National News

Tory Burch talks business and social responsibility

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-11-14 15:06

Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal talks to fashion designer Tory Burch about her new book, "Living in Color," her clothing line and her foundation for female entrepreneurs. 

On the success of her line:

I think we hit a place in the market that there was a need.  It was a pretty simple idea. It was designing beautiful clothing that didn’t cost a fortune. It was something that I was personally missing and then we found out it was a wide space in the market. I think, you know listen, we’re never patting ourselves on the back. We’re always looking forward and evolving and thinking of what we could be doing next.

Burch with her mother, Reva.

Courtesy:Tory Burch

On social responsibility:

I was told never to talk about business and social responsibility in the same sentence and I went the opposite of that.

The foundation has always been a part of the conversation and the storytelling and the idea. When we were finally able to launch the foundation, it has turned out to be so extraordinary for the company.

Any millennials we interview, it’s such an important part of the interview process. They want to be working somewhere where they’re making a difference.

Burch with her son Sawyer in the Bahamas.

Courtesy:Tory Burch

On the importance of having women in business:

I think women are part of the answer to the economy and we have to bring men and boys along for the conversation.

Women are great entrepreneurs. They’re great business minds.

Burch with her three boys at Machu Picchu.

Courtesy:Tory Burch

Workers Say Employers In Ailing Atlantic City Hold All The Cards

NPR News - Fri, 2014-11-14 14:32

A bankruptcy judge has approved pay benefits cuts for workers at the ailing Trump Taj Mahal casino. But in the city's grim job market, better-paying opportunities elsewhere are few and far between.

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Nike dominates basketball shoes. Adidas wants in.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-11-14 14:20

There's nothing quite as motivating as a good rivalry. Think about Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, Coke and Pepsi, Ford and Chrysler.

Nike and Adidas are two of the biggest sports brands in the world, yet there is one area where Adidas is a decided underdog: basketball.

Scanning a public court in Manhattan, it’s clear Nikes are the preferred shoe at a weekend pickup game.

“I collect basketball shoes,” says accountant Lester Narcisse, after finishing a game in Nikes. “I still have my Jordans, the first ones. I still have a brand new pair, in the box.”

“I haven’t worn anything but Nike’s in 10 or 15 years,” says Thomas Smith, an online retailer. “I like Adidas, too, though.”

That’s a spark of good news for Adidas, but Nike has a very high share of the basketball shoe market – well over 90 percent, according to data from SportsScanInfo.

But in recent years, Adidas has been making a push to try to take on Nike on the hardwood. They made basketball a priority a few years ago by becoming an official sponsor of the NBA, says Chris Grancio, the general manager for Adidas’ global basketball division.

“But I would say as a brand that has aspirations to be the leading basketball brand in the world, we haven’t grown fast enough,” he says.

To get that growth, the company wants to build shoes around some of the league’s biggest players, though choosing the right players can be as uncertain a process as picking stocks is for investors. Adidas signed megastar Derrick Rose back in 2012, but he’s been plagued by injuries.

So this summer, Adidas got particularly aggressive, signing four of the top six picks in an especially strong draft class: Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Dante Exum, and Marcus Smart.

“Knowing that we’ve got half the starting point guards in the NBA now wearing Adidas and the fact that we’ve got five or six or eight guys that we think could be not only All Stars but could be really special players, that has to be part of our approach,” says Grancio. “There is no silver bullet for us.  We have to be continuously be looking for the next great player.”

“What that actually reminds of me is exactly what Nike did about 20 years ago,” says Victor Matheson, a sports economist at the College of the Holy Cross. “Nike wasn’t a player at all in the soccer markets around the world and they started to make a concerted effort in about the mid-1990s to become a  big player worldwide in soccer and they started to try to sign the top stars and the top teams around the world.”

Mathesons says the roles were reversed back then; it was Adidas who was dominant in soccer, Nike was the underdog. This World Cup? They were neck and neck.

Going back even further, signing a megaplayer worked for Nike in basketball, too.

“The biggest piece that threw Nike into basically national prominence was the Air Jordan,” says Matheson of Nike’s deal with Michael Jordan.

Everyone wanted to be like Mike – and they still do. Air Jordans are owned by Nike, but on their own, they're still are nearly half of the basketball shoe market.

“You want your brand associated with top players,” says Jack Plunkett, CEO of Plunkett Research. “You want your logo seen on those top players.”

Rocket science, it is not. But Plunkett says endorsements work, so Adidas is making the right moves.

“I think Nike’s so far ahead, though, in some ways that they’re presenting a huge challenge to the industry,” he says. “I mean I would hate to be in a position of taking Nike on head on.”

But he’s not saying Adidas shouldn't try.

“I know they’re a global brand with great financial power and they’re smart people. I just think it’s a big challenge for them.”

Board Decision Revives Discussion About Religion In Public Schools

NPR News - Fri, 2014-11-14 14:16

One of the largest public school systems in the U.S. dropped religious affiliations for holidays on its school calendar. The decision represents a classic church and state battle.

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Court Rejects Challenge To Obamacare Rules On Contraceptives

NPR News - Fri, 2014-11-14 13:32

At issue were regulations to accommodate religious nonprofits that object to including birth control in their health insurance plans. Catholic groups said the regulations don't go far enough.

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How Bacteria In The Gut Help Fight Off Viruses

NPR News - Fri, 2014-11-14 13:29

Rotavirus kills more than a half million kids around the world each year. Now scientists have evidence that the secret to stopping it is hiding in the trillions of bacteria of our microbiome.

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Your Wallet: Making Thanksgiving work for you

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-11-14 13:05

This week, we're discussing how you make Thanksgiving work, financially. 

We want to hear about your holiday budget, how you pick a turkey, whether you have plans for your leftovers. 

Let us in on the secrets of your Turkey-day economics. 

Send us an email, or reach us on Twitter, @MarketplaceWKND

Tech IRL: Do you go to the bank?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-11-14 12:56

This week, we took an informal survey by asking people in the financial district of LA "When was the last time you went to the bank?" 

Lizzie O'Leary and Ben Johnson, Host of Marketplace Tech, go to that place where apparently a lot of you aren't going.

Listen to the full story in the audio player above.

Balancing work and life in 4 quadrants

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-11-14 12:51

When we talk about transitions in our daily lives, often it's a question of finding 20 minutes in a busy day to do the thing you love most. It's about transitioning from work life to home life, navigating the way we spend our personal time. 

The whole work/life balance question. 

It's a phrase that comes with baggage: questions about work/life balance can have a gendered element to them, implying that women are somehow supposed to ask for a raise, pack lunch for the kids, and take a bubble bath, all in the same day. Or these questions oversimplify the idea of balance, putting things on a since axis where work makes you unhappy and only "life" -- as in life outside of work -- brings you joy. 

Business coach Lauren Bacon sees things a bit differently. She considers work/life balance on a matrix with four quadrants, a customizable gauge of happiness and energy. 



WATCH: Orphaned Sea Otter Pup Has Snack, Playtime

NPR News - Fri, 2014-11-14 12:40

Found in late September along the California coast, "Pup 681" spent a month at the Monterey Aquarium before being transferred to her new home at the Shedd in Chicago.

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U.S. Spy Program Targeted Cellphones Of U.S. Citizens

NPR News - Fri, 2014-11-14 12:23

In the search for criminals, the government has been scooping up data from thousands of Americans through their cellphones. Audie Cornish talks to Devlin Barrett, who broke this news in The Wall Street Journal.

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Pentagon Plans To Spend Billions Upgrading Nuclear Program

NPR News - Fri, 2014-11-14 12:23

After a major investigation into America's nuclear forces, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel says that he will be investing billions of dollars into the system, and changing to the way it's managed.

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Victims Of Online Threats Say Perpetrators Aren't Being Caught

NPR News - Fri, 2014-11-14 12:23

Women who turn to law enforcement for help are often frustrated that authorities aren't doing enough. Police say tracing the culprits can be a complicated and time-consuming process.

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Why These Kids Love Kale

NPR News - Fri, 2014-11-14 12:18

With childhood obesity rates high, one program in a handful of Washington, D.C., schools is trying to change kids' lives — one vegetable at a time.

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More Squash, Less Bacon: Calculating Your Real-Life Heart Risk

NPR News - Fri, 2014-11-14 11:51

There are lots of cardiovascular risk calculators, but they usually expect you know your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers. This one wants to know if you play tennis. And if you like bacon.

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Sweden Confirms Foreign Sub Snooped In Its Waters

NPR News - Fri, 2014-11-14 11:26

The intrusion occurred last month. Although defense analysts have said Russia is the likely culprit, Swedish authorities say it's "impossible" to say whose submarine it was.

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Twitter's 'junk' rating is not as stinky as it sounds

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-11-14 11:01

On Thursday morning, Standard & Poor’s handed Twitter a corporate credit rating of "BB-." That's "junk" territory, and Twitter's stock spent the day falling nearly 9 percent. Who wants to own "junk," right? But should a label scare investors away?

"Junk is kind of a colloquial term," says Thomas Lys, a professor of accounting and management at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. "Probably the more professional term is 'non-investment grade.'"

The word “junk” oversells things, according to Lys. "If the headline read 'S&P rates Twitter Below Investment Grade,' people wouldn’t be jumping quite as much at the headline as 'junk,'" he says.

Basically a “junk” credit status means a company’s debt is high compared to its earnings.

"The rating agency is less certain that Twitter is going to make its debt payments," says Robert Neal, an associate professor of finance at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business.

On the scale of junk credit ratings, BB- isn't as stinky as, say a C, but it’s smelly enough that some investors will stay away.

"Many institutions, like pension funds, are restricted — they can only invest in investment-grade bonds," says David Kass, a clinical associate professor at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Fewer investors and the lower credit rating mean Twitter will pay more to borrow money — from those lenders out there willing to hold their nose. And today the company's stock price regained half of what it lost 24 hours before.

It won't be easy for ISIS to create its own currency

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-11-14 11:00

Apparently the leader of ISIS, the so-called Islamic State, has been doing some sovereign financial planning. He is aiming to get his self-declared caliphate into the currency business.

Announcements on jihadi websites say ISIS plans to mint gold, silver, and copper coins — to be the currency used throughout the extensive areas it now controls in Iraq and Syria. The coins will reportedly be based on the Islamic dinar used in early Islamic times, specifically during the Caliphate of Uthman in the year 634.

There are some logistical hurdles for ISIS, like acquiring enough precious metal, minting and distributing the coinage, mandating that people in its zone of control use the coins and not other currencies (U.S. dollars, euros, Iraqi and Syrian dinars, etc.).

And then there's the problem of having the currency shunned by the global family of nations, along with international banks and corporations — as proceeds of terrorism and money laundering.

Former Treasury official Ted Truman, now at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, says it would be a "weird, difficult system to manage."

“Prices of bread and so forth would go up and down with the price of copper or gold or silver on the global market," Truman says. "A unit today would buy one loaf of bread, and tomorrow, half a loaf of bread."

That could spread panic and hoarding,  because people wouldn’t know how much food or gasoline those coins would purchase on a day-to-day basis. 

And then there's the problem of trade: It's based on systems of credit and banking, not the exchange of precious metals and coins, says Fariborz Ghadar, director of the Center for Global Business Studies at Penn State University. This is crucial for ISIS, Ghadar says, which does plenty of trade in black-market oil, weapons and food using international currencies such as the U.S. dollar.

“Imagine somebody wants to buy wheat from a trader in Iraq and wants to use it in Damascus," Ghadar said. "Does that mean then you have to put gold in a truck and ship it and exchange it for the wheat that’s coming. And then what happens if on the middle of the road, somebody steals your gold?”

Creating a gold-and-silver based currency has another drawback for ISIS. The value of the coins would be set by the global metals markets — in New York, London, Tokyo and other international financial hubs. This is exactly what the self-declared caliphate says it’s trying to avoid. Its intent is to isolate its citizens from the ‘tyrannical’ global financial system that has ‘enslaved and impoverished’ Muslims, according to online communications from ISIS explaining the new currency plan. Having a precious metals-based currency might bind the self-declared state even tighter to global finance.

Patrick Heller, a numismatic expert and owner of Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Michigan, says minting its own coins could serve a useful political purpose for the militant group, which is governing, providing services and administering justice in territories it controls.

"It's brilliant," said Heller. "ISIS is trying to pretend it's a government. And one of the things that governments do is set a monetary standard, and issue coins and even currency."

Truman speculates that even if the new coinage doesn't end up being adopted as an effective means of day-to-day commerce in ISIS's sphere of influence, it could have a morale-boosting effect. He predicted that ISIS sympathizers around the world would buy and collect the new coins — decorated with images of shields and spears, mosques and minarets — as a way of showing support and expressing their religious affiliation with the group. 

Pimco co-founder got a $290 million bonus last year

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-11-14 11:00

If you need a reminder that you picked the wrong profession, this is your story.

Legendary bond trader Bill Gross, left his firm, Pimco, a couple of months ago. But according to Bloomberg he left with plenty of money in his back pocket. The report, which Pimco denied, said Gross got $290 million as a year-end bonus last year.

Two-hundred ninety. Million. Dollars.

How your car's computers can spy on you

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-11-14 11:00

A group of major car-makers has come out with a set of consumer privacy protection principles. In essence, they promise to place limits on the ways their cars will spy on us – and who will get the information the cars collect.

The document includes rules for geolocation (where you are), driver behavior (how fast you drive, whether you’re wearing a seat belt and your "braking habits") and personal information, including — this is right there in the document — biometrics. 

Of course, modern cars already collect plenty of data.

"Anyone who's taken their car to a dealer knows that there's a port the dealer plugs into, and it gives them all kinds of diagnostic information," says Jules Polonetsky, executive director of the Future of Privacy Forum, which has issued a white paper about privacy and connected cars.

"But that data used to be in your car. You went into the dealer— he had to plug in," Polonetsky says. "That wasn’t being sent anywhere."

Now that cars can connect directly to the Internet, there’s more data to float out there – and some of that data is already floating.

"You’re driving along and advertisements will come up for certain hotels that we use," says Lori Rectanus, author of a Government Accountability Office report on location-based services in cars

"We look at that and we go, ‘How did they know that?'" she says. "'How did they know we would be interested in that?’"

The GAO did not find GPS navigation companies selling consumer-location data to advertisers, according to Rectanus. But they could. Or they could get hacked.

The point is: They know where you are, and that's enough to raise concerns, says Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Lee Tien.

"Somebody might say, 'Wait a minute. I drove to my oncologist's. I drove to Planned Parenthood. I drove to this location at this time when there's an AA meeting,'" Tien says. "There's lots of things about location that people would rather, often, keep private."

What if the car has a video camera that could record what you — and your passenger — are doing and saying?  Think about who you tend to be in a car with: "Parents with children, co-workers, colleagues, friends, family," Tien says. "A lot of conversations, a lot of activity [take place] inside the car."

There’s also the question of how you drive: Should your car have the ability to issue you a speeding ticket?

The new privacy principles don’t impress Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who has pushed for federal legislation to protect privacy in cars. "The principles do not provide consumers with a choice, whether sensitive information is collected in the first place," he says.

After all, if you don’t want anyone to track you through your phone, you can always turn it off.