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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, December 11, 2013 5:41pm
The government shutdown hurt workers in all sorts of industries, including those in steel manufacturing. Completed contracts were haulted and workers were concerned about their futures.
Fortunately for them, the industry is picking up since the end of the shutdown. Lisa Goldenberg, president of Delaware Steel Company in Pennsylvania and president of the Association of Steel Distributors, says inventory is at an all time low and there have been several price increases.
"The road block has been removed, and it's a little bit of the flood gates rolling," says Goldenberg. "It's good!"
Goldenberg says her company is moving inventory as fast as they can make it and she's hopeful for the future.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013 4:37pm
Anthony Murphy works at a hair salon where his phone has been stolen, not once, but three times.
“Yeah....” he says.
“Two of those times I was actually able to get the phone back,” by using tracking apps like Find my iPhone. “I rode around in the police car looking for it and tracking down my phone, it was kinda fun actually.”
But one of those times, Murphy couldn’t track his phone because the phone was turned off.
That’s why a group of Attorneys General want something called a “kill switch” -- where you can send a message to the phone rendering it permanently unusable, and thereby reducing the incentive to steal devices in general.
According to New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman, Samsung came up with such a kill switch, but cellphone carriers including Sprint, AT&T, US Cellular, and T-Mobile have all allegedly barred it.
In a letter, in which San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon is copied, the New York Attorney General asks for “further information relating to your decision to prohibit Samsung....from featuring a “kill-switch”...”
“We believe that one of the reasons they have done so is it really impacts the bottom line, the ability to sell insurance and other products they sell,” says San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. In San Francisco, he says smartphone and tablet thefts account for 50 percent of all robberies.
Cell phone carriers say there has been some sort of misunderstanding.
“No we have not rejected the kill switch,” says Sprint spokeswoman Crystal Davis. “In fact we are working with a number of handset vendors to work on a kill switch type feature.”
A spokesperson for Verizon made the same claim. Both carriers say they want a kill switch that works for all phones, not just one brand. And Davis says having a different kill switch system for every type of phone is onerous.
There is also a security concern, says Iain Gillott, head of iGR.
“Nothing is ever as simple as it seems,” he says. “We read all day about accounts and passwords being hacked.”
He says a kill switch could be hacked too, and preventing abuse of that whether by hackers or by an ex, takes time. District Attorney Gascon isn’t buying it though, he and US Attorney General Eric Schneiderman want cell phone carriers to provide a written explanation by the end of the month.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013 3:19pm
Not many magazines can claim a 100th birthday, but Bowlers Journal International -- the world’s oldest monthly sports magazine -- just celebrated that milestone with a 300-page commemorative edition.
But times have been tough for the sport. Competitive bowlers in America have dropped from nearly nine million in the eighties to about two million today. Bowling journalism recently suffered a blow as 20-year-old Bowling This Month magazine published its final issue in October.
However, Keith Hamilton, president and co-manager of Luby Publishing, which publishes Bowlers Journal International, spins the situation in a different light.
“Bowling's not what it was in terms of being in the forefront, mainstream media, but bowling has evolved from a lot of organized play [and] league play. There's still millions who do it, but there's a lot more casual bowling going on,” Hamilton says.
Hamilton attributes the rise of casual bowling to the creation of more family and youth orientated bowling centers, which was not the norm back in the sport’s heyday.
“When I was growing up as a kid, I didn't bowl. But one reason why I didn't was because I couldn't. Every time I went to the bowling center, they were packed. They turned me away. So I didn't bother, but today's proprietors are trained differently. They are trained how to go after that youth market and how to cultivate them within a bowling center family,” Hamilton says.
This means arcades for the kids and “martini bars and lounges and deck areas” for the adults.
Hamilton also says the sport has adapted the changing times by entering school athletic systems.
“There's 3,000 high schools out there that offer bowling as a letter sport. There's more college programs embracing bowling. Title IX has really kind of paved the way for women bowling,” Hamilton says.
As for the continuing popularity of the magazine, Hamilton credits the company’s dedication to high journalistic standards and its loyal subscribers.
He also notes how advertising factors in the magazine’s content.
“Next time you go into a bowling center... look around. You got the lanes…you got masking units on the wall, you've got the pins, you've got electronics, you have the bar area -- there's so many different industries that go into building of a bowling center that there is an advertiser for each one of those products.”
Although bowling culture has drastically changed from the fifties and sixties -- no more celebrity status bowlers or Saturday afternoons watching tournaments on TV -- Hamilton sees America’s greatest indoor pastime successfully rolling into the present.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013 3:08pm
This final note today, courtesy of the professional networking site LinkedIn.
Their year-end list of the most overused buzzwords on user profiles (resumes, basically)...
'Responsible' is number one.
You're gonna have to do better than that if you wanna get a job, people.
'Strategy' is second...
'Creative' is third.
So hey, let's get creative out there, shall we?
Wednesday, December 11, 2013 2:02pm
It's been a little over two months since the Affordable Care Act's healthcare exchanges opened for business, or were supposed to open for business. Software problems crippled the Healthcare.gov system for weeks after its launch on Oct. 1.
Many small insurers expected to do a lot of business in the new health insurance landscape. In September, the non-profit HMO LA Care had only public insurance plans like Medical to offer. But on Oct.1, when the healthcare exchanges opened, L.A. Care was one of many small insurers getting into the private insurance business.
"We're anticipating hiring about 100 extra people just to handle the phones, the medical management, the kinds of questions that come up, etc." Howard Kahn, the head of LA Care, said then.
LA Care acquired an additional 50,000 square feet of office space for its new hires. Kahn expected the call center would be bustling when the exchange opened. "During the first month we could possibly see as many as 20,000 members or more signing up," he predicted. "It could be higher. It could be lower, depending on how the systems are working."
The systems, of course, did not work. Kahn used a single word to describe what it was like in the call center when the health exchange opened: Quiet.
The 20,000 new customers Kahn was hoping for in the first month did not materialize. L.A. Care has signed up just over 1,000 members. "I would say it has been bumpier then many of us expected," he said.
But business has improved steadily. On a recent afternoon, call center employees were busy answering phones in the new offices. In California, people can log onto the state's health exchange website, Covered California, and compare plans. But because the site is broken, they have to fill out a 23-page paper application.
"What we could do is take them through an application by phone and then mail it to them," said LA Care supervisor Regina Lightner. "It's a little convoluted, they would then sign it and they would then mail it into Covered California." This process can take anywhere from 30 to 45 days.
Despite all the missteps, Khan believes the state will solve these problems soon. "We've made adjustments to our expectations in the short term,"he said. "In the long term we haven't made long-term adjustments to our projections."
On the other side of the countr,y in Baltimore, Peter Beilenson is having similar problems. He was the health commissioner of Baltimore for 13 years, then health commissioner in Howard County for seven. A year ago, he started the Evergreen Coop, a small nonprofit insurer that came into existence because of the Affordable Care Act. Evergreen set up shop in an 1870's cotton mill overlooking a stream about three miles north of downtown Baltimore.
Maryland has had many of the same website failures that plague California. The previouis day, only four people had been able to enroll with Evergreen online. "That's just from the individual exchange, mind you," Beilenson said.
When it became clear the state's website wasn't working, Evergreen changed its strategy. Rather than focusing on individuals, it went after small businesses. "In the two weeks we've been approved for selling small group market here in Maryland, we have over 100 actively involved small businesses in the process of enrolling with us," Beilenson said. "It may be a silver lining of the exchange not working terribly well."
Even with the unexpected small business customers, Evergreen can't succeed without a drastic increase in the number of individuals it enrolls on a daily basis. To break even, Evergreen needs to enroll between 12,000 and 15,000 individuals.
"We are confident we will make that," Beilenson said.
Like Howard Kahn in California, Beilenson believes the problems with the new systems will be solved in the not too distant future and small insurers will be profitable alongside the larger companies that have dominated the market for decades.
June 20, 2013