossroads of mood and markets.

  • Terrorism, Markets and ... Facial Recognition Jun 19

    Most of us can recognize a face instantly, and remember it for years. So why do so many of us fail to recognize what actually drives financial markets ... and likewise fail to remember the counterintuitive facts we learn?

    Listen on to hear what we...


  • Fog of War, Overgrown Ivory, and "Fuzzy Thinking" Jun 12

    "Fuzzy thinking" is an especially debilitating influence of negative mood -- because, obviously, thought precedes action and ... well, you know how the sentence ends:

    Actions are unfocused if the preceding thoughts are fuzzy.

    Listen in to hear what...


  • Socio in the News: Right Way, Wrong Way - How Do YOU "Do Socionomics"? Jun 05

    There is indeed a right way and a wrong way to "do socionomics" -- which can be said of any rigorous method of analysis. In other words: If you want to get it right, you have to do it right. Each of one of our chosen topics this week can help you do ...


  • The Drug War Extracts A Toll to the South, and, Hip to Be Square May 08

    For almost five decades, the so-called "Drug War" in the United States has done what war always does: Compel payments best quantified by blood and treasure.

    Yet that drug war is not confined within U.S. borders. It has involved mind-boggling greater ...


  • Pop Trends, Price Culture Joins the Full Suite of Socionomic Research May 05

    If you're a regular listener, you know the range of mood-related topics we've covered: Everything from movies to music to baseball to TV to war, and politics and urban planning and marijuana and vigilantes and presidents and comedy ... and economics ...


  • Part II: Jane vs Goliath - Only in America Apr 28

    Jane Jacobs saw a solution when nobody else even saw a problem. The problem she saw was, planners and architects and master builders of her day held fatally flawed assumptions about human behavior -- that the way people in cities live is perfectly...


  • Venezuela, France and Beyond: The Sun Never Sets on Mood Apr 24

    The sun never sets on social mood -- and around the world, upheaval and apprehension now fill our screens and headlines, in the mix of mood and politics.


  • Jane vs Goliath Only in America Apr 21

    One of the greatest and most influential "David vs. Goliath" stories in 20th century America is all but unknown these days. An obscure, apparently ill-equipped female went up against the man who may be history's most prolific developer. This is...


  • Politics, Mood, and the Men Who Became "Best of Enemies" Apr 07

    In 1968, anyone with a sense of American politics and history knew that they were living in a uniquely tumultuous time. Then, in August '68 came the epic, mood-driven debates between two men that created "The Best of Enemies." You may or may not...


  • Avoid Myths. Watch the "Trigger" Non-Linear is Healthy Apr 03

    We're living thru an especially ironic moment. More people have more time to learn more information more easily than ever in history. And yet ... we're also up to our collective waists in junk science, fake news, group-think and shameless...


  • Vaccinations Opioids and the Health Risks of Linear Thinking Mar 31

    What was the most successful medical program in human history? Here's a hint: It began with a counterintuitive, non-linear solution. Yet, social mood at present suggests that counterintuitive thinking is short supply, in helping to solve a current,...


  • Also in This Week's News: Are "Facts" Evidence of Partisanship Mar 24

    This past week in the news has been like 40 gallons of crazy compressed into a 20-gallon tank. It's too much to keep up with. It's like you want to slap the next person who says "I've never seen this before," except ... you keep hearing yourself say ...


  • Elections Open the Door in the Moment and into the Future Mar 20

    Elections open the doors and windows for the expression of social mood -- those expressions are obviously specific to the moment, yet "elections have consequences" into the future as well.

    Populism, nationalism, anti-establishment sentiment and the...


  • It Was the Year America Grew Smaller Mar 17

    It was the one year in the 20th century that the United States population actually decreased in size. Several mood-driven events intersected to create a catastrophic outcome. The question is, what have we learned?...


  • Before Our Eyes: Mood from Wikileaks to Cuba to Vigilantes Mar 13

    Allow me to state the obvious:

    Nobody is ever not surprised.

    So: The important follow-up question is, "How often are you surprised?"

    A working knowledge of social mood trends really does reduce the element of "surprise" in how you read the news --...


  • Do Real Vigilantes Ever Really Wear White Hats? Mar 10

    The public loves portrayals of vigilante justice. Memorable vigilantes are sometimes a "good guy," other times they are ... something else. Why? Where did those characters come from? Are there ever "good guy" vigilantes in the real world? These...


  • "What the Stock Market Can Tell Us About the Greatest Threat to Life on Earth" Mar 06

    This week is a change of pace: The subject title might seem overstated, but it's not. It describes the all-too-serious special report in our just-published study by The Socionomist.


  • "Rational Man," or, Real Humans in the Real World Mar 03

    It's easy to ignore information that contradicts what you think you know. Yet it's hard later on to find out that the information was right -- and that you were mistaken. We've all been there, and most of us try to learn from our mistakes. But: you...


  • What University Professors Have in Common with Undocumented Immigrants Feb 27

    You don't often hear a discussion of what university professors have in common with undocumented immigrants. But, we're in a moment when the "not often discussed" dominates the headlines. What is the common denominator that links professors and...


  • On Mr. Trump: What I Knew THEN Is What I Know NOW Feb 24

    In February 2004, Robert Folsom wrote a column that was published by a major news site. Yes that was 13 years ago, but, in recent months, the subject of that column has become more relevant than ever. For this episode of Pop Trends, Price Culture,...


  • Global Uncertainty, Global Trade, Presidential Scandals: Three Topics, One Influence Feb 21

    Global uncertainty. Global trade. And, presidential scandals. These are the news topics we consider this week, and there's no need to explain just how relevant they are right now. Even so: what we can explain is how these issues reflect the...


  • Presidential Scandals How Much Damage Do They Do Feb 17

    Some Presidential scandals change history. Others are minor & don't involve the White House directly. But whether large or small, when the scandal s**t hits the fan, the president ends up 'wearing it' in some way.

    The real question is: "How...


  • The Best Defense Against Fake News Is ... Feb 13

    The meaning behind the words "fake news" makes it one of the fastest-moving phrases I've ever seen. A couple of months ago it described deliberately false journalism. Yet today, "fake news" has morphed into a word weapon some people use to discredit ...


  • Why a "Nation of Immigrants" Can't Agree On Immigration Feb 10

    Immigration policy has been an epic contradiction all thru U.S. history. America is "a nation of immigrants," yet major political trends in American frequently include outbursts of anti-immigration sentiment.

    Pop Trends, Price Culture offers a way...


  • Is this like 1968 ... Or 1937 ... Or 1984? Feb 06

    It's getting to harder and harder to find useful comparisons: Is this like 1968? ... or 1937? ... or 1984? Is he Reagan or Nixon or Andrew Jackson or Herbert Hoover? It may feel like we're orbiting around an unnamed planet, but rest assured: The law ...


  • A Book to Replace "Conventional Macroeconomics" Feb 03

    The Socionomic Theory of Finance presents the years-long work of Robert Prechter. Yet the book also includes 21 essays on socionomics from 12 other scholars, writers, researchers and analysts. That's exactly how a far-reaching new theory of finance...


  • Part Two: 3 Microphones on Mood, Politics and the "Peaceful" Transfer of Power Feb 01

    This episode of Pop Trends, Price Culture is part two of our January 27 "3 Microphones" discussion, with T.R., Alan Hall, and Robert Folsom.


  • 3 Microphones on Mood, Politics and the "Peaceful" Transfer of Power Jan 27

    In our first ever 3-microphone episode, Alan Hall, Senior Analyst for The Socionomist, joins Robert Folsom and T.R. for an open discussion of social mood, politics, and the "peaceful" transfer of power in Washington D.C.


  • Flowers Fire Powered, Globalization Crash & Burn, and No Mood for Honeymoon Jan 23

    The more interesting something seems, the more likely you are to engage with it emotionally. Interest and emotion are hard to keep separate -- the closer you look, the more your rational mind can begin to give way to the whims of like and dislike....


  • "Honeymoon"? Sorry Dear, I'm Not in the Mood Jan 20

    We're in uncharted territory. Donald Trump has defied political history at every turn. But, does history become irrelevant just because you're in uncharted territory? Water is still wet in uncharted territory, and if you cut yourself you'll probably ...


  • Where and When Art and Life Imitate Mood Jan 13

    Lots of critics say television has been in a second "Golden Era." But truth be told, the phrase 'Dark Golden Era' describes it better -- because the best shows in the past 15 years have indeed been a deep shade of "dark gold."  Listen in and...


  • Apologies, Fashion Police, and "Rural Purges" Jan 09

    Can apologies fall "out of fashion"?

    Yes indeed, especially grand-scale apologies made for grand-scale injustices done in the past. Negative vs. positive social mood drives the desire to express regret, or not.

    Listen on to hear what we see.


  • The Rural Purge: "The year CBS killed everything with a tree in it" Jan 06

    The 'Rural Purge' of the 1970-1971 season changed television forever -- it was fast, dramatic and revolutionary, yet it's all but unknown today. This historic transformation reveals an influence more powerful than historians and sociologists can...


  • Negative Social Mood ... Goes to A Baseball Game Dec 30

    It had been a bear market for a lot of years. The headlines were a parade of scary bad news. People were so polarized that fan groups began to hate on each another's music -- hostility so strong that it became its own trend. Then, an episode of this ...


  • Your Time and Choices in a Not-So-Typical Week Dec 27

    In a typical week, you have lots and lots of choices about what to read, hear and watch. But this week of the year is not typical -- it's the holidays. Meaning, your choices and time demands feel more crowded.

    Yet you chose to give a few moments of...


  • A Defense of Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge Dec 23

    There's no need to explain the name "Scrooge." It can be spoken playfully, but when someone uses that name seriously you know what it means: Heartless. Unforgiving. Spiteful in a season that calls for generosity. Yet for this Christmas season, Pop...


  • What Positive Mood Actually Does and When to Stay Current with Your Flu Shot Dec 19

    What does positive social mood actually do?

    For starters, if you're in a population that has enjoyed an extended period of positive mood, outbreaks of disease are less likely to happen. If mood is positive and you personally hold a relatively higher ...


  • His Voice Rings Like a Bell: Politics and the English Language Dec 16

    Political language is front & center today, more so than at any time in decades. News or fake news, plus liars, lies, damned lies and statistics, have blurred the line between fact, opinion, and shameless BS.

    This episode excerpts an essay that...


  • In a World of Increasing Opportunity, Why So Much World-Wide Political Anger? Dec 12

    More education. More information. More entertainment. More quality goods and services to consume…

    All this we have, or have available to us. When we live in a world with increasing opportunities to improve our own quality of life, then why do ...


  • RCA: 40 Years of Unrivaled Success, Yet Always "Catching Up" to 1929 Dec 09

    RCA had an unrivaled influence on 20th century entertainment technologies -- it was the path to stardom for dozens of performers in both the Golden Age of Radio and Television. Yet, RCA share price never truly caught up to 1929. What's the lesson?...


  • Where There's Smoke - and Where There's Not - There IS Social Mood Dec 05

    "Smoke" is the metaphor or image people commonly use to warn that the heat from a small combustion may soon become a much larger blaze. And that's the word that came to my mind in listening to Brian Whitmer's discussion of populist politics in...


  • The Russian Bear, "Pasta-bilities," and Smart Risks Nov 28

    I'm recording this before Thanksgiving, though you're listening to it afterward. I trust your holiday was a good one. Among my reasons to give thanks, nothing is more dear than the freedom to think for myself -- and we assume that readers of this...


  • Thanksgiving and the Merits of A Smart Risk Nov 25

    We don't usually think of The Pilgrims as "risk takers," but the fact is that they took risks on a scale few of us can even imagine. Yet the smartest risk the Pilgrims took is the one few people even know. Discover what it was in this episode of Pop ...


  • See the Bigger Picture: It Didn't Start with Trump or "Brexit" Nov 21

    "Global wave of anxiety" is how one news report put it, referring to election outcomes that include Trump and Brexit. Yet the scope of this "wave" goes beyond election politics -- the bigger context is a pronounced shift in the 500-year...


  • Observations on the "Trump Rally" Nov 18

    Earlier this week, we went to Google News and searched for "Trump market rally." Listen in and hear about a few of the headlines that popped up -- plus, how those headlines contrast with headlines from 8 years ago. That and more in the latest...


  • Mood Has Consequences: Post Election 2016 Nov 14

    Evidence of the profoundly polarized electorate could not be more clear: One presidential candidate won a narrow majority of the popular vote, the other presidential candidate prevailed in the Electoral College.

    There is a pre-condition for...


  • A Moment for the Man Who Defined Defiant Humor Nov 11

    Fifty years ago, he was a one-man counterculture defined by mood. Today he is no. 3 on Comedy Central's list of 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time. He never stopped defying the government that disapproved of his words. Get the full story from Pop...


  • A Last Look at "Before," So Buckle Up For the "After" Nov 07

    Next week we'll have one less topic to talk about. Well, to be exact, we'll have moved from the "before" to the "after."

    Point being, yes -- we all want the election to be over. But the trend that drives what comes next (including how the public...


  • "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" Nov 04

    It was a long time ago, but not so far away: A great historian's timeless essay defined an ugly black thread that is embedded in the fabric of U.S. history. "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" proved so insightful that it anticipated the...


  • Cyber Attack, Barbie, and Legal Cannabis: Unrandomly Chosen Oct 31

    If you were to randomly pick three stories from the "recent news" hat, you might come up with

    1) Marijuana, 2) Barbie, 3) Cyber attacks.

    They sure seem like random topics, right?

    Well, these stories are our picks this week, but they were not chosen...


  • How 80 Percent NO Became 60 Percent YES Oct 28

    If you watched the three presidential debates, maybe you thought to yourself, "I wish I could ask a question." Robert Folsom sure did. And he knows what his question would have been. In this episode of Pop Trends, Price Culture he recreates what...


  • Wikileaks Authoritarianism The Ever Braver New World in Biology The Election Oct 24

    As we prepare this episode each week, we usually remind ourselves that you're under no obligation to listen to it. The pressure is on us to make it worth your time -- which is how it should be. To know that you can move on with a simple mouse click...


  • Election Polls Accuracy and the Future Expression of Public Mood Oct 21

    If Pop Trends, Price Culture is still an active podcast during the NEXT presidential election cycle, we are definitely going to replay today's episode at the right time in the year 2020. Because what we say now will be even more true of the...


  • What Comes to Mind When Picking a President Hurts THIS Much Oct 17

    "My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over."

    Well, almost over. That comment is from Gerald Ford on August 9, 1974, after he was sworn in as President upon the resignation of Richard Nixon.

    At the risk of melodrama, I invoke that...


  • Life Imitates Art in the Last Ride of Stupid Season Oct 14

    Money. Politics. The media. Plus, subplots that include narcissism, greed, betrayal and sex scandals. Of course these issues lead today's news, yet this episode of Pop Trends, Price Culture offers hard evidence that this election cycle amounts to...


  • The End of 'Not Him!!' vs. 'Not Her!!' is Near. But What Then? Oct 10

    In less than a month, the "Not Him!!" vs. "Not Her!!" stories will come to an end.

    And soon after, one of the two major candidates will discover first-hand just how hard it is to head the Executive Branch of the federal government.

    This week's...


  • FDR The Words and Deeds of the Commander in Chief Oct 07

    Just before he was re-elected to his third term as president, Franklin D. Roosevelt assured the public that America would not go to war. But go to war it did -- complete with harsh anti-immigration laws, and tens of thousands of naturalized citizens ...


  • Election 2016: After All the Bluster and Outrage, Is There Still an "Untold" Story? Oct 03

    The 2016 election cycle has been very loud and long. So it's hard to imagine that there's a big "untold story" left to tell. Yet we believe we have one. Namely, that social mood has polarized the American electorate to levels unseen in almost 80...


  • The Words and Deeds of the Commander–in-Chief Sep 30

    For the past 100 years, social mood has been pivotal in America’s decisions to go to war. This episode of Pop Trends, Price Culture shows just how true this was for World War I – despite then-president Woodrow Wilson’s promises to...


  • Reefer. Group Membership. And, "All You Need is Love." Sep 24

    We've often commented on how mood is the thread that connects otherwise unrelated stories. This week, however, our topics blend beautifully. As in, marijuana, group membership, and The Beatles.

    Let's get started.


  • An Elementary School Near You? Sentiment & the "Return to Basics" Sep 23

    More than a half-dozen U.S. states have made it mandatory in elementary schools, and 40 more states may do likewise. Have you heard what's on the leading edge of instigating the "Return to Basics"? (hint: ink stains...)


  • American History's Greatest One-Man Barometer of Social Mood Sep 16

    Master political infighter. Student of human weakness. Bureaucrat supreme. Brilliant Machiavellian schemer. And, "American History's Greatest One-Man Barometer of Social Mood." Discover who this person was -- through a socionomic lens.


  • You Only THINK You're Solo When You Drive and Globalization Sep 10

    Driving your car is a solo activity. In truth, however, we're almost never truly alone when we drive…

    … Because, we have to share the road with other drivers. Sometimes lots and lots of other drivers. Meaning, road travel is a...


  • America's Oldest Political Controversy, Front and Center Again Sep 09

    Immigration policy has been an epic contradiction all thru U.S. history. America is “a nation of immigrants,” yet major political trends in American frequently include outbursts of anti-immigration sentiment. Pop Trends, Price Culture...


  • Larger World Fewer Friends Apologies Adults Become Kids Sep 04

    What is your "Unit of Allegiance"? Assuming you've considered the question, it would be easy to assume that our allegiances and loyalties expand as globalization grows. Yet, that assumption overlooks an equally powerful influence in what drives...


  • Grownups Become Kids Again, Best Sellers Follow Sep 02

    Which "unusual" category had three books climb to Amazon's list of 10 best-selling books in 2015? Hint: The last time anything like this happened, John F. Kennedy was in the White House and Barbara Streisand had a weird, sappy hit about these very...


  • How Scientific Racism Became an "Intellectual Craze" (part two) Aug 26

    It's easy to think that financial and social manias are fueled only by the unsophisticated and gullible crowd. Yet, please allow us to introduce you to the pseudoscience of Eugenics. That is the trend we discussed in our previous episode.


  • Mood Pulls Back the Curtain, Before the "News Cycle" Cycles Aug 20

    In the past few weeks the news has overflowed with stories about polarized politics, impotent politicians, and student debt. We've seen those stories too -- yet, we were talking about those issues long before they hit the "news cycle."


  • The Inexcusable Missing Chapter of U.S. History (part one) Aug 19

    This is one person's story. An anecdote. So why tell it? Because, this story personifies a trend that was much, much larger. What trend is that? Listen in to part one of the two-part tale.


  • Pot, Public Health and "The Great Bear" on the Move Aug 13

    There's so much mood-related news in the headlines that it's literally hard to know what to include in this week's update. So … how did we decide what to cover? Put simply, we went with the most important stories that the media is covering...


  • What is the Most Common Activity in America That Gets Citizens Arrested? Aug 12

    What is the most common activity in America that gets citizens arrested? It's a serious question. As you think about an answer, think also about how serious an arrest record is. It follows you like a brand to the forehead. It makes it harder to be...


  • Too Much News Moving Too Fast? How to Keep Your Eye on the Ball(s) That Matter Aug 06

    The speed and volume of news stories in recent weeks reminds me of the break at the start of a game of pool: The cue ball strikes a tight cluster of 15 other balls, which move so fast that your eye simply can't follow every one of them. So you have...


  • If the Candidates DO Debate, Here's What They WON'T Talk About Aug 05

    Hillary says Trump is a bigot. Trump says Hillary is the devil. This is the verbal artillery we expect to hear only in the final, desperate days of the campaign. What's left to say once you've spoken those words about your opponent? It's only the...


  • Let's Ask Again: What Are You Afraid Of? Jul 29

    Does news coverage of "threats" help you know what the threats really are? How DO you think about real vs. perceived threats -- to your safety, health, and life? And, what the heck do bookmakers have to do with these questions? Check out this...


  • An Explanation of the Pokémon Go Craze You Won't Hear Elsewhere Jul 22

    Why are so many people are playing Pokémon Go? For starters, it's lighthearted fun. Catching Pokémon is kind of like when you chased fireflies as a kid -- they're cool. You want to catch 'em, not kill 'em. And, hordes of Millennials...


  • Why People Keep Asking, "Is This 1968?" Jul 15

    There's an old saying in war and in politics: "Never interrupt your opponent when he's destroying himself." Yet the two major-party candidates can't even follow that simple wisdom -- which is one of the many reasons we explore, Why People Keep...


  • How Music Captured the Grief of A Collapsing World (rebroadcast) Jul 08

    As the world was falling apart, a towering maestro gave the world an exquisite composition that both captured and reflected the grievous sentiment of that time. This week's episode of Pop Trends, Prices Culture tells that exceptional story...


  • The Coming Incivility - No Handshakes After This Election Jul 01

    Even hard-core political junkies have labored to keep up with the 2016 election headlines. Yet in the onslaught of news, there is a huge untold story: Social mood is depopulating the two major political parties…


  • How to Keep Your Head Above the Waves of News Jun 25

    Socio News in 200 Seconds | Throughout this year, the past few weeks, even the past couple of days -- the waves of memorable news keep rolling in. There's little reason to think the pace will slow down anytime soon. We help ensure that you see what...


  • The Moral Panic That Tamed the 10-Cent Plague Jun 24

    Before the moral panics that tried to stamp out rock-n-roll, video game violence and satanic ritual abuse, came the first -- and most successful -- crusade to stop the "Seduction of the Innocent." The fact that most people don't know about it tells...


  • Sugar. Politics. Nazis. Orlando - and more. Jun 18

    Socio in the News in 200 Seconds | Our line-up of topics this week offers a lot to learn, from why Nazis are the ultimate bad guys to a sugar tax to stocks & politics -- even a commentary on "Why Orlando?" It's worth your time to (please) listen ...


  • Before and After Orlando Jun 17

    If a nation can have a bad week, then the week beginning Sunday June 12 was pretty awful. We all know about the mass shooting in Orlando. Yet what followed only made things worse. The murder of 49 people has been grotesquely politicized -- far MORE...


  • The Pitfalls of Trend Extrapolation, Europe's Right Wing, and "The Greatest" Jun 11

    Socio in the News in 200 Seconds | Do you understand the pitfalls of cause and effect, action and reaction and trend extrapolation? The correct understanding -- as in, you "get it" in a way you can use -- really is within your grasp. It can begin...


  • The Greatest? Yes, and Eventually the Whole Planet Agreed Jun 08

    In the 20th century or any other, there's never been a one-man intersection of sports, politics and pop culture, the way we witnessed in Muhammad Ali. Yet this podcast is not mere tribute. We do have something to add, a relevant context to the epic...


  • The Benefits of Anticipating Instability Jan 01

    Violence. Intrigue. Dissent.

    Those were the themes in this week's news … and more of the same may be ahead.

    Yet, instability can be a lot more stable if you see it coming -- from the fate of large political unions, to the eclipse of a...


Robert Folsom has covered politics, popular culture, economics and the financial markets for more than 25 years, via print, radio, video and digital content. Robert has served as a writer and editor with Elliott Wave International since 1992. From 2000 to 2007, his 5-day per week blog on elliottwave.com built an investor readership of some 70,000, who read Robert's unique perspective on everything from media follies to mass psychology to under-reported facts about investing.