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Complying with the EPA, state by state

Wed, 2014-06-04 02:54

The EPA’s plan to curb carbon-dioxide emissions lets each state figure out how its going to reach its goal. 

There are already big differences among states in one area: the cost of electricity for their residents.

In March, folks in Wyoming were paying ten cents per kilowatt hour, but people in Massachusetts paid nearly double.

“The biggest factor here is that there’s just a lot of different generation mixes across the states," said Harrison Fell, a professor with the Colorado School of Mines.

Wyoming gets almost all of its energy from coal, while in Massachusetts it’s mostly natural gas, according to the Georgetown Climate Center.

 “The more coal intensive you are, the bigger impact the rules will be,” said Andrew Kleit is a professor of energy and environmental economics at Penn State.

Sharing our personal health data – for good

Wed, 2014-06-04 02:33

Health privacy can, at times, be at odds with a major cultural shift happening in healthcare: a demand for greater transparency.

The Health Data Exploration project is another example where sharing trumps privacy.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – in collaboration with several California schools – aims to convince consumers to share the personal health data that’s being generated from an avalanche of apps and wearable devices like Fitbit.  

The question behind the Health Data Exploration project is how to harness that data, and do something other than make money off of it.

“With these technologies, we can get to a space where we are getting more realistic data. It’s capturing that everydayness of heatlh," says Matthew Bietz with the University of California Irvine, and one of the project’s lead investigators.

Bietz says the data would allow researchers to look at how stress affects eating, or how caffeine impacts sleep, on a scale that’s currently impossible.

This project will launch a research network that helps link businesses and their consumers with researchers.

University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Anita Allen says before consumers share their data to help solve some of healthcare’s most pressing questions, consumers must know they will be protected.

“Like it or not, some employers might find out information about us and use it against us when it comes to making hiring decisions,” she says.

“Are you a smoker? Are you overweight? Do you have diabetes? Do you have an irregular heart beat? These kinds of things might be used to our disadvantage.”

Bietz agrees that one of the trickiest tasks ahead is figuring out how to best protect consumer privacy.

Though, if done correctly, Bietz is convinced that “we could actually say new things about connections between the way we live and our well being.”

American Express: from exclusive to inclusive

Wed, 2014-06-04 02:03

A new documentary from the director of "An Inconvenient Truth" is called "Spent: Looking For Change."  It’s about people living on the margins of the American financial system. And it has an unlikely sponsor: American Express.

"Spent" profiles several families as they navigate check cashing services, payday lenders and, of course, the fees that come with low balances and overdrafts.

About one in three Americans has no relationship with a bank at all, or a tenuous one. All told, this segment of the population spends around $90 billion a year on fees. AmEx wants a piece of that pie. The company, which has traditionally focused on the wealthy, is redirecting that focus to low income consumers.

"We really want to move our brand from being an exclusive brand to being a welcoming and inclusive brand," says Dan Schulman, president of enterprise growth at American Express.

Amex teamed up with Walmart to offer an all-mobile banking service called Bluebird. They've also rolled out a line of pre-paid cards. The services don’t rely on steep fees that usually come with financial products targeted at low-income customers.

"We’re trying to reimagine the consumer financial services landscape in a way that’s very different from traditional bank branches," explains Schulman.

Thanks to the ubiquity of smart phones and internet access, there’s currently a race to the bottom in financial services.

"We’re talking about tens of millions of people," says Andrew Zolli, author of "Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back." "Not all of them with lots of money, but if you put them together, it’s real money."

Case in point: last year, venture capitalists put almost $1 billion into financial start-ups, mostly catering to low and middle income Americans.

"We're talking about new kinds of accounts that provide the same kinds of functions of a traditional financial services relationship without the same kind of high cost," says Zolli.

American Express is the first major financial institution to aggressively target lower income consumers in this way, but Zolli expects other big players will soon follow suit.

Tiananmen: More than just students and democracy

Wed, 2014-06-04 01:54

Twenty-five years ago today, Chinese troops and tanks cleared protesters from Tiananmen square, shooting and killing hundreds – some say thousands – of unarmed civilians. The violence capped weeks of student protests demanding a better government.

But Tiananmen was more than just students and democracy. There were also hundreds of thousands of blue collar urban workers who were involved in the Tiananmen demonstrations. Some of these workers may have been interested in democracy and the other demands students were making on China’s leaders, but most of them were more concerned with their own economic status and future economic opportunity for their children in an economy that was moving away from socialism.

In 1989, most Chinese urbanites made the same wage, a fact that helped unite the Chinese during the protests that year. If you lived in a city back then, you made a wage set by the state, it was very low, and you belonged to a Danwei - a work unit - which took care of your housing, your kids’ education and pension. Back then, the price of food was set by the state, but in 1988, that changed.

China’s government begin to lift price controls, in favor of the open market, and suddenly prices climbed. Inflation in 1988 and 1989 surpassed 18%. Suddenly, it was hard to afford anything. The pressure workers felt spurred them to join the students to protest. After the government's brutal crackdown of demonstrators on June 4th, 1989, China passed a slate of economic reforms.

“It allowed people who were going to be successful to be successful," says University of Michigan Political Science Professor Mary Gallagher. "It allowed migrants who were desperate and would’ve worked for pennies to squeeze out people in the middle. When you look at people who protested in 1989, the urbanites who protected the students, those people eventually lost out.”

Urban workers in China are still protesting today. Case in point: there are dozens of worker strikes each week in China, and according to labor groups, even as China's economy cools down, the number of strikes this year is up by more than a third.

 

 

 

My six weeks with Google Glass

Wed, 2014-06-04 01:53

Google Glass may be the product you've heard most about without ever having been able to try. It's certainly still a hot ticket item: the company is set to unveil new, limited edition frames for Google Glass from fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg. But in terms of its actual functionality, not that many people can say they've gotten a chance to really ingrain the technology into their daily life.

That's why Rory Cellan-Jones, technology correspondent for the BBC, has been rocking Google's frames for six weeks, and fielding questions about the device from curious strangers. The most common question: "What's it for?"

Cellan-Jones says it's great for taking pictures, but he found that the Glass's voice command feature - the easiest way to navigate through its interface - had trouble translating from "English English" to "American English": 

"I wanted to put a caption on a photo I took of my garden. And I wanted to say, 'Garden looking unusually tidy,' in a rather British way, and it came out as, 'Gordon looking for usual Thai tea.'

Unfortunately, translation issues aren't the only problem Cellan-Jones found with the smart frames. He says that because of its lack of functions, and its generally clunky feel, Google Glass is still a ways off from being the must-have item that everyone will rush to buy.

The man behind Fannie and Freddie

Wed, 2014-06-04 01:50

In the world of real estate, few people are more powerful than Mel Watt, the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Together, the two mortgage giants guarantee about 60 percent of all new home loans. 

Watt hasn’t made a lot of public appearances since he was appointed head of the FHFA in January. In fact, his first major speech wasn't until May 13, at the Brookings Institution. 

“We’re balancing, in a number of instances, contradictory mandates,” he told the audience.

For example, the mandate to protect the taxpayers while trying to get banks to lend more but not make risky loans, which Fannie and Freddie would still have to guarantee. After the speech, Watt hung around outside Brookings and chatted for a while -- Maybe not what you’d expect, but perhaps a throwback to Watt’s previous job. He served in Congress for more than two decades, representing the banking hub of Charlotte, North Carolina. 

The Senate Banking Committee has passed legislation that would gradually wind down Fannie and Freddie, something Watt’s predecessor also tried to do, but without input from Capitol Hill.  

But Congress isn’t likely to act this year, leaving Watt in charge of Fannie and Freddie’s fate.  

“I think he’ll work cooperatively with Congress,” says David Stevens, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association, who adds that he thinks Watt will let Congress decide what to do with the mortgage giants.

“He gets it.  Mel understands his role," Stevens says. "He understands the role of Congress.”

Watt’s role also involves dealing with a lot of money. Since Fannie and Freddie were taken over by the government in 2008, their profits have gone to the U.S. Treasury.

“Even in this town, $25 billion a year is a lot of money,” says Mike Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending, a homeowner advocacy group.   

Sitting in Calhoun's Washington office, I ask him whether all that money led to pressure on Watt, maybe from people in the White House who don’t want to change Fannie and Freddie because they’re afraid of cutting off the spigot of cash. But Calhoun doesn't think that'll happen.

“They know he is going to be independent.  He’s in his mid 60s," Calhoun says. "He’s quite comfortable standing his ground.”

If we were to replace the Dow Jones?

Wed, 2014-06-04 00:53

Okay, so this is going to be interesting. And by the end of it I may or may not still have a job. But here goes.

If you've been listening to Marketplace this week, you know we've been airing some stories and interviews from the debut of our new live stage show.

We premiered in Washington,D.C., with WAMU in late April – we're in a handful of cities around the country this summer and fall. (Complete tour information here.)

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Numbers is just that: An exploration and explanation of the flood of numbers we're deluged with when talking about business and the economy. You know 'em as well as I do, so I won't belabor the point, other than to say this (which will, eventually, get me to my point): sometimes, the numbers aren't all they're cracked up to be.

Case in point: the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Now, I like the Dow as much as the next guy. I mean, we do it on the show every day.

(Little known Marketplace fact: the only segment that's appeared on each and every broadcast, going all the way back to Show No. 1? The Numbers.)

But really, a non-inflation adjusted, stock-price sensitive index made up of 30 lousy companies as a proxy for the entire $16 trillion American economy? C’mon.

There are plenty of reasons to still keep a daily eye on the Dow. And a whole bunch of reasons not to.

But if – and I'm just saying "if" here (thinking out loud, if you will, quite possibly at the risk of my job) -  if we were going to stop tracking the Dow, what's something better to replace it with?

The Wilshire 5000 and the Russell and all the rest we can come up with ourselves. Gimme your ideas. Hit me up in the comments below, or tweet us.

@Marketplace is the show, @kairyssdal is me.

Lessons on dying, to be learned from doctors

Tue, 2014-06-03 15:07

A New England pediatrician – writing under the pseudonym Russell Saunders – wrote an article in the Daily Beast today about a new study that confirms something we’ve known for years: Physicians do not want to prolong the end of their lives unnecessarily.

An overwhelming number of them (88 percent) said they would want an “advance directive that would stipulate ‘do not resuscitate’ (or DNR) status at the ends of their lives,” Saunders wrote, something I, too, learned as I wrote an article for Marketplace and the New York Times last fall:

“When it comes to dying, doctors, of course, are ultimately no different from the rest of us. And their emotional and physical struggles are surely every bit as wrenching. But they have a clear advantage over many of us. They have seen death up close. They understand their choices, and they have access to the best that medicine has to offer.” 

Examining the choices doctors make about their own final days can help the rest of us. While most people want to die at home, Medicare data shows that more than 50 percent of patients spend their final days in the hospital or a nursing home.

Part of the problem is most patients don’t know when the game is up. Simply, it’s hard for someone who lacks medical training to know whether there’s a chance to throw that Hail Mary and still win the game. Doctors know better.

The question is how to get our physicians to do a better job giving us the kind of information they have, thanks to their training and exposure to life-and-death situations. One obvious answer is to pay doctors to sit down and have these conversations with their patients.

It’s clear talking about death is difficult, sometimes near impossible. That’s true for some physicians, too. But as this new study suggests, doctors are arguably more thoughtful than the general public. And that gives doctors a chance to consider carefully whether the next procedure they order for their dying patient is a procedure they would order for themselves.

Lessons on dying, to be learned from doctors

Tue, 2014-06-03 14:10
Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - 18:07 Michael F. McElroy for The New York Times

Doctor Elizabeth (Lissa) McKinley is in the last few months of her life and is receiving hospice care at her home in Cleveland Heights. Lissa's sister Brent McKinley organizes her medication.

A New England pediatrician – writing under the pseudonym Russell Saunders – wrote an article in the Daily Beast today about a new study that confirms something we’ve known for years: Physicians do not want to prolong the end of their lives unnecessarily.

An overwhelming number of them (88 percent) said they would want an “advance directive that would stipulate ‘do not resuscitate’ (or DNR) status at the ends of their lives,” Saunders wrote, something I, too, learned as I wrote an article for Marketplace and the New York Times last fall:

“When it comes to dying, doctors, of course, are ultimately no different from the rest of us. And their emotional and physical struggles are surely every bit as wrenching. But they have a clear advantage over many of us. They have seen death up close. They understand their choices, and they have access to the best that medicine has to offer.” 

Examining the choices doctors make about their own final days can help the rest of us. While most people want to die at home, Medicare data shows that more than 50 percent of patients spend their final days in the hospital or a nursing home.

Part of the problem is most patients don’t know when the game is up. Simply, it’s hard for someone who lacks medical training to know whether there’s a chance to throw that Hail Mary and still win the game. Doctors know better.

The question is how to get our physicians to do a better job giving us the kind of information they have, thanks to their training and exposure to life-and-death situations. One obvious answer is to pay doctors to sit down and have these conversations with their patients.

It’s clear talking about death is difficult, sometimes near impossible. That’s true for some physicians, too. But as this new study suggests, doctors are arguably more thoughtful than the general public. And that gives doctors a chance to consider carefully whether the next procedure they order for their dying patient is a procedure they would order for themselves.

How doctors dieThe new math of healthcareby Dan GorensteinStory Type BlogSyndication PMPApp Respond No

The Secret Service wants sarcasm detection software

Tue, 2014-06-03 13:45

This final note on the way out, which I'm sure will work...

The Secret Service wants sombeody to invent a piece of software that'll, "detect sarcasm and false positives," according to the work order. So, if you're a teenager on Twitter and you threaten to blow up a plane because you're bored, this would in theory prevent the FBI from knocking on your door.

You got less than a week if you're up to the challenge because next Monday is the deadline.

What could possibly go wrong.

Sarcasm.

All of a sudden, everyone's buying new cars

Tue, 2014-06-03 13:44

Car makers have reported their May sales figures, and the news is surprisingly good. Sales are at a seven year high.

Even high-end dealers are celebrating.

“Both BMW and Audi were up quite a bit this year verses last year,” says George Liang, president of DCH Auto Group.

Kelley Blue Book says car sales nationwide were up about 11 percent over May of last year, for all kinds of reasons. For one, dealers advertised big Memorial Day sales. With home-grown talent:

Car buyers were also lured into showrooms by easier credit.

“Lenders have opened up their books to those with less-than-perfect credit," says Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Alec Gutierrez.

There’s also a lot of pent up demand for cars. The average U.S. car is 11-years-old. Car-crazy consumers even flocked to GM showrooms, in spite of its recall troubles. 

GM sales were up 13 percent over May 2013, with most models selling well.

“Pickups and big sport utilities, but now it’s started to feed through to their car lines,” says George Magliano, a senior economist with IHS Automotive.

Even Mother Nature smiled on the auto industry. In some parts of the country, every weekend in May was sunny. Perfect car buying weather.

If we were to replace the Dow Jones?

Tue, 2014-06-03 13:43
Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - 03:53 EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

A news photographer takes a picture of an electronic board indicating the record-breaking Dow Jones Industrial (INDP) at the end of trade at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, March 5, 2013.

Okay, so this is going to be interesting. And by the end of it I may or may not still have a job. But here goes.

If you've been listening to Marketplace this week, you know we've been airing some stories and interviews from the debut of our new live stage show.

We premiered in Washington,D.C., with WAMU in late April – we're in a handful of cities around the country this summer and fall. (Complete tour information here.)

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Numbers is just that: An exploration and explanation of the flood of numbers we're deluged with when talking about business and the economy. You know 'em as well as I do, so I won't belabor the point, other than to say this (which will, eventually, get me to my point): sometimes, the numbers aren't all they're cracked up to be.

Case in point: the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Now, I like the Dow as much as the next guy. I mean, we do it on the show every day.

(Little known Marketplace fact: the only segment that's appeared on each and every broadcast, going all the way back to Show No. 1? The Numbers.)

But really, a non-inflation adjusted, stock-price sensitive index made up of 30 lousy companies as a proxy for the entire $16 trillion American economy? C’mon.

There are plenty of reasons to still keep a daily eye on the Dow. And a whole bunch of reasons not to.

But if – and I'm just saying "if" here (thinking out loud, if you will, quite possibly at the risk of my job) -  if we were going to stop tracking the Dow, what's something better to replace it with?

The Wilshire 5000 and the Russell and all the rest we can come up with ourselves. Gimme your ideas. Hit me up in the comments below, or tweet us.

@Marketplace is the show, @kairyssdal is me.

by Kai RyssdalStory Type BlogSyndication PMPApp Respond No

Conde Nast gets into the education business

Tue, 2014-06-03 13:42

Take New Yorker magazine, Architectural Digest,  Gourmet and Wired. Throw in a little Teen Vogue and Vanity Fair, and what do you have?

How about - an educational opportunity? The magazines are all published by Conde Nast, and the company is reportedly partnering with colleges and universities to create a new program that will use its magazines as a framework for higher education.

Conde Nast’s already operates the Conde Nast College of Fashion and Design in London, which draws heavily on editors and writers from Vogue and other publications.

“The access we’ve got to lecturers, journalists would be very good, and to the fashion and decorating industry made it a very natural brand extension,” says Nicholas Coleridge, president of Conde Nast International, in a video on the college’s website.

This latest brand extension into education will be a partnership with University Ventures. “We are an investment from focused on building highly innovative high quality university programs,” says Daniel Pianko, managing director of University Ventures.

It’s too early to define exactly how the partnership will play out, says Pianko, “but we’ll take the best minds from top magazine and editorial talent and combine that with top tier universities.”

What will top magazine talent teach?  Maybe how to write a captivating profile of a golfer with Golf Digest senior editor Peter Finch? Or perhaps, a lecture on selling ads for chairs in Architectural Digest?

Whatever the class offerings may look like, David Longanecker, president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, says the quality of any new program should be evaluated by an outside entity. “If the provider is also the evaluator, there’s really the potential of the fox in the henhouse. So I think you really need to have some capacity for external validation beyond the provider,” says Longanecker.  

Conde Nast and University Ventures hopes to launch its new program by the fall of 2015.

Conde Nast gets into the education business

Tue, 2014-06-03 13:42

Take New Yorker magazine, Architectural Digest,  Gourmet and Wired. Throw in a little Teen Vogue and Vanity Fair, and what do you have?

How about - an educational opportunity? The magazines are all published by Conde Nast, and the company is reportedly partnering with colleges and universities to create a new program that will use its magazines as a framework for higher education.

Conde Nast’s already operates the Conde Nast College of Fashion and Design in London, which draws heavily on editors and writers from Vogue and other publications.

“The access we’ve got to lecturers, journalists would be very good, and to the fashion and decorating industry made it a very natural brand extension,” says Nicholas Coleridge, president of Conde Nast International, in a video on the college’s website.

This latest brand extension into education will be a partnership with University Ventures. “We are an investment from focused on building highly innovative high quality university programs,” says Daniel Pianko, managing director of University Ventures.

It’s too early to define exactly how the partnership will play out, says Pianko, “but we’ll take the best minds from top magazine and editorial talent and combine that with top tier universities.”

What will top magazine talent teach?  Maybe how to write a captivating profile of a golfer with Golf Digest senior editor Peter Finch? Or perhaps, a lecture on selling ads for chairs in Architectural Digest?

Whatever the class offerings may look like, David Longanecker, president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, says the quality of any new program should be evaluated by an outside entity. “If the provider is also the evaluator, there’s really the potential of the fox in the henhouse. So I think you really need to have some capacity for external validation beyond the provider,” says Longanecker.  

Conde Nast and University Ventures hopes to launch its new program by the fall of 2015.

The 'war on coal' is no fight to the death

Tue, 2014-06-03 13:42

The EPA's proposed rules on greenhouse-gas emissions will have a limited effect on coal in the U.S. That's partly because a lot of coal-fired power plants were already on their way out. Since 2010, coal plants that produced about a sixth of the country’s coal-based electricity were slated for closure. About a third of those are already gone.

That’s partly because other regulations already on the books, like rules about mercury emissions, meant old plants were going to need pricey upgrades.

But even as more plants get pegged to close, the carbon rules won’t necessarily be to blame every time, says Christopher Knittel, an energy economist at MIT. "It’s going to be difficult to know exactly why a power plant shut down," he says. "It’s going  to be a combination of cheap natural gas, mercury rules, carbon rules and all the other environmental policies."

However, he also thinks the new rule could have been a factor in plant closures that have already happened. "They shut down because of the rule that happened today, but they shut down two years ago, because of the expectation of that rule," he says.

But the new and existing rules will only touch a minority of coal-fired plants. Travis Miller, a utilities analyst at Morningstar,  says  not all coal plants score badly on the metric the EPA cares about: carbon intensity. "Some new coal plants are very efficient," he says, "and can emit relatively little for the amount of electricity they produce."

Even with some older plants, closure may not the the best strategy for some utilities. "We don’t see a whole lot of coal-plant closures in states where you have the opportunity to lower the carbon-intensity with other sources," says Miller.

The new rules let states take credit for bringing in more wind and solar— or for increasing energy efficiency. Older plants could keep running as part of that mix.

The 'war on coal' is no fight to the death

Tue, 2014-06-03 13:42

The EPA's proposed rules on greenhouse-gas emissions will have a limited effect on coal in the U.S. That's partly because a lot of coal-fired power plants were already on their way out. Since 2010, coal plants that produced about a sixth of the country’s coal-based electricity were slated for closure. About a third of those are already gone.

That’s partly because other regulations already on the books, like rules about mercury emissions, meant old plants were going to need pricey upgrades.

But even as more plants get pegged to close, the carbon rules won’t necessarily be to blame every time, says Christopher Knittel, an energy economist at MIT. "It’s going to be difficult to know exactly why a power plant shut down," he says. "It’s going  to be a combination of cheap natural gas, mercury rules, carbon rules and all the other environmental policies."

However, he also thinks the new rule could have been a factor in plant closures that have already happened. "They shut down because of the rule that happened today, but they shut down two years ago, because of the expectation of that rule," he says.

But the new and existing rules will only touch a minority of coal-fired plants. Travis Miller, a utilities analyst at Morningstar,  says  not all coal plants score badly on the metric the EPA cares about: carbon intensity. "Some new coal plants are very efficient," he says, "and can emit relatively little for the amount of electricity they produce."

Even with some older plants, closure may not the the best strategy for some utilities. "We don’t see a whole lot of coal-plant closures in states where you have the opportunity to lower the carbon-intensity with other sources," says Miller.

The new rules let states take credit for bringing in more wind and solar— or for increasing energy efficiency. Older plants could keep running as part of that mix.

My six weeks with Google Glass

Tue, 2014-06-03 13:31
Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - 04:53 Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales tries on 'Google Glass' spectacles as he visits 'Innovation Alley'

Google Glass may be the product you've heard most about without ever having been able to try. It's certainly still a hot ticket item: the company is set to unveil new, limited edition frames for Google Glass from fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg. But in terms of its actual functionality, not that many people can say they've gotten a chance to really ingrain the technology into their daily life.

That's why Rory Cellan-Jones, technology correspondent for the BBC, has been rocking Google's frames for six weeks, and fielding questions about the device from curious strangers. The most common question: "What's it for?"

Cellan-Jones says it's great for taking pictures, but he found that the Glass's voice command feature - the easiest way to navigate through its interface - had trouble translating from "English English" to "American English": 

"I wanted to put a caption on a photo I took of my garden. And I wanted to say, 'Garden looking unusually tidy,' in a rather British way, and it came out as, 'Gordon looking for usual Thai tea.'

Unfortunately, translation issues aren't the only problem Cellan-Jones found with the smart frames. He says that because of its lack of functions, and its generally clunky feel, Google Glass is still a ways off from being the must-have item that everyone will rush to buy.

Marketplace Tech for Wednesday, June 4, 2014by Ben JohnsonPodcast Title My six weeks with Google GlassStory Type News StorySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Lace up and cover some ground

Tue, 2014-06-03 13:18
Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - 14:15 David McNew/Getty Images

Mount Whitney is seen in the distance (R) as David Ploskonka of Baltimore, Maryland approaches the town of Lone Pine after completing more than 100 miles of the AdventurCORPS Badwater 135 ultra-marathon race on July 16, 2013 outside of Death Valley National Park, California.

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at what's coming up Wednesday, June 4:

In Washington, the Commerce Department reports on international trade for April.

The Senate Budget Committee holds a hearing on "The Impact of Student Loan Debt on Borrowers and the Economy."

The Federal Reserve releases its latest Beige Book summary of commentary on current economic conditions.

And it's a day to run around town...or many miles. June 4 is National Running Day.

by Podcast Title Datebook: Lace up and cover some groundSyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Sharing our personal health data – for good

Tue, 2014-06-03 12:35
Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - 05:33 Josep Lago/Getty Images

The 'Flex', an 'electronic coach', device by Fitbit. 

Health privacy can, at times, be at odds with a major cultural shift happening in healthcare: a demand for greater transparency.

The Health Data Exploration project is another example where sharing trumps privacy.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – in collaboration with several California schools – aims to convince consumers to share the personal health data that’s being generated from an avalanche of apps and wearable devices like Fitbit.  

The question behind the Health Data Exploration project is how to harness that data, and do something other than make money off of it.

“With these technologies, we can get to a space where we are getting more realistic data. It’s capturing that everydayness of heatlh," says Matthew Bietz with the University of California Irvine, and one of the project’s lead investigators.

Bietz says the data would allow researchers to look at how stress affects eating, or how caffeine impacts sleep, on a scale that’s currently impossible.

This project will launch a research network that helps link businesses and their consumers with researchers.

University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Anita Allen says before consumers share their data to help solve some of healthcare’s most pressing questions, consumers must know they will be protected.

“Like it or not, some employers might find out information about us and use it against us when it comes to making hiring decisions,” she says.

“Are you a smoker? Are you overweight? Do you have diabetes? Do you have an irregular heart beat? These kinds of things might be used to our disadvantage.”

Bietz agrees that one of the trickiest tasks ahead is figuring out how to best protect consumer privacy.

Though, if done correctly, Bietz is convinced that “we could actually say new things about connections between the way we live and our well being.”

Marketplace Morning Report for Wednesday June 4, 2014by Dan GorensteinPodcast Title Sharing our personal health data – for good Story Type News StorySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Khaled Hosseini on the economics behind 'And the Mountains Echoed'

Tue, 2014-06-03 12:14
Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - 11:44 Elena Seibert

Author Khaled Hosseini.

Success in publishing is about a lot of things. Sales, of course. Staying power. And the business of words.We've asked some of our favorite contemporary authors to share the numbers they think about as they write -- how they infuse the economic world around them into storytelling. 

Listen to this installment from best-selling author Khaled Hosseini ("The Kite Runner", "A Thousand Splendid Suns") in the audio player above. He talks about the very real, very human economics in his new book, "And the Mountains Echoed". We've reprinted the first chapter here:

Back home, in Shadbagh, Pari kept underneath her pillow an old tin tea box Abdullah had given her. It had a rusty latch, and on the lid was a bearded Indian man, wearing a turban and a long red tunic, holding up a steaming cup of tea with both hands. Inside the box were all of the feathers that Pari collected. They were her most cherished belongings. Deep green and dense burgundy rooster feathers; a white tail feather from a dove; a sparrow feather,dust brown, dotted with dark blotches; and the one of which Pari was proudest, an iridescent green peacock feather with a beautiful large eye at the tip.

This last was a gift Abdullah had given her two months earlier. He had heard of a boy from another village whose family owned a peacock. One day when Father was away digging ditches in a town south of Shadbagh, Abdullah walked to this other village, found the boy, and asked him for a feather from the bird. Negotiation ensued, at the end of which Abdullah agreed to trade his shoes for the feather. By the time he returned to Shadbagh, peacock feather tucked in the waist of his trousers beneath his shirt, his heels had split open and left bloody smudges on the ground. Thorns and splinters had burrowed into the skin of his soles. Every step sent barbs of pain shooting through his feet.

When he arrived home, he found his stepmother, Parwana, outside the hut, hunched before the tandoor, making the daily naan. He quickly ducked behind the giant oak tree near their home and waited for her to finish. Peeking around the trunk, he watched her work, a thick-shouldered woman with long arms, rough-skinned hands, and stubby fingers; a woman with a puffed, rounded face who possessed none of the grace of the butterfly she’d been named after.

Abdullah wished he could love her as he had his own mother. Mother, who had bled to death giving birth to Pari three and a

half years earlier when Abdullah was seven. Mother, whose face was all but lost to him now. Mother, who cupped his head in both palms and held it to her chest and stroked his cheek every night before sleep and sang him a lullaby:

I found a sad little fairy

Beneath the shade of a paper tree.

I know a sad little fairy

Who was blown away by the wind one night.

He wished he could love his new mother in the same way. And perhaps Parwana, he thought, secretly wished the same, that she could love him

Reprinted from And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini by arrangement with Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC,  Copyright © 2014 by Khaled Hosseini.

Marketplace for Tuesday June 3, 2014 Gillian Flynn on the economics behind 'Gone Girl' And the Mountains Echoed Author: Khaled Hosseini Publisher: Riverhead Trade (2014) Binding: Paperback, 448 pages Produced by Nancy FarghalliPodcast Title  Khalid Hosseini on the economics behind 'And the Mountains Echoed'Story Type CommentarySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond No
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