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03-07-2014 - A Marketplace Special - The new Cold War?
No, it's not like everybody's opening up their fallout shelters. But c'mon, there has been a certain Cold War quality to the past week. This time, though, it's international trade and not tactical nukes that's the real weapon. So today, a Marketplace special: "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Global Economy." We get the perspective on the ground in Ukraine, and give a breakdown of exactly which parts of Ukraine's economy have the most impact in the world. And in this global economy, we look at what the idea of a global superpower really means.
03-06-2014 - Marketplace - Gas, bananas, and death
We look at how the natural gas boom in this country could be used a weapon in geopolitics -- by undercutting Vladimir Putin and Russia's dominance of Europe's fuel. And, though there are so many wonderful uses for them, bananas are doomed. At least according to one writer with Quartz. Meanwhile, we're following up on the news of yet another delay in the Affordable Care Act. People enrolled in plans that don't meet the law's stricter coverage standards can keep them for another two years. That potentially buys Democrats some political cover in the coming mid-term elections. The question, though, is who picks up the tab?
03-05-2014 Marketplace - Khaleesi heat
A new SAT is being revealed today. We look at the substantive difference -- and how they'll play into the market, where the SAT is losing ground to the ACT. Next: The new head of Obama’s Economic Council has an unorthodox background – he’s not an economist, for a start. So what does this say about the any new direction and expectations for the job? And finally, after a honeymoon period of through-the-roof ratings, HBO’s Game Of Thrones is losing out in the ratings. So they're turning to rappers.
03-04-2014 Marketplace -- Radio's sad shack
Natural gas is one of the most important components of the Ukraine equation -- Europe is a big consumer, and Russia has a significant surplus. We ask what role natural gas plays in this conflict, and how it has affected the behavior of countries on both sides. Plus: Radio Shack’s latest survival strategy is to close 25 percent of its stores. In its 90-year history, Radio Shack has attached itself to – and let slip from its grasp – nearly every new consumer technology, from that new invention the radio, to hi-fi, home computers and wireless. Finally: Dish Network has cut a deal with Disney, allowing it to stream content from ABC shows and channels. The deal is the first of its kind. But in exchange, Dish has agreed to limit the use of controversial ad-skipping technology on its digital video recorders, for which it was being sued not just by ABC but other major networks as well.
03-03-2014 Marketplace -- Car Wars
As tensions rise in Ukraine, the Russian economy is feeling the effects. The Russian currency, the ruble, has fallen to an all-time low against the dollar and the Euro. Plus: Apple and car manufacturers now let drivers use their iPhones to make calls, play music, get directions with a touch or a voice command. Apple's "CarPlay" technology comes this week to Ferrari, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz cars. Android is also going after the car. We navigate the tech war in your car dashboard. Finally, new sulfur emission rules coming from the EPA throw a spotlight on cost-benefit analysis: weighing immediate costs of wringing more sulfur out of emissions, against long-term health and economic benefits from less smog.
02-28-2014 Marketplace -- The franchised sandwich
So, you went ahead and bought some bit coin. Now a large exchange is filing for bankruptcy because of a theft. How do you, how can you, protect your investment? Plus: After word that Quiznos is close to filing for bankruptcy, we take stock of what it takes to open a fast-food franchise. They may seem mostly the same, but the start-up and licensing costs vary widely.
02-27-2014 Marketplace -- Freddie Mac, money-spinner
When Freddie Mac hands the Treasury a $10.4 billion dividend next month, taxpayers will have received almost $82 billion back for the $71.3 billion in support the mortgage giant received during the financial crisis. We look at whether the arguments for getting rid of Freddie and sibling company Fannie Mae– made back in the financial crisis – still hold. Next, the federal highway tax hasn’t been increased since 1993... and the Highway Transportation Fund is running out of money.
02-26-2014 Marketplace -- Busted
Corporations are urging the governor of Arizona to veto legislation that would allow businesspeople to refuse service to gays. The corporations say this could harm their ability to do business in the state. We look at how corporations could be affected, and how a state could be affected if it bucks corporations. Also: Credit Suisse is the subject of a Senate hearing today. The IRS says bankers at CS helped US citizens hide bank accounts, and thus dodge We report on how these tax dodgers got their dollars out of the US, and what will happen to them, now that they’ve been busted. Finally, Target says the security breach that hit its stores between Thanksgiving and Christmas cost the company $61 million. But the net loss is only $17 million, thanks to cyber insurance policies Target had to hedge its risk about this kind of threat.
02-25-2014 Marketplace -- Exchange-in-box
Connecticut is acting like an entrepreneur. It got its health exchange up and running effectively, and now it’s trying to sell its exchange-in-a-box to other states. Plus: Beijing correspondant Rob Scmithz explains how Weibo fits into the broader Chinese Internet-scape. Finally: Customers in the Northeast and Midwest are about to get big natural gas bills, and not only because they used a lot of gas during the freezing month of January.
02-24-2014 Marketplace - Army rationing
The Obama administration wants to shrink the Army to its smallest size since the buildup to U.S. involvement in World War II. Plus, airlines and travelers are increasingly antsy about the screening drill at airports, and the TSA has a March 11 deadline for bids for new screening machines. We look at the hang-up in getting people through airports quickly – is it technology, or the cost? And: Netflix breaks down and pays Comcast directly for faster access. Who’s next to collect -- Verizon, AT&T? More to the point, who picks up the check? Us?
02-21-2014 Marketplace - Hibernation debt
It seems the fever over U.S. debt has broken, if President Obama’s budget blueprint is any indication. Public opinion polls show it’s no longer a top issue, the economy is improving, and advocacy groups dedicated to solving the long-term deficit have petered out. But that doesn’t mean the fight over debt is gone. It’s just hibernating. Next, producers of “Anchorman 2” are releasing a new movie, “Anchorman 2 and a half,” which is the original “Anchorman 2” with all new jokes, taken from the outtakes. 700 jokes.
02-20-2014 Marketplace - Miami to San Francisco
Gap announces it will raise wages of its lowest-paid workers above the current minimum wage. Walmart and other chains are looking at doing something like this. We examine the factors that go into their decision making. Next, Facebook’s $19 billion bid for WhatsApp essentially means it’s paying $42 per WhatsApp subscriber. That’s $12 more per user than Facebook paid for Instagram. Finally, a new report on inequality from Brookings looks at which American cities have the highest and lowest rates of inequality. What impact does the gap have on vibrancy, and quality of life?
02-19-2014 Marketplace - Zero loyalty
New housing starts are down in January, but up year-to-year. We examine the mortgage factor – what role strict lending standards and rising rates have on buyers. Also, consumer debt is up, particularly among people with lower incomes and young adults. The economy depends on people borrowing and spending more, but this might not be a great sign -- we ask whether people are getting over-extended once again. Finally, Netflix seems to be slowing down. Why? Because the people who provide the pipes that Netflix streams through for free want Netflix to pay for that privilege. This flies in the face of net neutrality rulings, but the fact is that other big web firms do pay a premium for faster service.
02-18-2014 Marketplace - Candy, Crushing
The President announced new EPA targets today regarding fuel efficiency for heavy-duty trucks. It’s part of his much-talked-about strategy of going around Congress to get things done. But given how ambitious these new goals are, it raises the question of how much power the administration has to go around an industry in requiring new rules. Next, IPO wannabe King Digital Entertainment has made a lot of money out of peoples’ impatience: its top offering, Candy Crush, is free to play, but it makes money from impatient players who want to buy shortcuts in the game - a dubiously sustainable business model. Finally, loan applications for home purchases have slipped in recent months. One reason: student loan burdens have grown, which keeps would-be first-time home buyers out of the market.
02-17-2014 Marketplace -- President's Day peculiarities
It’s cold in some places and hot in others and that does funny things to tan lines, foliage and the economy. Plus: Without regulation, the rail industry has resorted to using pricing to impact how oil and natural gas are delivered by train. And: A check-in on the fifth year of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, iPads in schools, and those sleeved NBA jerseys.
02-14-2014 - Netflix of Cards
President Obama’s aid for Western states hurt by drought shows the limits of what can be done without… rain. His main point, buried in his plan, is to look forward to continued climate change and prepare communities and industries to be “resilient” in the face of new conditions. Plus, the latest digital area of intense competition is messaging apps, which provide wide-ranging communication services that will challenge not only instant messaging, but also companies like Skype. Later, Pandora uses what it knows about our musical taste to lure political advertisers. The promise and the peril. And finally: The debut of the second season of the smash hit House of Cards doesn’t just mark the success of Netflix – it’s also an indicator of the enormous changes wrought in the televisual entertainment business.
02-13-2014 - Marketplace - Cable behemoth
Comcast’s merger with Time Warner cable will create the biggest cable company in the nation – if not the world. If it goes through, it would leave few competitors for Comcast in the cable business. Plus, how "seasonally adjusted" works in economic statistics – since this winter season is adjusting a lot of economic behavior in much of the country. Finally, Verizon has responded to the competition by cutting prices, adding more data and international texting with a new "More Everything" plan. As smartphones become ubiquitous – are mobile companies forced to focus less on bringing in new users and more on picking off customers from competitors?
02-12-2014 Marketplace -- She's all plastic
A very significant study is out that sheds considerable doubt on the value of regular mammograms. We look at how this might affect the industry and the machine that has sprung up around the screening test. Next, the subject of Sports Illustrated ’s swimsuit issue is…. Barbie. How did this happen? Who is going to be excited about this publishing event? Finally, legislation in New York would make NY the first state to ban microbeads used as scouring devices in facial creams and toothpastes, catching up to studies showing the beads are entering the aquatic food chain because they’re too small to be filtered out by water treatment systems.
02-11-2014 Marketplace - Era of good feelings?
Behold the new Era of Good feelings on Capitol Hill? Well, maybe not quite. The latest on the state of play, as well as an assessment of whether the government has finally managed to get out of its own way and create the certainty that markets, investors and business leaders say they need. Also: The College Board's AP tests have become a highly successful product line -- more students are taking the tests, which don’t come cheap. Finally, New York may be the first state to ban microbeads used as scouring devices in facial creams and toothpastes, catching up to studies showing the beads are entering the aquatic food chain because they’re too small to be filtered out by water treatment systems. Some companies have pledged to switch to natural materials.
02-10-2014 Marketplace -
The non-profit makes a deal with Getty to stock more pictures of empowered women. We look at how stock photos have taken over the image world, what the move can mean, and what it can’t do (change needs to come from the demand side, and not just the supply side). In other familiar pictures, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong is in the news again, having delivered yet another mea culpa related to his fast mouth and poor choice of words. How many passes does the man get before he loses his job? And, in medical news, rather than getting paid based on how many tests they do, but on whether their patients get better and stay better. So healthcare providers are looking for comparatively inexpensive ways to improve outcomes. Enter the “lay community health worker.”