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PODCAST: Popular polar bears

Mon, 2015-01-05 03:00

What can you get for less than $1.20? The answer: a euro. Plus, Bankrate is forecasting that the Fed will finally hike up interest rates this year. What will this mean for cash-flush consumers, and their growing appetite for new cars, new mortgages, and other forms of debt? How far up do experts predict the rates will hike in 2015, and what impact may this have on the rest of the world’s tepid growth? And once a year, hundreds of polar bears descend upon Churchill, Manitoba, a town with more bears than people. Every year, Churchill’s 800 residents share their small town with a flood of scientists, researchers and tourists who come to study and see these massive creatures. But now, a threat to the polar bear population has Manitobans worried about their primary source of income.

2015 could be the year the Fed hikes up interest rates

Mon, 2015-01-05 02:00

Bankrate is forecasting that the Fed will finally hike up interest rates this year.

What will this mean for cash-flush consumers, and their growing appetite for new cars, new mortgages, and other forms of debt? And how far up do experts predict the rates will hike in 2015, and what impact may this have on the rest of the world’s tepid growth?

Click the media player above to hear more.

A polar bear capital fears a bearless future

Mon, 2015-01-05 02:00

Hundreds of bears gather every winter in the town of Churchill, Manitoba, waiting for Hudson Bay to freeze so they can return to hunting seals. This annual migration attracts thousands of tourists, and it's an economic boon for local businesses.

The problem? Polar bear season only lasts seven weeks. And when you’re hundreds of miles from the next major city, with no roads connecting you to the outside world, and there are only a few months of the year when the ground’s not covered in snow, there aren’t many options for work. Here in Churchill, Manitoba, population 800, there are three.

Tourism, the port of Churchill and the town's health center are the options, says Mayor Mike Spence.

The port, which sends grain to Europe, and the health center employ about 10 percent of the town. About 10,000 tourists a year travel here to see polar bears. They stay in local hotels and lodges, and ride on roving jeeps called tundra buggies.

As long as the bears are here, people will pay as much as $1,000 a day to come. But with the season lasting only two months, residents have a narrow window to make their main chunk of revenue — revenue that could disappear along with these animals. Scientists predict that if current warming trends continue, this population of polar bears could be gone in only a few decades. So, what does that mean for this town's future?

“When the last bear leaves town, so does everything else,” says Spence. “Big question is: How do we become more successful in year-round parts of our community?”

One potential resource could be increased promotion and tourism for the summer beluga whale season, he says. Some locals, like security guard Brendan Windsor, agree.

“There’s more than just bears to see around here,” Windsor says. “Beluga whales, lots of bird watching, flower season.”

But the mayor admits that's not enough. Ironically, global warming could open up the Northwest passage and benefit the port. But it wouldn't be enough to make up for the end of polar bear tourism.

“If we were to lose a part of it, or in time lose all of it, it would be very difficult to recover what it brings to the economy," he says.

Everyone agrees the next few years are critical. Churchill is cooperating with international research groups to bring awareness to the polar bears' plight, even live-streaming their annual migration. Because if the bears go, this town might not be far behind.

Mexico's president to visit Washington on Tuesday

Mon, 2015-01-05 02:00

On Tuesday, Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, visits Washington to hold talks with President Barack Obama on cooperation, economic and security issues such as the Merida Initiative.

Approved six years ago, the U.S. government appropriated $2.3 billion dollars for the plan, which called for the U.S. and Mexican governments to partner against crime that spreads across both country’s borders. It sounds like it should buy a lot of crime fighting. But only about half of the money promised by congress has been used.

Click the media player above to hear more.

Polar bear capital fears for future without bears

Mon, 2015-01-05 02:00

Hundreds of bears gather every winter in the town of Churchill, Manitoba, waiting for Hudson Bay to freeze so they can return to hunting seals. This annual migration attracts thousands of tourists; an economic boon for local businesses.

The problem is, polar bear season only lasts seven weeks. And when you’re hundreds of miles from the next major city, with no roads connecting you to the outside world, and there are only a few months of the year when the ground’s not covered in snow, there aren’t many options for work. Here in Churchill, Manitoba, population 800, there are three.

“Tourism; the port of Churchill is another one; the Churchill health center is another,” says Mayor Mike Spence.

The port, which sends grain to Europe, and the health center, employ about 10 percent of the town. But people travel here to see polar bears. About 10,000 tourists come every year. They stay in local hotels and lodges, and ride on roving jeeps called tundra buggies.

If the bears are here, people will pay as much as $1,000 dollars a day to come. But with the season lasting only two months, residents have a narrow window to make their main chunk of revenue — revenue that could disappear along with these animals. Scientists predict that if current warming trends continue, this population of polar bears could be gone in only a few decades. So, what does that mean for this town's future?

“When the last bear leaves town, so does everything else,” laments Mayor Spence. “Big question is: how do we become more successful in year-round parts of our community?”

He says one potential could be increased promotion and tourism for the summer beluga whale season. Some locals, like security guard Brendan Windsor, agree.

“There’s more than just bears to see around here,” Windsor points out. “Beluga whales, lots of bird watching, flower season.”

But Mayor Spence admits that's not enough. Ironically, global warming could open up the Northwest passage and benefit the port. But it wouldn't be enough to make up for the end of polar bear tourism.

“If we were to lose a part of it, or in time lose all of it, it would be very difficult to recover what it brings to the economy," he says.

Everyone agrees the next few years are critical. Churchill is cooperating with international research groups to bring awareness to the polar bears' plight, even live-streaming their annual migration. Because if the bears go, this town might not be far behind.

New York developers are mad for super lux apartments

Mon, 2015-01-05 02:00

There’s lots of scaffolding, cranes, and hammering in New York City these days. Construction spending has nearly returned to pre-recession highs when accounting for inflation, with nearly $11 billion spent on residential construction this past year.

However, these buildings aren’t for just anyone

“They’re usually very tall, very large, and in the tens of millions of dollars in asking prices,” says Richard Anderson, president of the New York Building Congress. He says the construction here is now dominated by ultra luxury apartment buildings; a big change from 5 or 10 years ago. “Then it was more a range of housing, more outer borough housing, more affordable housing. Now, we’re spending more money but getting less housing units.”

There’s even something now referred to as Billionaire’s Row in midtown.

“This apartment is over four thousand square feet,” Jeannie Woodbrey says casually, entering a half-floor apartment on the 58th floor of One57, a residential tower in Manhattan where she’s a senior sales executive. Central Park stretches out before the windows like a private runway.

“This one starts at 27, up to about 29, depending on the floor,” she explains, referring to the price tag (in millions).

All those millions buy three bedrooms, a big open living room, and a slew of amenities, including access to a pool which has music from Carnegie Hall piped in underwater.

“I describe this phenomenon as, 'We’re building the world’s most expensive bank safety deposit boxes,'” says Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers. “Essentially, the consumer buys one of these units, puts their valuables in it and then rarely visits. And it’s not unique to New York. Miami is seeing this, San Francisco, Los Angeles.”

Miller says the uber wealthy, many of them foreign, are looking for a place to park their money — Many recent luxury sales have been all-cash deals.

High demand and high prices have encouraged developers to build lots of these super-lux buildings — perhaps too many.

“The Manhattan development market has a problem,” Miller says. “It’s facing too much supply with a steady demand. So when people say the market’s been softening, what they’re really saying is we’ve been building too much. The demand hasn’t really changed.”

He doesn’t believe it’s a bubble, but says the pace of sales is slowing and that may leave some planned projects on the drawing board. 

The euro drops to a nine-year low

Mon, 2015-01-05 01:30
$1.1918

The Euro fell to a nine-year low Monday morning, sinking to $1.1861 against the dollar before recovering to $1.1918. As the WSJ reports, the drop in value has a lot to do with Greek politics and expectations that the European Central Bank will amp up its stimulus program.

50 percent

Perspective employers were that much more likely to call back applicants with stereotypically white names than black names, even if their resumes were statistically identical. The author of that study, writing in the Upshot, cites other similar experiments and blames a subliminal, knee-jerk racial bias that contradicts conscious efforts to be more inclusive.

7 weeks

That's how long polar bear season lasts in Churchill, Manitoba. It's an important annual tourist attraction for the small town of 800 — many residents make a large portion of their income off of visitors coming to see the polar bears. But with global warming endangering the polar bear population, many Manitobans worry that their main source of revenue will disappear with the animals.

71 percent

The portion of New Years resolutions that are abandoned after two weeks, FiveThirtyEight reported. The site breaks down that sobering statistic for the most common resolutions.

$11 billion

That's how much was spent last year on residential construction in New York City, an amount which nearly returns to pre-recession highs when accounting for inflation. But that doesn't necessarily translate to cheaper housing, as a lot of that spending is going into lux apartment buildings meant for the super rich.

January 2000

The month AOL made its disastrous purchase of Time Warner, sealing its fate for good. Facebook is on a remarkably similar course as AOL, the Verge notes, in a tech landscape that looks remarkably similar to the 1990s.

Mario Cuomo: He was a powerful, poetic speaker

Fri, 2015-01-02 15:51

Three-term New York governor Mario Cuomo died Thursday at 82 from heart failure.

Cuomo is remembered for, among other things, his rhetorical skills. Perhaps most notable is his speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention, where he talked about inequality and rebuked President Ronald Reagan's notion that America is "a shining city on a hill."

"There is despair, Mr. President, in the faces that you don't see, in the places that you don't visit in your shining city," Cuomo said.

"It was partly numbers," says poet Robert Pinsky. "And it was understanding how to make numbers comprehensible and forceful that was so powerful in that speech."

The speech has influenced the way politicians talk about economic inequality on both sides of the aisle. Watch it below.

Mario Cuomo and the language of divide

Fri, 2015-01-02 15:51

Three-term New York governor Mario Cuomo died Thursday at 82 from heart failure.

Cuomo is remembered for, among other things, his rhetorical skills. Perhaps most notable is his speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention, where he talked about inequality and rebuked President Ronald Reagan's notion that America is "a shining city on a hill."

"There is despair, Mr. President, in the faces that you don't see, in the places that you don't visit in your shining city," Cuomo said.

"It was partly numbers," says poet Robert Pinsky. "And it was understanding how to make numbers comprehensible and forceful that was so powerful in that speech."

The speech has influenced the way politicians talk about economic inequality on both sides of the aisle. Watch it below.

Fun Fact Friday: Beans and a lot of things

Fri, 2015-01-02 12:05
We're starting Fun Fact Friday, a list of the sometimes silly, but always interesting information we picked up over the previous week at Marketplace. Share your favorite Marketplace fun facts with us on Twitter @Marketplace or on our Facebook page.

OK, we'll go first:

  • Fun fact: Hangover cures don’t work … mostly because scientists don’t know why we get them.
For years, pharmaceutical companies and ... well ... pretty much everyone on New Year's day have tried to find a way around hangovers. But according to Marketplace reporter Stan Alcorn's report, the search may be in vain. Champagne wishes and hangover-cure dreams
  • Fun fact: The company Fuhu has a ball pit in the middle of its office.
Fuhu, maker of Nabi tablets for kids, estimates it has grown about 158,000 percent over the past year. You can find the full report, and a picture of the ball pit here.   Fuhu: The company that grew 158,000 percent in 2014
  • Fun fact: Coffee, bourbon and bacon are going to be more expensive next year.
Stock up now, or you’ll pay later. Things that will cost you more this year
  • Fun fact: You can rent a $378 Kate Spade necklace for $65.
At Rent the Runway, women rent formal-wear instead of buying. CEO and co-founder, Jennifer Hyman, says she believes fashion subscriptions will only get more popular. Fashion's new fairy godmother: Designer dress rental
  • Fun fact: Adidas released a soccer ball that uses sensors to measure your kick.
This technology can provide data and information like how fast the ball travels, how much it spins, and where to kick it for the best results. Internet's only just begun to run your life
  • Fun fact: The guys who invented the New Year's glasses shaped like digits didn't get rich off their idea.
In a battle over intellectual property, Richard Sclafani and Peter Caruso, the inventors of the glasses, lost out thanks to a multitude of knockoffs. They put the digits in New Year's glasses

Why the Domino's Pizza mascot 'the Noid' vanished

Fri, 2015-01-02 12:05

In the late 1980s, the Noid was pizza's worst enemy. He made pies arrive cold, late or crushed, with cheese stuck to the top of the box – at least that's what Domino's ads would have you believe.

Domino's could "avoid the Noid," delivering hot, fresh pizzas in 30 minutes or less. The Noid ads were a huge success, spawning toys and even a video game. 

But it all came crashing down in 1989, when the Noid suffered what may be the worst PR disaster in history. Zachary Crockett has written about the Noid for Priceonomics, and he tells us the strange, sad story.

Six brand mascots potentially as strange and popular as the Noid

Mac Tonight

Mr. Six

Slimer

The mascot for Hi-C's popular "Ecto Cooler" until 2001, 17 years after the release of "Ghostbusters."

Bob the Baby

Not to be confused with the E-Trade baby, who didn't get his own show on CBS.

Cavemen

These guys also inspired a short-lived TV series, starring a young Nick Kroll.

The King

This plastic-faced mascot was polarizing, but popular enough to appear in several video games.

College football's playoff payoff

Fri, 2015-01-02 11:01

$7.3 billion is the sum ESPN will pay for the 12-year broadcast rights for NCAA football's four major bowl games, plus the two semifinal bowls and the national championship game.

Since the playoffs draw championship interest to three games instead of just one, the moneymaking potential is huge, and many say it's only a matter of time before the bracket is expanded to eight teams or more.

"I do believe that this will be the first step in an expansion in what will likely be an eight-team playoff eventually," says Paul Swangard, director of the University of Oregon's Sports Marketing Center.

As the TV money keeps growing, program budgets and coaching salaries are increasingly on par with the pros. But the only ones who aren't seeing a payday are the players.

Uber has a rockin' New Year's Eve

Fri, 2015-01-02 11:00

In the run-up to New Year's Eve, there was a lot of speculation about whether Uber’s surge pricing would affect ridership. That means when demand goes up so does the cost of using the car-sharing service.

Uber reports that most of the trips subject to surge pricing happened between 12:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. on what is technically New Year's Day.

More than 100,000 passengers were in an Uber at the stroke of midnight, and demand increased by 180 percent between 12:01 a.m. and 12:30 a.m., according to Uber.

New Yorkers took the most trips around 2 a.m. and Parisians took the most trips around 4 a.m., local time.

 

Something new from from something blue

Fri, 2015-01-02 10:57

Making something new from something old. Marlo Fox is a denim designer at the Gap, Jeff Garza is a veteran of the war in Iraq. And he collects of odds and ends.

Together, they've built a new business called Fox Hole, and a second life of sorts for very well-loved clothes.

It all started with Jeff's dad's old Levis.

 

Things that will cost you more this year

Fri, 2015-01-02 10:20

It's a new year and some of the daily items we buy will see a price increase. Mark LoCastro, a shopping expert from DealNews.com sheds light on why things will cost more this year. We are talking about items that we can't live without  like coffee, chocolate, and bacon. One of the main reasons for this increase is that demand has outstripped supply. Another issue is mother nature and drought. But it's not all doom and gloom, we will see items like gas prices on the decline. This is great news for consumers because they end up with more money in their pockets. Which could put momentum into retail sales and the stock market. Check out LoCastro's full list.

Your Wallet: Inheritance

Fri, 2015-01-02 08:26

We all have inherited something from our family and the people we surround ourselves with. Whether it's money, habits or mind sets.

We want to hear your story. What are some of the things that you've inherited over the years?

Send us an email, or reach us on Twitter, @MarketplaceWKND

PODCAST: Maybe don't hit the gym

Fri, 2015-01-02 03:00

First up, a look at the great foreign currency shift of 2015. Plus, the children of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. have been criticized for overly protecting his speeches and writings but also commercializing them for profit. One result: you can watch the “I Have a Dream” speech on YouTube, with a Doritos commercial. And January is the busiest month for health clubs to sign up new members, as people resolve once and for all to get fit in the new year. But many people don't go to the gym often enough to justify the expense. Economists have some theories about why that's the case.

'I Have a Dream,' served with tortilla chips

Fri, 2015-01-02 02:10

When the movie "Selma" comes out in wide release Jan. 9, the speeches given by Martin Luther King Jr. will not be historically accurate. The studio didn't have the rights to use King's actual words. The King Estate, which controls his intellectual property, is known for aggressively pursuing those who use his speeches without permission. But not always. When someone posted the entire "I Have a Dream" speech on YouTube, it stayed online, preceded by a Doritos ad.

Jennifer Jenkins, a copyright expert, says that's probably YouTube's Content ID system at work. Under that system, the holder of a copyright can block an unauthorized video, or collect the ad revenue from it.

Click the media player above to hear more.

 

 

"I Have a Dream," served with taco chips

Fri, 2015-01-02 02:10

When the movie "Selma" comes out in wide release Jan. 9, the speeches given by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will not be historically accurate. The studio didn't have the rights to use King's actual words. The King Estate, which controls Dr. King's intellectual property, is known for aggressively pursuing those who use his speeches without permission. But not always. When someone posted the entire "I Have a Dream" speech on YouTube, it stayed online, preceded by a Doritos ad.

Jennifer Jenkins, a copyright expert, says that's probably YouTube's Content ID system at work. Under that system, the holder of a copyright can block an unauthorized video, or collect the ad revenue from it.

Click the media player above to hear more.

 

 

Pinterest opens a door to advertisers

Fri, 2015-01-02 02:00

2015 is the year that Pinterest users out there might notice more “promoted pins." The social media site has launched a way for more retailers to get their products pinned and shared.

But will users be happy when Pinterest takes a turn toward online mall?

Click the media player above to hear more.

 

 

 

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