Today we're getting a stunning view of the complete destruction left by Typhoon Haiyan.
Liz Cheney, the daughter of the former vice president and a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Wyoming, reaffirmed her opposition to same-sex marriage Sunday. That prompted a very public rebuke from her sister and sister-in-law.
For this week's Sandwich Monday, we try a sandwich from the "IHOP At Home" line of frozen foods. All the charms of IHOP without having to put on pants.
What started out as a thesis project in Sweden could revolutionize biking safety. The "invisible" helmet is an air bag tucked away in a collar fastened around a cyclist's neck. When its internal sensors detect specific jerks and jags, the air bag deploys, sending out a head-hugging hood in a tenth of a second.
Boeing’s new 777X airplanes led the Dubai Air Show’s opening day. The company claims orders of roughly $95 billion, purported to be the largest product launch in the history of commercial aviation.
Far too many doctors in the U.S. prescribe brand-name drugs when generics can be dramatically cheaper. When it comes to lower-income Medicare patients, it can be the taxpayer who covers the difference in price -- up to hundreds of millions of dollars a year. ProPublica senior reporter Tracy Weber has been gathering data about the cost of prescription drugs to the taxpayer, and tells Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio what she found.
Without comment, the Supreme Court passed on the first case challenging NSA surveillance since the Edward Snowden leaks.
Google and Microsoft have agreed to ban searches for 100,000 words in an effort to clamp down on child pornography. The idea behind the change is pretty straightforward. If you stop people looking for terms associated with images of child abuse that should stop people finding them.
In Britain, the new system is also being seen as a victory for Prime Minister David Cameron. Earlier this year, he had called on providers of internet search engines to do something to address the issue of child pornography accessed online. But while child safety campaigners agree that the new measure is a step in the right direction they are just as emphatic in saying that the new system will only stop those who are looking for such images in a superficial way.
The far more dangerous and more difficult to regulate area is the so-called "dark internet," where criminals sell and exchange images of child abuse either directly on peer-to-peer networks or through systems such as TOR, which allow them to hide their tracks online.
“That's a technological nut that is yet to be cracked but we know that the best brains in the industry are working on that,” says Claire Lilley, head of online safety for child protection group NSPCC.
This final note which comes to us from the pages of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The paper reports that a Walmart in Canton, Ohio, is hosting a food drive for its own employees. The obvious conclusion is that the company doesn't pay its employees enough to eat.
A company spokesperson said the drive is evidence WalMart workers rally around each other in times of need.
Some retailers are issuing warnings that the Affordable Care Act could weigh on their profits.
Starting in January, most of us will either need to have health insurance, or pay a penalty. In a call with analysts last week a Walmart executive said that’s another "line item in their personal budget" that could cut into customers’ spending, according to the Wall Street Journal.
"We haven’t seen any impact, but we’re keeping an eye on it," Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove told Marketplace.
"Obviously there’s only so many discretionary dollars, and if there’s fewer, consumers are going to have to make harder choices," says Lynn Franco, an economist with the Conference Board.
This story has come to be known as the "Dog Ate My Homework" kind of story around Marketplace. Another tale of retailers blaming the latest weather pattern, blackout, Congressional gridlock -- the list goes on -- for their earnings woes.
"Yes, it’s probably going to be the excuse du jour, but yes, it is a true cost, and people are going to have to absorb it," says analyst Scott Mushkin with Wolfe Research.
But isn’t the Affordable Care Act supposed to save people money?
A recent study by the Rand Corporation predicted out-of-pocket medical expenses will decline for most people who are newly insured or change their health plans. Then there are the almost nine million more people who will be covered by Medicaid, says Josh Bivens with the liberal Economic Policy Institute. Others will get subsidies to buy insurance.
"In my mind this is kind of like a delayed, small stimulus program, because it’s actually providing people who are otherwise cash-constrained to give them more income in the next couple years," Bivens says.
Other economists say it’s too soon to know how the health care law will play out.
"I really don’t think we have enough information yet to have a sense of whether this is a real problem or something that will prove not to be a major issue," says economist Scott Hoyt with Moody’s Analytics.
Analyst Joe Feldman, who follows Walmart for Telsey Advisory Group, says that uncertainty itself can weigh on shoppers.
"If it’s in the consumer’s mind that they may have some pressure down the road, you may see them pull back on their spending," says Feldman.
As more retailers come out with their earnings forecasts in the next couple weeks, Feldman says we can expect to hear more about that pressure.
The Senate Committee on Homeland Security heard testimony today about the risks, threats and promises of bitcoin, the decentralized digital currency that has been tied to illegal activity like the website Silk Road, which the F.B.I shut down. But digital currency isn’t just for people making illegal transactions. Speculators love bitcoins. Chinese investors, especially, are spending millions on them. All that bitcoin love sent the price of one bitcoin to an all-time high today, topping $750. But will bitcoins ever be a part of our day to day spending?
Right now, very few businesses accept bitcoins. There’s a Subway sandwich shop in Allentown Pa., a Massachusetts company that sells socks made of Alpaca, and in some cities you can have a pizza delivered. But that pizza transaction has to go through Riley Alexander, a 25-year-old construction manager who, with a friend, founded a business called Coins for Pizza.
It basically acts as a middleman between large chains like Dominos and Papa John's, which don’t accept bitcoin, and customers who want to pay with bitcoins. Alexander says they’ve handled about 800 deliveries since February and they make a small amount on each one, “anywhere from 50 cents to, you know 3, 4 or 5 dollars.” With bitcoins valued at more than $600, that $5 profit is 0.67 percent of a bitcoin.
But then, to their surprise, Alexander and his friend watched as speculation drove up the value of their bitcoins. “That small amount of profit turned into large amounts of profit, you know, over time,” says Alexander.
But that rapid rise in value is not necessarily great news for bitcoin, the currency. Francois Velde, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicagom says one of the prerequisites for any widely accepted currency is that it has stability. “The value of it has to become much more stable than it is now,” he says.
Velde described it as a classic chicken and egg problem for bitcoin: “as long as people speculate on it, the value will not stabilize.”
And yet much of this speculation is built on the hopes that bitcoin will become widely accepted and deliver on its promises, such as transactions that eliminate the middleman. Middlemen like Riley Alexander, who wants to see bitcoins accepted everywhere.
“If Domino’s comes up and says, 'hey we are going to take bitcoin,' sure, our business is over, but that’s great, I would love to see that,” Alexander says. “That’s what it’s really all about is getting people to accept it.”
Record-high for the Dow! 16,000! Big, round number! Yay! (Right?)
It is a big deal, if you are an investor or trader or reporter or business pundit -- you get to jump up and down and refer to 16,000 as a "milestone," a "barrier," and a "cause for celebration."
But the millions of Americans who still unemployed, or underemployed, or earning flat wages aren’t celebrating. More than 50 percent of Americans own no corporate stock – even indirectly – so they aren’t popping the champagne either.
The Dow 16,000 party is confined to corporate America: That is, the people who run public companies and own shares in them. They’re really the only people who should pay close attention to what the Dow is doing on a day-to-day basis. For most Americans - and it is most Americans – 16,000 is just another number.
So what number should we be paying attention to?
At the time of writing, the number we should really be celebrating is 2.68. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the yield on the ten-year treasury note.
Yes, I know, bonds are a bit like the PC guy in those old Apple ads. They're boring, they’re all gray and pinstriped, buttoned-up and besuited.
Stocks are where the fun is at: They’re bouncy, colorful, exciting. You never hear about a bond "pop" when its issued, do you? Most Americans probably don't know if Twitter even has bonds. You certainly never hear about dizzying run-ups or heart-pounding freefalls in the bond market. The bond market's nickname is 'fixed income' for goodness sake!
And the ten-year T note? It’s the grayest bond of all. It's quoted by every financial news organization, including this one, every day. It's part of the furniture: Like that weird bird sculpture on the mantle that your Aunt Edie gave you as a wedding gift.
Except that number, the yield on the ten-year T note, is made of gold (you should get that sculpture valued, by the way). The ten-year yield is hugely significant because as it changes, almost every number in the financial world adjusts.
Mortgages, credit card loans, corporate interest rates: The movements in the ten-year yield govern every aspect of our individual and corporate lives.
You don’t believe me? Consider the Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing program.
The Fed has pumped $2.3 trillion into the economy with the aim of keeping the yield on the ten-year note low. Why?
Because it helps save the economy. It keeps our borrowing costs down. If companies find it cheaper to borrow, then they’re more likely to take the risk to expand, and people are more likely to buy more stuff. That in turn pumps more money into companies that will hopefully then go out and hire more people. Those people will hopefully then go out and buy more stuff, and so on and so on, until the economy returns to the very picture of health.
So if you want to watch the health of the economy, you’re better off watching the yield on the ten-year than you are checking out the Dow.
Why? Because if the Dow rises or falls, that’s just telling you how American public companies are doing. A movement in the ten-year note, on the other hand, gives us insight into how every American is doing. And that's the real economy, right there.