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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, March 11, 2014 1:00pm
I said I would do it, and I did: In my conversation at SXSW with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, I asked about aliens.
We didn't talk about whether or not aliens would have an appetite for cats (Alf), or if they could make bicycles fly (E.T.). I didn't ask if he thought they would use their technology to rejuvenate the elderly. Cocoon, anyone? Instead, we talked about what aliens might find surprising about the human condition. According to Tyson, they would be appalled by our conflicts over antiquated fuel sources.
"I’d be embarrassed to say that we still fight wars over lines in the sand to extract fossil fuels out of the ground so that we can power our automobiles. The alien would just laugh. They’d say ',What? What’s wrong with you? The universe is full of energy.' And then they’d leave, and they’d report back to their alien leaders that there’s no sign of intelligent life on earth."
Certainly, there's a lot of intelligent life working on Tyson's new television show, the re-booted Cosmos series of Carl Sagan fame. What is particularly stunning about the show is the visual effects; a product of having network television behind the venture. As Tyson points out, if the best visual effects are available, what better place to use them than when portraying the universe?
"If there’s any project that needs extraordinary visual effects, it’s one that involves the universe, because you can’t go there. And you can’t just put a picture of it. You want to experience phenomena in the universe. It has the power to influence you not only intellectually but emotionally, and occasionally, perhaps, even spiritually."
And in case you were wondering, Tyson would not bring a computer to the Bahamas. Clarification: I asked him about the idea of preserving one's psyche on a computer chip, and if he thought it was feasible. Tyson isn't so preoccupied with whether or not it's possible. He's more concerned with the fact that he doesn't think the technology would ever be able to actually preserve a person's experience.
"If in this instant, I upload my mind to a silicon-based chip, and then tomorrow I go to the Bahamas, the chip didnt go to the bahamas...it’s not going to have a new idea that, for me, is stimulated by an experience that happened after the upload date stamp. So I’m ok in my own body having my own life experience. And the computer is not going to the Bahamas. And if it wanted to go, I wouldn’t take it."
For the record, I would go to the Bahamas with a computer... but Tyson's point is well taken.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 12:50pm
Would a company by any other name be more profitable? Billionaire investor Steven A. Cohen seems to think so. The name of his troubled hedge fund, SAC Capital, is changing to Point72 Asset Management. SAC Capital was forced to pay $1.2 billion to regulators last November, and it looks like the hedge fund is trying to distance itself from an association with securities fraud and mismanagement. This may be a smart move for the company, and the newly-christened Point72 can count themselves lucky, since they got to choose their new name. Many companies are forced to change their names and the names of their products, whether it’s through lawsuits, rulings, or legal shenanigans.
World Wrestling Federation to World Wrestling Entertainment
The World Wrestling Federation, famous to middle-schoolers the world over for its unique brand of testosterone-soaked mayhem, was forced to change its name to World Wrestling Entertainment in 2001. This stemmed from a dispute with the World Wildlife Fund, which was also using the initials WWF. Unfortunately, this dispute was settled via a lawsuit resulting in a court ruling, not, as it might be fun to imagine, in a wrestling match featuring The Rock and a giant panda squaring off.
Lawsuits are actually how most name changes are forced upon companies. If one company starts using a name that another organization has the trademark on, then the second company can bring the first to court in order to make them change it. This happened when BlackBerry makers RIM tried to use the name BBX for its software. And Microsoft had to change the name of its SkyDrive into OneDrive, after a British Satellite company brought a trademark suit against them.
Boston Urban Iditarod to Boston Urban Idiotorama
Sometimes just the threat of a lawsuit is enough to get a company to change their name. This often happens when large organizations learn that a smaller company is using a trademarked name. That was the case with the Boston Urban Iditarod, which was threatened with a lawsuit from the more well-known Alaskan Iditarod. Since legal fees could be potentially crippling to a tiny organization, most just change their names to make the issue go away. That’s what went down at Mission Burrito, Cafe Roubaix Bicycle Studio, and Twisted Root Restaurant & Bar. It’s actually not that surprising that so many corporations have threatened local businesses with lawsuits, large corporations have to go after trademark infringements, or they risk losing their copyright.
What’s really surprising is the fact that the band Twisted Sister (you might remember them from the 80s) has gone after not one, but two small businesses for copyright infringement: a coffee shop and a food truck.
Cornish Pasty to Beef and Vegetable Pasty
But as protective of their name as Twisted Sister might be, the European Union takes its names even more seriously. Right now, as part of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the EU is trying to get the US to stop using ‘protected’ cheese names. So that soft cheese you’ve been spreading on your cracker? Unless it was from a specific region of France, it shouldn’t be called ‘brie’. And that would be true for around 180 other cheeses, if the U.S. goes along with the partnership. Why would Europeans cause such a fuss? Essentially, if a food is culturally significant enough, the EU gives it protected status, and can only be made in the region it’s historically from and by the methods historically associated with the foodstuff. Which meant U.K. supermarket Greggs was forced to change the name of their Cornish Pasty because they weren’t made in Cornwall and didn’t include the right mix of ingredients. And when Croatia was let into the EU in 2013, Croatian winemakers weren’t allowed to use the name ‘Prosek’ because it was too similar to the Italian prosecco wine. The EU also tries extremely hard to make sure anything labeled ‘Champagne’ comes from the Champagne, France. In short, the EU takes its names very seriously.
Philip Morris to Altria
But more often than not, name changes happen for the reasons SAC Capital changed its name to Point72 Asset Management. Companies aren’t forced to, they just want to rebrand. So when Philip Morris no longer wanted to be associated with poisoning untold numbers of people and causing agonizing, drawn-out deaths, they simply changed their name to Altria.
Netflix tried (unsuccessfully) to change part of its business to Qwikster, and after a particularly bad airplane crash, ValuJet transitioned to AirTran. So, the newly named Point72 is in good company.
Oh, and the rumor that Kentucky Fried Chicken was forced to change its name to KFC because they weren’t using real chicken? That’s completely false.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 6:12am
It's international quiz time on the Marketplace Morning Report. Stephan Richter, editor-in-chief of the online international affairs magazine, The Globalist, brings us a question that will test your knowledge of pay around the world. Across industrialized countries, women make, on average, 85 percent of what men make, so...
QUESTION: In which (pick one) of the following do women make closest to the average pay across industrialized countries?
A. South Korea
C. United Kingdom
D. United States
Scroll down the page to see the answer -- and click play on the audio player above to hear our report about the gender pay gap.
ANSWER: D. United Kingdom. In South Korea, Germany, and the United States, women's pay falls below the 85% average.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 4:35am
It’s been three years since the Fukushima disaster prompted Japan to try weaning itself from nuclear power, though that's a position it now seems poised to reverse. In the U.S., four new reactors are under construction after a long lull. Don’t call it a nuclear renaissance: The economics of nuclear power are a tough sell, especially in a time of cheaper natural gas. "The idea that public fearfulness or the resistance of environmental groups is what killed nuclear power in the U.S. has always been nonsense," says Peter Bradford, a former member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
It's international quiz time on the Marketplace Morning Report. Stephan Richter, editor-in-chief of the online international affairs magazine, The Globalist, brings us a question that will test your knowledge of pay around the world. Across industrialized countries, women make, on average, 85 percent of what men make, but do you know in which country women make closest to the average pay across industrialized countries?
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 4:05am
Pharmacy giant Walgreens recently announced it has begun using predictive software to help guide patient treatment. It’s just one of the latest efforts where healthcare hopes to standardize day-to-day operations.
With estimates that hundreds of billions of dollars is wasted every year on redundant or inefficient services, many industry leaders think healthcare needs to be more like Burger King, where a sandwich in Santa Fe tastes a lot like the sandwich in Seattle.
For some the path to slowing health costs may mean medical care has to look more like factory work.
As far as Walgreens executives are concerned, they think they may be on to something. The pharmacy chain is working with the IT firm Inovalon which, using data from more than 100 million patients, has developed algorithms to predict health problems.
Heather Helle who oversees Walgreen’s clinic business, says that data helps guide a nurse practitioner during a patient’s visit.
“You can think about it almost like a decision where if the answer to a particular question is ‘no,’ the system will guide the nurse practitioner down one particular path," she says. "If the answer to a particular question is ‘yes,’ the system will intelligently guide the nurse practitioner down the second path."
Let’s say a patient’s record shows he’s got multiple symptoms for diabetes but no official diagnosis. The computer flags that, and the Walgreens nurse practitioner zeros right in.
“We are able to streamline the visit, we’re able to reduce variation and we are able to deliver incredible value,” she says.
Whether it’s this predictive modeling, patient safety protocols at Johns Hopkins, or a Camden doctor’s office using new scheduling techniques, many in healthcare say the industry must industrialize. This may sound like some healthcare version of painting by numbers, and former Denver Health CEO Patricia Gabow says executives can over do it when it comes to standardizing care.
“It’s not just any routine, could be a routine that’s very wasteful. Or a routine that doesn’t yield high quality,” she says.
Another concern is if the rules are too rigid, patient care could suffer. But right now, Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen says a lack of doctor routines is threatening patient safety and driving up costs.
Routines – like Walgreen’s algorithms – may sound scary, says Christensen, but they are really just a way of sharing decade’s worth of doctor’s knowledge with people you don’t have to pay like doctors.
“Nurse practitioners can do even more consistently what doctors do today,” he says.
Christensen says healthcare costs will go down as lower-cost caregivers do more and more.
September 19, 2013