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Who you gonna call? Despanches!

Mar 3, 2005
You've been working very hard it seems. Today new productivity numbers. Up 2.1 percent in the last quarter of 2004. In the global productivity game, American business has a distinct advantage. For instance? On average, it's takes about three and a half hours to register a small business. In Peru, the same process would take almost 290 days. And in nearby Brazil, the red tape is so onerous, it's spawned a new profession. Meet the despachante! Marketplace's Dan Grech reports.

Meetings, and wasting time ...

Mar 3, 2005
Did I mention that new productivity number? Yeah, looks like I did. But I left out something. With the strong showing we heard about today, Americans set a new record. It's the strongest three years of productivity growth in more than a half century of record keeping. But people, we can do better. Yeah, let's do it!All-staff meeting in the big conference room! Our guest speaker is marketing expert Adam Hanft.

Happiness ...

Mar 3, 2005
Maybe your mother told you money doesn't buy happiness. But perhaps you don't believe it. Today, a visit with Lord Richard Layard, author of a new book called, simply, Happiness. He says even though our purchasing power has soared over the past fifty years, we're no happier than we were before.

Faith in forecasting?

Mar 3, 2005
The outlooks for Social Security and other government programs are based on a variety of economic projections. But are these long-range forecasts worth the paper they're written on? Host Kai Ryssdal gets some insight from Marketplace's money guru Chris Farrell about these numbers and how much faith we should put in them.

Meet the "moto-boys"

Mar 3, 2005
If you think traffic's bad where you are, you probably haven't been to Sao Paolo, Brazil. The city is a vast unplanned mess of 18 million people. It has some of the worst traffic congestion in the world. And it's more than just a headache for drivers. In Sao Paolo, traffic tie-ups account for an estimated $80 billion a year in lost productivity. Simply put - time is money. But as Americas desk correspondent Dan Grech reports, a small army of daredevils have emerged to keep the Brazilian economy chugging.

Investigating insurance

Mar 2, 2005
More bad news today for the insurance industry. There's word the New York Attorney General and the SEC are expanding an investigation. They want to know whether major insurers are using complex offshore deals to manipulate their earnings. Once again a familiar name is involved: AIG. It's this country's largest insurer and one of the most powerful financial institutions in the world. As Marketplace's Amy Scott reports, that may help explain why a series of scandals has barely left a dent in the company... so far.

India goes with part-time

Mar 2, 2005
Offshoring's here to stay, or so goes the conventional wisdom. A new report from the Conference Board offers some unconventional advice. About half of all offshoring operations are destined to fall flat, or worse. The report warns American corporations to think through hidden costs. Communications. Regulatory concerns. And yes, even social responsibility. Brand image can take a beating if companies aren't careful. Offshoring is having a profound effect on some of the Asian countries where new jobs are being created. You might call it "the Domino's effect." Youth Radio's Nishat Kurwa prepared our story.

Spy story

Mar 2, 2005
Today a ruling from the high court that may affect your relationship with your employer. If you're hired as a spy for the U.S. government, that is. The justices say two former spies cannot sue the CIA for reneging on a promise of lifetime support. The ruling reads like a cross between a Stephen Ambrose history and a Tom Clancy thriller. Marketplace's Matthew Algeo reports.

Pushing reform in the Middle East

Mar 2, 2005
Today the protests continued in Lebanon. Locals call it the "Syria Out" campaign. Lebanese activists have taken to the streets demanding that Syria pull out its troops. President Bush today issued a similar demand to Syria. A more complicated question for the U.S. may be how to capitalize on this momentum. How to encourage democratic reform in the Mideast. In the new issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, an idea. Use money. Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations is the author of "The Right Way to Promote Arab Reform".

Sidewalk rage?

Mar 2, 2005
We've had our fair share of rain in Los Angeles... we might even break a hundred year record soon. But you know, having lived in Boston, my heart really goes out to you back East. There has been so much snow in Beantown, the schools have used up all their allotted snow days. Try commuting in that stuff, too. There's good reason Boston drivers get such a bad rap. But Boston Commuter Beth Teitell wishes they'd keep the rage... on the road.

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