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.
Airing on Thursday, March 26, 2015: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a bunch of new rules for payday lenders. But why do payday lenders even exist? The fact is, people need them, and the reason they need them is because there is no alternative. The U.S. has a large gap in its financial infrastructure that other countries have plugged with reputable, often government-sponsored institutions. Why don’t’ we have something similar here? Plus, Congress is close to finally coming up with a long-term solution to how doctors who see Medicare patients are paid. It’s been almost 20 years of patchwork fixes. But in fixing a problem that dates to 1997, the government would force doctors to make some much needed upgrades they haven’t yet had to make, like being able to provide patient outcome data. Also, the airline industry isn’t like other industries. It’s nearly unique in that when a plane goes down — no matter which carrier it’s with — the entire industry is affected. And everyone who’s flying, thinking about flying, working for an airline, etc., feels more vulnerable. We look at how that phenomenon plays out, and the types of plans/approaches the industry puts into motion after a crash.
Airing on Wednesday March 25, 2015: The Republican budget proposal — more a political document than a financial one, to be sure — is up for votes in Congress today and tomorrow. Like the president’s budget before it, this one is expected to find away around some of the spending cuts laid out under sequestration. The wiggling around and out of those across-the-board cuts started pretty much as soon as they were enacted, and is a good lesson in how federal spending works these days. We explore. Plus, the BBC today announced it is not renewing the contract of Jeremy Clarkson, host of the car show “Top Gear,” who is said to have assaulted his producer. The show is massively popular globally and brings in sales worth an estimated $50 million a year. The gruff Clarkson is a big part of its success despite complaints about his past comments on the show, which many viewers see as racist. We take a look at the business calculation of firing a controversial host.
Airing on Tuesday, March 24, 2015: Three banks have had their "living wills" turned down by regulators. Living wills are instructions that you draw up for doctors and lawyers and accountants, to facilitate your demise and the arrangement of your estate, should you become incapacitated. Pretty simple, really. So why is it so hard for banks? Plus, Facebook is quietly holding talks with at least half a dozen media companies about hosting their content. Details on how this will actually work are scarce but why does Facebook want to do this and why would media companies agree? We investigate.
Airing on Monday, March 23, 2015: RadioShack is bankrupt. So bankrupt that it has gone beyond the usual "let’s work it out with our lenders" scenario, and moved directly to a "let’s tear the company to pieces and sell off the bits" approach. Hedge funds are squabbling over the company like vultures fighting over a coyote carcass, and the bones go to the highest bidder. How did it come to this? We explore. Plus, the World Health Organization just announced that the widely-used weed-killer, Roundup, is a likely carcinogen in humans. How much of this stuff are we eating and how much would it cost farmers and us if we stopped using it?
Airing on Friday, March 20, 2015: Nothing happened today in Europe. Nothing, that is, except a solar eclipse. And that’s a good thing that nothing happened. Europe, especially Germany, counts on solar power for a good chunk of its electricity, and utilities were concerned that their grids would have trouble dealing with a relatively quick shutdown of solar power. It’s a vivid illustration of how basic power grids have to be rebuilt and re-engineered to keep up with new sources of electricity. We explain. Plus, the FCC ruled against the cable companies on Net Neutrality in the hope of making the Internet a utility, and ensuring that all our data is treated equally. Now it’s time for the cable companies to find a way to get what they want anyway, by finding and exploiting existing loopholes, or creating new ones.
Airing on Thursday, March 19, 2015: A Minnesota judge is set to approve Target’s proposed $10 million settlement today in the class-action lawsuit over the retailer’s huge data breach back in 2013. But it might be hard for victims to collect any money as they will have to prove they were harmed by the breach and that is typically hard to do. We explore. Plus, there’s a drumbeat of science pointing to a link between fracking and earthquakes. A new report this month says Oklahoma will experience more damaging quakes as fracking there “reactivates” seismic faults. Meanwhile the State’s Supreme Court is already hearing a case on whether oil and gas firms can be held liable for earthquake-related damage. Also, the recording industry earned more from streaming than from CDs for the first time last year. But just as striking, music revenue has settled at a level only half of its peak 15 years ago. What happened to those billions of dollars? We investigate this and more.