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Marketplace: Amazon Pursues High-end Fashion
Airing on Friday, March 27, 2015: Amazon is reportedly in talks to buy the London-based luxury online fashion retailer Net-A-Porter. This would be a significant acquisition for Amazon both in terms of the size of the deal and its nature — the E-commerce giant is so far not known for its presence in the high-end fashion market. Plus, word came this week that Facebook has been testing drones in the U.K. that can beam Internet access to the ground via laser. The drone industry is growing fast, even as U.S. regulations on unmanned aircraft continue to be worked out. We look at what the U.S. risks losing if it lags on rulemaking.
Marketplace: Congress Doctors Medicare Solution
Airing on Thursday, March 26, 2015: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a bunch of new rules for payday lenders. But why do payday lenders even exist? The fact is, people need them, and the reason they need them is because there is no alternative. The U.S. has a large gap in its financial infrastructure that other countries have plugged with reputable, often government-sponsored institutions. Why don’t’ we have something similar here? Plus, Congress is close to finally coming up with a long-term solution to how doctors who see Medicare patients are paid. It’s been almost 20 years of patchwork fixes. But in fixing a problem that dates to 1997, the government would force doctors to make some much needed upgrades they haven’t yet had to make, like being able to provide patient outcome data. Also, the airline industry isn’t like other industries. It’s nearly unique in that when a plane goes down — no matter which carrier it’s with — the entire industry is affected. And everyone who’s flying, thinking about flying, working for an airline, etc., feels more vulnerable. We look at how that phenomenon plays out, and the types of plans/approaches the industry puts into motion after a crash.
Marketplace: BBC Fires Controversial Host
Airing on Wednesday March 25, 2015: The Republican budget proposal — more a political document than a financial one, to be sure — is up for votes in Congress today and tomorrow. Like the president’s budget before it, this one is expected to find away around some of the spending cuts laid out under sequestration. The wiggling around and out of those across-the-board cuts started pretty much as soon as they were enacted, and is a good lesson in how federal spending works these days. We explore. Plus, the BBC today announced it is not renewing the contract of Jeremy Clarkson, host of the car show “Top Gear,” who is said to have assaulted his producer. The show is massively popular globally and brings in sales worth an estimated $50 million a year. The gruff Clarkson is a big part of its success despite complaints about his past comments on the show, which many viewers see as racist. We take a look at the business calculation of firing a controversial host.
Marketplace: Facebook's New Partnership
Airing on Tuesday, March 24, 2015: Three banks have had their "living wills" turned down by regulators. Living wills are instructions that you draw up for doctors and lawyers and accountants, to facilitate your demise and the arrangement of your estate, should you become incapacitated. Pretty simple, really. So why is it so hard for banks? Plus, Facebook is quietly holding talks with at least half a dozen media companies about hosting their content. Details on how this will actually work are scarce but why does Facebook want to do this and why would media companies agree? We investigate.
Marketplace: RadioShack Glitches Then Shuts Off
Airing on Monday, March 23, 2015: RadioShack is bankrupt. So bankrupt that it has gone beyond the usual "let’s work it out with our lenders" scenario, and moved directly to a "let’s tear the company to pieces and sell off the bits" approach. Hedge funds are squabbling over the company like vultures fighting over a coyote carcass, and the bones go to the highest bidder. How did it come to this? We explore. Plus, the World Health Organization just announced that the widely-used weed-killer, Roundup, is a likely carcinogen in humans. How much of this stuff are we eating and how much would it cost farmers and us if we stopped using it?
Marketplace: Solar Eclipse Makes Little Waves In Europe
Airing on Friday, March 20, 2015: Nothing happened today in Europe. Nothing, that is, except a solar eclipse. And that’s a good thing that nothing happened. Europe, especially Germany, counts on solar power for a good chunk of its electricity, and utilities were concerned that their grids would have trouble dealing with a relatively quick shutdown of solar power. It’s a vivid illustration of how basic power grids have to be rebuilt and re-engineered to keep up with new sources of electricity. We explain. Plus, the FCC ruled against the cable companies on Net Neutrality in the hope of making the Internet a utility, and ensuring that all our data is treated equally. Now it’s time for the cable companies to find a way to get what they want anyway, by finding and exploiting existing loopholes, or creating new ones.
Marketplace: Should Fracking Pay For Earthquake Damage?
Airing on Thursday, March 19, 2015: A Minnesota judge is set to approve Target’s proposed $10 million settlement today in the class-action lawsuit over the retailer’s huge data breach back in 2013. But it might be hard for victims to collect any money as they will have to prove they were harmed by the breach and that is typically hard to do. We explore. Plus, there’s a drumbeat of science pointing to a link between fracking and earthquakes. A new report this month says Oklahoma will experience more damaging quakes as fracking there “reactivates” seismic faults. Meanwhile the State’s Supreme Court is already hearing a case on whether oil and gas firms can be held liable for earthquake-related damage. Also, the recording industry earned more from streaming than from CDs for the first time last year. But just as striking, music revenue has settled at a level only half of its peak 15 years ago. What happened to those billions of dollars? We investigate this and more.
Marketplace: Euro Interferes With Luxury Brand Plans
Airing on Wednesday, March 18, 2015: Lots of Americans are thinking about European vacations this year because the Euro has become so cheap. But luxury brands like Chanel aren’t happy about some of the tourists who are buying up their products in Paris. The price difference for Chanel between Paris and China has grown so wide that Chinese tourists are flying around the world to buy handbags and other luxury items, which is undermining these brands’ strategies of opening stores in China itself. Plus, Kraft Food Group’s shares are already down after its recall of around 6-and-a-half million boxes of Macaroni and cheese. The voluntary recall came after some consumers complained of finding metal pieces in the food. We explain how recalls work, whether consumers pay attention and the economic cost to the companies involved.
Marketplace: Pinterest Doubles In Valuation
Airing on Tuesday, March 17, 2015: ICANNs decision to allow all sorts of new new domain suffixes is causing a stir in corporate circles. Companies are all hot under the collar about dot sucks, claiming that people will open up domain names such as coke.sucks and hold companies to ransom. How much do companies care about this kind of negative campaigning. And how much will they pay to snuff it out? Plus, Pinterest says it’s now raised $367 million, giving it a valuation of $11 billion. Like Snapchat, this doubles Pinterest's valuation in less than a year. And, like Snapchat, the fact that Pinterest is now selling ads is named as the reason. Why are these targets audiences so attractive to advertisers and is Pinterest’s female-centric user base particularly alluring? We explore.
Marketplace: History Repeats Itself In The Form Of China
Airing on Monday, March 16, 2015: China finds itself where the United States was in the 1960’s: economic growth has polluted the skies, and the population is demanding clean air as a piece of prosperity. But just like the auto industry in the U.S. fought regulation, China’s state-supported industries are pushing ahead, pumping out pollution along with steel, concrete and electricity. History repeats. Plus, the pressure on big networks like Facebook and Twitter to keep their houses in order is growing as social media networks grow and have to combat everything from trolls to ISIS. We look at the growing costs of keeping social media sites in check — both monetary and otherwise, and what’s at stake.
Marketplace: Proposing An Older Age Limit For Smoking
Airing on Friday, March 13, 2015: Teach for America received nearly 44,000 applications by last week’s deadline — 12 percent fewer than last year. Is this a correction given the improving labor market or are potential applicants finding better public service opportunities elsewhere. Plus, this week the FDA released a report suggesting the legal age to buy cigarettes should jump from 18 to 21. The savings to public health costs would be significant, but on the other side of that economic equation is the U.S. tobacco industry. It’s worth $100 billion a year, but for how much longer?
Marketplace: Stress Examining Hospitals And Banks
Airing on Thursday, March 12, 2015: How’s this for a terrifying number: Your chance of surviving any of four high-risk surgeries varies by 23 percent, depending on which hospital you choose. We unpack why that is and what consumers ought to make of it. Plus, do all these stress tests mean our banks are safe now — safe as in, is it “safe” to eat that piece of sushi in your local Japanese restaurant safe? How do the fed tests compare to how the Department of Health checks on the safety of restaurants? We explain. Also, the FTC is taking DirecTV to court, claiming that its advertising for a popular $20 package was deceptive to customers and that the terms were not properly disclosed. But complicated terms and extra fees buried in the fine print are part of an advertising model that’s used across the industry. We take a broader look at this model and ask why it’s in place.
Marketplace: Major Currencies Weaken As The Dollar Remains Strong
Airing on Wednesday, March 11, 2015: Four years after Japan turned off its nuclear generators because of the Fukushima disaster, the country is struggling to build a new electricity network. The country has invested heavily in solar, but its experience reveals the challenges involved in integrating this intermittent source of power into a grid maintained by traditional utilities. We explore. Plus, as the dollar remains strong against other major currencies such as the Euro and the Yen, we ask what is the effect on the average consumer? And after, one of the things the Department of Justice criticized the Ferguson Police Department for was its aggressive ticketing policies — and Ferguson is not the first or the only department to be censured for this. To what extent do police departments around the country use fines — from speeding, to parking, to running red lights — to keep them in the black. And how ethical is this as a business model for a public service. This and more.
Marketplace: A Living Social Security Death List
Airing on Tuesday, March 10, 2015: An audit from the Inspector General says the Social Security Administration lists more than 6 million people born before 1901 as still alive. The real number is about three dozen, and that’s worldwide. There’s a cost to this inefficient record keeping — not just a loss in trust in government, but also the increased potential for fraud. After all, information from that Social Security master list of deaths gets sold publicly. We investigate. Plus, we explain the market factors contributing to current losses on Wall Street. Also, is the app-based service economy killing the full-time job? We take a look at the down side of what some call the Uber economy.
Marketplace: Watch Those Bribes And Buybacks
Airing on Monday, March 9, 2015: There’s a saying in politics — “The only difference between a campaign contribution and a bribe is timing.” When it comes to filing criminal charges, that sentiment may not be too far off. With Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey likely facing corruption charges, we look at how the law and the courts figure out the line between contributions and bribes. Plus, a group of hedge funds decided they didn’t like the fact that General Motors has a large amount of cash sitting around in the bank doing nothing. The group threatened to try to get a troublemaker on the GM board unless the company agreed to buy back $5 billion of its shares, and return that cash to its shareholders. GM caved, and the buyback begins soon. We look at who benefits when a company buys back shares. And who loses. Also, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage today to talk about the Apple watch in a live streaming event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, California. How will the company’s focus on wearable technology affect its retail space and how will the store shopping public respond? We investigate.
Marketplace: Apple Joins Dow
Airing on Friday, March 6, 2015: Another oil train derailment —this one outside Galena, Illinois. Based on the amount of oil shipped by rail, federal authorities estimate there could be a dozen of these a year or so. We look at what the U.S. will propose for greater safety and whether railroads will stop being secretive about where oil trains are running. Plus, Apple joins the Dow and AT&T gets the boot. We what the means for Dow and Apple.
Marketplace: Dollar Signs On The Doilies
Airing on Thursday, March 5, 2015: China has just set 7 percent as its target for annual growth, which would be its slowest growth in years. But what would 7 percent growth look like in the U.S.? Is it even possible in a developed country like the U.S.? We investigate. Plus, Etsy will be one of the biggest tech IPOs to come out of New York in recent years. But Etsy was built on a philosophy of handmade and small-scale — its roots are in the “maker movement”. How will this sit with a shiny future on Wall Street? We explore the culture clash behind the ETSY IPO. And after, oil prices are up. But futures prices are even higher. This creates a situation that oil traders call ‘contango.” The situation is now becoming so extreme that some banks are calling it “super contango.” What does it mean? It means some people are gonna make bank. And unlike most plays in the commodity markets, this one comes with no risk and a cast-iron guarantee to make money.
Marketplace: Sweet Briar Closes Its doors
Airing on Wednesday, March 4, 2015: Toyota’s appointment of a French executive as its first executive vice president from outside Japan is a cultural landmark as well as a business one. Japan frets over its economic “Galapagos Syndrome,” a concern that its cultural insularity makes it noncompetitive in global markets. Toyota’s move to open its top ranks is a major shift we look to explore. Plus, off the back of the revelation that Hillary Clinton used private emails for State department business, we ask whether, and to what extent, other corporate leaders also do this, why they do this, and what the regulatory and security implications are. Also, the small all-girl liberal arts college Sweet Briar will pull the plug on itself, at the end of the semester because of “insurmountable financial challenges”. While Sweet Briar may be unusual for doing this before things totally fall apart, lots of small liberal arts schools, especially regional ones, are facing the same scary future. We investigate.
Marketplace: The Money Behind Netanyahu's Speech
Airing on Tuesday, March 3, 2015: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address before a joint meeting of Congress this morning was about Iran and its nuclear program. But it was also about politics. And where politics go, money is sure to be close behind. We investigate. Plus, the dating app Tinder just came out with a premium model. If you want to swipe through more than 100 profiles you'll have to pay up — $10 a month for users under 28 and $19.99 for anyone older. How will this new pricing affect how consumers use the plus version of the popular app given its lack of endless, free swipes? This and more.
Marketplace: Jeep Expands Internationally
Airing on Monday, March 2, 2015: Google is going into the mobile business and will begin building out a network in the coming months. We look at why the tech giant has decided to venture into this sector, how it will work, and how it make money in this crowded marketplace? Plus, in a short amount of time Fiat-Chrysler is transforming the iconic but American-centric Jeep into an international brand. The Jeep renegade is now built in Brazil and Italy and will soon start production in China and India. The company expects to be rewarded with a huge increase in sales. We investigate.