Marketplace - American Public Media

SXSW Frontlines: How to protect your data

Mon, 2014-03-10 01:40

If you're a famous musician, a tech company CEO, or a tiny startup with big dreams, chances are you or some of the people who work for you are spending time in Austin, Texas this week for the conference known as South By Southwest (SXSW). It's an event that draws thousands of people together ever year for an exchange of ideas, business cards, and plenty of deal-making.

Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson joins Morning Report host David Brancaccio from Austin with the latest.

PODCAST: Seen at South By

Mon, 2014-03-10 01:16

SXSW Interactive is in full swing in Austin, Texas. With five days packed full of panels, parties, and of course, tacos, it's impossible to get to every can't-miss event. Fear not: Marketplace Tech has you covered. 

Throughout the festival, our producers and reporters are speaking to some of the biggest names in tech. 

Plus, China has issued a miserable little statistic about its economy. At a time when forecasters were expecting the country's exports to grow, they shrunk 18 percent last month. That has some economists worried about the growth of China's consumer economy. And yet, others are pointing out that the numbers were impacted by the Chinese New Year.

Exchanging currency in Venezuela is a nightmare

Mon, 2014-03-10 01:00

Exchanging currency in Venezuela is a nightmare. The official exchange rate is six bolivars to the U.S. dollar, but on the black market, the rate is around 80 to one dollar.

The bolivar is like a hot potato. Rice University professor Mark Jones says the average Venezuelan has no confidence in the currency and “tries to get rid of it as soon as possible, especially with inflation that approaching around fifty percent right now.”

The country introduces a new currency exchange system today that’s meant to bring the official rate closer to the black market exchange rate. That could be good for U.S. companies, which have been unable to convert and export profits made in Venezuela.

Wolfgang Koester is CEO of FiREapps, which helps corporations manage their foreign exchange. He says Venezuela’s new system will not in itself “help corporations yet. But if they continue down this path and free their currency up, that will be helpful for corporations.”

 

 

Guy Kawasaki loves him a good tech bubble

Fri, 2014-03-07 21:25

It is possible you haven't heard of Guy Kawasaki, but you have almost definitely heard of some of the products the best-selling author and former Macintosh "software evangelist" has put his weight behind over the years.

They include early Mac software, Google +, and Motorola Mobility. Marketplace Tech spoke to Kawasaki on the 4th floor of the Austin convention center crawling with SXSW Interactive attendees. And the Hawaiian born tech-y, who was toting around a new monitor and a camera, had plenty to say. Our interview will air this coming week, but here are a few highlights: 

- Guy is a Mac AND Android guy. He still uses a Mac as his laptop, but he feels like the android operating system is much better and more customizeable in Google. 

- If he were to start a company tomorrow, Kawasaki might stay away from hardware and software, and look towards services. The market for hardware seems too compeitive, the market for new software is saturated, and starting a service company on the cheap is easy these days. 

- Kawasaki sticks by his Google +, no matter what you think. He says that as a social network, it has less spam, more sharable and compelling content, and better killer apps, like Google Hangout. So don't count out Google + going away any time soon.

- Are we in a tech bubble? Guy thinks yes, probably, but that it doesn't matter. What's important, he says, is knowing when to cash out. He also points out that the dot com craze, people didn't think the market had a ceiling. It always does. He says the key is to know when to hold stock and when to sell it. 

There's more substance and audio from my Guy Kawasaki interview coming up! Make sure to listen this week to Marketplace Tech as we start broadcasting the goods from Austin. 

The view from the ground in Simferopol

Fri, 2014-03-07 17:41

Context, in economics and geopolitics, is everything. Who's doing what to whom, and what happens as a result.

So with that in mind, we asked the BBC's Natalia Antelava to tell us what things are like in the ground on Simferopol, the Crimean capital.

What's the mood like?

"Nervous. I'd say it's even more nervous than it was a week ago... People woke up this morning in Crimea not quite sure whether they were waking up into Ukraine or Russia."

Does it feel like a Cold War? Does that phrase have a different meaning there?

"It does. And actually Cold War has never been the phrase very widely used in the former Soviet Union, so that's not the words people are using. But the sentiments are certainly the same. Especially among people who are publicly supporting Russia."

What's life like on the ground? What's changed about the day to day?

"Prices are going up. People have been telling me they have been stocking up on some things, like flour and the basics. But the city on the outside is functioning normally. I went to the market this morning and talked to some ladies selling vegetables, and they were complaining about prices... saying, 'But it's ok, because once we join Russia, Putin will take care of us."

What does it feel like to you?

"It feels like the 1990s. I myself am Georgian, I grew up in post-Soviet Georiga, and the breakaway republics, like...they never developed as autonomous... they're these frozen conflicts that every once in awhile flare up. And that's what people fear here."

What partying taught Andrew W.K. about money

Fri, 2014-03-07 16:10

I'm not an expert on anything except having fun. 

I'm a professional partier and not a professional economist, but like anyone else I've had my own experiences with money, and I've learned a few things about it thanks to all my partying. Before I actually started to earn a living from partying, I spent most of my money on it. Now since I make money from partying, I have even more respect for both money and fun. Here are three simple truths partying taught me about money: 

Money isn't evil 

I used to think that money was bad. I'm not sure why I started thinking that. Maybe it was from old sayings like "money is the root of all evil," and just seeing how trying to get more of it made people act crazy. I also had a lot of friends who lived their lives without making much money, and they seemed to think that making it wasn't cool. They didn't like having jobs, so they did everything they could to get by without needing money — which takes a lot of effort and often seemed to involve punk music, not bathing and not eating meat. 

A few years ago, I had a very wise person explain to me that money is just like "magic paper", and this magic paper allows you to do amazing things. Money itself is neither bad nor good, it just depends on what you do with it. I finally realized that my own "money is bad" beliefs were pushing money away from me, money I could've used to make my dreams and goals into reality more efficiently. Find out why you think that way, and then consider re-evaluating your beliefs. When you have money to spend on friends, family, and fun, suddenly it becomes one of the greatest and most powerful tools in the world. It's true that the best parts of being alive don't require money. But that doesn't mean it can't improve the conditions of life. And you don't have to be greedy or a scumbag to use money and feel good about it. 

Spending money is important 

I'm obviously not an expert on the financial markets, but even I can understand that money has no value or ability to do good if it isn't spent. It's wise to save money for a rainy day or for a future house or whatever, but in a modern society we rely on each other spending money in order to spread the wealth around. If you're concerned about the poor people, it can seem like a meaningful show of solidarity to be poor yourself — it can seem like we should live with less, because others have less themselves. But if poor people had more money, they almost certainly wouldn't turn it away so they could continue being poor out of protest. And you being poor doesn't help a poor person either. You having money can certainly help a poor person, a sick person, a bored person, etc. And all of us spending money is what keeps it moving around — it keeps modern civilization functioning.

Whenever the media talk about a financial crisis, they end up making it even worse, because the anxiety their reports inspire cause people to save money rather than spend it. And so all that money is just sitting there, not doing anyone any good.

The only thing that money is meant for is spending. And that's especially true when you spend it on partying. 

Use money for joy

In my opinion, spending money on fun and games is its best and wisest use. Of course, there are times when it's necessary to spend it on things like clothing, food, or shelter -- but once we have the basics covered, I can think of no better way to spend money than on joy. Some people have tried to make me feel guilty about spending money on things they call "frivolous," but the beauty of money is that it is up to you to decide how to spend it. That's the freedom. And there should never be any feelings of regret or sadness when you use your money for joyful experiences. If paying to go on a roller coaster makes me happy, then money really can buy happiness. When we have experiences of joy that last, we're not only investing in our own direct happiness, but the happiness of the world in general. Money spent on fun and feeling good is totally righteous. Money spent on getting wasted is never wasted money. So, keep on partying with money, and keep on having fun.

Some employers shift 401(k) matches

Fri, 2014-03-07 15:24

It's not every day that people get fired up over retirement planning, but that's what happened at AOL last month when employees lashed out over the company's move to make year-end, lump-sum contributions to their 401(k) plans instead of matches every pay period.

In the aftermath one state regulator wants to know how many other companies have made that switch. Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin says most people are less than mindful about saving for retirement. "Especially younger employees. When they get their 401(k) statement they toss it in the heap with everything else.  I know I was guilty of that for many years."

That's a big mistake, Galvin adds, because pension plans are a thing of the past.  He says American workers are more dependent than ever on their 401(k)s for retirement savings, and they stand to lose money if their company contributes only once a year. "They’re going to suffer the loss of whatever benefit of compounding – that is having that money in their account earning interest for that whole year –would be."  Add to that if you leave your job mid-year you can kiss the entire contribution goodbye.  

Galvin says people deserve to know in advance when their employers stop making 401(k) matches with every paycheck, and why, so he’s asked two-dozen of the country’s major 401(k) providers to tell him by March 10th how many companies have switched to once a year. The largest of those providers, Fidelity Investments, tells Marketplace: it’s a small number – and mostly large employers.

"You have increased cost of benefits; that has to be covered," says economist Robert Merton, a Nobel Laureate in Economics and a Professor of Finance at MIT.  He points out that some of the companies in question could be trying to avoid other, more painful cuts such as health care benefits, but he says they should be transparent about it. "You have to not look at the one act, you have to look at why they did it, or at least why they said they did it. Almost everything is a tradeoff, so being informed about it is helpful."

Massachusetts Secretary of State Galvin says Congress might have to get involved if more companies move to once-a-year matching.

At the Employee Benefits Research Institute, president Dallas Salisbury says the rising cost of health care could drive that trend, and workers should expect changes.  "Overall costs in the economy and their overall pay package gets adjusted all the time," he says. "If they think they’re not being treated fairly then go look for a new job."

Salisbury says, bottom line, whether people choose to save enough money on their own is what will determine when and how they can retire.

Why buy? Memories of a music consumer

Fri, 2014-03-07 14:59

My first buyer rewards program was at Turtle’s Records & Tapes, a small chain of music stores with a handful of locations in Atlanta. I was 8 years old.

Do you still pay for music?
It was the 1980s, so I can’t imagine what kind of information they could have collected from me to validate my “membership.” All I remember was being handed a pale yellow pamphlet with squares that you were supposed to cover with stamps – like actual stamps you had to lick to apply – every time you bought a piece of music at Turtle’s.  Once you had a certain number of stamps, you received a major discount on a record or cassette, making you more awesome than everyone else in the entire world for a brief moment in time.

I bought a lot of music in my youth. Some of my earliest purchases were the vinyl single of Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” and DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince's iconic album, “He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper.”

My music access only increased as I got older. In college, I worked part-time at WHOV, the campus radio station where I also DJed a couple of shifts – everything from R&B to straightforward jazz. That meant a little extra spending change ... and more knowledge about music than I ever thought I would need.

In 2001, when my entire CD collection was stolen from my by a very bad person, I thought I’d never be able to rebuild. But, I was determined. So I kept collecting, this time opting for mostly-used CDs via sites like half.com. A few years later, digital music came on the scene, which made it easier than ever to organize my collection, create mood-setting playlists and buy everything I liked.

But something happened to my music buying habits recently. Free streaming services like Pandora and Spotify came along and my phone got smarter, too – or at least better at gaming the system for free downloads. I just stopped buying music with any regularity. I can’t even remember what year it was when I last updated my iTunes library, and it looks like I’m not alone. Earlier this year, Billboard reported the first drop in digital music sales since the iTunes store made its debut in 2003.  CD sales continued their steady decline and overall album sales also experienced an 8.4% drop. All of this made me wonder: Is owning music important to anyone anymore? If yes, then who? 

Marketplace Money took to social media to ask people to tell us why they still buy music – or  why they stopped buying – and to share some of their favorite memories as paying music consumers. 

We kicked off the conversation on Facebook:
(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); Post by APM: Marketplace.

And on Twitter,

@LiveMoney Used to be very important when I had to go to an actual store and buy music, not so much any more.

— Daryl Paranada (@darylparanada) March 3, 2014

And, for fun, we asked:

@LiveMoney 1.) first CD i bought was Ricky Martin. 2.) Last CD I bought was Perry Como. 3.) Goodness, that would be amazing.

— Zac Bissonnette (@ZacBissonnette) March 4, 2014

A couple of our listeners agreed to talk with us about how their music buying habits have changed.

John Cummings in Westlake Village, CA paid less than a dollar for his first big record store purchase.



Helena Okolicsanyi in Manassas, VA is big on supporting artists she loves by buying their CDs and attending live shows:



And Mavis Gragg, a 38-year-old attorney in Washington, DC says she is determined to beef up her music collection again.  Here’s why:



Like Mavis, I don’t want to be the kind of person who doesn’t have my own music library. I want to have tangible access to the songs I love, and be able to hand them down to my children – even if they make fun of me for delighting in archaic formats like compact discs.

Which, if you haven’t listened to one in a while, sound amazing, by the way.

What are your memories as a music consumer? Tell us about the first album you bought, or the last, and your relationship with owning music in the age of free streaming.  Leave a comment below or Tweet us @LiveMoney.

Obama's options on the 'Cold War chessboard'

Fri, 2014-03-07 13:56

President Obama and his administration may be keeping their options open publicly, but analysts say that privately they are discussing all options of how to respond to Russian President Vladimir Putin's military presence in Crimea. 

"While the United States may be feeling as if it does not want to get into what President Obama called 'a Cold War chessboard', that’s still the way Vladimir Putin thinks about the world and operates in it," says David Sanger, national security correspondent for the New York Times. "Our main weapon is the president's favorite non-combatant unit, which is the Treasury department."

Russia has a greater trade relationship with other members of the global economy than they did during the Cold War. But, says Sanger, that’s a double-edged sword – Russia can also inflict damage on the economies of those they trade with. Namely: Europe.

"The biggest thing [President Obama] has going for him is that the investors the Russians desperately need in their oil sector and other energy sectors, they will all be reluctant to come in," Sanger says.

The Russian and Crimean parliaments keep talking about nationalizing resources as a possible response to sanctions from the West.

Still, Sanger doesn't want to overstate the seriousness of escalating tensions with Russia or even another Cold War: "It may well fall off the high priority list fairly quickly."

"The bigger cost could be that the hope that Russia would help the United States with other conflicts -- Syria, Iran, North Korea -- or President Obama’s vision of driving the U.S. and Russia together...I think those are all pretty well gone at this point," he adds.

Mutually-assured (economic) destruction

Fri, 2014-03-07 13:36

Russian president Vladimir Putin's spokesperson said Friday that despite "extremely deep disagreements" with the U.S., he believes that a new Cold War "has not started and I would like to believe it will not start."

Dmitry Peskov, speaking at the opening of the Paralympic Games in Russia, added: "Extremely deep disagreements of a conceptual nature between Russia and the European Union and the United States have already been registered."

"It sure feels like a Cold War at the moment if you listen to the rhetoric on both sides," said Angela Stent, director of Georgetown University's Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies. "But of course this isn't a Cold War. This isn't a fight to the death between socialism and capitalism. We don't have our nuclear weapons targeted at Russia."

And yet, Russia's military has taken control of the Crimean peninsula, and Moscow has threatened to send the military into other parts of Ukraine. 

"The interdependence makes it in some ways less likely that you're going to have a Cold War-style indefinite stalemate," added Romesh Ratnesar, deputy editor of Bloomberg Businessweek. "On the other hand, it makes for more vulnerabilities on both sides."

But "interdependence" conjures up visions of the old "mutually-assured destruction" fears of the actual Cold War.

"Because Russia is now part of the global economy, all of these territorial and strategic issues play out very differently than they did at the time when the Soviet Union was isolated from the global economy," said Georgetown's Stent. "Funnily enough, we're now seeing a new theory of deterrence. Economic deterence. Mutually-assured economic destruction."

Loving the global economy

Fri, 2014-03-07 12:58

We're talking about Ukraine, but we're calling our special: "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Global Economy." 

It's not really a Cold War, we know that. Nobody's aiming missiles at anybody, the Doomsday Clock isn't ticking closer to midnight, and that picture I dug out of my garage the other day -- it's just a pretty cool memento.

Which is good. That's the way it ought to be. But the bigger point -- that the global economy has changed so much since the Berlin Wall came down; that the phone in my pocket, was invented here, but built in China, using parts from dozens of different countries -- that's the whole ballgame now, and it's the economic foundation for all the geopolitcs we've been watching for the past week.

So next time somebody tells you the economy is boring, send 'em our way.

Leave work early! It's daylight saving time

Fri, 2014-03-07 12:16

From the Marketplace Datebook, here’s an extended look at what's coming up next week:

 

  • Why can't Daylight Saving Time begin on a Friday at 4 p.m.? That’s when I'm ready to spring forward.
  • Forty-nine years ago Neil Simon’s "The Odd Couple" bowed on Broadway. Several versions have followed for film and TV and stage. (Because you can't get enough of a bad roommate.)
  • On Tuesday, two swell guys celebrate birthdays. Barbie's boyfriend Ken turns 53. And "Jackass" star Johnny Knoxville turns 43. (Meaning they're both Pisces.)
  • Midweek we get a look at the nation's balance sheet. The Treasury Department issues its monthly statement for February.
  • On Thursday, the Commerce Department reports on retail sales for February.          
  • On Friday, the Labor Department releases its Producer Price Index.
  • And with all the change in our lives it's nice to know that there is a constant. A mathematical constant, that is. 3-14 or March 14 is Pi Day.

 

You can live the Datebook lifestyle at marketplace.org/Datebook.

Kai Ryssdal on flying in the Cold War

Fri, 2014-03-07 11:54

I dug a picture out of my garage yesterday, back from when I was in the Navy. I flew off the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. We used to get sent up to the north coast of Norway.

This was the mid-80s: the days of Ronald Reagan and the Evil Empire. We'd go up there, launch off the boat in the middle of the night, and go looking for Soviet nuclear bombers: Tupolev-95 Bears, to be precise.

They'd come out of the Soviet air bases in Murmansk, fly around the North Cape of Norway, down past Iceand and the UK, on the way to their launch orbits. The spot where they'd make their nuclear bombing runs on the east coast of the US.

And our job was to keep an eye on them. Make sure they knew that we knew they were there.

Very Cold War, right?

That picture is from October, 1988. One of the intercepts I ran. A Soviet strategic bomber, with a big red star on its tail and everything, surrounded by four Navy jets, somewhere over a really cold and gray North Atlantic Ocean.

We are, obviously, a long way from that. It's different this time.

But that's kind of the point: everything's different this time. Not just the cold war world, but the world economy.

Which gets us to our theme for the day, and for this special broadcast: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Global Economy.

Why Russians don't want to live in Canada

Fri, 2014-03-07 11:37

Crimea, we used to go there all the time, to Yalta. ... And I would wear this Soviet child Speedo, which was very sexy, I think.

And we lived in this underground hut that was owned by Ukrainians and there was a little boy who was even smaller than me, and I was probably the smallest kid in the U.S.S.R., and I would beat him [up], I feel so sorry about it now: A Russian beating a Ukrainian, it sounds so prescient.

But then the next year, a Latvian chicken bit me.  And then a few years later, a Georgian kid beat me up. I think there's a lesson in there for Russia somwhere: You're hitting now, but you're going to get your comeuppance someday.

The real country that [the U.S.] competes with economically, in terms of world power, is China and maybe down the line some day, India.

I think Russia really needs attention. This is a country that desperately needs to be on the world stage at all times, otherwise it doesn't feel like a superpower.

The history of Ukraine’s imports (in charts!)

Fri, 2014-03-07 11:20

In the years since the end of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has grown economically. And while Russia remains Ukraine's largest trading partner today, as it was in 1996, Ukraine is less dependent on Russia than it once was for key imports.

In the chart below, probably the most striking statistic is how China's economic relationship with Ukraine has grown dramatically in just 15 years.

1996

2010

Minorities have a harder time networking

Fri, 2014-03-07 10:11

Networking is a fact of life in the business world. Some research, from Rutgers University business professor Nancy DiTomaso, revealed that 70 percent of the jobs that people get in their lifetime come with some type of additional help.

"[Such as] someone who could give them information that other people didn't have, could use influence on their behalf, such as 'this is my friend, look out for them,' or someone who could actually give them an opportunity or hire them for a job," DiTomaso says. "So if Hispanics or blacks or others have higher unemployment rates, it may not be that they aren't networking, it may be that they don't have networks that tie them into where there are job opportunities."

DiTomaso explores that issue in her book, "The American Non-Dilemma: Racial Inequality Without Racism."

"It's not going to change unless there's attention on the public policy level in terms of how organizations think about the decision-making that takes place within their entities," DiTomaso says. "Everyone I talked to claimed to believe in civil rights... they all think that equal opportunity is the solution."

"But everybody that I talked to spent their lives seeking unequal opportunity."

The South by Southwest festival bills itself as "A Paradise for Networking." That's why everyone from musicians to app developers to bloggers flock to Austin, Texas.

The networking takes place in the hotel lobbies and the bars across the city -- but it also goes on during the conference's famous panels that grapple with a lot of the most cutting edge questions. Marketplace Tech will be broadcasting from Texas all next week reporting on the technology industry's hype machine.

 

Marketplace Tech heads to SXSW

Fri, 2014-03-07 10:00

SXSW Interactive is in full swing in Austin, Texas. With five days packed full of panels, parties, and of course, tacos, it's impossible to get to every can't-miss event. Fear not: Marketplace Tech has you covered.

Throughout the festival, we're speaking to some of the biggest names in tech. Check back regularly for interviews with everyone from Biz Stone, the co-creator and co-founder of Twitter, to Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of the re-booted television show "Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey" (read the preview to our interview here).

We'll also be talking to some familiar tech faces like early Apple employee turned Silicon Valley superstar Guy Kawasaki, as well as people you might be surprised to find at SXSW Interactive. Neil Young, for example, will be in attendance to promote his new, high-quality music service called Pono.

This kind of cross pollination between the music, film, and interactive festivals is what gets SXSW co-founder Louis Black excited.

"We’ve really seen, in the last few years, that synergy taking place. The most number of registrants is at Interactive, but ultimately what they really want and need is content. So having Film the same time as Interactive, and having Music right after has led to these three events melding more and more into each other."

In fact, Black sees this interaction between the three components of SXSW as essential to surival. 

"I’m a total film person, and the way the independent films are distributed has changed so dramatically in the last few years that the only way for film to thrive and grow into the next couple of decades...it’s got to be more and more and more technologically dependent."

Black says this kind of synergy between the arts and technology is inherent to the city of Austin. Rather than viewing SXSW as an importing of cultural activity, he thinks of SXSW as a ten day "multiplier" for the musicians, filmmakers, and tech startups that call Texas home. 

So put on your cowboy boots, don your Google Glass, fill up your schedule with hard-to-believe panels, and head down south with Marketplace Tech.

PODCAST: February jobs report

Fri, 2014-03-07 08:50

The U.S. economy added 175,000 jobs in February, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report published on Friday, a sign of renewed strength in the job market. At the same time, the U.S. Labor Department survey of households found that the unemployment rate increased slightly last month, to 6.7 percent.  

Meanwhile, the owner of the Albertson's supermarket chain announced Thursday that it is buying Safeway Inc. for $9 billion, combining two of the nation's biggest grocery businesses. But the combined company won't be the biggest by a long shot. Combined, they will still be smaller than Kroger, and lumping all three chains together still wouldn't bring them close to matching the grocery sales at Wal-Mart. 

And, it's not every day that people get fired up over retirement planning, but that's what happened at AOL last month when employees lashed out over the company's move to make year-end, lump-sum contributions to their 401(k) plans instead of matches every pay period. In the aftermath one state regulator wants to know how many other companies have made that switch. 

Alien technology, SXSW, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Fri, 2014-03-07 06:34

OK, I'll admit it: Neil DeGrasse Tyson isn't the usual fare for Marketplace Tech. His remake of the old Carl Sagan show Cosmos-which premiers on Fox this Sunday-could be called more of a science show than a technology show.

As we prepare to interview DeGrasse Tyson this weekend at SXSW Interactive, I'm thinking about how our exploration of space and understanding of space has had a lot to do with technology. I want to ask him about that and how he imagines alien technology might be different than our own. Where might alien technology get its power? How might it be controlled? It's possible that Neil DeGrasse Tyson's guess is as good as anyone's... but I bet he's got some ideas. At the very least, he'll probably be wearing a cool vest

How will the remake of "Cosmos" do? Hard to tell with a guy like Seth McFarlane working on it. It could be great, and it could be terrible. But the trailer is promising, and the host is the perfect choice.

If you haven't watched the older Sagan series -- or haven't seen it in a while -- it's worth a watch (see video below). When the show launched in 1980, producers used some of the most cutting edge special effects technology to represent the space-scapes Sagan was talking about.

Remember his awesome spaceship? Here are some highlights: 

 

What would YOU ask Neil DeGrasse Tyson about space and technology? Follow our SXSW coverage @MarketplaceTech and tweet your NGT question to me @TheBrockJohnson.

 

Job growth strengthens, jobless rate ticks up to 6.7%

Fri, 2014-03-07 05:54

The U.S. economy added 175,000 jobs in February, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report published on Friday, a sign of renewed strength in the job market. At the same time, the U.S. Labor Department survey of households found that the unemployment rate increased slightly last month, to 6.7 percent.  

"Normally that wouldn't be so good, our usual demarcation good-bad line is 200,000 [jobs]," says FTN Financial chief economist Chris Low. "But the weather, the week of the payroll survey, was just abysmal. We had snow in 49 of 50 states. ... The assumption is, without that bad weather, it would have been a terrific month."

Some numbers in the report, like the long-term unemployment rate, continue to concern economists. The February data reveal that 203,000 more people were considered long-term unemployed. That means that total number is now 3.8 million Americans.

"Again, it's steady as she goes. We'd like to see numbers that are a lot stronger to really bring back some of the unemployed people," says BNP Paribas chief U.S. economist Julia Coronado. "Even though it's stronger than expected, it's not very strong in an absolute sense. But it's not very weak either. So we're still in that muddling along zone."

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