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.
What we have here is a jobs recovery without a wage recovery. We look at why more Americans are working, but average wages aren't even keeping up with inflation. Plus, Procter & Gamble says it’s going to get rid of half its nearly 200 brands. How did that happen, in a company famed for its highly focused brand management? Also, Auto sales are intriguing this quarter. They're not as good as analysts had expected, but those expectations were very high. We look at why cars are selling so well right now.
The holdout investors in the Argentina bond negotiations bought the bonds at a low price and are squeezing Argentina for a profit. Some people might say that makes the investors good businesspeople, but Argentina says it makes them vultures. We explain what vulture funds are, what they do, and how they provide a valuable service to the bond market. Plus, among the penalties handed out to Bank of America for its actions contributing to the mortgage crisis was a $1 million personal fine charged to a former manager. We look at why so few people are being held individually responsible for their actions. Also, the day of driverless cars being on the road as cars, not experiments, is nigh. We look at how insurers might adapt to this new category of vehicle.
Twitter announced it lost $144 million in the first quarter, but it also registered a 25 percent gain in users in the period. That’s a good first step. The second step will be working out how to make money off those users, and the third step will be actually turning a profit. It’s a simple three-step road to success. So simple that a bunch of pantie-pinching gnomes could understand it. And maybe even make it work. Also, the National Labor Relations Board says McDonald’s could be held ‘jointly liable’ for labor and wage violations made by its franchise owners. How does this business model work, and what impact will yesterday’s ruling have on McDonald’s and other companies like it? Also, movie studios are working on a deal to help out Kodak by contracting to buy large stocks of old-fashioned motion picture film. Does trying to prop up a dying industry ever work? We’ll look at a few examples.
A new round of European sanctions against Russia, announced today, may also hurt US businesses that operate in Russia or have interests there. We consider the possible impact on these firms. Plus, it's looking increasingly likely that Argentina will default on some of its bonds. So what happens then? Will Argentina be consumed by hellfire? Will fear of contagion freeze the global financial markets and plunge us into another recession? Or will it be business as usual in the global bond market? Also, according to a report by the Urban Institute that came out this week, around 77 million have debt in collections. We look at what happens when a bill goes to collection, and what happens to the people who owe money.
Trulia and Zillow announced they will join forces in a deal worth a reported $3.5 billion. It looks a lot like something that happens in tech when a sector matures in which companies start buying each other open a so-called roll up. We explain why this happens and what to expect in this business. Plus, Dollar Tree will also be acquiring Family Dollar Stores in a deal valued at $8.5 billion. How have things changed and how are these stores repositioning themselves as the economy recovers? In Detroit, the city water agency is proceeding with its plan to go after individual residents who are delinquent, to scare people into paying up, while negotiating with or otherwise letting slip by the big delinquent users who can fight back. Like Chrysler. And the state of Michigan.
We’ve come to expect lousy earnings reports from Amazon, but yesterday’s was beyond lousy, and the stock is down 11 percent this morning. Has Amazon finally reached a point where it’s going to have to behave like other companies and make some money? Plus, under the Affordable Care Act, healthcare companies are required to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on actual medical care. We’ll explain how these rebates work and who actually gets the money. Also, has the automated red light camera system failed to live up to its promise? The system was created to improve safety on the roads and generate income in cities across the country, but the system has been plagued with controversy; and is increasingly unpopular with drivers.