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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, July 22, 2014 5:51pm
By 2015, the Obama administration will evaluate colleges on average tuition cost, low-income student enrollment, graduation rates and job earnings after graduation.
When they released this proposal last year, the higher education community generally disagreed with their criteria. One strong critic is Drew Faust, the president at Harvard University. Here are some measurements she thinks are important to consider:
Measurement: Jobs, but not salaries.
Faust is not opposed to focusing on kinds of work students can do after they graduate. However, she believes emphazing earnings at a first job distorts the picture.
"Some of our economists at Harvard have done analysis of this, and find that you really only begin to get an accurate reflection of lifetime earnings if you look at 10 years out. So I think they’re looking hard at more nuanced ways of measuring output of education.”
Measurement: The percentage of students on financial aid.
Of course, she cites the stats from Harvard: They accepted 5.9 percent of the 24,294 applicants for the entering class of 2014, and Faust says they have expanded financial aid programs so that those select few can actually afford to enroll.
"We have a financial aid policy that supports 60 percent of our undergraduates," she said. "They pay an average of $12,000 a year."
Faust also said that about 20 percent of Harvard's class makes no parental or family contribution at all.
Measurement: How digital-forward teaching is.
The big push at Harvard right now is digital — Harvard edX, where anyone can take classes from their computer. Faust says this provides acess to the knowledge and research for students, researchers and educators around the globe.
"We get many students from Asia and Europe," she says, "and our students expect to live their lives and practice their professions and fields in a global environment."
Faust also says learning and "the fundamental value of learning and challenging ourselves in the realm of research and relating our research and teaching" are key principles to any education system. She thinks its better to focus on how education and learning can better a student, rather than how much they will make.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 5:39pm
We've all heard Congress is in recess more than it's actually in session, but there's more to the story.
It turns out Congress working during August is actually against the law.
Congress will recess for its summer break next Friday because the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 says it has to according to the Washington Post.
In fact the House and Senate shall recess, "not later than July 31 of each year...to the second day after Labor Day."
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 5:39pm
The Labor Department released Tuesday its monthly measurement of inflation, called the Consumer Price Index. According to the report, prices inched up from May to June, but just barely. Overall, the CPI was up 0.3 percent last month. And if you take out volatile stuff like food and energy, as the Labor Department likes to do, prices rose just 0.1 percent.
Although inflation is still pretty modest right now, it doesn't always feel like it, says economist John Canally with the brokerage firm LPL Financial.
“Most of us drive past the gas station every day; most of us go to the grocery store and have to buy staples. On the stuff that we see every day, those prices tend to be rising at a faster rate than the rest of the price deck,” he says.
Meanwhile prices for stuff we don’t buy on a daily basis, such as a flat screen TV or a car, have actually fallen slightly in the last month. When you add all those trends up, inflation is sluggish. But so are workers’ wages. They're just barely keeping pace with inflation. Meaning, for the time being, businesses need to keep prices pretty low.
“It's really hard to get the price increases at the taco stand or at the burger joint or anywhere else to stick if people don't have enough money or enough wages to pay those price increases,” Cannally says.
With wages and prices at a sort of deadlock, the bogeyman of runaway inflation that we saw in the 1970s just is not a threat right now, says Mark Kuperberg, an economist at Swarthmore College.
“People need to chillax a bit about it - chill out and not worry so much,” he says.
While runaway inflation may not be a worry, we don't want to head toward deflation, either, warns Sarah Watt House, an economist at Wells Fargo Securities.
“We don’t want to see prices going down so low that nobody goes out and buys anything because they assume that prices will be cheaper tomorrow,” she says.
We're trying to hang on to an economy where the prices aren’t too hot, aren’t not too cold, House says. “It’s the Goldilocks’ sweet spot.”
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 5:39pm
It’s like an episode of “Hoarders.” Corporate America can’t stop collecting cash.
“I think most CFOs would not admit they’ve hoarded too much cash,” says John Graham, finance professor at Duke University.
He estimates that companies have about 50 percent more cash on their balance sheets than they did 10 or 15 years ago.
Is it time for an intervention?
“They did just live through the financial crisis,” he says. “They think they're being prudent, you want to hold your cash, in case it becomes difficult to borrow down the road.”
Non-financial companies — like Microsoft and Merck — had a total of $1.6 trillion in cash at the end of 2013, according to Moody’s.
“A lot of money is effectively just sitting there.” says Richard Lane, a senior vice president at Moody’s. “And, where it’s sitting increasingly is offshore.”
It’s locked up overseas, mostly to avoid U.S. taxes.
“I don’t need Apple to save money. My local bank or credit union will handle it for me just fine,” says David Cay Johnston, a lecturer at Syracuse University’s College of Law. Corporate hoarding affects the economy.
“What you’re not seeing them do with this cash is invest in new factories and research operations, which would create jobs and fundamentally grow the business,” Johnston says.
There are signs companies are loosening up a little. Apple just made its biggest-ever acquisition, spending $3 billion to acquire headphone maker Beats.
And activists are increasingly pressuring companies to give more of their profits back to investors.
In a recent survey of CFOs, about half said their companies are going to invest in their businesses soon. But the other half? They’re not budging.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 5:39pm
You'd think a giant company that buys planes would have a half-decent relationship with a giant company that makes planes. And, for the most part, Delta and Boeing have been business buddies over the years. But now, these two big guns of American aviation are lined up on opposite sides of one of the biggest policy fights rocking Congress: The debate over the Export-Import bank.
Big companies tend to get their way in Washington because opponents are usually weak. Think Wall Street versus Main Street, or cable companies against subscribers. Those aren’t real boxing matches, they're more like Mike Tyson fighting your Uncle Stewart. But Boeing versus Delta is a real matchup, and it has observers in politics and business riveted.
Among other things, the Ex-Im bank uses American tax money to help foreign airlines buy Boeing planes. Those airlines are Delta’s competitors, and Delta doesn’t like the idea of American money going to them. Recently Delta’s CEO testified on Capitol Hill, flanked by uniformed pilots and flight attendants, to say this practice should stop.
Boeing says the Ex-Im Bank helps Boeing compete internationally and create more American jobs. And the company has benefited for a long time from the Ex-Im Bank's support. But now, with Delta in the ring and Ex-Im Bank skeptics gaining power in Congress, Boeing’s long and cushy ride with the Bank is encountering some turbulence.
Mark Garrison: Big companies tend to get their way in Congress because opponents are usually weak. Wall Street versus Main Street. Cable companies against subscribers. Those aren’t real matches. That’s like Mike Tyson fighting your Uncle Stewart. But Boeing versus Delta, that’s a fight.
Richard Anderson: I have a about 100 Delta employees here with me that have my back today.
That’s Delta CEO Richard Anderson testifying on the Hill, flanked by uniformed pilots and flight attendants.
Anderson: I’m here to talk about their jobs, because the Ex-Im Bank takes their jobs.
Anderson’s talking about the Export-Import Bank. And he’s angry because Boeing has long gotten what it wants from the Bank, which, among other things, uses American tax money to help foreign airlines buy Boeing planes. And those are Delta’s competitors. The airline doesn’t like the idea of American money going to them.
Veronique de Rugy: It puts a face on the usually unseen victims of these government deals.
Veronique de Rugy is senior fellow at the Mercatus Center, and thinks of the Ex-Im Bank as corporate welfare. In aviation or any industry, when equally powerful companies face off, the outcome’s hard to predict, totally different than when a whole industry goes up against a set of regulations. Tom Tacker is an economics professor at Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University.
Tom Tacker: I think it’s a big deal and it does make it more interesting.
It also puts the debate in the public eye. That matters, says UNC political scientist Frank Baumgartner.
Frank Baumgartner: In the fights that aren’t fair, nobody even knows about them. They’re done within the boardrooms or the committee rooms without any fanfare and the status quo remains what it is.
But with Delta in the ring and skeptics in Congress, Boeing’s long and cushy ride with the Ex-Im Bank is hitting unusual turbulence. I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.
September 30, 2013