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.
Microsoft is laying off 14 percent of its staff, 18,000 employees. We look at how you manage a layoff process this big over that kind of time, and what effect it has on productivity and morale. Also, Amazon is preparing to launch an e-book subscription service, according to a page on its website. The service, called “Kindle Unlimited” would apparently give subscribers access to 600,000 books at a monthly cost of $10. The monthly-subscription model works well with movies but how well will it work in the book world? We investigate? Also, housing starts were down in June, and way down in the South. But as with all monthly data reports, the question is, what does this mean?
Apple and IBM have reached an agreement to produce software applications exclusively for iPads and iPhones. But will the biggest impact be on the companies that are not part of the deal? Also, Rupert Murdoch’s reported offer of $80 billion has been turned down by Time Warner. We explain what’s behind the offer. And after, we revisit the California drought, which is expected cost California agriculture a couple billion dollars this year. But it’s far from a disaster. Here and in drought areas like the Ogallala Aquifer, farmers’ unregulated access to underground reservoirs is tapping out a resource that can’t be replaced.
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.