Marketplace - American Public Media

Why do green olives come in jars, but black olives come in cans?

Mon, 2014-05-05 09:58

Carol Shearer of Eagle River, Alaska, says this started as an economic question in the grocery store. She needed black olives, but not a whole can.

She wondered: Why can’t you get black olives in a jar like you do the other kind?

So, as we do, we went on the hunt...

Part 1:  The Quest

Getting to the bottom of this question was not easy. We asked three people:

First up: Mort Rosenblum, author of "The Olive: Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit."

"That's a wild question," he said. "Which I don't think I can answer."

 

What, and black olives are ugly?

Nope.  Actually, they came in glass jars, too, once upon a time. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

Next up, we took our "wild question" to the staff of Eataly, a high-concept Italian food complex that just opened a branch in Chicago.

Dave Malzan is a manager in the Salumi-Formaggi department, which includes the olive bar, with olives from all over Italy.

Dan Weissmann/Marketplace

Malzan said I was in the wrong place.

"If you’re thinking about the olives at your grandma’s house that you may have worn on your fingers on Thanksgiving? No, those guys we do not carry."

Malzan says Eataly isn’t just about eating. Eataly is about knowing the story of what you’re eating.

Actually, there’s a great story. And finally, I found the person who knows it best: Judith Taylor, who wrote the other book on olives. She's a retired physician who now writes horticultural histories. In 2000, she published "The Olive in California: History of an Immigrant Tree".

Part 2:  The Story

The black olive—also known as the California ripe olive—was invented in Oakland, by a German widow named Freda Ehmann.

In the mid-1890s all she had was an olive grove nobody thought was worth very much.

“She must have been an amazing and remarkable woman," Taylor says. "Because instead of sitting in her daughter’s rocking chair in Oakland, she decided to get busy and pick the olives and do something with them.”

She got a recipe from the University of California for artificially ripening olives. (Green olives are pickled green— as in, not ripe.)

From a  1918 local history:

"[R]eturning to her daughter’s house in Oakland, she turned the back porch into a pickling plant, got some wine-casks, cut them in two, and went to work. Uncertain of the result, she dared not assume the expense of piping water to the vats, so that through all the process of leaching and pickling she carried the gallons of water herself. Passing restless nights, she went to work at five o’clock in the morning, and all through the day and until late in the evening she watched the slow and mysterious changes of the fruit."

Freda perfected the recipe, sold her olives locally, then went East to open up new markets. She scored her first hit in Philadelphia.

Eventually, she had a national business, requiring new orchards, and factories. She kept going back to the University of California for more tips—including packaging.

"When she first went to Philadelphia, she had them in kegs and barrels—just sort of loosely covered, you know," Taylor says. "Not sealed." 

 Then, glass jars. Because they don’t spill?

"Yes, and they’re very pretty," Taylor says.  "And gradually they developed a technique of sealing the jars effectively. And with that came trouble."

You seal the jar, and what’s inside?

"That’s a perfect cultural medium for botulism," Taylor says.

In 1919, olive-related botulism outbreaks started killing people.

In August, 14 people got sick after a dinner party at a country club near Canton, Ohio.  Seven of them died.

 A week later, epidemiologists went to work, interviewing the survivors. Pinpointing the olives as the source of those deaths involved some great detective work. Their report includes:

...the seating chart. X marks the spot where people died:

… and a thorough discussion of who ate what, to eliminate other possible causes. For instance:

 

 

 

 

 

And the final, damning conclusion:

"The occurrence of poisoning at the Sebring table can be accounted for only by the ripe olives served at this table."

Among the waiters at the club there is a custom of collecting the delicacies after the diners have finished, and the two waiters poisoned did so collect the left-over olives and ate some of them. Later, waiter C.O. carried the olives to the chef with the request that he “Try one of these damn things, they don’t taste right to me.” The chef ate two and later died."

The 1919 case didn’t involve Freda Ehmann’s olives. But a 1924 case did.

The next decade was murder for the California olive industry.

The whole industry switched to a new standard for the ripe California olive.

"It has to be heated to 240 degrees. And only a can would tolerate that, physically—you couldn’t do that with a glass jar."

Eventually, California olives came back. In cans.

 

But Ehmann had long since retired. She was heartbroken.

"She couldn’t come to terms with the fact that something she’d done had killed people," Taylor says.

Today, there are just two olive-canning companies in California.  

Target CEO steps down in security breach aftermath

Mon, 2014-05-05 09:00

Retail giant Target just announced that its CEO Gregg Steinhafel is stepping down after more than 30 years with the company, having served 6 of those years as CEO -- It has not been a smooth tenure. The company’s 4th  quarter profits fell by nearly half after hackers stole as many as 70 million credit and debit card numbers from the company’s database.

Two months after Target was hacked, Brian Krebs, who broke the story, logged onto the company’s website to see who had been put in charge of technology. To his surprise, there wasn’t anyone listed.

“I think a lot of people were kind of surprised by that and were hoping for a little more fast action on the part of Target’s leadership,” says Krebs.

The massive security breach wasn’t the only strike against Target under Steinhafels’ leadership.

“There are some operational issues, and from a financial point of view it’s had some real problems with its foray into Canada,” says Craig Johnson, president of the retail consulting firm Customer Growth Partners.

He says Target overpaid for many of its Canadian properties, and once they opened, the stores didn’t perform as well as expected. This along with rebuilding Target’s reputation with customers will be high among the list of priorities for interim CEO John Mulligan. Along with the shift of Mulligan to the interim position, Target announced last Tuesday that former Home Depot Chief Information Officer Bob DeRodes will be the next CIO. 

 

Counting calories? Take a day off

Mon, 2014-05-05 07:52

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at what's coming up Tuesday, May 6:

In Washington, the Commerce Department lets us know what the trade deficit was in March.

The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on military compensation.

TV audiences said goodbye to "Friends" ten years ago. The final episode aired May 6, 2004.

The multi-talented, and newly-engaged, George Clooney turns 53.

And skip the scale. It's International No Diet Day.

PODCAST: Buffett-Palooza

Mon, 2014-05-05 07:38

More than 30,000 people are just getting back from Omaha, the site of this year's superbowl of capitalism, otherwise known as the annual meeting of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway company. One single Class A stock in Berkshire Hathaway costs $192,000, although there is the economy model, the Berkshire Class B for $128 this morning. Buffett emphasized that big acquisitions, not clever investing in stocks, is the way forward for Berkshire. Michael de la Merced who writes for the New York Times Dealbook section sat through Buffett-Palooza, and joined us to discuss.

Today is Cinco de Mayo, the celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. But one component of the celebration is getting a lot more expensive. Limes. Limes for the tacos. Limes for the drinks. And you may be interested to know the reason for that is connected to a drug cartel. Marketplace's Stacey Vanek Smith reports.

And, I've started a new blog today at Marketplace.org and as the week goes on some of my colleagues here at Marketplace will be doing the same. Kai Ryssdal, Lizzie O'Leary, and Paddy Hirsch included. My thing is going to be called "Indie Economics." Today I'll start with a diet that will make you smarter: the salubrious effects of adding one documentary film or other smart movie to your media diet. Once a week is is all it takes and you, too, can use words like "salubrious."

 

Chicken: The relatively cheaper meat

Mon, 2014-05-05 02:16

It's a good time to be in the chicken business. Tyson Foods reports quarterly earnings Monday morning in a heady time for poultry.

"The chicken guys have never had it so good," says meat industry analyst Len Steiner. "The margins for somebody that's raising chickens, buying grain basically and selling chicken meat is very, very good, the best it's ever been in history, ever, going back to the beginning of time."

The boost for chicken has come from the rising price of beef and pork, which are at a historic highs. The cost has driven restaurants ranging from burger chains to barbecue joints to make chicken the special of the day.

Barry Pelts, who co-owns Corky's BBQ based in Memphis, says he hardly breaks even when he sells his signature pork ribs.

"But I will tell you right now that everybody who walks into that restaurant and orders a barbeque chicken dinner, I'm tickled to death," he says.

Jack Bauer's brand-new iPad?

Mon, 2014-05-05 02:14

After a four year absence, Jack Bauer returns to our TVs Monday on "24," with a limited 12-episode run. 

The show, which features a rogue special agent fighting terror, premiered in 2001, just after 9/11. If you think back to the technology milestones of that year, it's worth noting that AOL membership surpassed 28 million, the Compaq Presario line of desktop computers was introduced and Windows XP went on the market.

And while we may not know the exact model cell phone Jack Bauer used in that season, the best-selling phone of that time period was a Nokia 6610. 

That was the first season of "24," but the most recent run of episodes, season eight, aired in 2010. 

William Gasarch watched a lot of those episodes of the show while working out.

"Best treadmill show ever!" he says. 

 And, being a computer science professor at the University of Maryland, Gasarch had a lot of questions, like was the Chloe O’Brian character really that good at hacking? 

On the show, it took "very little time to hack into the NSA computer system," he says. "The show then is probably more realistic now that we have more computing power."

Then, there's Jack Bauer's cellphone, which in its first decade went from flip-phone to a Palm PDA. 

In season four, he used a Siemens SX66. And in 2006, he used a Palm Treo 700W.

"The phones are just consistently going," says Sarah Wanenchak, who blogs at Cyborgology. "They never run out of battery. They never need to be charged."

When season eight ended, the iPad had just been introduced, but did not make an appearance on the show. Also in 2010, Apple released the iPhone 4 and HP bought out the soon-to-be-extinct PDA maker Palm. 

Now, four years later, Bauer has access to higher-end smartphones and tablets.

No word yet if he'll spend half the episodes looking for a charger.

Drones and Edward Snowden-style leaking are also expected to be big plot points. 

"Who's watching and who's being watched seems like it could be a huge possibility for a lot of drama," Wanenchak says. 

 

Frozen assets: lime prices skyrocket

Mon, 2014-05-05 02:01

In the last six weeks, lime prices have gone a little crazy: from around $0.30 a piece to more than $1.50 in some places

"I tell my staff, 'Lime is gold now,'" says KrystleLynn Kingcade, head bartender at Anejo, a Mexican restaurant and tequila bar in Manhattan. "If I see one on the floor, I see any bit that’s not used, I cry almost."

Anejo hasn’t raised the price of its margaritas, so it’s taking a big profit hit and it’s the worst possible time: Cinco de Mayo is one of Anejo’s busiest and booziest days. Kingcade has tried creating tasty alternatives for patrons: margaritas with watermelon and grapefruit and her latest investion: the lemonrita.

In spite of her efforts, Kingcade says patrons still prefer their margaritas with lime, which will mean a big financial hit for Anejo this Cinco de Mayo.  

The U.S. gets pretty much all of its limes from Mexico. Political turmoil in the lime-producing region of Michoacán is the main push behind this price jump. "That region has been under the impact of drug cartels and then an offensive of the government to take control back," says Benito Berber, an economist at Nomura. Berber says drug cartels seized control of lucrative lime orchards in Michoacán and took over wholesale lime operations. Mexican authorities fought back and the conflict caused a big disruption in lime exports.  

In addition to that, nature has thrown a couple curveballs of its own. "There has been some heavy flooding that region as well as citrus greening, which is this bacterial disease which has been slowly encroaching on a lot of the citrus crops in Mexico," explains Antal Neville, an agricultural analyst at IBISworld. Neville says the greening disease makes lime trees less productive and the limes a lot smaller. That adds up less supply, which is also pushing prices up. 

Lime prices are expected to start normalizing over the next few weeks. Mexican authorities seem to have successfully pushed the cartels out of the lime business for now. Still, limes will likely get more expensive in the long run as farmers continue to battle the greening disease. So it could be a good time to develop a taste for alternatives…

You know, take lemons and make some lemonritas.

Anjeo's Lemonrita:

2 oz. Suerte Blanco tequila

0.5 oz. agave syrup

0.25 oz. Combier Orange

1 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Shake all ingredients together with ice and then double strain and pour over ice.  Garnish with a citrus, mint salt.

A long road from foster care to college

Mon, 2014-05-05 01:18

Lucero Noyola's high school GPA - a flat 2.0 - reflects a life in two halves. When she started high school, Noyola was a troubled kid who cut class, experimented with drugs, and had been hauled to court for assaulting a classmate.

When she finished high school, life was far from perfect, but she was earnings straight As and was on a path toward the University of Southern California. 

Noyola's parents, immigrants from Mexico, worked full-time. They were often out of the house and in their absence, there was chaos. When her older brother entered high school, he started bringing home friends - boys and young men who used the family's house as a place to hang out.

"I guess our home was attractive because there were no parents around, and they would hang out there and do what they didn't want to do around their own parents," Noyola said. 

That included drugs. By the time she was 16, Noyola had experimented with pot, methamphetamines and cocaine. She and her twin sister, following in the footsteps of the young men around them, solved their problems by fighting. 

"We were not dramatic girls, like the rest of the girls," Noyola said. "All that relational aggression - it was just different for us. It was physical."

Her early teen years were a blur of juvenile halls, house arrests, and, once, a camp for troubled youths, where Noyola remembers with horror, that even clothing was communal.

"The articles of clothing were so disgusting," Noyola said. "They were re-used. People would fight over new underwear and pretty jackets. It was gross and dirty there."

At sixteen, Lucero was removed from her parents care and sent to a group home. Her time in foster care would prove life-changing. At the Crittenton home in Fullerton, California, Lucero says she was, for the first time, treated like an individual who needed guidance, rather than a criminal. She was given her own room, and space for her belongings. 

Joyce Capelle, CEO of Crittenton Services, says the organization understands there is sometimes a disconnect between the front that a troubled young person puts on, and what's actually going on inside. 

"It's not unusual to have a really tough-talking sixteen-year-old who trash talks and wants to be all of that and makes it sound like they're forty, but at Christmas the thing they want is Cinderalla sheets," said Capelle. 

At Crittenton, the young residents were taken on field trips. Noyola remembers one, in particular, to the campus of California State University, Fullerton. "The campus was gorgeous," Noyola said.  "I had never been anywhere big, pretty, fancy. I had never realized people had lives like that."

 Noyola began applying herself in school and took a job as a campus aide at the group home. When she returned to her parents' house, life was far from perfect, but she had a new goal: to improve her image.

"People see you by who you are on paper," Noyola said. "A lot of the adults I was around would have a paper in front of them, and judge me by that. I was motivated, at that point, to turn it around."

At eighteen, after she gave birth to her daugther, Lucero's father took her to apply for aid. There, she had something like an ephiphany.

"I was sitting there and I realized there were a lot of homeless people," she said. "And I was like, no. I don't want to be like this. I don't want to live like this. They're just going to be giving me two hundred dollars a month and some bus tokens and food stamps. See what life you can live with this. I didn't want it."

She asked her father to pick her up and take her instead to East Los Angeles college, a two-year school. 

Her grades in community college were high enough to ensure her entry into the University of Southern California. Once there, she found that no one at the private university was familiar with the paperwork needed to ensure she could continue recieving TANF support while in school. That support was critical in helping her to afford daycare. So, she turned to Trojan Guardian Scholars, an on-campus support group at USC that helps former foster youth transition to life in college. Advisors with the Trojan Guardian Scholars helped her get the necessary paperwork. 

Today, Noyola has a 3.5 GPA, a double major in pyschology and sociology, and a summer research internship in Dubai, studying migrant domestic workers. If she can continue to juggle motherhood, work, and her finances, she'd like to enter a PhD program. As for her future plans, she says, "Professor Noyola" sounds pretty good to her. 

An audio tour of the birthplace of your technology

Mon, 2014-05-05 01:09

Every electronic device you've ever loved began its life as a semiconductor wafer, a disc of silicon, upon which are sketched the tiny patterns that make microchips work.

Chips are born in rather bizarre maternity wards: giant, multi-billion dollar so-called "cleanrooms," where humans and robots work side by side.

These cleanrooms have a culture all their own, starting with the creepy white suits that workers wear so they won’t contaminate the product.

Take a tour with Marketplace's Mark Garrison as he zipped himself into a bunny suit to acquire rare access inside one of the world's newest semiconductor cleanrooms, the GlobalFoundries facility in upstate New York. 

Mark Garrison: You and I are disgusting compared to the GlobalFoundries cleanroom. My gear gets especially dirty looks.

In the microscopic world of chips, a speck of dust is like an oil spill. So cleanliness here makes Howard Hughes look like a Garbage Pail Kid.

Edward Cody: A small particle could contaminate months’ worth of production at one time.

Before I can go in, logistics manager Edward Cody makes sure every millimeter of me is covered with layers of suit, hood, gloves, glasses, boots and mask.

The door opens and we’re inside a sci-fi landscape the size of six football fields. It’s mostly giant robots and machines. The humans working here call them tools, as if they’re sold at Home Depot.

Cody: That scanner down there, which is about a $60 million wrench.

And there are rows of them. Just the machines we’re standing around cost more than Iron Man 3. This is an $8 billion dollar facility, and counting. It’s full of people in white bunny suits, looking all the same to me.

Technician Shawn Bukowski says he knows his cleanroom coworkers by their eyes.

Shawn Bukowski: Even the little bit that they show, their eyeballs. You know right away who’s who.

Cody shows off a semiconductor wafer in progress, a thin, shiny disc the size of a personal pizza.

Cody: There’s thousands and thousands of little patterns in there.

It’ll be chopped up and put into your smartphones, appliances and more. To workers, the destination is a mystery, by design.

Cody: We really don’t want anybody to know what that’s being used for. We don’t label things because of that.

A strange land of secrecy, spotlessness and crazy outfits, where all your tech is born. In Malta, New York, I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.

Get smarter in just 90 minutes a week

Mon, 2014-05-05 01:08

"Get smarter in just 90 minutes a week!" 

That sounds like the subject line of a piece of spam email pushing dubious pills. That said, I am offering (completely free of charge) a regimen that is guaranteed to leave you smarter about the economy we live in.

It's about the queue, people.

Next time you can do it when no one else is looking, take a peek at your queue. Your Netflix queue. Your list of Amazon Prime bookmarks. The videos on your wish list on iTunes. Look, I don't care if you are fixing to put the bag of popcorn in the microwave and settle down for an hour and twenty-five minutes of "The Nut Job," that's your right.

What I am saying is that I have figured out a way to make sure that my media consumption isn't a complete waste of brain cells by making one small alteration to my queue.

At least once a week, whether I am in the mood or not, I watch a feature-length documentary film. The documentary that first got me hooked on the form was Errol Morris' "The Thin Blue Line," (1998) about a miscarriage of justice in Texas. A good doc can teach so much about how the world works. Given my work, I often gravitate toward docs about the failures and promise of economics and business.

Take Alex Gibney's Oscar-nominated documentary from 2006, "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room." That film rocked, both in its approachable analysis of a complex subject and it rocked, literally. The ironic soundtrack included Tom Waits' "God's Away on Business" and a Marilyn Manson version of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)."

So what was in my personal queue for a recent weekend? Well, only two of the greatest documentaries of all time. I call it my Mongolian double-feature: "Genghis Blues," about a visually-impaired blues man from San Francisco who learns the Tuvan language before he travels to Mongolia to compete a throat singing contest. And then there's "The Story of the Weeping Camel," about a weeping camel. Really, it's fabulous.

And what does this have to do with the marketplace of jobs, business and economics?

That is covered by the third doc for the weekend viewing: "Detropia," the story of how parts of Detroit have become a wasteland and the heroes trying to bring the city back to life.

Check back in later, and I'll let you know whether you may want to consider sticking it in your queue.

The guitarist with 78 fingers

Mon, 2014-05-05 01:00

Tom Jenkinson, aka Squarepusher, is known for pushing the limits of electronic music.

His latest EP goes beyond electronic sounds and into the territory of electronic musicians: robots that play instruments.

He first encountered the musical machinery last year when Japanese researchers introduced him to the Z-Machine robots: a 78-fingered guitarist, a percussionist utilizing 22 drums, and a lightning speed keyboardist. Jenkinson was immediately impressed by the robots' capabilities.

He also discovered that in spite of their incredible abilities, they are not limitless. In fact, Jenkinson even had fun playing with pushing the guitar robot too far:

"There are elements in the recording where I’ve actually deliberately pushed it too far, because you can then start to get these very strange, random, idiosyncratic...barrage of noise that I find really fascinating and quite interesting."

Ultimately, though, Jenkinson wanted to find out if robot musicians could make emotional music. While he is reluctant to say whether or not he succeeded, he's fairly certain that the album went a long way in providing an answer:

"I find technology fascinating in it’s own right, but my criteria for releasing a piece of music is that it has something above and beyond that. It has an element which can’t be written down, it can’t be quantified."

Find out more about "Music for Robots" here, or purchase the EP here.

Marketplace Tech gets musical

Mon, 2014-05-05 01:00

When you ask someone about their favorite piece of music, the conversation gets personal. Everyone feels music differently -- that's what makes it human.

It's why music and technology, at least to some people, seem like a mismatch. Machines are cold. Music is not. 

Here's the thing: We use technology to make music all the time. No, I do not count the auto-tuned antics of Glee tracks released on iTunes. I'm talking about musicians using technology to compose, create, and record music. It's a relationship that gets deeper and more complex all the time. The place where music and technology cross paths is a fascinating intersection.

All this week, we'll talk to musicians for whom tech is an integral part of their process. From Squarepusher, who wrote an entire EP of music played by robot musicians, to Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, who turns herself into a one-woman percussion instrument using loops and drum machines. We'll also talk to prolific film composer John Powell about his recording process for film, and electronic musician/composer Dan Deacon about why the computer is the biggest diva he's ever worked with (and why it has a right to be). DJ Rekha, credited with bringing Bhangra music to America, talks about the technology involved in being a DJ, and how it has evolved over time.

These are musicians and performers at the top of their game who constantly ask themselves how technology can help them be better at what they do, but also wonder how far is too far when it comes to letting machines take over. Each of these guests have funny and insightful comments to offer.

So plug in your keytar, boot up your computer, and let's get to playing with machines.

Playing with Machines: Marketplace Tech gets musical

Sat, 2014-05-03 01:00

When you ask someone about their favorite piece of music, the conversation gets personal. Everyone feels music differently -- that's what makes it human. It's why music and technology, at least to some people, seem like a mismatch. Machines are cold. Music is not. 

Here's the thing: We use technology to make music all the time. No, I do not count the auto-tuned antics of Glee tracks released on iTunes. I'm talking about musicians using technology to compose, create, and record music. It's a relationship that gets deeper and more complex all the time. The place where music and technology cross paths is a fascinating intersection.

All this week, we'll talk to musicians for whom tech is an integral part of their process -- From Squarepusher, who wrote an entire EP of music played by robot musicians, to Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, who turns herself into a one-woman percussion instrument using loops and drum machines. We'll also talk to prolific film composer John Powell about his recording process for film, and electronic musician/composer Dan Deacon about why the computer is the biggest diva he's ever worked with (and why it has a right to be). DJ Rekha, credited with bringing Bhangra music to America, talks about the technology involved in being a DJ, and how it has evolved over time.

These are musicians and performers at the top of their game who constantly ask themselves how technology can help them be better at what they do, but also wonder how far is too far when it comes to letting machines take over. Each of these guests have funny and insightful comments to offer.

So plug in your keytar, boot up your computer, and let's get to playing with machines.

What to do when you can't pay for college

Fri, 2014-05-02 17:59
Friday, May 2, 2014 - 18:31 Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Students take their College Scholastic Ability Test at a school on November 8, 2012 in Seoul, South Korea.

Saving for college is a priority for many parents, but sometimes life gets in the way. So what happens when your star student gets into his or her dream school and you can’t pay for it?

Ron Lieber, Your Money columnist for the New York Times, offers 8 tips to parents who find themselves in that position.

On what parents should do first

"For starters, you need to stop apologizing. If you have not been able to save anything for your child’s education, it is probably because you’ve been spending an awful lot of money along the way, making sure that child has a decent place to live, has a good school to go to, enriching activities and things for the family to do together ... If you’ve been doing a good job of that, your child is probably well-adjusted and is going to find a way to get to and through college on way."

On the importance of open and honest conversations

"We have a real problem, us parents in the world, around silence and money and families. And it happens for any number of reasons. Some parents want to protect their kids from however much money the family has, or the lack there of, and other people think it’s impolite to talk about money and politics. The kid needs to know where you stand. The kid needs to know how much money is available, how much money might be available, how much money the parents are able to borrow, willing to borrow. That conversation needs to start pretty early on in high school so the kid has realistic expectations. And so, I just think parents shouldn’t be keeping secrets by the time certainly a child is ready to apply for college."

On considering the 'gap year' between graduating high school and starting college

"College is wasted on most 18 year old's. It’s incredibly expensive. We’re talking about tens of thousands of dollars a year spent on an 18-year-old who are cut loose from home for the first time often without many bearings or social survival skills on their own. And they’re sort of meandering through these very expensive schools for a year or two before they get their heads screwed on straight. Now, imagine a teenager who has taken a year or two off before college, they’ve gotten a sense of what life looks like in the real world and they come to the classroom with all of that experience kind of set to put it to bear on whatever it is they’re learning. They’re usually milking way more out of that first year than an 18-year-old would be."

"When it comes time to apply for jobs later, if you’re an employer, you’re going to look at someone who has taken a year or two off and gotten some real world experience a lot differently than you’re going to look at somebody who went straight through and maybe worked at a couple of day camps or scooped ice cream during the summer."

On why parents have trouble being honest about their financial situation

I think in the words of the great personal finance sketch artist, Carl Richards, money equals feelings and it evokes especially strong feeling here because we’re talking about our children and how we launch them into the world and whether we’ve done enough and whether we could’ve done more. And no matter how much we do, we’re almost always going to kick ourselves or question or second guess because these are the beans we put on the planet or cared for from a very early age and so it just makes a mess of your emotions. And the other tricky thing about this is that very very very few parents can actually save enough ahead of time to write a check for a public university tuition and room and board let alone a private school that now costs more than a quarter of a million dollars for four years. And so people get to the starting line when the student is a freshman in college and even if they have half the money saved they start to feel like well did we do something wrong. Did we spend too much on ourselves. And people are kicking themselves and they just need to stop. The system is what is it is and you have to muddle through just as best as you can.

On why parents have trouble in this situation

"I think in the words of the great personal finance sketch artist, Carl Richards, money equals feelings. And it evokes especially strong feelings here, because we’re talking about our children and how we launch them into the world and whether we’ve done enough and whether we could’ve done more. And no matter how much we do, we’re almost always going to kick ourselves or question or second guess because these are the beans we put on the planet or cared for from a very early age. And so it just makes a mess of your emotions."

"The other tricky thing about this is that very, very, very few parents can actually save enough ahead of time to write a check for a public university tuition and room and board, let alone a private school that now costs more than $250,000 for four years. And so people get to the starting line when the student is a freshman in college and even if they have half the money saved they start to feel like, 'Well did we do something wrong? Did we spend too much on ourselves?' And people are kicking themselves and they just need to stop. The system is what is it is and you have to muddle through just as best as you can."

Marketplace Money for Friday, May 02, 2014Interview byby Lizzie O'Leary and Raghu ManavalanPodcast Title What to do when you can't pay for collegeStory Type InterviewSyndication Flipboard BusinessSlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond No

Are smart-toilets upon us? Sadly, no.

Fri, 2014-05-02 16:35
Friday, May 2, 2014 - 17:24 Courtesy of Quantified Toilets

A screenshot of the Quantified Toilets website.

The surveillance society appears to have gone just a step too far.

A company named Quantified Toilets announced this week it would be installing smart-toilets at the convention center in the city of Toronto, Canada.

To quote from their literature: "Using advanced sensing technologies and a state of the art centralized waste data collection system, we are able to discreetly capture data from each individual toilet. Activities at each toilet create unique signatures..." and, well it goes on.

It was also, sadly, a hoax. A sort of interactive experiment at a conference in Toronto this week about human factors in computing.

Marketplace for Friday May 2, 2014by Kai RyssdalPodcast Title Smart-toilets? Sadly, no.Syndication Flipboard BusinessSlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond No

What to do when you can't pay for college

Fri, 2014-05-02 15:31

Saving for college is a priority for many parents, but sometimes life gets in the way. So what happens when your star student gets into his or her dream school and you can’t pay for it?

Ron Lieber, Your Money columnist for the New York Times, offers 8 tips to parents who find themselves in that position.

On what parents should do first

"For starters, you need to stop apologizing. If you have not been able to save anything for your child’s education, it is probably because you’ve been spending an awful lot of money along the way, making sure that child has a decent place to live, has a good school to go to, enriching activities and things for the family to do together ... If you’ve been doing a good job of that, your child is probably well-adjusted and is going to find a way to get to and through college on way."

On the importance of open and honest conversations

"We have a real problem, us parents in the world, around silence and money and families. And it happens for any number of reasons. Some parents want to protect their kids from however much money the family has, or the lack there of, and other people think it’s impolite to talk about money and politics. The kid needs to know where you stand. The kid needs to know how much money is available, how much money might be available, how much money the parents are able to borrow, willing to borrow. That conversation needs to start pretty early on in high school so the kid has realistic expectations. And so, I just think parents shouldn’t be keeping secrets by the time certainly a child is ready to apply for college."

On considering the 'gap year' between graduating high school and starting college

"College is wasted on most 18 year old's. It’s incredibly expensive. We’re talking about tens of thousands of dollars a year spent on an 18-year-old who are cut loose from home for the first time often without many bearings or social survival skills on their own. And they’re sort of meandering through these very expensive schools for a year or two before they get their heads screwed on straight. Now, imagine a teenager who has taken a year or two off before college, they’ve gotten a sense of what life looks like in the real world and they come to the classroom with all of that experience kind of set to put it to bear on whatever it is they’re learning. They’re usually milking way more out of that first year than an 18-year-old would be."

"When it comes time to apply for jobs later, if you’re an employer, you’re going to look at someone who has taken a year or two off and gotten some real world experience a lot differently than you’re going to look at somebody who went straight through and maybe worked at a couple of day camps or scooped ice cream during the summer."

On why parents have trouble being honest about their financial situation

I think in the words of the great personal finance sketch artist, Carl Richards, money equals feelings and it evokes especially strong feeling here because we’re talking about our children and how we launch them into the world and whether we’ve done enough and whether we could’ve done more. And no matter how much we do, we’re almost always going to kick ourselves or question or second guess because these are the beans we put on the planet or cared for from a very early age and so it just makes a mess of your emotions. And the other tricky thing about this is that very very very few parents can actually save enough ahead of time to write a check for a public university tuition and room and board let alone a private school that now costs more than a quarter of a million dollars for four years. And so people get to the starting line when the student is a freshman in college and even if they have half the money saved they start to feel like well did we do something wrong. Did we spend too much on ourselves. And people are kicking themselves and they just need to stop. The system is what is it is and you have to muddle through just as best as you can.

On why parents have trouble in this situation

"I think in the words of the great personal finance sketch artist, Carl Richards, money equals feelings. And it evokes especially strong feelings here, because we’re talking about our children and how we launch them into the world and whether we’ve done enough and whether we could’ve done more. And no matter how much we do, we’re almost always going to kick ourselves or question or second guess because these are the beans we put on the planet or cared for from a very early age. And so it just makes a mess of your emotions."

"The other tricky thing about this is that very, very, very few parents can actually save enough ahead of time to write a check for a public university tuition and room and board, let alone a private school that now costs more than $250,000 for four years. And so people get to the starting line when the student is a freshman in college and even if they have half the money saved they start to feel like, 'Well did we do something wrong? Did we spend too much on ourselves?' And people are kicking themselves and they just need to stop. The system is what is it is and you have to muddle through just as best as you can."

A vast wasteland without Chandler Bing

Fri, 2014-05-02 15:28
Friday, May 2, 2014 - 11:13

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's an extended look at what's coming up the week of May 5, 2014:

We ease into the week with Cinco de Mayo celebrations. Did you know that more beer is sold for Cinco de Mayo than for the Super Bowl?

On Tuesday, the Commerce Department reports on international trade for March.

The season finale of the TV show "Friends" aired on May 6, 2004.

Also, if you see someone in need of directions or a restaurant recommendation, help 'em out. It's National Tourist Appreciation Day.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is scheduled to release its monthly consumer credit report.

On May 7, 1824, in Vienna, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony premiered.

Let's get back to tourism for a sec. On Thursday, a hearing in the Senate looks at a plan to attract 100 million international visitors annually by the end of 2021.

On Friday, the Commerce Department reports on wholesale inventories and sales for March.

And on May 9, 1961, then FCC chairman Newton Minow referred to television as a vast wasteland. (Talk about a wasteland, it's been an entire decade since "Friends" was on the air.)

Marketplace for Friday May 2, 2014by Michelle PhilippePodcast Title A vast wasteland without Chandler BingStory Type BlogSyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Female breadwinners are rising

Fri, 2014-05-02 15:16
Friday, May 2, 2014 - 15:10 Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

A gay marriage supporter participates in a rally.

According to the Pew Research Center, women are not only enrolling and graduating from college at higher rates than men, but are also obtaining higher levels of education than men. And that could lead to higher salaries than men, too.

Farnoosh Torabi, author of "When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women," says the recession pushed many women into higher earnings brackets than their significant others. For some, those changes can cause tension within the relationship.

Torabi, who is the breadwinner in her own marriage, says money issues arise within most relationships because when women are the higher earners, there are more complexities. “Money has always been a point of contention in relationships, but when she makes more the stakes are higher. Money can sometimes wrongfully equal power and she’s holding the bigger paycheck it can easily make the man feel less than like he’s not providing [or] like he’s emasculated,” Torabi says.

Torabi says that open communication is the way to level the financial playing field and to address the emotions that arise when the woman makes more.  And the first line of defense for women is to “cater to the male brain,” she says.

 “Just as we women like to be communicated to in a specific way to feel engaged and to feel like we want to step up and help, men have a similar vocabulary they like to hear”, she says.

According to Torabi, being a female breadwinner not only carries financial responsibility, but women who are high earners tend to feel the need to be better homemakers. “As breadwinning women, surveys show that we actually take on more housework than women who make less. The domestic domain has been up until now, even still, led by women,” Torabi says.

According to the author, this is a recipe for disaster. 

“You can’t go through your life juggling work, focusing on the paycheck, and then coming home to deal with cleaning toilets. You’re going to burn out,” she says.

Torabi suggests that both partners that take on household duties in a way that feels equitable and for everything else she says “buy yourself wife.”

“It’s not about getting to 50-50 but how to feel you’re putting in what you feel is right and fair, and what your partner feels is right and fair. And whatever either of you doesn’t want to manage or take care of, how to outsource it affordably,” Torabi says.

Does it matter to you who’s the breadwinner in your family?  Email us or Tweet at us @LiveMoneyMarketplace Money for Friday, May 02, 2014 When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women Author: Farnoosh Torabi Publisher: Hudson Street Press (2014) Binding: Hardcover, 288 pages byInterview by Candace Manriquez and Lizzie O'LearySyndication PMPApp Respond No

Weekly Wrap: Improving job growth

Fri, 2014-05-02 15:10
Friday, May 2, 2014 - 18:08 Alex Wong/Getty Images

A hiring sign is seen at a shop July 5, 2013 in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.

Catherine Rampell from the Washington Post and John Carney from the Wall Street Journal join Marketplace Host Kai Ryssdal to review the week that was. Top of the list for discussion is the April jobs report.

Click play on the audio player above to hear the whole interview.

Marketplace for Friday May 2, 2014Interview by Kai RyssdalPodcast Title Weekly Wrap: Improving job growthStory Type InterviewSyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Weekly Wrap: Improving job growth

Fri, 2014-05-02 15:08

Catherine Rampell from the Washington Post and John Carney from the Wall Street Journal join Marketplace Host Kai Ryssdal to review the week that was. Top of the list for discussion is the April jobs report.

Click play on the audio player above to hear the whole interview.

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