Federal regulators may want Wi-Fi Internet connections to get more widespread and powerful, but the government is not giving the service away for free. A Washington Post article has sparked debate this week over what exactly the government is trying to do.
It's true the Federal Communications Commission wants some sections of the radio frequency spectrum to be left up for grabs -- free for companies to provide service, but not necessarily free to consumers. Wireless Internet was first developed on open spectrum just like this.
"We're making a mass migration as a country away from using spectrum for broadcast TV to using it for wireless data because we're all using smartphones," says Susan Crawford, a Roosevelt Institute fellow and author of Captive Audience, a book about telecom policy. "The FCC is going to carry out for spectrum and there will be spaces left between the TV stations that get left behind and some data uses for those frequencies. Those spaces are called "white spaces" and they can be used opportunistically for Wi-Fi, and that's what the FCC is hoping for."
A company called FreedomPop already offers free wireless connections through cell phone and some Wi-Fi technology. Free, that is, until you use more than half a gigabyte of data a month.
One hundred days after Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast, many residents still don’t have permanent homes to return to. They are staying wherever they can find a bed, whether it’s hotels, rentals or crashing with friends and family.
Instant relocation is hard enough. Imagine doing it with four kids and number five on the way. That’s the situation Jennifer Dady and her family face. Their home in Broad Channel, a Queens area on the water, was heavily damaged and is under repair. After a carousel of temporary living arrangements, they finally found a suitable rental in the Rockaways, not far from their neighborhood.
“It’s helpful that I’m close. The kids can stay in their school, so that’s good,” she says as her children, aged 2 to 10, hover loudly. “I can keep an eye on my house. It’s easier. It’s definitely easier.”
She’s moving into a newly renovated building. Its developer Ron Moelis, principal at L+M Development Partners, has been working with the city to provide priority access to displaced people. Now that work is gradually finishing on the roughly 300 units in the Queens building, interest is strong from Sandy victims. That was not the case for apartments he offered through the Sandy housing program in the Bronx and northern Manhattan.
“I don’t think we had any takers outside the affected areas, which was a little bit of a surprise,” Moelis says.
Sandy’s victims wanted to stay close to home, where their family, friends and schools are. Federal Emergency Management Agency official Mike Byrne leads Sandy relief here. A former New York firefighter raised in New York public housing, he understands those ties.
“These neighborhoods are the center of their family lives, their cultural lives,” Byrne stresses. “In many cases, it’s where people speak their language. We have 25 different languages we have to translate our material into.”
Not to mention that New York’s a dense urban area where many lack cars. You can move just a mile and be a world away. The housing challenge is quite different than the tornado-stricken small towns FEMA regularly responds to. All this underscores why some residents forced out of their homes by storm damage have more waiting ahead.
As for Queens mother Jennifer Dady, she wants her family back in their home before her next child is born. Her due date is July. She’s not optimistic.
Kai Ryssdal: Today makes it 100 days since Hurricane Sandy slammed into the Northeast. And a lot of New Yorkers and New Jerseyites still don't have permanent homes to return to. So they're staying wherever they can find a bed -- hotels, rentals or crashing with friends and family.
Marketplace's Mark Garrison reports on the enduring housing challenge.
Mark Garrison: Instant relocation is hard enough. Try doing it with four kids and number five on the way.
Jennifer Dady: It’s hard for them. It’s just, it’s a lot of work.
That’s the situation Jennifer Dady and her family are in. Their Queens home is heavily damaged and under repair. They’ve bounced around staying with family and friends. They finally found a rental in the Rockaways, near their house.
Dady: It’s helpful that I’m close. The kids can stay in their school, so that’s good. You know, I can keep an eye on my house. It’s easier. It’s definitely easier.
She’s moving into a newly renovated building. Ron Moelis is the developer. He has a deal with the City to provide priority access to displaced people. Interest is strong, unlike apartments he offered elsewhere, like the Bronx.
Ron Moelis: I don’t think we had any takers outside the affected areas, which was a little bit of a surprise.
Sandy’s victims wanted to stay close to home, where their family, friends and schools are. FEMA’s Mike Byrne leads Sandy relief here. A native New Yorker, he understands those ties.
Mike Byrne: These neighborhoods are the center of their family lives, their cultural lives. In many cases, it’s where people speak their language. We have 25 different languages we have to translate our material into.
Not to mention that New York’s a dense urban area where many lack cars. You can move just a mile and be a world away. As for Jennifer Dady in Queens, she wants her family back in their home before her next child is born. Her due date is July. She’s not optimistic. In New York, I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.
The long-suffering, and all-but-bankrupt United States Postal Service, said today that starting in August, it will stop stuffing home mailboxes on Saturdays. The USPS figures to save $2 billion a year.
The postal service is losing $25 million a day delivering our mail, but what’s in our mail these days? If you look in your mailbox, you might see a magazine or two, some bank statements and, of course, junk. But mostly, it's what is called first-class mail. Postal industry analyst John Callan says the category is made mostly of business mail -- billing statements and checks.
“If they’re still paying checks in the mail," he says.
Callan says deliveries of first-class envelopes have been declining and with that, so too has the postal service’s revenue. Junk mail, or what the industry calls standard or advertising mail, now makes up half of the mail’s volume but brings in much less money. And even that is declining. You can expect 3 percent less junk mail in your mailbox this year.
But don’t think this is a foreshadowing of the beginning of the end of your mail. Rick Geddes, who teaches in the department of policy analysis and management at Cornell, says your mail deliveries for the foreseeable future, are safe. And he’s not basing that statement on raw optimism.
“But on the experience in other countries that have made their postal services more commercial, more like real companies, more entrepreneurial and more innovative,” he says.
Like UPS and FedEx, those private sector models of speed and efficiency. But even these companies rely on the postal service for some of their deliveries.
A mathematician has discovered the largest prime number known to man. It's got 17 million digits. And the lucky discoverer? Dr. Curtis Cooper, a professor of math and computer science at the University of Central Missouri.
He admits: "there's really no practical application" for his discovery. But he compares the search to an art form and says "in a lot of ways, mathematics and art are pretty closely related."
Due to the length of the number, he hasn't read all the digits. But he does say the first digit is a 5 and the last digit is a 1. See the full number here (warning: the page may take a while to load).
The Monopoly board game is getting a minor makeover. Toy-maker Hasbro asked the public to vote on changes to its iconic tokens. Businesses took note. A footwear company and a garden tool maker launched campaigns to protect the shoe and wheelbarrow tokens. Their fans prevailed. The big loser was the iron figurine.
Simon Doonan, creative ambassador for Barney’s New York, reacted to the loss with “a terrible dull sinking feeling of shock and horror.” He notes that the Monopoly iron was the old-fashioned 19th century kind you heated on a stove, which became obsolete decades ago.
“Historically, the idea of being pressed and Sunday-best was fashionably required,” says Cameron Silver, author of "Decades: A Century of Fashion." “In our casual society, ironing is not a requirement. There’s sort of schlubby-chic look that says it’s okay to be a little wrinkly.”
The notion of business casual has been taken to extremes. People consider it acceptable to wear yoga pants and sweats in public.
In fact, wrinkles can even be considered fashionable.
“It’s perfectly okay and perfectly groovy to wear a nice button-down shirt that is very creased,” says Doonan.
And technology has led to more wrinkle-resistant fabrics. Silver swears by his Brooks Brothers wrinkle-free shirts.
“We dress more like the Flintstones than the Jetsons because there hasn’t been that much change in the way we dress,” says Silver. “But fabrics have changed. And this is one of the reasons why irons might be anachronistic in some households where your fabrics are all permanently pressed.”
But the iron is still an essential tool in high fashion.
“In the creation of design, and in every couture salon, the iron is almost like a religious symbol,” says Doonan.
Speaking of religious symbols, you can still count on most hotel rooms to have a bible in the bedside drawer and an iron in the closet.
Harvard Business School retail historian Nancy Koehn says the number of irons in hotel rooms has increased “because hotel rooms, particularly large chains, have spent a lot of energy and money in the last five years trying to make hotel rooms much more comfortable and amenable to women business travelers.”
She says she doesn’t iron nearly as much as her mother did. But at the same time, Koehn hasn’t retired her iron.
“I iron a few of my clothes. And I have someone who irons a whole lot of my clothes. So my household is pulling up the national average by some measure,” says Koehn.
And just because business for iron-makers is declining in the U.S., the industry isn’t necessarily doomed. Koehn says the market for iron manufacturers is better in the United Kingdom, where the average woman spends 55 minutes a week ironing.
President Obama this afternoon nominated a former petroleum engineer and conservationist as his new interior secretary. His nominee, Sally Jewell, has worn many hats, and the president says that’ll help her balance the need for development and preservation.
“She knows that there’s no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress," he says. "That in fact those two things need to go hand-in-hand.”
Sally Jewell once spent a month climbing mountains in Antarctica. Thomas Kiernan is one of her climbing companions and head of the National Park Conservation Association. Jewell serves on the association’s board. Kiernan says he learned a lot about her character during a harrowing climb up Mount Rainier.
“And that was a great example in my mind of her judgment," he explains. "We could handle a little wind, we could handle some snow, a little bit of hail. But lightning, that’s over the top and we need to back down.”
Jewell’s experience with rocky terrain would come in handy at the Interior Department. Oil and natural gas companies are clamoring to drill more on public lands, which environmentalists want left untouched. But she’s got street cred with both sides.
Bob Irvin is president of American Rivers. He likes Jewell’s conservation credentials and the fact that she’s chief executive of REI, a retailer of outdoor gear. Irvin was just in an REI store a few months ago.
“I bought a new sleeping pad," he says. "For camping.”
Irvin says Jewell realized a clean environment was essential for REI’s bottom line. “She has experience as the leader of a company that depends on a healthy environment for its profitability.”
But energy producers also like Jewell’s experience. Kathleen Sgamma is with the Western Energy Alliance, a trade group for independent oil and gas companies. She points out that Jewell once worked as a petroleum engineer. Says Sgamma, “We’re hoping she understands that oil and natural gas development can be done in a very environmentally protective way.”
Sgamma says she’s “cautiously optimistic” about Jewell’s nomination.
All 50 of Boeing's 787 Dreamliners remain grounded after a series of incidents linked to its lithium ion batteries. As a result Japan's All Nippon Airways has cancelled more than 350 flights in February, including international flights to Seattle. But Boeing remains upbeat about the plane's future and is confident that despite the safety scares, airlines won't be cancelling future orders for the aircraft.
Dinesh Keskar is Boeing's senior vice president for Asia Pacific and India. He told the BBC no companies have asked for compensation following the grounding of the Dreamliner and defended the safety of the battery.
"Lithium ion batteries, there have been issues in the past, but at the same time we carefully analyzed everything. Went through the process of certification and we believe that's the right choice even today."
Authorities in Japan and the U.S. are currently investigating whether the batteries are the cause of the problem, but nothing conclusive has yet been found. In the meantime, Boeing has asked U.S. regulators for permission to run test flights of the Dreamliner. Keskar admits the company still doesn't know when the plane will be back in the skies.
Time to pull out your planner and mark your calendar. June 28th is the day Beyonce will launch her U.S. tour. She's performing at L.A.'s Staples Center -- the busiest concert venue in the country. Tickets for that show go on sale this Monday. It's the first time that customers will be able to buy tickets exclusively from AXS, the ticket selling platform developed by entertainment conglomerate AEG.
It is the most recent in a long line of companies that have tried to take on Ticketmaster, and the Beyonce ticket sale will be a big test for the AXS system. Thousands of people will log onto the site all at once, and very few companies outside Ticketmaster have been able to that pull off.
Agata Kaczanowska is a senior analyst at IBIS World. She calls the gamble ”a no-brainer for them because it will boost their income.”
Ticketmaster sold about 150 million tickets last year. Twenty million of those were at AEG venues. So with its own platform, AEG would get to keep ticket fees on those 20 million tickets. And it would have more control over prices.
“And on the flip side, if talent is deciding between several venues AEG can make a more competitive offer for them,” Kaczanowska said.
Most smaller venue owners avoid using Ticketmaster which is known for its high fees. But not all of them.
Barbara Wiggins is the executive director of the Topeka Performing Arts Center in Topeka, Kansas. The 2,500-seat venue has an exclusive contract with Ticketmaster. Wiggins says that the advantage to using Ticketmaster is the massive amount of data the company has collected over the years.
“Well if we're selling a touring Broadway show and Ticketmaster has a database for people that are typically theater buyers in the region then we are able to have access to that information,” she said.
Of course, Ticketmaster's massive size also means it's slower to innovate. This is where AEG hopes to capitalize. One of the features of AXS allows customers to control their entire concert-going experience from purchasing a ticket to buying snacks at the concession window. So you could pre-order a pretzel and a soda and have it waiting for you at your seat.
That way, you won't miss a minute of Beyonce.
How accurate are our memories? Not as accurate as we’d like to think, especially when it comes to political events.
This week, we look at the work of University of California, Irvine, researcher Elizabeth Loftus, a memory expert, whose research shows just how easily we can be led to “remember” events that never happened. All you have to do is show someone a doctored photograph. These false memories become all the more intense when political beliefs are factored in -- Democrats are more likely to falsely remember events that show Republicans in a bad light, and vice-versa.
This leads Stephen Dubner to wonder: can Washington, D.C.’s partisan gridlock be solved by a few carefully doctored photographs?
Kai Ryssdal: Time now for a little Freakonomics Radio. It's that moment every couple of weeks we talk to Stephen Dubner, the co-author of the books and blog of the same name. It is “the hidden side of everything.” Dubner, how are you, man?
Stephen J. Dubner: I'm great, thanks, Kai. I've been thinking about you actually, lately.
Dubner: Yeah, I've been reminiscing. I was thinking about the very first radio piece that you and I did together, back at Yankee Stadium. Let me take you back...
Ryssdal: So here we are and this is great. I’m having a good time. But the game doesn’t start for like an hour and a half. Why are we at batting practice?
Dubner: You remember that, Kai, yes?
Ryssdal: (Laughs) I do. Yes.
Dubner: You remember, we were watching batting practice, and we saw A-Rod, Alex Rodriguez, hitting all those massive home runs into the bleachers?
Ryssdal: Yeah. Shocking now, huh?
Dubner: Well, Kai, it's funny you remember that -- because, in fact, it did not happen.
Ryssdal: Whoa, no! I was there. I was there.
Dubner: We were there. We didn’t see A-Rod hit any home runs. But you did just beautifully illustrate the topic of our conversation today, which is false memory. Thank you very much for playing along.
Ryssdal: Anytime. I'm glad to help. Please continue.
Dubner: I got to thinking about this topic during all the round-up interviews that Hillary Clinton has been doing recently, reminiscing about her very eventful term as Secretary of State. And I was reminded of another Clinton reminiscence that turned out to be a bit off. Kai, I'm interested to know if you remember this piece of tape.
Hillary Clinton: I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.
Ryssdal: Yeah, the thing was, there was no sniper fire. Right?
Dubner: That's exactly right. Hillary Clinton later said that she “misspoke” or maybe misremembered. So, to speak about misremembering, here is Elizabeth Loftus:
Elizabeth Loftus: What I love about this example is that it shows you that all that education, all that experience, all those IQ points -- that Yale Law School degree, it doesn’t protect you from having a false memory.
Dubner: So, Kai, Loftus is a psych professor at U.C. Irvine. She's a leading scholar in memory generally and false memory in particular. Recently, she and a couple of colleagues, along with the online magazine Slate, completed a study. And this study was huge -- 5,000 participants -- and they looked into how well we, people generally, remember political events. So, what they would do is the researchers would show people photographs of various political events. But the gimmick was that each participant would see four photographs -- three of them real, and then one that was doctored. So, for instance, George Bush hanging out at his ranch with his buddy Roger Clemens during Hurricane Katrina -- which did not happen. Or they'd see a picture Barack Obama in a nice friendly handshake with President Ahmadinejad of Iran, which also never happened. But Kai, here's the amazing thing: about half the participants in the study said they did remember the thing that never happened. Here’s Elizabeth Loftus again:
Loftus: Many individuals wrote in details that expanded upon just the claim: 'I remember seeing this photograph, I remember seeing this photograph of President Obama shaking the hand of the president of Iran.' And they may even tell you something about the feelings they remember having at the time they saw that photograph for the first time. But of course they couldn’t have ever seen it before because it was completely made up with Photoshop.
Ryssdal: That’s crazy, man.
Dubner: It is crazy. Honestly, it gets crazier. The crazier part speaks to how partisan we are, our country. I'm not just talking about the politicians but the rest of us, too. What Loftus and her colleagues did -- they did a follow-up study and they found that Democrats and Republicans “remembered” different fake events very differently. Which is to say a Democratic voter was much more likely to think the picture of Bush and Roger Clemens was real, and a Republican was more likely to believe that Obama had really shaken hands with Ahmadinejad.
Ryssdal: And one wonders why Washington is in the state it is in!
Dubner: It's depressing. You could say that we do a lot of it on purpose -- maybe a lot of it is just the way we're hardwired to root for our teams. I will tell you this: the research also suggests that there may be a way to improve, however, this gridlock in Washington, as long as you’re willing to engage in a little bit of trickery.
Ryssdal: In Washington? Never.
Dubner: What I'm thinking, Kai, is this: a nice doctored photograph -- you and I could put this together -- of President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, maybe shooting skeet together?
Ryssdal: We totally could!
Dubner: Or how about the two of them at a ballgame in Yankee Stadium. Just like you and I! Although, the more I think about it, the less sure I am that you and I were actually ever actually at Yankee Stadium at all...
Ryssdal: I was there, dude. I was there. Stephen Dubner. Freakonomics.com is the website. That was pretty cool!
Dubner: Thanks, Kai. Thanks for having me.
Debra Hopper does most of her banking during cigarette breaks at work.
“You can see that I have all of my transactions on my phone,” she says, holding her smartphone. “It’s not an app, it’s just texts.”
However, technically Hopper’s not checking a bank account. She gets her paychecks from the power company where she works deposited directly onto a pre-paid debit card.
Hopper says she ruined her credit as a teenager and wants to rebuild it before she opens a bank account. So until recently, she paid her $550-a-month rent with money orders. That meant she had to go to Walmart or a check-cashing place and then mail the money order in and wait for it to clear.
But since December, Hopper’s used a service called PayNearMe. It allows her to swipe her debit card in a store to send money to her landlord.
“I know that my rent or my payment is getting processed immediately,” she explains. “So I don’t have to worry about slow mail or it getting rerouted. I know they’re going to get it by the time I leave the store.”
PayNearMe is one of a series of new companies and traditional banks developing products for the unbanked -- a good thing, says Jennifer Tescher, the president of the nonprofit Center for Financial Services Innovation. “We’re seeing a lot of innovation in this market because people are recognizing that there’s an opportunity.”
Over one in four U.S. households are either unbanked or underbanked, according to a recent study by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. That means they don’t have access to a traditional bank account or turn to bank alternatives, like check cashers or payday lenders, for some of their financial transactions.
There are many reasons why someone might be without a bank account.
“Some people have had bank accounts and they’ve been hit by overdraft fees and have been blacklisted,” say Lauren Saunders, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center. “They might not think they have enough money to make it worthwhile, and bank accounts are increasingly expensive.”
Still others might be undocumented or they simply might not trust banks with their money.
Historically, banking alternatives have charged high fees for their services, often because consumers had few alternatives. But companies like PayNearMe are hoping to fill this void and offer consumers increased convenience at a fair price. People can pay cash for things from car loans to Greyhound bus tickets at 9,000 different 7-Elevens or Ace Cash Express stores.
“It’s as though we lent the point of sale terminal at the 7-Eleven store to other businesses,” says Danny Shader is the company’s CEO. “So that those business suddenly had thousands and thousands of cash registers in the community where they could do business with consumers.”
PayNearMe’s business model is based on signing up companies -- landlords, lenders, and Greyhound, among others -- which in turn give their customers a bar code or a card with a magnetic strip they can use at select stores. There, the clerk scans the barcode or swipes the card and takes the customer’s money, as if they were buying soda or candy. However, the money actually goes to the company. PayNearMe charges a small fee for the service, which the company can absorb or pass along to the customer. Shader says it’s usually not more than $4, which is typically less than walk-up bill payers or money orders.
The increasing number of companies interested in serving the unbanked market is positive delevopment, says Keith Ernst, an associate director with the FDIC.
But he also worries that some of these bank alternatives tend to be one-off products or services – a way to purchase things or pay bills or send money to family. This differs from traditional banks, where services can grow with the customer’s needs.
“An overriding question remains: what else comes from the relationships [consumers] strike up?” he says.
With a bank, a consumer might start with a savings account and eventually expand their relationship “to save for college, to save for short-term emergency needs, to get an affordable car loan and the like,” Ernst explains.
Another concern is that consumers typically need many of these one-off services to address all their financial needs.
“They’re having to knit them together and try to create a financial identity for themselves,” says Tescher, of the Center for Financial Services Innovation. “And hope that [identity is] recognized when they might find themselves needing more traditional credit or needing to interact with a more mainstream player.”
In other words, a whole slew of a la carte services might not help the unbanked get ahead in life long term.
Japan's Nikkei index hit a 4-and-a-half-year high today after jumping almost four percent. Now, you could give all the credit to a weakening yen which is making Japanese exports cheaper abroad and thereby boosting business. But, Japan isn't the only place where the stock market is booming right now -- markets in the U.S. and even Europe are up as well.
Boeing is speaking out this morning about the problems its 787 Dreamliner is having. The planes have been grounded around the world - after a series of incidents including a fire onboard a Dreamliner in Boston. But in an interview this morning, Boeing remains upbeat about the plane's future.
Now to the ongoing battle between Samsung and Apple. The two have been duking it out for the number one spot in smartphones for some time. And now the Korean electronics maker is planting a flag right in Apple's backyard. It's building a one million square foot research and development center in Silicon Valley and dedicating $100 million to fund emerging technologies.
And finally, to a bit of retirement news. We learned this morning that the U.S. postal service is planning to retire Saturday mail delivery to cut costs. Hasbro is retiring the Iron from Monopoly and replacing it with a cat. A guy named Jim O'Neil is retiring as chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. O'Neil is the guy who coined the term BRIC's, which in the world of economics stands for Brazil, Russia, India and China -- the four key emerging markets. He starting using that term in 2001, to help sell investors on emerging markets. And since then, according to Barrons, the Russell BRIC Index has gained 363 percent.
Japan's Nikkei index hit a 4-and-a-half-year high today after jumping almost four percent. You could give all the credit to a weakened yen which is making Japanese exports cheaper abroad and thereby boosting business. But Japan isn't the only place where the stock market is booming right now. Markets in the U.S. and even Europe are up as well.
The upswing comes as investors are feeling more confident about the eurozone debt crisis, U.S.'s fiscal future, and the stability of China's growth.
"January was the first month that individual investors stopped buying so many bonds and went into stocks, that's a positive thing," says Juli Niemann of Smith Moore & Company.
But all the optimism may bring new risks. According to Bob Mckee of Independent Strategy, the markets may have gotten ahead of themselves.
"The U.S. is growing just at only two percent a year, Europe is not really growing at all, Japan is also stagnant. Unless we see faster growth, the markets will get worried again that governments can't meet their promises on their fiscal and public finances," says McKee.
UPDATED (11:25 am EST): The United States Postal Service says it will suspend regular Saturday mail delivery starting Aug. 5.
What is clear is why the USPS wants to scale back regular delivery by a day -- doing so will save an estimated $2 billion a year. What’s not clear is if the agency can legally just stop stuffing mailboxes on Saturdays.
“There’s a requirement that’s still applicable by Congress that the postal service still deliver six days a week,” says Gene DelPolito, president of the Association for Postal Commerce, a trade group representing businesses that rely on mail delivery.
Since the post office will still deliver packages on Saturday, he says it might be able to get around the Congressional requirement on a technicality. According to DelPolito, what’s really happening is the Post Office is calling Congress’s bluff.
“They’re going to be facing off with each other, and I guess it depends on which one blinks,” he says.
Jerry Cerasale, who is in charge of government affairs for the Direct Mail Association, says all of its 2,000 members will have to make some changes. For some, that will be a painful process.
For others, “it will not, as long as the postal service maintains a service standard so they know when the mail is going to get into someone’s house," says Cerasale.
Cutting Saturday delivery will reportedly shave off about an eighth of the USPS’s total annual shortfall. And for the rest of us, it could mean two junk mail days a week.
Japan's Nikkei index hit a four-and-a-half year high today after jumping four percent. U.S. markets are also near record highs. But as investors pour money into stocks, there are fears that the bond market could suffer. Just last month, investors moved $74.4 billion out of bond funds and into stock funds.
So, what does this trend mean for you?
According to Paddy Hirsch, Marketplace senior producer of Personal Finance, interest rates on bonds are likely to increase while older treasury notes and bond funds may lose value. But Hirsh's advice: don't panic. Instead, he recommends reviewing your portfolio and possibly tweaking bond investments.
To hear about different ways to adjust your bond holdings, click on the audio player above.
Since 1856, wheat has been traded on the floor of the Kansas City Board of Trade. In the old days, there would be a swarm of traders around the pits, shouting orders, making those crazy hand signals you've seen in the movies, but that will end later this summer.
Parent company CME Group (Chicago Mercantile Exchange) announced on Monday that it will move all wheat trading to Chicago.
Joe Barker buys and sells contracts on the exchange for hard red winter wheat, the kind of wheat used to make bread. He's the branch manager of CHS Hedging, and his office is in the same building as the Kansas City Board of Trade. He’s just two floors above the trading pit. But Barker does almost all of his trades electronically.
“Taking care of that clerking function has really cleaned up the paperwork part of what we do, and that’s made us more efficient,” Barker says. “We can handle more customers and we can do it for lower costs, and it’s helped our customers. Their margins get better because we’re able to charge them less.”
In 2007, Barker says about 80 percent of his branch's trades were completed on the floor of the exchange. Now, it's less than 5 percent. That's the way the industry has been moving. Over the last decade, exchanges in Chicago, New York and Minneapolis have all closed or merged with larger exchanges.
In Kansas City, CME Group says June 28 will be the last day for trading wheat in-person.
Michael Braude, who was president of the board of trade from 1984 until 2000, notes that, “For 157 years, the Kansas City Board of Trade was an integral part of the community. I used to tell people when I would take them and give them a tour of the floor that it was the place in Kansas City where more money changed hands than any place else."
Now, that money flows from computer to computer in nanoseconds.
Jeremy Bernfeld is a reporter with Harvest Public Media.
Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas is happy to admit he's a tech geek. The musician, producer, philanthropist now has the title Director of Creative Innovation at the chipmaker Intel.
This week, we are talking to notable folks in the tech world about what could be the next digital frontier -- not the Internet of webpages, but the Internet of things, of interconnected objects. We caught up with Will.i.am at the recent MacWorld/iWorld conference in San Francisco to get a sense of his creative process and ask him if there's any truth to reports of him moving out of music to learn coding -- writing software with computer languages.
On his future career path:
"I'm not going to quit music, I'm going to continue to make music. But I want to code because I would like to contribute to how music is experienced, and the way to do that is through coding."
On the Internet of things:
"Everywhere that we go in the world, the things that we come across aren't intelligent. Like this wall that I'm looking at, it's just separating the room from the other side. In actuality, that wall should be intelligent. Nobody thinks of it like that. That's why when you go into a house, you need to put a TV on it, instead of the wall being the display system. I think what's going to come is the Internet of things...The next ten years is nuts. That's why I want to code."
To hear Will.i.am share his thoughts on how technology will influence music and other everyday experiences, click on the audio player above. And listen to our previous interview with Will.i.am where he discusses his work to bring better science and technology education to U.S. schools.
So Twitter being Twitter, there was a flood of possible titles for what actually could turn out to be a pretty good read. "Crime and No Punishment" was one. "Midnight in the Garden of Goldman and Evil." "Saving Giant Privates."
My favorite, from Ben Smith at Politico:
The World According to TARP #geithnerbooktitles— Ben White (@morningmoneyben) February 6, 2013
Send us yours. Comment below or tweet us @MarketplaceAPM. You can get me at @kairyssdal.
Samsung’s been in the headlines this year, in part, because of its epic clash with Apple. The two have been duking it out for the number one spot in smart phones.
But despite the fact that Samsung builds the “Galaxy,” one of the world’s most popular smartphones, not a lot is known about the company in Silicon Valley. That’s because most of its brain power -- its research and development -- is based in its homeland Korea.
The comany hopes to change that. It's building a 1.1 milion square foot "R&D Center" and dedicating $100 million to fund emerging technologies.
"Being in Silicon Valley is really critical because this is the epicenter of disruptive forces," said Young Sohn, the company's chief strategy officer.
Silicon Valley attracts tech talent from around the world and Sohn says tapping into that, will determine the company’s success.
Mark Cannice, a professor of entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of San Francisco, thinks Samsung is making a smart move by starting a venture capital fund in the Valley.
"If you think about fashion New York comes to mind, if you think about movies, Hollywood of course and if you think about innovation, you think about Silicon Valley," says Cannice.
He adds that Samsung is making a statement. That despite its varied businesses -- it builds everything from ships to office buildings -- it plans to be a leader in technology.
If you run a company, the great thing about going public is that you bring in other people’s money. The bad thing? You have to answer to all those people. No easy task even when times are good.
But times aren’t good for Dell. And the once-dominant personal computer maker today announced a $24 billion deal to buy out its shareholders and go private.
Brad McCarty, the director of business development at The Next Web, isn't surprised at the move. In the last five years, Dell's stock price has tumbled.
"People in the market only know them as 'Dude, you’re getting a Dell' guy," McCarty says, referring to an advertising campaign back when Dell was the biggest computer maker in the world. But now consumers are trading their PCs in for tablets and smartphones, and the laptop market isn't what it used to be.
But the potential new owners of Dell know there’s more to the company than PCs, says analyst Adrian O’Connell of Gartner Research. Dell is also a big player in business services: Providing servers and computers to companies and maintaining them.
"We tend to look at Dell as two companies at the moment, or, rather, we think in terms of old Dell and new Dell," he says.
And that new Dell is well-positioned in the growing field of business services, says tech consultant Tim Bajarin, president of business technology consulting firm Creative Strategies. He says computer systems are "the backbone of running any corporation. We’ve moved into a data age."
Bajarin points out that a lot of old guard computer-makers have flocked to the sector, including IBM and Hewlett-Packard.
Of course, changing a company’s focus takes time, Bajarin says. And being public means posting earnings and answering to shareholders every three months.
"By going private, it takes the quarterly monkey off their back of the shareholders demanding a quarter-by-quarter profit," he says.
Bajarin says Dell might sell off its PC business. IBM sold its personal computer business to Lenovo and its stock price has more than doubled since then.
On Wednesday, a group of talented young men will decide their future. College football coaches and hard core fans eagerly await their choices. It's National Signing Day, when top high school players commit to the NCAA powerhouse where they’ll suit up.
Most will announce their choices via a slowly dying office fixture, the fax machine. A big day for college sports is the biggest day of all for that antiquated technology.
A star high school football player may make a public commitment about where he’s going to college, and many do, in media interviews and on Twitter. But nothing is binding until there’s a signed letter of intent.
These top prospects are teenagers, after all, so they can change their minds. That can make for tense scenes on campus when signing day arrives.
"You have coaches. You have administrators, everybody staring at the fax machine," says Jonathan Bowling, associate athletics director at reigning champ University of Alabama. “And then you hear that first ring and everybody freezes.”
At Alabama and other big-time football programs, staffers prep their faxes like NASA engineers before launch. Technicians are called, toner is refreshed, test faxes sent. Other campus offices are given stern warnings not to send any faxes during signing day. Bowling says the ultimate buzzkill is when a fax turns out to be spam for cheap Caribbean vacations or insurance.
Fans hang on every page too. Many schools offer live web feeds of their fax machine. Alabama got clicks and controversy a while back when it spiced up its fax web stream by having comely, short-skirted women grab the pages. That stopped, but fans around the country still watch, eager to see which top players their school signs.
The fax is the standard because sending letters of intent by mail is far too slow for nervous coaches. The NCAA does allow recruits to scan and e-mail their letters, but few do.
Michael Bertsch of Notre Dame’s athletic department could only think of one occasion where e-mail came into play. Bad weather had knocked out fax lines for some Texas players signing up with the Fighting Irish. The humble fax prevails over e-mail in part because, unlike an e-mail attachment, the tangibility of a signed piece of paper is something that players, coaches and fans can all hang onto.
Texas A&M professor Jonathan Coopersmith is amused by the fax’s star turn in college football. He’s a historian of the fax machine, among other communication technologies. He thinks the novelty of faxing makes a huge moment in players’ lives more special in a way that clicking send on an e-mail can’t. He says that going through the motions of signing and sending a fax, something most young players have never done, “makes it a more solemn, more serious, more memorable event.”
But the shining signing moment for the fax machine doesn’t last long. The whir of faxes printing dies down in the afternoon. Fax web cams go dark as fans head to comment sections and social to dissect signings and fight about which school won the year’s recruitment war.
“For about a 24-hour period, it’s all eyes on the fax machine,” says Mike Farrell, who oversees recruiting coverage for the college sports site Rivals. “Come Thursday, it’s just another piece of office equipment.”
Kai Ryssdal: Tomorrow's a very big day in the lives of some very big young men. Wednesday is National Signing Day, when top high school football players commit to the NCAA institution they've chosen to play for next year.
Hardcore college football fans eagerly await their choices, which makes signing day the last gasp of that slowly dying office fixture: the fax machine.
Marketplace's Mark Garrison explains.
Mark Garrison: Star high school player O.J. Howard says he’s going to play for reigning champion Alabama, but it’s not official until he signs a letter of intent. Top recruits like him are teenagers afterall, and they could change their minds. That makes for tense scenes tomorrow morning on campus.
Jonathan Bowling: You have coaches. You have administrators, everybody staring at the fax machine. And then you hear that first ring and everybody freezes.
Jonathan Bowling is University of Alabama’s Associate Athletics Director. The ultimate buzzkill is when it turns out to be a spam fax for Caribbean vacations. Like other schools, they’re prepping their machine like NASA engineers before launch.
Bowling: We definitely have it looked at, make sure that the toner is filled up, make sure that we have a new ream of paper in there.
Fans hang on every page too. Many schools offer live web feeds of their fax machine. Alabama got clicks and controversy a while back when it spiced up its fax web stream by having comely, short-skirted women grab the pages.
The NCAA does allow recruits to scan and e-mail their letters, but few do. The fax is still king.
Jonathan Coopersmith: Oh, I love it. I love it.
Jonathan Coopersmith is a Texas A&M historian of the fax machine, among other things. For this huge moment in players’ lives, the novelty of faxing makes it special.
Coopersmith: They have to go back to this old technology. I’ve gotta to sign this paper and I have to put it in the machine. Bringing it back makes it a more solemn, more serious, more memorable event.
And with few exceptions, one of the last big moments for the fax machine. In New York, I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.