PODCAST: Too big to fail or too big to succeed?

Tonight's final presidential debate is focused on foreign policy. No doubt a big chunk of that will be foreign economic policy -- and in particular China is likely to come up a lot. In previous debates, Obama and Romney seemed eager to see who could be toughest on the world's second-largest economy.

Caterpillar says third quarter earnings got a boost from construction activity in the U.S. The maker of heavy construction equipment posted a $1.7 billion profit. But Caterpillar says slowing global growth means a lower outlook for 2012.

More earnings today from Hasbro: Sales of toys to girls were up 17 percent. But the big money is in boys, where Transformers fell out of popularity and boys' toy sales dropped 12 percent, cutting into profits.

Microsoft hopes to breathe new life into the weak PC market when it puts out its new Windows operating system on Friday. Get ready to learn Windows all over again.

When the CEO of Citigroup resigned last week, the sudden move caught a lot of people by surprise. But it was no big newsflash that the country's third-largest bank is struggling. Citi has not come roaring out of the financial crisis like, say, Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan Chase. Some folks think the problems at Citigroup are baked in the cake -- with the sort of "one-stop-shopping" business model that Citigroup pioneered in the '90s.

Is Prudential Financial too big to fail? Federal regulators are looking into the insurance giant to gauge whether the company is a, quote, "systemically important financial instituation." A "SIFI," in the financial lingo. If it is, in fact, a SIFI, Prudential could be in for a world of red tape.

Japan said this morning its exports fell 10.3 percent last month. That's the biggest drop since the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami took all kinds of factories off line. It's not good news for an economy -- like Japan -- that relies on exports.

Seems like everyone these days wants you to fill out a customer service survey: the bank, the cable company, and now, your hospital. What's the deal? Well, for hospitals at least, a good review could mean more money.

Two dispatches from the tight housing market, he first extremely literal, and let's hope this is not a sign of things to come: In Poland this weekend, a tenant moved into what has got to be one of the world's skinniest houses. It is four feet wide -- wedged between two existing structures in Warsaw. The first floor has a kitchen and three-quarter bath. Climb a ladder and you get to the second floor, with a bed, table and chair. Sounds cozy.

And finally, the latest U.S. housing data tell us inventories are extremely low -- it's slim-pickings out there for home buyers. So if you're house hunting, you might need to ask yourself this question: Do I mind if it's haunted? From a new Realtor.com survey: two-thirds of people said they would consider a haunted house -- though many of those folks said they would also expect a discount. Half said even mysterious footsteps and slamming doors would not be a deal-breaker.

About the author

Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter.

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