The Federal Reserve will wrap up a two-day meeting in Washington today. Analysts and investors are looking for more clues about how the central bank plans to proceed when it comes its monetary policy.
Juli Niemann, analyst with Smith, Moore & Company, joins Marketplace Morning Report host Jeremy Hobson to explain why the Federal Reserve is likely to continue with quantitative easing.
The Federal Reserve has been buying up securities to boost lending and spending for nearly five years now, injecting $1.6 trillion into the economy and probably $2 trillion when all is said and done. One of the potential problems with pumping so much money into the economy is of course inflation, but there are other risks.
“One of the trickiest things right now is [that] companies have shifted a significant amount of their financing to the debt market away from the equity market” says Chris Low, chief economist with FTN Financial Group.
With interest rates so low and so much liquidity available in the system -- all products of quantitative easing -- companies are borrowing more.
“That’s dangerous,” Low explains, because interest rates won’t stay low forever. “At some point, they’re going to have to pay higher rates to borrow and they will have significantly more exposure.”
That would be bad, but slowing the recovery by ending quantitative easing too soon could be worse. Many economists believe the Fed will let up on the quantitative easing at some point this year, but not just yet.
Steve Blitz, chief economist at ITG, says even though the economy’s growing, there’s still plenty to keep the Federal Reserve concerned.
“If you look at the number of continuing claims for unemployment insurance -- therefore the number of people still unemployed -- that is still at an extraordinarily high level,” he says.
In a speech on March 4, Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen elaborated on a number of other indicators the Federal has so far found to be unsatisfactory: The unemployment rate, payroll employment growth rate, the hiring rate, and the “quit rate” -- how readily people quit their jobs (people don’t quit if they are super worried about finding a new job).
As interested as investors are in the Federal Reserve’s decision on quantitative easing, they will also be looking for some indication of a time table for easing out the easing. When quantitative easing stops, interest rates are expected to rise by “about a half percent” according to Chris Low of FTN, something people want to be able to anticipate.
Also hello, remember Cyprus? Some economists say the prospect of more crisis in Europe is just another reason for the Federal Reserve to keep its foot on the gas pedal...at least for now.
The Federal Reserve is finishing up a meeting today in Washington, to which many economists and investors are looking for signs of just how long the central bank intends to keep up its aggressive monetary easing.
Cyprus is in turmoil following the decision last night by its parliament to reject a bailout plan from the eurozone. The plan entailed a one-off tax of up to 10 percent on Cypriot bank accounts.
Should you bank at a credit union? Marketplace senior producer of personal finance Paddy Hirsch discusses the upsides and the downsides.
The company Bankrate.com is out this week with a new survey that finds more credit unions are offering perks to attract customers.
So should you bank at a credit union? Marketplace senior producer of personal finance Paddy Hirsch joins Morning Report host Jeremy Hobson to discuss the pros and the cons.
Cyprus is in turmoil following the decision last night by its parliament to reject a bailout plan from the eurozone. The plan entailed a one-off tax of up to 10 percent on Cypriot bank accounts. But should the rest of the world worry about what’s happening on a tiny island nation in the middle of the Mediterranean?
Here’s the worst case scenario: Cyprus continues to reject the bailout deal. Its banks go bust. The country is forced out of the eurozone. Hedge funds speculate on which euro country will be next to head for the exit. There are bank runs across the continent, and mayhem in global markets.
Some observers say that this possibility makes it all the more remarkable that the Europeans -- and the Germans in particular -- refuse to pump that little extra bit of cash into the small island economy.
“It’s just ridiculous that they wouldn’t. That they threaten bank runs across Europe,” says analyst Louise Cooper. “They threaten contagion, for €7 billion. It’s ridiculous but the reason they’ve done it is because it’s German election year.”
The German government fears that if they cut a special deal for Cyprus, much bigger euro countries like Spain and Italy will be lining up for extra assistance. And that would be exceedingly unpopular with German voters.
So far financial markets are taking the Cypriot fiasco in stride. They seem to believe that Europe cannot afford to let Cyprus sink, or that the Russians will ride to the rescue -- but that eerie calm in markets may not last.
Global software giant Oracle will release its earnings report today. In the past, the company has made its money selling traditional hardware and software to businesses and governments, including servers and database software. But experts say that while smaller startups are already staking their claim in the cloud space, Oracle is slow to follow.
Scott Pierce this year launched a cloud startup called 45000 Feet. He says one of the benefits in moving to the cloud is that a company pays only for what it needs.
"If you do only get 10 users, you're only going to pay for enough infrastructure to support those 10 users," Pierce says. "If you get 100,000, you're going to pay more but you're gonna have the ability to service those 100,000 users the way they expect to be serviced."
One mission of Pierce's company is to convince businesses that they don't need a big room full of servers, a concept that goes directly against Oracle's business model.
Krishnan Subramanian, a technology analyst, says when it comes to shifting to the cloud, Oracle is way behind its competitors, even old-timers like IBM.
"They are doing a catchup game right now and they have a long way to go before they can become a leader," Subramanian says.
Oracle declined to comment for this story.
Subramanian says for now, at least, the tech giant is bundling its cloud services so that customers also have to buy database software, which for Oracle, is still where the money is.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is in Beijing this morning wrapping up his two-day visit to China. It's his first foreign trip in his new role and the first high-level talks between the U.S. and China in six months.
Like treasury secretaries before him, Lew is urging China's leaders to allow its currency to appreciate. But a more important item on his agenda -- and a trickier one -- is intellectual property theft. Lew is confronting China's officials about allegations its military hacked top U.S. companies.
Marketplace China bureau chief Rob Schmitz joins Morning Report host Jeremy Hobson to explain how Secretary Lew compares to his predecessors and why some expect him to be tougher on China.
When you send a text message or an email, should your Internet or phone company hang onto them in case the police ever want to take a look? That was the discussion on Capitol Hill yesterday, as lawmakers look into overhauling the federal law that covers when the authorities can get access to electronic communications and when they can't.
"We are not proposing that this information be turned over or reviewed in mass," says Richard Littlehale, assistant special agent in charge of technical services for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, gave testimony in support of preserving messages. "We are simply trying to make sure that these messages are there if and when we identify a specific criminal offense."
Scott Burns, executive director of the National District Attorneys Association, says some Internet and phone companies already store messages, while others don't. This is something he hopes will change.
"If some providers don't keep them at all, and I'm a bad guy, I want to use that provider," says Burns.
But Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union says forcing service providers to keep messages is like giving investigators round-the-clock surveillance capability.
"We always want police to solve crime, but we need a balance," says Calabrese. "Our founding fathers understood that the police would be better able to solve crimes if they could kick down anyone's door, but the fact is it's not the kind of society we want to live in."
Congress is looking to update a law passed in 1986 that of course predates both texting and the Internet. But it’s not without its anachronisms. For example, it gives much more privacy protection to email that sits on your hard drive compared to email that's stored remotely on the so-called cloud.
One of President Obama’s big applause lines in his State of the Union address last month was when he said this: “Over the next year, another 34,000 American troops will come home from Afghanistan. This draw-down will continue, and by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over.”
That means tens of thousands of soldiers will leave active duty for active job-hunting over the next several years. But it won’t be easy, as an annual report on veteran employment will confirm when it’s released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics today.
Unemployment among veterans aged 25 to 34 stood at 9.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. For non-veterans in the same age group, unemployment was only 7.6 percent. Veterans 18-to-24-years-old face an unemployment rate of nearly 25 percent right now.
BLS economist James Walker says young vets face some unique challenges in an economy in which jobs are hard to find for everyone, and youth unemployment is already high.
“Gulf War II-era vets, recent veterans—a large proportion are high school graduates," says Walker, "or they have some college or associate’s degree." But, he adds, while they've been training and fighting, their civilian counterparts have been finishing BA's, getting job experience, moving up the career ladder.
Walker thinks most Gulf War II-era veterans will eventually catch up to the rest of the population, just like their elders did after serving in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. In fact, older veterans, decades after deployment, have slightly lower unemployment rates than the general population.
But Ted Daywalt, president of VetJobs.com, a VFW-sponsored job site for veterans and employers (and himself a Navy veteran), says some young veterans face a challenge that their predecessors didn’t. He says their employment and advancement opportunities are being stymied by repeated lengthy deployments in the National Guard and Army Reserve.
Daywalt offers a hypothetical example: “So you’ve got a National Guard soldier who just came back from fighting in Afghanistan for 18 months. He comes home, he’s been on the job for perhaps 60 days, and then all of a sudden there’s a (range) fire and he needs to leave again for 30 days. Employers can’t run their businesses that way.”
Daywalt points out that employment discrimination is illegal under the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). Employers have to keep a Reservist’s or Guard member’s job open for them until they return from deployment. But Daywalt says employers have multiple ways to get around the law, and many still prefer to hire job-seekers who won’t be called away multiple times on short notice.
BLS economist James Walker points out one more challenge facing veterans who are now leaving active duty and entering the job market: Shrinking employment opportunities in the federal government due to budget cuts and the sequester.
Walker says approximately 14 percent of recent vets work for federal, state and local government, compared to just 2 percent of the same age cohort in the general population. That’s in part because of government programs that encourage hiring of veterans, including those with service-related disabilities. Approximately one quarter of Gulf War II-era vets report some level of disability from their recent service. Walker says as federal hiring slows down, Iraq and Afghan war veterans will be among the first to feel the squeeze.
Indians love weddings, and Indian weddings need a lot of bling. In fact the giving of gold jewellery is a big part of the event. To get an idea of just how big a deal it is, I went to a wedding in Calcutta. I was trying to find out how people could get so much gold together.
Guest Sourbee Kampani thinks preparation is everything.
"For my daughter we have started from the minute she was born. I think it is very important. At weddings we have to give some amount of gold. Gold is a must," says Kampani.
Her fellow wedding guest Shubra Agarwal agrees.
"Gold is a woman's best friend," Agarwal says, "and it belongs to that woman and nobody can take it from her".
Bride-to-be Tania Sadhu also didn't see anything wrong with India's golden obsession.
"You cannot think of a wedding without some kind of yellow bling around. Gold is a status symbol," Sadhu says.
However, the government doesn't share Sadhu's enthusiasm. India is the world's largest importer of gold. Every year the country brings in more than 900 million tonnes. The government is worried that people are spending too much money on the imported precious metal. Huge amounts of cash are flowing out of the country. So in response, they've raised the import taxes on gold. But will it work?
Watching the Calcutta wedding with me was business analyst Mudar Patherya. He wasn't exactly hopeful.
"Do you actually believe here in India people will give each other equity shares when they get married. What will you hang round your necks. A certificate?" Patherya asks.
But weddings are just getting bigger and bigger, and so people are buying more and more gold. The Indian government may have to raise taxes again, but it appears that it will make little difference to people here.
In the world's largest democracy, the only thing that glitters is gold.
You may not know this, but the most popular way to sell on the web is pay to play. Google Shopping requires sellers to pay to be listed for price comparisons. But not all companies are eager to take part. E-commerce giant Amazon doesn't want to pay, so Google Shopping results don't list Amazon.
The classic test of this is to search for an Amazon Kindle e-reader. Google Shopping has the item listed from third-party sellers EBay, Staples, Quill.com, but not Amazon itself, the company that actually makes the Kindle.
If the system worries you, you could always ditch pay to play shopping engines, or you could soon try a solution called Shopping Enhancer. Karl Quist, who built the service, joins Marketplace Tech host David Brancaccio to explain how Shopping Enhancer will work.
Last summer's drought that continued through the winter wasn't just bad news for ranchers and farmers. There were big worries about what it would mean to the Mississippi River, too.
Low water and heavy boats meant bad news for barge operators who relied on high water levels to ferry goods from North to South.
"After the past couple of years we've had, I think we're enjoying the average water levels now," said Austin Golding, who has been running river barges his whole life out of Vicksburg, Miss. "I think you're going to see this have a very positive effect on the cost of goods that move across the country."
Golding said he and other barge pilots have weathered through drought and floods for the past few years. No matter what the weather, "we have to maintain business as usual."
When you take a stroll among the steel and glass towers of downtown Shanghai, you could be anywhere. Sometimes in this city, it's easy to forget you're in China. And then suddenly, China finds you.
A beggar sits on a curb of the Street of Eternal Happiness playing the bamboo flute. The skyscraper behind him releases a stream of office workers in black suits; they pass by on their way to the subway. Today's rush hour soundtrack is brought to you by the Ming Dynasty, a tune from five hundred years ago. It's a reminder that China has thousands of years of history. And more and more of these office workers want to reconnect with it.
In a converted apartment in a quiet lane just off the Street of Eternal Happiness, young urban professionals are packed in, drinking tea and taking notes from a professor who's teaching them how to write classical poetry.
Each week they come here to discuss the teachings from the era of Confucius, 2500 years ago. Liu Xun helps run this club.
"Now, society is going at a very fast pace," Liu says. "Some people like it. Some people cope with it, but they really don't like it."
China's breakneck economic growth is bewildering to outsiders. Even if you're an insider, it can make your head spin. Liu says many young professionals are desperately seeking ways to cope with the pressures of 21st Century China.
“It's always a good thing to go back and check what your ancestors have done,” Liu says. “Maybe they have thought all of these things over and over again, and they already have very good answers for you.”
On this day, ten members have dressed up in traditional bright colored silk robes that were hip more than two thousand years ago during the Qin dynasty. They walk as a group along the Street of Eternal Happiness…people just stare. Shen Zefeng and Zhu Jiaqing say they do this from time to time to remind other Chinese about their traditional culture.
Shen says, “The problem is many Chinese think we're wearing Japanese or Korean clothes!”
“They have no idea,” Zhu agrees. “Each time we go out, we always have to remind people that this is OUR traditional clothing.”
The club's co-founder, Xu Yuan, says many Chinese suffer from this type of cultural amnesia because of decades of revolution and economic transformation.
“Many Chinese have forgotten about what it means to be Chinese,” Xu says. “Yet their habits and behavior reflect an ancient tradition. Rediscovering who they are is really important.”
In just two years, this small club has attracted more than fifty thousand people to its events. It's part of a larger movement in China to revive Confucian thought-from thousands of cultural centers like this one to hundreds of Chinese government-funded Confucius Institutes all over the world. Cultural critic Zhu Dake is skeptical about the Confucian revival.
“The government is rich, but the people are not,” says Zhu, a professor at Shanghai's Tongji University. “They're in a constant state of anxiety, so they seek out traditional philosophies from the time of Confucius that encourage you to not worry so much about material gains and instead focus on the bright side of life. I think it's a way to hypnotize yourself rather than to proactively change the circumstances that cause your anxiety in the first place.”
Zhu says China's Communist Party is promoting a Confucian revival because the party's original ideology is wearing thin. Zhu would rather see Chinese people embrace non-Confucian aspects of Chinese history such as Taoism, which place a greater emphasis on a harmonious relationship with nature. Zhu points out that with China’s terrible environmental record, it’s a tenant his country should follow.
Back on the Street of Eternal Happiness, Zheng Jianfei, dressed in a black silk robe from the Qin dynasty, says there's a big debate in China about which parts of its cultural tradition the country should embrace going forward.
“Some say we should develop Chinese society with unique Chinese characteristics, others say we should continue to embrace Western culture,” Zheng says. “Some even say we should step back to feudal society with an emperor. Who knows?”
But tonight, there's a more pressing matter to figure out. On their walk in their traditional Chinese costumes, the group gets lost on a winding road, unsure of where they are. No need to worry, Zheng tells the others. If we just keep walking, he says, we'll find our destination.
Kai Ryssdal: This past week, China's government wrapped up its first leadership transition in ten years. President Xi Jinping now officially hold the reins of the world's second biggest economy. On his to-do list: maintaining social harmony. -not easy in a country where the wealth gap is wider than its ever been. For the past year, our China Correspondent Rob Schmitz has profiled the people who make their livings along a single street in Shanghai, The Street of Eternal Happiness. Today, Rob brings us the story of young urban professionals who are asking big questions about what all this economic growth has done to their cultural identity…and they're searching through ancient Chinese literature for the answers.
Rob Schmitz: When you take a stroll among the steel and glass towers of downtown Shanghai, you could be anywhere…sometimes in this city, it's easy to forget you're in China. And then suddenly, there it is…China. A beggar sits on a curb of the Street of Eternal Happiness playing the flute. The skyscraper behind him releases a stream of office workers in black suits; they pass by on their way to the subway.
Today's rush hour soundtrack brought to you by the Ming Dynasty, a tune from five hundred years ago. A reminder that China has thousands of years of history. And more and more of these office workers want to reconnect with it.
A converted apartment in a quiet lane just off the Street of Eternal Happiness is packed with young urban professionals; they're drinking tea and taking notes from a professor who's teaching them how to write classical poetry. Each week they come here to discuss the teachings from the era of Confucius, 2,500 years ago. Liu Xun helps run this club.
Liu Xun: Now, society is going at a very fast pace. Some people like it. Some people cope with it, but they really don't like it.
China's breakneck economic growth is bewildering to outsiders. Even if you're an insider it can make your head spin. Liu says many young professionals are desperately seeking ways to cope with the pressures of 21st century China.
Liu: It's always a good thing to go back and check what your ancestors have done. Maybe they have thought all of these things over and over again, and they already have very good answers for you.
On this day, 10 members have dressed up in traditional bright colored silk robes that were hip more than two thousand years ago during the Qin dynasty. They walk as a group along the Street of Eternal Happiness…people just stare. Shen Zefeng and Zhu Jiaqing say they do this from time to time to remind other Chinese about their traditional culture.
Shen Zefeng & Zhu Jiaqing (in Chinese, English voiceover): The problem is many Chinese think we're wearing Japanese or Korean clothes!/They have no idea. Each time we go out, we always have to remind people that this is OUR traditional clothing.
The club's co-founder, Xu Yuan, says many Chinese suffer from this type of cultural amnesia because of decades of revolution and economic transformation.
Xu Yuan (in Chinese, English voiceover): Many Chinese have forgotten about what it means to be Chinese, yet their habits and behavior reflect an ancient tradition. Rediscovering who they are is really important.
In just two years, this small club has attracted more than 50,000 people to its events. It's part of a larger movement in China to revive Confucian thought-from thousands of cultural centers like this one to hundreds of Chinese government-funded Confucius Institutes all over the world. Cultural critic Zhu Dake, a professor at Shanghai's Tongji University, is skeptical about the Confucian revival.
Zhu Dake: The government is rich, but the people are not. They're in a constant state of anxiety, so they seek out traditional philosophies from the time of Confucius that encourage you to not worry so much about material gains and instead focus on the bright side of life. I think it's a way to hypnotize yourself rather than to proactively change the circumstances that cause your anxiety in the first place.
Zhu says China's Communist Party is promoting a Confucian revival because the party's original ideology is wearing thin. Zhu would rather see Chinese people embrace non-Confucian aspects of Chinese history such as Taoism, which place a greater emphasis on a harmonious relationship with nature…something he says China, with its terrible environmental record, could use. Back on the Street of Eternal Happiness, Zheng Jianfei, dressed in a black silk robe from the Qin dynasty, says there's a big debate in China about which parts of its cultural tradition the country should embrace going forward.
Zheng Jianfei: Some say we should develop Chinese society with unique Chinese characteristics, others say we should continue to embrace Western culture. Some even say we should step back to feudal society with an emperor. Who knows?
But tonight, there's a more pressing matter to figure out. On their walk in their traditional Chinese costumes, the group gets lost on a winding road, unsure of where they are. No need to worry, Zheng tells the others. If we just keep walking, he says, we'll find our destination. In Shanghai, I'm Rob Schmitz, for Marketplace.
Homelessness in America is a problem that is far from solved. Every city has a part of downtown where small groups of homeless people gather. Here in Los Angeles the situation is uniquely bad. Los Angeles's Skid Row has the highest concentration of homeless people in the country. And it has been that way for a very long time. But there are signs that for the first time since the city's founding, the area may be changing.
On a recent Friday night in Skid Row, I met Little Daddy. He was walking briskly up a hill on the outskirts of Skid Row. He looked sharp in his black leather jacket, silk shirt and purple pants.
In a smooth, almost musical voice, he told me he was originally from Texas, Detroit and Chicago. "It's like poppa was a rolling stone," he said, and then asked me if I had any smokes.
Tonight Little Daddy will sleep on a small rectangle of cardboard, if he sleeps at all. He is one of about 5,000 people living on the streets in this 50-block neighborhood Little Daddy calls The Devil's Den. "It's disease and drugs and alcohol and poverty. An outside giant insane asylum. That's what this place consists of," he explained, his voice lowering into a much more serious tone.
In the morning, Skid Row is full of color. It's the fashion and toy district. Wholesalers put out sidewalk displays of huge rolls of fabric with flowers and paisley prints. And dozens of toy stores are filled with every imaginable plastic bauble. But when the sun sets, all the fabric and toys are dragged inside and secured behind padlocked metal gates.
This part of downtown has always been home to the poorest people in the city. In the 1870s, it was a transportation hub for the seasonal laborers who worked in the nearby citrus groves.
"Railroads would have come in there and people who got that day labor would have lived there in rooming houses," says Martha Burt. She grew up in Los Angeles and studied U.S. homeless communities at the Urban Institute. Unlike other cities, Los Angeles had a deliberate policy to concentrate the homeless in Skid Row.
"This doesn't mean there was any actual increase in services or in public money going into assist anybody who was being herded into that area," Burt says. "It just means that whatever was left by way of services was highly concentrated in a relatively few blocks of downtown."
The policy worked. Because Los Angeles built out and not up and was designed for the automobile, people rarely encountered Skid Row. It was out of sight so there was no political pressure from the public to do anything about it. And developers had no interest downtown so there was no pressure from businesses to clean up the area. That started to change in the early 2000s.
This homeless population map from Cartifact takes raw data about those living on the streets in Downtown Los Angeles and transforms it into a visual tool for mitigating the situation. Click to interact.
Today, new restaurants are opening, old hotels are being renovated into expensive lofts, and these new downtown residents are bumping up against Skid Row. "Now there's a huge amount of development and pressure on the Skid Row area," Burt says.
One response to that pressure is a building under construction in the heart of Skid Row.
On a recent afternoon, I hopped into the car of Mike Alvidrez, the executive director of the Skid Row Housing Trust. He was eager to show me The Star Apartments.
The building, which is owned by The Trust, is not a renovated loft or high rise condominium. It will be permanent housing for the homeless. When we arrived a tall yellow crane towered over an angular concrete structure that looked like it was made out of giant Legos. The crane is being used to stack 102 pre-fabricated modular apartment units on top of the concrete foundation. The building is one of the first of its kind. By having each individual apartment built off-site at a factory in Boise, Idaho, The Trust was able to keep construction costs low.
"We want to target the people who are costing the taxpayer the most by not being in housing" says Alvidrez. The people selected to live in these apartments are those who make frequent trips to the emergency room or get arrested a lot. They tend to rack up huge bills that fall on taxpayers to cover. The city hopes that targeting this population will be the most cost effective way getting homeless Skid Row residents off the sidewalk and into apartments.
The Trust wants to keep those residents in the neighborhood. The nonprofit currently own 25 buildings in Skid Row, most of which are former Single Room Occupancy hotels and rooming houses. Alvidrez says his goal is to buy up the old buildings, renovate them "and make it possible for people with limited means to have a decent place to live at a rent that they can afford."
When The Star Apartments are completed, the building will have its own clinic funded by the Los Angeles County Health Department. Alvidrez says this partnership with the county is a new strategy. It's also a sign that the city is taking an active role in reducing the homeless population of Skid Row -- something it avoided for a long time.
Don Easton knows he needs to save for retirement. But he’s been out of work for five years and so instead of putting money into his retirement accounts, he’s been pulling it out. There’s food, gas, and credit card debit.
“Dental care’s a big issue,” he says. “I need a new crown.”
Easton hopes to return to work soon and has been picking up side work painting houses and doing handiwork. He’s optimistic that he’ll again be able to save. But he says if he hits retirement without sufficient savings, he’s lucky to have a safety net—his family.
“I would move in with my sister,” he says. “She has kids and they all enjoy having me around.”
He’d also try to delay retiring by simply working longer.
Those strategies are common solutions for American workers who have not saved enough for retirement.
It’s not that people don’t want to save, says Nevin Adams, the director of education at the Employee Benefit Research Institute. It’s just that there are often more pressing economic concerns.
“Retirement’s down a really long list of things people are trying to worry about,” he says.
More than half of respondents to a EBRI survey released Tuesday reported they have less than $25,000 in savings, excluding their houses and pensions.
Therefore, like Easton, people could lean on family. They can work more. But the biggest chunk of the retirement pie will be Social Security.
“For people who have their whole lives been in, let's say, the bottom third of the pay distribution, Social Security is going to replace a very large chunk of their pre-retirement earnings, thereby relieving them, potentially, of the need to save a whole lot more,” says Olivia Mitchell, the executive director at Pension Research Council and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
They’ll also likely lean on Medicaid, Medicare, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
For middle income households, Social Security offers a smaller percentage of what they’re used to living on.
“It’s really the middle class I think is potentially most in trouble,” says Mitchell. “Working a few extra years could well make the difference between having enough and running out.”
For those approaching retirement who haven’t yet saved enough, she has this not-so-cheery mantra: “Work longer, save more, and expect less.”
Just when you thought it was safe to take your eye off the European economy, Cyprus throws you a curve ball.
The small nation of Cyprus voted "no" on a bailout that would have levied a tax on savings accounts held in Cyprus' banks. Instead, the precarious economy of Cyprus remains exactly that. And that raises the question -- at this point, is it just easier for the eurozone to kick someone out than risk stability of the euro?
Years of bailouts to EU member nations won't make rescuing Cyprus' economy any easier. There is a huge hole in the Cypriot banking system and it's got to be filled. The rest of Europe, and particularly the Germans, are suffering bailout fatigue.
And, Russia's cozy relations with Cyprus -- and the number of Russians who use Cypriot banks to stash their cash -- have done no favors for the Mediterranean island when it comes to getting in the good graces of the EU.
There has been some talk of a Russian energy company trading cash for access to Cypriot natural gas. But that's a deal Cypriots might not be prepared to make.
After the housing bubble burst, millions of homeowners across the country were underwater on their mortgages. Well, in many places, the water has started to recede. According to a new report from CoreLogic, almost two million residential properties regained equity last year.
You can chalk that up to low interest rates and home prices, which have been rising steadily for the first time since the housing market collapsed.
“In general, the parts of the country which were most seriously hurt by the crisis are where prices are rising fastest,” says Susan Wachter, the Richard B. Worley Professor of Financial Management at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Wachter says California’s housing market “is coming back really quickly.” Markets in Florida have improved, and Nevada is doing better, although it still isn’t in great shape.
“Arizona had the biggest improvement in their equity position in 2012,” says Molly Boesel, a senior economist at CoreLogic. Fewer than a third of the state’s homes were underwater. That’s down from a year earlier, when more than half were.
That gives homeowners the chance to buy, to sell, and to refinance, and it has effects that ripple throughout the economy. According to real estate economist Sam Chandan, there is a “wealth effect” on people with positive equity.
“They’re more inclined to spend,” he says. “They feel more confident. In some cases, they may draw on that equity.”
If homeowners spend that money on repairs and remodeling, that means more construction jobs.
In the U.S., more than 10 million homeowners are still underwater on their mortgages, but CoreLogic says that, if prices rise by another 5 percent, close to two million more homes would re-gain equity.
Unless you're, say, a summer Olympian, diving can be pretty boring. But throw some celebrities into the mix, show a little skin and you've got yourself a show. At least that's the premise behind ABC's new reality TV show "Splash”.
Extreme skier Rory Bushfield is among the show's 10 contestants, along with comedian Louie Anderson, former Cosby kid Keisha Knight Pulliam, and basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Bushfield says he almost face planted in the water the other day and ruptured an eardrum. “I'd say I'm a terrible diver, yeah. Going in head-first is not easy."
That's good, because people want to see bad diving. And they want drama, says Rob Cesternino, who produces a podcast about reality TV. “We want to see people fall into the pool and we want to see people cry about doing badly,” he said. “That's gonna be the reason. Nobody cares if Kareem Abdul-Jabbar can do a backflip.” Even if that backflip is off a 10-meter board.
And then there's the swimsuit factor. One of the contestants is Kendra Wilkinson. You may remember her from another reality show, “The Girls Next Door.” As in next door to the Playboy Mansion, where she eventually moved. Put her in a bathing suit and that kind of thing can attract viewers, says Cesternino. Up to a point, anyway. “Until we're talking about Louie Anderson in a swimsuit, “ he said.
Deborah Jaramillo is an assistant professor of television studies at Boston University. She says the idea of pitting celebrities against one another in sports isn't new. “I'm just surprised that they narrowed it down to diving. It just seems so bizarre.”
Actually it's been tried before. “Splash” is modeled on a British show. And back in January, FOX aired "Stars in Danger: The High Dive," its own celebrity diving special. That was a flop. The winners, Jaramillo says, are the D-List celebrities, and the network.
“It's great publicity for them and it's very, very cheap for the network as well,” she says.
There’s little to lose and a lot to gain. If "Splash" is anything like ABC's hit "Dancing with the Stars," all the network has to do is plug in a new celebrity cast every season and watch the money flow in.
The eurozone crisis -- after several months of quiet -- roared back to life yesterday thanks to a bailout plan for the small island nation of Cyprus. The plan, which propsed up to a 10 percent tax on bank deposits, was designed to calm markets and quell investor worries, but it had quite the opposite effect. Sheila Bair, former chair of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), joins Marketplace Morning Report host Jeremy Hobson to discuss the Cypriot bailout plan and whether such a levy could ever happen to U.S. depositors.
Later this morning, the Supreme Court hears arguments in Mutual Pharmaceutical v. Bartlett, a case that could have big implications on the liability and availability of generic drugs in the U.S.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing a ban on cigarette displays in stores. It’s the latest proposal aimed at making the Big Apple a little healthier, and it comes just a week after a judge struck down his proposed ban on the sale of some large sugary drinks.