Video streaming company Netflix announces earnings today. The expectations are high among investors. But the company has challenges, like growing the brand abroad. Molly Wood, the new deputy technology editor for The New York Times, and Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson assess the Netflix "State of the Union."
In the science fiction movie "Gattaca," society turns on everyone's genetics test. But here in the real world in 2014, it seems the fulcrum of all things may be your credit score. You expect the bank to look before lending you money, but what about credit checks when you go up for a new job?
A recent study shows one in 10 job applicants have been rejected because something turned up in their credit history. And last month Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced a bill that would, among other things, bar the use of credit reports in hiring.
“What they are they trying to do is filter, so they are using a credit score to determine if you’re someone who is a risky hire,”Carmen Wong Ulrich, a personal finance expert and host of Marketplace Money, says of the hiring practice. “But it doesn’t necessarily go together that if you have a bad credit score, that you are going to be a bad employee.”
But today, people’s credit reports are a mess for a few reasons, Carmen says.
“Long-term unemployment, foreclosures on a home, or medical debt -- which is the number one reason people declare bankruptcy -- are not going to make you a bad employee,” she says.
To hear more about how people’s credit scores can keep them unemployed, click on the audio above.
A new study from the Association of American Colleges and Universities says liberal arts majors eventually close the earnings gap with workers who chose a “professional” major like accounting. Who knew? Given all the focus and support for STEM education, do the liberal arts need a campaign to fill prospective students and parents in on the facts?
"You are destined to a life of waiting tables." That’s the kind of stereotype the Council of Independent Colleges is trying to fight about the liberal arts -- with its Twitter username Libby and Art. (Get it?)
Georgia Nugent, president emeritus of Kenyon College and senior fellow at the Council of Independent Colleges, says the Twitter account was created as a part of a public information campaign.
“We really felt that we needed to speak out. Because so much, what I call 'dis-information' is being circulated to the public,” she said. "Like philosophy and poetry majors you will never earn as much as someone who studies accounting, or nursing."
Michael Zimmerman, provost at Evergreen State College and chair of the Washington Consortium for Liberal Arts, says the relationship between the liberal arts and STEM is often misunderstood.
“STEM disciplines are in fact a part of the liberal arts -- they are not apart from the liberal arts. The liberal arts are not liberal, and liberal meaning broad and covering the breadth of human knowledge, if we exclude STEM from them,” he says.
Debra Humphries, vice president for policy and public engagement at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and a co-author of the study, notes that at their peak earnings ages, liberal arts majors bring home larger paychecks than professional majors.
“So you can major in engineering, but if you also have the breadth and of knowledge and skill that a liberal arts degree provides you, going to be an even more valuable engineer.”
"The jewelry in this show would make Liberace think it's a little tacky," says art critic Blake Gopnik. "We're talking butterflies covered in gems, roses covered in gems -- anything you can think of covered in gems."
The show Gopnik is describing so disdainfully is Jewels by JAR, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York's exhibition of 400 pieces by the Paris based jeweler Joel A. Rosenthal. But Gopnik's issue with the JAR show is much bigger than the fact the jewels aren't to his personal taste.
"What really gets me about this, I guess, is I think it reflects a profound change in our culture," Gopnik says. "And that is the dominance of an entire society, economy, and culture by the 0.1 percent."
Gopnik, who describes himself as "one of the few critics in this country -- maybe the world -- who cares deeply about contemporary jewelry," insists JAR has never been taken seriously by the art establishment. So why is one of the most renowned art museums in the world suddenly giving him his due? Gopnik says it comes down to the fact that wealthy people buy JAR's jewelry, and at this moment in American society, the wealthy are casting their tastes across the rest of culture.
"What worries me is we have sort of all bought into the notion that money itself is what matters in the culture," Gopnik says. "And for the Met to have bought into that too worries me a whole lot."
Of course, the exhibition halls of museums around the world are filled with works that were initially commissions by wealthy patrons. But Gopnik says the difference now is that the rich are trying to make the walls of the museum reflect their 0.1 percent taste.
"It used to be that lucre was a little bit filthy, so the reason rich people got involved with museums was kind of money laundering. They could clean up their reputation by caring about things that were above money, things like great art. And in this case, what we have happening is that rich people are taking the things they already care about and installing them in museums. There's no laundering going on here because lucre ain't filthy anymore."
The World Economic Forum, the winter gathering of the powerful, kicks off today in the Alpine town of Davos, Switzerland. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will give the keynote address later today. Japan has been in the midst of what appears to be a dramatic economic turnaround since Abe took office. And Japan isn't the only economy on the mend, says BBC business reporter Anthony Reuben from Davos.
"It's a very sunny morning here in Davos, and a lot of people are seeing that as a reflection of the way the economy is going," Reuben says. "It was a much gloomier economic forum this time last year. A lot of people are coming in and saying, 'Actually, we're seeing a bit of a recovery now.'"
To find out more about this year's World Economic Forum, click the audio player above to listen to the interview.