Marketplace - American Public Media
In August, Comcast's new T.V. streaming service called Stream will launch in Boston. Marketplace Tech host, Ben Johnson, talks with Lindsey Turrentine, Editor-in-Chief at CNET.com, about the cable's company entry into the streaming market.
Click the media player above to hear more.
Turrentine says the new service "is obviously aimed at cord cutters." She maintains the cable giant's move to debut Stream in Boston is just as strategic as it is transparent: "It seems pretty obvious that they're trying to figure out what college students will do," alluding to the number of colleges in the Boston area.
Comcast's Stream will be available to Xfinity customers and will give them access to about a dozen T.V. channels on their tablets, phones, and laptops. Stream also provides a DVR option to record shows onto the cloud. Turrentine believes that it "feels more like television." Apart from the fact that "it's not available on your television."
In a time of expansion in the streaming service industry with services from Dish, HBO, Showtime, CBS, and more, Turrentine says Comcast "has got to have an answer" because "customers who are never onboarding as cable television subscribers will be totally lost to these services if cable companies do not figure out how to keep them."
The test for college-aged Bostonians is whether they would want to add an extra monthly fee for 12 stations and a DVR. This is sounding a lot more like bunny ears and a VCR than a multi-platform video streaming experience.
After years of negotiations, Iran and six major world powers — the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany — have reached a deal over the country's nuclear program.
The agreement aims to curb Iran's production of nuclear weapons — In return, the US, United Nations and European Union will lift sanctions. The deal still has to make it through Congress, but if it goes ahead, Iran will start ramping up its oil exports.
Click the media player above to hear Barbara Shook, senior reporter-at-large with the Energy Intelligence Group, talk about how the global oil market could be affected.
From our partners at the BBC:
President Barack Obama said that with the deal, "every pathway to a nuclear weapon is cut off" for Iran.
His Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, said it opened a "new chapter" in Iran's relations with the world.
In a televised address, Mr. Obama said the deal would make the world "safer and more secure", and provided for a rigorous verification regime. "This deal is not built on trust - it is built on verification," he said.
He said the deal would lead to the removal of all sanctions, adding: "The sanctions regime was never successful, but at the same time it had affected people's lives.''
After 12 years, world powers had finally "recognised the nuclear activities of Iran", he said.
Bank earnings for Q2 2015 are up this week: JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo report their revenues and profits on Tuesday, July 14; Bank of America on Wednesday, July 15; and Goldman Sachs and Citigroup on Thursday, July 16.
Over the past several years, the biggest U.S. banks have been through financial crisis, massive bailouts and multi-billion-dollar lawsuits over their mortgage-lending and investment practices.
Now, banks face significantly more regulation and scrutiny than before, restricting how much risk they can take with their own and other people’s money. They have cut back on formerly lucrative proprietary trading as well as investment banking and deal-making activity.
All of which is keeping earnings potential low, says banking equity analyst Erik Oja at S&P Capital IQ. “It’s like it had a neutering effect on a wild animal,” says Oja. “They will certainly not be capable of the explosive growth they were capable of in a previous era. They will be much safer, much slower-growing.”
Oja predicts that the big banks will increase their profits in Q2 2015 by 2.2 percent over Q2 2014. That is after taking account of several huge legal settlements that banks paid out one year ago. Oja says the biggest potential legal liabilities are now largely behind the banks.
Karen Petrou at Federal Financial Analytics says the new regulatory regime, plus tighter underwriting standards, have helped shore up banks’ balance sheets. “The banks are sound,” says Petrou. “They have a lot more capital, they’re holding a lot more liquidity.”
The challenge for banks now, say analysts, is to increase profits in an environment of moderate domestic economic growth and volatility in overseas markets like Europe and China, and with U.S. borrowers still paying rock-bottom interest rates.
3 billion miles
That's how far New Horizons has traveled since 2006 in its journey towards Pluto. On Tuesday, the craft snapped photos as it passed the dwarf planet, which NASA posted to its Instagram account. As Buzzfeed reports, New Horizons came within 7,750 miles of Pluto, the closest a spacecraft has ever come to the planet's surface.
SNEAK PEEK of gorgeous Pluto! The dwarf planet has sent a love note back to Earth via our New Horizons spacecraft, which has traveled more than 9 years and 3+ billion miles. This is the last and most detailed image of Pluto sent to Earth before the moment of closest approach - 7:49 a.m. EDT today. This same image will be released and discussed at 8 a.m. EDT today. Watch our briefing live on NASA Television at: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv The high res pic will be posted on the web at: http://www.nasa.gov. This stunning image of the dwarf planet was captured from New Horizons at about 4 p.m. EDT on July 13, about 16 hours before the moment of closest approach. The spacecraft was 476,000 miles (766,000 kilometers) from the surface. Image Credit: NASA #nasa #pluto #plutoflyby #newhorizons #solarsystem #nasabeyond #science
A photo posted by NASA (@nasa) on Jul 14, 2015 at 4:00am PDT
That's how many world powers reached an agreement with Iran to curb its nuclear program. In exchange, the U.S., United Nations, and European Union will lift sanctions placed on Iran. That leaves many experts wondering what will happen to the global oil market when Iran is able to ramp up its exports.
That's the iPhone's share of total smartphone profits, which is up from the 65 percent it took in last year, according to a new report. And as the Wall Street Journal points out, that's an impressive take given that Apple only sells 20 percent of smartphones by unit.
Speaking of Apple, that's how many retail locations will offer Apple Pay in the UK, making it the first market outside of the U.S. to offer the digital-wallet system. But as Bloomberg reports, it will be a tougher sell than in the U.S., as the U.K. is much better set up with contactless pay systems — Apple pay requires users to hold a button, as well as correct positioning.
The continent of Africa has historically struggled to grow its manufacturing base. That appears to be starting to change in the textile and garment industries. As the Wall Street Journal notes, Africa is now being viewed by some companies as a low-cost competitor to countries like China, Vietnam and Bangladesh.
According to the International Labor Organization, garment industry wages in Ethiopia run about $21 a month. That’s compared to $67 in Bangladesh and much higher in China.
Steve Lamar is with the American Apparel and Footwear Association. He says countries like Ethiopia and Kenya have been successful to integrating industries up and down the textile supply chain.
“The ability to transform from fiber through yarn and into fabric and garment,” Lamar says, “that will become an additional magnet for more sourcing from Africa."
Another driver of the growth in the African textile industry are rising costs in Asia.
“You know, costs in China, which is the world’s largest apparel manufacturer by far, have been going up," says Kimberly Elliot, a senior fellow with the Center for Global Development. "Wages in particular have been going up for several years now.”
China and Vietnam still account for over 50 percent of all U.S. clothing imports, and Elliot doesn’t expect that to change any time soon. “This shift is still pretty small, the numbers are still pretty small relative to the global textile and apparel market.”
Labor aside, Elliot notes that other costs, such as electricity, water and transportation, can be quite high in Africa.
Greece has finally settled on a deal that keeps the country in the eurozone and out of a sudden banking collapse. The agreement in Brussels on Monday calls for a lifeline from Europe’s wealthy powers in exchange for budget cuts and tax hikes; Greece must pass those reforms by Wednesday. Although Greece may have avoided total economic collapse, there will be a long period of adjustment for Greek citizens who already have been living with austerity measures for five years.
In Athens, there's no immediate sense of crisis. There are lots of crowds — window shoppers and people in cafes. But most of them are not Greek. They’re tourists. Look past them to the shop owners and local workers, and you find a lot of anger, resignation and the overwhelming sense of uncertainty about their post-bailout future.
“It’s a very, very tough deal," says Anastasia Giamali, a Syriza party member who writes for the affiliate paper The Dawn. She is unhappy with the deal because it goes against the wishes of the Greek people, expressed in the July 5 referendum, when Greeks overwhelmingly rejected European creditors' bailout terms.
"It’s a product of blackmail. There was no consent by Syriza for such a thing,” she says.
Spiros KoloniadisTommy Andres/Marketplace
However, she stands by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. “Our prime minister did his best to avoid the Grexit, and that’s all there is to it. He did his best to keep the country within the European Union.”
Syriza came to power at the beginning of the year with an anti-austerity stand and the motto, “Hope is coming.” Giamali isn’t sure if this has been achieved, but she knows they’ll keep trying.
“This is an ongoing battle. This is an ongoing war,” she says.
Spiros Koloniadis, who owns a flower shop beneath Parliament, also draws parallels to war, but is more circumspect about his own future.
“I don’t think that we have a sovereign nation anymore," Koloniadis says. "I think that the historian of the future will have to write many pages about what happened actually in Greece.” He isn’t sure what his next steps are, but he thinks he will stay in the country.
“Migration is like escaping from the war," he says. "I really don’t know. Right now, I’m a little bit confused and very disappointed … very. I will fight … with my heart.”
Over at Zolotas Jewelry House, a 120-year old upscale jewelry store in Athens, business has gone from one extreme to the other. Marianne Le Clere Papalexis is the owner there. She is a posh Frenchwoman who married a Greek man 40 years ago and stayed in the country.
Business had been slow, she says, but everything changed after the banks closed. For the first three days, there were no people, no phone calls. It was like a cemetery or a desert, she says. Then, on the fourth day, people started showing up and buying like crazy. They wanted to get real assets — gold and art — for potentially worthless cash.
“They know that it’s going to be a real good investment for them. In a way it’s sad, because you see that people are really upset that they cannot touch their own money,” Papalexis says. She expresses concern for the Greek government.
“It’s the only thing we’re talking about,” she says. And yet, she believes that the real struggle will not be visible to most because of communication differences. “A Greek person … he will show when he’s happy. He’s going to dance and shout, but when there is a bad story, he will never show, never tell you.”
But Vassilis Anastassopoulos is a little more forthcoming about his predicament. Anastassopoulos is 32 years old, married, with a 10-year-old boy. He works at Bairaktaris Tavern, a restaurant in Monistiraki Square that has been around for 135 years, where he’s sliced gyro meat for a decade. At this point, he has basically given up.
“I hoped to make a future for my son, because I don't have a chance anymore," he says. "I stopped thinking about a pension. I stopped thinking about a better life. The only thing I hope for now is for my son to have a better life than me.
An ATM in Athens.Tommy Andres/Marketplace
"Maybe he will not stand in the heat nine hours a day. Maybe he will not need to have two jobs to have a normal life … maybe,” Anastassopoulos says.
At a cash machine in Athens, Corinna Kozala is waiting in line to withdraw $66 for rent. It was her second ATM of the morning; the first one ran out of money. With banks low on cash, Greeks have been limited to $66 withdrawals per day since June 29.
“Even with an agreement, when the banks open, they cannot just give out money to everyone who wants it,” Kozala says. She wants Greece to stay in the eurozone but believes that either option will lead to the same results.
“It’s either we’re out and we will suffer, or we’re in and we will suffer.”
"It's different kind of meat with pita bread, and it's the No. 1 most favorite food," he said.
Well, there was a little bit of the interview we didn't play for you, where he lets us know it's usually pronounced "gear-os" not "gy-ro."
Which is good to know, because I get that wrong all the time.
The euro hit the streets of Europe in 2002 with much fanfare. It was seen at the time by many as a tangible, unifying force.
Then things changed.
“The euro has been much more of a divisive force since the crisis,” says Carmen Reinhart, professor of international finance at Harvard, referring to the global financial crisis.
The euro became divisive because the different economies of different countries needed the currency to do different things.
“Periphery Europe really needed a cheaper euro, a depreciation, whereas the creditor countries like Germany did not,” Reinhart says.
The strain sent Europe’s economies in different directions and revealed the fissures between them. But this wasn’t because the euro had pulled them apart; rather it was that the currency wasn’t enough to hold them together. Currency unions need much more than currency to be successful.
“The idea was that monetary union would only work if it led to banking union, fiscal union, and political union,” says Barry Eichengreen, professor of finance at University of California, Berkeley. “The belief was that those other good things would follow.” But they didn’t.
Campbell Harvey, professor of finance at Duke, says the motivation to do so wasn’t there. “Given that economies were growing, people didn’t think it was urgent to implement the next step.”
The banking systems are not fully integrated. At different times, fearful Europeans have taken deposits out of banks not only in Greece but also in Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Italy, says Harvard's Reinhart, out of fear that individual national banking systems might fail.
Nor are there sufficient ways to cope with the fact that individual countries don’t have recourse to individualize monetary policy. An instructive comparison can be made with the United States. Fifty different states with different economic needs could theoretically benefit from having individual currencies and interest rates. Yet they all share the dollar without incident.
“The key difference is that the U.S. also has a banking union and a fiscal union,” Reinhart says.
“In the U.S. we have the Fed,” says Harvey. “They set the monetary policy, whereas in the eurozone, you have all these individual central banks to get agreement from. The European Central Bank is really shackled by a decentralized system.”
The federal government in the U.S. also reallocates resources between different parts of the country to create a buffer for economies suffering during a downturn.
“Certain areas of the U.S. are at certain times net payers to other parts of the U.S.,” says Stephan Siegel, who teaches finance at the University of Washington in Seattle. Income taxes collected in one region may be used to support federal benefits somewhere else.
In Europe, those "certain areas” are Germany and Greece, for example. That creates political tensions when it comes to moving resources.
In the U.S., “we’ve created a lot of these [resource reallocating] institutions before it was clear which way the transfer and funds would go,” says Eichengreen. “So we have the FDIC to step in to use federal taxpayers' money to resolve a bad bank when there is a banking problem in Nevada or Florida. But when we set that fund up it wasn’t clear whether the transfers would go from Florida to Nevada or Nevada to Florida. Now in Europe everyone knows the transfers will go from Germany to Greece.” And that’s where things can get nasty.
“In Europe you don’t have this, where by default a German taxpayer would help out Greek or Spanish or Italian citizens hit by economic shocks,” says Siegel. “And you don’t have at least any type of European institution that could step into the market to raise funds to offer support. This is all left to the individual country in Europe, whereas in the U.S., it’s happening at the federal level. That federal level is absent in Europe.”
Europe, despite its open borders, also lacks a degree of labor mobility, according to Duke’s Campbell. “So when you don’t have the mobility to relocate,” he says, “then it’s much more difficult to have a common currency.”
If you can’t move to a different economy, you want to change your own – which is exactly what European countries can’t do under the euro. In short, says Campbell, European unity requires much more than a currency.
Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal is reporting live from Athens. He talks to Syriza party member Anastasia Giamali about Monday's eurozone deal for a Greek bailout.
Click on the media player above to hear the interview.
Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal is reporting live from Athens. He talks to jewelry store owner Marianne Le Cler Papalexis about Monday's eurozone deal for a Greek bailout.
Click on the media player above to hear the interview.
Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal is reporting live from Athens. He talks to 32-year-old restaurant worker Vassilis Anastassopoulos about Monday's eurozone deal for a Greek bailout.
Click on the media player above to hear the interview.
Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal is reporting live from Athens. He talks to teacher Corinna Kozala, who is waiting in an ATM line, about Monday's eurozone deal for a Greek bailout.
Click on the media player above to hear the interview.
Click on the media player above to hear the interview.
Athens resident Spiros Koloniadis owns a flower shop that is right below Parliament, built into the walls on the building's grounds. He was disheartened by today's bailout deal. "I don't think we have a sovereign nation anymore. I think the historians of the future will have to write many pages about what actually happened in Greece."
A photo posted by Marketplace (@marketplaceapm) on Jul 13, 2015 at 9:41am PDT
The past two tumultuous weeks in Greece were triggered by the Athens government's decision to reject a bailout package from its creditors and then to put the issue to a referendum.
The move caused consternation in European circles. The European Central Bank withheld further support for Greece. The country's banks were closed, and many Greek businesses ground to a standstill. The crisis deepened when 61 percent of the people voted "no" in the referendum to not accept the bailout deal.
Effrosyni PavlakoudiStephen Beard/Marketplace
Before that vote, Marketplace spoke with two Greek women; one was voting "yes" and the other "no." We revisited them to hear how they feel now about where their country is headed.
Effrosyni Pavlakoudi, a 38-year-old telecom engineer, voted "yes" in the referendum because she feared Greece wouldn't get the money it needs and would crash out of the euro. So how does she feel today?
"Relieved that we are still in the eurozone," she says. "But otherwise I am totally disappointed and extremely angry."
She says the referendum was pointless and self destructive: it soured relations between Greece and its eurozone partners, led to a worse deal than was offered two weeks ago, and, by triggering the bank closures, did lasting economic damage.
"The economy is in a collapse,"she says. "Someone has pushed us off a cliff. We're going down. And I may lose my job. "
There's anger among the "no" voters, too, though for different reasons.
Elena Christidi, a 27-year-old psychologist, voted no in the referendum because she felt Greece could not bear any more austerity.
She's appalled that in spite of a 61 percent vote against the original bailout deal, the creditors have imposed an even more severe set of budget cuts, tax hikes and radical reforms.
Elena ChristidiStephen Beard/Marketplace
"I am surprised by the cruelty – yes, I would call it cruelty – that Europe is inflicting on Greek citizens and against their democratically expressed wishes." she says. "These policies won't work. They will just create more unemployment and misery."
Pavlakoudi is concerned that the referendum, followed by the harsh medicine meted out by the creditors, is tearing the social fabric of the country; she wants to meet Christidi to discuss their differences. But those differences have widened since Sunday night's deal.
Pavlakoudi is still ardently pro-European. Christidi has her doubts. "I keep thinking about "Grexit," and I am wondering whether we would be better off out of the eurozone now or later," Christidi says.
The two women are now starkly divided. Pavlakoudi sees the euro as the only route to prosperity for Greece. Christidi now feels euro membership is a form of slavery.
After marathon, overnight negotiations, there's a deal that could keep Greece in the eurozone. More on that. And Amazon celebrates its 20th anniversary with a one-day sale aimed at members of the fee-based service. But more than offering deep discounts, the event is another way the retailer hopes to grow business. Plus, we'll talk about using sewage to determine how much a population is consuming legal versus illegal marijuana.
A growing number of states are legalizing or looking at legalizing marijuana. Oregon is set to join Washington and Colorado this fall when retail sales of recreational pot begin. States hope these legal, regulated markets will displace the illegal black market.
But here's the tricky part: How can you tell?
The answer might just lie in the sewage system. That's what researchers in Washington state are hoping. Dan Burgard of the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma recently received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to study THC metabolites — the byproducts of marijuana use — in waste water. Researchers say they can get a more accurate snapshot of an entire city's drug use through sewer analysis.
Aeration basins at the waste water treatment plant in Spokane, Washington.Jessica Robinson
“So rather than asking people about illicit or maybe taboo drug use in surveys — there’s no real reason why the sewage should lie,” says Burgard.
Burgard already has a couple of freezers worth of samples during an eight-month period before pot stores opened in Washington. The $120,000 in federal grant money will allow him to study changes at two sewage plants on the western side of Washington state over a three-year period.
Think of it like an anonymous, community-wide drug test.
The idea is to compare consumption rates, as shown in wastewater, to numbers already collected by the state. Washington operates a marijuana tracing system that tracks each sale of pot, the size of the product and its potency.
“So if we know the number of grams of THC being sold, then we should be able to look a the sewage levels and say, ‘OK, well there’s this much that comes to the sewer, there’s this much that was sold,” says Burgard. The difference could reveal what's happening to illegal sales.
For example, if state figures show legal sales are climbing, but the sewage indicates consumption is remaining steady, that could be a sign the black market is being displaced. On the other hand, if consumption goes up and sales go up at the same time, the legal market may just be operating alongside the existing black market. Only, more people are now taking part.
Burgard says the math isn't perfect. For one thing, medical marijuana in Washington also has to be factored in. “But at least it would give us a sense of the new recreational market and how big of a piece of the pie it is,” says Burgard.
Here's another question he's hoping to answer: What day of the week are consumers using — not buying — but using marijuana? That would give some indication as to whether this new market is fueling a weekend pastime or a weekday habit.
Amazon is celebrating its 20th anniversary on July 15 with an event it's calling Prime Day — a one-day sale aimed at members of its Amazon Prime. More than offering deep discounts for one day, the event is another way the retailer hopes to grow the number of people willing to pay for its services, as well as shop.
It may be hard to believe Amazon is 20. Nelson Granados, who teaches information systems at Pepperdine University's business school, says that's probably because the company has reinvented itself so many times.
"They always seem to be like a new company, wherever they go or whatever new venture they get into," he says.
The company's growth from its start as an online bookseller has been dramatic, said Christo Wilson, who teaches computer science at Northeastern University. Wilson says the company revolutionized computer services beyond retail. "They basically invented cloud computin," he says.
It might seem ironic that the company is marking its birthday with deep discounts aimed at members of Amazon Prime, who for $99 already get free shipping and other price perks. But consider what Prime has done for Amazon, Wilson says: "It's certainly become the greatest loyalty program in the history of consumer spending."
Prime Day might bring in new members — To take advantage, you have to sign up.
The next time you’re sitting in traffic, consider this: In 2013, traffic jams in the U.S. cost consumers an estimated $124 billion. And that’s expected to increase by 50 percent by 2030, according to a report commissioned by the traffic data firm INRIX.
“That’s huge," says Steve Banfield, chief marketing and product officer at INRIX. "It’s crazy.”
The report found two-thirds of the cost of traffic jams is from wasted time and gas. Banfield says they even looked at time wasted planning for gridlock.
“In order to get where you need to be on time, you often factor in extra travel time, before you even really need it,” he says.
All this can lead to health problems from stress. And researchers say the extra pollution caused by all those idling cars can lead to asthma attacks and strokes.
“Some of the pollutants that we looked at can travel tens or hundreds of miles away from the point of emission,” says Jonathan Levy, a professor of environmental health at Boston University's School of Public Health.
"UnReal" may be a scripted drama, but the world it spoofs wants to pretend it's anything but. The show is a (sometimes) scathing look behind the world of reality television.
Co-creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro says she drew on her own experience working in the genre as the seed of the idea — she previously worked as a field producer for "The Bachelor," after all.
"UnReal" has also found an unlikely partner in crime: Lifetime. While a drama about how producers manipulate television might seem like an odd match for the network, Shapiro says it actually makes a lot of sense.
“What’s kind of amazing about it is there are some things that really line up well," she says. "The fact that I was able to have two female leads without even having to have a conversation about it was part of being at Lifetime."
Click the media player above to hear Marketplace's Adriene Hill in conversation with Sarah Shapiro.
That's how much Greece's proposed third bailout could be worth, as announced on Monday. Following intense negotiations by leaders in the eurozone, an agreement was reached that would keep Greece from a feared "Grexit." Finances from this latest deal would be spread over the next three years. As the BBC reports, Greece now has until Wednesday to pass required reforms before being able to access the funding.$120,000
That's how much grant money has been given to Dan Burgard of the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, to study ... sewage. Think of it like an anonymous, communitywide drug test. Burgard will analyze the contents of the waste to monitor drug usage in the state, which he can then compare to figures for the sales of legal marijuana. If usage stays the same as it was before marijuana was legalized, a conclusion can be reached that legal pot is beginning to replace illegal sales.$99
That's how much an Amazon Prime membership will cost you these days. But for its 20th anniversary on Wednesday, Amazon is hoping to convince people the price is worth it by offering a one-day super sale for members. Says Christo Wilson, a computer science professor at Northeastern University, "It's certainly become the greatest loyalty program in the history of consumer spending."100,000
That's how many unemployed young people Starbucks and 16 other major corporations promise to employ through a new program announced Monday. Called the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, the initiative will seek to find positions — full-time or internships — for young people who are not working or in school. Critics have pointed out the number of jobs promised by the program is less impressive when considering the economy has turned out more than twice that amount each month this year, the New York Times reports.$124 billion
That's the estimated cost to consumers caused by traffic jams in 2013. And if you happen to be reading this on your phone while sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, there's bad news: a new report says those costs are expected to increase 50 percent by 2030.