National News

My First Job: Junior Journalist

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-29 13:00

Sometimes it takes a few years — or even a few decades — to figure out what you want to do.

But deciding on a career was never really a problem for Richard Stolley, who got his first job as a journalist at the age of 15 and would go on to become a founding editor of People magazine.

During World War II, a friend of Stolley’s joined the Navy. His job — sports editor at the Pekin Daily Times — would be left vacant. So the newly enlisted friend asked if Stolley was interested in the position.

“Of course, not knowing any better, I said I would be very interested,” Stolley says.

Stolley was tasked with filling stories and editing the sports section, but he also got to read news about the war well before most Americans.

“This was during WWII and a lot of unusual things were taking place,” Stolley says.

The day before the invasion of Normandy, the Pekin Daily Times’ teletype received an alert that a major news break was coming.

“I felt very privileged that a 15, 16-year-old could walk over to the teletype and find out things about WWII that almost nobody else in the world knew,” Stolley says. “Pretty heady stuff.”

Stolley remembers the excitement of hearing the presses turn on every afternoon. The roar resonating from the basement of the newspaper offices invigorated him too.

“I had this feeling, well, whatever I wrote is going out to 15,000 readers — can’t call it back now,” Stolley says.

For Stolley, his first job was more than just a paycheck. It set the tone for his entire career.

“I mean, it cemented my life,” Stolley says. “There was no way after working as a professional journalist at the age of 15 that I was ever going to want to do anything else.”

Baltimore and the cost of rioting

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-29 13:00

Residents of Baltimore are still cleaning up from Monday’s riots. The unrest came at the start of the tourism and convention season, and just after Baltimore had just launched a new ad campaign earlier in the month, featuring celebrities like baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr.

Now, Visit Baltimore, which handles the city’s tourism and convention marketing, is pulling the new ad campaign. They're working on a different message, reassuring tourists they’ll be safe.

“And the second thing we want is to make sure they understand the city’s in great shape,” says Visit Baltimore CEO Tom Noonan.

But that could be a hard sell. Two conventions scheduled for this week in Baltimore were cancelled, and the city’s 10 p.m. curfew is scheduled to stretch into next week. Restaurants and bars have already taken a hit, and things will just get worse because they'll have to close early this weekend.

“Especially for the waiters and waitresses and bar staff who rely on tips. That’s like having probably two thirds of your income just reduced overnight," says Bernard Lyons, bar manager at Bertha’s, in Baltimore’s touristy Fell’s Point neighborhood.

And the economic damage from a riot can last a long time — just ask Los Angeles. Of course, its 1992 riots dragged on and Baltimore’s only lasted about a day, but still, the city's economy is suffering. And outside aid isn't likely to pour in, like it does when a community is hit by a natural disaster.

“It’s almost as if people are saying you fouled your nest, you fix it,” says Rob Baade, an economics professor at Lake Forest College who co-authored a study that says the losses from LA's riots totaled at least $3.8 billion.

SEC wants clarity on CEO pay vs. company performance

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-29 13:00

CEO pay is one of those issues that really gets people's blood boiling. That's especially true since the financial crisis. CEOs of big banks take home millions, even though, in several cases, their companies tanked and nearly took our economy with them.

One piece of the Dodd-Frank financial reforms of 2010 was supposed to address that. It said investors should have better information about publicly traded companies and how executive pay relates to corporate performance.

Five years on, the SEC is proposing new rules to actually make that happen.

But publicly traded companies already have to disclose what their top executives make. Peter Crist, chairman of Crist Kolder Associates, says investors can usually work out how a CEO’s pay relates to a company’s performance from information it already sends to shareholders.

The SEC knows this, of course: it just wants companies to preset that information in a uniform way that investors can easily understand.

That might sound simple enough, but Stanford professor David Larcker says standardization can be a headache.  Executives are often compensated with stock options that stretch over years, and could vary widely in value over that time. The SEC now wants companies to count that money only once the options vest.

Measuring a company’s performance can also be tricky, says Nora McCord, the managing director of Steven Hall & Partners, an executive compensation consulting firm. She says metrics such as total shareholder returns don't necessarily give a complete picture of how a company is doing.

But the SEC is determined to make these changes happen. It says it hopes these measures will improve transparency and make investors better informed when they vote on executive compensation.

Can you trace the way CEO pay corresponds to performance? We looked at a couple companies to see.

Tony Wagner and Raghu Manavalan/Marketplace

Bernanke passes through the 'revolving door'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-29 13:00

Ben Bernanke has a new job at Pimco, the private investment management firm headquartered in Newport Beach, California. Bernanke, the former Federal Reserve Chairman, will serve as an adviser, a role he also holds at Chicago-based hedge fund Citadel LLC.

But why doesn’t moving from a regulatory organization like the Fed to a private organization like Pimco account for a conflict of interest?

Well, Bernanke’s new job is perfectly legal, because, as Marketplace Senior Editor Paddy Hirsch says, “The Federal Reserve regulates banks and neither Pimco nor Citadel are banks.”

What tasks will Bernanke likely take up at his private sector gigs?

“He’s managed to lock himself into a situation where he’s going to be, basically, making speeches at luncheons for Citadel and Pimco,” Hirsch says. 

Bernanke’s move into the private sector might be characterized as just another example of the “revolving door” between government and Wall Street, but it’s nothing new.

“It’s business as usual,” Hirsch says. “Alan Greenspan did it… he actually became a consultant at Pimco. As long as it doesn’t cause a conflict of interest, I don’t really see there’s that much wrong with it.” 

Build 2015: We should all be 'failing' like Microsoft

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-29 13:00

Silicon Valley developers gathered for a conference on Wednesday. Energy was high, and when tickets went on sale, they sold out in under an hour.

And no, it was not hosted by Apple. 

"It definitely seems like it would be the least interesting tech event of possibly the entire year, but Microsoft is having a little bit of a prom king moment," says Marketplace tech correspondent Molly Wood. 

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella introduced the company's new operating system, Windows 10, at its Build 2015 conference. For those keeping score, there is no Windows 9, perhaps to avoid any association with Windows 8, which, as Wood put it, "bombed." 

Windows 10 will run across Microsoft devices: desktop computers, laptops, the Windows phone, tablets — even the XBox. 

The conference was intended to stoke excitement among developers to build apps using Windows 10, even though sales of Windows phones have largely been disappointing. The prom king moment was brought to you by Nadella, who took over from longtime CEO Steve Ballmer in 2014. 

"Microsoft, for a long time, has had this problem where it was very divided," Wood says. "So even though they've been promising a unified Windows experience for at least a decade, it seems like Satya Nadella is actually breaking down the walls." 

Beyond Windows, the most excitement today came from a new augmented reality headset the company is calling HoloLens — "Microsoft's sort of new, cool attempt to be future-sexy," Wood called it. "Augmented reality headsets are almost like the next step after virtual reality because they project images onto the real world."

One demonstration of HoloLens showed medical students examining holograms of cadavers, looking at broken bones and beating hearts. 

 

Despite Microsoft's reputation as being generally lackluster compared with shiny consumer offerings from Apple and Google, it's still wildly profitable. It's worth $400 billion and has annual revenue of $93 million. 

"We should all be 'failing' like the rumors of Microsoft failing," Wood says. 

The real strength of its business, what Nadella spent 90 minutes discussing at Build 2015, is Microsoft's cloud offerings. 

"Most of that [revenue], is on those cloud services that Amazon just announced it makes so much money on," she says. "And so, even if Windows 10 and Windows Phone don't totally take off, they're still going to be okay."

When You Make Kids' Meals Healthier By Default, They Still Eat 'Em Up

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-29 12:29

When a restaurant chain revamped its kids' menu, making items like strawberries and salad the default sides instead of fries, it improved the healthfulness of meals ordered — by a lot, a study finds.

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Ohio Kidnapping Survivors Recount Captivity, Escape From Horror

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-29 11:34

In 2013, three young women who had vanished years earlier escaped from a house where they had been held captive. Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, along with writer Mary Jordan, discuss their new memoir.

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Why Not Start Addiction Treatment Right In The ER?

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-29 11:33

Like asthma or diabetes, opioid addiction is a chronic condition. Could treatment that begins when people show up in the ER get them on the right road faster?

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Report: FBI Vetted Middleman In Ransom Payment For U.S. Hostage

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-29 11:33

The Wall Street Journal is reporting the family of Warren Weinstein paid $250,000 to his captors after the FBI helped facilitate the payment. Weinstein was killed in a U.S. operation in January.

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In Baltimore, A Different Historic Moment: A Fan-less Baseball Game

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-29 11:28

Because of the unrest that has rocked the city, Major League Baseball decided to close the game to fans. So players came on the field to no cheers, and a home run was marked by the crack of a bat.

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Japan's Prime Minister Makes Historic Address To Congress

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-29 10:49

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe laid out his vision of increasing ties with the U.S., and expressed his remorse over Japan's wartime atrocities.

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Welcome To The Neighborhood: 2 Super-Earths Discovered

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-29 10:29

Astronomers using telescopes in Hawaii and California have found two exoplanets orbiting a star a mere 54 light years away. The discovery is important for two big reasons.

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Pope Francis Calls Gender Pay Gap A 'Pure Scandal'

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-29 10:00

NPR'S Sylvia Poggioli reports that Francis' remarks, at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, are some of his most forceful statements yet in favor of women.

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2016 Race Collides With Baltimore Unrest

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-29 09:53

Hillary Clinton told an audience in New York the criminal justice system is "out of balance" and Rand Paul attributed the violence to "the lack of a sort of moral code in our society."

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These Parents Make Lovely Lunch Bag Art. Not Everyone Is Pleased

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-29 09:18

Elaborately illustrated napkins. Famous paintings recreated using food. Depending on your viewpoint, these lunch projects are an expression of parental love or another salvo in the parenting wars.

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Game Of Thrones: Saudi King Shakes Up Line Of Succession

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-29 09:05

King Salman has named a new heir — and consolidated power in the hands of a younger generation.

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Nepal, Before The Earthquake Struck: A Photographer's Portfolio

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-29 08:28

Kevin Bubriski came as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1975, camera in hand, and has taken photos of daily life for 40 years: monks, haircuts, schoolgirls in a village that was at the quake's epicenter.

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How One West Baltimore Principal Is Helping Her Students Make Sense Of It All

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-29 07:27

Code Switch reporter Shereen Marisol Meraji is spending the day with a Baltimore principal who's charged with a huge task today. We'll be updating the post as the day unfolds.

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Warren Buffett on the Treasury Secretary and the fiscal cliff

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-29 07:24

All the talk these days is about the likelihood of the U.S. Congress avoiding a fiscal cliff. You know who’s not worried? Warren Buffett.

"Sure. Yeah, they will," Buffett said in an interview with Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal this morning, refering to a likely deal by Congress to avoid steep budget cuts and an increase in taxes.

"They've danced around it for quite a while," he said. "I think the American people, with their opinion of Congress that they've expressed -- I think the message has gotten through that we've got to get serious about this."

Buffett -- the so-called Oracle of Omaha has a net worth of $46 billion as of September 2012, placing him in the No. 2 spot on the Forbes 400 list -- answered questions on everything from JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon as Treasury Secretary ("I just think he'd be the guy I'd pick for that job"), to the future of Democratic capitalism (not worried), to tax rules and class warfare.

On Jamie Dimon as Treasury Secretary:

Ryssdal: You went on "Charlie Rose" last night and you said Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, would make a fine Secretary of the Treasury when Timothy Geithner steps down. Why do you think so?

Buffett: I think he knows more about markets than probably anybody you could find in the world. And I think that if in the next four years we run into some kind of a chaos in markets some place -- and who knows when that can happen -- that he would think better about it, he would command the respect of foreign leaders that he might have to coordinate with. I just think he'd be the guy I'd pick for that job.

Ryssdal: Let's say the president picks him and he gets confirmed. Is that not a vote then for a little bit less regulation in the financial markets? He is no friend of regulation, as you know.

Buffett: Jamie would not be espousing that, in my view. In the end, the president would set the tone on that. I do think it would represent, on both sides, sort of a bygones be bygones, and business and administration will work together. They'll have things they disagree on -- there's no question about that -- but I think the less harsh the rhetoric and that sort of thing, the better. And I think Jamie would be a terrific Treasury Secretary.

On Ben Bernanke's Policies:

Ryssdal: We talked about Congress a little bit, we talked about the president a little bit. There's another economic center of power in Washington that I want to get your thoughts on: Ben Bernanke, his policy of quantitative easing, and how much more you think the Fed can do to help this economy -- if anything.

Buffett: Well I think they've used up their bullets pretty much. When you drive interest rates to zero and when you buy almost a trillion dollars worth of securities and how you start buying longer-term securities -- you've done your part. I mean, Ben has given up the office; now it's up to Congress.

Buffett was joined in his interview by Fortune senior editor-at-large, Carol Loomis, who compiled and edited articles about Buffett from the past 50 years into a new book called "Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2012: A Fortune Magazine Book."

Ryssdal: Carol Loomis, and the question of Warren Buffett and when you knew that he was somebody we all ought to pay attention to.

Loomis: I realized that Warren was unlike anyone I had ever met. When he asked me what I did that morning at the office, I mentioned an obscure footnote that I'd seen in Coastal States Gas -- because I was working on the Fortune 500 -- he knew all about it. I thought, 'my god, this guy knows everything I'd like to know... And we bought the stock soon after that. That is kind of the key to when we knew.

Ryssdal: You put your money where your mouth was.

Loomis: Exactly.

On being a businessman/investor:

Ryssdal: I've been trying to figure out, Mr. Buffett, through the course of reading this book, whether you are an investor or a businessman.

Buffett: Both. Both. And being an investor, you're buying pieces of a business. So you better understand business. And being a businessman, you better understand alternatives for money, in terms of allocating capital -- and therefore you are partially an investor. So I've benefitted in both roles by the fact that I was in the other one.

On tax reform:

Ryssdal: Do you think this is the time that we have an opportunity to actually do something about taxes and reform, and debt and deficit in this country, with the fiscal cliff coming?

Buffett: I think we will. We've kicked it down the road for a long time, but D-Day is here and that doesn't mean we'll get the fiscal cliff problem solved by Dec. 31st. I hope we do, but it may go over into January. But we are going to have to address important policy questions. I think Congress knows it, I think the president knows it, and certainly the American public knows it.

On Warren Buffett as celebrity:

Ryssdal: When you have your annual shareholders' meeting out in Omaha, it is something of a festival. You take questions from the shareholders, you chat with them. What's the weirdest question you've ever gotten?

Buffett: When the stock wasn't doing so well, I had one young woman that stood up and said, 'My dad bought me this stock to put me through college.' And she says, 'Now I'm afraid I'm going to have to go to correspondents' school.' I like tough questions.

On Warren Buffett as "oracle":

Ryssdal: What's the most important thing that anybody has to know about Warren Buffett?

Loomis: I think the central thing about Warren -- and people ought to understand it -- is that he is totally rational about investing. Most people are gripped by emotion when they're considering the investment; the stock goes down and they panic and they sell. Warren just buys more. Because he's got a value theory built into his first purchase... Rationality is an essential part of how he has spent his life investing and building Berkshire Hathaway.

Ryssdal: You have this reputation as the Oracle of Omaha; people hang on your every word. Do you deserve it?

Buffett: No. [laughs] Carol says I'm rational, and I am. But that's not limited to me. I'm in a business where temperament is more important than IQ. I would not do well trying to play top-notch chess; I can't play top-notch bridge, I can play reasonable bridge. I mean, there's all kinds of things I can't do. But I can think rationally about business and investments. Most people let their temperament interfere with that. They excited when other people get excited; they get depressed when other people get depressed.

Ryssdal: It's funny -- you say rational, the word that comes to my mind is cold-blooded. And you don't seem like a cold-blooded kind of guy.

Buffett: No. I have normal human emotions, believe me. But being rational means that when I decide whether a stock is worth $100 a share or $200 a share, I look at the facts and I don't care what other people say. I don't care whether that morning on television people are saying stocks are going to the moon or stocks are going to tank or whatever. I don't pay any attention to what other people are saying about something; I just look at the facts. But I can be an emotional guy too -- just watch me at a Nebraska football game.

Warren Buffett on Jamie Dimon as Treasury Secretary, the fiscal cliff, and taxes

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-29 07:24

All the talk these days is about the likelihood of the U.S. Congress avoiding a fiscal cliff. You know who’s not worried? Warren Buffett.

"Sure. Yeah, they will," Buffett said in an interview with Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal this morning, refering to a likely deal by Congress to avoid steep budget cuts and an increase in taxes.

"They've danced around it for quite a while," he said. "I think the American people, with their opinion of Congress that they've expressed -- I think the message has gotten through that we've got to get serious about this."

Buffett -- the so-called Oracle of Omaha has a net worth of $46 billion as of September 2012, placing him in the No. 2 spot on the Forbes 400 list -- answered questions on everything from JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon as Treasury Secretary ("I just think he'd be the guy I'd pick for that job"), to the future of Democratic capitalism (not worried), to tax rules and class warfare.

On Jamie Dimon as Treasury Secretary:

Ryssdal: You went on "Charlie Rose" last night and you said Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, would make a fine Secretary of the Treasury when Timothy Geithner steps down. Why do you think so?

Buffett: I think he knows more about markets than probably anybody you could find in the world. And I think that if in the next four years we run into some kind of a chaos in markets some place -- and who knows when that can happen -- that he would think better about it, he would command the respect of foreign leaders that he might have to coordinate with. I just think he'd be the guy I'd pick for that job.

Ryssdal: Let's say the president picks him and he gets confirmed. Is that not a vote then for a little bit less regulation in the financial markets? He is no friend of regulation, as you know.

Buffett: Jamie would not be espousing that, in my view. In the end, the president would set the tone on that. I do think it would represent, on both sides, sort of a bygones be bygones, and business and administration will work together. They'll have things they disagree on -- there's no question about that -- but I think the less harsh the rhetoric and that sort of thing, the better. And I think Jamie would be a terrific Treasury Secretary.

On Ben Bernanke's Policies:

Ryssdal: We talked about Congress a little bit, we talked about the president a little bit. There's another economic center of power in Washington that I want to get your thoughts on: Ben Bernanke, his policy of quantitative easing, and how much more you think the Fed can do to help this economy -- if anything.

Buffett: Well I think they've used up their bullets pretty much. When you drive interest rates to zero and when you buy almost a trillion dollars worth of securities and how you start buying longer-term securities -- you've done your part. I mean, Ben has given up the office; now it's up to Congress.

Buffett was joined in his interview by Fortune senior editor-at-large, Carol Loomis, who compiled and edited articles about Buffett from the past 50 years into a new book called "Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2012: A Fortune Magazine Book."

Ryssdal: Carol Loomis, and the question of Warren Buffett and when you knew that he was somebody we all ought to pay attention to.

Loomis: I realized that Warren was unlike anyone I had ever met. When he asked me what I did that morning at the office, I mentioned an obscure footnote that I'd seen in Coastal States Gas -- because I was working on the Fortune 500 -- he knew all about it. I thought, 'my god, this guy knows everything I'd like to know... And we bought the stock soon after that. That is kind of the key to when we knew.

Ryssdal: You put your money where your mouth was.

Loomis: Exactly.

On being a businessman/investor:

Ryssdal: I've been trying to figure out, Mr. Buffett, through the course of reading this book, whether you are an investor or a businessman.

Buffett: Both. Both. And being an investor, you're buying pieces of a business. So you better understand business. And being a businessman, you better understand alternatives for money, in terms of allocating capital -- and therefore you are partially an investor. So I've benefitted in both roles by the fact that I was in the other one.

On tax reform:

Ryssdal: Do you think this is the time that we have an opportunity to actually do something about taxes and reform, and debt and deficit in this country, with the fiscal cliff coming?

Buffett: I think we will. We've kicked it down the road for a long time, but D-Day is here and that doesn't mean we'll get the fiscal cliff problem solved by Dec. 31st. I hope we do, but it may go over into January. But we are going to have to address important policy questions. I think Congress knows it, I think the president knows it, and certainly the American public knows it.

On Warren Buffett as celebrity:

Ryssdal: When you have your annual shareholders' meeting out in Omaha, it is something of a festival. You take questions from the shareholders, you chat with them. What's the weirdest question you've ever gotten?

Buffett: When the stock wasn't doing so well, I had one young woman that stood up and said, 'My dad bought me this stock to put me through college.' And she says, 'Now I'm afraid I'm going to have to go to correspondents' school.' I like tough questions.

On Warren Buffett as "oracle":

Ryssdal: What's the most important thing that anybody has to know about Warren Buffett?

Loomis: I think the central thing about Warren -- and people ought to understand it -- is that he is totally rational about investing. Most people are gripped by emotion when they're considering the investment; the stock goes down and they panic and they sell. Warren just buys more. Because he's got a value theory built into his first purchase... Rationality is an essential part of how he has spent his life investing and building Berkshire Hathaway.

Ryssdal: You have this reputation as the Oracle of Omaha; people hang on your every word. Do you deserve it?

Buffett: No. [laughs] Carol says I'm rational, and I am. But that's not limited to me. I'm in a business where temperament is more important than IQ. I would not do well trying to play top-notch chess; I can't play top-notch bridge, I can play reasonable bridge. I mean, there's all kinds of things I can't do. But I can think rationally about business and investments. Most people let their temperament interfere with that. They excited when other people get excited; they get depressed when other people get depressed.

Ryssdal: It's funny -- you say rational, the word that comes to my mind is cold-blooded. And you don't seem like a cold-blooded kind of guy.

Buffett: No. I have normal human emotions, believe me. But being rational means that when I decide whether a stock is worth $100 a share or $200 a share, I look at the facts and I don't care what other people say. I don't care whether that morning on television people are saying stocks are going to the moon or stocks are going to tank or whatever. I don't pay any attention to what other people are saying about something; I just look at the facts. But I can be an emotional guy too -- just watch me at a Nebraska football game.

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