National News

Keep the change: The psychology of tipping

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-03-21 16:19

Let's say you walk into Starbucks.

While you're paying, you look down and see that jar:

So what do you do? Do you drop your loose change in it? A dollar? Or do you turn around and drink your soy latte.

Starbucks is trying to make that decision as easy as a text message. This week, the coffee giant changed their app, allowing you to tip directly from your phone.

Which got us wondering, why do we tip in the first place? How do you choose who to tip and who not to tip? 

According to Michael Lynn, professor at the Cornell Hotel School, economists believe tipping comes into play where you, the consumer, are going to be a better judge of how they did in their job. 

 

“We tend to tip service providers more, the less they make, and also more the more the customer makes. So the greater the income disparity between the server and the customer, the more likely you are to tip.”

We are also tend to tip better when there’s some sort of social contact. You're much more likely to tip your hairdresser with whom you've had a conversation with, than someone you only have a few seconds of contact with.

How do you tip? Take our survey here!

Keep the change: The psychology of tipping

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-03-21 16:19

Let's say you walk into Starbucks.

While you're paying, you look down and see that jar:

So what do you do? Do you drop your loose change in it? A dollar? Or do you turn around and drink your soy latte.

Starbucks is trying to make that decision as easy as a text message. This week, the coffee giant changed their app, allowing you to tip directly from your phone.

Which got us wondering, why do we tip in the first place? How do you choose who to tip and who not to tip? 

According to Michael Lynn, professor at the Cornell Hotel School, economists believe tipping comes into play where you, the consumer, are going to be a better judge of how they did in their job. 

“We tend to tip service providers more, the less they make, and also more the more the customer makes. So the greater the income disparity between the server and the customer, the more likely you are to tip.”

We are also tend to tip better when there’s some sort of social contact. You're much more likely to tip your hairdresser with whom you've had a conversation with, than someone you only have a few seconds of contact with.

How do you tip? Take our survey here!

Keep the change: The psychology of tipping

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-03-21 16:19

Let's say you walk into Starbucks.

While you're paying, you look down and see that jar:

So what do you do? Do you drop your loose change in it? A dollar? Or do you turn around and drink your soy latte.

Starbucks is trying to make that decision as easy as a text message. This week, the coffee giant changed their app, allowing you to tip directly from your phone.

Which got us wondering, why do we tip in the first place? How do you choose who to tip and who not to tip? 

According to Michael Lynn, professor at the Cornell Hotel School, economists believe tipping comes into play where you, the consumer, are going to be a better judge of how they did in their job. 

“We tend to tip service providers more, the less they make, and also more the more the customer makes. So the greater the income disparity between the server and the customer, the more likely you are to tip.”

We are also tend to tip better when there’s some sort of social contact. You're much more likely to tip your hairdresser with whom you've had a conversation with, than someone you only have a few seconds of contact with.

How do you tip? Take our survey here!

Keep the change: The psychology of tipping

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-03-21 16:19

Let's say you walk into Starbucks.

While you're paying, you look down and see that jar:

So what do you do? Do you drop your loose change in it? A dollar? Or do you turn around and drink your soy latte.

Starbucks is trying to make that decision as easy as a text message. This week, the coffee giant changed their app, allowing you to tip directly from your phone.

Which got us wondering, why do we tip in the first place? How do you choose who to tip and who not to tip? 

According to Michael Lynn, professor at the Cornell Hotel School, economists believe tipping comes into play where you, the consumer, are going to be a better judge of how they did in their job. 

“We tend to tip service providers more, the less they make, and also more the more the customer makes. So the greater the income disparity between the server and the customer, the more likely you are to tip.”

We are also tend to tip better when there’s some sort of social contact. You're much more likely to tip your hairdresser with whom you've had a conversation with, than someone you only have a few seconds of contact with.

How do you tip? Take our survey here!

Satellites' Scope And The Search For A Plane

NPR News - Fri, 2014-03-21 15:57

Satellites have focused the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on the southern Indian Ocean. But without results yet, the effort also highlights the technology's limitations.

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Spooked markets and that sort of thing

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-03-21 15:42

Some weeks, it's almost impossible to fit the news into 4 minutes.

We did our best: Cardiff Garcia of the blog FT – Alphaville and  Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post joined Kai to wrap the week's financial headlines. On the agenda: "Is the market an idiot?" 

Defense Of 'Whitey' Bulger Has Cost Taxpayers More Than $3 Million

NPR News - Fri, 2014-03-21 14:49

The notorious Boston gangster was given a public defender for his trial. He was found guilty of multiple murders and racketeering by a federal jury in August.

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Houdini, debt, and dandelions

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-03-21 14:42

Here’s a look at what’s coming up next week (March 24 - 28):

  • Let’s start things off with some magic. Harry Houdini was born on March 24, 1874. Not an easy guy to lock up. Internet sources say he showed soldiers how to escape from German handcuffs during World War I.
  • On Tuesday—lots of stuff to talk about. The House Financial Services Committee is scheduled to discuss “Why Debt Matters.”
  • The Conference Board releases its monthly Consumer Confidence Index.
  • They had lots of confidence. The TV series “Cagney and Lacey” premiered in 1982. The crime drama shook up the norm, placing two female detectives in lead roles.
  • And feminist and “Ms Magazine” founder Gloria Steinem turns 80.
  • Mid-week the Commerce Department reports on durable goods orders for February.
  • On March 27, 2006 Graceland, home to Elvis Presley, was declared a national historic landmark. And sixteen years ago on the same date the FDA approved Viagra.
  • Finally now that we’re a week into spring, gardening may be on your to-do list. Well, March 28th is Weed Appreciation Day. Did you know that some weeds are edible? We here at Datebook headquarters say pull those ugly dandelions. 

Caterpillar and crazy tax avoidance contortions

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-03-21 14:36

Bloomberg reports that a Senate hearing next month will investigate construction machinery maker Caterpillar on whether it improperly shifted profits abroad to dodge U.S. taxes. Caterpillar isn’t commenting, but often when companies are under fire for avoiding taxes by moving money internationally, they say they pay their share and obey the law. And that’s generally true. Complicated tax laws make it possible for American companies to lower their bills by spreading money around the world.

To make sense of this, you need to understand two things. First, don’t think of these multi-nationals as single companies.

“Whether it’s Apple or General Motors or General Electric, it doesn’t matter,” says Ed Kleinbard, former chief of staff of Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation and now a University of Southern California law professor. “These in fact are constellations of hundreds of companies located all over the world.”

Second, remember that companies don’t just make money off stuff. They profit from ideas, in the form of patents, copyrights and other types of what are called intangible assets.

Their intangibility makes them easy to move around the world, including to the foreign arm of a company in a tax haven. With the stroke of a pen, piles of money a drug company, for example, might make from its research are off limits to the IRS.

It’s legal, and critics say the tax code that makes it possible advantages large multinational companies over small businesses and ordinary taxpayers. But unless Congress changes the law, American companies will keep paying accountants to take full advantage.

Mark Garrison: If you wanna make sense of this, understand two things. First, don’t think of these multi-nationals as single companies. Ed Kleinbard is the former chief of staff of Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation.

Ed Kleinbard: Whether it’s Apple or General Motors or General Electric, it doesn’t matter. These in fact are constellations of hundreds of companies located all over the world.

Second, remember, companies don’t just make money off stuff. They profit from ideas.

Kleinbard: What makes a Nike sneaker more valuable than an Acme sneaker? It’s the intangible assets associated with that company. It’s the brand name. It’s the secret sauce. It’s the patents.

An American firm can move those intangible assets to a foreign arm in a tax haven. All with the stroke of a pen. So piles of money a drug company, for example, might make from its research are off limits to the IRS. David Cay Johnston at Syracuse’s law school thinks this is all unfair to small business.

David Cay Johnston: If you own a purely domestic company, and that’s the mom and pop businesses in America, you are not allowed to do this.

Rebecca Wilkins is with Citizens for Tax Justice, which thinks these multi-nationals should pay more. When they say they’re just following the law, that’s not enough for her.

Rebecca Wilkins: They act as if they’re innocent in this whole process and quite the opposite is true. They have lobbied for these tax breaks.

Unless Congress changes the law, American companies will keep paying accountants to take full advantage. In New York, I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.

Insurance Chief Suggests Adding A New, Lower Level Of Health Plan

NPR News - Fri, 2014-03-21 14:24

Representing U.S. health insurance companies, Karen Ignagni says she would add a "lower tier" to the Affordable Care Act options. That could entice healthier people to join the law's new risk pools.

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Declined: Visa, MasterCard Freeze Out Targeted Russian Banks

NPR News - Fri, 2014-03-21 14:14

The U.S.-based credit card companies responded to sanctions imposed on Moscow in the wake of its annexation of Crimea.

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Federal Judge Strikes Down Michigan Gay-Marriage Ban

NPR News - Fri, 2014-03-21 13:28

The state follows Texas and several others who have seen their same-sex marriage prohibitions overturned in court. Michigan's attorney general has said he will appeal the decision.

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The conversation of gentrification

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-03-21 13:15

Gentrification.

It’s one of the most loaded words in our modern vocabulary. It’s an issue with no clear lines. And a tough issue to talk about, for long-time residents and gentrifiers alike.
But we wondered what you would say if we didn’t have that term? We asked our listeners online for words and phrases:

“It simply is displacing people for others with more money.”
“Development over a pre-existing community.”
“Hipsters fixing up run down stores.”
“Urban renewal.”
“More white people, boutique shops, restaurants and high end grocery stores.”
“It looks nicer. Things get cleaned up. Trash and eyesores are removed.”
“Expensive housing.”

We wanted to dig deep on gentrification this week and hear the voices of people who are living that experience, spending their money on rents that may be rising, coming into a new neighborhood, or worrying they’ll have to leave their own.

It’s such a personal issue. Our homes ground us, give us a sense of identity and community. And in cities, we’re constantly overlapping with our neighbors.

In September, I moved to Ft. Greene in Brooklyn, NY. The neighborhood saw crime and poverty in late 1960s and 1970s but grew to represent a stronghold of the black middle class. The gentrification debate came early (see this piece from the New York Times in 1984). 

And it comes back all the time. Spike Lee famously spoke about it just a few blocks from where I live, at the Pratt Art Institute in February.

My block has a mix of old and new. Families who have lived here for decades, and newcomers like me, who hope our presence can offer something to the place. It’s a strange thing to carry. Does my willingness or ability to pay a higher rent price out poorer residents? If I’m being honest with myself, yes, it probably does.

And yet, here is the community I want. One I actively sought out. Multi-racial, layered with different people, different classes, the kind of cultural richness that made me want to live in New York City in the first place.

I’ve found a sense of community here. I love the park. The school across my street. A man who lives two houses down from me brought packages of mine into his house from the rain while I was away. I didn’t know him. We greet each other by first name now. In New York!

But none of this is easy or even easy to talk about. Errol Louis, a NY-based journalist, wrote a rebuttal to Spike Lee

‘Gentrification good,’ and ‘gentrification bad,’ are terrible metrics. And far too simple for 2014. We wanted to start a conversation. Give people something to listen to and think about. It’s not an end point, but just a place to jump off into your own thoughts on gentrification and community.

The conversation of gentrification

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-03-21 13:15

Gentrification.

It’s one of the most loaded words in our modern vocabulary. It’s an issue with no clear lines. And a tough issue to talk about, for long-time residents and gentrifiers alike.
But we wondered what you would say if we didn’t have that term? We asked our listeners online for words and phrases:

“It simply is displacing people for others with more money.”
“Development over a pre-existing community.”
“Hipsters fixing up run down stores.”
“Urban renewal.”
“More white people, boutique shops, restaurants and high end grocery stores.”
“It looks nicer. Things get cleaned up. Trash and eyesores are removed.”
“Expensive housing.”

We wanted to dig deep on gentrification this week and hear the voices of people who are living that experience, spending their money on rents that may be rising, coming into a new neighborhood, or worrying they’ll have to leave their own.

It’s such a personal issue. Our homes ground us, give us a sense of identity and community. And in cities, we’re constantly overlapping with our neighbors.

In September, I moved to Ft. Greene in Brooklyn, NY. The neighborhood saw crime and poverty in late 1960s and 1970s but grew to represent a stronghold of the black middle class. The gentrification debate came early (see this piece from the New York Times in 1984). 

And it comes back all the time. Spike Lee famously spoke about it just a few blocks from where I live, at the Pratt Art Institute in February.

My block has a mix of old and new. Families who have lived here for decades, and newcomers like me, who hope our presence can offer something to the place. It’s a strange thing to carry. Does my willingness or ability to pay a higher rent price out poorer residents? If I’m being honest with myself, yes, it probably does.

And yet, here is the community I want. One I actively sought out. Multi-racial, layered with different people, different classes, the kind of cultural richness that made me want to live in New York City in the first place.

I’ve found a sense of community here. I love the park. The school across my street. A man who lives two houses down from me brought packages of mine into his house from the rain while I was away. I didn’t know him. We greet each other by first name now. In New York!

But none of this is easy or even easy to talk about. Errol Louis, a NY-based journalist, wrote a rebuttal to Spike Lee

‘Gentrification good,’ and ‘gentrification bad,’ are terrible metrics. And far too simple for 2014. We wanted to start a conversation. Give people something to listen to and think about. It’s not an end point, but just a place to jump off into your own thoughts on gentrification and community.

First tweets don't age so well

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-03-21 13:06

You know today's Twitter's eighth birthday, right?

They've set up a way to find out what people sent out as their first tweet. Most were 'Hey, guess I'm on Twitter now, huh...' or something lame.

Vladimir Putin's first English language tweet?

Congratulations to US President-elect Barack Obama

http://t.co/wi0upVQB

— Vladimir Putin (@PutinRF_Eng) November 8, 2012

We here at Marketplace like to think our first tweets have aged a little better:

taking a breather before whatever's next on the to do list.

— Kai Ryssdal (@kairyssdal) April 9, 2009

trying on conspiracy theories to see if they fit

— Sitara Nieves (@sitaranieves) September 2, 2008

Just got on Twitter...

— Bridget Bodnar (@BCBodnar) May 13, 2009

Great! Even if you're YBG the recession will screw you: http://bit.ly/FTb01

— M.J. (@eccoMillie) November 13, 2009

FIRST TWEET! Don't tell me how the sausage is made... Regale me with the tale of an unsuspecting pig.

— Tommy Andres (@BylineTommy) December 14, 2012

The healthcare industry is just NOT that into you. Find out more on Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal tonight.

— Marketplace (@MarketplaceAPM) July 17, 2009

WATCH: A Big Upset Leads To Some Awesome Dancing

NPR News - Fri, 2014-03-21 13:02

The Mercer Bears, a No. 14 seed, defeated the No. 3 Duke Blue Devils today. It is the biggest upset in the NCAA tournament so far, which means Mercer was doing some dancing.

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How much climate change will cost Exxon

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-03-21 12:41

The oil and gas industry is slowly coming to grips with the hard truth about its business model: Extracting and burning fossil fuels is at odds with efforts to reduce carbon emissions. And shareholder activists have been making demands on oil and gas companies to address this issue. Now Exxon Mobil, the biggest oil company in America, has agreed to do just that.

Exxon will release a report at the end of this month, detailing the impact that carbon emission regulations will have on its bottom line.

That Exxon is releasing this report is a sign that the company's thinking about climate change has evolved, says Mark Brownstein, vice president and chief council of the U.S. Climate and Energy Program at the Environmental Defense Fund. 

"Many years ago they were thought to be the champions of the climate denier club ,and now what you are seeing is that there is a certain maturity, a realization that the challenge is real."

The report Exxon will release will lay out the costs that carbon regulations could have on the company’s future projects. For example, Exxon wants to extract billions of barrels of crude from tar sands in Canada, but that’s an energy intensive process. So the margins on profits are already narrow, and emissions regulations could make that margin even narrower. Just how narrow is exactly the kind of information that shareholders want to know.

"They owe it to the shareholder," says Fidel Gheit, a senior oil analyst with Oppenheimer. "They have to state their position and educate the politicians and the public about the ramification of imposing this cost.”

This report is necessary if Exxon wants to be a part of the debate over how to regulate carbon emissions, Gheit says. "It is probably the biggest issue that the world will have to grapple with. And Exxon, because of its position as the largest energy company in the world, they have to have a voice in the debate."

Exxon is the first major oil company to release this information, which sends a message to other shareholder activists that they, too, have a voice in this debate.

 

 

 

 

Even Turkey's President Evades Its New Twitter Ban

NPR News - Fri, 2014-03-21 12:15

A Turkish court is trying to ban Twitter, setting off condemnation of the government's increasingly heavy hand and prompting Turks to find a workaround for the social media site.

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The value of an Obama commencement speech

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-03-21 12:13

President Obama will be giving the commencement speech at UC Irvine this June. You’d hope the President would have valuable advice for new graduates. But Jeffrey Papa, President of SimpsonScarborough, a higher education marketing firm, wants everyone to remember that “higher Education is a business.”

 So, what would be the value, and cost, of a Presidential speech at your school?

VALUE: $1,000,000 worth of marketing

Jeffrey Papa of SimpsonScarborough says schools can spend up to a million dollars on a marketing campaign for just one project.

VALUE: Lots of media coverage

There were over 400 stories about UC Irvine’s commencement this Thursday, with many more coming before now and the actual event in June.

VALUE: Street cred, prestige

Dan Hurley with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities says it's unlikely the school could find another speaker who'd be as much of a media magnet as President Obama. But academic institutions need to strike a delicate balance between looking like a prestigious institution, and still getting the word out.

COST: $1,200,000 on stadium

UC Irvine had to get a stadium large enough to accommodate its special graduation.

COST: Thousands on security

Though the school isn't sure what the exact tab is, security for POTUS is figured in to its $1.2 million stadium deal. Dan Hurley says while the White House isn't charging the school, there's a lot of advance work with security detail that has an institution’s staff running hard in the days leading up to a visit.

The President needs a good speech. Help him out: What’s the best commencement speech advice you’ve ever heard?

Take out a loan - from your employer

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-03-21 12:06

When it comes to who can borrow money -- and how -- let's just say lessons have been learned.

One of the things that's come from that thinking is the workplace loan, where employees can take out loans or cash advances through an employer.

Let's say someone has a car that breaks down. Gotta get it fixed, right? But what if this person doesn't have the money?

"Unfortunately, many of our consumers don't have access to traditional bank credit," says Ken Rees, CEO of Think Finance, a workplace lender out of Fort Worth. A lot of his "consumers" are restaurants workers, hotel staff, even teachers and nurses. And he says a lot of times, they can't get emergency credit.

"It's the choice between this product and a payday loan or this product and no access to credit at all," he says.

That product he's talking about is called Elastic. It lets employees borrow money through their employer. At Think Finance, a worker can get a line of credit, up to $1,000.  There's a 5 percent fee for cash advances. Plus, other fees for higher loans--the bigger the loan, the higher the fees.

"They can get onto the website. We're able to ping that payroll system, know that they've been paid a certain amount, know that they are who they say who they say they are, and then we're able to feel confident giving that customer the credit that they need," Rees says.  

How much credit depends on things like how long a person has been with a company, and credit history. Employees can repay the loans by check or in cash, but usually these loans are repaid directly from a paycheck.

Companies like FairLoan, a San Francisco-based lending startup, offer incentives for repaying a loan straight out of a paycheck.

"When you're applying for the loan, it's made very clear that if you want to pay from your paycheck, you have access to more credit," says Alix Karlan, FairLoan's founder and CEO. "We limit loans that are not repaid through the paycheck to $500."

Karlan says repaying the loans out of paycheck is safer for both the lender and the borrower. He says they're meant to be affordable, with interest rates starting at 18 percent.

"And the most expensive loan that we offer comes with a 30 percent interest rate and a 5 percent origination fee," he says.

Karlan and other workplace lenders say that's way better than a payday loan, which can carry at least 300 percent annual interest. Plus, Karlan says, his company reports info to the major credit bureaus, so it helps borrowers build credit.

But critics say these kinds of loans can be just another kind of payday loan.

"So if somebody needs to pay groceries, or pay their utility bills, and they're trying to stretch out payments or make money go a little further, they can't rearrange that debt because that's the first in line," says Gary Kalman, director of federal policy for the Center for Responsible Lending.

Even worse, Kalman says, they'll take out other loans to pay off the first one. A lot of companies have an answer for that, too. They offer financial coaching and sometimes rewards -- like discounts on interest rates and even free iPads -- for good financial behavior.

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