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.
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.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has appointed former Los Angeles police chief Bill Bratton as head of the NYPD. Why is it that the list of top candidates for the top policing jobs in the U.S. is such a short one? The same candidates seem to reappear time and time again. Plus, a deal to avoid another government shutdown seems to be coalescing around increasing revenues – but not taxes. The government would bring in additional money through user fees. And finally, revised GDP numbers juiced the market today, but the reality behind the data should give us pause. The number’s big because inventories were high last quarter.
Now that regulators are close to deciding on the Volcker Rule, conventional wisdom has shifted from "it will be so weak as to be useless" to "it will be tougher than expected." But what is the rule? Also, the credit rating agency Experian says Americans are taking out bigger car loans and are taking longer to pay them back. We look at what’s behind the return of easy automotive credit, and whether we’re again on the slippery slope of subprime lending. Finally, Newsweek is to be revived, in print.