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.
That steak on your plate? Those mashed potatoes? Them tender greens? Chances are they came to you courtesy of one of America’s food distribution behemoths. The biggest of the bunch, Sysco, is buying U.S. Foods in the biggest food distribution deal in a decade. Plus, the battle over EPA rules for Midwestern and Appalachian air polluters comes down to what economics calls externalities. It all comes down to this question: Pollution isn’t free … but who should pay? And finally, as more people are excluded from homeownership, the demand for rental housing has grown beyond capacity, driving rental costs up.
The unemployment level has fallen to 7 percent for the first time since 2008, after the Labor Department release surprisingly strong jobs data for November. That news comes less than a month before unemployment benefits run out for more than a million Americans. Plus, the ability of businesses to track your every move has taken a leap forward today as Apple activated tracking beacons in its stores, the latest retailer to enable micro-location technology. And finally, hospitals get penalized for readmissions, so now instead of readmitting Medicare patients quickly, they are "observed" for as long as two days. That way the hospital doesn’t risk getting fined … and Medicare doesn't pay.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has appointed former Los Angeles police chief Bill Bratton as head of the NYPD. Why is it that the list of top candidates for the top policing jobs in the U.S. is such a short one? The same candidates seem to reappear time and time again. Plus, a deal to avoid another government shutdown seems to be coalescing around increasing revenues – but not taxes. The government would bring in additional money through user fees. And finally, revised GDP numbers juiced the market today, but the reality behind the data should give us pause. The number’s big because inventories were high last quarter.
Now that regulators are close to deciding on the Volcker Rule, conventional wisdom has shifted from "it will be so weak as to be useless" to "it will be tougher than expected." But what is the rule? Also, the credit rating agency Experian says Americans are taking out bigger car loans and are taking longer to pay them back. We look at what’s behind the return of easy automotive credit, and whether we’re again on the slippery slope of subprime lending. Finally, Newsweek is to be revived, in print.
Dow Chemical says it’s getting out of the commodity chemical market so much that it may drop 'Chemical' from its name. Overseas competitors can produce these chemicals much more cheaply. And so will pass from U.S. manufacturing a class of products without which life is hard to imagine. Ziploc bags. Nylon (in DuPont’s case). Then, sales of pickup trucks helped the Big Three U.S. automakers beat analysts’ expectations for November sales. We look at how those sales figures play out in the U.S. job market, and whether workers have been recalled to build those vehicles.
Amazon wants to use unmanned "drone" aircraft to fly products to customers in 30 minutes or less. It sounds great, but how realistic is the proposal? Next, the administration says the front end of healthcare.gov is up-and-running, so now developers will start to focus on the back-end connection to the insurers. Finally, a gauge of the global economy: The purchaser’s management index in most countries is up…but only just. It’s evidence of a nascent recovery in the global economy, but political unrest in some countries, combined with the prospect of tapering, has some economists worried.