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Award-winning Marketplace is public radio's daily magazine on business and economics news "for the rest of us." The 30-minute program—with an irreverent reporting style all its own—airs weekday evenings on more than 320 public radio stations nationwide and boasts the largest audience for any business program in the United States on radio, cable or network television. In conjunction with Marketplace Morning Report and Marketplace Money, this trio of financial programming covers listeners from wallet to Wall Street.

How Amazon can be worth the same as Wal-Mart

Jul 24, 2015
Scott Tong stocks rocketed up 10 percent Friday after the company reported quarterly profits to the surprise of many analysts’ expectations. Amazon’s market value – the price if you wanted to buy the whole company – is nearly that of Wal-Mart, even though Wal-Mart makes 35 times the profit of Amazon today.

Investors, though, are betting on what happens tomorrow. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster figures Amazon added 20 million Prime members this year; those are the website shopping addicts who pay $99 for a year’s free shipping and other perks.

Kai Ryssdal

Joining us to talk about the week's business and economic news are the Washington Post's Catherine Rampell and Cardiff Garcia of FT Alphaville. The big topics this week: Hillary Clinton's speech on the "tyranny" of quarterly earnings reports, healthcare mergers and a decline in commodities' prices. 

Marketplace for Friday, July 24, 2015

Jul 24, 2015

Airing on Friday, July 24, 2015:  Amazon reported earnings yesterday, and its stock price soared. Today it has a market value very similar to that of Wal-Mart. Yet Amazon’s quarterly profit was only a fraction of Wal-Mart's. How can that be? Marketplace explores. Plus, lots of people on the parched West Coast are hoping that predictions of a strong El Niño this winter will prove correct, because a season of hard rain is needed. Others remember El Niño as just that — a season of hard rain — and are concerned about a winter of floods and mudslides.


El Niño: Be careful what you wish for

Jul 24, 2015
Adam Allington

Lots of people along the West Coast are hoping that predictions of a strong El Niño this winter will prove correct, because a season of hard rain is needed.

But even if a season of rain does provide some relief for western states, banking on El Niño to fix what amounts to a four-year drought is problematic for a lot of practical reasons.

CFO's rise beyond the balance sheet

Jul 24, 2015
Nancy Marshall-Genzer

The job of chief financial officer has expanded dramatically over the past 15 years — they’re not just accountants anymore. 

Not that CFOs are complaining.

“Thank goodness I’m not just sitting behind a desk with a calculator,” says Vincent Burchianti, CFO of Firehouse Subs

When Burchianti started his accounting career in 1991, CFOs just did the books, but now they’re also involved in strategy. Burchianti works closely with Firehouse’s CEO Don Fox.

A dim law? Imagine Times Square without billboards

Jul 24, 2015
Julia Longoria

If you had to classify the streets that run through Times Square — Seventh Avenue and Broadway— what would you call them? Streets? Avenues? "Principal arterials," perhaps?

If you guessed the last answer, you must be up on your transit taxonomy.

Gamers' new challenge: a urine sample

Jul 24, 2015
Kai Ryssdal

"Video games as sport" is finally entering the big time — and it's a little depressing.

The Electronic Sports League says it's going to start a performance-enhancing drug testing program. 

Before you pooh-pooh it, you should know e-sports (as its known) is a quarter-billion-dollar-a-year business, with an estimated a fan base of more than 100 million. 

The performance-enhancing drug, by the way?

Converse unveils a revamp of the classic Chuck Taylors

Jul 24, 2015
Kai Ryssdal and Bridget Bodnar

Converse’s Chuck Taylor All Stars are iconic. They’ve been around for almost a hundred years and haven’t changed all that much. Now Converse is releasing a revamped version called Chuck Taylor IIs.

Converse didn’t want to overhaul the look of the shoe. The big change is that it's using Nike technology for the first time in the sole of the shoe. It’s a foam called Lunarlon which has been used in basketball shoes. Don’t worry, there won’t be a swoosh on the outside.

Sports + Fans + Selfie Culture = Business Strategy

Jul 24, 2015
Adrienne Hill

When the LA Galaxy’s newest star, former Liverpool player Steven Gerrard, scored his first goal for the team, the crowd exploded.

And up near the roof of the stadium, cameras were clicking away.

They were focused not on the goal or on Gerrard, but on the ecstatic, high-fiving, scarf-waving fans. Some 20,000 of them were having their picture taken in just seconds.

Marketplace Weekend Staff

Robots are coming! Do they save you money? Or time? Are they intelligent? Where are they filling in the gaps, and when are they not good enough?

What would you never trust a robot to do?

We want to hear your stories. Send us an email or reach us on Twitter, @MarketplaceWKND

Russian native finds asylum in Los Angeles

Jul 24, 2015
Jenny Ament

Daniyar Aynitdinov came to the U.S. from Russia on a work and travel program six years ago. At the time, he was studying to be a petroleum engineer at Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas. Aynitdinov is gay, and in the past few years Russia has instituted laws curtailing rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. He was granted asylum this year.

Housing is up and down, but mostly up

Jul 24, 2015
Mitchell Hartman

With summer, the housing market has been warming up. According to the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales were up 3.2 percent in June, on top of strong sales in April and May, to a level not seen since early 2007. June’s new home sales figures were disappointing, with sales down 6.8 percent month-to-month.

PODCAST: Housing sales for June

Jul 24, 2015
David Brancaccio

The June report for new home sales is out today - we'll talk about what to expect. Plus, we'll talk about what to make of recent movement in the Chinese stock market. And President Obama arrives in Kenya on Friday for a three-day visit. It's his first trip to the country where his father was born since he was elected. The visit is bringing a mini-economic boost for some Kenyans.

Affordable housing for teachers in short supply

Jul 24, 2015
Aaron Schrank

Jennifer Marlar teaches seventh grade language arts at Jackson Hole Middle School in Jackson, Wyoming, but she doesn’t live anywhere near the tourist town’s shopping district or ski area.

“It just makes the most sense, financially,” Marlar says.

Instead, she commutes one hour — over a sometimes-treacherous mountain pass — from her home in Driggs, Idaho.

“It’s brutal,” says Marlar. “And that hour feels like eternity.”

Kenyans hope to cash in on Obama visit

Jul 24, 2015
Kim Adams

During his first trip to Kenya as president, Barack Obama is expected to discuss ways to fight regional terrorism with with the countries leaders and speak at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in the capital, Nairobi.


Airing on Friday, July 24, 2015: With President Obama arriving in Kenya on Friday, we'll cover how the visit is bringing a mini-economic boost for some Kenyans. Next, a check in on the burgeoning refugee crisis in Syria. We'll talk about how the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees deals with a recurring problem: donors who don’t pay what they promise. We'll also talk about how a lack of affordable housing is making it difficult for schools to recruit and retain quality teachers.

Marketplace Tech for Friday, July 24, 2015

Jul 24, 2015

Airing on Friday, July 24, 2015: First up, we'll talk with Marketplace’s Adriene Hill about Hollywood's many failed video game tie-ins. And how well have you kept up with the week in tech news? It's time for another installment of Silicon Tally. Marketplace's Molly Wood will try to stump Tom Merritt, host of the Daily Tech News Show, with numbers from the week's tech news.

States wavering on standards for renewable energy

Jul 24, 2015
Adam Allington

Thanks to the ready availability of natural gas, some states are considering freezing, rolling back or eliminating Renewable Portfolio Standards — standards that tell utilities how much of their electricity has to come from renewable sources. Roughly 30 states have such guidelines. Back when many of these standards were put in place, they were seen as a way to hedge against the uncertainty of fossil fuels.

UNHCR says Syria donors aren't paying their pledges

Jul 24, 2015
Tim Fitzsimons

Syria’s civil war is now four years old, and there is no end in sight. A variety of international efforts to halt the bloodshed have stymied some of the world’s most seasoned diplomats.

One group of people losing out most from this grinding war are Syria’s refugees. Of the millions displaced by the war, about 4 million people have left Syria entirely. Most of them have fled to Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.


Jul 24, 2015
Sabri Ben-Achour and Tim Fernholz

This week, Actuality stays up past our bedtime to meet a man who slept just 4.5 hours a night for an entire year — and thrived. Then, we get soaked by the world's most economically important weather phenomenon. Plus, a Kazakh sleeping mystery.

The Konami Code for vintage gamers

Jul 23, 2015
Adrienne Hill and Tommy Andres

Even though it’s been years since arcades reached their peak of the '80s, there’s still a fondness for the classics. Whether it’s Pac-Man, Donkey Kong or Galaga, old-school arcade games still have an audience.

One store that celebrates that love is the Vintage Arcade Superstore in Glendale, California.

Gene Lewin is the owner. At the store he sells everything from pinball to Pong. He says his love for all things retro and arcade began when he was young.

The changing platform for YouTube stardom

Jul 23, 2015
Adrienne Hill

YouTube is growing up, and the line between YouTube stars and celebrity is becoming blurrier. Thousands of screaming fans are out in force at VidCon, a conference for online video makers in Anaheim, California, on Thursday.

Freddie Wong will be among them. His YouTube channel, RocketJump, has more than 7 million subscribers, and he is one of the latest YouTube stars looking to move their production off YouTube.

HBO picks up former ESPN host Bill Simmons

Jul 23, 2015
Adrienne Hill, Mukta Mohan and Bridget Bodnar

ESPN has parted ways with a lot of its big-name talent recently, including Bill Simmons, whose contract was not renewed back in May. Simmons has landed at HBO, where he'll host a weekly talk show and work on sports documentary projects.

US companies adjust to a more mature Chinese economy

Jul 23, 2015
Nancy Marshall-Genzer

It’s not easy doing business in China these days.  Stocks have fallen — in some cases by 30 percent — and property values are down.  

“You know, all American companies are getting whip sawed in China to a certain extent,” says Barry Naughton, a professor at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California, San Diego.

Jobless claims reach 40-year low. Is wage growth next?

Jul 23, 2015
Sabri Ben-Achour

New jobless claims fell to 255,000, their lowest weekly level since November of 1973, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday.   

One would expect that this is an indication of labor market tightening. Fewer people getting laid off, fewer people in line to do your job, possibly for less than you. There should, theoretically, be less restraint on workers’ demands for a raise.

“It’s all about supply and demand,” explains Harry Holzer, professor of public policy at Georgetown. 

Celebrities are mastering the art of the group selfie

Jul 23, 2015
Adrienne Hill

When I was talking to YouTube video creator Freddie Wong, who heads the channel RocketJump, he told me that today — far more often than signatures — fans want selfies.

So, these stars are coming up with efficient ways to take a bunch of them in a short amount of time. 

Apparently at some of these conventions, fans form big circles, with their phones out, and the stars runs around the back of the circle putting their head in shot after shot.

Whatever you think of selfies, you've got to admire the ingenuity. 

Marketplace for Thursday, July 23, 2015

Jul 23, 2015

Airing on Thursday, July 23, 2015: Health insurance giants Anthem and Cigna are closing in on a $48 billion merger, just days after Aetna announced plans to acquire Humana for $37 billion. These deals could help insurers navigate the changes brought about by healthcare reform, but how will they affect consumers? Next, it's not easy doing business in China these days, with the stock market and property values falling. U.S. companies are having to adapt to a more mature Chinese economy.  

Sam Beard

A Greek exit from the eurozone has been averted – for now at least-  but another , even bigger crisis for the European Union  is still waiting in the wings:  not Grexit  but Brexit,  a British exit from the EU.

Over  the next 18 months the United Kingdom will attempt to negotiate an even looser arrangement with the EU than Britain currently enjoys   and then to hold a referendum asking the British people, “Do you want in or out?" 

"Out" campaigners believe that the treatment of Greece has given their cause a major boost.   

D Gorenstein

Health insurer Anthem appears ready to throw down nearly $50 billion to purchase rival Cigna. This would be the second proposed mega-merger in the industry in less than a month.

Welcome to healthcare’s version of an arms race, where hospitals and insurers vie for supremacy. As these titans battle it out, the threat is that consumers end up losing no matter who winds up on top.

Carnegie Mellon economist Martin Gaynor says there’s a simple question we shouldn’t lose sight of in this new wave of potential deals.

“Are these mergers going to make us better off?” he asks.

PODCAST: Improving infrastructure with bikes

Jul 23, 2015
David Brancaccio

On today's show, we'll talk about news that the number of people signing up for unemployment benefits fell to a low not seen in four decades. Plus, we'll talk about the merger between two health care giants: Anthem and Cigna. And Portland Oregon’s two defining cultures – tech and bikes – have come together to improve transportation infrastructure using a new app that will anonymously track behaviors, and preferred routes of cyclists, with or without the app. The data from these combined technologies will act as a guide for decision-making when planning bike lanes, routes, and signals.