Marketplace - American Public Media

So much for express shipping

Wed, 2013-12-25 13:39

This final note: Maybe one of the presents you ordered didn't make it to your house in time to put beneath the tree.

Well, UPS says some shipments were delayed this year. Why? "Heavy volume," the company says.

In other words, too many packages, people!

Last week, Big Brown delivered a 132 million packages. On Monday alone, it processed 7.5 million shipments.

So, a note to shoppers. Remember, all those promises made in the online world, about what'll get where by when, still have to be carried out in the real world.

A 'Weird Wednesday' Christmas for the economy

Wed, 2013-12-25 13:16

For anyone who has been scrambling through the malls this week doing last-minute shopping, it may have been hard to tell, but retail activity has actually been a bit slow.

ShopperTrak reports that there were 21 percent fewer people shopping during the week that ended Sunday, compared to last year, and that sales were down 3 percent (not including online sales).

Part of the reason might be the calendar.

“I think this is one of the most stressful Christmas weeks,” says Golden Gate University consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow. "Because the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas are shorter, plus Christmas is falling on a Wednesday, so that means that people are in massive time-crunch.”

Yarrow says many Americans only get Christmas Day off as a holiday. Most employers don’t give the day after Christmas as a gift, and many employees can’t afford to take extra time as vacation, or don’t have the time accrued to take by year’s-end.

Yarrow points out — this happens about every seven years. “So it’s like the arrival of the locusts — not the best year in terms of both enjoyment of the holidays, and also productivity at work.”

Patty Edwards is experiencing this first-hand. She’ll be driving the crowded freeways around Seattle to spend Christmas at her step-daughter’s home, and then turning around to head home again. “As much as I love everyone in the family,” says Edwards, “I am dreading the fact that I have to get up the next morning and be at work because I have meetings.”

Edwards is managing director for investments and a consumer-economy expert at U.S. Bank. She says retailers dread the calendar this year, too.

“We know that the most ideal time for Christmas to land is on a Monday, because you have the entire weekend to shop, and then you can just relax and the retailers get what they want,” she says, adding that Christmas on Wednesday is the worst timing for retailers. That’s because people had to shop, and work, on Monday and Tuesday.

Although, Edwards also thinks the post-Christmas retail situation may be better this year compard to last. “Online sales for those folks who got gift cards will probably be higher on December 26, because it is a Thursday.” Edwards says just like on Cyber-Monday, people will be shopping from their desks, instead of working.

Next week will also be a productivity-mess at work, when New Years Day falls on a Wednesday.

At least on December 26, when people do go back to work or out sale-shopping, one stresser will be removed — the ubiquitous Christmas music at the mall.

Returns help retailers play for keeps

Wed, 2013-12-25 12:16

Tracey Poston loves the ease and convenience of shopping online at her favorite stores like J. Crew and Ann Taylor.  She also really likes being able to return what she doesn't want for free. Like many people who purchase shoes and clothing from online retailers, Poston is often unsure which size to order. 

“I’ll tend to order in multiple sizes and see which one fits me best,” Poston says. 

Whatever doesn’t work gets sent back. She even has a system for her fiance who hates shopping.

“What I’ll tend to do is order him five or six items, have him try them on at home, and then whatever he doesn’t like, I’ll take it back,” Poston said.

Dana Vickers Shelley turned to online shopping after moving to Alabama.

“I love the real-life shopping experience, but given where I live, I don’t have access to the kinds of stores and merchandise I really like,” says Shelley, who frequently finds herself returning shoes that don't fit. 

Online shopping is becoming more like traditional shopping, with customers trying on multiple items, keeping only what they like, then shipping back the rest on the retailer's dime. Paul Argenti, a professor of corporate communications at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, says, for e-retailers, frequent returns are a part of business. 

“I don’t see how you can operate in a world where people can’t go through the different products and try them on,” Argenti said. “Unless there’s some new technology that allows us to really get the size and color right.”

Because they're absorbing the cost of the returns, retailers are keen to cut down on the number. Some are turning to customer data to determine what is being returned and why. Often, it’s a simple matter of size.

“There’s no consistency anymore in what a 2 is or what a 10.5 is,” said Bill Adler, CEO of True Fit Corp., which partners with retailers like Nordstrom and Macy's, and uses customer-created profiles to help predict which items will fit, and which won’t. 

Retailers say data allows them to make a stronger pitch to potential customers, identifying who is a likely buyer and who is likely to buy, then return.

“Everybody returns stuff once in a while,” said Omer Artun, CEO of the software service AgilOne. What you’re trying to detect is someone that does this very often.” AgilOne allows retailers to track what customers are browsing on the website, what items they’re clicking on, what colors and styles they’ve explored, and what they’ve purchased.

Modcloth, an online retailer that sells clothes, shoes and accessories for women, lets customers to interact with one another, comparing how different sizes flatter their shapes, and consulting with a Modcloth stylist for advice on what works and what doesn’t.

Scott Casciato, Vice President of Service for Modcloth, says the company, which has a free return policy, views returns as an integral part of the retail experience. Sometimes, though, a high volume of returns on a particular product is evidence that it just doesn’t belong on the virtual shelves.

“If we’re just seeing a product that continues to be returned, and is not really a hit, yeah, we’ll make different buying decisions based on that, for sure,” Casciato says.

'The Prince of Risk' and financial thrillers

Wed, 2013-12-25 11:42

Author Christopher Reich is a master of what's called the "financial thriller": Books that focus on the economy and the financial markets as important characters. Reich's latest is "The Prince of Risk," where main character Bobby Astor, a successful hedge-fund manager, is the son of the chief executive of the New York Stock Exchange.

The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) or the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) may not be the most exciting topic to read about, but you might change your mind when Astor's father is murdered -- along with the Treasury Secretary and Chairman of the Fed -- after Astor places a billion-dollar bet on the market. 

Interview Highlights:

On why Reich wrote the novel:

“I love this world of stratospheric high-finance where you know bets are not for millions, but for billions of dollars, and so much can hang in the balance on one decision on which way the market will turn.”

On what’s changed from when the Reich used to be a stock broker and the present age:

“When I first got my MBA and became a stock-broker and then worked in mergers and acquisitions, most of the trading was done or large portion by the simple consumer. Now it's really dominated, and I'm talking about trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), NASDAQ and exchanges all over the world by hedge-funds, private-equity firms and institutional investors. Us simple consumers who have hundred or two hundred shares of IBM, we're kind of on the side really just having to watch without much influence on which way the market is gonna go.”

On why the author modeled the novel after the 2008 Mumbai attacks in India:

“…five years ago 15 attackers, hardly trained at all with machine guns [and] poor cell phones, went in, landed by boat and basically paralyzed a sixteen-million person city, the city of Mumbai, brought it to an economic standstill for three days and sadly killed about 200 people, burned down a hotel. But it took only 16 people to wreak untold billions of dollars of economic havoc. And I explored this and say how can this happen in a city like New York … "The Prince of Risk" is looking at what might happen if a foreign government threw investments in our financial system in private-equity firms and hedge-funds was able to manipulate events to their advantage and it's very very scary. We are very vulnerable.”

Scam artists target hopeful immigrants

Wed, 2013-12-25 11:00

There are optimists who believe the door is open for Congress to tackle immigration policy. The Senate has passed a bill, the House ... not so much, but when immigration is in the news, scam artists see an opportunity. 

They'll tell immigrants they can help them get green cards -- even when these swindlers know full well many of their prospective "clients" aren't eligible.

When Karan moved from India to the United States 11 years ago, Karan could not believe his luck. A U.S. tech firm had sponsored him for a visa, and he was going to live in San Francisco.

But when he arrived, he got some unfortunate news. The company had folded -- and that meant Karan's H1B visa was no longer valid. "Because I was not working for the company, I was probably illegal from day one," Karan says. 

For most of the next decade, Karan lived here illegally. He moved to New York and did odd jobs to get by, but what he wanted was a work permit so he could apply for other tech positions.

An acquaintance told Karan he knew someone who could help. "He told me, 'Oh, this guy is good and he can help you get these papers.'" Karan went to see the attorney recommended, Earl David, who promised Karan a work permit and a green card for $20,000. 

The fact that David was demanding so much actually re-assured Karan. "That was the reason we fell for them," Karan says. "They were charging so much money we thought they were the right persons to go to." 

Karan's confidence in David only grew after the lawyer got him a work permit, as promised.

Turns out, though, that the whole thing was a scam. David was filing phony documents with the authorities, and even creating shell companies that allegedly hired his immigrant clients. 

After a while, Earl David stopped returning Karan's calls. And so Karan went to see another attorney, Allen Kaye. "I tried to warn him that even though he got a work permit the case was going to crash and burn," Kaye says.  

Kaye was right. Karan received a letter telling him he was in deportation proceedings. "When we saw that letter it was like there was no ground beneath my feet. It was a weird feeling," Karan says.

Kaye helped Karan find an attorney who won him a temporary reprieve from deportation, but Karan's wife is now at risk of being thrown out of the country. 

Kaye says that while immigration fraud is always a problem, it tends to peak when immigration reform is in the news -- like the effort in Congress to change immigration law for the first time in decades.

Nothing has passed yet, but that hasn't stopped frauds. Reid Trautz, who works at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, says scam artists target people who have low information but high hopes -- like immigrants.

The Federal Trade Commission operates a database where immigrants can report fraud. That's where Michael Waller works, the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the commission. He urges immigrants who have been victims to come forward.

"I can't emphasize enough that the most important thing people can do to help stop this fraud is to file complaints," Waller says. "Law enforcement needs those complaints in order to identify targets."

The problem is, the victims are mostly undocumented -- and as lawyer Allen Kaye points out, they're scared.

"They are afraid of what is going to happen to them," Kaye says. "Are they going to get deported, are they going to get turned in, are they going to get locked up?"

Authorities did eventually find enough people to testify against Earl David, but not until he scammed more than 25,000 immigrants. David pleaded guilty to fraud, and this spring he was sentenced to five years in prison.

Leaving Syria's war zone to start a new life

Wed, 2013-12-25 09:46

The Syrian Civil War has been going on for more than two years now. Most of the 2 million refugees cross the border into Lebanon, where they try to find space in cities and refugee camps that are already crowded. 

Lebanon has asked the international community for help.

Germany says it'll host 5,000 refugees for two years, but leaving a war zone to start a new life in one of Europe's richest countries isn't the easiest transition.

Friedland is a sprawling refugee complex in central German.  That’s where the Syrian refugees spend their first two weeks getting acclimated. There, they start with a crash course in all things German. 

27 year old Hassan Othman is there with part of his nine-member family. The Othmans flew from Lebanon to Germany only a few days ago. "It is like a dream come true! We are in Germany, finally," Othman says.

The Othmans' road to Germany was a long one. They left Syria more than a year ago and moved to Beirut, Lebanon hoping to find work and quiet place to live, but that didn't last long.

"After a few months we heard explosives and bombs and everything happened," he says. "They said it's going to happen [again] just like what happened in Syria." They decided to try to move again, this time to Germany.

After a series of interviews with embassy and UN officials, their names were added to the list of the initial 5,000 Syrians taking part in a new program.

Heinrich Hoernschemeyer is head of the Friedland refugee center. He says the program serves those who meet special criteria. The refugees coming to Germany will mostly be made up of families, those who are ill or handicapped, and those with special skills or education to help rebuild Syria post-crisis, "So the group is very young. The number of children is very high, and we have relatively few single travelers," Hoernschemeyer says.

At Friedland, German officials provide the Syrians with two-year work permits and register them for social services. Then after a few weeks, regional representatives pick up the refugees and drive them to their new homes scattered across Germany.

Hoernschemeyer says this is when the initial excitement fades, "When the reality of their situation hits them over weeks and months, then they become more cautious and the excitement of their first days slows down."

Most refugees have no idea what to expect. Housing varies depending on the city, as does the attitude of their neighbors. Some Germans are supportive of the program and post signs welcoming the Syrians. While others have protested against the refugees, most recently in a working class neighborhood of Berlin.

Hassan's mother Jamina is staying positive. She wants to enroll her two youngest children in school and create stability for her family. "It's gonna be difficult from the beginning but step by step we will get used to it," Jamina Othman says.

Hassan is already thinking about finding a job. He used to work at a big hotel but now dreams of life as an airport employee.

His one big concern is that all of his certificates and diplomas are back in Syria. "I came here with nothing and I only have the knowledge and I know what to work and what to do," Hassan says. 

And he hopes that will be enough to build a new life in Germany.

PODCAST: Big data meets big sickness

Wed, 2013-12-25 08:47

The flu season is upon us, and if last year is any guide, it could be a bad one. Last year was one of the worst in recent history. For companies in the business of  helping people through their aches, pains, fevers, runny noses, and the rest, there is money to be made. But first you’ve got to find those people. To do that, companies are watching us

In this time of giving, roughly 25 percent of us choose to donate before the end of the year. And there’s a benefit to charitable giving beyond the warm and fuzzy holiday spirit -- such donations can shave a bit off the year’s tax bill.

Alan Turing gets a long overdue pardon

Wed, 2013-12-25 08:21

If you know anything about the history of computer science, you've probably heard the name Alan Turing. He's called the father of computer science for formalizing ideas like the algorithm and computation. The famous mathematician also played a key role in helping the Allied Forces use code breaking against the Nazis during World War II, which is why it may come as a surprise that a few years later he was convicted of homosexuality by the British government and died at the age of 41. This week, Turing got a royal pardon. Danny Shaw, home affairs correspondent for the BBC, tells Marketplace Tech the story. Click the audio player above to listen.

'Cool Tools,' a 'Whole Earth Catalog' for today

Wed, 2013-12-25 08:03

The idea of turning a blog into a book is nothing new, but Kevin Kelly, author and former editor of Wired magazine, has gone all out for his new book, "Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possiblities." It's based on the idea of an old catalog, called the Whole Earth Catalog. It’s big, colorful, and it features scannable QR codes attached to many of the nearly 1500 descriptive entries so that you can buy an object you like with a click of the smartphone. Kelly tells Marketplace Tech about the spirit of "Cool Tools," which comes from a hacker history that started in the 1960s. 

Give! (And keep track of your donations!)

Wed, 2013-12-25 07:50

In this time of giving, roughly 25 percent of us choose to donate before the end of the year. And there’s a benefit to charitable giving beyond the warm and fuzzy holiday spirit -- such donations can shave a bit off the year’s tax bill.

But keeping careful track of your donations is crucial. In order to do this more effectively, Marketplace Money host Carmen Wong-Ulrich offers one bit of advice:

“When you give to charities, many now use online payment systems,” Wong-Ulrich says. “So if you can use a credit or a debit card, it enables you to probably tag your charitable giving. So at the end of the year you can just log in to your account, and you can pull up what you’ve given for the whole year so you don’t miss any of those deductions.”

Click on the above audio player to hear more tax-friendly money moves you can make before the year’s end.

Need a last-minute gift? How about $13,000 in chocolate?

Wed, 2013-12-25 07:15

The National Retail Federation says 92 million Americans took advantage of Black Friday sales this season. But there's another group of holiday spenders who aren't watching their pennies quite so closely.  Those customers expect the best … and are willing to pay for it.  And, of course, there are businesses that cater to these wealthy customers. 

Clay Storseth owns a business called "The Christmas Decorator."  He decks the halls of private homes, mansions and five-star hotels throughout Los Angeles. Clay counts Michael Jackson among his past clients.

These are discerning, high-end customers.

"Mostly people who just call me and say, 'We'd like to do this and this and this,' and then they don't really ask me how much it costs. And I go do it, and then I bill them -- and they pay me."

For 20 years, Clay's been buying the best trees from Lyra Marble, the owner of "Mr. Greentrees".

"He spends a lot of time here looking through the trees, over and over and over again to find just the right one," says Marble.

Lyra is particular, too. She hand-picks her inventory in Oregon and Washington, keeps them moist twice a day and even humidifies the tent. They're a specialty tree lot and describes it as "the spa for Christmas Trees." And that comes with spa-like prices.

One of her 14-foot noble fir trees can set you back $2,000.

So, what would you pay to have someone decorate your mansion? Depending on what you're doing, Clay says it can cost $3,000 … or way more.

"If you're doing something on a really really big scale and we're doing garlands on every window and putting nine Christmas trees inside your home… Yeah. It would be a lot," Storseth says.

Despite the expense, Clay is booked solid with more than 40 clients this year.

In Brentwood, Calif., Compartes Chocolates, a family shop which has been in business since 1950, say they have almost more customers than they can handle this time of year. They hand-make beautiful chocolate truffles with exotic flavors like Wasabi Ginger and Peanut Honey Sea Salt.

Owner and chocolatier, Jonathan Grahm, says that he expects and plans on these three weeks as do-or-die for his business. Being in Brentwood, Grahm describes his customers as "the cream-of-the-crop elite people" – people who can afford to order almost $13,000 of chocolate to complete their holiday gift list.

One customer, he says, "walked in and ordered 80 of the 80 piece boxes – people call it the biggest chocolate box that you've ever seen in your life. It's $160. In the past, I may have sold 10 in a year — and this person came in and ordered 80 of them, so that's ... 6,400 pieces handmade just for one client's order."

The holiday season is everything to these business owners. They're exhausted, but their clients are happy and they're doing pretty well for themselves. For Clay – the Christmas Decorator – these few months of hard work will support him and his partner for the rest of the year.

"I still act and I still do Shakespeare, but I get to do Christmas and it keeps me in theater and my apartment in New York and my house in Los Angeles," he says. "So, I'm lucky."

Do I have the flu? (And why Big Data loves when you ask that)

Wed, 2013-12-25 06:40

The flu season is upon us, and if last year is any guide, it could be a bad one. Last year was one of the worst in recent history. .

For companies in the business of  helping people through their aches, pains, fevers, runny noses, and the rest, there is money to be made. But first you’ve got to find those people. To do that, companies are watching us. 

By one count, cases of the flu have doubled over the last week.

“We saw particularly sharp increases across some of the Gulf States in the south, like Texas, Louisiana, Georgia,” says Josh Gray with AthenaResearch, an arm of AthenaHealth.

AthenaHealth monitors how often the 16,000 physicians in its network diagnose patients with the flu. When there’s a spike, Gray blogs about it. 

For companies like Proctor and Gamble and Johnson and Johnson knowing that lots of people are coughing and sneezing in Georgia is gold.

“We’re seeing this more and more,” says Harvard epidemiologist John Brownstein, who also develops those public health surveillance systems for infectious disease. “We are seeing lots of companies using public health surveillance data as a tool to target marketing of their products.”

With the market for over-the-counter cold and flu remedies worth nearly $6 billion, companies are also mining data from Twitter and Facebook to track the sick.

AthenaHealth’s Gray says the idea is to get the right product to consumers at the right time.

“There is more data than ever before and it’s becoming easier and cheaper to analyze it to much more sophisticated level,” he says.

Gray says companies who can make sense of all this information -- and act quickly -- are going to profit.

Could Ford's aluminum F-150 reshape truck market?

Wed, 2013-12-25 06:06

Ford is thinking about making some changes to its biggest moneymaker: F-Series pickup trucks. Ford plans to unveil a truck made out of aluminum, not steel, Bloomberg reports.

According to Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with, transitioning to aluminum has its challenges.

“Attaching it, you can’t just use normal welds, like you do on steel,” she explains. “Aluminum has some issues around the noise that you hear; so, you have to add deadening materials.”

That means there would have to be changes to the assembly line. Ford would do this, Krebs says, because aluminum is a lot lighter than steel, and that would make it easier to hit new fuel standards that are scheduled to take effect in 2016.

“I think this is a threat for steel makers,” says Andrew Lane, an equity analyst with Morningstar who covers metals companies. “Particularly those that are highly leveraged to the automotive markets.”

But steelmakers know they have the edge on price.

“There is a significant cost difference between steel and aluminum,” says Dave Sullivan, an analyst with AutoPacific.

Sullivan says using aluminum would affect Ford’s profit margins on the F-Series, but steelmakers know any transition like this would take time. Ford makes hundreds of thousands of F-Series trucks every year, and these changes couldn’t happen quickly.

A Christmas Day movie about sleaze on Wall Street

Wed, 2013-12-25 05:36

This Christmas Day will be a day to celebrate obscene wealth, moral decay and massive corruption on Wall Street. At least, according to Hollywood.

Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ opens on big screens on December 25 -- just under the wire for Oscar consideration. The black comedy stars Leonardo DiCaprio as penny-stockbroker Jordan Belfort, who went from filthy-rich to federal prison for stock fraud in the 1990s, and then wrote a memoir of the same name about it.

It’s not hard to guess from the tone of the movie trailers which stereotypes ‘The Wolf” will trade in, as one character tells Belfort to “move the money from your client’s pocket into your pocket.”  

For people in high finance, ‘The Wolf’ will be yet another reminder that Wall Street equals ‘corruption’ and ‘excess’ in the popular culture.

That’s OK, says Max Wolff. He’s a strategist and economist at ZTWealth in Manhattan.

“It jacks up people’s sense of self-importance and influence,” says Wolff. He plans to see the movie, and says his friends in finance will too. He thinks they’ll take solace in the fact that the movie is set way back in the 1990s -- not in the 2000s, of recent bubble-bust-bailout memory.

After the movie, he says, “they’ll talk endlessly to each other about how unrealistic it is, and that will be part of a bonding exercise in the industry."

Simon Rosenfeld, senior vice president at Meridian Capital Group in New York, briefly sold stocks off a script early in his career. That’s what the unscrupulous boiler-room brokers working for Jordan Belfort are depicted as doing in 'The Wolf of Wall Street," though Rosenfeld says he was never asked to do anything illegal.

Rosenfeld soon switched from stock-broking to the commercial mortgage business -- which he says would be zero-percent interesting to watch on the silver screen.

“They’re not going to choose to make a movie out of the boring mundane daily activities of what goes on in the mostly-legal world in this industry,” Rosenfeld says.

He’s also looking forward to seeing the new Scorsese flick. He says he doesn’t mind when Hollywood depicts a few colorful crooks plying their trade on Wall Street.

To compete for students, colleges roll out the amenities

Wed, 2013-12-25 05:29

This story starts with Tempur-Pedic mattresses, those high-end memory foam jobs. Every bed in the University of Kentucky’s Central Hall has one.

“I think of my old mattress as sort of a bad dream, and my new mattress as a sort of fantasy dream,” says Tolu Odukoya, a sophomore biology major at UK.

Last year he lived in one of the oldest dorms on the Lexington campus, in a tiny room with bunk beds. The communal bathroom was down the hall. Now he’s in a $25 million complex that opened in August, built and managed by a private developer.

Sophomore Noell Conley lives there, too. She shows off the hotel-like room she shares with a roommate.

“As you walk in, to the right you see our granite countertops with two sinks, one for each of the residents,” she says.

A partial wall separates the beds. Rather than trek down the hall to shower, they share a bathroom with the room next door.

“That’s really nice compared to community bathrooms that I lived in last year,” Conley says.

To be fair, granite countertops last longer. Tempur-Pedic is a local company -- and gave a big discount. The amenities include classrooms and study space that are part of the dorm. Many of the residents are in the university’s Honors program. But do student really need Apple TV in the lounges, or a smartphone app that lets them check their laundry status from afar?

“Demand has been very high,” says the university’s Penny Cox, who is overseeing the construction of several new residence halls on campus. Before Central Hall’s debut in August, the average dorm was almost half a century old, she says. That made it harder to recruit.

“If you visit places like Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama,” Cox says, “and you compare what we had with what they have available to offer, we were very far behind.”

Today colleges are competing for a more discerning consumer. Students grew up with fewer siblings, in larger homes, Cox says. They expect more privacy than previous generations -- and more comforts.

“These days we seem to be bringing kids up to expect a lot of material plenty,” says Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University and author of the book “Generation Me.”

Those students could be in for some disappointment when they graduate, she says.

“When some of these students have all these luxuries and then they get an entry-level job and they can’t afford the enormous flat screen and the granite countertops,” Twenge says, “then that’s going to be a rude awakening.”

Some on campus also worry about the divide between students who can afford such luxuries and those who can’t. The so-called premium dorms cost about $1,000 more per semester. Freshman Josh Johnson, who grew up in a low-income family and lives in one of the university’s 1960s-era buildings, says the traditional dorm is good enough for him.

“I wouldn’t pay more just to live in a luxury dorm,” he says. “It seems like I could just pay the flat rate and get the dorm I’m in. It’s perfectly fine.”

In the near future students who want to live on campus won’t have a choice. Eventually the university plans to upgrade all of its residence halls.

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