Marketplace from American Public Media is the premier business news show on public radio. Host Kai Ryssdal and the Marketplace team deliver news that matters, from your wallet to Wall Street. Online at Marketplace.org.
Updated: 4 hours 28 min ago
Some are worried the Fed will announce that it’s going to stop -- or at least slow -- its stimulative bond-buying program. Others are worried the buying will continue. But it’s not solely inflation they’re worried about. Next, tech companies are taking ownership – and therefore control – of everything from the cloud to so-called dark fibers. Finally, GlaxoSmithKline says it will stop paying doctors to push its drugs and will stop rewarding its sales reps to push doctors to push their drugs. But just what is this “sales rep” and what is her or his role?
Google is buying Boston Dynamics, which is famous for making cool robots like that mecha-cheetah you've seen on YouTube. Next, the coming ad blitz from health insurers is the surest sign yet that Obamacare is working, and isn’t going anywhere. Also, the United Nations is launching its largest appeal ever for humanitarian aid to Syrians – even though its earlier appeal is only 60 percent funded. Finally, millions of Europeans under the age of 30 are unemployed and not in school or some sort of job training. In Europe, the economic downturn seems to have hit the youth the hardest.
Forget long, involved marketing campaigns. Beyoncé released a 14-song album last night online (with videos!), no promotion, no announcement. Is this the sort of trick that only the super-est of superstars can pull off? Next, Twitter’s done of the fastest-ever flipflops, reversing a change in its process after users slammed it. Is it something about Twitter, Twitter users, or a particular kind of social media that makes customers get heard. And finally, "Saturday Night Live" took the backlash over its lack of female black performers seriously enough to hold a special audition Monday night for seven or eight candidates. The winning candidate will be hired and will join the cast for shows beginning in January.
The budget deal getting a vote in the House essentially undoes sequester cuts set for the current fiscal year. We take stock of what was gained and lost in the sequester experiment, but also look ahead to the remaining eight years of automatic cuts that are still part of the law. Plus, as the FDA tries to curb antibiotic use on the farms, we look at the economics of feeding antibiotics to livestock and poultry: How many extra pounds of pork does it produce, and how big is that animal-husbandry antibiotic market? Finally, Instagram users have a new way to share their photos privately and have text conversations.
If Congress manages to pass the newly-reached bipartisan budget deal, it will mark something of a change. At long last, the government will have finally managed to get out of its own way and stop being a drag on the U.S. economy. One analyst calls such a turn of events "hard to believe." On the other side of the Atlantic, Denmark – yes, Denmark – is staking its claim to the sea surrounding the North Pole, raising tensions among the countries with a stake in the opening of Arctic seas to oil exploration. And finally, Samsung can put a kill switch in its phones, but carriers won’t let customers activate it.
So the Volcker Rule text is out – and now the search for loopholes begins. To what extent have lobbyists and lawmakers already negotiated the workarounds so they’re baked into the Volcker Rule’s language? Also, the U.S. is no longer an investor in General Motors – and today the automaker has a new CEO in the shape of Mary Barra. Finally, the founding chairman of Lululemon has stepped down after 15 years at the head of the company. Investors regarded him as something of a “loose cannon”, and news stories abound of his curious approach to corporate culture.
That steak on your plate? Those mashed potatoes? Them tender greens? Chances are they came to you courtesy of one of America’s food distribution behemoths. The biggest of the bunch, Sysco, is buying U.S. Foods in the biggest food distribution deal in a decade. Plus, the battle over EPA rules for Midwestern and Appalachian air polluters comes down to what economics calls externalities. It all comes down to this question: Pollution isn’t free … but who should pay? And finally, as more people are excluded from homeownership, the demand for rental housing has grown beyond capacity, driving rental costs up.
The unemployment level has fallen to 7 percent for the first time since 2008, after the Labor Department release surprisingly strong jobs data for November. That news comes less than a month before unemployment benefits run out for more than a million Americans. Plus, the ability of businesses to track your every move has taken a leap forward today as Apple activated tracking beacons in its stores, the latest retailer to enable micro-location technology. And finally, hospitals get penalized for readmissions, so now instead of readmitting Medicare patients quickly, they are "observed" for as long as two days. That way the hospital doesn’t risk getting fined … and Medicare doesn't pay.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has appointed former Los Angeles police chief Bill Bratton as head of the NYPD. Why is it that the list of top candidates for the top policing jobs in the U.S. is such a short one? The same candidates seem to reappear time and time again. Plus, a deal to avoid another government shutdown seems to be coalescing around increasing revenues – but not taxes. The government would bring in additional money through user fees. And finally, revised GDP numbers juiced the market today, but the reality behind the data should give us pause. The number’s big because inventories were high last quarter.
Now that regulators are close to deciding on the Volcker Rule, conventional wisdom has shifted from "it will be so weak as to be useless" to "it will be tougher than expected." But what is the rule? Also, the credit rating agency Experian says Americans are taking out bigger car loans and are taking longer to pay them back. We look at what’s behind the return of easy automotive credit, and whether we’re again on the slippery slope of subprime lending. Finally, Newsweek is to be revived, in print.