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 Monday, March 2, 2015: For the second time in three months, China's central bank has cut some key interest rates. Chinese policy makers have been worried about slowdowns in growth, especially in the real estate and manufacturing sectors. More on that. Plus, Netflix’s original programming doesn't carry advertising — a big attraction for viewers. But its business model does include product placement within shows like “House of Cards.” And a Twin Cities housing advocacy group reports that even though Minnesota’s unemployment rate is now 3.7 percent, another measure of the economy is still rotten: "nearly 4,000 children and youth had been identified as homeless across several larger school districts, the highest number to date since data collection began for this report.”
Airing on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015: "It can’t be warming. There’s snow outside." Social media went bananas yesterday after a video surfaced of Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma pitching a snowball to an intern on the Senate floor. Inhofe is selling doubt, which is a powerful force in maintaining the status quo. And the status quo, you may not realize, is a powerful economic force. We explain. Plus, you may not know it, but different countries have different release days for new records. For instance, Britain releases records on Tuesday. Starting this summer, the industry will move to a universal release date of Friday. The move is intended to cut down on piracy by dropping all new music at the same time. But that has other cost consequences and not everyone in the industry is all TGIF about the new policy. Also, under the FCC’s new net neutrality rules, broadband providers like Comcast and Verizon have to treat all internet users the same. Can’t speed ‘em up, can’t slow ‘em down. So who is a at an advantage or disadvantage when an already huge user like Netflix unloads 13 hours of a popular show, as it just did with the new season of “House of Cards.” This and more.
Airing on Thursday Feb. 26, 2015: Oil prices are moving up and down every day as all kinds of traders try to predict where prices will land in the future. In the last two days we've seen how different kinds of contradictory data can move prices in what might seem odd directions. The U.S. reported its biggest oil glut in 30 years, yet the global Brent price shot up because of other indications that supplies may fall and demand may rise. The U.S. price, meanwhile, stayed pretty much where it was. We explore. Plus, Facebook wants to do more in suicide prevention and, after consulting with various mental health professionals, has come up with a new tactic. Soon, if you see a post on Facebook that suggests your friend may be suicidal you will be able to report it directly to the company. Facebook will then reach out to the poster offering support. Is there any risk to this corporate strategy and what are the privacy implications here? We investigate.
Airing on Wednesday Feb. 25, 2015: TJX, the parent of TJ Maxx and Marshalls, just announced it will boost its base pay to $9 an hour by this summer, and $10 an hour by 2016. In light of Wal-Mart’s recent minimum wage hike, is this the first sign of a tightening labor market in low-wage retail? We investigate. Plus, as Google proposes a new headquarters in Mountain View, the small city has mixed feelings about the economic growth within its borders. Mountain View’s not going to become a company town in the old sense, but it is going to have to change, build housing and grow because of Google — all things that Silicon Valley cities have resisted for decades.
Airing on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015: In case you haven't heard, Boston's been getting pounded with snow every few days, for weeks. Boston's mass transit system, the oldest in America, broke down under the stress. Trains and buses are running late, if at all. How are employers handling an ongoing situation where employees are late for work on a daily basis? We investigate. Plus, the EPA is asking car makers to follow stricter rules in measuring their vehicles' gas mileage to insure at least some uniformity, if not produce estimates that drivers might find more accurate. Also, in her testimony before the Senate today, Fed Chair Janet Yellen swatted away the “Audit the Fed” calls. But when Senator Rand Paul and others say “Audit the Fed,” what they really mean is something more political than monetary. We explain.
Airing on Monday, Feb.23, 2015: The president wants to stop unscrupulous brokers from flogging investments to consumers that kick back fees to the brokerage. These kinds of dodgy investments cost consumers one percent a year, on average. That may not sound like much, but one percent a year is worth a lot to a saver, thanks to the miracle of a magical thing called compound interest. We explain. Plus, this week’s political hot potato is funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which is set to expire on Friday. But no matter what happens with DHS spending, there’s a much bigger problem at the sprawling agency: low morale. It consistently ranks worst for morale among large government agencies. This and more.