Marketplace

Marketplace®

with Kai Ryssdal

About the Program

Public radio's only national series about the global economy and finance takes a broad view of business, covering any story related to money — most of the world's stories are. Hosted by Kai Ryssdal.

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Let's do the numbers: on private jets
President Trump has expensive taste and a penchant for spending. He’s golfed 61 times since Inauguration and it’s been reported that his weekend trips to Mar-A-Lago can run up to $3 million. Taste aside, traveling while president of the United States isn’t cheap; operating Air Force One costs $206,000 per hour. But news that Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price took five trips by private jet last week in just three days has some wondering how far down the chain Trump’s exorbitant spending habits extend — and how much these chartered flights ultimately cost taxpayers. So we did the numbers on private jets.  How much more do private jets cost than commercial air travel? Politico reported that one of Price’s five corporate jet trips that occurred between Sept. 13 and 15 cost roughly $25,000, according to the company that owns the jet that took Price and 10 others from Dulles International Airport to Philadelphia International Airport. That’s only a 135 mile distance, and similar round trip flights on, say, United, ranged from $447 to $725 (but would likely be cheaper if purchased in advance.) So if we estimate that it would have cost $500 per person to fly commercially, that would have cost around 20 percent of what it did charter a plane. Price’s five flights in total are estimated to have cost at least $60,000. Price’s predecessors under Obama typically took commercial flights domestically. What is the minimum cost of chartering a flight anywhere? Kevin O’Leary, who is the CEO of private aviation consulting company Jet Advisors, told USA Today that the typical charter costs for a light jet (which generally seats up to eight people) are $3,000 per hour with a two hour per day minimum. This means you could theoretically squeeze in a flight from D.C. to Philadelphia and back in a day for $6,000. However, Price took that trip in an Embraer ERJ145 jet, which seats up to 50 and costs an average of $7,000 per hour, according to Paramount Business Jets. Can’t you fly to a lot more destinations on a private jet? You can reach about ten times more airports domestically on private chartered flights than you can on major commercial airlines. There are more than 4,000 potential airports reachable by private jet in the U.S. Are you more likely to make it safely to your destination in a private jet than a commercial airplane? The numbers say no. In 2012, commercial airlines had just 1.5 accidents per 1 million hours of flight and no fatalities versus 4.7 accidents and 0.8 fatal accidents for corporate jets. In 2014, the most recent year for which National Transportation Safety Board data is publicly available, there were 29 accidents (none fatal) on regional and major airlines and 43 on corporate jets and helicopters, eight of which were fatal. (09/21/2017)

Google makes a $1 billion bet on hardware
In the everything old is new again department, Google is betting big on hardware. The company already bought and sold Motorola in the past five years and now Google’s announced it’ll pay $1.1 billion for a chunk of HTC. To be clear Google’s not acquiring the company here. It’s acqui-hiring pretty much the entire engineering department of the Taiwanese phone maker. So what’s the strategy here? Click the audio player above to hear the full story. (09/21/2017)

Puerto Rico faces tough choices in restoring power supply
The entire island of Puerto Rico is still without power today in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Local officials said it could take months to repair the damage and restore full service. And it won't be easy. The utility was already around $9 billion in debt before the hurricane and had filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. Now, there's a big repair bill and the problem of deciding who gets power back first. Puerto Rico's economy can't recover unless the businesses it depends on have electricity. But should they get priority over, say schools or residential areas? Click the audio player above to hear the full story.   (09/21/2017)

Why are so many potential workers sitting on the sidelines in this economy?
The headline unemployment rate we report every month from the Labor Department has been consistently low. According to economists we’re at or near what’s considered full employment.Employers have a record number of job openings, about 6 million right now, and say they can’t find workers to fill them, especially in fields like manufacturing and construction. Meanwhile, about 8.5 million people are either looking for work, or say they want to work but have given up looking. There are more working age people sitting on the sidelines, not actively looking for a job, than there were before the Great Recession. There are also more long-term unemployed, and underemployed people who have part-time jobs and want full-time ones. So what gives? In some cases, workers are mismatched to the jobs employers want to fill — there’s a growing skills gap in the labor market. People who have not had a job for months or years may have a hard time getting hired, as employers don’t tend to want to hire people who have gone through long stretches of unemployment. And employers are also offering more part-time jobs, often with unreliable or inconsistent hours, that are unappealing to workers. Finally, more than half of the men aged 25 to 54 who aren’t working or even looking for work say they’re disabled.  Click the audio player above to hear the full story. (09/21/2017)

What is EDGAR and why do we care if it was hacked?
The acronym of the day is EDGAR, which stands for Electronic Data Gathering Analysis and Retrieval. It’s a platform created and run by the Securities and Exchange Commission. It could also be known, though, as the latest hacking victim in this economy. The SEC made the disclosure late last night that it'd been breached and added that it's possible some insider trading was done as a result.  John Reed Stark was an enforcement attorney at the SEC for 15 years and is now president of a consulting firm. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke with Stark about the EDGAR breach. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation: Kai Ryssdal: Give me a layman's explanation of what EDGAR is, would you? Just so we all know what we're talking about.   John Reed Stark: Sure, that's just a place that the SEC set up — actually pioneered at the time — where companies could make their public filings to the SEC, like annual reports, earnings reports, executive information, other kinds of data. Ryssdal: It also includes some nonpublic information? Stark: Yes it may. It really depends on the type of information that's flowing. Ryssdal: OK. So when you see the phrase, as we saw in the SEC statement about this hack, “possible illicit trading” what kind of bells and whistles go off in your mind? Stark: Well first, I was really impressed with the disclosure in the sense that they actually disclosed the worst case scenario of this information being made public, which is that a ring of insider traders could somehow access that information and then use it to trade ahead of its own release. Ryssdal: And just to be clear that's a big no no. You can't do that. Stark: Yeah but the law is pretty clear. You can't trade on material nonpublic information. You have a duty to either disclose or abstain from trading if you know that kind of information. Ryssdal: Do me a favor and put me inside the mind of an enterprising hacker who knows he can get inside the EDGAR database. What does he or she look for and then what do they do with that information? Stark: Oh gee, that's a tough one. You know, it's sort of like when someone comes into your house and wants to rob your house and then you come home and you see your drawers and everything are scattered everywhere and it's really haphazard. My experience with different hackers and attackers is they sort of rummage through everything and look for anything that they can find, and then they might later on look at that data and maybe sell it to somebody else or maybe use it for something else. As far as insider trading goes, any time you know information, the material information that the public doesn't know, you're going to have an advantage in terms of trading. Whether you can actually use that advantage to profit is another story. It's not so easy to conduct insider trading, it also has its own risks. And remember you, leave an audit trail when you do that so you might get caught. Ryssdal: Right. You brought up something interesting there: it's entirely possible if not likely that the hackers were not the traders. Stark: Oh absolutely. Exactly. Yeah. In fact, you know most of the time there's just multiple layers of these kinds of organizations and they're loosely connected and the person that steals it isn't necessarily the person that uses it or exploits it. Ryssdal: Let me get back to the macro picture here then for a second, forgetting the fact that all of our data is already out there. If I am a mom and pop investor or even a small but sophisticated investor, what's my interest level in knowing that the EDGAR database has been breached? Stark: Well I think in general if you trade in the marketplace you need to have faith that there's integrity in that marketplace and that's why the SEC is there. That's why there's a whole specialized set of regulations that make sure that everything that goes on in the marketplace is fair and above board. So any time there is a disturbance or a disruption along those lines, I think you're going to be concerned and you're going to be hesitant. But in the end, I think you'll probably still be confident in the markets and you'll still trade as you normally would. (09/21/2017)

Facebook fights fires on multiple fronts
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced today that the company will give congressional investigators thousands of social and political ads from accounts associated with a Russian organization known as the Internet Research Agency. And while Zuckerberg was busy detailing that decision, Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, has been dealing with another tricky issue. ProPublica recently reported that Facebook advertisers could target ads using anti-Semitic keywords. Now, Sandberg has promised to strengthen its ad enforcement methodology. Click the audio player above to hear the full story. (09/21/2017)

Disaster rebuilding help is on the way ... eventually
Just over a year ago, Lillie Gumm, 63, woke up to find her Baton Rouge, Louisiana home filling with water. "Within a matter of about maybe 30, 40 minutes, the water was just above my knees," Gumm said. "There was a very strong current in the water." Gumm flagged down a passing school bus and, along with her grandson, caught a ride to higher ground, then a shelter. She was shocked at the disaster because as with Hurricane Harvey, most of the people who flooded in Louisiana in August 2016 did not have flood insurance. That was often because they didn't think they needed it; their homes weren't in the floodplain. One year after her home took on water, Gumm's story is an indication to people in Texas and Florida of what recovery might look like for those without flood coverage. After being evacuated, Gumm's first step was finding a place to stay. She moved in with a relative, then a church friend, then another one, and another. She ended up staying with seven different people before landing in a FEMA trailer park. It was weeks before she managed to check on her home and start salvaging what she could. "A few times I just was too exhausted to even walk to the bus stop," Gumm said, "so I put on a mask and slept there in the house, and I ended up getting sick from the mold. I had no idea mold was so poisonous." Gumm also wound up demoralized, depressed, and exhausted. Without flood coverage, she turned to government assistance. After seeing FEMA assistance advertised on television, she applied. But the financial help wasn't immediate. "I had to wait in line like everyone else," Gumm said. Three months after the flood, Gumm says FEMA gave her $25,100 to start rebuilding her home. She gave the money straight to a contractor, whom she said did a terrible job. "My floors started buckling like a roller coaster, the base molding was coming apart. He basically just took the money and didn’t do everything he said." The money gone, Gumm moved on by cobbling together help — from free meals to construction advice—  from at least five nonprofits. A retired truck driver on a fixed income, Gumm didn’t qualify for a low-interest federal loan from the Small Business Administration. State and federal leaders had promised to help people like her, with no flood coverage. But there was no program in place to do it. Creating that program was Pat Forbes’ job. Forbes is executive director of the Louisiana Office of Community Development, which directs all of Louisiana's federal disaster aid. More than four months after the flood, Congress approved $1.2 billion, most of which was targeted for direct grants to homeowners. Forbes began setting up the program, called RESTORE Louisiana. "It’s not cash," Forbes said. "What they’re getting is reconstruction assistance. We actually either send a contractor to their house, to get it back to a decent place to live, or we can provide funding to them and their contractor who they choose." The first step was to fill out a survey of your damage. Gumm was on top of it. "The day the survey hit I believe I was up maybe one, two o'clock in the morning," Gumm said. "I wanted to get in there as soon as I possibly could." That was in January, but Forbes said the first payments didn’t go out until June — 10 months after the flood. The delay was largely due to how long it takes the state and the feds to approve rules for spending recovery money. Gumm was one of the first to receive a check. A state-provided contractor finished the repairs this summer, and she moved back into her house last month. But her life’s not back to how it was. "I still have an air mattress that I’m sleeping on in my house," Gumm said. "I have to wait patiently until things come back to almost normal. It’s not gonna happen overnight." Forbes said the government is getting more efficient at disaster recovery. "We started getting funds out faster in Louisiana than it’s been done before, but I hope that Texas and Florida beat our record." His advice to flood victims without flood insurance: do as much as you can, now, with help from family, friends or charity. Because while Congress will likely come through with a big recovery package, it won’t happen fast.   (09/21/2017)

Frankfurt readies for possible influx of London bankers
In a cozy little restaurant called VIF, on the edge of Frankfurt’s financial district, the young owner Luise Hoepfner makes herself a cup of coffee and relaxes after the lunch time rush. Hoepfner is rather pleased with herself. She took a gamble opening her restaurant a year ago. Now she believes it will pay off, thanks to Brexit.  “I think for me it will increase demand. More people. More business. More money. The Brexit will be good for us,” she said. “If a lot of banks now based in London move their operations to Frankfurt, I think this will prove to have been the perfect time to invest in this city.”    No one knows for sure how many bankers will flee London after Britain leaves the European Union. Everything depends on the sort of deal the U.K. is able to cut with its European partners before the deadline of March 2019 and whether it will be able to retain the right for the banks based in London to continue operating freely throughout the EU.  If the U.K. loses that right, Frankfurt city officials say, as many as 10,000 London-based bankers could relocate to the German financial center.    Some local businesses report signs of a possible gold rush.   “We’ve seen a big increase in inquiries from London clients looking for upscale properties,” said Olivier Peters, owner of the Sotheby’s real estate franchise in Frankfurt. “And sellers are pushing up their asking prices. We have sold some villas that were, maybe, 10 to 15 percent overpriced but we sold them quite quickly. We can’t say for sure that was because of Brexit but these properties sold much quicker than before the Brexit referendum.” Deutsche Bank – whose twin towers dominate the Frankfurt skyline – reckons that the city’s real estate prices overall are up 11 percent since the British government triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty at the end of March and started the Brexit process. Some local residents are starting to worry. “People who live now in Frankfurt fear very strong that the property prices will go up and up and they will have no more chance to live in Frankfurt," said Festus Meyer, an office worker. He pointed out that there’s already an acute housing shortage in the city and said that Frankfurters of modest means will be forced out to make way for the much wealthier incomers. “It will change the atmosphere. It will change some parts of the city of Frankfurt here.  The gentrification will start. We don’t want that,” he said. Europa Allee, a broad avenue in the center of the city, is one likely destination for the Brexit bankers. Luxury apartment blocks, hotels, shops and leisure centers have been springing up there for more than five years and, critics say, it gives a foretaste of what will happen to the fabric of the city if many more finance workers arrive. Several hundred people have already moved into Europa Allee but, according to Tobias Schmitz of the MHM housing campaign group, it doesn’t look or feel like a community.  “We don’t see many people around here. It’s pretty grey and it’s sterile. No life at all. It’s dead. It’s like a ghost town,”  he said. Schmitz said that the financial workers who live there, only use the place to crash at the end of the day. They have no interest in putting down roots. “It’s a very fast business. People want to make money in a few years and then move somewhere else,” he said, adding that he’d prefer it if the Brexit bankers went to Paris instead.  Frankfurt officials said the city would be mad to reject the economic benefits that would flow from London-based banks shifting their operations to the German financial hub:  80,000 local jobs could be created; more than $200 million a year in extra tax revenue could be generated. And not everyone is unhappy about the possible banker influx. “With more bankers coming in, the higher tax revenue will improve not only Frankfurt but the whole region," said Robin Ladwig, a student. “My comment on the bankers is: come over here! You’re welcome! The more the merrier!” enthused Saman Danandeh, another student.  But it must be said – the subject that both Ladwig and Danandeh are studying is ... finance.   (09/21/2017)

Facebook is fighting "fake news" but raising more questions than it answers (updated)
Update, 9/21/17: Facebook announced it will turn over more than 3,000 Russian-bought election ads to the Senate and House intelligence committees. According to the New York Times, the company had previously shared some examples of the ads to Congressional staffers, but not the entire ad selection. In a video posted to his Facebook account, Mark Zuckerberg said, “While the amount of problematic content that we found so far remains relatively small, any attempted interference is a serious issue.”  The original story is below.  Facebook is under scrutiny again after it revealed that it sold around $100,000 of ads during last year’s presidential election to a Russian firm with a history of peddling in pro-Kremlin propaganda. Plenty of concern has previously been raised over Facebook enabling alleged Russian interference in the U.S. electoral process through the spread of “fake news” bot accounts, and now comes the news of potential manipulative ad buying. In the latest episode of Make Me Smart, Kai and Molly discussed the implications of potentially having Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testify on Capitol Hill. While Facebook admitted it sold the ads, as The Intercept’s Sam Biddle noted, the admission raised more questions than it answered. Among other things, we still don’t know the content of the ads in question or how many people these ads reached. Zuckerberg’s own statements on how vital a role his company plays in addressing misinformation and “fake news” has changed. He at first dismissed that Facebook was responsible for having any pull in influencing the election, calling the idea “pretty crazy” two days after Donald Trump won the presidency. According to Zuckerberg, “Voters make decisions based on their lived experience.” But less than a month later, in an about-face, Zuckerberg went from shrugging off Facebook’s influence to acknowledging some responsibility in a Nov. 18 post. In what may have been an attempt at calming backlash directed at Facebook, Zuckerberg wrote that “there is more work to be done” and listed all the different ways he planned on minimizing the amount of misinformation on the social networking site in the future. Some of the methods outlined in the post included allowing users to more easily flag stories, working with third party fact-checking organizations and cracking down on spam. Facebook followed through on its promise shortly after. In December 2016, it rolled out new features to help report hoaxes and launched fact-checking partnerships with ABC News, FactCheck.org, the Associated Press, Snopes and Politifact. “We believe in giving people a voice and that we cannot become arbiters of truth ourselves, so we’re approaching this problem carefully,” wrote Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s VP of product management for News Feed, the scrolling home page that lists status updates, photos, videos, and news articles. “We’ve focused our efforts on the worst of the worst, on the clear hoaxes spread by spammers for their own gain.” Since Zuckerberg’s Nov. 18 post acknowledging Facebook’s role in spreading misinformation and its attempts to curb it, Facebook has taken additional steps to address the spread of misinformation on the site, even starting the Facebook Journalism Project, a collaboration with news organizations. But how serious and how effective all of these methods are might only be known to Facebook. As Politico noted, fact-checkers partnering with Facebook have no way of knowing if their work is decreasing or increasing the spread of stories that are being flagged to them because no internal data is being released. While Mosseri said in April that Facebook has seen less “fake news” on the site — it has provided no evidence. It remains to be seen if Facebook has really cracked down on the type of misinformation that proliferated during the U.S. presidential election, or if it is paying lip service to appease critics. related It's Facebook and Google versus the newspaper industry Google and Facebook: headed for a truth war? Facebook wants to see everything you see (09/21/2017)

Trump vows more sanctions over North Korea’s nuclear buildup
NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday aiming to tighten an economic noose around North Korea, days after he threatened to “totally destroy” the country if forced to defend the United States or its allies. The new order enables the U.S. to sanction individual companies and institutions that finance trade with North Korea. It adds to U.S.-led international pressure against Kim Jong Un’s expanded missile and nuclear testing program that has stoked fears of nuclear war and dominated the president’s debut at this week’s U.N. General Assembly. The announcement came as Trump met in New York with leaders from close U.S. allies South Korea and Japan, the nations most imperiled by North Korea’s threats. Trump said the order would also disrupt other trade avenues for North Korea in an effort to halt its nuclear weapons program. The president said “tolerance for this disgraceful practice must end now.” He also saluted China’s central bank for what he said was a move to stop its banks from trading with North Korea. That development was reported by Reuters Thursday. China is North Korea’s main trading partner and conduit for international transactions. Washington has been pushing China to scale back economic and financial ties to further isolate Pyongyang. Trump, in his Tuesday address to the U.N., said it was “far past time” for the world to confront Kim, declaring that the North Korean leader’s pursuit of nuclear weapons poses a threat to “the entire world with an unthinkable loss of human life.” “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime,” Trump said, mocking the North Korean leader even as he sketched out potentially cataclysmic consequences. The president spoke of his own nation’s “patience,” but said that if “forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.” Asked for clarification Thursday on what circumstances might qualify, Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, told NBC that would be if North Korea attacked the U.S. or its allies. Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News Channel on Thursday: “We do not desire a military conflict. But the president has made it very clear, as he did at the U.N. this week, that all options are on the table and we are simply not going to tolerate a rogue regime in Pyongyang obtaining usable nuclear weapons that could be mounted on a ballistic missile and threaten the people of the United States or our allies.” The president was meeting with and having lunch Thursday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, seeking to show a common front in facing the North Korean threat despite marked differences in outlook. Speaking at the U.N. Thursday, Moon took a less confrontational stance than Trump and Abe in their addresses to the world body. Moon urged North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons and seek dialogue. He said the standoff needed to be “managed stably.” Still, when he sat down later with Trump, he complimented the president’s “very strong” U.N. address, saying it would “help to change North Korea.” Trump’s overheated language was rare for a U.S. president at the rostrum of the United Nations, but the speech was textbook Trump, dividing the globe into friends and foes and taking unflinching aim at America’s enemies. It drew a sharp rebuke from the North’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, who said “It would be a dog’s dream if he intended to scare us with the sound of a dog barking.” Despite Trump’s rhetoric, his administration insists it is seeking a diplomatic resolution. Any military intervention designed to eliminate the North’s nuclear and missile arsenal would almost surely entail dire risks for U.S. allies in the region, particularly South Korea, lying in range of the North’s vast stockpiles of weaponry. Fears of a military confrontation are increasing. North Korea conducted a series of provocative launches in recent months, including a pair of intercontinental missiles believed capable of striking the continental United States and another pair that soared over Japanese territory. It also exploded its most powerful nuclear bomb to date. Prodded by Washington, the U.N. has responded with the toughest economic sanctions on North Korea yet. Still, the impasse is no closer to being resolved. Russia and China, which backed the new sanctions, want the U.S. to seek dialogue with the North. American officials say the time isn’t right for any formal diplomatic process. But other than using economic pressure to try to compel Pyongyang to give away its nuclear weapons — a strategy that has failed for the past decade — Trump’s administration has yet to lay out a strategy for a possible negotiated settlement. In recent weeks, the administration’s lack of direction has been all too apparent, as Trump and other top officials have vacillated between bellicose talk of possible military action and, at one point, even praise for Kim for a brief lull in missile tests. Related How countries have tried to retaliate against North Korea Why blocking trade with China isn't the answer to North Korea (09/21/2017)

Preserving America's movie going history
Movie theaters had a tough time this summer, ticket sales were the worst the industry has seen for the summer season in over a decade. But the movie theater business has never been an easy one. Theaters have been opening and closing, rising and falling with economic tides for years. In one American city, Baltimore, Maryland, there were 129 theaters open in 1916, 119 remained in 1950, but by 2016 there were just three. Photographer Amy Davis chronicled Baltimore's theaters and the story of what became of them in her book, "Flickering Treasures." Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke to her about the movie theater industry. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.  Kai Ryssdal: What is it about these theaters that got to you, that made you want to spend however many years it was going in and taking pictures and finding these stories?  Amy Davis: The book started with one particular theater, a 1939 Art Deco gem called The Senator. I fell in love with this theater, and when it faced foreclosure, it was the last single screen theater left in Baltimore city. So I decided to do a documentary project and I didn't know much about the subject when I started. I had kind of a naive view of theaters and movies because as a photographer, as a visual person, I just enjoyed the thrill of seeing a movie on a big screen. I didn't really appreciate that movie theaters were also a business and that they had actually been opening and closing from the get go, not just in the more recent years like you think of. And so nine years later I have a book.  Ryssdal: We should back up here and because there will be people listening to this program who might not remember that it used to be that you didn't have the multiplexes and the cineplexes,you had a theater in town or several theaters and down and they all showed only one movie, it was that whole single screen thing.  Davis: Exactly. You had downtown theaters but every neighborhood had its neighborhood movie houses. And the movies changed three times a week and you might go there three times a week. So I spoke to a lot of people, particularly those who were over 60 and they would spend all day. It was a great babysitter.  Ryssdal: The forward in this thing is by Barry Levinson and he says in fact, the Saturday matinee was an activity in and of itself. It was just the thing you did.  Davis: That's right. And sometimes they would use their pea shooters to shoot at the screen so it was kind of interactive during the cowboy western movies. One movie theater owner told me the way he'd get rid of the kids was to show a few travelogues and then they would finally filter out of the theater. But truly the memories of being there all day, it's a bittersweet experience when you look back at it now since so many of them have close but it's something to be celebrated. Ryssdal: There are also stories in this book of socioeconomic change, but also racial change in the city of Baltimore, as it relates to these movie theaters and the roles they play.  Davis: Race is a very important part of this story. Over the span of a century, that's the movie going era that we're talking about, all of the theaters were segregated. There were students at a black university, Morgan State, who picketed one particular theater that was near their university, The Northwood. And it became such a pressure point that it forced all of the theater owners to desegregate their theaters. So it was a significant milestone that happened in Baltimore. Ryssdal: I wonder if you're a romantic about these old theaters?  Davis: Well I'm less of a romantic than I was before. I realized now that they they are a business and they have to make money to stay afloat. But I think I'm still a romantic because all the people I met who have this passion for movies and movie houses, they all share a certain spark, they share a sense of imagination. So you have to be kind of a romantic and that's what keeps us going I think.  (09/21/2017)

Fed Chair Janet Yellen: Wells Fargo's actions are "unacceptable"
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the Fed is prepared to take action against Wells Fargo but won't say when. For its part, Wells Fargo said it’s committed to making things right for its customers and is eliminating sales goals for retail bankers in its branches and call centers.   (09/21/2017)

After the cart is full: working in e-retail
Veronica Mena is one of those people whose energy is practically contagious. She shouts “let’s do this!” to her fellow workers as she moves between conveyor belts and cardboard cartons. She peppers her own sentences with “let’s go” a lot. You get the feeling she could have an alternate career as a life coach. “I like to motivate people,” said Mena, a packing supervisor for the e-retailer Boxed. “This is automation, and as you can see, we don't stop.  I'm like, let’s go, you can do this, I know you can do better." Mena works in Boxed’s warehouse in Union, New Jersey. Boxed is into bulk — do you want 12 rolls of paper towels, and 60 Clif bars, and maybe a couple gallons of cheese balls?  Boxed is your site. It bills itself as the Costco of e-retail.  It’s also a startup, and while Boxed says it’s not necessarily competing with Amazon, it is. Partially because every company is competing with Amazon these days, whether you sell stuff, or make movies, or provide cloud storage.  And Boxed is definitely competing with Amazon in terms of attracting workers. Last month, Amazon held job fairs throughout the country in an effort to hire 50,000 people before the holiday season. As more of us shop online, e-retailers need more humans at the warehouse fulfilling those orders. Well, for the time being, at least, people are still needed. Boxed automated parts of its Union warehouse earlier this year without laying anyone off. There are now two miles of conveyor belts that go through the building, and a tall robot casts a shadow over the space, where baskets labeled “iBot” help to sort orders correctly. The human workers spend a lot time interacting with those robots. They rotate the different baskets labeled iBot, and tape cartons together. They scan bar codes and follow instructions on tablets. Watching those interactions makes one wonder: how long will people be needed?   “This is not difficult, to be honest,” Mena said. “I always say as a packer — don't do anything else but what the tablet tells you to do. The tablet will take you to what needs to be prepped, which boxes. It's telling you everything, you just need to follow up.” Boxed CEO Chieh Huang in the Union, New Jersey, warehouse. Stephanie Hughes/ Marketplace The CEO of Boxed is Chieh Huang. He is clearly interested in both keeping humans employed and in making sure his warehouses are run as efficiently as possible. "The reality is there’s not an ability to have lights-out automation,” Huang said, using an industry term for when no lights will be needed in warehouses, because they’ll be populated entirely by robots. “The reality is the dexterity of a human hand still hasn’t been replicated.” As traditional retail takes a hit, more of those human hands are moving from jobs in malls to the warehouse. Boxed says that most jobs in the warehouse have an hourly wage in the teens, which beats New Jersey’s minimum wage of $8.44 per hour. The thing that seems to be lost in that? Interaction with other humans. Unlike when you sell a sweater in a store, Mena never meets the people whose boxes she packs, even though she includes a handwritten note in every order she sends. “Of course I would like to meet them, I think everyone would like to,” Mena said. "Especially when I see my name in an order — oh, this is Veronica, too!  Or if I send it myself, I want to know their feedback.” Mena wonders about the future of her job — but she’s not worried. “Changes always make people think: what's going to happen? Am I still going to be needed? Here in 10 years, who knows? Things change. But we will make sure we get ourselves prepared for it.” In a sense, just as Mena relies on her human ability to rouse the troops — and herself — to get the job done, she’ll need that same enthusiasm to take on whatever her future position might hold. As part of her preparation for that future, she wants to learn more about the systems behind Boxed. "When you think, who's making the machines? Humans. So we are always going to be needed."  Related Walmart vs. Amazon: Which will win the retail wars? How some brick-and-mortar retailers will survive e-commerce (09/21/2017)

Median home prices are up in areas with the biggest risk of natural disaster
If people are more worried about living in places with a high risk of flooding, hurricanes and wildfires, it hasn’t shown up in home prices. During the housing recovery of the last five years, median home prices have risen 65 percent in areas with the biggest risk of natural disaster, compared to 45 percent overall, according to the 2017 Natural Hazard Housing Risk Index from ATTOM Data Solutions. “That’s not their number one motivation when making a decision about buying a home,” said ATTOM senior vice president Daren Blomquist. “In fact, it’s probably pretty far down the list.” Homebuyers are more concerned about jobs and quality of life, he said. And it’s no coincidence that some of the loveliest places to live are situated in places with the highest risk of hurricanes, wildfires, hail and floods. <br /> But people may be taking some risks more seriously. In the last decade, median home prices have fallen in areas most prone to flooding and hurricane storm surge, Blomquist said. As damaging storms become more common, said economist Aaron Terrazas at Zillow, “perhaps people will be a little more hesitant in purchasing homes in these waterfront-exposed communities.” Especially, he said, if Congress reduces coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program, which expires in December. (09/21/2017)

Mobile merger greenlight more likely now
Sprint and T-Mobile have tried to merge before, but federal regulators nixed the plan. The business climate under Trump may smooth the way for a deal. Click the audio player above to hear the full story. (09/21/2017)

SEC reveals 2016 hack that breached its filing system
NEW YORK (AP) — The Securities and Exchange Commission said Wednesday that a cyber breach of a filing system it uses may have provided the basis for some illegal trading in 2016. In a statement posted on the SEC's website, Chairman Jay Clayton said a review of the agency's cybersecurity risk profile determined that the previously detected  "incident'' was caused by "a software vulnerability'' in its EDGAR filing system. The statement said the software was patched quickly after the hack was uncovered in 2016, although the possibility that some may have used it to make illegal profits was only discovered last month. The SEC revelation comes as Americans continue to grapple with the repercussions of a massive, months-long hack of Equifax, a credit reporting agency, which exposed highly sensitive personal information of 143 million people. Related Why do companies wait so long to tell us we've been hacked? How the Equifax hack could have been avoided The SEC chairman said this breach did not result in exposing personally identifiable information. The SEC files financial market disclosure documents through its EDGAR system, which processes over 1.7 million electronic filings in any given year according to the agency's 4,000-word statement. Clayton's statement also mentioned that a 2014 internal review was unable to locate some agency laptops that may have contained confidential information. The agency also discovered instances in which its personnel used private, unsecured email accounts to transmit confidential information. The SEC is continuing to investigate the breach and its possible consequences and coordinating with the "appropriate authorities,'' according to the statement. Clayton ordered a review of the SEC's cybersecurity profile in May 2017, which led to the discovery of the possible illegal trading. The statement did not explain why the hack itself was not revealed when it was discovered last year. (09/21/2017)

Merkel ahead as Germans prepare for Sunday’s election
German Chancellor Angela Merkel — if the opinion polls are to be believed — is on course for an easy win in her country’s general election on Sunday. Merkel has made an extraordinary political comeback. A year ago, she was on the ropes. Her approval rating had plummeted in the aftermath of her decision, in 2015, to open the door to more than a million Syrian refugees and other migrants. But, on the eve of the election, many of her supporters appear to have forgiven her.  “She’s done some things right and some things wrong,” Sigmar Holm told Marketplace at a pro-Merkel rally in northeastern Germany. “It evens out. She comes across well. She’s likeable. We need someone like her. Not people who just talk nonsense,” he said. Germany’s buoyant economy has helped Merkel’s political recovery. Unemployment is less than 4 percent, exports are booming and the budget deficits, which have plagued many of the southern countries in the Eurozone, are non-existent in Germany. Merkel has kept her government’s budget in surplus for five years. "As long as the Germans say: 'the economy runs good, my situation is good,' the benefit goes to the governing party — Merkel and the ruling conservatives,” said Gero Neugebauer, a political scientist at Berlin’s Free University.  And given the country’s ever-present Nazi past, Merkel’s unassuming, slightly dull, demeanor is an additional asset. “Some people are still afraid that too much charisma could lead to too much leadership and the present leadership shown by Merkel is enough,” Neugebauer said.  That is not say that some Germans do not relish the fiery, high-profile, right-wing rhetoric of the Alternative for Deutschland Party and its radical policies. AfD supporters — like Holger Klein — are still enraged about Merkel’s open door migration policy. “Another four years of Merkel will be a disaster, a catastrophe. She’s given the migrants a load of money. What do we Germans get?” Klein said. Support for the anti-immigrant, anti-euro AfD dropped from 15 percent last year to single figures, but in the final weeks of the campaign — according to some opinion polls — it has rebounded. How to explain the relative popularity of the AfD in a country which has such a powerful reaction against right-wing politics? One metric might help. The lowest-paid 40 percent of German workers earn less in real terms than 20 years ago. In other words, despite its booming economy, Germany has its own cohort of “left behind” citizens. The AfD is still only a marginal force but opinion polls suggest it could, after Sunday’s election, become the first far-right party to get into the German parliament since World War II. It's a dark streak of populism and economic discontent to cloud Chancellor Merkel’s sunny horizon. (09/21/2017)

"We could be seeing the beginning of the end of pumpkin spice everything"
Maura Judkis of The Washington Post spent a week buying every pumpkin spice product she saw: yogurt, cookies, pasta sauce — the basics. But also candles, deodorant, and pumpkin printed paper towels. Judkis wrote about the experience and joined Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal to discuss her piece. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.  Kai Ryssdal: Why did you do this? Maura Judkis: Well, there are so many more pumpkin spice themed products that we're seeing in stores year after year. And you know, I wondered what would happen if I actually just bought every single one that I encountered in the course of just regular grocery shopping in a week. Ryssdal: Did you go looking or was it serendipity? Did you come across the pumpkin Cheerios in the aisles or did you say "I need a box of pumpkin flavored Cheerios"? Judkis:  A little bit of both. I mean I was going to different grocery stores in the Washington D.C. area. I went to Target, a Giant, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, to see what they had. But then also if I encountered something online, I would buy it. So that is how I ended up with pumpkin spice deodorant. Ryssdal: Of which I have spoken before on this program. Here's the thing though, at least for the edibles in this. It's not, you say, really about the pumpkin as a flavor. It's more like cinnamon and clove, and other stuff.  Judkis: Yeah. You know pumpkin is not even necessarily an ingredient in a lot of these products actually. Sometimes it's just pumpkin powder. Sometimes it's not even present in the ingredient list at all. But you know, you get this mix of cinnamon, and clove, and nutmeg, and ginger, and allspice and it just reminds you of pumpkin pie and of the holidays, and it gives you this warm nostalgic and kind of loving feeling that a lot of companies want you to feel that when you think of their products. related Why has pumpkin dominated the food market? It's not even fall, and pumpkin spice is ruling Instragram Your pumpkin pie is a lie Ryssdal: Where did pumpkin spice come from? I mean you did some research. Judkis: So The Washington Post might be partially to blame. We're sorry and you're welcome. So pumpkin pie spice was packaged and sold as a blend in the 1950s for the first time. But before that there was a pumpkin spice cake recipe that ran in The Washington Post in 1936 and it is the first reference that we could find to pumpkin spice together. There are other recipes that involve pumpkin and use some of these spices but no one really called it a pumpkin spice cake or a pumpkin spice bread until we did, unfortunately. Ryssdal: You point out at the end of this article that while there are more products than ever available that have pumpkin spice in some form, sales are actually down.  Judkis: Well they're just not growing as quickly as they have in previous years. So we're seeing you know more and more pumpkin spice products than ever. I think one market research firm found that there are 50 percent more pumpkin spice products available online this year than the previous year. But people who have been researching this have found that sales are not growing as quickly anywhere between, only 6 to 20 percent over previous years and in other years we've seen much more growth so we could be seeing the beginning of the end of pumpkin spice everything. Ryssdal: So at the end of your week in pumpkin spice land, what's your verdict? What was your mood? How did you feel?  Judkis: I felt really embarrassed. First of all because I was going to grocery stores and I looked like a crazy person. I had cart loads of pumpkin spice of everything in my car it was orange and it was it was like cookies and candies and coffee and tea and sweets. And so I must've looked really crazy. I was doing the self-checkout aisle because I didn't want to invite the judgment of these cashiers who must have thought I was the world's biggest pumpkin spice fan.  (09/20/2017)

Puerto Rico debt problems confound hurricane recovery
How do you get an already beaten-down economy back up and running when there's literally no electricity? By mid-day Wednesday the entire island of Puerto Rico was without power in the wake of Hurricane Maria. There's massive flooding and damage to buildings, public infrastructure and the power grid. And the ramifications are going to play out over the long economic term. Click the audio player above to hear the full story.  (09/20/2017)

Apple’s App Store gets its own upgrade
Along with releasing its new iOS 11 operating system, Apple also has redesigned the App Store. The new look is meant to make it easier for users to find new apps and increase what is already a big part of Apple's business. In fact, the service part of Apple's model — which is dominated by app revenue — makes more money for the company than sales of Macs or iPads.  Click the audio player above to hear the full story. (09/20/2017)

The latest Obamacare repeal bill sounds a lot like welfare reform
The latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act comes up for a vote in the Senate next week. The Cassidy-Graham bill calls for taking the money the federal government spends on Obamacare and doling it out to the states in block grants. States then call the shots on how the money is spent. “A block grant is a lump sum of money that doesn't change as the number of people might change, or as the per-unit cost of whatever it is you're buying changes,” said Sara Rosenbaum of George Washington University. She said that type of funding works fine when it comes to something with a fixed cost, like building a bridge or re-paving a highway. “For health care, however, where the block grant is for a good or a service, that goes up quite significantly faster than the general rate of inflation, that's certainly a challenge,” Rosenbaum said. In the Graham-Cassidy bill, block grants will mean fewer people have health insurance than do under Obamacare, especially in states that expanded Medicaid. According to a new analysis by health policy firm Avalere, 34 states would get less money under the plan. Georges Benjamin, with the American Public Health Association, said this brings to mind another controversial block grant program: welfare reform. In the 1990s, welfare dollars were doled out based on need, Benjamin said. “Now many welfare dollars go out in blocks of money and they often don't meet the need,” he said. For their part, advocates of block grants also turn to welfare reform — as evidence that block grants can work. “Welfare reform used a block grant formula and as a result some states were able to make changes to their welfare programs that reduced the number of people on welfare,” said David Howard with Emory University. That's the big selling point for block grants. States get to decide how to spend the money. Even if they get less of it. related The legacy of welfare reform, 20 years later To fix Obamacare, look back at another health care battle The part of Obamacare even Republicans like (09/20/2017)

What school principals can learn from CEOs
Eric Bethel was about to deliver some bad news to a tough crowd — a room full of school principals. “All right, so, team,” he began, “there are some key data points that we need to look at.” Actually, Bethel was only practicing to give the bad news to an even tougher crowd. In a few days, he’d have to tell his teachers at Turner Elementary School in Washington, D.C., that they’ll have to take turns monitoring the lunch room this year, because of behavior problems. Bethel is part of an executive masters degree program for principals at Georgetown University. The program, housed in Georgetown’s business school, was created by management professor Bob Bies. Twenty principals — half from traditional D.C. public schools and half from charter schools —  come to campus every other weekend for a year. Most principals are trained in education programs that focus on curriculum and teaching methods, Bies said. “But the reality is they are running organizations,” he said. “It requires staffing, it requires issues around how you manage people, it requires issues about budgets.” Many of those skills aren’t covered in an educational program, he said. Thinking of principals as CEOs is part of a trend in education some teachers and public school advocates find worrying. With the rise of vouchers, and for-profit charter school management companies, there’s growing concern about the privatization of public education. “I think that's a very legitimate concern,” said Jake Lappi, director of academic support at Achievement Prep charter school. “But I think that you can still glean from best practices from businesses, best practices from thinking strategically,” he said, “while still keeping our scholars and our families at the core.” Some of those business skills include delivering bad news, communicating in a crisis and doing what’s called a "stakeholder analysis" before making a big change. Sundai Riggins, principal of Hendley Elementary in Southeast D.C., said she especially liked the course on negotiation. “That definitely changed my perspective on being able to advocate for things that I need for my school in a respectful way, and maybe get someone to see something from my perspective,” she said. Having a better grasp on all the different hats principals have to wear could help with high turnover, said Turner Elementary’s Eric Bethel. According to the School Leader Network, half of new school principals leave the job after just three years. “I think principals run out of gas because there are so many things to do,” Bethel said. “Obviously, the better school leader you are and the better you can do this work, the more sustainable it is.” Related The high cost of principal turnover School districts address lunch shaming Principals at low-income schools often leave, but this one has stayed 17 years (09/20/2017)

Checking in with Syrian refugees one year later
Much has changed over the last year for Ali, Fatima and their four kids. They’ve moved into a sweet yellow house with a big back yard. They’ve planted a vegetable garden next to the driveway where the children ride their bikes. Ali now has his driver’s license and a part-time job at the Cheesecake Factory. Connecticut has started to feel like home. Ali recounts a visit to his daughter’s school for family day. She presented picture she’d drawn of her dad cutting her brother’s hair to her class. “Everyone was clapping and encouraging her as if it were their own kids,” he said through a translator. “I didn’t feel that I am a stranger in this community.” But for all the change over the past year, one thing has remained: Ali and Fatima are still really worried about money. Their rent is about $1,000 a month, which they both say is a source of anxiety. The couple is still relying on a group of local volunteers for emotional and occasional financial support. Typically, when refugees are resettled in the U.S., they’re assisted through a local nonprofit, which aids their transition in setting up an apartment, job searching, and enrolling in school or English language classes, among other things.  related Listen to our first story on Ali, Fatima and their children Syrian refugees are mitigating to a California city that didn't expect them This would-be dentist embodies entrepreneurial spirit of Syrian immigrants However, IRIS, a New Haven-based NGO, is experimenting with training volunteer groups from the local community to take on that role, which had helped them scale up their resettlement efforts. Regardless of the model, any financial support for the refugee is supposed to stop at six months. “We've already doubled that,” said Terri Schmitt, who is leading the volunteer group assisting Ali and Fatima. “We would love to be in a situation where they didn't need us or turn to us for anything, unless there was a real crisis. I don't think that's where we're at and it's where we should be.” The group is trying to not give Ali and Fatima any more financial support. However, the family is still at least $12,000 short on their annual expenses. Where that money will come from is unclear. Ali is only working about 20 hours a week, rolling napkins at the Cheesecake Factory, plus the occasional odd job. His employment is complicated by a back injury he sustained when he fell of his motorcycle during an airstrike in Syria. Fatima stays home with kids and the couple are both still limited in their English-language skills. The family also leans on the volunteer group for help in other ways. For example, when Fatima broke a tooth this summer, she called a member of the group, rather than a dentist. “I think we are a little too comfortable being turned to at this point,” Schmitt said, of the group’s eagerness to help the family. “So they're not as independent as we'd like them to be or as they should be.” IRIS has placed 58 refugee families with volunteer groups so far. Of the 55 that have been in the U.S. over six months, roughly 65 percent were self-sufficient by the six-month mark. That climbed to about 90 percent after a year. Going forward, IRIS wants to better train volunteers to practice tough love with refugees and find them affordable housing – a big challenge in the Connecticut suburbs where many volunteers live. (09/20/2017)

The food community comes together in Houston
My Economy tells the story of the new economic normal through the eyes of people trying to make it, because we know the only numbers that really matter are the ones in your economy. Today’s installment in our series is from Monica Pope, a chef and restaurateur from Houston, Texas.  Since I was 17, I've had this single-minded goal to open a restaurant and change the way Houston eats.  I think back in the day, we just weren't connected. We didn't feel like a community. Over the few years, there's just been a big shift in this farm-to-table thing, which we did not have a label for 20-some-odd years ago.  It's all a piece, the local community, the local farmers finding each other, which took a long time. Before Harvey, I saw us come together. Everybody now believing we've got to go out to eat, we've got to keep buying local, we've got to go to our farmers market on Saturday and say "hi" to everybody and drop money in whatever table we can drop it in, something.  You know, we care about each other and we're a much tighter group. We know it's hard. We all have to make our decisions about how we're going to go on.  I'm cooking tomorrow for 50 people that are under water. You know what I mean? And that's what I do, I do it in a field, or I do it in somebody's back yard, or home or I'm going to do it in Nottingham Forest under water.  We all want to feel better doing something, and so I think I'd feel better doing what it is I do anyway, which is bring people together and let them have a meal and take a little respite. That's how I participate.        (09/20/2017)

How organizations prepare for natural disasters
Hurricane Maria is over Puerto Rico, with the eyewall soon due at the capital San Juan. Its arrival follows Tuesday's 7.1 earthquake in Mexico, where rescue crews are searching for survivors. In the aftermath of a natural disaster, how do organizations prepare and send help?  Garrett Ingoglia — VP of emergency response for Americares, a Connecticut based nonprofit — joined us to discuss how his group does it, and whether people are becoming too emotionally fatigued to help out. Below is an edited transcript. David Brancaccio: How do you, as a disaster-relief outfit, coordinate all the moving parts? Garrett Ingoglia: Like any organization, we have limited resources, but we also prepare for this. Any response organization has to have the ability to increase its workforce quickly to meet the demands of one, or in this case, multiple disasters. So we put in place systems to enable us to do that. Brancaccio: Well, how does it work? Do you have warehouses with medical aid on standby that you can draw from? But once you get the word from Dominica or Mexico, how do you get the stuff toward the plane? Ingoglia: We do have a large warehouse with medicine and medical supplies. Getting the aid where it needs to go is one of the big challenges of all these disasters. Airports may be damaged, ports may be damaged. And so sometimes we have to use different methods to get supplies there. For example, we were able to work closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to bring some tetanus vaccines which have to be kept refrigerated in a refrigerated container. We were able to fly them down to San Juan where a FEMA representative met them and took the vaccines from San Juan to St. Thomas by plane — and they have rights to land on St. Thomas. Brancaccio: Disaster relief takes money, and individuals who donate to Americares and others, may be confused about how best to help. They may be tapped out. Do you also worry that they're running low on the emotional energy they need to keep paying attention? Ingoglia: I just encourage people to think about those who are in the path of this new hurricane, for example, or affected by the last earthquake. They need help, and we hope that people will be able to stay focused and stay interested and continue to contribute to organizations like ours. Related Are we spending enough on disaster preparation? What budget cuts would mean for predicting storms like Irma Where does your donation dollar really go? (09/20/2017)

People who have jobs are searching for better ones … in Hawaii
When Dion Walker closes his eyes and thinks of his next job, he thinks of palm trees and a nice breeze. That’s because he is thinking of a cruise ship in Hawaii — specifically, the Pride of America. Earlier this month, Norwegian Cruise Line held a job fair for a variety of positions on its Pride of America ship, which stays in Hawaii year long. That’s why the day after Labor day, Walker found himself sitting in the hallway of a Marriott Hotel in Washington, D.C., nervously chatting with other job seekers. Currently, there are 7.1 million unemployed Americans, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s down from 14.3 million in August of 2009. The unemployment rate has dropped to 4.4 percent, a point where — according to some economists including the U.S. Federal Reserve — the U.S. is nearing full employment. With the number of unemployed Americans dropping, employers looking to fill open positions have to compete for the remaining job seekers. As of yet, Norwegian Cruise Line does not seem to have a problem attracting potential employees. A handful of them showed up more than an hour before the job fair presentation was set to begin. Among those early birds were Walker and Darren Mitchell. Sitting near each other, folders and resumes in hand, the two men struck up an easy conversation. “They say cruise life is very different,” Mitchell said. “That’s what I hear, too,” nodded Walker. Further down the hall, Brian Perez was getting ready for a day filled with interviews. Perez is a manager of fleet recruitment for Norwegian Cruise Line. He has been with the company for more than 10 years and has been in recruitment since 2008. His team hosts two events a week in different cities. A day’s work consists of two presentations — one in the morning and one in the afternoon — each followed by one-on-one interviews. The recruiting team stays as long as there are candidates to interview. “Sometimes, we go into like 9:00 at night interviewing. And the candidates wait, that's part of the amazing story as well. They will sit here and wait hours after the presentation for this opportunity,” Perez said. When the morning presentation begins, there are just a few seats open in the small conference room. While Norwegian Cruise Line has not seen a drop in the number of candidates since the Great Recession, it has seen a shift in the type of candidates. “There was a time where we would go to these events and we had these crazy numbers but it was very much: 'I'm an accountant. I don't have a job. This sounds like a great opportunity to go work in Hawaii. I'll be a waiter. Sure.' Never been a waiter in their entire life,” explained Perez. However, nowadays, most of the candidates have hospitality experience. “They work in restaurants. They work as a waiter in restaurants in New York and Chicago and Los Angeles and this is like: ‘Oh, you know what I'm going to try to do what I do but on a cruise ship and see if it's any different.’” Darren Mitchell is the second type of candidate. At 55 years old, he has spent years in the hospitality industry. He washed dishes. He manned the grill. He shucked oysters. Right now, he works at HomeGoods but is looking for a better job. He wouldn’t mind moving to Hawaii for one. “It’s a great opportunity. I hope to make a career out of it,” said Mitchell. Another sign of a strong job market is that workers who are unhappy with their current job — be it because of their schedule, their boss, their role, or their pay — become more optimistic about finding a better one. In July, about 3.2 million people quit their jobs. That same month, there were more than 6 million job openings. “We are seeing slight increases in job openings and quit rates, which is good news,” said Cathy Barrera, Chief Economist at ZipRecruiter. “However, things have basically been hovering within the same range for more than a year. We want to see the quit rate in particular continue to climb, which will signal that people are feeling confident enough in the job market to leave their jobs and find better work.” Among those willing to quit to pursue a better job is Michelle Porter, 23, who works as a cook at a restaurant in Arlington, Virginia. Porter’s friend sent her a link the day before to the ad for the cruise ship event, saying: “It’s your dream. You gotta go!” And so here she was, just hours before her afternoon shift, already wearing her chef’s coat. For year, Michelle Parker, 23, has dreamed of working as a cook on a cruise ship.  Jana Kasperkevic for Marketplace She applied to work at a Norwegian Cruise ship when she was younger but was not selected. “Maybe I wasn’t ready,” she said. She is more confident now. She had just received a promotion at work, but she still wants her shot at that cruise ship cook job. Walker, who is 27 years old, was employed until about a month ago when he left his job in New York and moved back to D.C. Since then he has been applying for jobs, hoping to land a position in a food and beverage department at a hotel or a company such as Norwegian Cruise Line. As the morning presentation wraps up, Mitchell and Walker were called in for their one-on-one interviews. A young woman in the crowd clapped and said: “You got it, guys!” “See you on the ship!” Walker said in response. A while later, when asked how the interview went, Mitchell smiled shyly and said: “I think I am going to get it.” Related Arctic climate change: less ice, more cruise ships An Alaska town is at risk of losing its modern-day gold rush — cruise ship tourism (09/20/2017)

88 percent of US students now have fast internet in their classrooms. Here’s why.
Four years ago, less than 10 percent of U.S. students had adequate internet bandwidth in their classrooms, based on Federal Communications Commission standards. Today, 88 percent do, according to a report out this week from nonprofit EducationSuperHighway. How did the digital divide get narrowed so quickly?  Click the audio player above to hear the full story. (09/20/2017)

Puerto Rico takes on major sheltering effort as Maria strikes Caribbean
As Hurricane Maria beats its path through the Caribbean, Puerto Rico has more than 450 shelters to house up to 60,000 evacuees. Many are from surrounding islands. They’ve been on Puerto Rico since before Hurricane Irma hit and may need a place to stay for weeks or months. Click the audio player above to hear the full story. (09/20/2017)

Berlin voters to decide: Should Berlin’s old Tegel airport stay or go?
Germany has a national election coming up on September 24, and on the same ballot, in Berlin, voters will decide whether to keep the local Tegel airport open. Tegel sits about six miles from the city center, but opponents say it’s too old and pricey to maintain. They want a new airport currently under construction to replace Tegel. Tegel's hexagonal main terminal building was built in the early 1970s.  In 2012, more than 18 million passengers came through here. That number rose to more than 21 million people in 2016, who wheeled their luggage through the airport.   Kwoyila Jude-Francis waits in his taxi right outside Tegel's baggage carousels for the next passenger who’ll spend at least €20 for a ride. Without Tegel, he’d lose a big chunk of his income. “You are losing close to a thousand Euro in a month,” he said. “That is really a lot.” Tegel has been slated to close for years once a new airport known as BER is finished. BER was supposed to open in 2012 but construction delays have put that off and it’s now billions of Euros over budget. The new airport is located in another state — Brandenburg — about 20 miles from Berlin’s center. “We were overwhelmed by how many people actually said, 'Yeah, we do need to keep Tegel,'” said Friedrich Ohnesorge, the vice chair of the Free Democratic Party’s chapter in Berlin. The party got more than enough signatures backing a referendum to keep Tegel operating, so that’s why it’s on the ballot in Berlin. “It’s a stupid idea to close it,” he added. Ohnesorge says BER will be too small by the time it opens. Budget airline Ryan Air agrees and is paying for 100 billboards urging a support Tegel vote. But the opposition, which includes Berlin’s Mayor Michael Müller, wants Tegel’s space for apartments, a tech park and schools. Meanwhile Markus Poenseler just wants quiet. From his apartment near Tegel, he can hear an airplane overhead every five minutes. “I will vote against Tegel,” Poenseler said, in German. “As much as I am sorry for it, because as I said, I love this airport,” Poenseler said. Poenseler had to retire early and at age 57 he said he can’t afford to move on his meager pension. Without enough support, Tegel will eventually close, but if those who support keeping it open prevail in September, both sides are likely to be embroiled in legal battles to iron out all the details.  Related Brooklyn and Berlin partner up to drive tech growth Goodbye to Berlin rentals? (09/20/2017)

HHS documents show Obamacare marketing was working in 2016
After the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it was slashing its Obamacare marketing budget by 90 percent on Aug. 31, agency spokespeople cited “diminishing returns” from its television, radio and Internet ads that encourage people to sign up for health insurance. “The Obama administration doubled spending on advertising (from $50 million to $100 million) and saw a 5 percent decline in enrollment,” an HHS spokesperson said in a conference call with reporters after announcing the cut. “People are aware the products are out there,” one official told reporters, “and they are aware they can sign up.” HHS officials told Vox on Aug. 31 that the agency “had not done any studies of the efficacy of enrollment advertising or whether public awareness is indeed quite high.” However, HHS documents obtained by Marketplace show that the agency had evidence its marketing efforts had been working at the end of 2016. Thirty-seven percent of all new sign-ups from November to mid-December 2016 — those who had never enrolled in Obamacare before — were the direct result of money spent on ads, up from 20 percent the year before, according to a January 2017 internal memo. HHS did not respond to a request for an interview. Under the Obama administration, health officials not only invested in an ACA media blitz, but also in measuring its efficacy, said Joshua Peck, former chief marketing officer for the federal health insurance exchange HealthCare.gov. Peck estimates that over his three years as Obamacare’s top marketer, the department spent at least $500,000 to assess and fine-tune the campaign.  He said that included testing marketing messages and evaluating digital advertising campaigns. Outside consultants developed advanced models to predict enrollment based on different advertising strategies, Peck said. “All of that research points to the fact that there is a causal relationship between advertising and enrollment,” Peck told Marketplace this week. Evidence to Obama administration officials that the outreach was paying off came on Dec. 15, 2016 — the first enrollment deadline for that year. The next day, at his end-of-year press conference, President Barack Obama said, “Yesterday was the biggest day ever for HealthCare.gov. More than 670,000 Americans signed up to get covered, and more are signing up by the day.” In a Feb. 2, 2017 post on Medium, Peck argued that outreach could have been even more effective. “Based on the performance analysis we did earlier this year, I’d expect that about 35% of that enrollment or about 350,000 people were lost due to Trump shutting down the bulk of the outreach budget days before the deadline,” he wrote. A lot is riding on the next open enrollment period, which begins Nov. 1, and has been cut to six weeks from three months. HHS said it plans to target most of its $10 million outreach budget to digital media, emails and text messages. “These outreach methodologies have proven the most effective in reaching existing and new enrollees,” the agency said. A smaller budget in a tighter window means fewer young and healthy consumers will buy coverage, said Andy Slavitt, former acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “This will hurt the quality of the risk pool” he said. “It’s going to bring up the cost of premiums for everybody.” Related So just what is a single-payer system? Playing hardball: doctors start negotiating with doctors More Americans are working through cancer (09/20/2017)

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