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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.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 2:53pm
Like its neighbors, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Oman has oil. But unlike others in the region, Oman’s supply is limited so it’s been trying to diversify the economy by encouraging small businesses, and pushing locals to work, especially in the private sector. The results have been mixed.
Salma’s Chocolates is a tiny café and store in the lobby of the Bank of Oman; it’s the kind of small business that a lot of people here think is the future of Oman’s economy.
What sets Salma’s apart from the competition are the local flavors it uses. “We have old sweets that started to vanish,” explained Aisha Al Hajri, one of the owners, “so we choose to take the old generation sweets like the halwa, the caramelized sesame and there’s a kind of sweet called mahoo, it’s like a toffee.”
They source the sweets from local producers, and then fill their chocolates with them.
Although they pride themselves on local ingredients, Al Hajri and her co-owner (and the store’s namesake) Salma Al Hajri are the only Omani employees.
“The rest are foreigners,” Aisha Al Hajri said. “For a small business in Oman, it’s difficult to hire an Omani due to the minimum wages.”
Instead, they use foreign workers from the Philippines, India and Indonesia. There’s no minimum wage for foreign workers. (Although, Al Hajri, says, they do pay them a living wage.)
About 15 percent of Omanis are unemployed, but a lot of them would rather have government jobs, because they have shorter hours and other perks. To get more locals to work, the government has been raising the minimum wage for Omanis in the private sector.
David Mednicoff, director of Middle Eastern Studies at U Mass-Amherst, says changing Omani attitudes about private sector employment will be hard. “The new expectation they’re going to be shaping,” he said. “If you’re young, looking for a job, you can’t count on the public sector. This is going to be a very big shift."
Other countries in the Persian Gulf, like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, also want more locals to work in the private sector; Mednicoff thinks Oman is more likely to succeed, partly because its native population is bigger.
But Aisha Al-Hajjri isn’t sure about that. She recently offered her young cousin a job, and the woman turned it down saying a private sector job just wasn’t stable enough.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 7:20am
"After hearing all the .buzz and .reviews surrounding .london, we’ve finally settled on the .uk as our destination for our 2014 .vacations": these dot-words are possible future top-level domain names expected to be released in the upcoming months since the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) began its rollout of new top-level domain names on January 24 of this year.
Since its inception, over 175 domain names have been created, and on Wednesday, you can start to register domain names ending in .holiday and .marketing.
- Marketplace reported on the new domain frontier earlier this year when things got underway, and here's an update on how to create your own .holiday:
- You can visit hockey.today, jamesforbes.photography, or vintageelectric.bike to see these new domain names in action.
- The most popular names thus far include .guru, .berlin, .photography, .email and .today.
- Some companies are pushing for industries to cluster around specific names.
For example, luxury brands such as Chanel, Balenciaga, Ferragamo and Harry Winston, Isabel Mirant, and a few others have already registered with the domain name .luxury, according to Zoe Coady of Brandstyle Communications.
".Luxury is providing an innovative platform and competitive advantage for companies to position themselves within the luxury space. For the first time, luxury goods and services will now be found in one place online," said Monica Kirchner, CEO, .Luxury.
Here's a screenshot from the TSOHOST.com website displays domain names expected to launch April 2014:
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 6:36am
If you're in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday and look way, way up, you might see a Mustang perched on the observation deck of the Empire State Building -- a triple yellow, 2015 model. It's Ford's way of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the iconic car. The Mustang's design was so innovative it had a huge impact on auto makers and car culture, and Ford is still making the cars today.
Mark Takahashi, an editor with automotive website Edmunds.com, says the first Mustangs sold for around $2,300. When the first Mustang came out, in 1964, it was a hit.
"People driving around the first Mustangs were being hunted down on boulevards, being asked to pull over, so they could take a look at the car," he says. "You pull into a parking lot and you're just swamped with people – it was just such a big deal back then."
The Mustang's sales, he said, blew away expectations. "They expected to sell 100,000 the first year, and they ended up selling 100,000 the first three months."
David Whiston, an equity analyst with Morningstar, says the Mustang was built on the platform of another car, the Falcon, which saved a lot on development, engineering and design costs.
"It was sporty, it was cool. It was something you wanted to drive, or take to the beach, but it was also -- and the key thing for why it was still around -- it was affordable."
A lot of automakers today, notes Whitson, are interested in building multiple models on the same platform. Luckily he says, they won't have to reinvent the wheel.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 6:34am
If you're a shrimp lover, you may be wondering why you're paying more for your favorite shrimp cocktail or Pad Thai. It's a bacterial infection ravaging shrimp farms in Southeast Asia called "early mortality syndrome" or EMS. The disease doesn't affect people, but it kills baby shrimp.
Shrimp farms in China, Vietnam, Thailand and Mexico have all been affected, but production in Vietnam and Thailand has dropped by more than half. Now the U.S. is getting most of its shrimp from India, not Thailand, and the shortage has caused price spikes.
"I would say the import prices went up anywhere from 50 to 100 percent, depending on what the item was," says Marc Nussbaum, president and COO for shrimp and seafood importer International Marketing Specialists. "Due to this, retailers have moved their prices up."
And that, dear consumer, is why you may opt for the fettucine alfredo instead of shrimp scampi next time you eat Italian.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 6:10am
Santa Clara County in the south Bay Area has the fifth biggest homeless population in the United States. Over 7,600 people are without a home on any given night, in Silicon Valley's backyard.
People like Elizabeth Garber. At 2:30 in the morning, she sits on on a crowded Valley Transportation Authority bus somewhere in San Jose.
"I've been homeless for about eight months so far, riding the Bus 22 every night, as many times at night as we have money for," she says.
Bus 22. It's a regular city bus line during the day - traveling between East San Jose and Palo Alto. But at night, for $2 a ride, it unofficially becomes Hotel 22 to dozens of people like Elizabeth Garber.
She stays on the bus every night with her husband Michael, who explains they ride the bus for the full two hours of its route. Then they stand out in the cold, waiting for the next bus to head back the other way.
"Back and forth, back and forth. I try to get sleep when I can, and then it's just figuring out where to go in the morning from there," he says.
Michael says they get about three to five hours of sleep a night, which takes its toll.
"I've missed interviews because I've fallen asleep on the bus in the morning and missed my stop," he says. "I've missed court dates, all kinds of stuff. It's like, okay, I have to get off at this stop, and then you don't even feel yourself going, next thing you know, you wake up, oh you're at the end of the line. I don't know how many opportunities I've lost because of it."
The Garbers say they've tried to sign up for affordable housing, but nothing has panned out.
"There's a one percent vacancy rate in the county," says Bob Dulci, homeless concerns coordinator for Santa Clara County, "which makes it extremely difficult to provide housing for folks, even though we have a lot of rent subsidy dollars."
With the market so competitive, Dulci says, landlords are much more likely to go for someone with a stable job history, instead a person coming off the streets.
Michael Garber said sleeping on the bus is the lowest point of his life, but it could be worse.
"At least out here I'm still free, I'm not incarcerated or somthing like that. It could be a lot worse," he says. "Although sometimes it does feel like jail, you're crowded and shuffled along, no sense of privacy, no sense of decency or anything like that."
I ask Michael what he thinks about the nickname "Hotel 22."
"I call it home," he says.
And next winter, one of Santa Clara County's biggest shelters is closing -- possibly forcing more people onto Hotel 22.
March 31, 2014