Following up on our previous BS Detector entries here and here, we at Marketplace bring you another moment of naivete, a blog post invested in the assumption that presenting people with high-quality information will yield a high-quality conversation about energy and the environment.
OK, sure. As they say, I was born at night -- but not last night. It's no secret that polarized viewpoints, especially in Washington, thrive in competing echo chambers fed by their own assumptions, kind-of studies and semi-truths.
We know humans selectively discredit information, and often stay safely ensconced in their own camps when it comes to carbon pollution or handguns, or the HPV vaccine or geoengineering. In one famous 1950 study, students from competing Ivy League schools viewed the same football game on tape and came to vastly different conclusions about the illegal plays they saw. (The same way all of us Capitals' fans know that the refs robbed Ovechkin against the Rangers.)
Still, we soldier on with the latest installment of our fracking, energy and climate BS detector. These points come from some of our best information sources, who realize they'll be attacked ad hominem by dissenting... brains. So consider this our contribution to hardened positions. Today's entries come from Trevor Houser, of the Rhodium Group.
MYTH: FRACKING CUES THE MANUFACTURING RENAISSANCE!
In a recent podcast, Houser said the most important assumption to correct is the notion that the oil and gas boom will usher in a manufacturing renaissance in the U.S.
Sure, certain sectors will benefit: the steel pipemakers and other supply-chain firms; the energy-sucking heavy industrial sectors that make petrochemicals, cement and fertilizer. But Houser notes most U.S. manufacturing is energy-light, and they'll derive very small benefits. In addition, fracking-led oil and gas exports could boost the U.S. dollar, making life tougher for non-resource exporters.
As he puts it: "And I think it's important to really interrogate that claim, because you know we’re setting economic policy in this country.... and when you do the analysis it’s much less significant than some folks suggest.
MYTH: FRACKING DESTROYS THE AIR AND CLIMATE
Here, Houser takes on those who hype the environmental costs of natural gas boom. Indeed there are violations in drilling and fracking process, just as any other industrial process. But in the aggregate, the shale gas revolution has pushed some coal-burning out of the energy system and brought some good news on the emissions and air-quality front.
Houser: "Ironically, the oil and gas boom has actually lead to a meaningful decline in U.S. CO2 emissions and emissions of other pollutants like sulfur dioxide and that's because low cost natural gas is competing very aggressively with coal in the power sector. So we’ve seen coal’s share of U.S. power generation go from 50 percent just a few years ago down to a low of 33 percent earlier this year, and much of that was because of an increase in the use of natural gas in power generation."
Another tally that matters to Houser is political math. The states contributing to this recent greening are in fact historically quite red.
"The folks who win from that are in relatively politically useful places," Houser says. "They’re not the folks you would have traditionally counted as allies of strong environmental policy. Like Texas and Arkansas and Oklahoma and Louisiana -- gas producing parts of the country could see a $15 to 20 billion a year increase in natural gas production revenue as a result of strong environmental policy. And that potentially creates new allies and new coalitions that could change the political landscape of environmental policy in this country."
In Japan, people call it 3-11. It's shorthand for the tsunami and nuclear accident two years ago. The disaster left behind devastation that may never be completely cleaned up. Tens of thousands of people still can't go home. People are still missing. And people are still afraid of radioactive contamination. Japan's government insists the food supply is safe. But some people have made big changes in their eating habits.
David Wagner has lived in Japan for almost 30 years. He loves Japanese food. But these days, he gets groceries at a store that sells imported foods. In the store, he says, "So I buy my granola here ... and the reason I'll take this is, it's from Germany."
Wagner doesn't want to leave Japan. He's got good work here as a business communication consultant. But after the nuclear accident, he started a Facebook page on food safety. He stopped eating mushrooms, because they absorb radiation. If he wants fish -- here in the land of sushi -- he mail-orders it, canned.
"I just do not eat the fish in Japan anymore," he says. "They can't test all the fish."
Fish is still popular in Japanese restaurants and groceries, but uncertainty about food is widespread among the Japanese. Some people even use private testing services.
Customers come to this Tokyo shop for organic cotton towels and hand-dipped candles -- and also to use the radiation detectors. There are two of them in back.
Hidetake Ishimaru set up shop here after the disaster, checking food for radiation at 3,000 yen a test -- about $32. Samples fill a shelf: "Brown rice and soybeans, white rice ... that is seaweed, I think," he says.
The Japanese government says the country's rice is safe to eat. But customer Yuki Yanagase is skeptical. Ishimaru translates for her: "I don't believe it. So I'm gathering many informations from Internet."
The Internet's full of scientific studies and conspiracy theories about radiation -- what you might expect when a danger is invisible and hard to understand. If your job is to try to explain things to the public, good luck.
Dr. Shuichiro Hayashi works on crisis management for the food safety division of the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Hayashi says after 3-11, Japan set such strict limits for radiation that you could eat food contaminated at that level every day and be just fine. Japan allows much less radiation in food than the U.S. or Europe.
His colleague in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mitsuhiro Doishita, says the government tested 10 million bags of rice from Fukushima in 2012, and only 71 were over the limit.
Many people told me they're reassured by these measures. Wakako Yamane is an interpreter at an ad agency, stopping by McDonalds for coffee before work. She was worried about food right after the accident ...
"Today I'm not concerned at all," she says. "Some people are. I'm not. I just want to continue the way we've been living and I think we're all right."
This may be a case of what David Wagner calls radiation fatigue. He says you get tired of being vigilant about food. When we had lunch one day, he had a salad -- something he wouldn't have done a year ago. But he wasn't sure he should.
"From everything I read, nobody can say definitively or non-definitively that it's safe or not safe, and that's what's confusing for people like me," he says.
Research about radiation is confusing. A new World Health Organization report on the Fukushima disaster says people are not at risk of health effects unless they were in the most contaminated areas. But the report acknowledges the limits of the research it relies on: Studies tend to look at people with higher levels of exposure -- such as atomic bomb survivors. The long-term effects of low-level exposure are not as well known.
So some people figure -- why take a chance? On yourself maybe, but what if you have kids?
Two-year-old Karera Tani demonstrates the English he's learning in kindergarten. The Tani family lives in Chiba, near Tokyo. When the nuclear plant 130 miles away started spewing radiation, they fled to Osaka. They're back now, but they buy drinking water from Hawaii. They use a grocery delivery service that tests food for radiation. Karera's mom, Momo Tani, is a doctor. She says the high grocery bill is worth it, for her son's health.
"Well, with things that aren't supposed to be there like cesium, even if it's under the limit it's there, and you never know what the effect will be if it accumulates."
Tani worries about the research that shows that children are particularly vulnerable to exposure to radiation. A lot of parents told me they aren't concerned about their own diets, but they're careful about what their kids eat. Many of them told me they feel bad for not supporting the farmers in the disaster region, but they're buying their rice from Kyushu, far away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
What does the federal budget debate have to do with life expectancy? Like everything else, our golden years come with a bill. For the government, that takes the form of Social Security. Now, amid talk of cutting such entitlement programs, it seems that rolling back Social Security could affect the rich and poor unequally.
We’re living longer, to the average age of 78, so why not start collecting Social Security benefits just a little bit later? Eric Kingson, who teaches social work at Syracuse University, labels that question a “seductive thought.”
But before we start tinkering with our benefits, he says that we should remember that Congress already raised the eligibility age, for full benefits, by two years, back in the '80s.
“So we’re already cutting benefits for anyone born after 1959,” he says.
Kingson notes that Congress found delaying full benefits until the age of 67 would hurt almost a third of Americans. Now, he says, making the eligibility age even older will hit the poor the hardest. Because, while the wealthy are living longer, the poor are not.
"Those on the lower end, the lower half of the income distribution, their life expectancies have stagnated and some have actually even reversed," says Maya Rockeymoore, president of consulting firm Global Policy Solutions.
She says forcing people to wait even longer for full benefits would mean the poor get a shorter retirement than the rich.
“When you have people who disproportionately die at younger ages their contributions to social security actually go to subsidize the retirement of people who are longer lived and higher income," Rockeymoore says.
And, as for the argument that since we’re living longer we can work longer, according to Eric Kingson, that also depends on your income. The wealthier you are, the better chance you have to choose how long to keep working.
The online trading site Intrade has shut down. For those of you unfamiliar with Intrade, it’s one of those sites that lets you bet on future events -- like the election or who will be the next pope.
On Sunday, the Dublin-based website stopped trading, citing “circumstances” that may include financial irregularities.
If you call up Intrade today, you get this message: “Thank you for calling Intrade. We’re not able to take your call right now, but please leave us a detailed message after the tone including your name and account user name, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”
But you can bet that “as soon as possible” is going to be a while. (You just can’t make that bet on Intrade.) The company isn’t staffing its phones. It’s not paying out account holders.
And it’s not going to be delivering the data that professors and pundits love so much. “I think it’s a big loss,” says Dartmouth economics professor Eric Zitzewitz. “Intrade was the most used prediction market for wagers, on topics of academic interest.”
You could bet on the elections, the war in Iraq, and the future of the euro. And all that market data was available on Intrade to discuss and dissect.
Justin Wolfers at the University of Michigan says Intrade was also important for pundits. It helped keep them honest. “Previously you could just wear your leather elbow patches, smoke a pipe and appear on PBS or CBS or any TV show saying any old thing,” says Wolfers. But, he says, just because Intrade is gone doesn’t mean we’re back to a world of fact-free jabber.
Intrade was the leading face of an important idea: “that broad crowds have a lot of information and that markets are an effective way of aggregating that information,” says Wolfers, “and they often turn out to be much better than experts.”
With other sites doing similar things, Wolfers says, it’s an idea that’s not going away.
There's plenty to get distracted by at South by Southwest, the interactive, film, and music festival now going on in Austin, Texas. There’s a tennis court-sized model of the next space telescope that could replace the Hubble, for instance, parked at one of the venues. But there is also plenty of big business being done, during the technology-focused part of the festival. And one way to follow the money is to keep an eye on folks who have it: venture capitalists.
Guys like Dave McClure, for instance. He’s nursing a morning coffee outside one of the less-glamorous South by Southwest hotels, looking every bit the venture capitalist. "I'm wearing flip flops from Brazil that a friend of mine gave me. Shorts and a T-shirt,” he said. “After this, I'm going to go survive a game of basketball with some other geeks.”
McClure is behind the firm 500 Startups. It makes modest investments, maybe $50,000 or so, in companies that are just getting started. As he puts it: “The basic strategy is we make a lot of little bets. We expect anywhere from 50 to 80 percent to fail. And hopefully the top 20 percent or more turn into something interesting.” McClure says he's at “South by,” as it’s known, to keep his eyes open and make friends. The money comes later.
Not everyone is operating this way. Take Patrick Chung, of venture capital heavyweight NEA, which has offices at the center of the VC universe in Menlo Park, California. Chung's company has a full-on suite at his Austin hotel and, unlike McClure, Chung is wearing actual shoes. What’s he doing here?
“First and foremost, we have over a hundred of our entrepreneurs here and we are here to support them,” he says. “But secondly, there are over 20,000 people who are high energy, tech-savvy, entrepreneurial people. And the whole lifeblood of our business is to become enmeshed in communities of extraordinary talent. And that's why we are here.”
If there is a tech idea with a proven track record, you may find Jules Maltz from Institutional Venture Partners. Just don't show him a nice -- but untested -- start-up. Maltz works for a firm that can easily write a check for $10 million, or $100 million. “Our specialty is that later stage of a startup. Not that two people and a dog type of start up,” he says. “A lot of great venture investors are good at that. We're great at helping companies scale.”
IVP has sunk some big money into companies that are brand names now, including Dropbox, a data-storage company, and a short-message sharing service that made its first splash at South by Southwest six years ago. Goes by the name Twitter.
It's been ten days since those automatic spending cuts went into effect, and there are folks making tough decisions all across the country. Two branches of the military -- the Army and the Marines -- have decided they're not taking any new applications for a program that offers tuition assistance to active duty service members.
Last year, more than half a million of them got that help, to go to night school, to take classes online. Gordon Adams, a professor at the American University School of International Service, calls the program “useful.”
“They can both get a degree and do their active service at the same time,” Adams said.
According to Adams, this is a popular program, and in the context of the whole Pentagon budget, it’s not that expensive. All branches of the military spent just half a billion dollars on tuition assistance last year.
But Larry Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, says it’s an attention-grabber. It’s the kind of cut that leads constituents to call Congress. “'Wait a second -- these kids who sacrificed so much for us, you mean you’re going to prevent them from going to school?'”
This won’t affect service members who are currently getting tuition benefits, but it is sure to affect many of the schools they’re enrolled in -- especially for-profit colleges and universities. Last year, more than two-thirds of these benefits paid for “distance learning” classes.
The recommendation to freeze tuition benefits came from the Secretary of Defense’s budget advisor.
“Under sequestration, we’ve got to cut roughly $46 billion says Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde, a Defense Department spokesperson. “That’s about 9 percent from every Defense account except for military personnel funding.”
The Navy and the Air Force say they will make announcements on their own tuition-assistance programs soon. In the meantime, the Army says it will consider reinstating the benefits for active duty soldiers if the budget situation improves.
To be clear, these cuts don’t affect veterans. The GI Bill -- a much larger program -- is sequester-proof.
For IT professionals, Microsoft has invented a holiday -- of sorts. The second Tuesday of every month is the day Microsoft releases the latest batch of security patches for it's software: Patch Tuesday. This week, the company has more than half-dozen security fixes, as cyber threats mount for Microsoft and Apple software.
A horrific series of disasters devastated Japan two years ago today. First an earthquake, then a tsunami and then a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. Today's anniversary is being marked with protests against nuclear power in Japan. But can the country sustain a non-nuclear energy policy?
Whatever the science, consumers are jumpy about genetically modified foods. At least they are in Europe. For years, restaurants and grocery stores have trumpeted their products are GMO free. In the U.S., Whole Foods now plans to label products with the GMOs inside. But will our market follow Europe’s lead and shun modified food?
Whatever the science, consumers are jumpy about genetically modified foods. At least they are in Europe. For years, restaurants and grocery stores have trumpeted their products are GMO free.
"Even McDonalds in Italy and in Great Britain advertises that its products don’t contain any GMOs. So it depresses use of genetically modified foods," says New York University food studies professor Marion Nestle.
In the U.S., Whole Foods now plans to label products with the GMOs inside. But will our market follow Europe’s lead and shun modified food? American farms grow the most genetically modified foods in the world, and our diet is already full of high-tech grains.
The real test may be price, says Harry Balzer of the NPD Group.
"Nothing will change your behavior faster -- short of a food safety issue -- than prices. And we will never let food prices rise faster than our incomes," Balzer says.
A study from Iowa State suggests non-genetically modified foods could end up costing 6 to 10 percent more around the world.
A horrific series of disasters devastated Japan two years ago today. First an earthquake, then a tsunami and then a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
Today's anniversary is being marked with protests against nuclear power in Japan. But can the country sustain a non-nuclear energy policy?
The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Tokyo joins Marketplace Morning Report host Jeremy Hobson to discuss the legacy of Fukushima and the clean up efforts still underway.
There's another lengthy filibuster going on. This one is in Nebraska over a horse racing initiative that could bring in as much as $18 million a year in additional wagering, which the state collects taxes on. The problem is, some of the horses in these races might not even be alive anymore.
Nebraska lawmakers want to install video screens that would play old races to boost the state's gambling revenue. So the way it works is bettors know the horses' odds, but that's about it.
"When you go the machine you don't know when or where it was run, you don't know the names of the horses or anything like that, but you do have a form that you can look at," says Nebraska Senator Russ Karpisek, a supporter of the bill. "As soon as you bet, you can start it and watch the race.
Opponents say betting on old races on a video screen seems pretty random -- slot machine random. And Nebraska law prohibits slot machines.
Mark Nichols, economics professor at the University of Nevada in Reno, wonders how all that missing info about the race affects the odds.
"It is a little bit more guesswork, because to the extent that jockeys can have an influence on the outcome, which presumably they can, you don't know that information," Nichols says.
Why couldn't the state just introduce off-track betting, where gamblers can watch televised live races? Well, the Nebraska legislature killed that bill three years ago.
But could you drink your mint julep at one of these video screens? Senator Karpisek says why not?
"Well I think you could," he says, "and I would. Or at least beer."
Intrade, the online betting site, has shut up shop. The Irish based company allowed customers to bet on a wide range of non-sporting events including U.S. elections and the Academy Awards. Yesterday the firm said it had ceased trading while it investigates possible financial irregularities.
Intrade has been in trouble for several months. Late last year, U.S. regulators dealt the company a potentially fatal blow when the Commodity Futures Trading Commission sued the firm to stop it from taking bets from American customers, who were the main users of the site. Americans were banned and visitor numbers plummeted. Observers in Dublin say this is the likeliest reason for the company’s closure:
“Most people are drawing a straight line from their problems with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to the closure of the company today” says Peter Flanagan , a business reporter with the Irish Independent.
It’s not yet clear whether Intrade will re-open. If not, its loss will be lamented not only by gamblers -- academics and journalists prized the site as a novel and effective way of predicting diverse outcomes ranging from a North Korean missile launch to the identity of the next Pope.
China's government has announced plans to remove power from the agency that oversees the country's one-child policy. Observers say this could spell the beginning of the end for the rule.
Follow more of our coverage on China's one-child policy:
For the past 34 years, China has limited urban couples to one child in an effort to curb massive population growth. Though the family planning policy has always been controversial, nowadays many urban couples are content with one child due to mounting economic pressures such as inflation.
To hear more about why China's government is rethinking its one-child rule, click on the audio player above.
"FYI,” one of the astronauts eventually told ground control, “the station's still flying straight."
Well, Earthlings, prepare to reboot. Tomorrow is "Patch Tuesday:" Microsoft's release of software fixes to correct bugs. And expect more of these fixes as hackers become increasingly aggressive, says Chester Wisniewski with network-security company Sophos.
"We see 20,000 new malicious web URLs every day on the Internet. This is a very wide-scale problem," he says, and not just for PCs. "We’ve seen well over a million [Macs] compromised in the last 12 months. So that could be the beginnings of, unfortunately, the Mac catching up with the PC."
But why do the updates have to be so irritating, with pop-up windows and computer restarts?
Wolfgang Kandek, chief technical officer at computer-security firm Qualys, says there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
"The older the software is and the less time a vendor has invested into this mechanism, the more cumbersome it is. Newer softwares do this in a better way," he says. Kandek says more software will update without users even knowing it.
Yet it’s also worth remembering that the only thing more annoying than a security update is getting hacked.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) uses satellite radio waves to map restaurants on our smartphones, guide cars and monitor aircraft. For those who want to stop others from tracking their movement, GPS signals can be jammed -- albeit illegally. And now, GPS signals can also be "spoofed."
"A GPS spoofer, instead of just trying to jam the signal, tries to mimic [it]," says Todd Humphreys, a professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Texas, who spoke during a recent session at South by Southwest. "And if you can do this precisely enough, you can fool a receiver into tracking your [spoofed] signals instead of the authentic ones."
Humphreys and some of his students set out to test the possibility. They got an $80,000 pilotless aircraft -- a drone -- and flew it over an otherwise empty football stadium.
"The drone was commanded to hover in place, holding its position," says 23-year-old graduate student Daniel Shepard, who ran the experiment. The team then told the drone's GPS receiver that it wasn't hovering -- it was rising. "In response it plummeted towards the ground in rather dramatic fashion."
The demonstration got the attention of Congress and Homeland Security which unlocked some funding to try to protect the GPS system from spoofing.
To hear more about the possibility of GPS spoofing, click on the audio player above.
This final note today, which, as you'll see, has a distinct 'keeping the workers happy' theme to it.
Next time you're feeling sleepy on the job -- not unusual around this time of year with the whole daylight savings time thing -- go ahead and consider a nap. USA Today points out a 20-minute nap can give a big boost to productivity. And that some companies are in fact setting up rooms just so you can grab a quick snooze.
And about what I said Friday -- no, I'm not leaving. Are you kidding?
Did get the big boss to agree to Beer Cart Friday, though.
— Jon McTaggart (@JonMcTaggart) March 9, 2013
Before Mariano Rivera, relief pitchers were seen as erratic starters past their prime. Rivera couldn’t be a starter, he only had one pitch, but that pitch was a killer fastball that cut at the last moment. And he rarely choked under pressure. By the late 1990s, every general manager wanted his own Mariano Rivera.
“This was your relief ace to nail down a game and if you didn’t have this guy, you couldn’t hold leads," says Brien Jackson, who writes for the blog, It’s About The Money.
Many relief pitchers who came after Rivera were overpaid -- and that created a market bubble. So a crafty general manager like Billy Beane of the Oakland A’s would let a decent closer save a bunch of easy games, "and then he’d flip them to other teams for assets that he thought were more valuable,” explains Jackson.
Around 2005 -- the bubble burst.
“Teams have finally started to realize that closers are actually made, not born, and you can find dominant relievers from the scrap heap," says Matt Meyers is an editor for ESPN.com.
Mid-level closers may not get the huge contracts anymore, but they’ve earned more respect since Rivera took the mound.
One of the biggest names in tech in Texas has had a complicated few days. Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO of computer and computer services giant Dell wants to buy back his company from shareholders. The idea is once the company is private, it will have room to rebuild itself for the longer term without the short-term demands of a publicly-traded stock. But a powerful Dell shareholder, Carl Icahn, is reportedly now pushing for more money than is on offer, a development that could upset the deal.
Although we were told Michael Dell couldn't address the buyout, it did come up during a rare interview at the Dell headquarters outside Austin.
On his vision for Dell in the next five years:
Dell is really evolving towards the ability to provide end-to-end solutions for our customers. And of course, we started out with PCs and servers, and as the company has grown and developed, what we've found is that products alone were unable to solve all the challenges and opportunities that customers have presented us. So you've seen us move aggressively into services, software, deeper into the data center.
On taking Dell private:
It's a very exciting time for our company. Our board recently announced that it agreed with myself and a firm called Silver Lake to take the company private, which means the company will be even more founder-led than it was in its first few decades. I think this is very good for our customers. It gives our shareholders an opportunity to take advantage of some of the benefits of the things that we are doing as a company without taking on all the risks that I and Silver Lake will bear.
On what led Dell to its uncertain position today:
This isn't necessarily easy stuff. When I think about our business, the company started as a product company and we grew quite successfully. The first eight years, we grew 80 percent per year, the six years after that we grew 60 percent per year. What we are doing [now] is building broad new capabilities. I think our customers resonate with that. So we are seeing a lot of acceptance as we are building out these new solutions.
On why Dell is headquartered in Texas instead of Silicon Valley:
I think companies are coming [here]. Texas is a great place to do business. We've been very fortunate to be here. It's been a fantastic place to attract and grow talent. The quality of life here is fantastic, very rich culture. What I'll also tell you about any company -- especially a great company -- is you find a great company, you'll find a great university nearby. We have that here in Austin. It's just a wonderful, wonderful place.
On tech's role in solving world problems:
The largest opportunities and challenges are really heavily influence by technology and technology can help address those. So you think about what's going on in education, in health care, the environment, energy -- technology is actually a big part of the solution. Our foundation, using some of the opportunities I've had personally in creating this company, has given us a chance to really make a difference.
On whether running Dell is still as fun as it was at the beginning:
Yeah, it's a lot of fun. We are doing epic stuff here. This is about growth. This is about the long-term in our business. It's about doing the right things for our customers, and creating the next generation of growth and success in our business.
To hear Marketplace Tech host David Brancaccio's full interview with Michael Dell, click on the audio player above.
A currency war sounds weirdly abstract, like a game played by rival politicians -- but it can have devastating effects in the real world. And it’s not all that different from a rivalry of different kind -- a hypothetical sibling rivalry.
Imagine a pair of brothers. They together own a honey-making business in Minnesota, just a few miles from the Canadian border. One day, the brothers have a fight, and decide they can’t work together anymore -- so they divide the company in two. The younger brother decides to take his half of the bees and move across the river to Canada.
Both businesses make the same honey, sold in an 8 oz. jar; priced the same, $1 per jar. When the fight happened and the brothers moved apart, the Canadian and U.S. dollars were at parity, so a jar of honey -- regardless of where it was made -- was worth both one U.S. dollar and one Canadian dollar. The younger brother sold his honey to his fellow Canadians, the older brother had the American market.
All goes well, until... CURRENCY WAR! The brothers wake up, and find that one Canadian dollar is now worth just 50 U.S. cents! Or, to put it another way, one U.S. dollar is worth two Canadian dollars.
Joe is an American who loves honey. He has one dollar. Usually he would just buy a jar of honey from the American honey company -- it’s closer, the honey tastes the same, why not buy American? But his single U.S. dollar will now buy him two Canadian dollars, with which he can buy two jars of Canadian honey.
The currency wars allow him to get two jars of honey for the price of one. This is great news for Joe, and all those Americans like him -- they all start buying up Canadian honey. It’s great news for foreigners, who also like a good deal. And it’s great news for the Canadian honey company, of course -- the cheap Canadian currency has allowed it to boost its share of the market.
But this is really bad news for the elder brother and his American honey company. He can’t afford to compete, not without watering his honey down or using imported bees or something else. Unless the government does something to weaken the U.S. dollar, he’s going to go out of business, which means he’ll have to lay off honey workers and sell off those bees.
And this will be happening all over the country, eroding America’s manufacturing base, accelerating unemployment and leaving all of us badly needing a drink.
There's a pretty amazing viral video on the loose showing how wealth is distributed in this country. More than 3.5 million people have watched "Wealth Inequality in America" on YouTube so far. And one of the most striking statistics from the video is this: The average CEO makes 380 times what the average worker makes.
Are top executives worth that much? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.
A surprise viral hit: Income inequality, the movie
Learn more about where the video came from and why it has gone viral.
Marketplace teamed up with The Chronicle of Higher Education to find out what exactly employers are looking for in today's college grads. On the one hand, no surprise -- they want bright, shiny degrees. Even in industries like manufacturing and retail, a four-year degree is increasingly seen as a must. But what really gets employers' bacon sizzling is work experience. And particularly, internships. Plus, the survey showed that the credential that really stands out in resumes of recent college graduates is an internship, followed closely by work experience of some kind.
Follow more of our coverage on the survey's findings:
Some degree programs do require an internship or some form of experiential learning -- such as in journalism or health sciences -- but often it's up to students to get one. And grads who don't intern while at college can find it difficult to land an internship after graduating or even afford one for no pay or little money. In addition, studies show more and more job listings require a degree for work.
But even though more employers are demanding a degree, they're also saying colleges aren't doing a good enough job. What do they really want?
For instance, 31% of employers in the survey said colleges were doing a 'fair' to 'poor' job preparing what they called 'successful employees,' a sizeable minority. They said job candidates were most lacking in things like writing and communication skills, adaptability, making decisions, and problem solving. They said it's the colleges' job to teach these things. But some might argue that employers need to be doing more training on their own, especially in entry-level jobs. Nearly a third of employers in the survey told us that grads are unprepared or even very unprepared for the job search.
See how qualified you are….. try our simulator above.