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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, March 7, 2014 6:24pm
It's not every day that people get fired up over retirement planning, but that's what happened at AOL last month when employees lashed out over the company's move to make year-end, lump-sum contributions to their 401(k) plans instead of matches every pay period.
In the aftermath one state regulator wants to know how many other companies have made that switch. Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin says most people are less than mindful about saving for retirement. "Especially younger employees. When they get their 401(k) statement they toss it in the heap with everything else. I know I was guilty of that for many years."
That's a big mistake, Galvin adds, because pension plans are a thing of the past. He says American workers are more dependent than ever on their 401(k)s for retirement savings, and they stand to lose money if their company contributes only once a year. "They’re going to suffer the loss of whatever benefit of compounding – that is having that money in their account earning interest for that whole year –would be." Add to that if you leave your job mid-year you can kiss the entire contribution goodbye.
Galvin says people deserve to know in advance when their employers stop making 401(k) matches with every paycheck, and why, so he’s asked two-dozen of the country’s major 401(k) providers to tell him by March 10th how many companies have switched to once a year. The largest of those providers, Fidelity Investments, tells Marketplace: it’s a small number – and mostly large employers.
"You have increased cost of benefits; that has to be covered," says economist Robert Merton, a Nobel Laureate in Economics and a Professor of Finance at MIT. He points out that some of the companies in question could be trying to avoid other, more painful cuts such as health care benefits, but he says they should be transparent about it. "You have to not look at the one act, you have to look at why they did it, or at least why they said they did it. Almost everything is a tradeoff, so being informed about it is helpful."
Massachusetts Secretary of State Galvin says Congress might have to get involved if more companies move to once-a-year matching.
At the Employee Benefits Research Institute, president Dallas Salisbury says the rising cost of health care could drive that trend, and workers should expect changes. "Overall costs in the economy and their overall pay package gets adjusted all the time," he says. "If they think they’re not being treated fairly then go look for a new job."
Salisbury says, bottom line, whether people choose to save enough money on their own is what will determine when and how they can retire.
Friday, March 7, 2014 9:34am
OK, I'll admit it: Neil DeGrasse Tyson isn't the usual fare for Marketplace Tech. His remake of the old Carl Sagan show Cosmos-which premiers on Fox this Sunday-could be called more of a science show than a technology show.
As we prepare to interview DeGrasse Tyson this weekend at SXSW Interactive, I'm thinking about how our exploration of space and understanding of space has had a lot to do with technology. I want to ask him about that and how he imagines alien technology might be different than our own. Where might alien technology get its power? How might it be controlled? It's possible that Neil DeGrasse Tyson's guess is as good as anyone's... but I bet he's got some ideas. At the very least, he'll probably be wearing a cool vest.
How will the remake of "Cosmos" do? Hard to tell with a guy like Seth McFarlane working on it. It could be great, and it could be terrible. But the trailer is promising, and the host is the perfect choice.
If you haven't watched the older Sagan series -- or haven't seen it in a while -- it's worth a watch (see video below). When the show launched in 1980, producers used some of the most cutting edge special effects technology to represent the space-scapes Sagan was talking about.
Remember his awesome spaceship? Here are some highlights:
Friday, March 7, 2014 8:12am
The owner of the Albertson's supermarket chain announced Thursday that it is buying Safeway Inc. for $9 billion, combining two of the nation's biggest grocery businesses. But the combined company won't be the biggest by a long shot. Combined, they will still be smaller than Kroger, and lumping all three chains together still wouldn't bring them close to matching the grocery sales at Wal-Mart.
This gives us an idea of why these chains might want to consolidate: as a big global player, Wal-Mart uses its size to squeeze out tons of efficiencies, and it aims to keep growing. The grocery business has been consolidating to compete: Albertson's and Safeway already operate a bunch of smaller, regional chains that they've swallowed over the years: Vons, Tom Thumb, Amigos, Jewel-Osco, Lucky—a total of 15.
The merger will take some time to complete, and in one sense, the deal isn’t completely done—Safeway has three weeks to entertain other offers, and Kroger might be interested (they’d have to pay the current bidders a quarter-billion dollars as a cancellation fee). The Federal Trade Commission will perform a review of the deal to make sure a merger would not create monopolies in some markets; the companies have already said they may have to ditch some stores in some cities to accommodate the FTC.
Assuming they clear all those hurdles, the companies say they expect the deal to actually close late this year. Until then, they say they’ll still be competitors in some cities.
Friday, March 7, 2014 5:00am
It's time for Silicon Tally. How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?
This week's guest joins us from Austin, Texas in preparation for our trip to SXSW. Nathan Bernier is a host and reporter for KUT, the local NPR station.
Friday, March 7, 2014 5:00am
The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is underway in Maryland, and has drawn some of the brightest stars in the Republican galaxy, including Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan.
CPAC is three days of networking, high-profile speeches, and a number of cleverly-titled breakout sessions, which this year include:
- What's the Deal with Global Warming?
- Not All Quiet on the Western Front: Conservatives are Alive in Hollywood!
- Rocky Mountain High: Does Legalized Pot Mean Society's Going Up In Smoke?
- The American Dream vs. The Obama Nightmare: Income Inequality
- The Death of American Privacy: Does it Matter if the Government Records Every Phone Call, E-mail and Text You Send?
- Social Media 3.0: The Next Revolution Will Start on your Phone. (Let's Hope Conservatives Don't Miss It.)
and, finally, a two-parter
- Healthcare after ObamaCare: A Practical Guide for Living When No One Has Insurance and America Runs out of Doctors.
September 30, 2013