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.
Tuesday, July 7, 2015 7:00am
Driving could remain quite cheap going into this fall, with crude oil prices down 7 percent from before the July 4th weekend. More on that. Plus, Greeks don’t have access to online payment systems like Paypal. We look at why that matters. And what would happen if companies offered employees unlimited vacation?
Tuesday, July 7, 2015 6:06am
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve releases notes from its last Open Market Committee meeting. Usually that’s a time for Fed watchers to comb through the details to try to divine what the Fed may do regarding its promise to raise interest rates. But this time it should be a little anticlimactic (and it's not because the Fed ended its June meeting with a press conference, taking the wind out of the sails of this batch of meeting minutes).
"From three weeks ago, many things have happened," explains Jeremy Siegel, a professor of finance at the University of Pennsylvania.
Siegel says flatlining wage growth and the sudden possibility of a Greek exit from the eurozone have thrown fresh instability into the global economy. Some of the Fed’s members may have changed their minds from what they said in mid-June.
"One wonders whether a close reading of those minutes would really give you any valuable tea leaves," Siegel says.
Michael Madowitz, an economist with the Center for American Progress, says he’s curious whether Fed officials are discussing the many possible scenarios of a Greek exit. He says some outcomes might even stimulate the U.S. economy.
"If you’ve got a lot of money flying out of Europe, it’s got to go somewhere. The safe place to go is the U.S.," he says.
Until the Greek crisis is settled, Fed watchers on the lookout for hints of a rate hike will be stuck gazing into a cloudy crystal ball.
Tuesday, July 7, 2015 6:00am
These are dark days for Greek consumers.
Banks remain closed, cash access is limited, and capital controls are in place. The controls — designed to keep Greek money from leaving Greece — prohibit the use of credit cards to make payments outside the country.
"It’s an unfortunate restriction on the ability of Greek consumers to shop online and outside of Greece," says Jason Oxman, CEO of the Electronic Transactions Association. "Generally speaking , it takes Greek customers outside of the global commerce world."
There are reports of blocked iTunes purchases — buying a 99 cent song with a credit card is a foreign transaction — and of cloud storage services being canceled when the credit card on file doesn't work.
Paypal, the electronic payment service, issued a statement saying, "Due to the recent decisions of the Greek authorities on capital controls, funding of PayPal Wallet from Greek bank accounts, as well as cross-border transactions funded by any cards or bank accounts, are currently not available. Payment attempts may also be declined by the card issuer or banking institution."
The restrictions are "definitely affecting consumers who are trying to do any sort of cross-board transacting," says Mary Monahan, an analyst with Javelin Strategy & Research.
And in today’s global economy, that’s a whole lot of people.
Tuesday, July 7, 2015 6:00am
The third item in our series? A pair of shoes.
Professional: Sarah Wroth, Corps de Ballet dancer at the Boston Ballet.
Sarah Wroth (foreground) appears in the Boston Ballet production of George Balanchine’s Symphony in Three Movements ©The George Balanchine TrustGene Schiavone
Pro Tool: Freed of London, maker of the L pointe shoes.
Why it's a Pro Tool: "The evolution of a dancer's career is this process of trying to find the exact [shoe] maker that will enable them to dance their absolute best." - Sarah Wroth.
Tuesday, July 7, 2015 6:00am
An American company offering unlimited vacation sounds like an unthinkable fantasy in a country famed for stingy time-off policies compared with other Western countries. But unlimited time off policies are a reality at a small number of American companies. And the results that they’re getting have other businesses taking a look.
Take ZocDoc, a healthcare technology company. Its New York offices have everything one expects from a young tech company these days: a tastefully industrial workspace, free yoga on Thursdays, a casual dress code, a ping pong table and a whole wall of free snacks (though as a health company, the munchies lean more wholesome than typical tech offices). The benefits package includes a time off policy that goes beyond generous: it’s endless.
“Team members can take time off whenever they need it or whenever they want to,” says Netta Samroengraja, CFO and chief people officer. “We feel like we have a much more motivated work force and they’re absolutely much more productive as well while they’re here.”
Asked how much time the average employee takes under an unlimited policy, she has no answer. The company doesn’t even track it. Staffers need to get permission from managers to schedule vacations, but face no limits on how long they’re gone, as long as they get their work done well. The same unlimited, untracked policy applies to sick days and personal days.
Carol Tyger, who works in marketing and took six weeks off last year, says when she explains the company’s policy to family and friends, she gets a mix of naked envy and total awe.
“I get a whole lot of reactions from: do you even work, why would you go to work and how do you get anything done?” she says.
Many managers are skeptical about unlimited time off. But some are curious, says Bruce Elliott, Manager of Compensation and Benefits at the Society for Human Resource Management.
“The first question we always get is: how are employees gonna abuse it?” he says. “That’s really the wrong question because what we do find is that employees don’t abuse this policy.”
Elliott’s numbers show just under one percent of American businesses have unlimited vacation policies. But there’s great deal of interest in these companies, as many cite gains in productivity, employee engagement and retention.
ZocDoc definitely isn’t going back.
“Overall, we’re really happy with how it’s turned out and it’s actually a great recruiting tool for us right now,” says Samroengraja.