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Marketplace on WVTF, RADIO IQ & RADIO IQ w/BBC News
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.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013 4:58pm
Earlier today, President Obama called for a raise in the minimum wage. He pointed to the gap between the rich and poor that continues to grow. His speech comes at a very opportune for fast food workers, who have plans to walk off the job tomorrow in over a hundred cities across the country, demanding an increase to the federal minimum wage.
It's at $7.25 right now, and has been since 2009.
Nancy Koehn is an historian at the Harvard Business School. She says the strikes are not a huge factor in the possibility of wage increases.
“I don’t think right now the most important wave in raising wages is worker strikes. I think it’s much more of a large scale appeal,” said Koehn.
She says the minimum wage is stuck because we live in the age of a “constipated government” at the national level and that it will be interesting to see whether the “post debt ceiling moment” in the New Year will call for more decisions to be made in Washington.
Koehn says that around 43 percent of low wage workers have some college expereicen. That’s a huge deal, she says.
“Americans understand and respect the working life. A day’s work should be played at a living wage," said Koehn. "We kvetch about all kinds of things. We disagree about the finer points of healthcare, food stamps, the social safety net, executive compensation. We don’t disagree about someone showing up for work, doing a job and being paid a decent wage."
Wednesday, December 4, 2013 4:49pm
Most people don’t use a microscope to measure the global economy but that’s exactly what the BBC’s Justin Rowlatt is doing in his new series about chemical elements, "Elementary Business."
The next element on his chart is aluminum (or aluminium to some). Rowlatt gives some paradoxical ways to describe the element, from grey and dull and stable to light, versatile, and flexible. And perhaps most importantly -- it’s a very hard substance that can be used for everything from tin foil to soda-pop cans to cars.
Unlike some of the other elements Rowlatt’s explored in his series, we might actually have enough of it. Very soon, it will be possible to recycle 85 percent of the aluminum that’s produced. It only takes about 60 days to recycle one soda-pop can into another soda-pop can.
"It’s one of the few things you can say ‘well actually one day, we may have enough of, we may not need to dig for it anymore’” says Rowlatt.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013 3:43pm
This final note today on the way out. You think we go nuts over holiday spending here?
You ain't seen nothing.
According to a recent article on Quartz, the Atlantic's business website, shoppers in Australia spend 35 percent more in December than they do in other months. Italians? 32 percent. Brits? 30 percent.
The U.S.? A mere 18 percent more in December than other months.
So go crazy out there.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013 2:00pm
Judith Johnson of Stacyville, Iowa, doesn’t get out much anymore.
Legally blind and living on a small Social Security pension, the 72-year-old used to go to church once a week. She stopped out of fear that her new walker would snag on the railroad tracks she had to cross to get there.
But Johnson, whose tiny apartment is decorated with crucifixes, still believes it’s her duty to help those less fortunate.
So when telemarketers call on behalf of cancer patients, homeless veterans or disabled firefighters, the retired secretary finds it hard to say no.
That penchant for giving made Johnson the target of America’s billion-dollar charity fundraising industry.
In one recent year, callers persuaded her to write 25 checks to 11 different charities.
The repeated calls were no fluke.
Each one can be traced back to a single source -- Associated Community Services, a Michigan-based company that is one of the nation’s largest charity telemarketing firms.
After Johnson gave to one charity, the firm put her on a list that got her bombarded with calls for nearly a dozen more company clients. Telemarketers sometimes called several times a day.
Johnson told one phone solicitor she couldn’t afford to give to a charity called Children with Hair Loss.
“She said, ‘You’re going to let this poor little child be bald-headed when they’re only 4 years old?’ ” Johnson recalled. “I really felt bad for the children, so I think I gave her around $10.”
Unbeknownst to Johnson, about $1.75 of that donation made it to the charity. The telemarketing firm pocketed the rest.
The Center for Investigative Reporting and the Tampa Bay Times have been covering this story and others like it in their joint investigative series called America's Worst Charities. Click here to read the full story about Johnson and this billion dollar industry.
Don't get fooled by bad charities. Here are some things you should know before you give this holiday season.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013 1:18pm
Subprime loans are back. Just as we recover from the damage done by subprime loans for houses, the auto industry is loosening credit restrictions. A new report from Experian shows borrowers are getting bigger loans for longer terms. And more loans are being made to subprime borrowers.
Back before the recession, about a quarter of the loans for new cars were considered subprime.
“And now it’s about 27, 28 percent. So it’s not only recovered, it’s passed its pre-recession levels,” says Lacey Plache, chief economist at Edmunds.com.
She understands why people might hear about an increase in subprime loans and fear that history is repeating itself.
“That’s what it looks like at first glance is that -- Oh man, you know, we didn’t learn our lessons. You know, we’re right back in the soup," she says. "But I think really it’s certainly too soon to have that fear."
She believes the standards for auto loans had gotten too tight. And that’s left many consumers side-lined, because they couldn’t get a car loan. These are borrowers who might have some dings on their credit, but otherwise have jobs and represent good credit risks.
Plache says, “these people are now getting access to the market again.”
Those consumers aren’t as risky as might expect. Research shows most folks will pay the car loan before other bills. If worse comes to worst, they can always sleep in the car.
But what about the housing market? Could the trend in auto loans point to more home subprime loans?
“It’s non-existent in the mortgage market today. It has not come back at all,” says Sam Khater, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic, where he analyzes real estate trends.
In terms of subprime housing loans, Khater says, “ten years ago, they were at about ten percent [of the market]. And then they peaked about 15 percent. Today, they are under one-half of one percent, and not increasing.”
In terms of housing loans made in the last year, Khater says they’re the best performing loans on record. That suggests to him that the toxic loans have mostly been flushed out of the market. Next year, new mortgage rules will make it even harder for subprime loans to trigger another meltdown.
Khater expects another housing bubble some day, but he highly doubts it will be caused by subprime loans.