Business news

As Iowa attracts national attention during Monday night’s presidential caucuses, so, too, may the state’s enviable unemployment rate of 3.4 percent, one of the lowest in the nation.

But Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson cautioned against equating the rate with a strong economy.

“Iowa is not a fast growing economy,” he said. “It grows slower than the rest of the nation.”

In the final days of a public comment period for the proposed merger of KeyCorp and First Niagara, activists in Buffalo say there's already serious banking underrepresentation in many Buffalo neighborhoods that they fear could become worse.

This startup wants to save you a trip to the gas station

Jan 29, 2016
Christopher Connelly

Gas stations may be facing a fight for the fuel tank. A new startup operating in Fort Worth, Texas, and Silicon Valley wants to bring the fuel to you, courtesy of an app. It’s one of a few app-based fuel delivery companies looking to shake up the pump game.

Elizabeth Tolentino has been using the service for four months. The marketing assistant absolutely hates going to the gas station, so she used to put off filling up as long as possible. She used to keep a gas can in her trunk because she had run out of gas. She even ran out of gas at the gas station one time. 

Kai Ryssdal

You may well have less respect for Warren Buffett after this.

There's word today Buffett has signed on as an advisor to the new host of Celebrity Apprentice.

That new host? Arnold Schwarzenegger, to whom Buffett also provided counsel during Schwarzenegger's 2003 run for California governor.

Reflecting on Flint: what happens now?

Jan 29, 2016

The host of our Weekend show Lizzie O'Leary is just back from a week in Flint, Michigan reporting on the water crisis there. She filed a couple of stories for us about how it's affecting people's lives and where things might go from here. 

Listen to the audio player above for her conversation with Kai. 

Weekly Wrap: the Fed, GDP and recession?

Jan 29, 2016

Joining us to talk about the week's business and economic news are Cardiff Garcia from FT Alphaville and the Washington Post's Catherine Rampell. The big topics discussed were: the Federal Reserve meeting, GDP, and economic expansion. 

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Representatives of the Buffalo area's craft breweries and distilleries had a chance Thursday to discuss concerns about the industry face-to-face with the head of the New York State Liquor Authority.

Leaving with a golden parachute

Jan 29, 2016

On today's show, we'll talk about GDP growth, and golden parachutes.

BBC may ask older viewers to stump up

Jan 29, 2016
Sam Beard

One of  the world’s best known broadcasters – the BBC – is heading into something of a financial crunch.

The Beeb – as it’s known in Britain – depends for its income on a national tax called the licence fee. Not everyone pays. Every Brit over the age of 75 is exempt. But the British government has told the corporation that it must pick up the tab for that exemption.

Slower GDP growth reflects global forces

Jan 29, 2016

The first estimate of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for Q4 2015 and the full-year of 2015 will be reported by the U.S. Commerce Department on Friday. 

The consensus among economists, as reported by Bloomberg, is for 0.9 percent annualized growth in Q4 2015, down from 2.0 percent growth in Q3 2015. 

Marketplace Tech for Friday, January 29, 2016

Jan 29, 2016

Airing on Friday, January 29, 2016: On today's show, we'll talk about Microsoft and Amazon earnings; the deadline for Europe and the U.S. to reach a data-sharing agreement; and Gizmodo technology editor Michael Nunez joins us for this week's Silicon Tally.


Airing on Friday, January 29, 2016: On today's show, we'll talk about the Obama administration addressing the wage gap; Xerox growing its services; and the BBC asking for financial help from older Brits.

Xerox isn't just copiers anymore

Jan 29, 2016
Andy Uhler

Xerox reports earnings Friday. It also announced that it would split itself into two public companies — one would run hardware like printer and fax machines and the other would be the services division.

But it's not like Xerox just started branching out from making copiers. In 2010 it acquired Affiliated Computer Services — a huge data service provider. Steve Tadelis, economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said dividing the company makes sense.

"There is a large viewpoint in management that one should focus on core competence," he said.

Gas prices are down, but electric vehicles are in

Jan 28, 2016
Kai Ryssdal

General Motors unveiled its new electric car at the North American Auto Show this month. It's called the Chevy Bolt, not to be confused with GM's hybrid, the Chevy Volt. The small, electric car is raising eyebrows at a time when gas prices are low and American car production continues to rise.

Pam Fletcher, GM's Executive Chief Engineer for Electrified Vehicles, overseas the team that designs and builds these cars. 

Fletcher on the significant of this car to General Motors:

Marketplace for Thursday, January 28, 2016

Jan 28, 2016

How the Zika virus is impacting business and travel; schools and children in Flint face the worst of the water crisis; and an interview with GM's Chief Electric Vehicle Engineer about the new Chevy Bolt. 

Guadalupe Rangel scoops up hearty servings of homemade pulled pork, rice and coleslaw for her two teenage sons. 

This simple plate of food is not something Rangel and her sons take for granted. There was a time when she didn’t have enough money to even buy eggs, she says, her eyes welling up with tears. She was devastated to see her children hungry and losing focus in school.

“We were desperate, and it was very difficult,” she says. “I felt a lot of depression just knowing that I couldn’t give them the basics.”

Where were you when you heard about the Challenger crash?

Jan 28, 2016
Marketplace staff

Thirty years ago today the NASA space shuttle Challenger exploded just seconds after liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on January 28, 1986. All seven crew members died in the disaster. It was one of the biggest tragedies in space exploration history.

Kai took to Twitter today and asked:

Facebook's skyrocketing profits

Jan 28, 2016

On today's show, what's driving Facebook's record profits; Visa's forthcoming reunion; and the rise of the independent bookstores in Paris.

Legacy equipment still hinders digital manufacturing

Jan 28, 2016
Jeff St. Clair

Mathias Ellegiers is head of an Akron-based startup called Jaswig. He designed an adjustable standing desk — he says it’s healthier than sitting all day.

At a shop in Cleveland, the components of his wooden desk are routed out of sheets of Baltic birch plywood. Ellegiers didn’t bring any drawings. Instead, “We sent them the file through email,” he said.

As ACA deadline approaches, fines loom

Jan 28, 2016
D Gorenstein

The deadline for getting health insurance through a government-run marketplace is January 31, and skipping out on insurance this year could cost you double what it cost last year as fines climb to $695 per adult, or 2.5 percent of household income — whichever is greater.

But even with that bigger stick, Brian Blase with the Mercatus Center at George Mason said he expects plenty of people to sit this year out.

Marketplace Tech for Thursday, January 28, 2016

Jan 28, 2016

Airing on Thursday, January 28, 2016: On today's show, we'll talk about Facebook earnings; Google News Lab partnering with Fox News on the GOP debate; and decreased funding for Chinese startups.

Visa prepares for a unified front in Europe

Jan 28, 2016
Ashley Milne-Tyte

Visa Inc. releases quarterly earnings Thursday, and investors will be watching things here and abroad.  

Late last year, the company agreed to acquire Visa Europe for more than $20 billion. The deal is expected to be complete later this year. The reunion could mean a lot for Visa as the cashless economy expands. 

Emma Jacobs

Amazon 's expected to report earnings on Thursday. You might think by now, the online retailer has left its mark everywhere, especially in book sales. But “vive la difference.”  

In Paris, the bookstore most likely known to Americans is the famous Shakespeare and Company, an English-language bookshop on the Seine that has starred in film and regularly has lines of tourists out the door. But attentive U.S. visitors to the city will notice that there are lots of independent bookstores. 


Airing on Thursday, January 28, 2016: On today's show, we'll talk about the IMF discussing possible emergency aid; the deadline to get health insurance; and the challenge facing digital manufacturing.

Elly Yu

The U.S. took another step towards warming economic relations with Cuba on Wednesday. The Obama administration eased some financial restrictions, and U.S. firms can begin offering Cuban-run businesses credit. But this change doesn't apply to agricultural commodities. And lifting the decades-long trade embargo with the island nation is still up to Congress.  That hasn't stopped leaders in the state of Georgia from eyeing potential business opportunities  

The FCC takes on the set top box

Jan 27, 2016
Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood

If you’re like most people with cable or satellite,  you rent your box from the cable company and pay a monthly fee for it. Right now that’s about the only option you have, with a few very small exceptions. You might have another box like Apple TV that you stream content through … but for cable, there's really just the one option. 

Marketplace for Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Jan 27, 2016

Citizens and NGOs are mounting lawsuits against officials in Flint; how the strong dollar can weaken a company's earnings; and a look at relations with Cuba through the poultry industry. 


Airing on Wednesday, January 27, 2016: On today's show, we'll talk about Apple's slow down in earnings; fundraising for colleges; the possible Shell-BP merger; and U.S. firms now offering credit to Cubans.

Government further relaxes Cuba trade rules

Jan 27, 2016
D Gorenstein

Wednesday marks another significant step in the thawing of U.S. Cuba relations. For the first time in decades, U.S. firms can begin offering their Cuban customers credit.

The easing of financial restrictions is consistent with the Administration’s goal to improve the lives of ordinary Cuban citizens.

Attorney Gus Maxwell, with the Ackerman law firm in Miami, said lifting further financial restrictions will help make trade more normal.

Shell looks to merge with BG

Jan 27, 2016
Ashley Milne-Tyte

On Wednesday, Shell shareholders are expected to vote on the merger between the oil company and natural gas producer BG. It’s the biggest merger in the industry in a decade, and the largest Shell has ever embarked on. 

When the merger was announced nine months ago, oil prices were a lot higher than they are now. Oil hit a 12-year low recently. This $69 billion deal gives Shell access to the foreign oil and gas reserves BG has in its portfolio, including large reserves in Australia and Brazil.