Traffic in major cities in the developing world can be a mind-numbing mess. A team at IBM in Kenya's capitol thinks it's found an answer.
Stock markets around the world are having a downbeat day so far, in part because that's what tends to happen in September, but also because of a new signs of trouble for Europe's economy. A survey of business activity in the 18 countries that use the Euro suggests recovery there is stalling. Plus, there's news today the Obama Administration is cracking down on what are called "inversions," the controversial maneuver of acquiring foreign companies to save U.S. tax. Targeted are the special loans that make these acquisitions possible. President Obama and republicans and democrats in congress agree that what's need in the longer run is tax reform. Yet that's a process that doesn't seem to be moving forward any time soon. That got federal budget watcher Stan Collender doing the math on an unconventional solution. And among the many announcements coming out of Climate Week in New York comes this news of strange bedfellows: A partnership between some leading environmental non-profits, including the Environmental Defense Fund, and five oil companies.
The Obama Administration has announced a crack down on what are called "inversions": the controversial maneuver of acquiring foreign companies to save U.S. tax. Targeted are the special loans that make these acquisitions possible; seen as a stopgap approach.
President Obama and republicans and democrats in congress agree that what's need in the longer run is tax reform. But that's a process that doesn't seem to be moving forward any time soon.
That got federal budget watcher Stan Collender doing the math. Collender—who use to work for both the House and Senate budget committees and tweets at theBudgetGuy—has written a column entitled "How to Abolish the Federal Corporate Income Tax without Increasing the Deficit," and stopped by to talk about an unconventional solution.
Click the media player above to hear Stan Collender in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio.
You heard all about the largest initial public offering (ever) last week. That is, the debut of the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba. Now, investors are awaiting the second-biggest U.S. IPO of the year.
Shares of Citizens Financial Group are expected to price later Tuesday. It could be the largest bank IPO since Goldman Sachs in 1999.
Citizens Financial Group is one of the largest regional banks in the U.S., but it’s owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland. During the financial crisis, RBS was bailed out by British taxpayers. Now, the UK government wants out, says banking analyst Richard Bove with Rafferty Capital Markets.
“They’re saying, 'Hey look, we don’t want to be in the banking business,'” Bove says. “'You forced us to bail you out. Now give us the money back, and if that means selling off assets, sell them.'”
Kathleen Smith manages a fund that invests in newly public companies at Renaissance Capital. She says this year has been the strongest for IPOs since 2000, but financial companies haven’t fared so well.
With the Citizens offering just days after the biggest IPO ever, “it will be a test of the market capacity to add additional new product to portfolios,” she says.
Smith says investors may also look askance at the $9 million in bonuses Citizens executives are expected to get from the IPO.
Among the many announcements at Climate Week in New York comes this news of strange bedfellows: A partnership between some leading environmental non-profits, including the Environmental Defense Fund, and five oil companies. The companies agree to work at cutting emissions of methane—a potent greenhouse gas—in the process of exploration and drilling.
These oil companies aren’t household names in the United States, but they’re big, like the national oil companies of Mexico and Norway. The absence of “super-majors” like BP and Exxon isn’t the potential weakness that concerns Stanford geophysicist Mark Zoback, who served on an Energy Department panel on shale gas safety.
"You have to understand, it’s not the companies you know," he says with a laugh.
Rather, big problems may come from small-timers, who operate under a variety of state regulations and ethical constraints. The U.S. Energy Information Agency estimates there are as many as 15,000 oil and gas drillers, most of them relatively small time. An agency report showed almost half a million active natural gas wells in 2012.
"There’s so many wells being drilled, and there’s so many companies in the process," says Zoback. "It only takes a few bad actors to cause problems."
Nathaniel Keohane, vice president of international climate at the Environmental Defense Fund, agrees that there are limits to what this particular initiative can achieve. "We think that by starting with this group and expanding it over time, we can start to make progress and demonstrate what’s possible," he says.
You can’t buy a lot for $4—maybe a cup of coffee or muffin. But at about a dozen Walmart stores across the South, $4 will get employees a visit to a nurse practitioner at an in-store clinic. It’s part of a new primary care program that Walmart is testing in three states.
Eric Klein leads the healthcare team at the national law firm Sheppard Mullin Richter and Hampton. He says Walmart could actually come out ahead in the big picture.
“You have to look at the entire cost,” he says. “It’s not just the $4 copay, it’s the entire cost.”
Klein says if employees go to an on-site clinic owned by Walmart, the company could save money on doctor visits and insurance premiums. Cutting out the middle men could bring down the cost of Walmart’s insurance plans.
Dr. Harris Berman, the dean of the medical school at Tufts University, agrees.
“If the employees are getting it done here for $4, it won’t show up in their insurance bill,” he says.
With more than a million employees and their dependents on the Walmart health plan, the program could help shape the primary care market if it goes nationwide.
Jennifer LaPerre, Walmart’s senior director of health and wellness, says the company has a “unique opportunity” to help provide lower-cost care. LaPerre says the $4 figure is also part of Walmart’s branding strategy, in keeping with the $4 generic drug program that it launched in 2006.
Klein says Walmart also wins by having clinics just steps away from the checkout lines.
“By taking better care of their employees they actually get better results economically,” Klein says. “Less absenteeism, and that’s a real cost savings over time.”
Walmart is piloting the idea for now; planning to open about a dozen clinics by the end of the year in Georgia, Texas, and South Carolina. LaPerre says Walmart is choosing stores in areas with high rates of chronic disease and a shortage of primary care doctors.
If the concept works, Walmart may take it nationwide.