Brazilian food used to be treated as the poor cousin of the more renowned European cuisines. But not anymore. Brazilian food is having its moment in the sun. And chefs think that with the World Cup and the Olympics coming, it's going to get even bigger.
After first denying the two ever met, the White House on Thursday says that as a Harvard Law School student at Cambridge, the president briefly lived with his uncle, Onyango Obama.
The Federal Reserve is meeting December 17-18 and the Fed's Chairman will tell us where the Fed thinks the economy’s going and whether/when it’ll slow down the policy of buying securities and bonds to juice up the economy.
The way the Fed has been able to buy those securities is by creating money. It does it every month, to the tune of $85 billion dollars -- approximately $4 trillion thus far.
Creating money is part of the Fed’s job these days, but there was a time when this was downright radical. The power of the central bank to create money out of thin air (what we call fiat money) was born out of a traumatic weekend in 1797.
"It’s a dramatic weekend that is preceded by a landing of French troops and backed up by Irish insurgents on British shores," says Yale PhD candidate Stefan Eich.
“People are rightly concerned about the ability of the government to finance this war. There are mutinies going on all over the British fleet at the same time, and those rumors cause bank runs to occur."
"There’s a concern alongside the wider population as well as the prime minister and bank of England that the bank is slowly but surely running out of gold reserves. The prime minister, for the first time requests the king to come into London for an emergency Privy Council meeting and they announce something truly spectacular. They announce that the pound, which was so far backed by gold, will be backed by just the promise of the government. Suspension of payment in gold is what the government announces."
To observers at the time, this was revolutionary and crazy and people didn’t know what to make of it.
All of a sudden, people were told their money, which they had always believed to be backed by gold, was just backed... by promises! Promises that the government would honor the money -- take it as taxes for example. Not only that, but the Bank of England, could just create money whether it had gold or not.
"It has worth because people trust it has worth," says Eich. "Rather than value being created by some kind of backing through metal or land or other kinds of commodities."
It’s the money we have today.
When people woke up the Monday morning of the 28th and read the newspapers, they were taken by surprise:
“It is a new era in the History of England, and demands all the constancy and all the vigor of Englishmen” – Morning Chronicle, Monday February 27th 1797
“The nefarious system of making paper pass for money....the power conferred upon the Bank by this Bill, is of a nature the most oppressive and dangerous that ever was conferred by the legislature of any country” – The Iniquity of Banking, 1797
“[This is] the first day of our national bankruptcy” – Charles James Fox
Overall, though, says Eich, people were in a state of "shock."
One hears some of these fears from people today worried about what the Federal Reserve does. Back then, people had reason to worry.
The American colonies tried taking their currencies off of gold, and they printed so much money that their currencies quickly become worthless and they switched back to gold as soon as they could after the revolution.
The French had tried an experiment backing paper money with land in Mississippi. It resulted in hyperinflation.
This time, though, was different.
"What happens however is very quickly the established banking community, large part of the political community, as well as the population, actually back the situation. It somehow avoids the bank runs that are feared, it allows the government to pay the troops, what happens to prices is nothing. For at least the first two years, prices barely move. So the immediate horror scenario doesn’t happen."
It’s also during this time that the coin "lender of last resort" appears for the first time. "That expression is actually coined by a pamphlet in 1797", says Eich. "The central bank acting as a lender of last resort prevented bank runs on individual private banks."
But one thing that did happen was a small amount of inflation -- rising prices. By today’s standards it would’ve been modest -- around 4 percent -- but it definitely freaked them out at the time. And the Central Bank didn’t know how to control it, they hadn’t figured out interest rate manipulation or asset purchases. So after a quarter century of it, they brought back gold and threw in the towel on fiat money.
Fiat money, says Eich "is seen as something of a Pandora’s box of monetary policy, something that is terrifying, powerful, and needs to be kept in check."
Only on July 2, 1819 the decision was made to return to gold at the old exchange rate prior to its suspension. "This meant a breathtaking reduction in prices and wages with enormous distributive consequences," writes Eich. "Within little more than two years, between 1819 and 1821, wages were brought down to pre-war levels." The result contributed to widespread labor unrest, which he says reached a peak in the ‘Peterloo’ massacre of August 1819 in St. Peter’s Field in Manchester.
It would take 174 years before the world completely ditched gold in 1971.
But by creating fiat money, the Bank of England came close to running a situation like we have today, where the bank exists in this strange place between the government and the economy, attracting accolades and ire as one of the pillars (and lightning rods) of modern society.
"I think that’s the most important aspect of the weekend. Not so much the first instance of this or that, but it’s inaugurating the kind of conversations that we are still having."
South Africa's first black president and anti-apartheid leader, Nelson Mandela, died Thursday at the age of 95.
Mandela was released from a South African prison in 1990 after 27 years of harsh internment. Four years later, he was elected president of South Africa in that country’s first free, non-racial, democratic elections.
For decades after South Africa’s declaration of Grand Apartheid in 1948, Mandela and his African National Congress (ANC), galvanized a massive international solidarity effort to pursue divestment and economic sanctions. At the movement’s peak in the late 1980s, hundreds of universities, governments and pension funds in the U.S. had pulled billions of dollars out of South Africa, helping to undermine the apartheid regime.
In addition to guerrilla warfare and popular resistance inside the country, a key tactic of the apartheid resistance was to stop the flow of goods and investment from outside, said William Minter, editor of AfricaFocus.org Bulletin.
“The ANC very strategically reached out to the international anti-apartheid movement: including divestment, sanctions, boycotts,” said Minter. He said after the United Kingdom, it was the United States -- through its business and government ties -- that had the most involvement with South Africa internationally, and thus provided it with crucial financial support.
“After World War II, the U.S. became increasingly important, not only in the auto industry, but even in the mining industry as well,” said Minter.
In the foreword to a book Minter edited, “No Easy Victories: African Liberation and American Activists over a Half Century, 1950-2000,” Nelson Mandela wrote that American activism was crucial to the anti-apartheid struggle.
“On occasion the work of our American colleagues was indispensable,” Mandela wrote. “The economic sanctions bill passed by the U.S. Congress in 1986 is a case in point. Without the decades-long divestment campaign undertaken by university students, churches, civil rights organizations, trade unions, and state and local governments to cut economic ties to South Africa, the U.S. Congress would not have acted, even to the extent of overriding a presidential veto. International sanctions were a key factor in the eventual victory of the African National Congress over South Africa’s white minority regime.”
Minter said calls for divestment, and the imposition of economic sanctions by the United States, European, and other governments, added to the costs businesses faced in South Africa.
“We called it an ‘apartheid tax,’” said Minter. “The popular action made it less profitable for companies to invest because they had all the hassle. So even those that stayed in, like Shell Oil, they began to put pressure on the South African government to negotiate with the ANC.”
And many investors did bail out -- including the massive pension funds run by the University of California and New York City, plus JP Morgan and Chase Manhattan Bank. An estimated $20 billion was pulled out of companies doing business in South Africa; the currency collapsed and inflation soared.
The cultural and political impacts of divestment were also profound in the United States, especially for African-Americans and other young activists who had grown up after the civil rights movement. Sarah Willie-LeBreton teaches Black Studies and sociology at Swarthmore College. She was a student at Spelman and Haverford colleges in the 1980s.
“My role was not the same as Nelson Mandela’s role, or Stephen Biko’s role, or the millions of people in South Africa,” said Willie-LeBreton. “But my role was part of being second-wave, a student of color on a predominantly white campus, in an over-developed nation, that could say, ‘what is our complicity in this?’”
University of California, Irvine, sociologist David Meyer said the divestment movement succeeded in localizing a struggle against racial and economic oppression happening 8,000 miles away.
“I think we see the legacies of the anti-apartheid campaign everywhere,” said Meyer. “As the campaigns developed, students took on more aggressive actions, most notably the shantytown protests. It started at Columbia University: they built ramshackle housing on college greens to bring the struggle of South Africa home. And in some ways that’s what we saw with the Occupy movement."
“Because it was successful, activists tried to bottle the tactic,” said Meyer. “In the 1980s, there was a campaign to divest from companies that built nuclear weapons, (with the slogan) ‘General Electric Brings Good Things to Death.’ And right now, Bill McKibben of 350.org is pushing for divestment on campuses from companies that do business in fossil fuels.”
Decades before climate change hit the radar, though, Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement were bringing global economic issues home to Americans -- through divestment.
Rescuers say that they've spotted at least 20 pilot whales in deeper water — a positive sign after the animals were discovered beached in a remote area of the Everglades on Tuesday.
Shell's new vessel is so large that if you stood it up, it would be taller than the Empire State Building. It will be anchored 300 miles off the coast of Australia to handle liquefied natural gas.
The scene you'll find at Christmas Cats TV is a unique one. A woman sits in a den that includes a Christmas tree, a hearth and some presents — and lots of cute cats, some of which are wearing holiday sweaters.
If you were watching the local news in North Dakota -- or if you just had a keen eye on social media -- you may have noticed a shake-up at the news desk this week.
But in case you haven’t heard, actor Will Ferrell invaded KXMB-TV in Bismarck, North Dakota, and anchored an actual newscast in his Ron Burgundy character -- all in an effort to promote his upcoming film, “Anchorman 2.”
“I think it’s hilarious and one of the funniest campaigns I’ve seen,” said Sharon Waxman, founder and CEO of TheWrap.
The unique marketing campaign for “Anchorman 2” all started with a few ad spots for Dodge. Waxman says Ferrell filmed over 70 of these spots for Dodge, so we’ll be seeing a lot of him well before the film’s December 20 premiere.
And it’s paying out handsomely for Ferrell, according to Waxman. Stunts such as his recent local news gig were a result of the station paying him for what amounted to free marketing. To some, it’s a different way of driving excitement for the upcoming film -- especially one that, as Waxman says, has such a cult following.
But to others -- including one Kai Ryssdal -- this whole campaign reeks of overexposure.
All this talk of Anchorman got us thinking... Which Anchorman should co-host with Kai? Answer our poll below:
The august medical journal JAMA created a kitsch masterpiece for the cover of its annual issue dedicated to medical education. A group of seven canine healers, some apparently in training, hover around a sick mutt sucking on a thermometer in a hospital bed. They look an awful lot like some poker-playing dogs from yesteryear.
The Seminoles QB and Heisman trophy front-runner has been facing allegations that he sexually assaulted a female FSU student in December 2012, prior to his college career.
Thousands of restaurant workers protested Thursday in cities around the country, calling for an increase in wages to $15 an hour. Many fast-food workers make so little that they rely on public assistance to get by, even as profits at many franchises have nearly doubled in recent years. But not everyone agrees that raising the minimum wage will fix the problem.
Ronald Thomas Smith II, a chemistry teacher from Texas who spent more than a year at the International School Benghazi, was reportedly shot by unknown assailants. The school's principal tells NBC News that Smith was "very much loved."
Today, fast-food workers in cities across the U.S. are walking off the job. They're calling for a raise in their wages to $15 dollars an hour. Meanwhile, President Obama invoked a similar theme in a speech he gave yesterday that made the case for increasing the minimum wage.
Today is the 80th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. One of the legacies is the lingering existence of dry counties, especially across the South. The number is declining, in part due to the economics of not selling alcohol.
The economy doesn’t care if you volunteer in your community. In fact, the Gross Domestic Product doesn’t count volunteer work at all, and that includes unpaid care-giving for a sick loved one. But with such high costs for elderly home care, there’s often no alternative, as Marketplace’s Chris Farrell says.
In Haiti, abortion is illegal and women are turning to dangerous ways to end unwanted pregnancies. Host Michel Martin talks with Jacqueline Charles, of the Miami Herald, about the issue.
The New York City Fire Department's newest class graduates today, and it will be the most diverse in history: 62 percent are racial minorities in a department that's overwhelmingly white. For more, host Michel Martin is joined by the New York City Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano.
Two years after a federal judge ruled that New York City's fire department's tests discriminated against blacks and Hispanics, nearly 62 percent of graduates from the most recent class of the FDNY's training academy are minorities.
A new report from The Washington Post says that the National Security Agency is collecting almost 5 billion cellphone records daily from around the world -- meaning the NSA is tracking individuals movements in ways previously unknown. And unlike online activity, which can be encrypted, cell location data is harder to hide. Security researcher Ashkan Soltani co-wrote the story, and tells Marketplace Tech about this latest disclosure from the Edward Snowden documents.
Under the new plan, each federal agency would have until 2020 to get 20 percent of its power from renewable sources such as solar and wind.
Americans living in other countries share how they see themselves — and the world. "What used to be more different is now less different," says a 17-year resident of Paris.
About a year ago, Greg Thyssen and Shakti Belway bought an 1800's double shotgun in the Treme neighborhood.
"I'm tall," Thyssen said, "so I love the high ceilings, a fireplace in every room, beautiful pocket doors."
Beauty, yes, but the house needed work. "The floors were eaten away by termites," Belway said, "and under layers and layers of linoleum."
But the couple, both with post-graduate degrees, knew they wanted to live in Treme. It's so...New Orleans, this historically African-American neighborhood, just across Rampart Street from the French Quarter. Shakti, a California native, is eight months' pregnant, and can see bringing up her child here. "We think about that every day," she said.
One thing they worry about, though, is more people like them moving in.
"I recognize that, on one hand, I am gentrification," Thyssen said, "but on the other hand, I'm against gentrification because I don't want this neighborhood to lose its magic."
That magic comes from Second Lines, for one. The traditional Sunday street parades often wind through Treme. At end of one parade, Patricia MacDonald was selling gumbo.
"It has shrimps and hot sausage, chicken necks and chicken gizzards," she said.
MacDonald has lived in Treme for 34 years, but recently had to move when the place she rented went up for sale. She felt lucky to find an apartment she could afford a few blocks away. She said many new owners convert historic doubles into single-family houses. That means fewer rental units. And the pricetags send a message.
"You trying to run us out of New Orleans," she said. "Out of here. You know we can't afford $287,000."
That's what a nearby house recently sold for. High dollar for what Treme is used to, but cheap for people coming from Los Angeles or New York. And increasingly, real estate agent Eric Wilkinson said, people are.
"This is by far the most active the market's ever been, in at least the last decade," he said. "The most people moving to New Orleans, buying in New Orleans."
He says New Orleans has joined the "it" list, with cities like San Francisco and Austin, but cheaper. And those with fresh eyes have an advantage over natives.
"I mean, when you call a street Rampart, which literally means barrier, and people grow up thinking 'don't go across Rampart Street,'" he said. "Whereas people from out of town don't have those preconceived notions. It makes it easier for them to take the leap of faith."
Not to mention most newcomers have no personal memory of the floods after Hurricane Katrina. Which, interestingly, is part of why they're coming, even if they don't know it. A hundred-plus billion dollars of federal aid rebuilt the flood protection system and roads. With those in place, big projects like hospitals broke ground. That's bred investor confidence, for things like restaurants and retail.
Take the historic St. Roch Market, on St. Roch Avenue, in a neighborhood called St. Roch. It sat empty for decades.
"A year ago it was boarded up, covered in graffiti," said Sarah Chase, a St. Roch resident and New Orleans editor of Curbed, a national real-estate blog. "The bones of the building were still there, you could tell it was something amazing, but it wasn't very nice to look at."
Now, after a $3.7 million renovation, the market building stands up straight, pure white inside. But this special space is luring special tenants, like fancy cheese and meat sellers. Some locals are nervous.
"They don't want a gourmet market moving into their neighborhood, or they don't want something they can't afford," Chase said. "At the same time, we live in a food desert."
The chain supermarket down the street didn't re-open after Katrina. And so there is an uneven patchwork: a beautifully restored Victorian next door to a boarded-up mess. A place to buy a free range chicken, but no regular grocery.
The business and residential boom is mostly unfolding on urban, higher ground -- areas that had blight before Katrina, but did not flood badly. The more suburban, deluged fringes of New Orleans now lag behind. That's where the working poor get pushed, as historic areas gentrify.
Belway, the Treme homeowner, holds out hope for a middle ground.
"The very things that make this city special could be lost," she said. "But it doesn't have to happen that way."
With the right policies and programs, she said, New Orleans can help longtime residents stay in their homes. That way the city's oldest, most storied neighborhoods will hold onto not just their beautiful buildings, but a more delicate, precious asset: their culture.