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.
Congress appears headed toward a temporary spending bill to keep the Highway Trust Fund from going broke next month. Lawmakers have been unable to agree on a long-term funding mechanism for repairing and upgrading the national infrastructure. Plus: AbbVie has at last managed to snare Irish pharma company Shire. The merger isn’t about new markets or cool technology - it’s about cutting taxes, using a so-called corporate inversion. We explain what an inversion is, and explore the pros and cons of this strategy. Finally, what to do with a comic-book character who sprang to life as a perpetual teen-ager 73 years ago? Project him into the future. Make him a zombie. Tomorrow, kill Archie.
The markets are near record levels and individual investors who have sat out until now are belatedly joining in, an indication that the real money has already been made. But where else is there to invest in our zero-interest world? That’s one big reason the markets are so high. Also, those debt-settlement scam artists who promise to help you get out of credit card debt have found a new target—students having trouble paying off their loans. Illinois becomes the first state to crack down on them today. We look at the business, and how widespread the problem is. And finally, Swiss chocolate company Lindt is buying Russell Stover. That brings up a lot for some people.
Reynolds and Lorillard, two big cigarette companies, are merging. You might think that with all the bans on smoking in bars, restaurants and public spaces, the cig business would be pretty small these days. But the fact is cigarettes are still huge, including in the US. We look at what this kind of merger means for smokes. Also, the White House is announcing a program to get companies to pay their small-business suppliers faster. Apple, Honda and Coca-Cola are among the 26 companies that have agreed to pay small businesses they contract with for parts and services faster – ideally within 15 days. We ask a small business owner how much of a difference does it make if they get paid a few days or a few weeks sooner. Plus, Eileen Ford, who created the Ford Agency, and along with it the modeling business as we know it—including the Supermodel--died yesterday. We look at how she made modeling an industry. And finally, an an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny new installment to our "Summer Brought To You By" series.
News that Chinese hackers broke into databases holding personal information on government employees is confirmation that your information is not safe, whether it be in a bank or a government vault. Now it’s all up to the private sector to protect our information, and that’s creating huge opportunities for data security businesses. Plus, Europe’s troubled economies are in deeper trouble still. Today’s bleak news? Portugal is possibly heading for another banking crisis while manufacturing numbers from France and Italy are simply disappointing. Deflation, contraction, recession. As Europe struggles on, we compare and contrast and ask about the impact, if any, on the U.S. Also, Boeing forecasts an even rosier future for airliner sales, spurred by economic growth in developing countries that it predicts will double the number of annual fliers in 20 years. Most growth will be in Asia. As developing countries become wealthier, the growth in air travel also shows how expanding transportation will add to global carbon emissions. We investigate.
Citigroup is close to reaching a $7 billion settlement with the Department of Justice over allegations that it sold shoddy mortgages. The J.P. Morgan Chase settlement back in November was $13 billion, which raises the question: How does the Justice department come up with sich a number? Plus, Alcoa, a mega producer of aluminum, is trying to go the route that other founding U.S. corporations have gone by getting out of the commodity business it was built on and moving into more specialized products with less competition and higher profit margins. Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says employers are advertising more jobs. But that doesn’t mean they’re actually doing the hiring for those positions.
After a blaze of success that propelled it into going public, the Crumbs cupcake company is going out of business. We look at the object lessons that other one-product businesses might take from the Crumbs saga. Plus, a new report looks at grads who came out in the early days of the recession and concludes they’ve done just fine. They have, but only because they got in before things really hit the fan. We look behind the numbers. Also, seems Silicon Valley interns get paid a lot of money. Like, six grand a month, in some cases. What do they do to make that kind of cash, and why would any company want to pay an intern that much? We report.