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 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.
Airing on Tuesday, April 14, 2015: We’ve been talking a lot about the drought out here in California and just who should get how much water and for what purpose. One of the ways the state’s dealt with shortages in the past is through the spot market, where farmers with strong water rights sell their water to thirsty cities and farmers with more junior rights. But as Sarah Gardner reports from the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, the state's drought is causing that market model to come up short. Next, IBM has teamed up with Apple, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic to launch its "Watson Health Cloud," a service that will use data to create health profiles for patients. We look at the profit motive for each. Plus, a recent draft report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee suggests that red meat consumption in the U.S. can be bad for one's health and the environment. The suggestion has caused controversy over whether sustainability concerns should have factored into the committee's report.
Airing on Monday, April 13, 2015: A study finds that nearly three out of four recipients of Medicaid, food stamps and other aid are members of families headed by someone who works –meaning, someone who works but doesn’t earn a wage high enough to keep them out of poverty. The study says this amounts to a $150 billion subsidy of low-paying employers. This comes as several companies have raised their minimum pay to $9 an hour ($18,720 a year), and unions and others advocate for a minimum wage of $15, as median incomes haven’t grown in 20 years or so. Next, a historic handshake this weekend between Presidents Obama and Castro at the Summit of the Americas has helped to fuel optimism over warming relations with Cuba. But – handshakes aside – what obstacles remain to trading with Cuba for businesses both small and large? We explore.
Airing on Friday, April 10, 2015: General Electric, once a manufacturing titan, made a hard-headed decision to become a financial company and is now going back to manufacturing. Finance is simply too costly and highly regulated. Does General Electric's move mark a sea change in the American economy — perhaps the end of the dominance of finance? Next, apps on a smartwatch are going to have to be entirely re-visualized — small screen, viewed at arm’s length. It’s a new platform for any app. We look at the design challenge for app makers. Plus, Florida is placing limits on the high-stakes standardized tests. The Florida Legislature on Thursday passed a bill that caps the time students spend on state-authorized tests to no more than 45 hours a year. Will other states follow?
Airing on Thursday, April 9, 2015: Google plans to offer subscriptions on YouTube. We want to look at how this will work, and what's behind it. The answer to the latter question will take in the fact that YouTube has a profit problem, and explain the landscape that is moving Google in this direction (streaming competition with Netflix, for example). Next, will people in Massachusetts, or Michigan, or anywhere, end up with less satisfying showers because of California’s drought? California is imposing new low-flow rules on faucets, showers and toilets. We look at how its huge new market for low-flow could swing manufacturers and other states in the same direction. Also, the deceased Latina singer Selena has been given a new lease of life. Some of her unreleased songs are being remastered and released, and she is going on tour. Or a hologram of her is, at least. So many questions. How big is the market for holo-acts?
Shell is teaming up with BP — just one of the many oil and gas mergers in the works. A look at the pressure for the industry to consolidate, and if some sectors are under more pressure than others.
Next, Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras is in Moscow today meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Financially-strapped Greece is making slow progress in debt talks with the EU, and some Greeks believe Russia may be able to help the country financially.
Also, California's drought is hitting the agricultural Central Valley hard. Farmers are, of course, business people, and if they only have a certain amount of water, they will invest it in the most lucrative crops.
Plus, John Hancock announced today it is the first life insurance company in the nation to offer financial incentives for customers with wearable health technology, who share that data with the company. How will it work, and will other companies follow?