Marketplace on RADIO IQ with BBC

Weekdays at 6:00 PM on WVTF and 6:30 PM on RADIO IQ
Kai Ryssdal

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. 

Marketplace, weekdays at 6:00 pm on WVTF and 6:30 pm on our RADIO IQ and RADIO IQ With BBC News networks.

Be sure to check out the  Marketplace Morning Report weekdays at 9:51 on RADIO IQ and RADIO IQ With BBC News.

Composer ID: 
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Program Headlines

  • Friday, May 22, 2015 5:00pm

    The Consumer Price Index rose by 0.1 percent last month, according to figures out Friday. You could think of it as one more piece of evidence in the "no inflation" pile.

    The CPI is used for a variety of things, particularly in adjusting rent and wages, as well as "in private contracts to escalate values of money ... by the government ... to adjust social security, and so forth," says Steve Reed, an economist at the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics who works on the CPI.

    But the CPI isn't what the Federal Reserve looks to when it tries to figure out whether the economy as a whole is experiencing inflation. The Fed prefers the Personal Consumption Expenditures index, or PCE.

    Jeremy Siegel, a finance professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, says both of the measures' "headline" numbers are inaccurate, "and the reason for that is when the price of one good goes up, we substitute it with other goods." For instance, if beef gets expensive, you'll probably just buy some chicken, and your quality of life will not suffer much (if at all).

    That's why the Fed looks not at the headline PCE, but the core PCE, which is the PCE with the volatile prices of food and energy stripped out. Ben Friedman, an economics professor at Harvard, says the Fed is just trying to influence the economy where it can.

    "They're letting the economy respond to movements up or down in oil prices rather than having monetary policy do that," he says.

    The PCE and its core number — will be released on June 1.

  • Friday, May 22, 2015 5:00pm

    You may not know it, but we have an egg-tastrophe on our hands. Thanks to bird flu, an estimated 31 million chickens have been killed — that’s 10 percent of the country’s egg-producing poultry.

    Randy Pesciotta, vice president of the egg department at Urner Barry, a commodity market news reporting service, says prices for wholesale eggs have almost doubled, and it's the wholesale market that's going to feel the pinch of higher prices first.

    Phil Lempert, a food industry analyst for companies like McDonald's, which relies heavily on eggs, notes that the shortage may be difficult.

    “About 25 percent of McDonald’s sales rest in breakfast," he says.

    And it’s not clear where companies like McDonald's can turn for cheaper eggs. Certainly not from neighbors such as Canada and Mexico — those countries were already buying eggs from the U.S. While there is talk of getting egg-sports from the EU, Pesciotta says there’s a problem. In the U.S., producers wash and refrigerate eggs to protect against salmonella. But the EU vaccinates its chickens and says washing can damage shells, making eggs more vulnerable to bacteria.

    Pesciotta says that unless the U.S. and the EU can agree on egg-zactly what makes eggs safe, we may have an egg-pocolypse.

    “They produce to their set of rules. We produce to our set of rules," he said, "they’re different.”

  • Friday, May 22, 2015 5:00pm

    The state of Missouri recently suspended its incentives program for IBM after the company reported layoffs at a new center it had opened in Columbia. The state said IBM didn't make good on its promise to maintain at least 500 jobs there. Other states are also taking a hard look at economic incentives they granted to businesses to relocate or open new facilities.

  • Friday, May 22, 2015 5:00pm

    One of the questions we received from listeners as part of our "I’ve Always Wondered" series is about why companies are willing to give you extra for free.

    Eileen Lee wrote us to ask: "Why is it that, every once in a while, my favorite brand of shampoo, food or drink gives me an extra 20 percent free?  Why would a company do this?”

    Lee is a statistician and demographer who is finishing up and publishing her master’s thesis. She’s a very careful shopper, dissecting special offers and deals. And she’s very particular. For example, her chicken nuggets have to be dinosaur shaped. Why?

    “I like biting the heads off,” Lee says.

    Eileen and I are on a virtual shopping date. I’m at my favorite store in Wheaton, Maryland, just outside Washington. She’s at a store near Los Angeles, where she’s from. We head to the shampoo aisle. Eileen spots a get-more-free deal right away.

    “Yeah, Organix – they have some oil of Morocco shampoo and it’s 50 percent more free,” she says.

    So will she buy it?

    “No, I’ve used their stuff before," she says. "I don’t like it. It makes my hair feel weird.”

    Eileen’s got a brand of shampoo she likes, and sticks with. Ditto for toilet paper and detergent. We go down aisle after aisle, looking for a get-more-for-less deal she likes. We don’t find any. Hence her question.

    “What made me ask the question was that I never fall for that," she says. "If I see an extra 20 percent, and if it’s not the same brand I’ve been using or the same particular series of brands, then I wouldn’t even think of  choosing it.”

    So Eileen never goes for those deals. But, turns out, lots of other people do. That’s part of the answer to Eileen’s question.  

    “It gives you an effective discount that’s very tangible and enables you to differentiate your product from the others on the shelf," says Ira Kalb, assistant professor of clinical marketing at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern Calfornia. "And it sways people to your brand.”

    You want consumers to try it and get hooked on it. Pepsi was among the first companies to experiment with get-more-for-free in the 1930s.

    “But they hit upon this idea that they would have a package twice the size but they’d sell it for the same price as the Coke, which was a nickel," says Robert Schindler, a professor of marketing at Rutgers University. 

    Pepsi promoted the deal with this radio jingle: 

    Back in the grocery store, Eileen says I’ve answered her question. But she’s still not interested in the get-more-for-less deals. Now, manufacturer’s coupons? That’s different.

    “Because then I can actually calculate if it’s actually cheaper," she says. "Whereas with the 20 percent free, I have to calculate, OK, what was the normal price and am I getting more product?”     

    But that's an I’ve Always Wondered question for another day.

  • Friday, May 22, 2015 5:00pm

    Grantland writer Wesley Morris is at the Cannes Film Festival and fills us in on what’s going on.

    On the vibe at Cannes:

    The vibe is, “What happened to the movies?” We saw "Mad Max" on the first day, and we’ve been trying to see "Mad Max" ever since. It is amazing. It is the best movie, and very little that we’ve seen since then has been as great, especially in the main competition.

    On the artistic direction of the movies being shown:

    The financing for these movies has really compromised some of the artistic choices that a filmmaker can make.... You have money coming from all over the world, and it dictates certain things. Like, if you’re a Greek director and you’re getting Irish money, then you have to take Colin Farrell with the money you get, which happened. It happened at a movie this year!

    On making movies in different languages:

    There are a number of other directors, maybe like six other directors, making movies for the first time or maybe the second time, not in their native language. And the results are kind of mediocre. You wonder if that has something to do with it.

    On people getting turned away for not wearing the right thing:

    It’s not the scandal that people are making it out to be. It’s not happening every night, but everybody’s got a story about how it happened to them or someone in their party …where you were denied entry because you were not appropriately dressed. It has caused a great deal of consternation and a greater deal of comedy. It is one of the pleasures of coming to this festival. You need some ridiculous thing to happen if you can’t get a great movie.