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Hacking into wired cars

Mon, 2015-02-09 02:00

A new Senate report released Monday says cars equipped with wireless internet could be a security risk, and could transmit personal information about a driver.  

The report, from Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey, says automakers are short on safeguards that would keep hackers from, say, taking control of your car, and causing it to accelerate suddenly, or killing the brakes.

“This is a big deal,” says Dave Cole, chairman of AutoHarvest, which encourages innovation in the auto industry. 

Cole says cars with wireless internet could also transmit all kinds of data about their drivers. That could come in handy during, say, a hurricane evacuation, or maybe help parents.

“Do I want to track a teenaged son who might be doing something I don’t want him to do? But how about my everyday life? Do I want somebody checking on that all the time?” Cole wonders.

He says we might need federal rules to establish what information can be collected, and how it can be used.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting for a key report on global oil market

Mon, 2015-02-09 02:00

The International Energy Agency in Paris issues its look-ahead to oil markets in the next five years on Tuesday. So what's the key question, and why do so many energy pros follow this agency?

To many analysts, consensus is spelled I-E-A. The International Energy Agency forms consensus, says consultant Bob McNally of the Rapidan Group.

He says consensus used to be that OPEC would intervene whenever prices fell. Until last fall, when it didn't. The big question now – a central question in the upcoming medium-term report – is how a new world without an OPEC price-stabilizer might look.

Some analysts see a prolonged period of low crude oil prices, perhaps below $75 a barrel. McNally's take: "We told our clients, welcome back to Space Mountain, the Disneyland roller coaster."

In other words, volatility.

Lending ones' eyes via smartphone

Mon, 2015-02-09 02:00

An app that helps the blind by connecting them to sighted volunteers who can see through their video camera has been gaining a lot of attention since its recent launch. Be My Eyes, as the app is known, was developed by Hans Jørgen Wiberg, a 50-year-old Dane, and funded by three different Danish groups. Wiberg himself is visually impaired.

“Its great to see people being really innovative in this space,” says Eliza Cooper, a social media consultant who has been blind since childhood. She recently tested the app to find out the expiration date on her milk carton.

“I didn't know where the expiration date usually is,” says Cooper. So her volunteer looked at her own milk carton and then told Cooper where to aim the camera.

What made her apprehensive, Cooper says, was not the technology itself, but the person who would be on the other end. “Maybe someone who is lonely and just wants a connection, and they choose to use this app,” she says. “That made me nervous."

But she soon realized that wasn’t the case. The woman Cooper spoke to didn’t ask to exchange names. “I felt good about not having any pressure to identify anything more than I wanted to,” says Cooper.

Click the media player above to hear more about Eliza Cooper's experience using 'Be My Eyes.'

 

Who lives in a money-making pineapple under the sea?

Mon, 2015-02-09 01:30
54 percent

The portion of New York City real estate purchases over $5 million that were conducted by shell companies, the New York Times reported. That adds up to more than $4 billion, much of it paid anonymously by LLCs or other corporations with fluid, obscured ownership. A Times investigation, rolling out this week, found that number is on the rise and transparency in the city's high-end real estate is disappearing, which becomes disconcerting when many of the shell companies trace back to foreign billionaires with checkered pasts.

29

The number of states in which truck driving was the most common job in 2014, according to an analysis by NPR. They used census data, and excluded two very broad categories "manager" and "salesperson," to find truckers have become more and more common as other jobs move overseas or become obsolete.

$590 million

That's the size of the stake Alibaba is taking in a smartphone maker based in China, as reported by the New York Times. Meizu Technology Co. will get access to Alibaba's sales channels in exchange for using Alibaba's operating system in its devices.

1,800

The number of drunk driving accidents Uber claims to have "likely prevented" in California since launching there two and a half years ago. But ProPublica notes the relationship between the ride-sharing service and drunk driving may not be so clear-cut. Indeed, communities with UberX saw a larger drop in drunk driving accidents among under-30 set than those cities that didn't have the low-cost ride service. But it's a leap to credit Uber - both sets of communities saw drops and it's unclear how many of the people under-30 actually it.

$56 million

Are you ready kids? The SpongeBob Squarepants movie won the weekend box office with a $56 million opening. As reported by the WSJ, the yellow sponge dethroned previous top spot holder "American Sniper."

Fun fact Friday: What a waste of water

Fri, 2015-02-06 13:43

Fun fact: The average American uses 100 gallons of water per day.

But according to the United Nations, the bare minimum we need is 13 gallons. There are many more fun facts about water in our new series Water: The High Price of Cheap.

Counting gallons: How much water do you use?

Fun fact: Students at the University of Amherst will save an average of $380 per year on textbooks, thanks to a new deal the university made with Amazon.

Students will be able to buy books and branded swag from Amazon, instead of an old-fashioned, pricey campus bookstore.

Amazon heads to college

Fun fact: Over two months have passed since the first Sony hack on Nov. 24, when Sony employees’ computer screen showed a message titled “Hacked by #GOP.”

Check out a timeline of the Sony hacks saga here: 

Amy Pascal is out as Sony Pictures head

Goldman Sachs' reputation sinks even lower

Fri, 2015-02-06 13:00

It's official: We all think Goldman Sachs is the worst.

At least according to research firm Harris Interactive, which just released the results of its annual poll ranking the corporate reputations of what it says are the country's 100 most visible companies. Goldman came in dead last, behind even AIG.

Here are the bottom 10:

  • Bank of America
  • Charter Communications
  • Comcast
  • Koch Industries
  • Sears Holdings Corp.
  • Halliburton
  • Monsanto
  • Dish Network
  • AIG
  • Goldman Sachs

What was No. 1? Wegmans, a regional supermarket chain based in Rochester, New York.

Plucky pitch that made Ed Burns take off in Hollywood

Fri, 2015-02-06 12:51

In his new memoir, "Independent Ed: Inside a Career of Big Dreams, Little Movies, and the Twelve Best Days of My Life," Edward Burns recounts how he got his foot into the door of Hollywood. It sounds like a fairytale.

In 1994, he was working as a production assistant on "Entertainment Tonight" and had shot his first feature film, “The Brothers McMullen,” in his spare time. He had been trying to get people to look at it for a year – distributors, producers, agents, film festivals, anyone. That’s when he risked his job for his future.

Redford was doing a junket for “Quiz Show” and knowing that I was going to see him that afternoon for the [Entertainment Tonight] interview, I brought my copy of “McMullen,” a rough cut on VHS. I sat through his interview, and while he spoke I went through my 30-second spiel about a hundred times. The minute the interview ended he went to the elevator, I cut around the other door, met him there, gave him the spiel, handed him the VHS. I basically said, "I’m an indie filmmaker, I made this movie, I just need a little help. Would you please look at it or have someone in your office look at it?" He took it and said, ‘Sure, we’ll be in touch.’ And that was it. Six months later or so we get the phone call from the Sundance festival itself saying the film had been accepted into competition. And then a few months after that when I finally get up to Park City and the film screens, I meet Redford afterwards and that’s when he comes up to me and says, "Hey, it took a lot of balls doing what you did."

“The Brothers McMullen” went on to win Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize, the festival's highest accolade. Burns sold it to 20th Century Fox and the film raked in a cool $10 million. Suddenly, he was labeled Hollywood’s hottest young independent filmmaker.

But Burns’ book is less about that meteoric rise and more about what happened next. The 20 years that followed were a roller coaster ride that eventually slammed Burns’ foot so hard in that door of Hollywood that he couldn’t get a movie made.

I’ve written and directed 11 movies. Six of which no one has ever heard of for the most part. And those movies didn’t just get bad reviews and bomb at the box office, some were even met with just complete apathy, which is worse. So it was tough to muster it up yet again to say, "You know what? I know that I have something to say."

What followed was some self-reflection and a realization that to get back to where he started, he needed to work like he did at the start. So he sat down and hashed out a plan with his producer.

We were at a bar. and we started to write down the sort of "McMullen" guidelines: $25,000, I can self-finance that, we’ll start there. But then we thought we’ll shoot it in 12 days like "McMullen," only use unknown actors. They’re all going to do their own hair and makeup, they’ve got to wear their own clothes, we’re not going to pay for a single location, which means we’ve got to call in favors or just use city streets. And we’re going to go back and use a three-man crew. Let’s just see if we can do that again.

Burns released “Nice Guy Johnny” in 2010, skipping the art houses in lieu of premiering the film on iTunes. Because the film was so cheap to make, it couldn’t help but turn a profit, and the digital-first strategy put Burns back in the spotlight.

Burns has now teamed up with Stephen Spielberg on a television series Burns is writing and directing for TNT. The show is called “Public Morals” and is set to debut next fall. Burns says shows like "The Sopranos," "The Wire" and "Mad Men" have slowly proven that cable television is the new playground for independent filmmakers.

You look at what makes those shows great. At the helm is someone who was left alone. One artist at the center and it’s their vision and they’re given the freedom to see that vision through.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s the small screen or the silver screen, to Burns that’s what the term “independent” has always meant.

If there is a singular voice, and that person is able to make the movie without any interference, to me that’s what independent film is.

Should you let a robo-adviser invest for you?

Fri, 2015-02-06 12:00

As the economy picks up strength, more people are heading back to work and some are even seeing their wages tick upward. That means the lucky among us might find ourselves with extra cash and wondering what to do with it – after building up savings for emergency expenses and contributing to 401ks, of course.

An increasingly popular option for many want-to-be investors, especially millennials, are robo-advisers – online services that help people through a variety of financial decisions, such as how to invest a lump sum of money or provide feedback on the current mix of assets in their portfolios. Interfaces range from completely online and automated to those that may offer occasional video chats with human advisers. Many begin with a questionnaire for customers.

The questionnaires "remind me of a little bit of those Facebook, you know, 'What '90s song is your rock anthem?' or 'Which movie star is your soulmate?'” says Barbara Roper, director of investor protection at the Consumer Federation of America. “Ten questions, and they know supposedly everything about you.”

For example, an automated investment service called Wealthfront will create personalized portfolio recommendations for customers based on answers to these questions:

  • What are you looking for in a financial adviser?
  • What is your current age?
  • What is your annual after-tax income?
  • What is the total value of your cash and liquid investments?
  • What would you do if your portfolio lost 10 percent of its value in a month?

Roper says these questions are meant to help the site determine an investors’ risk threshold – a difficult, complicated task, even for human advisers and especially tricky for robo-advisers. In general, robo-advisers can be a good option for investors, especially if they take a “set it and forget it” approach, she says.

“You set up some parameters, you automate the process, you keep expenses as low as possible, you diversify through ETFs,” says Roper. “Those are good principles.”

People considering robo-advisers may be attracted by their relatively low fees and the fact that – unlike some human advisers – they tend to have low minimum-investment requirements.

“Broadly speaking, these services are catering to less-affluent individuals,” says Grant Easterbrook, a former analyst specializing in financial technology.Most human financial-advisers have account minimums. They don’t want to work with someone below a certain threshold. They don’t think it’s worth their time.”

By Easterbook’s calculations, the top 11 startups in this space, most of which have only been live for a year or two, have $19 billion dollars invested with them – and they’re growing fast. That’s drawn some bigger banks into the space as well.

But how does working with a robo-adviser compare to consulting a good old-fashioned human being, and how does the financial advice differ?

Sheryl Garrett, an independent certified financial planner who runs the Garrett Planning Network, says her first question for new clients is often: What’s going on in your life?

She inquires about a client’s income, debt, career plans, retirement accounts, what the money that may be invested will eventually be used for, if there are expenses on the horizon or a few years down the road, or family obligations they might have to take on. These types of questions can reveal deeper issues in our financial lives that the client may not even be aware of, she says.

Garrett’s not opposed to people using robo-advisers, although she cautions that automated advice can miss the bigger picture – that the extra money we think we have might not be truly extra. Her advice: planning first, and maybe, if it still makes sense, Internet second.

Job creation over past 3 months strongest since 1997

Fri, 2015-02-06 11:51

The U.S. economy added 257,000 jobs in January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. The report also included revisions to job-creation figures for November and December 2014, adding 147,000 more jobs. That brings job-creation in the past three months to over 1 million – the strongest since 1997, according to Capital Economics research.

The unemployment rate increased marginally (by 0.1 percent) to 5.7 percent in January, as 703,000 additional adults were counted in the labor force.

The report does not provide detailed information about those entering or returning to the labor force. Elise Gould of the Economic Policy Institute says that by age distribution they appear to mirror the active workforce as a whole: 72 percent are prime-age working adults, age 25 to 54. “The uptick [in the labor force] may be disproportionately more Hispanic workers and white workers, and fewer black workers,” Gould says.

Job creation in the past several months has been broad-based, according to Gary Burtless, a labor economist at the Brookings Institution. New workers hold lower-paid retail and restaurant jobs as well as higher-paid positions in finance, professional services and IT. Traditional middle-income-tier jobs are also filling out a bit, he says.

“The construction industry has picked up employment gains,” says Burtless, “and manufacturing has been adding steadily to payrolls for quite a while.” But he points out that neither of these goods-producing employment sectors is as robust as before the recession.

The business of cheating: Ashley Madison and how to sell infidelity

Fri, 2015-02-06 11:16

There are cheaters in every type of business, but for Ashley Madison, cheating is business.

Ashley Madison is a dating site marketed specifically at people who are already in relationships. Millions of people subscribe and pay to use Ashley Madison to find potential affairs.

And business is good, even if it's widely considered immoral.

So how do you start a company centered on cheating? And how do you sell something that repulses so many consumers?

Noel Biderman, the founder and CEO of Avid Life Media, which owns Ashley Madison, joined Marketplace Weekend to explain the business of cheating.

 

 

The business of cheating: Ashley Madison and how to sell infidelity

Fri, 2015-02-06 11:16

There are cheaters in every type of business, but for this company, cheating IS business.

Ashley Madison is a dating site marketed specifically at people who are already in relationships. Millions of people subscribe and pay to use Ashley Madison -- the site is in the business of infidelity.

And business is good, even if it's widely considered immoral. So how do you start a company centered on cheating? And how do you sell something that repulses so many consumers?

Noel Biderman, the founder and CEO of Avid Life Media, which owns Ashley Madison, joined Marketplace Weekend to explain the business of cheating.

 

 

Immunization cuts proposed amid measles outbreak

Fri, 2015-02-06 11:04

Montgomery County, Maryland, is right next to Washington, D.C., so when Washington reported a measles case earlier this week, the county’s Department of Health and Human Services shifted into high gear.

Part of that response involves vaccinating people who had contact with those who got sick.  The county gets much of its vaccine through the federal 317 Immunization Program,  which the Obama administration wants to cut by $50 million, affecting the supply of all kinds of vaccines. 

“To cut money for something that is a proven public health success, doesn’t make sense,” says Cindy Edwards, who is in charge of the county’s communicable disease division, which responds to outbreaks of such diseases as measles and whooping cough.

The 317 program provides vaccine for the uninsured. The White House says there’s  less demand for those vaccines because more children are insured as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Insurers have to pay for vaccines. Plus, the Obama administration added about $128 million  to a separate vaccination program for children. 

But Edwards says a lot of her vaccine goes to adults, many of them immigrants – documented and undocumented.

“We’ve had several measles outbreaks," she says. "One was with a refugee population. So we were standing up clinics on Saturdays and Sundays.”

While the White House would only cut 317 funding for vaccines, the  program funds other things, too. Edwards was able to use it to pay nurses overtime for those weekend clinics and to track those who were in contact with people who got sick. Some health advocates says more money is needed for things like that. 

"The program has never been fully funded ... and now they’re cutting it by $50 million more,”  says Laura Hanen, a lobbyist for the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

The 317 program money can also be used to train doctors how to persuade reluctant parents to vaccinate their children, Hanen says. That’s especially important in western states with many unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children.  L.J. Tan, chief strategy officer of the Immunization Action Coalition, says at least 14 percent of toddlers in Colorado are not fully vaccinated for measles.

“So it’s these pockets of under-vaccinated kids that we’re worried about," he says. "A single case of measles in that community will explode into an outbreak.”

And Tan says, clinics will need all the 317 Immunization Program vaccine they can get. 

Members of Congress aren’t immune to these arguments.  President Obama proposed cuts to the 317 program last year, but Congress restored the money. 

Banking on the electric car battery boom

Fri, 2015-02-06 11:01

There's an international battle happening to find the next super battery to run electric cars, cut emissions and reap the economic benefits.

"The primary players in the pursuit of the super battery... are Japan, South Korea, China and, of course, the United States," says Steve LeVine, who details the race in his new book, "The Powerhouse: Inside the Invention of a Battery to Save the World."

LeVine says the U.S. is currently trailing behind Japan and South Korea, but that doesn't mean America is out of the race yet. The U.S. has a long legacy of battery innovation, including the now-ubiquitous lithium-ion battery.

Argonne National Laboratory outside of Chicago currently has a shot at developing the next generation of batteries. In fact, it was Argonne scientists who came up with the battery technology currently used in the Chevy Volt.

But even as some of the world's top scientists race to innovate, electric car maker Tesla says it's just fine with the old lithium ion tech. Tesla founder Elon Musk is betting against the battery scientists by choosing to just take batteries "off the shelf," LeVine says.

"The next thing he has in store is a battle with GM," LeVine says. "Both of them say in the year 2018 they're going to have $35,000 cars that are going to go 200 miles on a single charge."

As battery technology gets better and more people drive electric cars, world markets will also be affected.

"When batteries take off, they're going to take a lot of oil off the market," says LeVine. "The same impact that you're seeing shaking up countries around the world, the price of oil going down, you're going to see that happen again in the next five to eight years, because of what's going to happen on the electric grid."

More from our extended interview with LeVine: 

On the global battery race:

I just started on Google plugging in one country after another: “electric cars” and “France.” And “electric cars” and “Brazil.” And by the end of this session on Google there were 20 countries. Basically any major country you could think of was in this race. They saw the new age. The new boom. A potential economic boon for their economies, a new age in electric cars, in batteries. And each one of them said “We’re going to win it.” Wow, my big thing is not just energy, but how it affects geopolitics. 

On how innovation really works:

Invention is the province of big exaggerators. And big deceivers. And batteries have been a province, a special province, of these type of individuals. Hype-sters. Edison famously talked about the liars and swindlers who tend to gravitate to batteries. And that’s because the stakes are so high. If you can invent the super-battery, you enable so many things. It is, in my view, the biggest game-changer of any on the planet. Apart from peace among all nations, it is very big. 

On the future of electric vehicles:

GM says its Bolt, that’s what it’s calling its car, will be on the market at the end of 2107. [Elon] Musk is calling his the Model 3. This for me is the inflection point. It’s the signal that electric cars in just three years, less than three years, are going to be in the market …

We are headed into a long period of disruption, and I think it includes electric cars. 

Listen to Scott Tong's full interview with LeVine.

Affordable Care Act? Try 'Aggravating Challenge for Accountants'

Fri, 2015-02-06 10:06

Two of the most complicated facets of American life have just collided: health care and the federal income tax form. As set out in the Affordable Care Act, starting now health insurance has been woven into every individual federal tax form. Let’s ignore the effect on the ibuprofen market (investment tip?). For the IRS and for thousands of accountants, the result is a once-in-a-generation challenge: a new tax requirement for every American that could be violated accidentally, with ease.

 “This is a very very big change,” says tax accountant Poonam Bansal. “It practically affects every return … clients know practically nothing about it.”

Bansal runs her own small accounting firm, Accounting Solutions, in northern Virginia. The tax expert prides herself on being meticulous and has prepared hundreds of tax forms every year for more than a decade. But this year, even as she triple checks each client’s forms, she fears it will be nearly impossible to correctly file every return as both Americans and the IRS navigate new forms and new calculations.

“I’m more worried about the IRS to be honest, because the IRS does not have enough manpower, they are already behind,” she says. “My worry is how will they handle it.”

Why? The Affordable Care Act mandate that individuals get health insurance went into effect last year. The law designated the IRS as the enforcer of that requirement and as a result, tax forms due in April 2015 check each taxpayer has health insurance. Issue one: the IRS has seen its budget cut in recent years and the agency’s chief, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, has told reporters that those cuts could affect the speed and ability of the IRS to handle tax returns.

Issue two is more for individuals. The best-case scenario involves Americans who get their health care through their job and who had no interruption in that health care. For them, the process is usually as simple as checking a box on a form.

But it is not as easy for the millions of people who purchased health care through individual exchanges or who saw a significant interruption in their coverage last year. There is concern those groups of people could unknowingly, and easily, misfile their information.

A second tax headache: the millions of Americans who received government subsidies to help pay for their health care. Those are people whose income falls between 100 percent and 400 percent of poverty. But the subsidies were based on a forecast of each persons’ income made a year ago, and many of those income estimates could have been off — pay may have increased, a job may have changed.

As a result, those receiving subsidies now need to calculate whether they received too much or too little money in subsidies and then incorporate that net difference into their tax form. 

“Money always brings out the emotion in people and this year we have more emotion than any other year,” Bansal says.

One upside is this puts some accountants on a potentially uncomfortably learning curve, but the problem may be good for their industry.

“As long as we have a complicated tax code, there will always be work for our profession,” Bansal says.

Affordable Care Act? Try Aggravating Challenge for Accountants

Fri, 2015-02-06 10:06

I take a deep breath as I write this next sentence.  

Two of the most complicated facets of American life have just collided: health care and the federal income tax form.  As set out in the Affordable Care Act, starting now health insurance has been woven into every individual federal tax form.  Let’s ignore the effect on the ibuprofen market (investment tip?).   For the IRS and for thousands of accountants, the result is a once-in-a-generation challenge: a new tax requirement for every American that could be violated accidentally, with ease.

 “This is a very very big change,” tax accountant Poonam  Bansal told MarketPlace Weekend. “It practically affects every return… clients know practically nothing about it.”

Bansal runs her own small accounting firm, Accounting Solutions, in Northern Virginia.  The tax expert prides herself on being meticulous and has prepared hundreds of tax forms every year for more than a decade.  But this year, even as she triple checks each client’s forms, she fears it will be nearly impossible to correctly file every return as both Americans and the IRS navigate new forms and new calculations.

“I’m more worried about the IRS to be honest, because the IRS does not have enough manpower, they are already behind,” Bansal explained, “My worry is how will they handle it.”

Why?  The Affordable Care Act mandate that individuals get health insurance went into effect last year.  The law designated the IRS as the enforcer of that requirement and as a result, tax forms due in April check that each taxpayer has health insurance. Issue one, the IRS has seen its budget cut in recent years and the agency’s chief, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, has told reporters that those cuts could affect the speed and ability of the IRS to handle tax returns.

Issue two is for individuals.  The best-case scenario involves Americans who get their health care through their job and who had no interruption in that health care. For them, the process is usually as simple as checking a box on a form.

But it is not as easy for the millions of people who purchased health care through individual exchanges or who saw a significant interruption in their coverage last year.  There is concern those groups of people could unknowingly, and easily, misfile their information.

A second tax headache: the millions of Americans who received government subsidies to help pay for their health care. Those are people whose income falls between 100% and 400% of poverty.  But the subsidies were based on a forecast of each persons’ income made a year ago.  And many of those income estimates could have been off.  Pay may have increased, a job may have changed.

As a result, those receiving subsidies now need to calculate whether they received too much or too little money in subsidies and then incorporate that net difference into their tax form. 

“Money always brings out the emotion in people and this year we have more emotion than any other year,” Bansal concluded.

One upside, this puts some accountants on a potentially uncomfortably learning curve, but the problem may be good for their industry.

“As long as we have a complicated tax code, there will always be work for our profession,” Bansal said.

 

The psychology behind cheating

Fri, 2015-02-06 09:52

Imagine this: You're alone at work, and you're thirsty. You have no money, and you have nothing to drink. You open your office fridge and there you find six cans of Coca-Cola, and six crisp $1 bills. 

Do you take anything? Maybe a soda, or a dollar bill, to buy something for the vending machine? Do you take more than one?

Dan Ariely already has an idea what you'd do. Ariely is a professor at Duke University. He studies cheating behavior and he's run dozens of experiments on cheating: when people cheat, by how much, and why they do it.

He says that people are more likely to cheat when they're distanced from the idea of monetary value -- you're more likely to take the soda than the cash, just as you're more likely to stream a movie illegally online than to walk into a store and steal a DVD, or worse yet, take cash from the register. 

Cheating can be complicated, too, it's not all black and white. Dishonesty exists on a spectrum, and finding balance, particularly between our social behaviors and our business behaviors, is crucial, according to Ariely.

You can learn more about how and why people cheat by tuning in to the full segment in the audio player above, or, to find out what kind of cheater you are, take our quiz: 

[Quiz by Seth Kelley]

Why do people cheat? It's in our nature

Fri, 2015-02-06 09:52

Imagine this: You're at work, and you're thirsty. You have no money, nothing to drink. You open your office fridge and there you find six cans of Coke and six one dollar bills. There's no one watching, you're alone. 

Do you take anything? Maybe a soda, or a dollar bill, to buy something for the vending machine? Do you take more than one? 

A man named Dan Ariely can probably tell you exactly what you'd do.

Ariely is a professor at Duke University. He studies cheating behavior and he's run dozens of experiments on cheating: when people cheat, by how much, why.

He says that people are more likely to cheat when they're distanced from the idea of monetary value -- you're more likely to take the soda than the cash, just as you're more likely to stream a movie illegally online than to walk into a store and steal a DVD, or worse yet, take cash from the register. 

Cheating can be complicated, too, it's not all black and white, dishonesty exists on a spectrum, and finding balance, particularly between our social behaviors and our business behaviors, is crucial, according to Ariely. 

You can learn more about how and why people cheat by tuning in to the full segment in the audio player above, or, to find out what kind of cheater you are, take our quiz: 

[Quiz by Seth Kelley]

Your Wallet: Mobility and the American Dream

Fri, 2015-02-06 09:25

Next week, we're talking about mobility--in your economic life, in the world.

Do you feel like you are upwardly mobile? How is the American dream working out for you?

Share your stories of mobility here. You can also visit us on Marketplace's Facebook page, or on Twitter @MarketplaceWKND.

My Money Story: What happens when you cheat

Fri, 2015-02-06 08:52

"You start cheating because you want to please people," says Aaron Beam, "you want to deliver good numbers to Wall Street, sometimes the public thinks you just do it because you're dishonest ... but I think in my case, that was pretty far down the list of why I did what I did."

When Beam founded HealthSouth in 1984, business was doing well. The company is the largest owner of rehabilitation hospitals in the U.S., and was bringing in consistently good numbers on the New York Stock Exchange. Beam was the CFO -- his wealth and reputation were tied up in HealthSouth, and after more than a decade on the job, the market pressures began to feel heavier. 

"We were missing our numbers," he says, "we were not doing as well as we told Wall Street we would do."

So, "out of fear of disappointing Wall Street, out of fear of losing my wealth ... out of not wanting to disappoint other people, employees," Beam started to cheat, to "cook the books ... You sort of learn to lie, you become evasive."

His involvement with the scandal lasted about a year before he left HealthSouth. "I found that I couldn't live with myself, but six years after I left the company, the fraud broke."

Once the scandal hit the news, Beam turned himself in. And he told the truth, and plead guilty. He even testified in the trial of the sitting CEO, who plead not guilty, and walked away. 

"I got three months in federal prison," he said, "I'm very fortunate that I got only three months."

The HealthSouth fraud changed Aaron Beam's life. These days he speaks at conferences about ethical business and has written books, including "Ethics Playbook," about how to be ethical.

And money is less important to him now than it used to be. "Right now, I'm 71 years old, my health is real important, my marriage survived, I've been married 44 years and that's very important to me," he said, "Truly, I think I'm happier and more focused and have a better handle on life now than when I was running in the fast-lane, literally making millions of dollars every year."

To hear Aaron Beam's full story, listen using the audio player above. 

My Money Story: What happens when you cheat

Fri, 2015-02-06 08:52

"You start cheating because you want to please people," said Aaron Beam, "you want to deliver good numbers to Wall Street, sometimes the public thinks you just do it because you're dishonest...but I think in my case, that was pretty far down the list of why I did what I did."

When Beam founded HealthSouth in 1984, business was good. The company is the largest owner of rehabilitation hospitals in the U.S., and was bringing in consistently good numbers on the New York Stock Exchange. Beam was the CFO -- his wealth and reputation were tied up in HealthSouth, and after more than a decade on the job, the market pressures began to feel heavier. 

"We were missing our numbers," he said "we were not doing as well as we told Wall Street we would do."

So, "out of fear of disappointing Wall Street, out of fear of losing my wealth...out of not wanting to disappoint other people, employees," Beam started to cheat, to "cook the books."

"You sort of learn to lie," Beam said, "you become evasive."

His involvement with the scandal lasted about a year before he left HealthSouth. "I found that I couldn't live with myself, but six years after I left the company, the fraud broke."

Once the scandal hit the news, Beam turned himself in. And he told the truth, and plead guilty. He even testified in the trial of the sitting CEO, who plead not guilty, and walked away. 

"I got three months in federal prison," he said, "I'm very fortunate that I got only three months."

The HealthSouth fraud changed Aaron Beam's life. These days he speaks at conferences about ethical business and has written books, including Ethics Playbook, about how to be ethical.

And money is less important to him than it was. "Right now, I'm 71 years old, my health is real important, my marriage survived, I've been married 44 years and that's very important to me," he said, "Truly I think I'm happier and more focused and have a better handle on life now than when I was running in the fast lane literally making millions of dollars every year."

To hear Aaron Beam's full story, listen using the audio player above. 

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