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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.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 5:24pm
Yoga apparel giant LuluLemon Athletica appears to making some big life changes and getting in shape. The company announced it has appointed a new CEO, Laurent Potdevin, former CEO of TOMS Shoes. He will replace CEO Christine Day. What's more, Dennis “Chip” Wilson, the chairman and founder, is stepping down.
LuluLemon has taken heat recently for a high profile recall of transparent pants (not to mention Wilson’s remarks that some women’s bodies aren’t made for said pants). That would be an issue for any brand, but for LuluLemon, its brand and its culture are indistinguishable.
"The company is about a culture, a mindset. And I think their brilliance was being able to tap into that mindset and nurture it for so long," says Candace Corlett, President of WSL Strategic Retail.
That mindset of health, wellness….and other things.
"Brian Tracey CDs were huge. 'Good to Great was on the book club list," recalls writer and journalist Elizabeth Licorish, who worked at LuluLemon in 2011, while attending grad school. She says she was surprised at some of the material the company encouraged her to read.
"It culminated in Atlas Shrugged, which nobody had read," she says. "Nobody had read Ayn Rand, but you would mention her and their eyes would kind of glaze over, like Ayn Rand and objectivism and we believe!"
Licorish says employees were also encouraged to join Landmark, a well-known series of self-help seminars and that there was a lot of pressure put on eating right and taking the company’s free fitness classes. "That know that sounds great," says Licorish, "but that kind of translates into pressure to go to cross-fit at 5:30 in the morning before you work all day."
Licorish says customers felt the pressure, too. She says the store didn’t treat plus sized customers very well. I called LuluLemon to ask about this… they didn’t respond in time for broadcast.
"At times these corporate cultures can run amok and I think a little of that happened at LuluLemon," says John Horan, founder of Sporting Goods Intelligence. Horan says LuluLemon’s a strong corporate culture inspires employees, but when a culture starts to get exclusionary, it’s bad for business. Still he says, while the company's brand image clearly needs some remodeling, there's a lot of good there.
"They have terrific people in the stores, people who really are committed to the brand and to the products. That’s the upside to their culture," he says.
Horan says the new CEO needs to be careful not to throw the baby out with the transparent yoga pants.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 5:12pm
The federal government was officially closed Tuesday because of Washington’s snowstorm, but that didn’t keep five federal agencies from finalizing the Volcker Rule, part of the Dodd Frank financial reform law designed to keep banks away from risky investments. The rule itself is about 70 pages -- but there are almost 900 pages of preamble.
And that's what lawyers like Oliver Ireland, a partner at Morrison and Foerster, are parsing.
"I will spiral into the rule," he says.
He's searching for for what some call loopholes. He prefers to call them exclusions.
"I’m going to be looking for things that it’s not covering and where it was probably too broad to begin with," he says.
Things like what kinds of bank trades the rule applies to. It’s designed to keep banks out of the kind of trouble that helped cause the financial crisis. But at the same time, regulators didn’t want to crimp the financial markets or make it more expensive to borrow money. So they made the rules really flexible, says Joel Telpner, a partner at Jones Day.
"These issues are so complicated that it’s impossible for regulators to anticipate every concern that’s going to arise,” he says.
Critics say that flexibility was baked into the rule by bank lobbyists. Lobbyists and lawyers aren't the only ones pouring over thick stacks of paper. So is Marcus Stanley, who is with the consumer group Americans for Financial Reform.
"If you open this rule to any random page you’re going to see words like reasonable, as necessary," he says. "Words that require judgment by the regulators.”
Stanley says there need to be limits on how flexibly the rules are implemented. Otherwise, he says, banks will find loopholes and, in his words, blast them wide open.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 5:05pm
Ahead of the Christmas holiday, House and Senate negotiators from both parties have introduced a deal designed to avert automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect on Jan. 15.
The agreement is narrow -- not the "grand bargain" some members of both parties had hoped for. The bill does not tackle Medicare and Social Security, and it would raise military spending and domestic spending without raising taxes. It also doesn't address long-term unemployment benefits which are scheduled to expire at the end of the year. Nor does it address the government’s borrowing limit -- the so-called "debt ceiling" -- that is set to be reached in early February.
Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee, introduced the compromise at a news conference.
Under the deal, federal workers would contribute more to their pensions, and travelers would pay higher fees on airline tickets.
Ryan called the plan "a step in the right direction."
"I think this is a clear improvement on the status quo," he said, adding that it "brings normalcy back to government."
Lawmakers wanted to introduce the bill before midnight so members of the House could have an opportunity to vote on it before Friday, when they are scheduled to head home to their districts.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 4:33pmWe were at Marketplace Money have been asking our listeners what their financial New Year's resolution will be in 2014. What's on your list?
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 4:15pm
For almost exactly a year now, Cerberus Capital Management, the $20 billion private equity and hedge fund group, has been trying to sell one of its key holdings: Freedom Group, the biggest gunmaker in the country.
Freedom makes the weapon used at Sandy Hook elementary school one year ago this coming Saturday.
According to a report in the New York Times:
Instead of selling the company, executives from the Freedom Group explained on Monday during a conference call with about 35 creditors that Cerberus was working on a new step: helping its investors who were seeking to distance themselves from the industry sell their interests in the firearms maker.
September 27, 2013