Money Talking

Money Talking

From WNYC Radio

New Yorkers crave informed and intelligent business and economic news. WNYC's Money Talking brings you just that with lively conversations that go beyond the headlines and the jargon to explore the most important business stories of the week. Every Friday join Jeff Greenfield as he hosts regular WNYC contributors Joe Nocera (The New York Times) and Rana Foroohar (Time). Context, conversation and insight. That's WNYC's Money Talking.More from Money Talking »

Most Recent Episodes

The Perks Of Cell Phone Hell

If you've stepped into a mobile phone store recently, you know the cell phone market is not exactly dummy-proof right now. Carriers have created a series of charts and graphs to explain a newly complicated web of options for cell phone users. On its face, the change to the market makes it look like plans got more convoluted and phones got much more expensive. But the first mover in the market shift, T-Mobile, actually just made phone pricing radically more transparent and plans more customize-able. If you do your homework, it might be the best time to score a deal on the cell phone market. Listen to Money Talking host Charlie Herman wade through the details with Tim Stenovec from TechInsider and Ian Kar from Quartz, just in time for your holiday shopping.

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The Price of The Paris Terror

After the attacks in Paris last week, leaders on both sides of the Atlantic are under pressure to prevent future violence. In the open-border, economically united Eurozone, there have been calls to protect borders, with French leader Francois Holland saying he will close his country's borders and Germany's Prime Minister Angela Merkel facing down those who want her country to close its doors to refugees. Unlike the Greek debt crisis which created a fiscal wedge between Euro members, the attacks in Paris are presenting a cultural threat to the idea of the Eurozone. Meanwhile, in the United States, FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday that this is a time for U.S. business and government to come together. "In the so-called post-Snowden world, a wind has blown that has chilled cooperation sometimes across the divide between the government and the private sector," he said. "We have to resist that." Speaking at the International Conference on Cybersecurity, he and New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., called on companies to share encrypted information with authorities, where appropriate, to protect against attacks. Listen to Money Talking host Charlie Herman talk with Rana Foroohar of Time Magazine and Rob Cox of Reuters BreakingViews about how November 13 could affect business and economic policy around the globe.

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The Economics of Our Fantasies

For outsiders looking in, it seems like fantasy sports are worlds unto themselves. And in the digital age, these worlds are used by millions of Americans, they're fast-moving, and they're worth hundreds of millions of dollars. After investigation the two biggest websites that operate these fantasy sports worlds, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has determined they're illegal in this state. In cease-and-desist notices submitted to FanDuel and DraftKings, the Attorney General's office wrote that much like a lottery, the websites mislead customers into believing they can win big, when the chances of winning are actually slim. He also cited concerns about public health and economic risks associated with gambling. But how different are online fantasy sports games from poker or even trading on the stock market? Money Talking host Charlie Herman talks with Andrew Stern from Business Insider and Tim Fernholz from Quartz about the nuts and bolts of the multimillion dollar industry and who stands to lose if the Attorney General shuts down the two websites.

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At Work: You're Not As Creative

Everyone can be a creative genius. Right? In the workplace, that's a dangerous proposition, according to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, CEO of Hogan Assessments and professor of Business Psychology at University College London. Describing an article he wrote for the Harvard Business Review, Chamorro told Money Talking host Charlie Herman that to some degree, creativity levels are hard to change. And that's a good thing. "Most people, as much as they may not like hearing this, have average creativity," he said. There needs to be a diverse ecosystem at work made of people with varying degrees of creativity. Creative visions need to be executed, he said. If everyone's in his or her own head about creative ideas, nothing will ever get done. That said, there are still small ways to get a little more creative in your everyday tasks at work. Get feedback. We're not good at evaluating our own work. If you want to expand your mind, find a good critic. Get training on creative thinking skills. The way to get more creative is to get away from the daily grind. Chamorro said mindfulness, taking walks, or switching tasks can help us get a new perspective on the task at hand. Read up. Chamorro said it might sound anti-creative to do a lot of research, but, he said, "You need to know the rules of the game in order to break them." Become an expert in a subject area to get a feel for what kinds of creative risks you should take. Follow your passions. If you're not excited about the work you do, you won't put enough energy into it to think creatively. Bosses looking to make their employees think more creatively should assign tasks that tap their employees' interests, and they should also build teams with different kinds of minds: both great idea generators and skilled project managers. "Creative teams that have too many people who are traditionally creative would never get anything done," Chamorro said.

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Honey, Let's Shrink the Banks

Since the financial crisis, the battle cry from many reformers has been "Break up the big banks!" Senator Elizabeth Warren has been at the forefront of the fight to shrink the mega-banks, saying we shouldn't allow them to take on both high-risk trading and more "boring banking" operations, like wealth management and retirement planning. Warren argues there should be a wall of separation between the two and that banks should be smaller and more specialized. But the Federal Reserve has taken steps to prevent another bailout, such as requiring banks to increase their capital reserves and restricting banks from engaging in certain activities. And bankers say the new rules and regulations are working. Morgan Stanley's CEO James P. Gorman said this week that "banks are dramatically safer." So which is it? Are banks boring again? Or is there more to do to limit the activities of the nation's biggest financial institutions? Money Talking host Charlie Herman asks Sheelah Kolhatkar from Bloomberg Businessweek and Heidi Moore from Mashable how far reforms have gone and whether we're protecting ourselves from the next crisis.

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Where We'd Be Without a National Bank

Today, The Federal Reserve, America's central bank, is an object of national obsession, at least for anyone wondering — or worrying — about the economy.  After the financial meltdown in 2008, the Fed bailed out banks when they were in trouble and then lowered interest rates to nearly zero to jumpstart economic growth.

Now that the crisis is over, the (unending) question is, "When will the bank raise interest rates?"

But the steps the bank took to bail out the economy have also drawn criticism, especially from those who think the Fed is overstepping what it can or should do.

In many cases, they're complaints that have been lobbed at the Fed since its creation more than a hundred years ago.

Roger Lowenstein has followed the Federal Reserve for years as a financial reporter who has written for the The Wall Street Journal, Business Week and Fortune. In his latest book, America's Bank: The Epic Struggle to Create the Federal Reserve he explains how the arguments today about the financial system and the Federal Reserve echo the same ones that were made when the bank was created in 1913.

Listen to Lowenstein take Money Talking host Charlie Herman back in time to the days when supporters of the national bank were a daring minority, fighting an epic battle for greater financial stability and uniformity.




At Work: Making Yourself Heard

Dorie Clark is an author, a marketing strategy consultant, and a business professor at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. People listen to her.

But when she entered the workforce at the age of 20 after completing a B.A. and graduate degree, she found it challenging at times for her ideas to be heard, especially with colleagues who had many more years of experience.

Understanding what it’s like to be pushed aside even when you know what you’re talking about, she came up with ways to get people to listen which she outlined in an article for the Harvard Business Review: "Get People to Listen to You When You're Not Seen as an Expert."

"If you look different than other people in the workplace," she said, "maybe you’re the one woman in a tech company or something like that, people’s biases may be toward not taking you quite as seriously as other people, and so if you want to be heard, period, you may need to exert some strategy."

1. Create an echo chamber: If you're facing one roadblock to being heard from your boss, try befriending other people in the office who your boss respects. They can vouch for you in meetings and show your boss you should be taken seriously. In politics, they call it "powermapping."

2. Begin to position yourself as an expert. Start creating content around the subject you want to master. Blog about it. If you're learning, take readers along on your journey on the topic.

3. Borrow from the experts. Research and read widely and cite the experts you're learning from. 

4. Find common ground. When you're trying to convince your coworkers to take you seriously, try to bond with them as best you can. People are more likely to root for you if they feel like they're on your team.

Dorie said there's no substitute for doing real work to educate yourself – her advice is for informed people with good ideas.

"These strategies can be used for good or ill," she said, but in the Internet age, you have to know what you are talking about. If you're a phony, someone will probably find out.





The Switch to Chip

Some things have an uncanny ability to take us back to simpler times: record players, typewriters, certain fine pastries, perhaps.

While Proust had his madeleine, all of France has U.S. credit cards. That’s because France, and pretty much the rest of the world’s major economies, has been ahead of U.S. payment technology for decades. This month, we are finally starting to give up our vintage credit cards with only the black, magnetic stripe on the back — the equivalent of a cassette or an 8-track tape — and switching to the “chip card." You may have gotten one in the mail already: they’re the new credit cards with a shiny computer chip on the front.

Also known as "EMV" — short for Europay, Mastercard and Visa, the three companies that created a standard for the chip in the early 90s — the chip card virtually eliminates the possibility of counterfeit card fraud. That's where crooks make a copy of your card, and it’s a kind of fraud that's been consistently growing in one place: the United States. 

Listen to Money Talking producer Julia Longoria as she went to find out what's taken us so long to get on board.





Deal-Making and Drinking: Do They Mix?

If two beer giants, Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller, succeed in merging as planned, the resulting "beerhemoth," as it's been nicknamed, will be the third biggest corporate merger ever. We could also be about a week away from what's been called the "boringest" merger ever between Dell and EMC. Meanwhile, Charter Communications and Time Warner are discussing their potential marriage before the Federal Communications Commission. 

All this is to say: Mergers and acquisitions are on their way to reaching an all-time high in 2015. They're up by almost 50 percent from last year. But what does all the merger mania mean for the economy? 

Listen to Money Talking host Charlie Herman discuss who wins — and who loses — when corporations merge with guests Sheelah Kolhatkar from Bloomberg Businessweek and Myles Udland from Business Insider.




The Awkward Art of the Job Interview

Job interviews can make for some of the most awkward interactions humanly possible.

"It’s such a false scenario, right? Interviewing’s weird," said Patty McCord, former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix and contributor to the Harvard Business Review. "But you want to get the chance to have an authentic conversation with somebody."

If hiring managers don't know what they're doing, the process can be especially painful for applicants, and in the end, disastrous for companies. And McCord says, most large organizations don't do it well.

"Their objective is to put butts in seats instead of build teams," she said.

During the 14 years McCord worked at Netflix, it developed a reputation for its treatment of employees and its ability to identify talent. It's famous for the 127-slide "Netflix Culture" presentation. Now, McCord consults with companies about the best way to identify and maintain great teams. The key, she says, is to treat the process less like a science and more like an art.

"It's a little like painting," she says. "The finished result is because it’s all in the prep." McCord says there are some basic steps to bring discipline and professionalism to the the hiring process:

  1. Cast a wide net, and reel some in. First, she says, if you're a hiring manager, you should gather a large pool of applicants by using social networking tools like LinkedIn. The best applicants may not always come to you; like a journalist seeking interviewees, you might need to go to them.
  2. Work backwards. When you begin the hiring process, she says, think first about the problem that needs to be solved rather than the kind of person you want to bring in. 
  3. Pick a star interview team. At least three different kinds of people in your company should be on the hiring committee: one to probe applicants for technical skills, one to discern problem-solving ability, and one who has a reputation for sniffing out good candidates.
  4. Do your homework. Read up on your applicants, and make sure you tell them who will be on the interview committee, to give them a chance to do their own homework. You'll have more to talk about if you've built some common ground beforehand.
  5. Don't prepare a laundry list of questions. Too often, we focus on the clever interview question instead of trying to have a genuine conversation. The goal isn't to stump the interviewee; it's to make them comfortable enough so they'll show their true colors. Let the conversation drift, while being sure to focus on skills and experience instead of pleasantries like beer preferences. 

McCord says in Silicon Valley, questions looking for a "good fit" about pleasantries like favorite movies or favorite bars lead hiring managers to look for people "just like me." Instead, Patty says the goal is to find questions that will make applicants stop and think — and go from there. For instance, instead of asking what their career goals are, ask "What do you not want to do anymore?" 

Listen to host Charlie Herman probe McCord for her strategies for interviewing and suggestions for the ways companies in Silicon Valley might make their hiring practices more inclusive.



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