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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.
Monday, May 25, 2015 3:08pm
There aren’t a whole lot of 92-year-old theaters left in the country. For the Vista Theatre in Hollywood, success means walking a fine line: adapt to the changing times while holding on to the motif from days gone by. With just one screen, there’s not a lot of room for error.
“You can’t make a lot of mistakes here,” owner Lance Alspaugh says. “You can’t book the wrong movie, or you’re gonna be slow for a week or two. It’s very important to always be right.“
If always picking a hit isn’t hard enough, Vista’s success is closely tied to the quality of the movies Hollywood puts out.
“[With] all of the technology, there are so many opportunities for people to not go here,” Alspaugh says. “It’s gotta be something unique that’s attractive to the audience, so they can’t wait to see it.” With its 50-foot screen and Dolby speakers, visually impressive movies tend to fare the best.
So, how’s business? Alspaugh says things could always be better, but there are frequent surprises: the theater’s recent screening of "Mad Max" was so wildly successful, they decided to keep it for an extra week, pushing back Disney’s "Tomorrowland."Video credits:Produced by Preditorial www.preditorial.tvDirector and Editor: Rick KentCinematographer: Anton Seim
Monday, May 25, 2015 1:24pm
During the course of writing his book, “Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of American Whiskey,” Reid Mitenbuler learned a lot about “America’s native spirit,” as it’s known.
According to Mitenbuler — contrary to what you might assume from looking at bottle labels — today’s bourbons aren’t all made by bearded men wearing overalls.
“By the year 2000 you have eight companies, 13 plants, and they make about 99 percent of all the whiskey in America,” Mitebuler says.
Today, even with what Mitenbuler calls a craft distillery boom, smaller distillers only make about five percent of the whiskey in America.
But Mitenbuler says bourbon made by a big company isn’t necessarily bad bourbon.
“This is, for me, where the story really began, because those corporations, they actually do a very good job,” says Mitenbuler. “And they’re sort of an outlier in the food world and a lot of the popular conceptions we have about food where small is best.”
So, as a bourbon expert, what’s Mitenbuler’s advice for bourbon novices?
"It doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. Older isn’t necessarily better. It really kind of finds its sweet spot in the middle somewhere, where it's accessible, affordable and easy to find,” Mitenbuler says.
To hear Reid Mitenbuler take Marketplace’s Adriene Hill through a bourbon tasting (and to hear a couple of his recommendations) click play on the Soundcloud player below.
Monday, May 25, 2015 10:53am
Takata’s recall of defective airbags in 34 million vehicles – equivalent to two years of sales in the entire U.S. auto market – is a juggernaut. It isn’t the largest, however. That title belongs to the 2004 recall of 150 million pieces of Chinese-made toy jewelry that had a high risk of containing lead.
Nor is it the only major recall this year – Toyota just recalled 110,000 vehicles for faulty software.
The fact is, recalls happen all the time. Just last week there were 11, including a stove that turns on by itself and a weight-training bench that can break.
Major recalls can be costly, running into the billions of dollars, especially if lawsuits or fines are involved. And yet, “it’s extremely seldom that a recall leads to the ruin of a company,” says Jonathan Bernstein, president of Bernstein Crisis Management.
Take GM in 2014. It recalled 30 million vehicles. That does not mean, however, that it replaced 30 million vehicles.
“Almost always in the case of a recall it’s just a part getting fixed,” says David Whiston, an equity analyst with Morningstar. “Honestly, the people who make the biggest deal out of them are usually reporters.”
For GM, the cost so far is $2.5 billion. This shaved profits in North America from 8.9 percent to 6.5 percent in 2014, according to Whiston. Costly for sure, but not company ending. GM also had significant cash from its bailout, Whiston says.
Between law suits and repairs, recalls also take a while (Takata’s is expected to take years). So does paying for them.
“The financial damage gets spread out over time, it’s not all at once,” Whiston says. Some firms even have recall insurance.
Takata also has its size and importance going for it.
“The company’s essential to the auto industry,” says David Sullivan, an analyst with AutoPacific. It’s one of the few firms that provide critical safety equipment, including safety belts, to many manufacturers. “They have to survive – they’re too big to fail,” Sullivan says.
Reputational damage can be worse and more enduring than financial damage.
“Arthur Andersen put themselves out of business because of their reputation,” says Bernstein, referring to the Enron accounting scandal. He counsels companies to be quick and thorough in their announcement of problems, acknowledge the feelings of their customers and then move on as quickly as possible. Stringing things along or having small details or negative news leak out intermittently over time withers a brand and consumers relationship to it.
Takata didn’t have to worry about brand recognition, at least not until now, because it’s not a consumer-facing company; it sells to auto manufacturers.
“For a company that’s primarily a business to business, one of their worst nightmares is their name becoming known to consumers in a negative way, because normally their name isn’t known to consumers at all,” Bernstein says. The company may now have to deal with a loss of trust from both consumers and the manufacturers it supplies. Analysts say Takata's recall is survivable, but even given its importance in the automotive industry, it won't be easy.
Monday, May 25, 2015 7:00am
Every year, the Federal Trade Commission conducts an undercover investigation to make sure funeral homes are following the FTC’s funeral rule to give customers a price list immediately and to not sell unnecessary, unwanted services.
The idea is for consumers “to be able to take a deep breath and look at a document that says, 'This is what I’m going to pay,' " says Lois Greisman, who heads the FTC’s funeral enforcement. " 'Can I really afford this?' ”
Greisman says in 2014, about a quarter of the funeral homes the FTC investigated broke the rule.
“It’s certainly higher than we would like to see it,” says T. Scott Gilligan, general counsel for the National Funeral Directors Association. “It’s a complicated rule. It’s very easy to slip up. And the problem is, you’re only as good as your worst staff member.”
Funeral homes face fines of up to $16,000 per rule violation, but they can avoid fines by enrolling in a training program run by the funeral directors association.
Monday, May 25, 2015 7:00am
Asian stocks spring while most of the world's stock takes a breather. More on that. Plus, lower fuel prices have translated into huge savings for airline companies. Very little of those savings are being passed along to customers. So, what are the airlines doing with all of that money? And on a quest to invent a smart smoker, a Harvard engineering class is partnering with Williams Sonoma. We check in on their results.