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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 4:49pm
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.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013 1:18pm
Start the presses! Again. Newsweek says it’s going to revive its print edition. It was just last year that Newsweek shut down its print operation and went totally digital.
New owners IBT Media, however, are going old-school on us and say they will start selling the print version of the Newsweek magazine in the first quarter of next year.
The move is risky, especially when newsstand sales of news magazines dropped 16 percent on average last year. That’s after years of losing readers, not to mention advertisers. Newsweek editor-in-chief and self-described crusty magazine veteran Jim Impoco says he can’t take credit for the move.
"Most people are assuming that I talked my 31-year-old owners into getting back into print but it’s the opposite," says Impoco.
Impoco says the revived Newsweek magazine will be paid for mostly with subscriptions, not ad revenue. He calls it a "boutique" product. That generally means a smaller readership with a bigger pricetag.
"There will be more emphasis on reporting, deep reporting," says Impoco. "Creating our own weather. Making news. And if we cover the news we won’t pile on the same stories that everyone else is doing. We'll try to bring something extra to the table."
But first Newsweek has to re-make an 80-year-old brand. Tom Rosenstiel, a former Newsweek reporter who now heads the American Press Institute says that will be tough.
"You’re creating a new product, a new identity in a marketplace that’s even more crowded than it was," says Rosenstiel.
Newsweek seems to be betting that all that noise may have some of us yearning for more reflective journalism. Amy Mitchell, director of journalism research for the Pew Research Center, says news junkies are already reading longer articles on their digital tablets.
"So there’s a question of whether people are willing to bring that back to the print side," she says.
Samir Husni, director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi, says physical magazines can help drive traffic to the digital version. They also are an efficient way of promoting the brand.
"How are people going to find you if you’re only digital?" asks Husni. After all, your dentist can't leave a Newsweek app lying around the waiting room.
June 07, 2013