Marketplace - American Public Media

Syndicate content
Updated: 14 min 23 sec ago

Is Congress playing a shell game?

Mon, 2014-01-06 12:45

One of the first items on Congress's agenda in the new year is whether to reinstate emergency unemployment benefits that expired in late December.

There is a key vote in the Senate Monday afternoon. House Republicans have said they'd consider the idea, but only if the cost of the extended benefits is offset.

Deals like that are common in Washington, but that doesn't mean the savings always materialize as promised. 

“There’s a con going on,” says economist Donald Marron. 

Marron is a former economic adviser for George W. Bush, now at the Urban Institute.  He says Congress isn’t a bunch of cons, but he says its budget deals are pretty gimmicky, like when Congress ignores a program’s long-term costs, focusing instead only on short-term revenues.

“So they’ll show up and they’ll appear to be helping to pay for whatever the program is you want to pursue, but it still means in the long run that we’re going to lose money," Marron explains.

Now you see it.  Now you don’t.   That short-term thinking leads leads to itty-bitty deals, like the Senate’s proposed emergency unemployment extension, which would only last three months. 

“If it’s only for three months you can sort of slide it under the rug and you don’t have to pay for it," says Henrietta Treyz, a budget expert at Height Analytics.

Just don’t look under the rug.  Some Washington wonks say these kinds of games are inevitable right now.  Harry Holzer, who teaches public policy at Georgetown, says with some in Congress vowing to take huge bites out of the deficit, normal budget negotiations just aren’t possible.    

"It often has to be a bit of a shell game to square with their very severe rhetoric on fiscal austerity right now,” he says.

How cold is it when the economy breaks?

Mon, 2014-01-06 12:45

Schoolchildren are home by the millions. Flights are grounded by the thousands. Wind chills are being measured in the negative double digits. The great Polar Vortex of '14 is making its mark on much of the country, and the economy. Because a lot of things we take for granted day in and day out -- from starting the car to turning on the faucet -- were a little harder today.

“Plumbers get really busy,” says Nolan Doesken, state climatologist in Colorado. “This is the ideal situation for frozen pipes, when it’s not only really cold, but really windy to go with that cold.”

Jeff Cherwenka is used to working in extreme cold. He spent six seasons doing research at the South Pole. Now he’s back at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where it was minus 17 degrees this morning.

“It looks like it’s minus 9 Fahrenheit at the South Pole today, so it’s actually colder here than at the South Pole,” he says.

At these temperatures, Cherwenka says, plastic and steel become so brittle they can break. Car batteries stop working.

“There’s a lot of little inconveniences,” he says, “but if it’s your car and it’s not starting then it’s a big inconvenience, right?”

At the high-tech end, electronics can fail. Kevin Gutknecht with the Minnesota Department of Transportation says things got dicey today on a reversible toll road on the west side of Minneapolis.

“We call it reversible because it goes in one direction in the morning, and another direction in the afternoon,” he says. “One of the gates on that quit working because of the cold.”

Below ground, water mains break. Even sewers can freeze. Shipping slows down in the Great Lakes. Diesel fuel can congeal.

“Things just break when it’s cold,” says Wilf Nixon, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Iowa. “Unfortunately, they’re under more stress and it’s when you need them most…when they’re most likely to fail on you.”

That includes humans, too. We don’t work so well when it only takes a few minutes in the cold to end up with frostbite.

Fatigue doesn’t help. In Elgin, Il., public works superintendent Daniel Rich says his workers have been doing 12-hour shifts since before Christmas, removing snow, de-icing streets and fixing water main breaks.

“You can tell the guys are getting a little tired, and as a result of that they slow down a quarter step,” he says.

Where are our jetpacks and flying cars?

Mon, 2014-01-06 12:45

Tomorrow is the start of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the annual bacchanal of all things technological. The tech industry is known for promising us the future, but how often does technology deliver on that promise. We are after all, still waiting on the JetPack.

Benjamin R Harrison was working at CES last year as videographer for the website Engadget when he was ushered into a hotel room, to see the unveiling of a prototype for a virtual reality headset that allows users to become the character in a game. "At that point it was literally ski goggles that had components duct-taped into it," remembers Harrison. Virtual Reality, like JetPacks, was promised to us long ago. In this case, the duct tape ski goggle contraption became Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset expected to deliver on the promise of virtual reality gaming.

Roughly 20,000 new products will launch at this year's CES. But very few will be big commercial successes. "I think the way to think about this is as more of a case of evolution then things succeeding or failing," says Shawn Dubravac, chief economist and head of research at The Consumer Electronics Association, which produces CES.

Many of the products unveiled this week will flop commercially. Often the first generation of a product is the crummiest. It can take time for bugs to be worked out or for people to understand why something would be useful to them. Many of this year's new products are part of a larger technological trend, the digitization of everyday things.

Dubravac says the future is one of sensorization, where everyday objects, from toothbrushes to tennis rackets, will have sensors that generate streams of data, like the speed of your backhand. The age of autonomy, as Dubravac calls it, where cars drive themselves, and all of our things talk to our computer so it can manage all the data generated by our new gadgets, freeing us to enjoy them.

A planemaker by any other name ...

Mon, 2014-01-06 12:38

This final note to observe a long-overdue bit of corporate rebranding.

First, do you know what EADS stands for?

No? Even though you've probably flown on their planes.

The European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company makes Airbuses.

Executives have now apparently recognized the ungainlyness of that name and have renamed themselves simply: Airbus.

Will I get stuck in the Kitchen Aid ecosystem?

Mon, 2014-01-06 09:33

The Consumer Electronics Show kicks off in Las Vegas this week. On view almost 2 million square feet of the latest consumer gadgets and one of this year's themes is the Internet of Things. 

You know what the internet is, right? Well, the Internet of Things?

"So the Internet of Things is basically this idea that everyday objects will be able to connect to the Internet, will be able to communicate with each other," said Scott Jacobson is a venture capitalist at the Madrona Venture Group.

And the more we connect the Internet to things  like thermostats, refrigerators and even cars, the idea is, the smarter they get. Jacobson says a few things are driving this trend. Sensors have gotten really cheap and so you can detect sound and take images with almost any electronic gadget. And then, there’s the cloud.

"And so once they get connected, all the computing that needs to be done for these things can be done in the cloud," Jacobson said. 

Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester research, says expect to see a lot of Internet of Things around the home at the consumer electronics show this week.

"There’s a range of things here, there’s door locks that can be wifi enabled that you can unlock from your phone," Gillet said. 

But Gillet says, the real question is how do we make everything work together. It’s like the conundrum of the million remote controls you need to make your TV work. And that one has yet to be solved.

Will I get stuck in the Kitchen Aid ecosystem?

Mon, 2014-01-06 09:33

The Consumer Electronics Show kicks off in Las Vegas this week. On view almost 2 million square feet of the latest consumer gadgets and one of this year's themes is the Internet of Things. 

You know what the internet is, right? Well, the Internet of Things?

"So the Internet of Things is basically this idea that everyday objects will be able to connect to the Internet, will be able to communicate with each other," said Scott Jacobson is a venture capitalist at the Madrona Venture Group.

And the more we connect the Internet to things  like thermostats, refrigerators and even cars, the idea is, the smarter they get. Jacobson says a few things are driving this trend. Sensors have gotten really cheap and so you can detect sound and take images with almost any electronic gadget. And then, there’s the cloud.

"And so once they get connected, all the computing that needs to be done for these things can be done in the cloud," Jacobson said. 

Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester research, says expect to see a lot of Internet of Things around the home at the consumer electronics show this week.

"There’s a range of things here, there’s door locks that can be wifi enabled that you can unlock from your phone," Gillet said. 

But Gillet says, the real question is how do we make everything work together. It’s like the conundrum of the million remote controls you need to make your TV work. And that one has yet to be solved.

Cars get even more connected with Google's Open Automotive Alliance

Mon, 2014-01-06 08:47

Tomorrow, the International Consumer Electronics Show kicks off. But today, the swarms of company reps and entrepreneurs have arrived in Las Vegas. And one topic that's already big news is Google's Open Automotive Alliance. There was news ahead of this week's show about the tech giant partnering with Audi to put its Android operating system in cars. But it turns out the partnership is much bigger than that, including Honda and even General Motors. Tim Stevens, editor-at-large at CNET, tells Marketplace Tech more about Google's plans for your car.

Cars get even more connected with Google's Open Automotive Alliance

Mon, 2014-01-06 08:47

Tomorrow, the International Consumer Electronics Show kicks off. But today, the swarms of company reps and entrepreneurs have arrived in Las Vegas. And one topic that's already big news is Google's Open Automotive Alliance. There was news ahead of this week's show about the tech giant partnering with Audi to put its Android operating system in cars. But it turns out the partnership is much bigger than that, including Honda and even General Motors. Tim Stevens, editor-at-large at CNET, tells Marketplace Tech more about Google's plans for your car.

Texas town closes the toilet-to-tap loop: Is this our future water supply?

Mon, 2014-01-06 08:47

Lots of us would probably rather not think too hard about where our drinking water has been. For instance, much of Houston’s water comes from the Trinity River, some of which is treated sewage effluent from Dallas and Fort Worth

But almost no one has taken the step of connecting sewage pipes directly to the drinking water supply. Until now.

With about 27,000 people, Big Spring is a decent-sized town for West Texas. It’s got a Walmart and a four-screen movie house.

But there’s no actual spring anymore. That dried up almost 90 years ago— around the same time that oil was discovered in West Texas.

It’s dry here. But so is a lot of the state--and drought has slammed wide swaths of Texas in recent years.  So why is Big Spring the site of this experiment in what experts call “direct potable reuse”? Here’s one clue:  In terms of customer satisfaction, the local water supply didn’t have a lot to lose.

“Nobody drinks the water here,” says Mary Jo Atkerson, proprietor of Big Spring Welding Supply.  “Nobody drinks it out of the faucet.”

“Hell no!  We don’t do that,” says Terry Sanders, age 54.  “I’ll bathe in it, but I won’t drink it. It’s too hard— it’s— it’s nasty.”

“It’s well-complained-about, that’s for sure,” says Chanel Castillo, age 20.

For years, people here in Big Spring have relied on filtered water. Many, like Atkerson, have filter systems in their homes.

Like many others, Sanders and Castillo buy water retail.  In their case, an early-December morning finds them filling jugs with filtered water at the Water Shoppe for 20 cents a gallon, using a self-serve machine on one side of the building.

On another side, Crystal Lopez’s family serves a steady stream of drive-through customers.

“Cars come through, and we’ll fill up their jugs and send them on their way,” says Lopez. Her younger sister, Emily Key, and their mother, Anastasia Key, handle everything from five-gallon containers that would be at home atop an office water-cooler to one-gallon jugs that recently contained milk and orange juice.

Last year, the city water that Big Spring residents avoid started to include treated sewage effluent.  

The treatment, at a brand-new, $14 million “raw water production facility,” is extensive. Water arrives there after initial treatment at Big Spring’s old sewage treatment plant.

 


 

The new facility treats that water with a heavy-duty filtration called reverse osmosis— the same process used by the Water Shoppe— plus two stages of disinfection and multiple stages of testing. Any water failing to meet the tests gets sent back to the town’s sewage treatment plant to start the process again.

Water that passes the test is drinkable, and arguably of higher quality than the water pulled out of nearby reservoirs.  However, before getting piped back to the homes and businesses of Big Spring, the “raw” water gets blended with reservoir water and the blend gets a final round of treatment in the town’s old drinking-water treatment plant.

John Grant, general manager of the Colorado River Municipal Water District, is the new system’s architect.   

And yes, he drinks filtered water at home too. “We’re not blessed, in West Texas, with really good-quality water,” he says.  “It’s got a lot of salt in it.  I mean, that’s all we got.”

It’s like the old joke about the bad restaurant:  The food is terrible.  Yes, and such small portions.  

Big Spring gets fewer than 20 inches of rain a year.  And the air is so dry, water evaporates from the reservoir at three times that rate. “So we pretty much start out in the hole already,” says Mr. Grant.

That strucural water deficit— the enormous gap between rainfall and evaporation— is why Big Spring has to pipe its sewage— albeit its rigorously-treated sewage—directly to the main waterworks.

Sending it to the reservoir, by way of the creek, would be more traditional.  And it wouldn’t work.

“If we put that water in the creek, it would evaporate,” says Grant.  “We’re actually creating more water.”

Grant’s system recovers 2 million gallons a day— about 40 percent of what the town consumes. The system actually reclaims a much higher percentage of the water it receives— 80 percent— but about half of the town’s water consumption never reaches the sewer system.  That’s the water for watering lawns, washing cars and other outdoor uses.

Grant started planning this system more than 10 years ago, before the recent years of super-drought, which made it appear more urgent. The nearest reservoir to Big Spring is currently 1.4 percent full.   

And it’s not the lowest in the state. Because of the drought, Texas voters recently approved $6 billion in new water projects.

The current five-year plan  doesn’t include much potable re-use. But when that plan was created, Big Spring wasn’t online yet.  No one had gone first.  

“It takes somebody—some local entity—brave enough to try it out,” says Robert Mace, of the Texas Water Development Board. “Then everyone else is looking over their shoulder. And then once they see it works: Boom. Off everyone goes.”

Already, three more places in Texas are actively exploring potable re-use projects: The town of Brownwood, the city of Wichita Falls, and the much bigger city of El Paso, with more than 600,000 people.  

However, getting their citizens on board could be a tough sell.

In Big Spring-- where no one seems to drink the water-- the re-use project appears to have flown under some people’s radar. About half the people I talked with there had never heard of it.  

That included Crystal Lopez, at the Water Shoppe. Here’s how she responded when I told her about it:

“Really,” she said. “I didn’t know that, that’s gross. That is gross. Wow.”

I explained how good the filtering was— the same filtering process she uses in her shop-- plus the decontamination, the testing.

And the fact that lots of cities take their water from rivers that some other town has dumped sewage in.

No sale.

“I don’t know,” she said. “That’s— it’s disgusting.  I can’t think of another word.”

PODCAST: Yellen expected to be confirmed today

Mon, 2014-01-06 08:40

Janet Yellen is expected to be confirmed as the chair of the Federal Reserve this afternoon, and Wall Street is watching.

As Congress comes back to work this week, it’s expected to debate the possibility of re-instating unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed, which expired for 1.3 million people a few days after Christmas. 

Delta Air Lines is the last domestic carrier to fly the DC-9, and one final Delta flight this Monday afternoon will mark the close of the plane’s nearly half-century run.    

What if Congress doesn’t reinstate unemployment benefits?

Mon, 2014-01-06 08:13

As Congress comes back to work this week, it’s expected to debate the possibility of re-instating unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed, which expired for 1.3 million people a few days after Christmas. 

Research shows that when unemployment benefits get cut, the unemployment rate goes down -- but not just because some people take new jobs. Some of the reduction is the combination of bad news and a quirk of how the numbers get compiled. 

The bad news is, when benefits go away, some people give up on finding a job, since an active job search is a requirement for collecting benefits. 

And the quirk is, when people stop looking for work, they stop getting counted as “unemployed.”

“When people give up and drop out of the labor force, that lowers the unemployment rate -- but that’s not a good way of lowering the unemployment rate.” says Chad Stone, chief economist for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.  “It’s not that they’re transitioning into jobs -- it’s that they’ve stopped searching.”

And people without work -- and without unemployment benefits -- can’t necessarily get what they need from the local food bank. 

“What we’re seeing is, charities are not really able to keep up with the increased demand, with more and more people unable to make ends meet,” says Melissa Boteach of the Center for American Progress.

She says the price tag for reinstating benefits -- $25 billion -- far outstrips what charities could supply. According to her group’s analysis, it’s five times the amount anti-hunger charities collect in a year.

Looking at the future of the TV

Mon, 2014-01-06 07:32

One of the big topics at the Consumer Electronics Show this week is television -- like smart TVs and more high-definition programming. But as more and more of us stream our content, what does the future of television really look like beyond pixels and frame rates? For a look at how television stations might be licensed in the future and how interactive new programming might be, Marketplace Tech turns to Harvard's Jonathan Zittrain. Click the audio player above to hear more.

How do Muslim investors know when a company is Sharia friendly?

Mon, 2014-01-06 06:01

This week, Marketplace is looking at investors who are using their money to invest in companies that share their values.

IdealRatings is a San Francisco company that helps Muslim investors do just that. Through its screening system, IdealRatings finds stocks and other investment vehicles that comply with Sharia law.

Mohamed Donia, IdealRatings' chief executive officer, says there are many levels at which a company is judged to see if it is a socially responsible buy for Muslim investors.

"You screen for good companies not interested in alcohol or gambling -- even games," he explains. "Then, there is another level of leverage, interest. So, I'll give you an example -- like firearms. There are companies that are selling the firearms, so we look at whether they're getting an income of less than 5 percent from firearms -- typically these companies will pass. If the income level is more than 5 percent, then it is likely to fail."

Donia says a service like the one IdealRatings supplies is essential to Muslims, because too much money is being left on the table as investors worry whether a company complies with Islamic teaching.

"The Islamic finance industry is estimated around $1.5 trillion, growing steadily at 25 percent," Donia says. "Most of that money is in cash accounts, not earning interest, because investors -- they have the fear that they cannot invest the money, so when you provide a screened universe of companies, this would definitely help investors to start investing this kind of money, and also leverage their investments across different regions."

For more about Islamic finance and IdealRatings, click the audio player above.

Private jet business picks up speed

Mon, 2014-01-06 05:40

“Fly faster, do more.” That’s what the website for Spike Aerospace’s supersonic business jet reads. The new $80 million dollar aircraft is due out in 2018 and promises to fly from New York to London in just three to four hours.

Corporate plane shame is gone.

“Particularly the perception that as people were losing their jobs and as the economy was tanking, you shouldn’t be out flying around in a business jet,” says Doug Royce, vice president of research and editorial services for aerospace research firm Forecast International. “That’s gone away,” he says.

The market for private jets is worth tens of billions a year, says Royce, but the lower end is still struggling. He says a signal the top of the market is growing is manufacturers like Bombardier and Gulf Stream developing new aircraft.

Robert Mann, president of R. W. Mann, an airline industry analysis and consulting firm says Fortune 500 firms are still the biggest business buyers of private jets. He notes that pilots on private planes can pay twice as much for fuel as commercial airlines. It can be expensive to ship jet fuel to small airports and  large commercial airlines have the luxury of consuming fuel without paying taxes on it.

“The old adage goes speed costs money -- how fast can you afford to go,” he says.

Aerion, developer of another supersonic jet says it has letters of intent for 50 aircraft. The check in date is 2020. 

After four decades, Delta's DC-9 jets make final landing

Mon, 2014-01-06 05:28

Delta Air Lines is the last domestic carrier to fly the DC-9, and one final Delta flight this Monday afternoon will mark the close of the plane’s nearly half-century run.    

Most passengers about to board Delta flight 2494 from Atlanta to Akron a few days ago had no idea their jet was built during the Carter administration.

When 44-year-old Scott Smith learns of the plane’s age, his face lights up.

“I think it’d be fantastic,” the Canton, Ohio native says.“I remember when I was a little kid I would get those -- they don’t do this anymore -- but you could go to the cockpit and they’d give you these little metal planes. And I’d collect them.”  

A lot’s changed in aviation since then. Like the planes. Today’s jets almost fly themselves, but the DC-9 definitely does not.

Delta Captain Scott Woolfrey will fly the airline’s final DC-9 flight. He said because pilots have to always be “hands-on,” most enjoy the plane more than other commercial aircraft. 

“A lot of pilots here at Delta have a sentimental attachment to the aircraft,” he says. “It was their first right seat check out or first left seat checkout.”  

The DC-9 was designed for short, frequent routes. It brought jet service to most U.S. cities for the first time. Delta launched the airplane 1965, but sold the fleet in the early 90s to smaller carriers. When Delta merged with Northwest Airlines in 2008, Delta got some of the DC-9s back

“It’s been a workhorse,” says Robin Barnes, a Delta flight attendant for three decades. She says interior upgrades mean most passengers can’t tell the plane’s vintage. “The give-away being if you look in the cockpit, the framework is still robin’s egg blue,” she notes. “But they still run great. I’m kind of sorry to see them go. I like working on them.”  

The DC-9’s final domestic passenger flight is number 2014. It takes off from Northwest’s former base -- Minneapolis/St. Paul -- and lands at Delta’s current headquarters in Atlanta.

Two economic powerhouses have a sit down

Mon, 2014-01-06 04:58

This week, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will be in Germany to meet with his counterpart, Wolfgang Schäuble. On the agenda is the U.S. Treasury's criticism that Germany is putting too much emphasis on selling to the rest of Europe, instead of buying more. The U.S. says this bias toward domestic consumption hurts the rest of Europe, but Germany may not be in the mood to be told what do by the U.S. The BBC's Damien McGuinness reports from Berlin. Click the audio player above to hear more.

 

2014 Resolutions: Melissa and Joshua

Fri, 2014-01-03 14:52

Happy New Year! In 2014, Marketplace Money will follow a few listeners from around the country who’ve resolved to make over their personal finance lives. We’ll be checking up on their financial New Year’s resolutions periodically throughout the year and see if they're achieving their goals!

Name: Melissa, 39 and Joshua, 27

Family: Daughter, 14 months old

Location: Oakland, Calif.

Resolutions: “Break that paycheck-to-paycheck mentality. We’re starting to make money, we’re becoming more financially secure, but we’re still living like our paychecks are going to evaporate into dust if we don’t spend our money.”

“We don’t know what to do with our extra income. Do we pay off old debt?” Their combined student loan debt is at $70,000 at 6.3 percent interest, and they also have $7,000 credit card debt that is heading into collections. “Do we start our daughter’s  college savings account? We’re not quite sure what to do.”

“We could probably, if we really scrimped, could get $300-400 in savings.” They also have zero retirement savings.

Carmen Says: “We all want to give our kids a great education. The trouble is, when you give an education to a child at the expense of your needs, your kid is going to end up depending on you. And that is actually a situation that several million people are finding themselves in now where they’re taking care of aging parents … one of the biggest gifts you can give a child is to make sure that you are financially stable, so they can start their adult life without that added burden.” 

Carmen’s next suggestion, head to NFCC.org and find a non-profit credit counselor. “Find a non-profit credit counselor. What you don’t want to do is you don’t want to head over to things called debt repair or something like that.”

Carmen’s resolution prescription: “You’ve got about $300 to play with. I would put $100 a month in cash savings account, so that will keep your head above water, and you won’t have to borrow any more if the car breaks down. Two: start taking another 100 to 150 to start paying off that debt. If you have any money left over, go ahead and put some of that money in a pre-tax, your employer’s savings accounts, 401k’s. But that credit card debt, it may be a little while before you can save for retirement in a full way.”

2014 Resolutions: Melissa and Joshua Poland

Fri, 2014-01-03 14:52

Happy New Year! In 2014, Marketplace Money will follow a few listeners from around the country who’ve resolved to make over their personal finance lives. We’ll be checking up on their financial New Year’s resolutions periodically throughout the year and see if they're achieving their goals!

Name: Melissa, 39 and Joshua, 27

Family: Daughter, 14 months old

Location: Oakland, Calif.

Resolutions: “Break that paycheck-to-paycheck mentality. We’re starting to make money, we’re becoming more financially secure, but we’re still living like our paychecks are going to evaporate into dust if we don’t spend our money.”

“We don’t know what to do with our extra income. Do we pay off old debt?” Their combined student loan debt is at $70,000 at 6.3 percent interest, and they also have $7,000 credit card debt that is heading into collections. “Do we start our daughter’s  college savings account? We’re not quite sure what to do.”

“We could probably, if we really scrimped, could get $300-400 in savings.” They also have zero retirement savings.

Carmen Says: “We all want to give our kids a great education. The trouble is, when you give an education to a child at the expense of your needs, your kid is going to end up depending on you. And that is actually a situation that several million people are finding themselves in now where they’re taking care of aging parents … one of the biggest gifts you can give a child is to make sure that you are financially stable, so they can start their adult life without that added burden.” 

Carmen’s next suggestion, head to NFCC.org and find a non-profit credit counselor. “Find a non-profit credit counselor. What you don’t want to do is you don’t want to head over to things called debt repair or something like that.”

Carmen’s resolution prescription: “You’ve got about $300 to play with. I would put $100 a month in cash savings account, so that will keep your head above water, and you won’t have to borrow any more if the car breaks down. Two: start taking another 100 to 150 to start paying off that debt. If you have any money left over, go ahead and put some of that money in a pre-tax, your employer’s savings accounts, 401k’s. But that credit card debt, it may be a little while before you can save for retirement in a full way.”

Uncertainty ahead for India's economy

Fri, 2014-01-03 14:29

Manmohan Singh announced he will step down as India’s Prime Minister after elections in the spring. Singh has been in power for a decade and was the country’s Finance Minister for ten years before that. His policies helped India’s economy grow at a rapid rate -- though in the past few years, inflation and corruption scandals have tarnished Singh’s administration.

“How big a shift this is going to be will really depend on whether his successor is capable of grabbing the reins as it were and pushing ahead with the next phase of reforms which are politically very difficult things to deal with” says Andrew Walker, economics correspondent with the BBC.

Under Singh’s influence, India’s economy opened up more to foreign investment.    

India’s growth slowed in part because of the global recession. But the country’s crumbling infrastructure – including poorly maintained roads and an unstable power grid – has probably stifled investment.

 “I think history will see Manmohan Singh as being the one who started the transformation,” says Walker, “taking India away from this heavily government-dominated economy to a market oriented system that has grown strongly and is capable of doing so for a lot longer under the right kind of leadership.”

2014 Resolutions: Nina

Fri, 2014-01-03 13:56

Happy New Year! In 2014, Marketplace Money will follow a few listeners from around the country who’ve resolved to make over their personal finance lives. We’ll be checking up on their financial New Year’s resolutions periodically throughout the year and see if they're achieving their goals!

Name: Nina, 49
Family: Daughter, 18, in college
Location: Oakland, Calif.
Resolutions: “First and foremost, is to be financially set for retirement which isn’t too far off, so I have to figure out what to do to build my nest-egg a little stronger. At a minimum, I would need a million dollars. I’m no where near a million dollars” Nina says she has about $350,000 saved, is planning to retire around age 65, and she’s interested in retiring abroad where living costs could be cheaper.

She has about $50,000 left on her mortgage to pay off, which she’s been trying to pay down aggressively … perhaps too aggressively. Nina has been dipping into her emergency savings to get it paid off.

“My second resolution is, finding out how to find greater tax-shelters, to make sure that I’m not giving Uncle Sam too much of my hard-earned money.”

Carmen Says: “Number two may not be possible, because you can only max out your tax-shelter so much. But number one, we can absolutely get you there. Really focus on saving up money for your retirement. Please protect that emergency fund, at least have a years worth in there. And then any additional funds … you can split between bulking up your retirement and traveling, so you can see where you want to go.”

Carmen also suggested to not completely pay off her mortgage in lieu of properly saving up for retirement and emergencies. “You can’t take the house to the grocery store, the house won’t pay your bills.”

And one last tip, “Learn some spanish, so you can do your travel and enjoy retirement in the sun!”

KBBI is Powered by Active Listeners like You

As we celebrate 35 years of broadcasting, we look ahead to technology improvements and the changing landscape of public radio.

Support the voices, music, information, and ideas that add so much to your life. Renew here or visit KBBI by April 21 to enter to win one round-trip airfare with Era between Homer and Anchorage. Thank you for supporting your local public radio station.

ON THE AIR
BBC World Service
Next Up: @ 05:00 am
Democracy Now

FOLLOW US

Drupal theme by pixeljets.com ver.1.4