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, April 22, 2015: After years of trying, Congress is getting close to passing a big cybersecurity bill. Business interests and privacy advocates finally have the common ground to get behind a single piece of legislation. The reason? Hacks are becoming much, much bigger and much, much more common. We look at how they managed to find common ground. Next, Verizon has unveiled a new basic TV package for $54.99 a month, prompting objections from major content providers like ESPN. The cable industry has been disrupted as pay-TV distributors, such as Verizon, respond to pressure from “cord-cutter” consumers, who are demanding these “skinny programming packages”. But media companies like Disney are fighting to protect their most lucrative source of revenue – programming fees. We consider whether the content providers or the distributors have the upper hand in this battle and how it’s it likely to shake out.
Airing on Tuesday, April 21, 2015: Committee votes in Congress are expected in coming days on whether to give the president special authority to finish negotiating a major trade deal with China and others. The deep skepticism that exists among Democrats is summed up well in a line New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said last week : “I don’t believe in these agreements anymore. I’ve changed.” We look at what else has changed since the North American Free Trade Agreement era when it comes to the U.S. economy and its place in the world economy. Next, California’s long history of anti-tax, anti-government propositions, starting with Proposition 13, now stands in the way of the state responding to a devastating drought. How’d that happen? Plus, the Department of Energy is proposing billions in investment in power grid infrastructure to make it more reliable and secure. The U.S. suffers far more outages than other developed countries. And the entire system is vulnerable if extreme weather or human attacks take out transformers--devices which are essential to moving electricity long distances.
Airing on Monday, April 20, 2015: On Tuesday, Google revs up a revised mobile algorithm that gives preference to sites that are easy to read on mobile devices. You know, not desktop websites crammed onto little screens, but redesigned, reprogrammed sites. This is most likely going to affect small local businesses, whose sites will be pushed down the search list if they haven’t managed to keep up with digital change. Next, health and biotech firm stocks are performing well. We explore why.
Airing on Friday, April 17, 2015: German luxury car companies BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi have reported record-high global sales for the first quarter of 2015. Though these carmakers started out in the upscale market, they’re now pushing for a more inclusive customer base. Will entering the mass market hurt their prestige? We explore. Next, an outage at financial-data giant Bloomberg shows how much some traders rely on it. The event led some markets to stop trading and caused the U.K. government to delay certain bond sales. We take a look at why the ripple effect happened.
Airing on Thursday, April 16, 2015: A judge rules that General Motor's bankruptcy shields the company from lawsuits over defective cars built before the bankruptcy. We sort out the consequences of the decision if it stands. Next, the Los Angeles Unified School District wants its money back for iPads loaded with Pearson software that is sub-par. This is yet another expensive chapter in LAUSD’s disastrous $1 billion-plus classroom tech effort. It’s also another stumbling block on the larger road to the digital classroom. Marketplace reporter Nova Safo uses the LAUSD debacle to talk about what’s at stake as schools convert to digital classrooms and companies vie for their share of the multibillion-dollar ed-tech market.
Airing on Wednesday, April 15, 2015: Stephen Dubner, the author of "Freakonomics," rejoins the Marketplace team to discuss the value of diamonds and their hard resale value. High jeweler markups and a limited buyer's market for diamonds have created what's called a "thin market" for the good. Next, some tax preparers are charging high fees and making dubious loans to vulnerable clients. We look at some of the controversial practices these businesses are employing during tax season. Also, the European Union has brought antitrust charges against Google, with claims that the company has taken advantage of the European market by using its search engine to boost its shopping service. Are monopolies always necessarily a bad thing? We explore.