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Why do you share your secrets with strangers?

Fri, 2015-02-20 11:05

We tell our secrets to psychologists, therapists, and licensed "professionals." But sometimes? We talk to complete strangers.

Lots of people spill their secrets to Mathew Schmuck while he's at work.

Why? Mathew answers this question outside The Black Cat, where he tends bar. 

 

 

Your Wallet: Where do you fall on the economic ladder?

Fri, 2015-02-20 10:15

On next week's show, we're talking about economic classes, and how we get where we are.

So where do you fall? Have you spent your whole life in the middle class? Maybe you climbed into a new financial class, or did some backsliding.

We want to hear your stories.

Write to us, by visiting us on the web and clicking on go or tweet us, we're @MarketplaceWKND

How much is a secret worth?

Fri, 2015-02-20 09:55

This week on the show, we've heard stories of side businesses and workarounds, secrets of sorts that impact the economy or our personal finances.

But what about the business of secrets? How much is a secret worth, in dollars?

We decided to find out, from someone whose business is in unveiling government secrets.

MuckRock is an organization that charges people -- journalists, researchers, citizens -- to file information requests. They use the Freedom of Information Act -- FOIA -- to obtain documents and data from the government.

MuckRock files thousands of requests...right now, they're looking into the CIA.

Marketplace Weekend spoke to Michael Morisy, co-founder of MuckRock and Knight fellow at Stanford, about the process of uncovering information.

To hear the whole story, tune in to the audio player above. 

My Money Story: Driving for Lyft

Fri, 2015-02-20 09:51

Moonlighting, second jobs, side projects. Working a side business in this economy is a fairly common thing.

Sometimes it's to indulge a passion. Sometimes it's to make ends meet.

Kim Buckley works to support herself and her daughter in Los Angeles. And her side business turned into....another side business.

Kim works in transportation with the LA unified school district. She also drives for the ride sharing service Lyft. And  that service's main competition, Uber. 

To hear Kim's whole story, listen in the audio player above. 

How do you make a better life, and what does it mean?

Fri, 2015-02-20 09:23

In a partnership with the BBC, in a series called Six Routes to Riches, Lizzie O'Leary has been exploring what happens when the global economy collides with real life.

How do you make a better life? And what does that mean? This week, O'Leary is joined by the BBC's Nkem Ifejika, who digs in to Nigeria's economy. Ifejika grew up in Nigeria, and has watched the economy change and shift.

In coming weeks, we'll also report from India, China, and the United States.

Next week, you'll hear O'Leary's own reporting from Brazil. O'Leary spent the past two weeks there, talking to the people at the top of the economic ladder.

How do you make better life? And what does that mean?

Fri, 2015-02-20 09:23

In a partnership with the BBC, in a series called Six Routes to Riches, Lizzie O'Leary has been exploring what happens when the global economy collides with real life.

How do you make a better life? And what does that mean? This week, O'Leary is joined by the BBC's Nkem Ifejika, who digs in to Nigeria's economy. Ifejika grew up in Nigeria, and has watched the economy change and shift.

In coming weeks, we'll also report from India, China, and the United States.

Next week, you'll hear O'Leary's own reporting from Brazil. O'Leary spent the past two weeks there, talking to the people at the top of the economic ladder.

Fun Fact Friday: Social media, still a thing making tons of money

Fri, 2015-02-20 09:22

Catherine Rampell from The Washington Post and Sudeep Reddy of the Wall Street Journal wrap up the week in news. But, what else did we learn this week?

Fun fact: Instagram now has more than 300 million users worldwide.

Photo sharing, however, was not the initial intention for the app. Discover more fun facts about Instagram and its co-founder, Kevin Systrom here: 

How a humble stray dog helped launch Instagram

Fun fact: An acre-foot of farmland uses the equivalent to 326,000 gallons of water.

Since farming requires a lot of water, Farmers are adapting to the current drought conditions in California by switching to drip-irrrigating methods as opposed to flooding, and choosing to produce lucrative crops over low-value crops. 

Central Valley farms come at a cost for dry California

Fun fact: Snapchat is reportedly worth as much as $19 billion now.

With Snapchat's ads running for a rumored minimum price of $750,000 a day and its recent collaboration with news and entertainment channels, investors appear more than eager to raise the social media company's valuation.

Here's why Snapchat has doubled in value

Fun fact: Chinese companies invested more than $12 billion in projects in 2014.

Where the U.S. was once outsourcing, it now seems China is venturing into the U.S. A change in growth model has left Chinese companies seeking the kinds of skilled labor available in the United States, which is why many have began opening up shops from Texas to Indiana.

Chinese factories move to a new frontier: America

Remember CD's? Yeah, Starbucks is done selling those.

Fri, 2015-02-20 09:22

Billboard reported this week that Starbucks is going to stop selling compact discs in its stores come March.

There was a time, Billboard says, when Starbucks was doing $65 million a year in CD sales.

But no more, because — and here comes the line of the day — they're gonna stop selling what no one listens to music on anymore anyway.

 

Sysco swallows up the second biggest food company

Fri, 2015-02-20 09:22

The Sysco truck is everywhere, unloading in front of restaurants, schools, hospitals and colleges. Packed inside are boxes of seafood, beef, chicken, baked goods and napkins. They are biggest distributor of foods in the U.S., and now, they're ready to merge with US Foods.

But, the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit to stop the merger.

Before you consider whether Sysco’s proposed merger would violate antitrust laws, you have to understand what Sysco does. As a food distribution company, it is really good at logistics and their deliveries come with few hassles. Say you’re a mom-and-pop sandwich shop, you don’t want to think too much about how much the tomatoes in your BLT cost, or whether the tomatoes will arrive on time.

Then again, imagine you are a gourmet restaurant and want vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes to toss with your fair-trade arugula salad, you might find yourself looking elsewhere.

“Sysco is considered the Chevrolet of the industry," says Andrew Wolf, an analyst with BB&T. "And a lot of these chefs, especially the very high-end, they're looking for products closer to a Ferrari.”

So whether Sysco, in its merged form, would dominate the “broad line” food distribution market isn’t really up for debate. The question is: What’s a market, and who gets to decide?

As for this one, the courts will get the final say.

 

 

This oil rig count may no longer be relevant

Fri, 2015-02-20 09:22

Today brought another weekly installation of the most closely watched number in the oil patch: the rig count. That’s the measure of how many rigs are currently in operation. The count has fallen 37 percent over last year to 1019 rigs. With oil prices so volatile, Longbow Asset Management analyst Jake Dollarhide says even regular people now watch the rig count.

 But how good of a metric is this? How well does it predict future oil production? Eric Kuhle of Wood MacKenzie has detected a “strong disconnect” between the number of rigs and production. Analysts who see this decoupling says it’s a function of the modern era of extracting oil from shale rock. Kuhle says idled rigs tend to be the less productive ones, leaving the drilling superstars still in operation. Those who see a disconnect suggest the rig count plunge may overstate how bad things are.

Still, Steven Kopits of Princeton Energy Advisors says the rig count has fallen so steeply, production has to fall. It may be a question of how much.

Will Apple put the pedal to the metal?

Fri, 2015-02-20 09:22

Is Apple about to enter the car business? Bloomberg reports the company is working on a plan to produce an electric car by 2020. If the rumors are true, Apple will face major barriers in the auto world. 

"The car industry is a particularly difficult one to break into," says J.P. Gownder of Forrester Research, who is skeptical of the reports. He says it is more likely Apple is trying to figure out technologies that would complement dashboard systems for entertainment and navigation. 

Gownder says one of the most significant barriers to entry for Apple would be distribution.  The company would either have to establish a dealership network, he says, which can be difficult and time-consuming, or it will have to sell cars directly, which not all states allow. 

"The non-auto manufacturers really underestimate what it takes to get product to market and to become profitable," says Dennis Virag, president of the Automotive Consulting Group. Just establishing a supply chain could take years, he says, adding that a typical car has more than 10,000 parts and more than 2,500 suppliers.

Making money would be another challenge. Virag says one of the keys to profitability is scale. The big car makers can achieve that. Newer entrants, like electric car-maker Tesla have not. 

Tesla produces only 35,000 vehicles a year, even though it has been on the road since 2008. It has had trouble opening up dealerships and the company's founder has said he is not expecting to be profitable until 2020.

So why would Apple even bother, considering all the hurdles?

Thilo Koslowski of Gartner research says the maker of iPhones and iPads knows that competing in the mobile space means being part of the most mobile device we own: our cars.

"The car is becoming a very fundamental piece of the puzzle that you need to own, if you indeed want to create experiences for your customers wherever they are," says Koslowski.

Apple may face competition from its neighbors. Google has already developed a self-driving car. Uber is funding research into a world without drivers at all. And not to be left out, several major car-makers have opened up research facilities in Silicon Valley. 

 

How Photoshop changed the way we see everything

Fri, 2015-02-20 09:04

The Oxford English Dictionary added "photoshop" as a verb in 2006, but as the software turns 25 years old this week, the OED's definition seems incomplete. The word doesn't just mean to manipulate an image digitally, using software from Adobe Systems Inc., it's become shorthand for the way beauty industries present distorted and unrealistic images of women

Thomas Knoll, who created the software and still works for parent company Adobe, takes issue with that association.

"That manipulation was nothing new in the market," Knoll says. "What Photoshop did, was make it easier to do."

Possibly, the software's ubiquity — coupled with digital networks — also makes that manipulation easier to see through. Commercial photographer Jesse Rosten sees both sides. He created a parody video about how software helps promote false images of women.

But he thinks maybe the constant leaks of un-retouched photos celebrity photos — Beyonce and Cindy Crawford are two recent examples — increases our awareness that beauty icons don't really look like their iconic images either.

"Back in the day when people were airbrushing negatives, you wouldn't have seen the original negative," Rosten says.

Photoshop has also created whole industries that no one could have foreseen — like Ben Huh's online empire. He's CEO of Cheezburger, a network of blogs devoted to funny cat photos and the like. 

The blog I Can Has Cheezburger? is a leading purveyor of funny cat photos, and one of Photoshop's heirs.

Courtesy of Cheezburger

The proliferation of crowd-sourced images means that the OED's definition of "to photoshop" is out of date as well.

"The vast majority of photoshopping, quote-unquote, that people do today, is actually [on] Instagram," says Huh.

10 things you probably didn't know about the Oscars

Fri, 2015-02-20 09:00

It’s that time of the year, the 87th Academy Awards ceremony will take place at the Dolby Theatre this Sunday. Hollywood’s biggest stars will walk across 500 feet of red carpet in their designer suits and gowns to the industry’s biggest night, in hopes of winning an Oscar, perhaps the most recognized trophy in the world.

Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke to Joseph Petree, the Design Director at R.S. Owens & Company, about manufacturing the golden statuette.

10 fun facts about the Oscars:

  1. The Oscar statuette was originally named the Academy Award of Merit. Although it is unclear where the nickname comes from, the most widely known myth is that the Academy’s librarian saw the statue and said it looked like her Uncle Oscar. The Academy officially adopted the nickname in 1939.
  2. The first Oscar was awarded in 1929 to Emil Jannings, named Best Actor for his performances in “The Last Command” and “The Way of All Flesh.”
  3. About 270 people attended the first official Academy Awards at the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, and tickets cost $5 each. 
  4. An Oscar statuette stands 13½ inches tall and weighs in at 8½ pounds.
  5. The Oscar statuette was designed by Cedric Gibbons, chief art director at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and sculpted by Los Angeles artist George Stanley.
  6. The statuette is a figure of a knight holding a crusader's sword standing on a reel of film with five spokes signifying the five original branches of the Academy: actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers.
  7. The first televised Academy Awards show was on March 19, 1953. 
  8. R. S. Owens & Company in Chicago has manufactured the Oscar statuette since 1983.
  9. Each Oscar takes about 8-10 hours to make. R.S. Owens & Company manufactures about 50-60 Oscar statuettes per year.
  10. The Oscar statuette has more real gold on it than any other trophy.

Quiz: Snacking on standards

Fri, 2015-02-20 07:31

New federal school-nutrition rules took effect this year, but 43 states have their own snack rules, according to a report by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

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PODCAST: Architecture finds its place in Shanghai

Fri, 2015-02-20 03:00

First up, we'll talk about planning for what had been previously unthinkable: if Greece leaves the euro zone. Plus, Shanghai is the financial heart of China, and it has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. And over the last couple of decades, real estate developers have been going full bore, building skyscraper after skyscraper. That has been good for architects - including American architects. And with the Oscars on Sunday, it's interesting to watch the nominated feature documentaries through the prism of the business beat. Virunga, one of the nominated documentaries, is about conflict, oil and gorillas in a national park in Congo. We turn to the BBC for more.

The economy of the red carpet

Fri, 2015-02-20 02:00

We all know designers dress stars for free, and the stars thank them by dropping their name on the red carpet. At least that used to be the deal. Now, there’s the mani cam, the clutch cam. And questions like: Who did your hair? Your jewelry?

The red carpet has become an industry unto itself.

It’s a moneymaker. It’s a moneymaker for the actresses, it’s a moneymaker for the networks cause they’re selling the ads,” says R. Couri Hay, a celebrity publicist. “It’s a moneymaker for the designers, because everybody is aspirational and wants to wear Dior.”

The red carpet, says Hay, offers an irresistible combination for advertisers: movie stars, plus tens of millions of TV viewers and millions more on social media.

“In fact, some actress even talked about her underarm deodorant. It was like unbelievable,” he says.

Actress Kat Graham describes her dress and her Degree deodorant to E’s Giuliana Rancic on the red carpet at the Grammys:

Now some actresses are starting to push back against all the promotion.

At the same awards show as Graham, Nicole Kidman refused to tell Ryan Seacrest who she was wearing. And at the Golden Globes, instead of showing off her manicure, Madmen actress Elizabeth Moss flipped E’s mani-cam the bird.

Hay says the problem might have been a lack of cash changing hands between jewelery companies like Chopard, Tiffany & Co., and Bulgari, and the stars that are paid to hawk their brands. But, then again, he says, the problem might literally be in stars’ hands.

“That mani cam. I hate being cynical, I don’t really want to be catty but, the first thing to go on a woman, is her hands.”

The other thing to go, when stars don’t play along, is what’s known as a red carpet credit — when beauty brands pay stylists a fortune to get their products onto actresses, and mentioned in the pages of beauty magazines.

“It means that you get to say, for example, Angelina Jolie used our brand on the red carpet,” says Tyler Williams, a beauty publicist in New York.

A star’s look, says Williams, can pay off for them too. He says look no farther than Lupita Nyong’o, the young actress who won an Oscar for 12 years a Slave, nailed it on the red carpet, and scored a contract with Lancome. Jennifer Lawrence landed a multi-million dollar deal with Dior.

Then there are the mocktresses.

Merle Ginsberg, who covers style for the Hollywood Reporter, came up with the term.

“Someone like Jessica Alba and Kate Bosworth I don't think have been in movies for years,” she says. "People pay them to go to parties wearing great clothes and then they send out press releases.”

And we eat up every bit of it. If you have any doubts about the financial future of the red carpet, Tyler Williams says, just look at the magazines lining the checkout aisle at the grocery store.

Silicon Tally: Let's go to space!

Fri, 2015-02-20 02:00

It's time for Silicon Tally! How well have you kept up with the week in tech news.

This week, we're joined by Janet Vertesi, a sociologist and historian of science and technology at Princeton.

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The economy of the red carpet

Fri, 2015-02-20 02:00

We all know designers dress stars for free, and the stars thank them by dropping their name on the red carpet. At least that used to be the deal. Now, there’s the mani cam, the clutch cam. And questions like: Who did your hair? Your jewelry?

The red carpet has become an industry unto itself.

It’s a moneymaker. It’s a moneymaker for the actresses, it’s a moneymaker for the networks cause they’re selling the ads,” says R. Couri Hay, a celebrity publicist. “It’s a moneymaker for the designers, because everybody is aspirational and wants to wear Dior.”

The red carpet, says Hay, offers an irresistible combination for advertisers: movie stars, plus tens of millions of TV viewers and millions more on social media.

“In fact, some actress even talked about her underarm deodorant. It was like unbelievable,” he says.

Actress Kat Graham describes her dress and her Degree deodorant to E’s Giuliana Rancic on the red carpet at the Grammys:

Now some actresses are starting to push back against all the promotion.

At the same awards show as Graham, Nicole Kidman refused to tell Ryan Seacrest who she was wearing. And at the Golden Globes, instead of showing off her manicure, Madmen actress Elizabeth Moss flipped E’s mani-cam the bird.

Hay says the problem might have been a lack of cash changing hands between jewelery companies like Chopard, Tiffany & Co., and Bulgari, and the stars that are paid to hawk their brands. But, then again, he says, the problem might literally be in stars’ hands.

“That mani cam. I hate being cynical, I don’t really want to be catty but, the first thing to go on a woman, is her hands.”

The other thing to go, when stars don’t play along, is what’s known as a red carpet credit — when beauty brands pay stylists a fortune to get their products onto actresses, and mentioned in the pages of beauty magazines.

“It means that you get to say, for example, Angelina Jolie used our brand on the red carpet,” says Tyler Williams, a beauty publicist in New York.

A star’s look, says Williams, can pay off for them too. He says look no farther than Lupita Nyong’o, the young actress who won an Oscar for 12 years a Slave, nailed it on the red carpet, and scored a contract with Lancome. Jennifer Lawrence landed a multi-million dollar deal with Dior.

Then there are the mocktresses.

Merle Ginsberg, who covers style for the Hollywood Reporter, came up with the term.

“Someone like Jessica Alba and Kate Bosworth I don't think have been in movies for years,” she says. "People pay them to go to parties wearing great clothes and then they send out press releases.”

And we eat up every bit of it. If you have any doubts about the financial future of the red carpet, Tyler Williams says, just look at the magazines lining the checkout aisle at the grocery store.

American architects find creative freedom in Shanghai

Fri, 2015-02-20 02:00

Shanghai, which is the financial heart of China, has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. Its population is around 23 million, and over the last couple of decades, real estate developers have been going full bore, building skyscraper after skyscraper. That has been good for architects – including many American architects.

The Huangpu River curves through Shanghai on its way to the East China Sea, and architect William Paluch is sitting on its western bank, on what is called The Bund. There is a wide promenade and there is “a series of about 28 buildings from the early twentieth century – mostly constructed between 1910 and 1930,” he explains. 

The buildings that line The Bund, across the Huangpu River from Shanghai's modern Pudong district, feature classical-looking columns and gray stone.

David Gura/Marketplace 

The buildings couldn’t look more different from what is across the river, in a part of Shanghai called Pudong. It is “the new city, the new district,” Paluch says. “It is where all the super high-rise buildings are, and where all the intense development has been focused over the last 20 years.”

Paluch left the United States four years ago, to head the architecture firm HOK’s China practice. He says in Shanghai, so much is new, and that appeals to many American architects.

“It is the great place to be on earth, I think,” says Dan Winey, regional managing principal for Gensler’s U.S. Northwest and Asia Pacific offices. He has lived in Shanghai for more than a decade.

At a time when critics lament the sameness of new architecture in the States, China offers opportunities to be bold, Winey says. He and his colleagues designed the Shanghai Tower, which is scheduled to open in a few months. It will be the second-tallest building in the world.

The head of the tower’s design team, Jun Xia, who is a regional design director at Gensler, is eager to point out how innovative the building is. For one, it has this standout curved shape. “Asymmetric,” he says. “That’s very important.” And Xia, who was born in Shanghai, but studied and practiced in the U.S. before he moved back home, says air is cleaned in a giant pocket between the building’s windows and another glass façade that hangs from cables and moves with the wind.

“The glass skin, it’s just like a silk dress,” Xia says. Winey jumps in to say, “It’s more like an Armani suit.”

China’s growth has been slowing recently, but that doesn’t seem to faze American architects, including William Paluch. “Seven percent growth is still a lot of growth,” he notes.

He sees the slowdown as an opportunity to re-focus on architecture that could tackle some of China’s biggest problems, including air pollution and population density. Architects could pioneer solutions in China that they could bring back to the U.S.

Wal-Mart to workers: we'll give you a schedule

Fri, 2015-02-20 02:00

In announcing it's raising wages for its lowest-paid workers, Wal-Mart also said it's offering some employees better scheduling at a time when more retailers are relying on “just-in-time scheduling." 

Scheduling employees for partial shifts, only when needed, saves employers money. But for workers, it’s a huge problem, says Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute.

“Having their hours be different from one week to the next, from one day to the next, can be very difficult, particularly for working parents who need child-care for their kids at different hours of the day every week,” she says. 

Barry Eidlin, a sociologist at the Rutgers School of Management, says Wal-Mart’s not the only company that’s been criticized for scheduling employees this way. Now, he says, other retailers might follow suit in restoring set schedules.

“If people follow them in one direction, they might follow them back in the other direction,” he says. 

After all, Eidlin says, they are all competing for the same group of employees. 

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