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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.
Friday, December 20, 2013 8:15am
Parents can agonize this time of year about what to give their kids’ teachers.
“Because you don’t know what everyone else is giving,” says Kim Egan, a mother of two in Santa Monica, Calif. “You don’t want to under-give. You don’t want to over-give.”
This year Egan opted to pool her money with other parents. She gave $50 for each of her two kids. Her daughter is also making a doll to give. Pretty modest next to some gifts reported in Anchorage, Alaska.
“There are some that are relatively outrageous,” says Todd Hess, chief human resources officer at Anchorage School District. “From plane tickets to Hawaii, to a fur coat, to diamond jewelry.”
Perks like that are rare, says Hess, but the district is mulling a ban on gifts worth more than $50. Thursday night the school board in Arlington County, Va., voted to limit gifts to employees to $100 per family, per year.
At Boulder Valley Schools in Colorado, the cap is $25 per gift. Chief financial officer Leslie Stafford says that’s to avoid any appearance of a bribe.
“Possibly a parent wanting to influence a student’s grade,” she says. “By keeping it small, we just get rid of any of those questions.”
Such policies also protect kids and parents who can’t afford a big gift from feeling awkward about it. For parents who really want to give more, Stafford suggests donating to books to the school library.
Former teacher Clare Golding, now a stay-at-home parent of two in Raleigh, N.C., suggests giving school supplies.
“Teachers spend so much of their own money on their classroom,” she says.
One thing she has stopped recommending -- Starbucks gift cards.
“Everybody does it,” she says, “and I have had teacher friends of mine go, ‘I couldn’t drink all this coffee in a year if I tried.’”
Friday, December 20, 2013 7:29am
Hollywood doesn’t want free trade to mean free, illegal downloads of movies. Or bootleg sales. Anissa Brennan, vice president for International Affairs and Trade Policy at the Motion Picture Association of America, wants the treaty to follow U.S. law, which doesn’t allow movie goers to film what’s on the screen, then sell illegal copies.
She explains, “If you go into a theater and you record a film without the permission of the theater owner, that is a criminal act.”
Brennan also wants the trade deal to extend copyrights to the life of the author plus 70 years. Bill Watson is a trade policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, who advocates free trade. He says U.S. negotiators have taken Hollywood’s position, which isn’t very popular.
"To the extent that other countries are unwilling to take on these obligations, it threatens the viability of the agreement," he says
Watson doesn’t think the movie protections the U.S. is pushing for will derail the trade negotiations. But he says it’s putting stress on a very fragile deal.
Friday, December 20, 2013 7:14am
For a global exchange handling nearly a hundred million dollars worth of trading a day, I was picturing shiny glass offices overlooking an impressive trading floor. But when I arrive to the office of BTC China, I squeeze past two dozen employees cramped inside a fifteen hundred square foot room to get to CEO Bobby Lee. Lee says six months ago when he started BTC China, this tiny space worked fine. "But to our surprise, roughly 6 months, we’re practically full. We have thirty people here and it’s been a wild ride," says Lee. "Very fast. It’s bitcoin time."
And in a Bitcoin minute, Lee’s Bitcoin exchange just lost its ability to accept deposits in Chinese currency. The People’s Bank of China told third party payment providers -- Chinese equivalents of Paypal -- to stop all transactions in Bitcoin, essentially ending their relationship with Bitcoin exchanges.
"A third party payment company is critical to our function," says Lee. "So if we are ever told that we no longer have the ability to work with third party payment companies, then essentially our business model is going to be at risk."
Before China’s government became involved, a single Bitcoin was worth more than a thousand dollars. Today it’s worth around half that. This roller coaster ride is thanks to Bitcoin’s enormous popularity in China -- a country where people have few good investment options and where speculating is sport. It’s attracted a certain type of person: nine of every ten Chinese who owns Bitcoin are like office worker Xiao Xiao: male, under 40, and college educated. Xiao says he’s not scared of China’s new Bitcoin rules. “China’s government hasn’t completely banned Bitcoin here. In fact, it can’t," says Xiao. "It can try to ban investment in Bitcoin, but it can’t stop it.”
It is a digital currency after all, says Xiao. As long as you have an internet connection, and at least one place in the world that allows an exchange to operate, Bitcoin will survive. When I tell Xiao how much Bitcoin’s price has fallen this week, he looks surprised -- he hasn’t been checking the markets. "I didn’t know the price dropped that much. I think I’ll wait a couple of days and see what happens," he says.
And if the price of Bitcoin drops further? Xiao says he’ll buy more.
Thursday, December 19, 2013 5:06pm
KAI RYSSDAL: All this week Stephen Beard has been making a grand tour of Europe of sorts. He's workin' -- reporting on the young and out of work on the continent. We're calling the series Jobless Generation, Because many of Europe's biggest economies have youth unemployment rates that you could fairly call astronomical. Italy is out of recession now, but business leaders there say the recovery will be slow and tough. Toughest of all perhaps for young Italians, whose unemployment rate is around 35 percent. From Rome, here's Stephen.
(sound of church bells)
STEPHEN BEARD: The churches and the classical architecture are among of the glories of Italy. And so is the foundation stone of its society -- the strength and warmth of the family. But cracks are beginning to appear in that critical institution. Even the most loving families are under pressure from ever rising youth unemployment
CHRISTINA LUPO: When I talk with my father, with my mother they can't understand our situation. They think that: find a job…it's really simple
BEARD: 24-year-old Christina Lupo has been unemployed or in unpaid work since graduating more than a year ago. Her parents support her, but now a little grudgingly now
LUPO: They say to me: you don't know how to find a job! You are a negative person.
BEARD: Firing off five job applications a day, Christina finds the criticism hard to take -- from a generation that she says had an easier start in life
LUPA: My mother, after graduation -- after two weeks -- she found a job. For me it's impossible after two weeks of graduation. It's a dream. For our generation it's a dream.
BEARD: Other young Italians complain about older people hogging the jobs. They claim there's a fetish about seniority, that the nation is so much in love with antiquity, so intent on preserving its ancient ruins, that one of them is even running the country
LUIGI MAIORANO: We have a President that I personally like but he's 90, basically.
BEARD: University researcher Luigi Maiorano.
MAIORANI: Can't we find somebody who is 60 or so to be the President of the country? Don't we have anyone like that?
BEARD: Maiorano -- who's in his 30's -- has to hop from one short term contract to another. A permanent university job only comes with middle age. He says this emphasis on age rather than merit leads to higher youth unemployment and economic stagnation
BEARD: This not a meritocratic society in your view?
MAIORANO: No, Not the university and not the society.
BEARD: The older generation is fighting back. 80 year old Rosario Nicoletti retired as a Professor at Rome University at the age of 76. He agrees that Italy is turning into a gerontocracy..But he says the young are partly to blame
ROSARIO NICOLETTI: The fault is also in the younger generation which are not able to replace the old people. The young are less and less skilled.
BEARD: He claims the country's record high youth unemployment is largely due to the callowness of many young Italians
NICOLETTI: The young generation live in an environment protected by their parents.
BEARD: You're saying the young have had it too easy?
NICOLETTI : Yeah, they have a too easy life.
BEARD: More than half of all 18-34 year olds here are still living at home. "Bambioccini,"a government minister once called them. It means "Big Babies" or mollycoddled youth. Another minister accused the young unemployed of being too choosy in looking for their first job -- unprepared to get their hands dirty.
32-year-old unemployed graduate Claudia Bernardi
CLAUDIA BERNARDI: I'm not choosy!
BEARD: Would you wait at tables, would you work in a café, would you sweep floors?
BERNARDI: I already did it. And I don't understand that after 13 years of study I have to do it again.
BEARD: So why does she think she's too good for menial work?
BERNARDI: I'm too much qualified and maybe even too much smart to sweep the floor after having one degree, and one PhD. So maybe I am qualified for other work.
BEARD: Thousands of young unemployed but highly qualified Italians HAVE flown the nest and gone to look for work abroad, in a more vibrant, flexible economy, in a city where youth is an advantage. Tomorrow we'll find out how some of them are faring -- in London. In Rome, I'm Stephen Beard for Marketplace.
Thursday, December 19, 2013 4:56pm
Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual year-end press conference was hours long, but the real news came after it was over.
Putin told a reporter he plans to pardon a high-profile political opponent, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Once an oil tycoon, Khodorkovsky has spent 10 years behind bars on charges of fraud and tax evasion.
"His [Khodorkovsky's] mother is ill now and that is why he is asking for a pardon. His lawyer and his representatives say they were unaware of any such request," says the BBC's Rafael Saarkov, who was at the press conference. "So it's still mysterious and it was really a big surprise for everybody."
Suspicions are that Putin's showing his softer side leading up to the Olympics in Sochi in February.
June 18, 2013