NPR economy

The story of the birth of accounting begins with numbers. In the 1400s, much of Europe was still using Roman numerals, and finding it really hard to easily add or subtract. (Try adding MCVI to XCIV.)

But fortunately, Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) started catching on, and with those numbers, merchants in Venice developed a revolutionary system we now call "double-entry" bookkeeping. This is how it works:

U.S. student loan debt tops $1 trillion, and young people face disproportionately high unemployment. Writer Joel Kotkin points to these numbers when he claims today's millennial generation is getting the short end of the stick. Kotkin speaks with Tell Me More host Michel Martin about his Newsweek/Daily Beast article on what he calls the "screwed generation."