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, we'll check in on business in Hong Hong amid the protests. Financial markets were closed there for the first of two days of planned national holidays. The time off work prompted some families to come out and view the pro-democracy demonstrations, a bet that there would be no crackdown by authorities at least for now. And now that it's October, medical charities make the big push for dollars; Down Syndrome Awareness month, Breast Cancer Awareness and more. We take a look at the business of charitable months. Plus, U.S. Military personnel get discounts on a variety of products at the commissary. But a piece of next year's spending bill would eliminate the discount for tobacco. Supporters of the change highlight the $1.6 billion that the defense department spends on tobacco-related health issues.
There's news today about which country will end the year as the top producer of petroleum. It's a statistic that is altering both the oil market and geopolitics. And with tomorrow being the first of October, one year since the roll-out of healthcare.gov, the texture of health care in America is changing. For instance, there's been disruption in the old pattern of health care providers sending bills and the insurance companies paying their portion. Now, some insurers are tying what they pay to how well the doctors, hospitals, and labs are doing their job. Plus, call it "Social and Environmental investing," call it "Impact Investing," applying our personal values to our portfolios is not a new idea. One big example in the 1980s, when college students forced their universities to sell their stakes in companies that did business with apartheid South Africa. But now a group of countries has come together and is recommending that governments help impact investing become an even more powerful force for making the world a better place.
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.