Business news

IMF set to give Chinese currency a stamp of approval

21 hours ago
Tracey Samuelson

The Chinese renminbi is likely to get a big stamp of approval from the International Monetary Fund next week. On Monday, the IMF’s executive board will vote on whether to add the RMB, as it’s commonly abbreviated, to its basket of reserve currencies.

Essentially, the International Monetary Fund has its own artificial currency – a mash-up of the U.S. dollar, the Japanese yen, the euro, the pound sterling – and perhaps soon – the RMB as well.

Kim Adams

Russia is considering several kinds of economic sanctions against Turkey in retaliation for Turkish forces shooting down a Russian jet this week. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told government leaders to have suggestions for sanctions on his desk in two days.

ESPN's ratings are slipping

22 hours ago
Molly Wood

Thanksgiving Thursday officially kicked off one of the great sports weekends of the year, with wall-to-wall college football and NFL games all the way until Monday night on the schedule.

It seems like the kind of weekend ESPN was made for — unfortunately, fewer and fewer people are actually watching ESPN these days. Walt Disney Corporation revealed on Wednesday that its sports network behemoth, which accounts for a huge portion of Disney's yearly profits, has lost about 7 million subscribers since its audience peak in 2013.

On patrol with the drought police

Nov 26, 2015
Abbie Fentress Swanson

California Governor Jerry Brown has called on cities to cut water use by 25 percent through next October. Already four Southern California water utilities, including Beverly Hills, are facing fines for failing to meet that mandate.

One place that has cut its water use sharply is Burbank, a city of roughly 105,000 residents just north of Los Angeles.

Marketplace for Thursday, November 26, 2015

Nov 26, 2015

The IMF debates adding the Chinese renminbi to its basket of currencies, why Georgia has seen the highest growth in Latina-owned businesses in the U.S. and Marketplace's Scott Tong explains whats at stake ahead of next week's United Nations' Paris Climate Change Conference.

Portland puts its best foot forward in shoe design

Nov 26, 2015
Mark Garrison

On today's show, we'll talk about hot trading around the world on Thanksgiving day; a big year for toy makers; and why Portland, Oregon is a hub for shoe making and design.

A bumper year for toys

Nov 26, 2015
Noel King

The toy industry is expected to have what may be its best sales year in a decade.

In the first half of 2015, the toy industry grew by 6.5 percent, or $400 million, according to The NPD Group, which tracks sales. Some of the reasons are obvious. Consumer confidence has improved, gas prices are down, and consumers have a bit more discretionary income. And of course, there are the toys themselves.

Marketplace Tech for Thursday, November 26, 2015

Nov 26, 2015

Airing on Thursday, November 26, 2015: On today's show, we'll talk about predicting which Legos (and other gifts) will be the hot toy this holiday season; and tech in the kitchen.

Non-GMO doesn't mean no pesticides

Nov 26, 2015
Annie Baxter

A lot of Americans are worried about foods made from genetically modified crops, which largely means products that have corn, soy or sugar beet ingredients.

The genetic material of those crops has been modified in some way.

Critics of GMOs eschew the synthetic chemicals applied to genetically modified crops, such as the weed killer glyphosate.

“A lot of people are worried about that,” said Megan Westgate with the organization the Non-GMO Project, the de facto standard-setter for Non-GMO products.

Kim Adams

Pope Francis is in eastern Africa Thursday, carrying his warnings about climate change and poverty that have become the hallmark of his papacy.

He arrived in Kenya on Wednesday, beginning a six-day tour that will include stops in Uganda and the Central African Republic. Pope Francis used his first stop in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, to warn of the “grave environmental crisis” of climate change. 

Thanksgiving in the Jungle

Nov 26, 2015
Sabri Ben-Achour and Tim Fernholz

In a holiday bonus episode, Actuality gets grateful after a visit to a refugee camp in France where migrants from the Middle East and Africa await asylum, and a reporter was surprised to learn her own family's refugee story.

Turkey meat's screwy pricing

Nov 26, 2015
Sabri Ben-Achour

While Thanksgiving is a unifying holiday, the turkey itself divides us into two camps: lovers of dark meat and lovers of white meat.  

If you’re in the dark meat category, “you’re in the minority,” said Thomas Elam, president of FarmEcon. “And we in the turkey industry appreciate your taste for dark meat cause it’s a product we wish we could sell more of.”

White meat is sold for domestic consumption, and dark meat is exported more.

But dark meat’s time has come. Maybe. For a minute.  

Andy Uhler

The western United States is in a drought and it's been hot and windy in southern California over the last few weeks. Wildfires love these conditions, which means more property is at risk of damage or destruction. Insurance companies are well aware of this, so they're expanding homeowners' insurance packages essentially to include firefighters. 

Marketplace for Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Nov 25, 2015

Farm income will fall 38 percent this year, a look at what this means for consumers; Baltimore businesses recover after riots earlier this year; and the science behind Christmas shopping.

If one country can hold its head up high at next week’s Climate Change Conference, it should be Britain. As the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, the U.K. — of course — started the greenhouse gas pollution that now threatens the planet. 

But it has been trying to make amends. 

It passed the world’s first Carbon Act imposing legally binding cuts in emissions. It’s been weaning itself off coal and investing heavily in solar and wind power.  But is the U.K. really as green as it seems? 

A sweet Thanksgiving for sweet potato pie

Nov 25, 2015
Tobin Low

Patti LaBelle has a lot to be thankful for this year, as her sweet potato pie at Wal-Mart has become a popular seller. That's due in some part to a viral video of superfan James Wright giving the pies a memorable, rave review.

Scott Tong

It’s been a rough year for the nation’s farmers. Profits in 2015 are projected to fall 38 percent below last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It would be the biggest one-year drop in 32 years. 

The big reason: commodity prices are tumbling. 

“The decline in prices is broadly across the entire set of commodities,” said Jeffrey Hopkins, a USDA economist.

Entertainment companies get serious about comedy

Nov 25, 2015
Adrienne Hill

If you watch a decent amount of television, you may have noticed there are a lot more stand-up comedians starring in their own specials.

HBO, Comedy Central and Showtime have been cashing in on funny for a while. Now Netflix is rolling out specials. NBC is launching Seeso, a comedy streaming service. Even video services like Vimeo are getting into the mix.

HBO touted "Amy Schumer Live at the Apollo" as the "comedy event of the year." 

Noel King

At Flawless Damsels, a women's clothing and accessories store in Baltimore, the month of May is typically so lucrative that owner Taylor Alexander calls it "money making May." So the protests in April were especially gutting. 

"My business was completely vandalized and looted," Alexander said. "I was left with only the paint on the walls. I had no windows, no doors. I had to replace the floors because all of the glass that they broke."

How to use reward points on your credit card

Nov 25, 2015
David Brancaccio

On today's show, we'll talk about how the American consumer is alive but not exuberant; Russia cutting off fuel supplies to Ukraine; and how turning in your credit card points for a quick domestic trip is often a foolish way to treat your rewards points.

Startup creates neighbor-to-neighbor food sharing

Nov 25, 2015
Lesley McClurg

A new Bay Area start-up is trying to make a business out of neighbor-to-neighbor food sharing. You can order homemade dishes online and then pick them up from a neighborhood cook. This week’s menu includes sweet potato biscuits and pumpkin pie.

Marketplace Tech for Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Nov 25, 2015

Airing on Wednesday, November 25, 2015: On today's show, we'll talk about how retailers plan to thwart malware that attacks backend security on in-store purchases; Dell's security woes; and more on the dark web from our latest episode of Codebreaker.

Airing on Wednesday, November 25, 2015: On today's show, we'll talk about Russia cutting off the gas for Ukraine; new FAA rules on drones; and a new startup that lets you purchase food from home chefs.

Codebreaker - Is It Evil? Ep 3: The Dark Web

Nov 24, 2015
Bruce Johnson and Clare Toeniskoetter

A couple is forced onto the dark web to buy life-saving medicine; Ben buys a drug scale; and a researcher who says the dark web might make the illegal drug trade safer. Listen, decode, and decide: Is the dark web evil?

Amy Scott

Despite billions of dollars invested in helping more students from low-income families go to college, a new analysis shows enrollment by those students has dropped sharply.

Between 2008 and 2013, the percentage of all high school graduates who went straight to college dipped by three percentage points. Among students in the lowest income bracket, enrollment dropped by 10 points, from 56 percent to 46 percent.

Marketplace for Tuesday, November 24, 205

Nov 24, 2015

The State Department issued a travel advisory, but for some it is business as usual; how to Instagram your way to a career in food photography; and the Uber v. taxi battle for the curb at Atlanta's airport.

Annie Baxter

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos's credibility as a space entrepreneur got a big boost this week. His private company Blue Origin succeeded in safely landing its unmanned New Shepard rocket, which had soared to an altitude of 62 miles.

Usually those multi-million dollar rockets are good for one flight.

The New Shepard can now be reused, a goal for many aerospace firms.

Despite alert, business travelers won't stay home

Nov 24, 2015
Nancy Marshall-Genzer

The State Department has issued a worldwide travel alert. It says terrorist groups are continuing to plan attacks, and it warns Americans visiting other countries to be careful, though it stops short of warning people not to travel.

Molly Wood

For the average Instagram user, posting a picture of their latte art or of their dessert at the hippest restaurant in town means getting a few likes. But there’s a new group of Instagrammers who are getting paid for their posts. The restaurant industry has picked up on the trend and some places are reported to pay up to $350 per photo if a user has a significant following.

Could "free riders" derail climate talks?

Nov 24, 2015
Scott Tong

Nearly 200 country representatives are about to descend on Paris for this year’s high-profile climate change summit. Each country brings its own pledge to cut emissions, and at the meeting everyone commits to following through and perhaps doing more. But to many social scientists following this, particularly economists, this whole way of doing things suffers from a fatal flaw. They call it the “free rider” problem.