Marketplace - American Public Media

Strong dollar lures Americans to Europe

Tue, 2015-04-14 02:00

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What GE tells us about big bank earnings

Tue, 2015-04-14 02:00

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Winner takes all (minus the taxes)

Tue, 2015-04-14 02:00

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

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

 

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