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.
Forget long, involved marketing campaigns. Beyoncé released a 14-song album last night online (with videos!), no promotion, no announcement. Is this the sort of trick that only the super-est of superstars can pull off? Next, Twitter’s done of the fastest-ever flipflops, reversing a change in its process after users slammed it. Is it something about Twitter, Twitter users, or a particular kind of social media that makes customers get heard. And finally, "Saturday Night Live" took the backlash over its lack of female black performers seriously enough to hold a special audition Monday night for seven or eight candidates. The winning candidate will be hired and will join the cast for shows beginning in January.
The budget deal getting a vote in the House essentially undoes sequester cuts set for the current fiscal year. We take stock of what was gained and lost in the sequester experiment, but also look ahead to the remaining eight years of automatic cuts that are still part of the law. Plus, as the FDA tries to curb antibiotic use on the farms, we look at the economics of feeding antibiotics to livestock and poultry: How many extra pounds of pork does it produce, and how big is that animal-husbandry antibiotic market? Finally, Instagram users have a new way to share their photos privately and have text conversations.
If Congress manages to pass the newly-reached bipartisan budget deal, it will mark something of a change. At long last, the government will have finally managed to get out of its own way and stop being a drag on the U.S. economy. One analyst calls such a turn of events "hard to believe." On the other side of the Atlantic, Denmark – yes, Denmark – is staking its claim to the sea surrounding the North Pole, raising tensions among the countries with a stake in the opening of Arctic seas to oil exploration. And finally, Samsung can put a kill switch in its phones, but carriers won’t let customers activate it.
So the Volcker Rule text is out – and now the search for loopholes begins. To what extent have lobbyists and lawmakers already negotiated the workarounds so they’re baked into the Volcker Rule’s language? Also, the U.S. is no longer an investor in General Motors – and today the automaker has a new CEO in the shape of Mary Barra. Finally, the founding chairman of Lululemon has stepped down after 15 years at the head of the company. Investors regarded him as something of a “loose cannon”, and news stories abound of his curious approach to corporate culture.
That steak on your plate? Those mashed potatoes? Them tender greens? Chances are they came to you courtesy of one of America’s food distribution behemoths. The biggest of the bunch, Sysco, is buying U.S. Foods in the biggest food distribution deal in a decade. Plus, the battle over EPA rules for Midwestern and Appalachian air polluters comes down to what economics calls externalities. It all comes down to this question: Pollution isn’t free … but who should pay? And finally, as more people are excluded from homeownership, the demand for rental housing has grown beyond capacity, driving rental costs up.
The unemployment level has fallen to 7 percent for the first time since 2008, after the Labor Department release surprisingly strong jobs data for November. That news comes less than a month before unemployment benefits run out for more than a million Americans. Plus, the ability of businesses to track your every move has taken a leap forward today as Apple activated tracking beacons in its stores, the latest retailer to enable micro-location technology. And finally, hospitals get penalized for readmissions, so now instead of readmitting Medicare patients quickly, they are "observed" for as long as two days. That way the hospital doesn’t risk getting fined … and Medicare doesn't pay.