Business news

Robots are taking over Taco Bell

Apr 7, 2016
Molly Wood

The robots are taking our jobs at Taco Bell.

The company has teamed up with Slack, the messaging app, to write a software program that lets you order food from Taco Bell.

By chatting with the TacoBot. TacoBot!

It's an artificial intelligence program that takes orders and answers questions about the menu ...

Such as, "what IS a quesalupa?"

And then you order and go pick it up and it's almost like you talked to a real person! But it was a bot! A TacoBot!

Marketplace for Thursday, April 7, 2016

Apr 7, 2016

Goodwill adds a new online shopping feature; why the Ugg boot refused to die; and as healthcare costs increase, more doctors are talking to their patients about money

D Gorenstein

More and more of us are paying bigger chunks of our health care costs. So what role should our doctor play as we navigate this new economic reality?

According to a new report in Health Affairs, doctors are rolling up their white sleeves and getting into the nitty-gritty more than they used to.

The question, of course, is whether those conversations are effective.

Cracking down on shell companies: a years-long debate

Apr 7, 2016
Tracey Samuelson

The fallout from the Panama Papers — those millions of documents leaked from the law firm Mossack Fonseca — has been fast and far reaching, touching politicians, actors, and other high-profile individuals from around the world.

It has also focused attention on the years-long debate over whether and how to crack down on shell companies in the U.S.

How Ugg survived fad status

Apr 7, 2016
Molly Wood

Why do Ugg boots have so much staying power? Legend holds the Ugg’s style dates back to the crude sheepskin boots Australian surfers started wearing decades ago. Then celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Pamela Anderson took the boxy boot to global fame. But flash-forward to today and everyone from Rihanna to Kendall Jenner are still sporting a pair.

Marisa Meltzer wrote all about Uggs and their undying popularity for The Guardian.

Janet Nguyen

On this lazy Thursday, we've discovered that the machines really are taking over. Here are some need-to-know numbers to cap off your day. 

Molly Wood

Although most Americans have not heard of the Bechtel Corporation, the company is responsible for several notable infrastructure projects across the United States including the Colorado River's Hoover Dam and Boston's Big Dig.

In her new book "The Profiteers: Bechtel and the Men Who Built the World", author Sally Denton profiles five generations of men within the Bechtel family that turned the organization into one of the largest privately-held companies in the U.S.

How the economic machine works (according to Ray Dalio)

Apr 7, 2016

On today's show, we'll talk about interest rate hikes; chat with the CEO of Bridgewater Associates, Ray Dalio, about cause-and-effect relationships in economics; and a new "no-click" app from Domino's. 

Mitchell Hartman

The U.S. International Trade Commission will investigate the role of China and other big metal producers around the world in driving overproduction, which has contributed to dramatic price declines for aluminum on global markets.

Weak prices and intense foreign competition have in turn led to a wave of smelter shutdowns and layoffs in the U.S. aluminum industry.

US cities facing issues over pension packages

Apr 7, 2016
Andy Uhler

A task force aimed at preventing Philadelphia from going bankrupt has urged the city’s mayor to figure out how to deal with its almost $6 billion pension deficit. Philadelphia hasn't been or isn't the only region in the country dealing with this issue, though. 

Detroit was the poster child of cities running out of money. In 2013, the city filed for bankruptcy after accumulating $18 billion of debt. The pension program was said to account for a sixth of that total.

Nova Safo

Domino's Pizza has a new app out called Zero Click. As the name suggests, the app lets you order a pizza without a single click.

The Zero Click app, available on Android devices and iPhones, requires customers to do nothing more than start the app to order a pizza. The system is almost completely automated.

When first downloaded, the app prompts the user to input their information and save their favorite pizza. From then on, every time you open up the app, it'll automatically place an order for that favorite pizza after a 10-second grace period.

WBFO News File Photo / WBFO News

Upstate New York airports will compete for a share of $200 million in state funding.

Panama Papers: Iceland prime minister resigns

Apr 5, 2016
Marketplace staff

From our partners at the BBC:

The prime minister of Iceland has resigned - the first major casualty of the Panama Papers leaks which have shed an embarrassing spotlight on the world of offshore finance.

The leaks, from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, showed PM Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson owned an offshore company, Wintris, with his wife.

Panama Papers: Iceland prime minister resigns

Apr 5, 2016
Marketplace staff

From our partners at the BBC:

The prime minister of Iceland has resigned - the first major casualty of the Panama Papers leaks which have shed an embarrassing spotlight on the world of offshore finance.

The leaks, from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, showed PM Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson owned an offshore company, Wintris, with his wife.

Hospital care in your own room

Apr 5, 2016

On today's show, we'll talk about U.S. efforts to crack down on overseas corruption; tax inversions; and the future of hospital care.

D Gorenstein

This election year, Marketplace is casting its eyes toward the future, asking how the country can address long-term opportunities and threats — the ones that don’t fit into a single federal budget or election cycle. We'll imagine and ask you, if the next president were to appoint a Cabinet member to worry about future generations, what would be job one? Got an idea? Tell us here

Want to restore trust in banks? Make banking boring.

Apr 5, 2016

You have probably met some conservative bankers in your time. Blue suit. Country club. Republican. Amalgamated Bank, on the other hand, counts itself as a progressive bank. Its clients include the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton's campaign and super PACs that back Hillary Clinton. It's also majority-owned by labor unions and wants banking to be boring. 

Nancy Marshall-Genzer

More than a quarter of all U.S. homeowners are planning to improve or renovate their houses in the next year, according to a new report from Bankrate.

Bankrate said even lower-income homeowners are planning to renovate, using savings, credit cards or bank loans.  Some people might just be sprucing up their houses to sell them. But there are lots of big projects planned — stuff you do when you want to stay in a house.

Kim Adams

The Department of Labor is getting ready to release new rules on how your retirement adviser gets paid.


On today's show, we'll talk about how U.S. companies can merge with foreign companies so it can pay cheaper taxes, and interview Amalgamated Bank president Keith Mestrich about his bank's "progressive" philosophy. 



Wisconsin heads to the polls a state divided

Apr 4, 2016
Tony Wagner

Wisconsin heads to the polls Tuesday as a state divided.

It's a swing state that's gone blue in every election since 1988, but the government is under full Republican control. Governor Scott Walker ran a flash-in-the-pan presidential campaign, but only after surviving a brutal recall fight. The state also borders two metropolitan areas — Minneapolis-St. Paul and Chicago — so economically powerful they're distorting Wisconsin's key indicators.

Tesla Model 3 preorders climb to 276,000

Apr 4, 2016
Kai Ryssdal

More than 276,000 people put down deposits of $1,000 cash for a Tesla Model 3 this weekend, the Los Angeles Times reported. That's $276 million into Tesla's coffers just days after the electric car company unveiled its $30,000 car.

No interest due, no payments to make, no nothing -- the money just landed in their lap. Kind of brilliant, right? Now he's just got to build the thing.

Furniture buyers may boycott famed North Carolina expo

Apr 4, 2016
Jorge Valencia

For a long time, North Carolina was at the center of furniture manufacturing, so it made sense that in 1909, the Southern Furniture Exposition opened there. Now re-branded the High Point Market, after the city that hosts it, the trade show is like the fashion week of luxury furniture, attracts more than 70,000 visitors and has an estimated economic impact of more than $5 billion on the region.

The “Panama Papers” are raising questions about rich and powerful people across the globe using shell companies to stash their wealth. The leaked documents are largely about rich individuals, but high-profile companies use shell companies too.

A shell company is a legal entity that can certainly be shadowy, but is not necessarily good or evil. They can help corporations illegally hide income and evade taxes, or much worse. But shell companies can also help regular companies do lawful business.

It's hard to make Trump's debt plan add up

Apr 4, 2016
Sabri Ben-Achour

Republican front runner Donald Trump told the Washington Post he would eliminate the national debt – currently valued at $19 trillion -- in eight years.  Eight years from now, that total’s projected to be as much as $26 trillion. 

Many economists had strong feelings about Trump’s plan.

“That’s just nuts,” said Harvard’s Kenneth Rogoff.

“It’s absurd, it’s crazy, and it’s also impossible,” said the University of Michigan’s Justin Wolfers.

A world of inequality

Apr 4, 2016
Janet Nguyen

Welcome back! Here are your need-to-know numbers for Monday.   

Donna Tam

Minority women may be missing out on more than $1 million in earnings, if they work in Washington, D.C., Alaska, or California, according to a wage gap study released Monday from the National Women’s Law Center.

Steve Case on the internet's past and future

Apr 4, 2016
Kai Ryssdal

If you're an internet user of a certain age, the words "you've got mail" will likely trigger some very real memories.

What the Virgin America acquisition means for flyers

Apr 4, 2016
Mark Orlowski

I remember how thrilled I was when I first flew Virgin America in early 2008, less than eight months after the airline's inaugural flight. My flight was from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco and when I arrived, I had been online the whole time, my laptop and phone were fully charged and I had three bottles of water that were magically delivered to my seat by a flight attendant after I tapped a few buttons on the seat back TV screen.

Panama Papers scandal implicates world's elite

Apr 4, 2016

On today's show, we'll talk about the Panamanian law firm that has been helping wealthy clients hide their money in offshore accounts; Chinese president Xi Jinping's connection to the Panama Papers scandal; and a new broadband subsidy aimed at helping low-income families gain access to the internet.