Marketplace - American Public Media

Strong dollar lures Americans to Europe

Tue, 2015-04-14 02:00

If you’ve been thinking about visiting Europe, but haven’t wanted to pay top dollar, now is a pretty good time to take out your wallet. With the dollar creeping up on the euro, American tourists are modifying their summer itineraries.

University of Texas-Austin student Neena Malhotra is taking advantage of the weaker euro. She’s planning on traveling to Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France and Spain.

The price of everything from paella to train tickets has dropped –

“And when looking at the prices to determine whether it is a good idea or not,” she says, “it seemed more feasible than it had another time we had tried to do it.”

According to TripAdvisor, the average nightly rate for a European hotel this summer is $133. That’s compared to $164 last year. And the average cost of a one-week European trip has dropped by 11 percent.

Kathryn O’Kane of Brooklyn had budgeted $200 plus a night in Madrid and Basque Country.

“We were pleasantly surprised to find hotels about $100 a night,” she says.

And with the extra pocket money, O’Kane says her family will be able to do a lot more shopping, and take advantage of opportunities to see Spanish Guitar or Flamenco. That will no doubt please a lot of local businesses in Europe. 

The dollar’s surge will also benefit travel agencies and tour companies. Paul Wiseman is president of Trafalgar Guided Vacations.

“We're having a very good year to Europe,” Wiseman says. “We’re seeing double digit growth in Italy and Great Britain and I’m sure that’s on the back of a very strong U.S. dollar.”

But is a 90 cent cheaper café au lait enough to tempt people to go to Paris instead of Mexico?

Who better to ask than Paula Serrano, a travel agent in the city of Paris, Texas.

“No, [travel] has not picked up,” Serrano says. “I sell more Mexico than anything.”

After all, in Cancun a dollar gets you not just one, but fifteen pesos.

What GE tells us about big bank earnings

Tue, 2015-04-14 02:00

On Tuesday, JP Morgan and Wells Fargo begin a week of big bank earnings reports. But we got a preview of the state of the big banks last week, when GE announced it would wind down and sell off most of the assets of the seventh-largest bank: GE Capital. 

"The primary lesson is: If you don't have to be a bank, don't be one," says Fred Cannon, global director of research at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. Cannon also says the fact that GE is selling most of the financial assets to smaller institutions is an indication of what sector will see faster growth in the years to come. 

But bank analyst Nancy Bush says there is one area where the so-called “universal banks” have an edge this quarter: Trading on the volatility in the currency and commodities markets.

 

 

 

 

Winner takes all (minus the taxes)

Tue, 2015-04-14 02:00

Last week, one of my colleagues was sounding a little tense as he set out to work on his taxes. Radio producer Josh Woo fills in here as a director on the Marketplace Morning Report and the thing is during 2014 tax year, Josh won big on a TV game show. Four years earlier, Josh had also won prizes on another show, The Price is Right, and a dozen years before that, when just a kid, Josh won two grand on Jeopardy. With Josh's tax return now signed and delivered, I wanted to see if with all this experience, if he managed to avoid the classic mistake or forgetting to pay estimated tax on extra income. 

Click on the multimedia player above to hear more on what Josh's big win means to him this tax season. 

 

Tomorrow is your big day

Tue, 2015-04-14 01:00
6 percent

That's how now-official presidential hopeful Marco Rubio has been polling, on average, for the past few months. While he's a low-performer in the crowded GOP field, FiveThirtyEight argues Rubio belongs in contention with presumed GOP front-runners like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. Rubio has a history of beating expectations and winning important party endorsements, says analyst Harry Enten, and he could be a very electable, middle-of-the-road option for voters.

1: 1.05

That's the euro-dollar exchange rate this morning. If you've been thinking about visiting Europe, but haven't wanted to pay top dollar, now is a pretty good time to take out your wallet. The attractive exchange rate is making everything from paella to rail tickets cheaper. 

$2,815

The average tax refund at the beginning of April, about $20 more than this time last tax season. All told, the IRS refunded about $374 billion last year. So why do so many people overpay? Turns out it has a lot to do with taxpayer psychology. We looked into it as part of our series, "I've Always Wondered..."

April 15, 2015

Speaking of taxes, April 15 is the IRS tax filing deadline. As if you didn't already know. Our own producer Josh Woo was the winner on Wheel of Fortune in the 2014 tax year. And with his tax return now signed and delivered, we look at what his game show victory meant for him this tax season. 

1995

The year Lynda Weinman started Lynda.com with her husband Bruce Heavin. Born out of Weinman's do-it-yourself web design books, Lynda was bought by Linkedin last week for $1.5 billion. The Wall Street Journal has Weinman's story, from doing special effects on "RoboCop 2" to shaping the current landscape of ed-tech.

5.6 percent

That's how much Nokia's stock went down on the Helsinki Stock Exchange today after news broke that the company is looking to buy Alcatel Lucent of France. While negotiations could always break down, Alcatel stock is up 12 percent in Paris now. And there are a few strands of American DNA in there. Lucent is descendent of the old AT&T, bell labs, the people who invented the laser. 

A warning on the bond market

Tue, 2015-04-14 00:49

The Fed came out with a warning this week about the bond market. Fed executive Vice President Simon Potter expressed concerns that extreme volatility like the October “flash crash” could become more common, perhaps the result of high frequency trading, or more surprisingly, too much regulation. Simon Potter doesn’t know exactly what caused the October spike. It could be because of high speed trading. Or because reforms enacted by regulators after the financial crisis, like increasing the amount of capital banks hold, could have unintentionally created more volatility.

The bond Flash Crash happened past October, actually wasn’t a crash at all, it was the opposite, a spike. In a 15 minute period, the yield on the 10-year treasury jumped more than two percent, which may not sound like a lot, but statistically speaking it was a price swing that should only happen once every 1.6 billion years.

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