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 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?
Airing on Thursday, March 12, 2015: How’s this for a terrifying number: Your chance of surviving any of four high-risk surgeries varies by 23 percent, depending on which hospital you choose. We unpack why that is and what consumers ought to make of it. Plus, do all these stress tests mean our banks are safe now — safe as in, is it “safe” to eat that piece of sushi in your local Japanese restaurant safe? How do the fed tests compare to how the Department of Health checks on the safety of restaurants? We explain. Also, the FTC is taking DirecTV to court, claiming that its advertising for a popular $20 package was deceptive to customers and that the terms were not properly disclosed. But complicated terms and extra fees buried in the fine print are part of an advertising model that’s used across the industry. We take a broader look at this model and ask why it’s in place.
Airing on Wednesday, March 11, 2015: Four years after Japan turned off its nuclear generators because of the Fukushima disaster, the country is struggling to build a new electricity network. The country has invested heavily in solar, but its experience reveals the challenges involved in integrating this intermittent source of power into a grid maintained by traditional utilities. We explore. Plus, as the dollar remains strong against other major currencies such as the Euro and the Yen, we ask what is the effect on the average consumer? And after, one of the things the Department of Justice criticized the Ferguson Police Department for was its aggressive ticketing policies — and Ferguson is not the first or the only department to be censured for this. To what extent do police departments around the country use fines — from speeding, to parking, to running red lights — to keep them in the black. And how ethical is this as a business model for a public service. This and more.
Airing on Tuesday, March 10, 2015: An audit from the Inspector General says the Social Security Administration lists more than 6 million people born before 1901 as still alive. The real number is about three dozen, and that’s worldwide. There’s a cost to this inefficient record keeping — not just a loss in trust in government, but also the increased potential for fraud. After all, information from that Social Security master list of deaths gets sold publicly. We investigate. Plus, we explain the market factors contributing to current losses on Wall Street. Also, is the app-based service economy killing the full-time job? We take a look at the down side of what some call the Uber economy.
Airing on Monday, March 9, 2015: There’s a saying in politics — “The only difference between a campaign contribution and a bribe is timing.” When it comes to filing criminal charges, that sentiment may not be too far off. With Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey likely facing corruption charges, we look at how the law and the courts figure out the line between contributions and bribes. Plus, a group of hedge funds decided they didn’t like the fact that General Motors has a large amount of cash sitting around in the bank doing nothing. The group threatened to try to get a troublemaker on the GM board unless the company agreed to buy back $5 billion of its shares, and return that cash to its shareholders. GM caved, and the buyback begins soon. We look at who benefits when a company buys back shares. And who loses. Also, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage today to talk about the Apple watch in a live streaming event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, California. How will the company’s focus on wearable technology affect its retail space and how will the store shopping public respond? We investigate.