Marketplace Morning Report
Start your day with an up-to-the-minute report on the world of business and finance with host David Brancaccio.
First up, questions are being raised on whether Apple and other companies took advantage of illegal tax arrangements. The European Union is reportedly set to take Apple and Ireland to task for what regulators see as a sweetheart tax deal for the Silicon Valley giant. Plus, you think of the ATM as a way to get money, but a new study shows that increasingly, it's the other way around. Bankrate.com released a survey today showing that ATM fees are up as much as 5 percent in some parts of the country. And an update on the art of the steal: over the past few years there have been a number of legal spats between artists accusing other artists of swiping their concept. Richard Prince, or the late David Smith come to mind. Stealing art is legally okay...except when it's not. More on how that vagueness is a thorn in the side of the expensive art market.
The FBI says companies are losing thousands, if not millions of dollars, in stolen trade secrets and other valuable data when disgruntled former employees hack behind company firewalls. One problem is the increased use of the so-called "cloud" in the form of Dropbox or Google docs. That's making it relatively easy for folks to gain access to their former jobs. And as Marketplace celebrates its 25th birthday this year, we are looking at the surprising, sometimes delightful and sometimes destructive ways that prices have changed during that quarter century. For example, a medium capacity window air conditioner, in 80's style faux wood paneling could be had for $300. Factor in inflation and that's like $575 now. An equivalent 8000 BTU window AC unit, again Kenmore, today goes for just $219. But although the price tag is way cheaper in real terms, here's the concern when it comes to household budgets and climate change: when something like this gets so much cheaper, it changes our behavior.
Air France pilots today won what analysts say is a major victory on this 11th day of a strike. Air France management has offered to scrap plans to expand its low-cost partner airline called Transavia that pilots regarded as a threat to their livelihoods. The pilots are now considering the offer. And in the US the Great Recession laid the consumer low. Over the last six years, Americans have been more careful about major purchases, although once their cars and trucks wore out, they had little choice but to go back to dealerships. They've been careful about buying houses, big appliances, shopped deep discount, and paid down debt. Now, Consumer Reports magazine has crunched the numbers and concluded that we are ready to spend again. Plus, in sports when a team goes to hire a manager, what's the first and foremost metric? Wins and losses. One would think the same's true in politics when hiring a campaign manager or political consultant. But as we found out, it's not so clear cut.
India is celebrating its Sputnik moment with news it successfully put an unmanned/unwomaned craft into Mars orbit. It was a mission accomplished on the cheap, quieting critics who thought there were better uses for this money. Plus, the west-coast grocery chain "Smart and Final" aims to raise $100 million selling a brand new stock today. The company plans to expand a line of stores that are something like small Costco without appliances or membership fees. And a day after the Obama administration moved to clamp down on the corporate tax-cutting maneuver known as the "inversion," there are reports that at least two big U.S. companies are undeterred. More on the news that the big drugs company Pfizer is still interested in buying Actavis and that Burger King will move forward on buying Tim Horton's of Canada.
First up, we have details of a new Obama Administration crackdown on the corporate tax reduction scheme known as the "inversion." That's the controversial maneuver where a U.S. company acquires a foreign firm, in part to lower its U.S. tax bill by taking a foreign street address. Now, the Treasury Department has taken a big step toward thwarting the practice. Plus, China's online commerce giant Alibaba trades on the New York Stock Exchange as of Friday. But investors are awaiting another big new stock to hit the market. The price of the new shares of Citizens Financial Group are expected to be set later today in what could be the largest bank IPO since Goldman Sachs in 1999. But, it's a stock offering born in adversity. And $4 might get you a fancy cup of coffee...maybe. But at a handful of Walmarts in the South, store employees can get a medical checkup for $4.The company just opened up two more primary care clinics in Macon, Georgia and Tyler, Texas.
A major grocery store chain based in Europe but with U.S. connections is grappling with a case of accounting irregularities. The apparent "Rob Peter to Pay Paul"-style accounting has surfaced at Tesco, the British grocery store company that started Fresh and Easy in the U.S. and has global sales that are often second only to Walmart. A Tesco whistleblower is helping authorities with the investigation. Plus, an estimated 310,000 people took to the streets in New York City on Sunday, calling for policy action on climate change. The demonstration aimed to draw the world's attention to the issue, with United Nations Climate Change Summit kicking off tomorrow. And we have entered the autumn, and it's later this fall when policymakers at the federal reserve are set to taper away their stimulus. This is the extraordinary bond-buying designed to keep the U.S. economy flush with cash as we moved out of the financial crisis. As the special bond buying comes to an end, it's is a useful moment to think about alternatives for next time. The next time a country needs emergency stimulus, instead of central bank bonds, how about if the government just hands out cash, right and left, willy nilly?