We listen to listeners

Tess Vigeland Aug 3, 2007
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We listen to listeners

Tess Vigeland Aug 3, 2007
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TESS VIGELAND: Every few weeks, we like to turn the mic around to let you sound off with your criticisms and compliments for the show.

We got several responses to the letter we read on the air from a listener in Montana who urged us to “get serious.” Jacqueline Moss called in from Queens, New York:

JACQUELINE MOSS: As a self-identified financial disaster, I am responding to a comment Tess received telling her, and Marketplace Money, to “get serious.” Please, do not. The little awareness and knowledge that I do have about financial matters is all due to Marketplace Money. I hate normal financial programs — they tend to be dull and just a repetition of stock numbers. You make financial issues easily comprehensible, relevant, and fun.

For the last few months, we’ve been profiling an engaged couple, Tiffany Lee-Youngren and Michael Fox, as they prepare to join their financial lives in September. Mikhail Ulinich listens to the show in Mountain View, Calif., and he thinks that in our reporting, we missed one very simple question:

MIKHAIL ULINICH: What I find amazing about this series is the fact that no one questions the sanity of the whole enterprise. My wife and I went to the city hall to get married. The wedding cost us less than $200. We are not poor — our combined income is well over 200,000 a year — but we would much rather take five additional vacations in Europe or Hawaii than donate money to the wedding industry.

Regular listeners know we’ve been featuring a segment we call “Summer School,” trying to parse out common financial terms. Recently, economist Chris Low explained P/E ratio.

S. Saidener of Manhattan Beach wrote in to thank us for the segment, but he has a question about Chris’s statement that a low P/E ratio is preferred. Low in relation to what, he asks? He says he looked up Whole Foods, and its P/E is 29.23, while Federal Express is 17.83. Does that mean Fed-Ex would be preferable to Whole Foods?

So we called Chris for clarification, and caught him hanging around Wrigley Field, waiting for a Cubs game.

CHRIS LOW: Good question. The P/E is the price that you pay for a unit of earnings. So if a company has a high P/E relative to other companies, it means people are willing to pay more for a unit of current earnings. So, you can’t necessarily compare P/E’s of one company to the P/E of another. Because oe might be a growth company and one might be a mature company. But you certainly can compare the P/E of a company to its historical average. And that’s definitely true for the market as a whole as well.

And finally, a few weeks ago, in an introduction to a story about all those credit card offers that come in the mail, I mentioned that my family managed to stop them.

A lot of you wanted to know how, so here are a couple of methods to opt-out. One is the website optoutprescreen.com. We’ll have a link to it on our website, marketplace.org. You can also send a letter to the Direct Marketing Association, we’ll have a link to them on our site. We’ll also list a URL for helpful hints from the Federal Trade Commission.

Keep those questions and comments coming — go to marketplace.org and click on “contact.” This is Marketplace Money from American Public Media.

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