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What’s age got to do with it?
Feb 16, 2023
Episode 863

What’s age got to do with it?

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Homebuying can be a real dilemma for seniors.

It’s common for people to relocate or downsize when they get older, but new research shows that age is not working in their favor when it comes to getting a mortgage. We’ll get into it. Also, Tesla workers in Buffalo launched a campaign to unionize last week. Now, some leaders of the drive are getting fired. Plus, guest host Samantha Fields tells us why the early warm weather in the Northeast is creeping her out. And, an owl who escaped from the Central Park Zoo takes on the big city!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Join us tomorrow for Economics on Tap. The YouTube livestream starts at 3:30 p.m. PT 6:30 p.m. ET. We’ll have news, drinks, a game and more.

Make Me Smart February 16, 2023 transcript

Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.

Kai Ryssdal 

Born ready yo! “There you go” I say to Charlton… Hey everybody, I’m Kai Ryssdal. Welcome back to Make Me Smart, where we make today make sense. He’s shaking his head through glass over there I can see him.

Samantha Fields 

I’m shaking my head too, here in New York. I’m Samantha Fields in for Kimberly Adams. And thank you all for joining us today on this Thursday. Today is news fix and make me smile day. So Kai, what do you say you want to get straight into it?

Kai Ryssdal 

Let us get straight into it, you go first.

Samantha Fields

Okay, one of the stories I’ve been thinking about a lot this week is one I reported earlier in the week for the show. For the evening show that you host. And it was about a study out of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College and the Philadelphia Fed. And it shows that as you get older, and especially once you hit your 70s, it can get a lot harder to get a mortgage. And that’s sort of either whether you want to refinance a home that you already own or get a new mortgage, and it gets particularly hard once you hit your 70s and then gets harder even as you get older. You know, and some of that is likely about age and lenders thinking “does it make sense to give someone who’s in their 70s or 80s, a mortgage that’s designed to be paid off over many years.” So that’s certainly a factor that the study mentions, but experts I talked to said that mostly it’s because older people are less likely to be working, tend to have less income often also have less savings. And those are the main things that lenders look at when deciding whether to give you a mortgage. Right? But I think the reason I keep thinking about this one is that I think first of all, a lot of people don’t know this, maybe until they’re older and sort of run into it as an issue. One of the experts I talked to who lives and breathes retirement, said she didn’t even learn it until she was writing a book and sort of looked into it. And she was surprised. And she said, You know, I think a lot of people don’t know this. And and it’s important because it can have real financial implications for your life once you retire. You know, it could make it harder to downsize, it could make it harder to move if you want to be closer to your kids or be somewhere warmer. Or you know, if you have equity in your home, and that’s where a lot of your sort of wealth is and you want to tap it if you have a big medical expense or something happens, which is more likely as you get older too. You know, you might not be able to do that. And so it’s just something I’ve been thinking about and and wanted to share with our listeners.

Kai Ryssdal 

No, I think it’s a really key point to bring up. Especially because you know, life in this economy as you age gets tougher and tougher. And this is not necessarily a thing that people need. So I’m really glad you brought it up. I do want you to mention your second one, though, because I kind of like it too.

Samantha Fields

Oh, my second one. Yes. So I’m sitting here in New York City. My windows have been open all day. I closed them to record this so it was less noisy. But they’ve been open all day because it’s in the 60s here. It was in the 60s yesterday. It’s been in the upper 40s and 50s basically all month of February. Not an exaggeration. And I just looked at my phone app, the weather app the rest of the week, and it’s not going to be sort of below the upper 40s at least for the high for the for the foreseeable future. And I’m sorry, this is February in in Brooklyn, right? And I mean, personally, I am enjoying it, but then I feel guilty for enjoying it because it’s also getting kind of creepy, right? Like it’s too warm for New York and January was the warmest on record in this city. It was the warmest on record in every single New England state. It is there’s been no snow, really. It’s been, I think the only measurable snow New York has gotten this year is less than half an inch in Central Park one day like a couple of weeks ago. There’s been no snow. It’s been super warm. I’ve barely worn my coats. And it’s just I keep thinking about not just what this means for all of our futures in the environment. But also you know, we’re a business and economics show, right? What it means for all kinds of businesses, for farmers for fishermen for maple syrup producers for ski resorts. It’s just, it’s really striking every day here now.

Kai Ryssdal 

What’s wild to me is we all see it, we all know what it is, we all know why it is and yet, as a society while there are parts of it that are moving to be more green, we’re not putting into place structural fixess o that we’re going to do something about it on a something substantive scale. Yes, yes.

Samantha Fields 

Not nearly enough.

Kai Ryssdal 

Right. Exactly. And yes, the Biden, before you yell at me, all you lovely listeners out there. Yes. The Biden administration had one a bunch there are laws in place, but it’s a pittance. It’s a drop in the bucket. And we haven’t done what we need to.

Samantha Fields

It is, and I mean, not just here, right. And the US is obviously a huge contributor and needs to be more of a leader in this but it’s most of the world is just is just I feel like everyone’s heads are kind of in the sand or people are just overwhelmed. I don’t know, but we got to do something, guys.

Kai Ryssdal 

Okay, so here’s mine. Kimberly and I talked yesterday to on Tuesday, that is no. So it was Tuesday not yesterday, two days ago with Derek Thompson of the Atlantic about industrial policy. And my news item on Tuesday was a push for unionization that was announced at a Tesla plant in Buffalo, New York, specifically the engineers and designers who work on self driving automobiles. And they had announced publicly a unionization drive, which would be a big deal. And I think the first for Tesla. Well, today Bloomberg reports that at least 18 employees, including several leaders of a unionization campaign have been fired a day after they announced said unionization campaign. To quote Chris Hayes, who appears on MSNBC “it is aggressively illegal to do that.”

Samantha Fields

That’s what I was gonna say. Once you announce union activity, it is illegal, isn’t it?

Kai Ryssdal 

Right. It absolutely is. And apparently, what the company did was institute sort of no notice performance reviews, and then fired a bunch of people for not having good performance reviews. And I just, it’s just it’s bad form. It’s, on the face of it illegal. It’s destructive to the company’s reputation, even more than the CEO himself has been destructive to the company’s reputation. It’s amazing. That companyies keep doing this stuff.

Samantha Fields 

He has a history of this stuff right?

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh yeah, he totally does. He totally does. Well he is vehemently anti organized labor. That’s, that’s been cleare for a while. I just it just you know, so now the NLRB is gonna get involved, the federal government’s getting involved. And how did I don’t understand how Tesla….

Samantha Fields 

That takes forever doesn’t it?

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh, it totally does. But I don’t I don’t understand how Tesla thinks this is gonna end well for them reputationally

Samantha Fields 

Oh yeah no. Me neither.

Kai Ryssdal 

I just don’t know. Alright, so that’s the news. Charlton let let us move on, shall we? Alright, so I’ll go first on this one. The president today, this is Thursday. I know I’ve been mixing up my days the last six months of this podcast. The president today came out and made a public statement on the unidentified what are they called? Unidentified aerial vehicles or something. We’re not supposed to call them UFOs anymore. Anyway. That have been shut down since the Chinese balloon was shot down two weeks ago. Right? There have been three since then, one over Lake Huron, one over Alaska, and then another one somewhere where I don’t know. Anyway, the President said today that those last three are probably not Chinese in origin. Well, there’s this from Aviation Week today. And I’ll just read it “a small globe trotting balloon declared missing in action by an Illinois based hobbyists club on February 15, has emerged as a candidate to explain one of the three mystery objects shot down by four heat seeking missiles launched by US Air Force fighter since February, the tenth. The club, the the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade, is not pointing fingers yet, but the circumstantial evidence is at least intriguing. So there’s this… there’s this whole network of what are called “pico balloons”, P-I-C-O. Pico. So it’s small ballooners, right? Who just send these things up, and they float literally around the world. They’re not big and they float at this one was last seen at 38,910 feet off the west coast of Alaska, which is oh, by the way, really close to where that one was shot down. Right? And they just go up there and they’re like shortwave radio and they’re weather enthusiasts and they’re ballooning enthusiasts. And now the Air Force is shooting them down with half million dollar missiles.

Samantha Fields

Yeah, I was gonna say first of all, how much did it cost to shoot down a what? Yeah, several dollar, hundred dollar balloon like, how did we not know know what this was?

Kai Ryssdal 

Right. A Sidewinder goes for about $500,000.

Samantha Fields 

No big deal.

Kai Ryssdal 

Yeah. Anyway, I just, it’s just, it’s just, it’s amazeballs. And now that, and I talked about this the other day, now that NORAD and American radar defenses have adjusted what are called their velocity gate, right? So now they’re looking for things that are going zero to 100 miles an hour instead of things that are going 500 To, you know, 1000 miles an hour. We’re gonna see we’re gonna find more of these things. And if we’re going to be shooting them down all over the place. I think the president’s in for I don’t know. I just don’t think it’s going to end well.

Samantha Fields 

This has been such a wild story

Kai Ryssdal 

Such a wild story.

Samantha Fields 

Wow, that’s a great one. I’m very glad you brought that to my attention

Kai Ryssdal 

Wild, just wild. What do you got?

Samantha Fields

Well, so the other fun story that I’ve seen this week is that there’s a big Eurasian Eagle Owl. His name is Flaco and he escaped the Central Park Zoo almost two weeks ago now. Someone cut a hole in sort of the mesh enclosure around his, of where he lives. And they haven’t been able to capture him. He’s just still hanging out in the city, mostly in Central Park sometimes, you know, flying along Fifth Avenue, and they’re keeping an eye on him, but they haven’t been able to get him. And they just announced, the zoo just announced, that he’s getting good at hunting, he’s getting better at flying. And they were mostly worried about whether he’d be able to feed himself because normally, you know, these owls are just fed like dead rats. They don’t have to hunt in the zoo. And so they weren’t sure if he’d be able to feed himself. But it seems like they’re saying “you know what, he’s figured it out.” He is hunting New York City rats, which I don’t know, watch out Flaco because a lot of those are probably not something you want to it.

Kai Ryssdal 

I don’t know if I would eat them. If I was a falcon or an owl, or whatever I’m staying away from New York rats.

Samantha Fields

Probably wouldn’t be into those. Yeah, no, me neither. But yeah, it’s just kind of a great story. And obviously, a lot of people are going to the park trying to look for him and the zoo is keeping an eye but they say they’re staying away. And they don’t want to scare him away from this part of the park that he seems to have settled in. So I don’t know. I just kind of love the story of the escaped owl. And maybe I’ll go try to look at him.

Kai Ryssdal 

Yeah, hit the other one there too, just because everybody needs a little ray of sunshine every now and then.

Samantha Fields

Oh, yeah. I wasn’t actually sure you’d be a fan of this one. But I am thrilled to see that in less than a month we will be springing forward and it will be lighter later. I saw a tweet today from this “New York Metro Weather” account that I love that said “in 25 days, it will be light at 7pm in New York City.” And I can’t wait.

Kai Ryssdal 

That’s cool. Yeah, I’m a big fan. So listen, this this will actually, this will get some listener feedback and you can hit us up at makemesmart@marketplace.org,. I’m a big fan of the time change. I really enjoy the shift in the times

Samantha Fields 

Oh you enjoy the back and forth? Oh, i don’t

Kai Ryssdal 

Yeah it’s a marker time, it’s a marker of seasonality. It’s somehow brings me back to my childhood and being outside at nine o’clock at night and it’s still being just a hint of light out there because we had changed times. I like it.

Samantha Fields

I just like when it’s dark as late as humanly possible in the evening. It makes me feel like you know, work’s over, I can go outside and it’s still daylight.

Kai Ryssdal 

Alright, well, you know how to get ahold of us if you object because that is it for us today. Amy’s in with me tomorrow for economics on tap. 6:30 Eastern, 3:30 Pacific. Drinks news and around half full half empty as well.

Samantha Fields

And as always, we love hearing from you our brilliant listeners. Send us your thoughts, questions, suggestions. We’re at 508-U-B-SMART and at makemesmart@marketplace.org

Kai Ryssdal 

Make Me Smart, which is the podcast you are listening to, is produced by Courtney Bergsieker. Today’s episode was engineered by Charlton Thorp. Our intern is Antonio Barreras.

Samantha Fields

Ellen Rolfes writes our newsletter. Marissa Cabrera is our acting senior producer. Bridget Bodnar is the director of podcasts. And Francesca Levy is the executive director of Digital.

Kai Ryssdal 

There we go

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