Business news

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.

Former Disney IT workers claim discrimination

Nov 24, 2015
White Williams

Disney may be slapped with a lawsuit from former employees claiming discrimination over an issue that’s likely to get more attention this election season: guest workers.

Twenty-seven IT workers from Disney have filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging discriminatory employment practices. The complaints are being made in response to the termination of American IT professionals in January 2015, which are necessary precursors to bringing a lawsuit against Disney, according to Sara Blackwell, the attorney representing the claimants.

Salmon first GMO animal OK'd for sale

Nov 23, 2015
Mitchell Hartman

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first genetically modified animal product as safe for sale and consumption in the U.S. After years of review, regulators approved a GMO variety of Atlantic salmon, which was developed by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technology. The salmon is raised in inland fish farm pools to prevent genetic drift to wild salmon.

Don't call it 'Black Friday.' It's 'Golden Friday' at one mall in Montana

Nov 23, 2015
Molly Wood, Mukta Mohan and Bridget Bodnar

It is generally agreed that this week is when the holiday shopping season officially begins. Stores and malls around the country are preparing for Black Friday, which now starts on the evening of Thanksgiving. But, retail has had a tough time lately, especially big department stores that often anchor shopping malls. Last year, we spoke to Alana Ferko who manages the Butte Plaza Mall in Butte, Montana. The mall had just lost one of its big anchor stores, JC Penny, and she was worried about the future of the mall. We checked in to see how she’s feeling about this holiday season.

Marketplace for Monday, November 23, 2015

Nov 23, 2015

How the Pfizer and Allergan merger is an example of corporate inversion; the Food and Drug Administration gives GMO salmon the green light; and a look at emotional labor.  

Businesses in Brussels feel the effects of the lock down

Nov 23, 2015
Molly Wood and Mukta Mohan

Brussels, Belgium has been on lockdown since Saturday, because of what authorities call “a serious and imminent threat” of a terror attack. Public transit, schools, theaters, museums and shopping malls are all closed. It's unclear when the threat might actually be lifted and what economic impact the shutdown will have on the city and the European Union. The BBC’s Alex Forsyth shares what it’s currently like in Brussels.

On what it looks like in Brussels:

Local Money: Gloversville Library hopes to rebound

Nov 23, 2015
Lizzie O'Leary

We're trying something new here on Marketplace Weekend that we're calling Local Money. We want to hear about the stories happening in your neighborhood that you think more people need to hear about. Submit your idea here.

Pfizer's tax-driven Allergan merger

Nov 23, 2015
Tracey Samuelson

The boards of pharma giants Pfizer and Allergan have given the thumbs up to a merger worth $160 billion.

It’s an example of a so-called corporation inversion, where a U.S. company hooks up with a foreign corporation to benefit from its address and the lower tax rate that comes with it.

Navigating the unwritten rules of workplace society

Nov 23, 2015
Raghu Manavalan and Lizzie O'Leary

There are all sorts of unwritten rules about how to behave in the workplace, rules that you usually only learn from — often embarrassing — experience.

Or, you could read Ross McCammon's book, Works Well with Others, a guide to navigating workplace culture without enduring the embarrassing experiences that come before. He came into the Marketplace's New York bureau recently to share what he learned about office life.

Don't worry, be happy! Or else you're fired.

Nov 23, 2015
Sabri Ben-Achour

Cara O’Regan’s former job will probably sound pretty familiar to a lot of people. “We were encouraged to be positive and put a positive spin on things whenever possible,” she said.  O’Regan worked in retail sales.

It is an industry in which the customers are always right but not always. . . . nice. “Their responses would be out of proportion to what was actually going on, taking their own stress and psychological distress out on us,” O’Regan said. 

Final Note

Nov 23, 2015

I've seen the future, folks, and in it we are all slothlike creatures attached to virtual reality or tablet screens.

Our every need is met by an app or by a button — an actual physical button — that we can press anytime we need something. Like, say, a pizza.

OK, I'm being a little dramatic. However, the pizza button part is real.

Starting next month, Domino's will release an actual little button for your home that will instantly order you a pizza.

WBFO file photo

As the holiday shopping season creeps forward, nearly nine out of 10 consumers say they'll try to avoid traditional brick-and-mortar stores, turning instead to online retailers.

Downtown Buffalo eateries remain decidedly local

Nov 23, 2015

While Western New York has seen a rise in national restaurant chains among the suburbs, downtown Buffalo's restaurant scene remains rich in locally-owned establishments, some of which are rediscovering the city after a few years away.

Ending urban blight, there's an app for that

Nov 23, 2015
David Brancaccio

On today's show, we'll talk about one of the biggest corporate mergers ever; parsing the words and phrases that put money in your pocket (or take it away); and an app that aims to end urban blight in Detroit by making data on foreclosed homes readily available.

Increased security could come to U.S. soft targets

Nov 23, 2015
Mitchell Hartman

In the aftermath of an Islamist terrorist attack last week on a Radisson hotel in Bamako, Mali, and multiple attacks in Paris and Beirut before that, security is front of mind for politicians and the public in the U.S.

But, said security analyst Chris Chivvis of the RAND Corporation, “there is a big difference between a hotel in downtown Bamako — a country which has been troubled by jihadist groups for several years — and a hotel in downtown Atlanta.”

Marketplace Tech for Monday, November 23, 2015

Nov 23, 2015

Airing on Monday, November 23, 2015: On today's show, we'll talk about HP's earnings; a thought experiment regarding free speech rights for computers; and how advertisers in India are using audio beacons to target consumers.

Here's how Volvo plans to eliminate car fatalities by 2020

Nov 23, 2015
David Brancaccio

The Los Angeles Auto Show opens to the public on Monday, and auto makers are clamoring to show off their latest wares; green cars, race cars, topless SUVs. Good old Volvo is getting in on the action, too.

It's unveiling a future vehicle concept — equipped with autonomous driving technology — it says will give drivers back some time and make them safer. They're calling it Concept 26 (26 refers to the minutes in the average commute time).