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 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.
Airing on Wednesday, March 18, 2015: Lots of Americans are thinking about European vacations this year because the Euro has become so cheap. But luxury brands like Chanel aren’t happy about some of the tourists who are buying up their products in Paris. The price difference for Chanel between Paris and China has grown so wide that Chinese tourists are flying around the world to buy handbags and other luxury items, which is undermining these brands’ strategies of opening stores in China itself. Plus, Kraft Food Group’s shares are already down after its recall of around 6-and-a-half million boxes of Macaroni and cheese. The voluntary recall came after some consumers complained of finding metal pieces in the food. We explain how recalls work, whether consumers pay attention and the economic cost to the companies involved.
Airing on Tuesday, March 17, 2015: ICANNs decision to allow all sorts of new new domain suffixes is causing a stir in corporate circles. Companies are all hot under the collar about dot sucks, claiming that people will open up domain names such as coke.sucks and hold companies to ransom. How much do companies care about this kind of negative campaigning. And how much will they pay to snuff it out? Plus, Pinterest says it’s now raised $367 million, giving it a valuation of $11 billion. Like Snapchat, this doubles Pinterest's valuation in less than a year. And, like Snapchat, the fact that Pinterest is now selling ads is named as the reason. Why are these targets audiences so attractive to advertisers and is Pinterest’s female-centric user base particularly alluring? We explore.
Airing on Monday, March 16, 2015: China finds itself where the United States was in the 1960’s: economic growth has polluted the skies, and the population is demanding clean air as a piece of prosperity. But just like the auto industry in the U.S. fought regulation, China’s state-supported industries are pushing ahead, pumping out pollution along with steel, concrete and electricity. History repeats. Plus, the pressure on big networks like Facebook and Twitter to keep their houses in order is growing as social media networks grow and have to combat everything from trolls to ISIS. We look at the growing costs of keeping social media sites in check — both monetary and otherwise, and what’s at stake.
Airing on Friday, March 13, 2015: Teach for America received nearly 44,000 applications by last week’s deadline — 12 percent fewer than last year. Is this a correction given the improving labor market or are potential applicants finding better public service opportunities elsewhere. Plus, this week the FDA released a report suggesting the legal age to buy cigarettes should jump from 18 to 21. The savings to public health costs would be significant, but on the other side of that economic equation is the U.S. tobacco industry. It’s worth $100 billion a year, but for how long?