National News

What could slow U.S.'s surging oil output? Low prices.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-10-10 11:14

There was a strong consensus in the U.S. oil industry that the drop in oil prices would spur Saudi Arabia to cut production and bring prices back up. That consensus was wrong. Instead Saudi Arabia cut prices, putting North American oil production in a bind, and has contributed to the downward spiral of oil prices.

In much of North America oil comes from shale, which has to be fracked. Water and chemicals are pumped into the well to create pressure that forces oil out of the ground. It’s a lot like squeezing a sponge, says Robert McNally, president of the Rapidan Group. At first a lot of liquid comes out.

“You get a rush up front," he says. "Your initial production rates are very high compared to conventional oil.”  

After that initial squeeze, output declines sharply says McNally, “so in order to keep the overall flow, you are having to drill and drill and drill.”

All that drilling is expensive. This is how shale oil got the nickname "tough oil." If the price of oil continues to drop — it’s currently at $86 a barrel — it could make tough oil too expensive to drill for.

“You could pretty easily put out a number of, say, $75 a barrel. That’s kind of your break even when you consider all of your development, production costs, etc.,” says Chad Mabry, an analyst at MLV & Co.

Some regions in North Dakota and Texas — the “sweet spots” Mabry calls them — would likely remain profitable even if prices continue to drop. “I think one of the first places that you are going to see budget cuts are more on the exploration side of things.”

The demand for new wells would likely drop significantly if prices stay low, but that is largely dependent on outside forces. 

“It always comes down to what Saudi Arabia’s decision is," says Mabry. "That’s going to be the real driver on where prices go.”

Labor Secretary Eyed As White House Searches To Replace Attorney General

NPR News - Fri, 2014-10-10 11:09

The White House effort to replace Attorney General Eric Holder is happening largely in the shadows. But Labor Secretary Thomas Perez is emerging as a top candidate for the post.

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Get rich by giving up lattes? Not so fast

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-10-10 11:01

There's a long-percolating concept among personal finance gurus: The money you spend on small purchases, say, a latte every day or so, could be redirected towards huge savings. Think hundreds of thousands of dollars over 30 years, if invested. Proponents have included Suze Orman, Penelope Wang of Money Magazine, and most notably author David Bach. 

But another personal finance writer, Helaine Olen, says no way. 

"We weren't spending more money on luxuries," Olen said of the late 1990s. "We were spending less."

Using herself as an example, Olen says the cost of coffee and other small expenses pales in comparison with the rising cost of health care, education, and housing. 

"Think of it this way: at $5 per latte, I would need to give up 260 caffeinated drinks per month to pay my monthly health insurance bill."

She recently traced the history of the concept in a Twitter essay. 

[<a href="//storify.com/annielowrey/the-latte-factor" target="_blank">View the story "The Latte Factor" on Storify</a>]

Nielsen finds a pretty giant glitch in its ratings

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-10-10 11:00

The good people at Nielsen, the television ratings company, said today they've discovered a glitch. Bloomberg reports some of their ratings have been wrong for oh...the past six months or so.

People were counted as watching one network when, in fact, they were watching a different one. Looks like ABC was the big winner.

Nielsen ratings are, of course, worth bazoodles of dollars because that's what advertising rates are based on.

 

Why are so many holidays on Mondays?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-10-10 10:49

If Columbus Day for you is a time to stock up on towels - or better yet, get out of town - you’re in good company. And you’re doing exactly what Congress wanted you to do back in 1968, when it passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act: spend money. 

“Well there was very strong support in Congress, but the initiative came from the tourism and vacation interests,” says Gerald Friedman, economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Groups like the hotel industry lobby and the American Automobile Association, he says. You could see why hotels that would normally be dead on a Sunday night would be all about this. “It was a very conscious decision that we wanted to promote vacations and leisure, and people felt a three-day holiday would lead to more traveling,” he says. 

And it has. During a typical three-day weekend, AAA estimates more than 34 million Americans hit the road. And even if people don’t leave town, there’s always the mall. “So we have things like Veterans Day sales, we have Columbus Day sales, we have Memorial Day sales,” says John McNamara, senior education fellow at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. 

The National Retail Federation doesn’t track sales over Monday holidays, but they’re big shopping days.

McNamara says there's a downside: people are so busy spending, they forget why they have the day off.  They don't think about what makes the day historically significant.   That’s one reason Veteran’s Day was shifted back from a Monday holiday to its traditional Nov. 11.

So, if this stuff isn’t set in stone, maybe more three-day weekends are in store.  “I’m kinda waiting for them to move Fourth of July to a Monday,” McNamara laughs.  

But he says don’t plan that Fourth of July weekend getaway just yet, because it’s not likely to change. 

Weekly Wrap: Surprise, surprise (oh wait)

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-10-10 10:43

To absolutely nobody's surprise, the week ended badly on Wall Street. All three major indices headed south Friday, and most of the other indexes as well.

The Wall Street Journal's Sudeep Reddy and Redfin's Nela Richardson joined Kai Ryssdal to talk about the week that was.

Microsoft CEO Nadella's Remarks Add To Tech's Sexism Problem

NPR News - Fri, 2014-10-10 10:36

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is facing public criticism after his comments suggesting that women should not ask for raises. But they also underscore questions about tech's male-dominated culture.

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Porridge Aficionados Vie To Make Theirs The Breakfast Of Champions

NPR News - Fri, 2014-10-10 10:27

Once derided as Scottish food better suited to horses than people, porridge these days is more cool than gruel. In the U.K., competitions have porridge lovers battling with their best recipes.

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Sloppy Splinting Can Make A Child's Broken Arm Much Worse

NPR News - Fri, 2014-10-10 10:08

A pediatrician who specializes in fixing broken bones in kids and teens says about 90 percent of the fractures he treats have been splinted improperly in a community ER or urgent care center first.

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Oregon First Lady Sorry For 'Marriage Of Convenience' With Green Card Seeker

NPR News - Fri, 2014-10-10 09:58

In 1997, Cylvia Hayes received money to marry an Ethiopian who wanted a green card. Her fiance, Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, is seeking a fourth term. She says he didn't know of the marriage.

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Turkey Agrees To Train, Equip Moderate Syrian Opposition

NPR News - Fri, 2014-10-10 09:36

The pledge to create a force to assist in fighting the self-declared Islamic State comes a day after Ankara called for creating a buffer zone around its border with Syria.

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32 Myths About The Flu Vaccine You Don't Need To Fear

NPR News - Fri, 2014-10-10 08:41

Vaccination isn't a perfect defense against flu. But vaccines remain the most reliable way to reduce the risk from an illness that causes thousands of deaths in the U.S. during a typical flu season.

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The numbers for October 10, 2014

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-10-10 08:32

A military analyst at American University has revised his estimated price for the U.S.-led fight against ISIS to $40 billion per year. That's double Gordon Adam's original estimates, and he attributes the increase to unforeseen resilience from the extremist group, and a need to bolster U.S. allies in the region.

As we wait for a more official number from the Pentagon, here are the other stories we're reading and numbers we're watching Friday.

17

The age of human rights and education advocate Malala Yousafzai, who was learned she she is the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize at school Friday, the BBC reported. Yousafzai survived being shot in the head by a Taliban assassin in 2012 after campaigning for girls' education in Pakistan's Swat Valley. She will share the award with Indian children rights activist Kailash Satyarthi.

20 million

That's how many people shop at the Macy's flagship store in midtown Manhattan each year. Amazon will open its very first brick-and-mortar store just down the street, the Wall Street Journal reported. Little is known about the store, but it will reportedly serve as a hub for pick-ups and returns, while eventually selling Amazon devices, like the Kindle and Fire smartphone.

$10,000

That's how much the NFL is fining San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for wearing his Beats by Dre headphones to a press conference last weekend. The league has an exclusive sponsorship deal with Bose, ESPN reported. Kaepernick, who has an endorsement deal with Beats, wouldn't say if the company will reimburse him for the fine.

What percentage of SAT test-takers met the College Board’s readiness benchmark in 2014?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-10-10 08:16

Thinking about college, but not prepared to go More kids than ever are taking the SAT, but lots aren’t ready for what comes next.

More than 1.6 million students took the SAT in 2014, yet the percentage of those deemed ready for college and career hasn’t budged in years.

What percentage of SAT test-takers met the College Board’s readiness benchmark in 2014?

Ebola Joke Triggers Passenger's Removal From US Airways Flight

NPR News - Fri, 2014-10-10 06:58

The passenger, who was taken off a flight after it landed in the Dominican Republic, reportedly coughed and then said: "I have Ebola. You're all screwed."

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