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.
Among the many striking images from the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, are those of local and state police using military-style weapons and gear. But it’s not unique to this St. Louis suburb. It’s part of a trend among local law enforcement since the 1990’s. We explain what’s behind it. Plus, Walmart has invited dozens of small and medium sized companies to a junket in Denver. It wants to convince them to do business with the retailer. But small firms are often reluctant to get into bed with Wal-Mart, as the retailer’s demands are often so overwhelming that they can end up smothering its smaller partners. Also, German car maker Daimler is offering its staff the option of turning off email while on vacation. All employees can now switch their mailbox off altogether, have all messages deleted, and send an auto-reply offering an alternative contact. Will employees return to work refreshed from a break with no office-related hassles? Are they more productive if they don’t have to wade through thousands of emails when they get back? Or will they stress out over what they missed?
Retail sales fell last month to their weakest reading since January, according to figures out today from the Commerce Department. So why isn’t the American consumer spending? Plus, Amazon is launching its own version of the mobile credit card reader. Amazon Local Register is taking on established mobile payments apps such as Square and Paypal Here by offering a lower cost per swipe. We look at the battle for space in the growing sphere of mobile transactions. Also, the Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ has been a viral and financial success, reportedly raising at least $4 million nationwide since the campaign launched on July 29. The numbers are impressive, so what has contributed to this success and how sustainable is this model for other campaigns and organizations?
The European Union imposed sanctions on Russia over its activities in Ukraine. The Russians hit back with a raft of bans on European produce on alleged health and safety grounds. With the Russian export market cut off, many European nations are faced with a produce glut and are having to work out how to offload all their unwanted apples, dairy products or meat. Plus, the U.S. has begun providing weapons to Kurdish forces in northern Iraq to help in their battle against ISIS militants. Administration officials would only confirm that guns and other ”light” weapons have been shipped to Kurdish Peshmerga forces. But this wouldn't be the first time arms have been sent to non-state actors. Think Afghanistan. And most recently, Syria. So who provides the arms, who pays for them and how do they get to their intended recipients? Also, Apple is reportedly talking to hospitals about a "health kit" where all your information goes into the cloud. Every big tech company seems to be interested in this space. We explain why.
Kinder Morgan, the alleged largest pipeline company in North America, is folding three of its separately-traded subsidiaries into its parent company. The merger will help Kinder Morgan expand its network of pipelines and position it to acquire other pipeline companies. Plus, you might think BuzzFeed is just a vapid company that produces listicle clickbait. But a venture capital company has valued it just shy of a billion dollars and touted its value as a tech company. Which goes to show that there’s still a lot we don’t know about BuzzFeed. Also, Amazon is under fire for not accepting pre-orders of forthcoming Disney DVD and Blu-ray titles including "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "Maleficent." It echoes an earlier dispute between the online retailer and publisher Hachette over Hachette’s pricing policies. But in pressuring suppliers over pricing, is Amazon not doing what many other big retailers do?
People with lots of unpaid medical bills could be getting a break on their credit scores. Fair Isaac Corp. says it is changing its FICO calculations to lessen the impact of medical debt that is already in collection. Median scores could rise by as much as 25 percent. We look into why they treat medical debt differently. Plus, the London-based system for setting the price of silver is getting scrapped next week for a new electronic-based method. How will this affect the price-setting mechanism for gold, the Gold Fix?
Following on Bank of America's $16 billion settlement with federal regulators, Mark looks at this broader question, “After five years and dozens of settlements, where are we?" We look at what reassurances homeowners, investors, and governments now have. Plus, Russia is banning food imports from the West as retaliation against sanctions. How will this effect U.S. agriculture, which was already hit last year by a ban on beef imports because of an additive used here. Finally, we chat with the studio behind "Sharknado" and many, many other great bad movies.