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 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.
Airing on Friday, March 6, 2015: Another oil train derailment —this one outside Galena, Illinois. Based on the amount of oil shipped by rail, federal authorities estimate there could be a dozen of these a year or so. We look at what the U.S. will propose for greater safety and whether railroads will stop being secretive about where oil trains are running. Plus, Apple joins the Dow and AT&T gets the boot. We what the means for Dow and Apple.
Airing on Thursday, March 5, 2015: China has just set 7 percent as its target for annual growth, which would be its slowest growth in years. But what would 7 percent growth look like in the U.S.? Is it even possible in a developed country like the U.S.? We investigate. Plus, Etsy will be one of the biggest tech IPOs to come out of New York in recent years. But Etsy was built on a philosophy of handmade and small-scale — its roots are in the “maker movement”. How will this sit with a shiny future on Wall Street? We explore the culture clash behind the ETSY IPO. And after, oil prices are up. But futures prices are even higher. This creates a situation that oil traders call ‘contango.” The situation is now becoming so extreme that some banks are calling it “super contango.” What does it mean? It means some people are gonna make bank. And unlike most plays in the commodity markets, this one comes with no risk and a cast-iron guarantee to make money.
Airing on Wednesday, March 4, 2014: Toyota’s appointment of a French executive as its first executive vice president from outside Japan is a cultural landmark as well as a business one. Japan frets over its economic “Galapagos Syndrome,” a concern that its cultural insularity makes it noncompetitive in global markets. Toyota’s move to open its top ranks is a major shift we look to explore. Plus, off the back of the revelation that Hillary Clinton used private emails for State department business, we ask whether, and to what extent, other corporate leaders also do this, why they do this, and what the regulatory and security implications are. Also, the small all-girl liberal arts college Sweet Briar will pull the plug on itself, at the end of the semester because of “insurmountable financial challenges”. While Sweet Briar may be unusual for doing this before things totally fall apart, lots of small liberal arts schools, especially regional ones, are facing the same scary future. We investigate.