Marketplace on RADIO IQ with BBC
Marketplace with host Kai Ryssdal produced and distributed by American Public Media focuses on the latest business news both nationally and internationally, the global economy, and wider events linked to the financial markets.
The only national daily business news program originating from the West Coast, Marketplace is noted for its timely, relevant and accessible coverage of business, economics and personal finance.
Friday, April 24, 2015 7:00am
It's time for Silicon Tally! How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?
Friday, April 24, 2015 6:00am
Puerto Rico finance officials warn a government shutdown may be only months away. Puerto Rico is saddled with $70 billion in debt and has been unable to sell the billions in bonds it needs to avoid running out of money.
Heidie Calero, a business consultant there, says the question is whether Puerto Rico's lawmakers will overhaul the tax system.
"Right now we have so many suspense stories that it's really terrible," she says.
This crisis didn't happen overnight. Government spending has outpaced revenue for years. U.S. tax breaks made the island attractive for businesses, and Puerto Rico had itself a moment. Those tax credits ended, but spending went on.
"From investment grade that we were before, a very coveted financial paper, we are now the status of junk," Calero says.
Luiz Mesquita, a business professor at Arizona State, blames mismanagement. Take the troubled Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, which is state run.
"And because of these mismanagements, you see the cost of energy for local businesses to go up significantly," he says.
And when it's expensive to do business in Puerto Rico, companies just don't see the appeal anymore.
Audio for this story is forthcoming.
Friday, April 24, 2015 6:00am
Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, is expected to introduce a new proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020.
Why $12? President Barack Obama used his 2013 State of the Union address to call for raising it from $7.25, its current rate, to $9 an hour. But in his 2014 address, he bumped that up to $10.10 an hour. "$10.10," the President said. "It's easy to remember $10.10."
In the meantime, a fast food workers' movement has been pushing for a $15 an hour wage, and Chicago and Seattle raised theirs to $13 and $15, respectively.
"The good news is ... we are going to learn more about how local labor markets adjust to higher minimum wages," says Arindrajit Dube, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
That's because Chicago and Seattle's hikes will be the highest ever in the U.S.
As for Senator Murray's $12 minimum wage bill: it would increase 75 cents to $8 in 2016, then a dollar more each year until it reaches $12 in 2020.
Gary Burtless, an economist with the Brookings Institution, says it's unlikely to pass in this congress, but "very large majorities of the public believe the minimum wage is too low and we would be better off if we raised it."
Friday, April 24, 2015 6:00am
Apple releases its much-anticipated watch on Friday.
Some customers will start receiving their online orders in the mail. And those willing to pay up to $17,000 for an 18-karat gold version can buy one at one of several high-end fashion boutiques that sell it in just a few cities around the globe, including Paris, London and Los Angeles.
With its price, exclusivity, limited supply and courting of celebrities, Apple has adopted branding techniques from the luxury world.
The company sent watches in advance of the debut to celebrities with fashion influence, including singer Beyonce, who was photographed wearing a gold Apple Watch.
As it has done with other products, Apple is also emphasizing quality. With its high-end gold watch, it's even staking a premium on the gold itself. In a company video, Apple's chief designer Jony Ive said the gold was a special composite.
"Each is a custom alloy, designed to be not only beautiful, but up to twice as hard as standard gold," Ive said.
Even trying on the gold watch at an Apple store is an unusual shopping experience. The expensive watches are kept under lock and key, and are followed around the store by a guard.
Milton Pedraza, who heads the consulting firm Luxury Institute, says Apple has adopted luxury brand techniques in order to further position itself — through its watch — above its competitors and so it won't be forced to compete in price.
At the same time, associating the Apple Watch with high-end fashion could make it more likely that people will buy the cheaper version to associate with the higher-priced one.
"You create this level of exclusivity ... and therefore it has, what we would call, a halo effect. It makes it more compelling ... more desired," says Pedraza.
In its first week of pre-orders, Apple sold 1.4 million watches online, according to Slice Intelligence, an e-commerce research firm. Less than one percent of those pre-orders were the expensive gold watches.
But Apple's high-fashion positioning also has to do with the tricky nature of wearable technologies.
"It could be the most amazing technology in the world, but if it doesn't look good, it's dead in the water," says James Letourneau, who helps run Design.UX, an online company that sells colorful fabric covers for Fitbit movement trackers.
He says once you wear a device, it becomes intensely personal.
"They can't just be an accelerometer in a little box that people walk around in," Letourneau says. "People want it to look nice. And they don't want it to look like everyone else's."
Thursday, April 23, 2015 5:25pm
A couple of details on the likely demise of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal.
Item number one: Comcast isn't going to have to pay the usual breakup fee — the 2 to 5 percent of the sale price that the would-be acquire-er normally pays to the would-be acquire-ee if things go south. It just wasn't in the original paperwork, says Fortune Magazine.
Also, Time Warner Cable CEO Robert Marcus would have gotten an $80 million exit package if the deal had gone through. Or, to look at it another way: more than a million dollars a day for the 45 days from the time Marcus took over to the day the merger was announced.
Sorry about that, Mr. Marcus.
March 31, 2015