Business news

Dispatch, Ep 14: It's a meal delivery apocalypse

May 5, 2016
Molly Wood

Oh you need some food to come to your house? I think there's an app for that.

In fact, here is what's probably a partial list of the various food and meal delivery services operating in the San Francisco Bay Area.

JaeRan Kim

Amelia Vallejo's son Michael is 5 years old. He is developmentally delayed, mostly deaf, has vision problems and a host of other physical ailments his mother attributes to the high concentrations of lead that had been in her yard's soil.

“This Exide battery plant has ruined my family for the rest of their lives, with my son being disabled," Vallejo said, looking at the new sod recently installed in her yard by state employees. “I think it’s great, but the damage has been done.”

Proposed consumer class action rules don't cover everybody

May 5, 2016
Nancy Marshall-Genzer

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has unveiled a proposed new rule on binding arbitration, those clauses usually buried in the fine print of your credit card agreement that say you can’t sue your bank. You have to go to arbitration instead.  

The CFPB proposal would let consumers band together to sue in class action lawsuits. 

Austin votes on fingerprinting for rideshare drivers

May 5, 2016
Audrey McGlinchy

Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft have battled local regulations in many cities, including San Antonio, New York City and Atlanta.

It’s now Austin’s turn. On Saturday, voters in the central Texas city will choose which rules they’d like the companies to work under. If the vote does not go in their favor, Uber and Lyft have threatened to leave the city.

The FDA swoops in with new e-cigarette regulations

May 5, 2016
Nova Safo and Levi Sharpe

The Food and Drug Administration came out with new rules today that extend its authority over tobacco regulations to all related products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah and tobacco pipes.

The rules, which take effect in August, are retroactive. Products out in the market now will have to go back and get approval from the FDA. Companies will have a two-year grace period, with an additional year if needed.

Why fitness is more than a $3 trillion industry

May 5, 2016
Kai Ryssdal

Health conscious consumers have a lot of new ways to work out these days. There’s CrossFit and SoulCycle, Cardio Barre and all kinds of boot camps.

But it turns out all these new ways to work out are also new ways for companies to make a whole lot of money. And it’s more than that; for many, fitness is becoming not a hobby, but a lifestyle.

Donna Tam

North Carolina violated the U.S. Civil Rights Act when it put restrictions on access to public bathrooms, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The DOJ sent a letter to the state’s governor Wednesday, detailing how North Carolina’s law limiting access for transgender people is actually, well, against the law. 

Donna Tam

The Federal Drug Administration released new e-cigarette regulations Thursday that may have a dire impact on the fledgling industry.

On today's show, we'll talk about the sharp rise in the number of people who signed up for unemployment benefits this past week; how Donald Trump has financed his presidential campaign and how he'll continue to throughout the rest of the race; and the controversy over George Lucas' plans to build a museum in Chicago.

New IRS hires will boost enforcement

May 5, 2016
Tracey Samuelson

Looking for a new job? How about the Internal Revenue Service?

The IRS has announced it’ll hire 600 to 700 new employees, focusing primarily on enforcement — the first significant hiring in that area in five years.

The positions are sorely needed, said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

Overall, the agency’s down 15,000 employees since 2010.

Billions in aid for low-income seniors go unclaimed

May 5, 2016
Ashley Milne-Tyte

The number of seniors living in poverty has increased during the last few years. Today more than 4.5 million people live on less than $12,000 a year. Meanwhile, a lot of benefits seniors could tap in to help pay for health care and housing aren’t being used.  

As heroin and opioid addictions continue to spread among middle-class communities, families who never thought they’d face this problem are finding out one simple truth — treating someone for an addiction can be really, really costly. And some are turning to the time-honored method of the community fundraiser.

Andy Uhler

European officials met Wednesday morning, tentatively agreeing that Turks should be allowed to travel in much of Europe without a visa. 

In March, Turkey agreed to help stop migrants crossing the Aegean Sea into Europe. The European Union had agreed to give Turkey €6 billion. Eric Schwartz, dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, said Turkey was in a strong bargaining position.

Cutting prison hepatitis C rates: costly, but worth it?

May 4, 2016

At the prison hospital inside the California Men’s Colony near San Luis Obispo, 75-year-old Floyd Masterson is waiting to pick up some medication. He carries a walking stick in one hand and a pink appointment slip in the other. Like the rest of the inmates around him, he’s dressed in a dark blue prison uniform. He has something else in common with many prisoners: hepatitis C. The disease affects about 1 percent of the country’s population as a whole, but 17 percent of those in prison.

Full interview: Vimeo CEO on helping creators

May 4, 2016
Bruce Johnson

The video-sharing company Vimeo bought a service this week called VHX, which may help creators on its service sell more of their content.  

“Now any creator can essentially launch their own version of Netflix," said Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor. "[It's] a premium ad-free channel of their own videos at any price they wish, launched anywhere in the world, consumable on any device.”

April not a blockbuster month for hiring in the U.S.

May 4, 2016

On today's show, we'll talk about April employment numbers; Tesla's future; and fundraising as a way to pay for the high costs of drug rehab. 

Original Pizza Logs

The Wheatfield company that has been producing a favorite game-day snack for more than two decades is expanding.

A possible strategy change for the financially strapped United States Postal Service.

The USPS is in some trouble, as you may have heard. Billions in deficits every year more billions in pension liabilities.

The Finnish post office is in the red, too, and has a plan. Posti, as the Finnish postal service is called, will start mowing customers' lawns starting next month.

Joining us to talk about the week's business and economic news are Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post and John Carney of the Wall Street Journal. The big topics this week: interest rates, global markets and China's slowing economy.

The Lowline experiments with natural sunlight underground

Apr 29, 2016
Lizzie O'Leary and Bruce Johnson

Part-public park, part-mad scientist experiment, The Lowline in the Lower East Side of New York City hopes to bring natural sunlight and gardens indoors and underground. Using mirrors, lenses and aluminum in a formerly abandoned building, co-founders James Ramsey and Dan Barasch Dan hope to turn their 1,000-square foot experiment into a 60,000-square foot public park and garden open to the public.

You can read more about the park's plans at their website:

California makes an expensive primary appearance

Apr 29, 2016
Sabri Ben-Achour

To the many unexpected things in this presidential campaign cycle, add California.

“This is the first time a California presidential primary will make a definitive difference since the 1972 Democratic primary,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics at USC.

Usually, by now, the winners of the national primaries are pretty much figured out and they can just snooze through California's June primary. But on the Republican side especially, things aren't quite figured out. That means the state's 172 GOP delegates have suddenly become very important.

Marketplace for Friday, April 29, 2016

Apr 29, 2016
Karen Clark

Unpacking this week's business and economic news with the Weekly Wrap; the cost of California's impact on this election cycle; and introducing The Uncertain Hour, a podcast from the Marketplace Wealth & Poverty Desk that looks at the impact welfare reform 20 years after changes took place.

Comcast to buy DreamWorks for more than $3 billion

Apr 28, 2016
Marketplace staff

To listen to Marketplace’s Adriene Hill and Variety’s Cynthia Littleton talk more about what this deal means for Comcast and movie goers, click on the audio player at the top of the page.

Comcast confirmed Thursday its interest in DreamWorks Animation, announcing it will pay more than $3 billion for the film company. Wall Street responded favorably.

US GDP growth slows to 0.5 percent

Apr 28, 2016

On today's show, we'll talk about slow economic growth for the U.S.; the decline of brick-and-mortar stores; and how the NFL draft grew into a major public spectacle. 

NFL draft has become a spectacle in itself

Apr 28, 2016
Nova Safo

The NFL draft, which begins Thursday in Chicago, has undergone a major evolution.

The draft used to be a closed-door meeting of NFL team officials who huddled to make deals over college players who are drafted into the professional football league.

"It used to be only sports writers cared. They used to hang out in the hotel where the draft is going on," said Rodney Fort, a professor of sports management at the University of Michigan.

Retail shakeout: Web stores on the rise

Apr 28, 2016
Mitchell Hartman

Brick-and-mortar retail is going through a substantial shakeout in 2016. While retail sales overall have held up moderately well (up 3.1 percent in 2015), growth has stalled over the past several years. Virtually all the recent expansion in retail has been in online sales, rising by double digits annually.

Annie Baxter

A new report from the nation's largest domestic hunger relief organization, Feeding America, points to a persistent problem of food insecurity: the socio-economic condition where people have limited or uncertain access to adequate food.

The report said food insecurity rates across counties remained high at 14.7 percent in 2014, the most recent year its data captured.


On today's show, we'll talk about the inability for many Americans to access adequate food; look at Facebook's plan for a new class of shares; and interview Antoine van Agtmael about his new book, "The Smartest Places on Earth." 

Amy Scott

This week marks a year since the city of Baltimore erupted in violence and looting following the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man who died in police custody. The uprising brought national attention to stark inequality in the city. More than half the adults in the mostly black neighborhood where Gray grew up are unemployed. For a lot of people in impoverished neighborhoods, a history with the justice system can be a barrier to finding work. One program is trying to turn that around.

Now you can take celebrity online courses

Apr 26, 2016
Ashley Milne-Tyte

An online learning startup called MasterClass raised a big round of funding — $15 million. It uses not academic celebrities, but the real US Weekly kind to teach its courses: from best-selling author James Patterson on writing, to Oscar winners Dustin Hoffman and Kevin Spacey on acting.

Learning singing from Christina Aguilera or acting from Spacey is pretty tempting. You pay $90 for a five-hour course. Richard Garrett, chief research officer at Eduventures, said a company like MasterClass isn't a rival to online higher education, but they share some challenges.