National News

Your Wallet: Hacking the grocery store

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-03 08:48

According to Gallup, families in America spend roughly $150 dollars a week on food:

Gallup

Marketplace Weekend wants to know, how do you save money at the grocery store?  

 

@MarketplaceWknd Plan meals around what's on sale (esp for meats) not just what you feel like eating.

— Karen Luck (@WhereIsMyKindle) September 3, 2014

 

Eat fast food whenever possible RT@MarketplaceWknd: What are your favorite tips and tricks to save money at the grocery store?

— SevenPointBuck (@SevenPointBuck) September 3, 2014

 

@MarketplaceWknd Reach for the back of the shelf (bread, meats, eggs, and so on). Later expiration dates for the same price.

— Dylan Campbell (@dylancampbell) September 3, 2014

Overdue reassessments hit homeowners hard

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-03 08:46

For David Bunzel, the bad news came in a letter, in March.

“I opened it up,” he says, “and I was surprised.”

Bunzel lives in Scarsdale, New York, just north of New York City. The community is doing its first town-wide property value reassessments in 45 years. And the letter Bunzel got came from the assessment office.

“The estimated value, from their perception, of our home went up overnight by about 30 percent,” he says.

The estimated value of your home helps determine how much you pay in property taxes.

Bunzel lives in a neighborhood of multimillion-dollar homes, and a 30 percent increase would be a lot of money. (He wouldn’t say exactly how much.) Things were even worse for some of his neighbors. Some even saw their assessments double.

So Bunzel and a bunch of his neighbors are now challenging the revaluations. He says he understands property assessments were way overdue in Scarsdale, but the way their homes were assessed and the sudden spike, he says, aren’t fair.

“Who has sympathy for these people?” says Robert Berg, another Scarsdale resident. “They were getting a great deal that we were paying for, for 45 years in many cases.”

Berg was one of the people who pushed for the property revaluations. He says the owners of what are now some of the most expensive homes in town weren't paying property taxes that reflected that. So people in more modest homes had to pay more than their share of property taxes to make up for it, he argues.

“If someone's paying too little,” Berg says, “someone's paying too much. And the whole purpose of a revaluation is to periodically and systematically review all the property valuations in town, so you can get equity in the tax rolls.”

The state of New York doesn't require periodic revaluations, but they recommend cities reassess properties every few years. Some towns in the state haven't had property reassessments since the Civil War.

New York's not alone in these infrequent assessments. In California, for example, your property tax is based on how much you paid for your house. If you've been sitting on a home for 40 years, you're paying way fewer taxes than someone who bought a similar home at today's prices.

Kim Rueben, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute, says to avoid revaluation controversies like the one in Scarsdale and similar situations in California, cities need routine state-mandated property assessments. They keep property taxes smoother for everyone, Rueben says.

“I think it would be easier,” she says, “for the county and the local governments if the state did mandate it. And so they could just say that it's the state law to do this.”

But if cities and towns have been collecting property taxes for centuries, why haven't they figured this out yet?

“Some of this is much more political than fiscal,” Rueben says. “So the whole idea that you're not going to reassess properties has more to do with who has political power and who's going to end up being winners and losers.”

She says reassessments usually put the biggest dent in the pocketbooks of the upscale homeowners, so politicians might avoid enforcing reassessments to avoid upsetting wealthy voters.

“But,” she says, “it's never going to be any easier for them to do the reassessment.”

At some point, towns that have held off on reassessments are going to have to bite the bullet. Scarsdale's property revaluations are still under review, but they should go into effect later this month.

Organizers Of New York St. Paddy's Day Parade Lift Ban On Gay Groups

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-03 08:39

A gay group will be able to march under its own banner for the first time in the world's largest St. Patrick's Day Parade. The parade lost sponsors and supporters this year because of the ban.

» E-Mail This

A Liberian Health Worker Aims To Keep Ebola Out Of His Rural Region

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-03 06:44

Lorenzo Dorr wants to keep Ebola at bay in remote parts of the country. "We should be prepared before a case is identified," he says, "not chasing after it after hell breaks loose."

» E-Mail This

Detroit Man Sentenced To At Least 17 Years In Porch Shooting Case

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-03 06:32

Theodore Wafer was convicted of second-degree murder after he shot and killed an unarmed teenager on his front porch. The case drew national attention because of its racial overtones.

» E-Mail This

Locusts Eat The Crops Of Madagascar — And Each Other, Too

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-03 06:28

We know next to nothing about the red locusts that are swarming over Madagascar. But we do know they destroy crops, a plan is needed to fight them, and eating them is a bad idea.

» E-Mail This

LISTEN: President Obama Delivers An Ode To Democracy In Estonia

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-03 06:14

Obama said NATO and the democratic values the alliance stands for are facing "a moment of testing," with Russia's military involvement in Ukraine. Ultimately, however, Obama said "Democracy will win."

» E-Mail This

Drugstore Chain CVS Kicks Tobacco Habit A Month Early

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-03 05:55

In February, CVS said it would stop selling tobacco products, despite the profits they brought the company. Now cigarettes in the company's stores are history.

» E-Mail This

'Justice Will Be Served,' Obama Warns The Islamic State

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-03 04:03

Speaking in Estonia, Obama said the people who beheaded a second American journalist in Syria will learn that the U.S. does not forget and has a long reach.

» E-Mail This

IEX scores big investors

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-03 04:00

For trading stocks and other securities there are stock exchanges, which are highly regulated. Then there are alternative trading systems, called "dark pools," which are lightly regulated.

Now, there's news on Wednesday that IEX, an upstart, alternative system, has gotten some big new investors to help it try to become a fully-fledged, regulated exchange.

IEX is designed to mute the effects of high-speed trading: advanced technology that some argue serves Wall Street middlemen and not investors. The CEO of IEX, Brad Katsuyama, was even cast as the protagonist in Michael Lewis' best-selling critique of high-speed trading.

Click the media player above to hear Brad Katsuyama in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio.

The benefits of working 9 to 5 until you're 95

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-03 03:00

The Baby Boomer generation is expected to live longer than any other generation that preceded them. And with the current state of the economy and the possibility of a future without pensions and social security to fall back on, more and more of them are putting off retirement.

But maybe it's not such a bad thing.

In his new book, called "Unretirement," Chris Farrell argues that work has always been an essential part of our community, and that putting off retirement can be a good thing for everyone.

Click the media player above to hear Chris Farrell in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio.

PODCAST: Preventing another financial crisis

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-03 03:00

First up, news that Chrysler owned by FIAT is reporting very strong sales today—up 20 percent in August, in part because Jeeps and pickup are moving out of dealerships like crazy. Nissan also handily beat expectations with sales up 11 percent. That and geopolitics are defining the mood on markets. And later today, several bank regulators, including the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the FDIC, will vote on a rule that's designed to improve the way banks manage risk. More on their efforts to prevent the next financial crisis. And you've heard it before: Too many older people who haven't saved enough are forced to work until their dying day. Marketplace's senior economics contributor Chris Farrell doesn't see it this way. He's just written a book that argues there's cause for celebration about what we'll get to do in our later years.

Preventing the next financial crisis

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-03 03:00

On Wednesday, several government regulators, including the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, will vote on a rule that’s designed to improve the way banks manage risk. 

After the last financial crisis, regulators started to worry about the next one. At a meeting in Basel, Switzerland, they proposed a “liquidity coverage ratio.”

According to Oliver I. Ireland, a partner with Morrison & Foerster, it would require banks to hold high-quality assets “that presumably you could sell into the market at a reasonable price in order to generate liquidity to meet, for example, customer withdrawals.”

For several years now, regulators have wrestled with what constitutes a “high-quality” asset.

“There are all kind of securities that have varying degrees of liquidity,” says Lawrence G. Baxter, the William B. McGuire Professor of the Practice of Law at Duke University. There is debt you can get rid of quickly, like U.S. bonds, and there is debt that is harder to sell. For example, there wasn’t much of a market for mortgage-backed securities in 2008.

“The more liquid the assets, the safer they are, but also the less yield-bearing they are likely to be,” Baxter explains, noting the liquidity-coverage ratio could pose a problem for banks. They have been bringing in record profits, he says, and they are under pressure to keep doing that. 

Russia, Ukraine Distance Themselves From News Of A Cease-Fire Deal

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-03 02:52

Ukraine released a statement saying it had agreed to a "permanent cease-fire," only to walk it back shortly thereafter. Russia said it had come to no such agreement.

» E-Mail This

New York begins free universal pre-kindergarten

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-03 02:00

On Thursday, more than 50,000 4-year-olds in New York City get to go to full-day pre-kindergarten. The best part? It's free, in a place where early education is the most expensive in the nation, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.

It's an initiative of Mayor Bill de Blasio.  

So what are parents in New York thinking about the citywide universal pre-K program?

"It's about time!" says Mildred Warner, who studies the economic impact of early education at Cornell University.

She says preschool education makes kids more ready for school and less likely to drop out. As for parents, they have to skip work less often.

"It also increases productivity of parents at work, because they know their children are in a good, developmentally appropriate place," she says.

Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, says many working low-income families previously had to rely on family or neighbors for childcare, which can be unreliable.

He says for middle-class families, universal pre-K frees up money for them to buy more stuff, take more vacations, and spend more on a mortgage.

"You could maybe do some more saving for college," he says.

Barnett says for that, it's never too early to start.

How tech is changing reading at libraries

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-03 02:00

As part of our week-long series about tech and reading, we've already heard about how new gadgets are changing reading in school and how they're changing reading education at home.

Today we hear from Courtney Young, president of the American Library Association, on how they're changing libraries. From services libraries offer to the actual layout and contents of some brick and mortar library buildings, new tech has had an impact.

Young says that it's important for libraries to change with the times, but that one challenge for librarians is making sure patrons are aware of new services. Also, keeping up with high costs. 

Click the media player above to hear Courtney Young in conversation with Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson.

Obamacare could be a boon for tax preparers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-03 02:00

H&R Block is expected to report its earnings Wednesday afternoon, and analysts feel good about the tax-prep giant’s future. Actually, they feel pretty great about the industry as a whole. 

The source of their optimism is the Affordable Care Act, thanks, says George Brandes with Jackson Hewitt, to the tax-prep business truism: “Complicated taxes equals more people needing help.” 

Brandes says his company assumes that figuring out the tax implications of the ACA will be tricky for millions of consumers.

“A study by the University of California, Berkeley, suggests as many as a third of all tax credit recipients will owe some money back, and so that adds another layer of complexity on how you handle something like this,” he says.

A person could owe money because their subsidy is based on estimated earnings; if someone underestimates, they’re on the hook to Uncle Sam.

The IRS says 140 million people file tax returns every year, with about 60 percent being done by professionals. Northcoast Research analyst Kartik Mehta expects that percentage to increase.

“We haven’t seen this type of a complication to the tax return in a long, long time,” he says.

Mehta says the real winners will be the brand-name preparers who can afford to blitz the airwaves come tax time.

Amid Warnings Of Ethnic Cleansing, A Yazidi Man's Suicide Resonates

NPR News - Tue, 2014-09-02 23:33

Naif Khalif Omar, a 33-year-old Yazidi, had survived the worst of the violence unleashed by the militants of the Islamic State. In the end, despair, and a self-inflicted gunshot wound, killed him.

» E-Mail This

Some Accused Of Sexual Assault On Campus Say System Works Against Them

NPR News - Tue, 2014-09-02 23:31

Young men in colleges across the country say they're being falsely accused of campus sexual assault and treated unfairly in a rush to judgment.

» E-Mail This

ON THE AIR
BBC World Service
Next Up: @ 05:00 am
Democracy Now

KBBI is Powered by Active Listeners like You

As we celebrate 35 years of broadcasting, we look ahead to technology improvements and the changing landscape of public radio.

Support the voices, music, information, and ideas that add so much to your life.Thank you for supporting your local public radio station.

FOLLOW US

Drupal theme by pixeljets.com ver.1.4