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 Thursday, April 2, 2015: The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission alleges that Kraft Foods Group and Mondelez Global manipulated wheat futures as part of a plot to drive down the physical price for wheat they used to make products like Oreos and Ritz crackers. So buying wheat futures to hedge price risk: legal. Buying wheat futures to fake out the market and lower prices: illegal. How do you draw a line between the two? Plus, speaking at an economic conference in Washington, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen again hit on the idea that income inequality is a problem. In fact, she called it a "disturbing trend." The central bank’s mandate is clear: promoting full employment and keeping inflation in check. What can (and should) Yellen be doing about income inequality. We explore.
Airing on Wednesday, April 1, 2015: Today’s big IPO — the domain-registration firm GoDaddy — was priced at $20 a share and promptly shot up about 30 percent. We look at who wins and who loses when an IPO isn’t priced at the level the market will bear. Plus, those signs on business windows that say “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”? That’s legal. If someone’s terribly obnoxious, ixnay. But refusing service to a category of people is discriminatory, as well as against the interests of most businesses, which want as many customers as possible. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce says some members have already suffered business losses as a result of objections by big corporations. We investigate.
Airing on Tuesday, March 31, 2015: Jay-Z, the musician, has started a “new” streaming music service called Tidal (actually it’s a relaunch of an existing Swedish service that he bought). We unpack the likely business model for Tidal — as a way of explaining the economics of streaming music. Plus, today is the deadline for agreement with Iran on its nuclear program. The Iranians have said that once a deal is struck, sanctions should be lifted at once. Others say the lifting of sanctions should be gradual so as to encourage ongoing compliance. We look at the mechanism for lifting sanctions when transgressing countries stop offending and we ask what are the complications involved in removing sanctions.
Airing on Monday, March 30, 2015: A number of CEOs are making a stand on Indiana and pulling out of potentially lucrative deals there. Tim Cook of Apple planted a flag in an op-ed today. This has raised the ire of conservative shareholders, but these CEOs appear unfazed. They appear to be taking a leaf out of the activist shareholder book, standing on principle and behaving like activist CEOs, regardless of the short-term cost. What is it that makes a CEO an activist? What are the risks of being an activist? And what is it that makes them so confident? Plus, we look at why Lufthansa may be vulnerable to unlimited liability in the crash of its Germanwings airliner, and what unlimited liability in the death of 150 people can mean to an airline. Also, Rhodes scholarships are coming to China. The prestigious grant program that sends promising students to the University of Oxford wants to cultivate a more diverse crop of young people. Selecting college students in China is expected to be the first step in a process that could eventually include Brazil, Russia, Israel and much of the developing world. How will this help the organization financially and benefit the students from these countries?
Airing on Friday, March 27, 2015: Amazon is reportedly in talks to buy the London-based luxury online fashion retailer Net-A-Porter. This would be a significant acquisition for Amazon both in terms of the size of the deal and its nature — the E-commerce giant is so far not known for its presence in the high-end fashion market. Plus, word came this week that Facebook has been testing drones in the U.K. that can beam Internet access to the ground via laser. The drone industry is growing fast, even as U.S. regulations on unmanned aircraft continue to be worked out. We look at what the U.S. risks losing if it lags on rulemaking.
Airing on Thursday, March 26, 2015: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a bunch of new rules for payday lenders. But why do payday lenders even exist? The fact is, people need them, and the reason they need them is because there is no alternative. The U.S. has a large gap in its financial infrastructure that other countries have plugged with reputable, often government-sponsored institutions. Why don’t’ we have something similar here? Plus, Congress is close to finally coming up with a long-term solution to how doctors who see Medicare patients are paid. It’s been almost 20 years of patchwork fixes. But in fixing a problem that dates to 1997, the government would force doctors to make some much needed upgrades they haven’t yet had to make, like being able to provide patient outcome data. Also, the airline industry isn’t like other industries. It’s nearly unique in that when a plane goes down — no matter which carrier it’s with — the entire industry is affected. And everyone who’s flying, thinking about flying, working for an airline, etc., feels more vulnerable. We look at how that phenomenon plays out, and the types of plans/approaches the industry puts into motion after a crash.