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.
With spring in full swing across the US, economists are looking forward to a busy home-buying season. One factor that might push people to buy – the high cost of renting compared to owning. Since the financial crisis, people who hold a mortgage have been spending less on housing than people who rent. But that’s beginning to change, as Adriene Hill reports. Plus, Gillette is said to be close to unveiling a new razor with a blade that rotates on a ball hinge, the latest innovation in the high-end battle for the dollars men spend on grooming. The thing looks like a Dyson vacuum cleaner, and it’s enough to make you wonder… how do Gillette and others go about convincing men that this is something they need to have? Then, the Obama administration announced $2.5 billion more in loan guarantees for solar energy. Despite the Solyndra failure (followed not long after by the failure of several Chinese solar companies), solar has grown into a big industry. We count the ways.
Goldman Sachs announced an 11 percent drop in profit today… and it’s stock went up one percent. This happens all the time in the financial world: a company’s shares move in opposition to its earnings results. Why? It’s all about the investors’ expectations, and how the company matches up to them. Mark Garrison explains how those expectation s come about. Also, companies in sectors from telecommunications to banking to healthcare are employing a new technique to shield themselves from lawsuits – adding a provision to their terms of service to say by using a service or buying a product or even liking something on Facebook, consumers agree they can’t sue the company. We look at how widespread this is, and whether the practice might withstand a legal challenge. Plus, Sonic is the 4th largest burger chain in the U.S. by sales, but you wouldn’t know it in a lot of states, because it’s concentrated in certain regions. Now the chain that serves its food drive-in style is expanding. Is it freeing to be #4, after the standard McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s?
Whether banks have posted profits or losses this quarter, the data suggests that people are getting better at paying back their loans. Dan Bobkoff looks at what’s led to the overall improvement in creditworthiness for consumers. Then, the White House hosts a summit of deans from top biz schools today to talk about educating the leaders of the future. The event is in the lead-up to, you guessed it, another summit in June, that one about Working Families. We ask what comes of these confabs, and what real utility they provide. Plus, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is committing $50 million to creating an anti-gun voting operation. This is on top of $50 million to fight coal-burning plants, $53 million to fight overfishing of oceans, $50 million for women’s reproductive rights. What does $50 million buy?
As consumer prices increase more than expected, we look at what’s becoming more expensive (food, rents) and why – as well as asking who this will impact the most. Plus, tomorrow the College Board will release "extensive sample items" for the newly designed SAT. The revised test obviously affects students, who will begin taking it in the spring of 2016. But how about the multi-billion dollar test prep industry? We take a look at how they’re preparing for the changes. Also, Russia’s Finance Minister is warning that his country’s economy could see zero growth this year because of the backlash over Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Russia has seen capital flight of $63 billion in the first 3 months of this year, as people rushed to convert rubles into other currencies. The news comes as the European Union threatens further sanctions against Russia. Then, Yahoo’s earnings look good today. The company has been on an upswing this year, in the wake of a spate of talent hires by CEO Marissa Mayer. But closer examination of Yahoo’s numbers paint a different picture. The company’s stake in Chinese IPO hopeful Alibaba is worth about $33 billion, given the valuation placed on Alibabs right now. Yahoo’s market cap right now? $33.8 billion. Which begs the question, without Alibaba, what is Yahoo really worth?
Saved by the spring - retail sales increased 1.1 per cent in March, the biggest jump since September 2012. This might be pent-up demand from a difficult winter, but what's the story behind the figures? When both the job market and wages are still weak, Mitchell Hartman looks at where the money's coming from. Also, a new report from the U.N.’s climate panel says we’ve got 15 years to turn things around or potentially really suffer the effects of global warming in the future. This is the starkest call for action yet, but the report also illustrates why calls for this kind of action are so hard for people to process. Plus, Maxwell House coffee is getting a makeover today, but it’s only the most recent Kraft vintage brand to get one. Kraft’s going through its older brands, some of the most famous in consumer goods, and refreshing them for modern times.
The President has picked his budget adviser Sylvia Burwell to replace HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius. She’s the second director of the Office of Management and Budget to ascend to a higher position in the administration with Jacob Lew as her predecessor). What is it about the OMB – one of the wonkiest spots in a wonky town – that makes it such a good proving ground? Plus: Walmart is challenging Whole Foods with a new line of organic foods with sharply lower prices. But this isn’t meat or produce, its processed foods like spaghetti sauce and pasta. And therein lies the challenge: ain’t much organic wheat grown anywhere. Where you going to find commodity volumes of organic commodity grains, tomatoes and other ingredients? Also, Amazon just bought comiXology for Kindle – but you might be forgiven for thinking that comic geeks would revolt against anything that doesn’t come wrapped in an eminently swappable plastic sheath. Krissy takes a look at the business of making comics pay these days.