Every weekday on Marketplace, Kai Ryssdal hosts a lively and unexpected exploration of the day’s business and economic news from Wall Street to your wallet.
Airing on Monday, March 30, 2015: A number of CEOs are making a stand on Indiana and pulling out of potentially lucrative deals there. Tim Cook of Apple planted a flag in an op-ed today. This has raised the ire of conservative shareholders, but these CEOs appear unfazed. They appear to be taking a leaf out of the activist shareholder book, standing on principle and behaving like activist CEOs, regardless of the short-term cost. What is it that makes a CEO an activist? What are the risks of being an activist? And what is it that makes them so confident? Plus, we look at why Lufthansa may be vulnerable to unlimited liability in the crash of its Germanwings airliner, and what unlimited liability in the death of 150 people can mean to an airline. Also, Rhodes scholarships are coming to China. The prestigious grant program that sends promising students to the University of Oxford wants to cultivate a more diverse crop of young people. Selecting college students in China is expected to be the first step in a process that could eventually include Brazil, Russia, Israel and much of the developing world. How will this help the organization financially and benefit the students from these countries?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?