Business news

The news out of Syria is so often grim that it can be easy to forget that there are still local activists on the ground, civilians who haven’t fled, been kidnapped, or killed by airstrikes, barrel bombs or ISIS.

As more and more men die or go missing, the ones taking leadership in what’s left of Syrian civil society after nearly five years of grinding conflict are increasingly women — and they want to be heard.

Iain Kerr squints in the sun as he fiddles with a small camera mounted to the bottom of what looks like a remote control helicopter with four small propellers — he’s looking for whale DNA.

If you’re getting your DNA tested for some reason, all a researcher or doctor has to do is take a blood sample or even just swab the inside of your cheek. But it’s a little trickier when the research subject weighs more than 400 pounds and lives underwater.

Kerr is among researchers in Gloucester, Massachusetts who have developed a very innovative way to get information about whales.

Laura Herberg

More than 800,000 people are expected to attend the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this year. But how many of them travel beyond the walls of the convention center? 

The year of the shrinking bond yield

Jan 20, 2016
Sabri Ben-Achour

So far, 2016 has been the year of the shrinking bond yield. Today, yields on ten-year Treasury-notes closed below two percent.

The thing about bonds is that the more popular they are, the less you get out of them. 

“The more that people buy bonds, what they do is they drive the price of the bond higher,” explained Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist with Wells Capital Management. 

Nielsen TV ratings push into social media

Jan 20, 2016
Mitchell Hartman

Media-data company Nielsen is best known for its ratings of Americans' TV-program-watching live in real-time, or watched later using a DVR device.

But the company has also been expanding its data-gathering and analysis to better capture consumers’ new TV-watching behaviors — such as, watching shows on streaming services like Netflix, and on digital-only platforms.

How social media can make or break a show

Jan 20, 2016
Sarah Menendez

When a new episode of shows like "Pretty Little Liars," "Supernatural" and "The Walking Dead" airs, the action on Twitter can be just as important to producers as the action on screen.

final note

Jan 20, 2016

I know we talk a lot about CEOs on this program, we've got a whole segment about them, for that matter.

Shinola, by the way, will be on conversations from the Corner Office tomorrow.

Our friends at Quartz picked up on at item today along those lines, and not in a good way.

A survey by Edelman, the big public relations firm, showed that 53 percent of Americans can't name a single company chief executive.

Marketplace for Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Jan 20, 2016

Yields on the 10-year Treasury note falls below 2 percent; how some Detroit citizens are trying to show that there is more to the city than the Auto Show; and an interview with actor Damian Lewis. 

Microsoft buys MinecraftEdu, plans edition for schools

Jan 20, 2016
Bruce Johnson

Microsoft has bought an education game version of Minecraft called MinecraftEdu for an undisclosed sum and plans on using it to create its own Minecraft Education Edition.

The education edition, which launches this summer in free trials, elaborates on the computer software giants’ $2.5 billion purchase of Minecraft in 2014.

MinecraftEdu, through its Finland-based parent company TeacherGaming LLC, has sold Minecraft licenses to schools in 40 countries. Currently more than 7,000 classrooms use it in their curriculum, a number Microsoft hopes to increase.

Not clear whether wage increases drive automation

Jan 20, 2016
Pauline Bartolone

Richard LoGuercio employs hundreds of people to run his Los Angeles event rental business, Town and Country Event Rentals.  He said the city’s minimum wage increase, which goes up to $15 an hour over the next several years, is too much and too fast.

Tobin Low

Wednesday saw yields on the 10-year T-note, or Treasury note, falling to 1.96 percent. As Marketwatch notes, Wednesday also saw a fall in the European benchmark Stoxx 600 index, as well as the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which could largely be attributed to fears over China's economy and low oil prices. Analysts point to fear over the state of global markets as a catalyst for investors to seek safe assets. 

Georgia EV sales sputter without tax credit

Jan 20, 2016
Michael Caputo

About a year ago, Don Francis would have to explain how Atlanta, Ga. could rank second in the nation in electric car use.  

“I would be out there in the field explaining, ‘Why Georgia?'” said Francis, the coordinator of the federal Clean Cities program in the state.

Now Big Oil's refinery profits start to shrink

Jan 20, 2016
Nancy Marshall-Genzer

The big oil companies aren’t struggling as much as smaller independents — The big guys are more diversified.  They pump oil and refine it into gas.  

U.S. refineries have been able to buy oil at rock bottom prices, and turn it into gasoline. Gas prices haven’t fallen as fast as oil prices, so the refiners profit.

“I think, probably in the fourth quarter we’re going to see great results from the refineries,” said Luana Siegfried, a research associate at Raymond James.

Marketplace Tech for Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Jan 20, 2016

Airing on Wednesday, January 20, 2016: On today's show, we'll talk to Joel Levin, co-founder and education director of the startup Teacher Gaming, which created the educational versions of Minecraft. We'll also talk about the value of Foursquare’s data; and if minimum wage hikes actually encourage businesses to replace their workers with machines.


Airing on Wednesday, January 20, 2016: On today's show, we'll talk about the fall in markets in Tokyo; how big oil companies are trying to cope with low oil prices; and why sales of electric vehicles in Atlanta have come to a screeching halt. 

Coke bundles all of its products into one campaign.

Jan 20, 2016
Mark Garrison

Coca-Cola is rolling out a huge change in how it markets its signature drinks. For the first time, it’s going to promote Coke brands together, with Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero and Coke Life all under one worldwide marketing campaign. The company spent $3.5 billion on ads in 2014, so a change in how it markets its biggest brands is no small deal.

Vitamins and supplements are a dangerous business

Jan 19, 2016
Kai Ryssdal and Mukta Mohan

Whether you’re trying to boost your immune system, lose weight, or put off whatever disease it is you’re worried about, you’ve probably thought about dietary supplements. The thing is what’s on the label, and sometimes what’s not, could be doing more harm than good. That’s the subject of a new Frontline documentary airing tonight on PBS called “Supplements and Safety.” It’s a collaboration between Frontline, The New York Times and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Scott Tong

The International Energy Agency put out a report suggesting the world’s relative glut of oil will continue well into 2016, stating “the market could drown in oversupply.” World supply could outrace demand by at least a million barrels per day for the third year in a row. A big reason: Iran wants to export more crude with sanctions starting to lift.

A small overhang could push prices down significantly, due to the price-war effect.

Marketplace for Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Jan 19, 2016

What one reporter learned from the oil boom and bust; how communities in Missouri are helping businesses recover from flood damage; and with oil prices low and mixed market numbers, what's the state of the global economy?

Tony Wagner

Brent crude oil futures dropped to a 12-year low Tuesday, at around $28.

Over the holiday weekend, some people pointed out on Twitter that a lot of crude oil is now cheaper than the barrels they come in. Of course, plenty of oil isn't actually transported in barrels, but the point still stands: oil is very cheap, cheaper than a lot of stuff.

After flooding, Missouri businesses face cleanup costs

Jan 19, 2016
James M. Rosenbaum

You don’t usually find a lot of people lining up to get pizza at 4 p.m. But there they were, in a white tent in Eureka, Mo., recently.

Scores of hungry residents of the St. Louis suburb came to this temporary outpost to help out Joe Boccardi’s, an Italian eatery decimated by the region’s historic flooding.

Barb Heinesen, a loyal customer of Joe Boccardi’s pizza pies since the restaurant opened 45 years ago, was among those who came. 

Three words: free kombucha bar

Jan 19, 2016
David Brancaccio

On today's show, we'll talk about stock markets reacting to China's GDP announcement; margin buying; and tech companies moving into Oakland, CA, with a wealth of workplace perks.

Rob Schmitz

First, the bad news about China’s shifting economy: "The risk is that if the government doesn’t do enough structural reform, you wind up with lower and lower growth and higher and higher debt, and pretty soon you wind up looking like Japan in the early 1990s," said Arthur Kroeber, managing director of GaveKal Dragonomics in Beijing.

Between fast food and fine dining: fast casual

Jan 19, 2016
Luke Runyon

At a shopping center in Glendale, Colorado, Laquardra and Jason Staples are sitting down to lunch. The restaurant is brand new, a sleekly-designed barbecue spot called Carve Barbecue. The interior is styled with exposed wood beams, chrome metal chairs and stainless steel.

“We’re just out running errands so we just stopped in for a nice lunch,” Laquardra Staples said, while she poked a fork at a cup of sweet potatoes.

Marketplace Tech for Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Jan 19, 2016

Airing on Tuesday, January 19, 2016: On today's show, we'll talk about Netflix earnings and Oakland's commercial real estate.


Airing on Tuesday, January 19, 2016: On today's show, we'll talk about what China's GDP means for the global economy; a new SAT test; and a new type of restaurant that falls somewhere between fine dining and fast food. 

Why the SAT is getting another makeover

Jan 19, 2016
Adrienne Hill

This week  marks the last chance students have to take the current SAT. Coming in March: a new version of the test that the College Board says will be more closely in line with what high school students actually learn in high school. 

There will be more math, more reading, and fewer “abstruse” vocabulary words.

One big reason the SAT is changing is that it has fallen behind its rival college admissions test: the ACT.

Molly Wood

The World Economic Forum starts this week in Davos, Switzerland.

Hospitals race to be included in 'narrow networks'

Jan 18, 2016
D Gorenstein

There’s just under two weeks for consumers to sign up for insurance under Obamacare.

After January 31, open enrollment closes, unless you qualify for the Special Enrollment Period or federal health officials extend the deadline, something they’ve been known to do.

Marketplace for Monday, January 18, 2016

Jan 18, 2016

Maybe you spent your Martin Luther King Day volunteering, or checking out a national park — admission is free today. We're covering both, as well has Houston's history with refugees and United Airlines' "quest to be less awful."