Happy New Year! In 2014, Marketplace Money will follow a few listeners from around the country who’ve resolved to make over their personal finance lives. We’ll be checking up on their financial New Year’s resolutions periodically throughout the year and see if they're achieving their goals!
Name: Eric Sawchak, 21
Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
Resolution: “I'm going to get a job this year after I graduate, hopefully. And I would like to start saving for all the long-term goals that I have, most specifically: retirement and planning ahead for the family that I'm probably going to have. My parents set me up with a Roth IRA a few years ago, so I kind of got the bug early."
"I'm not going to graduate with any debt because my parents set me up with a 529 [college savings plan], for which I owe my parents a whole load of thanks. I have a part-time internship, that provides me about $10 an hour for the 10 hours a week I work there, so I have a little bit of extra income. But when I graduate that's all pretty much going to stop, if I can't find a real job, full-time job, then ... geez, I don't even know what I'm going to do. But for the present, I'm in a pretty good situation."
Carmen says: “We can plan all we want, but it's gotta be: Start with now! So what are those immediate needs? What's going to happen is that your income ... that is going to fuel the expenses for your family in the future, your retirement. So without thinking about how that job is going to happen, you can't get at that money. Think about the practical about getting that job, which means living on your own. And what would those costs be? And you can estimate, 'How much would my budget be for rent? I would have to save up for first and last month's payment."
The Florida congressman, who was arrested in November for cocaine possession, said he's returning to Congress. But the Republican hasn't said yet whether he'll seek another two years in Congress when his term expires this year.
Researchers in Tokyo have put a new twist on the use of sound to suspend objects in air. They've used ultrasonic standing waves to trap pieces of wood, metal and water – and even move them around.
The New York Times and Britain's The Guardian have published editorials saying accused spy Edward Snowden has sparked an important debate about the proper limits of electronic surveillance.
The proceeds from corruption, and legal and ethical gray areas, are a daily fact of life in China. The practice of gray income, which shows no sign of abating, may make political reforms more difficult.
Among those who stand to benefit the most from the expansion of Medicaid are homeless adults. Many of these men and women are mentally ill or addicted to drugs and alcohol. Enrolling them can be difficult, but the benefits should be substantial.
The new Desert Flower Center offers treatment for the physical and psychological effects of female genital mutilation. But fear of alienation from their families and communities may keep some victims, mainly immigrants from Africa, from taking advantage of the center.
Remember screw caps on jugs of wine? These days, many winemakers have wholeheartedly embraced the screw tops — not just for their ease of use, but for the way they seal the wine's taste. Now many consumers are learning to look past the caps' former downmarket reputation.
IBM finished last year with a sad-sounding distinction: Its stock was the only one on the Dow Jones Industrial Average to lose value in 2013. The average as a whole was up 26 percent—IBM’s share price went down 2 percent.
But some say Big Blue, the company, looks a lot healthier than its stock’s performance. IBM made money and paid dividends. And in the fast-changing tech world, it retains some big advantages.
One of the biggest advantages is… being big. And being one of the companies big companies can rely on to take care of all their IT needs. Chief Information Officers for Fortune 500 Companies? Not big risk takers.
If I’ve got IBM, I’ve got a guy.
"And, I have one throat to choke," says Grady Burkett of Morningstar. "So if my guy messes up, I know exactly who to call."
All that integration means that for IBM’s customers, switching to another vendor isn’t a consumer's choice to switch from PC to Mac. It’s more like getting a divorce.
IBM does its best to keep its customers happy by staying current, and playing catch-up when it needs to— sometimes by buying smaller, younger companies that have developed new technology.
For instance, cloud computing—which allows customers to rent server space instead of buying servers from vendors like IBM—is eating into sales. So last year IBM bought a company called Softlayer that specializes in providing cloud services.
Andrew McAfee, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Business and author of Enterprise 2.0, thinks IBM’s star turn on TV a couple of years ago—as the builder of Jeopardy champ Watson—was a good sign. "IBM did not build Watson just to play Jeopardy," he says.
Instead, IBM built Watson to compete with Google search, Apple’s SIRI, and other I-can-answer-that-question-for-you applications. "Think about it applied to troubleshooting, applied to customer service, applied to medical diagnostics," he says. "The potential uses for a Watson-style technology are all over the place." The company's website for Watson reflects these ideas.
The company's stock is likely to come back over time, according to Edward Jones analyst Josh Olson. "We think that over that longer horizon these fundamentals will shine through more, and that will be reflected in the stock price," he says.
In other words, the fast-moving stock market may yet catch up with this big, mature company.
In 2013, the average U.S. citizen found out that almost everything we do on the web can be monitored by the NSA.
Consumers responded with a collective shrug, at least in regards to their web browsing and spending habits. In other words, consumers haven't logged off of Google, Facebook, Yahoo or any of the PRISM companies en masse.
The question for 2014 is how will enterprise -- or business customers -- respond?
"One of the things we do know is that a lot of these companies have come out saying that they're gonna put in extra measures like encrypting their emails as well as trying to figure out a way that the information going from server to server is secure. They're trying to up their game," says Marketplace's Queena Kim. "Of course, it's just a matter of time before the NSA ups their game and it becomes this arms race. Then the question is, 'Who starts paying for all these security measures.'"
Right now, analysts estimate that the NSA revelations could cost U.S. cloud computing providers anywhere from $35 billion to $180 billion in lost business. Analysts believe that foreign companies in Europe and Asia will be more hesitatant to do business with U.S. cloud providers.
Of course the difference betwee $35 billion and $180 billion is huge -- but it serves to highlight the uncertaintly facing those tech companies.