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Small talk: Facebook predictions, traffic down, paying loans in cash

The news that didn't quite make the headlines. This week: Facebook can predict the stock market, U.S. traffic is down (but not on L.A.'s 405 freeway), and paying off loans with cash.

Kai Ryssdal: This final note of a Friday afternoon, a chance to get away from the big news and talk about what didn't quite make the headlines. It comes to us courtesy of Rico Gagliano, Brendan Francis Newnam, and the rest of the Marketplace staff.


Brendan Francis Newnam: Stacey Vanek Smith, senior reporter, what story are you going to be talking about this weekend?

Stacey Vanek Smith: Well Brendan, it turns out Facebook can predict the stock market.

Newnam: Really? Because I don't think people are really happy about Facebook's stock at the moment.

Vanek Smith: Well OK, not their stock. But what they did was they formed this index of gross national happiness by kind of aggregating people's status updates to see if they're happy or sad. And a grad student in Germany compared them against the stock market and it turns out that if status updates were very happy, the stock market had a much better chance of going up.

Newnam: So now if your boss sees you on Facebook you can just say, "I'm driving our stock."

Vanek Smith: "I'm doing it for the economy."

Rico Gagliano: Shereen Marisol Merjai, wealth and poverty reporter, what story are you going to be talking about this weekend?

Shereen Marisol Meraji: Well according to a new study, traffic in America is down.

Gagliano: That was not what I expected you to say. It's gone down?

Meraji: This company that studies traffic looked at traffic congestion and found that 70 metropolitan areas out of 100 actually have less traffic now. They think it's because of high gas prices.

Gagliano: I have to say that as a Los Angelo sitting in traffic all day, this report seems like a lie to me.

Meraji: Well maybe you're driving on the 405 freeway because this same company is saying that's the worst traffic corridor in the nation.

Gagliano: Oh, so what's happening is all the drivers are leaving these metropolitan areas and just driving the 405 all day.

Meraji: Up and down, all day long.

Newnam: Sally Herships, reporter, what's your story?

Sally Herships: So this law student from Canada paid off his student loans in cash.

Newnam: Wow. How much were his student loans?

Herships: $114,000 -- he had to carry it in two duffel bags. But when he got to the bank, they didn't know what to do with the money.

Newnam: Because it's such an old-school notion.

Herships: Right. Paying off with cash? Who does that any more?

Newnam: No. I mean the idea of paying off your loans.

Herships: Oh right.


Ryssdal: The radio show Rico and Brendan do is called The Dinner Party.

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