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.
Say you’re in the food or beverage business and you want to get a lot of attention – or, even, come up with a new product that people might like. Mashing up seemingly unrelated foods and/or flavors is one strategy, like the one now at the center of Taco Bell’s breakfast push. Yes, we mean the waffle taco. And, Brookstone prepares to file for bankruptcy and be bought by Spencer (Gifts). We take a look at what did in the purveyor of massage chairs and eye-shades, and what Spencer looks like going forward. Meanwhile, the deadline for the Affordable Care Act enrollment is approaching and government officials are worried about the Latino population and their low numbers signing up.
Mark Zuckerberg has been out shopping again: Facebook paid $2 billion for Oculus, a small virtual reality headset company. Random purchase or strategic move? And with its acquisition of WhatsApp and other companies earlier this year, is Facebook being a venture capitalist, or is there a long-term, coherent plan to future-proof itself with a stake in these areas of technology? Meanwhile, movie ticket sales are down but movie ticket receipts are up, thanks to inflation over the years and the higher prices for 3-D. We look at the business model of movie theaters and how ticket revenue fits in with the revenue from popcorn and candy bars. And, this is how the end arrives: The cessation of the slow drip-drip-drip of saline solution, because there is no saline solution. No jolting-back-to-life injection of nitroglycerin, because there is none. Why common everyday medical supplies can suddenly be hard to find.
In a document released Tuesday, the Internal Revenue Service says bitcoin is not legal tender. You can't use it to pay your taxes. But the IRS says virtual currencies like bitcoin will be taxed like property as opposed to currency. Plus, the Obama administration is planning legislation to overhaul the National Security Agency's collection and storage of phone records – which could now be kept with the phone companies. But as the burden then shifts to the telecom companies, what extra costs might they incur? And we continue our special collaboration with the New York Times on "Work in America." Today we look at the gig economy.
Russians actions are unacceptable, says President Obama, and if the situation escalates, we need to be prepared to impose a greater cost. But what is that cost, exactly, and if sanctions escalate – what will that eventually cost the US? Plus: The importance of reported talks between Apple and Comcast lies in what a partnership would deliver: a streaming service with cable TV’s high picture quality and streaming’s large selection and ease of use via apps. And: The Exxon Valdez was the perfect dramatic disaster to call attention to environmental risks, yet 25 years later it stands out principally as … the perfect dramatic illustration of continuing environmental risks.
Exxon will issue a report estimating the cost of climate change to its business, including a calculation of the carbon emissions its oil and gas operations give off. It’s the first big energy company to respond to shareholders’ concerns about environmental issues. Next: Caterpillar is the latest company to come under the scrutiny of the Levin committee looking at tax avoidance by multinationals. We look at some of the contortions companies make to avoid paying tax. Finally: UC Irvine announced yesterday that President Obama will deliver its commencement address in June, in front of 8,000 diverse graduates. We explore the economic value of a speech from the President.
Air BnB is going public. The company has been a raging success, but there are risks. Regulators are clamping down on it, the taxman is looking askance, and it’s going up against some entrenched and very powerful lobbies (like the entire hotel business, hello!). Next: President Obama appears on the Ellen show today to plug Obamacare. It appears the President has ditched the bully pulpit and is personally delivering his message to a "connected-but-distracted" generation. Swatting away criticism that it's "un-presidential", his advisors say it's an important demographic to reach, and he's willing to take an unconventional route to reach them. Finally: A look at the sanctions put in play by Russia and the U.S.