Business and economic news

rendering from BNHT Architects

A vacant building in a struggling area will be getting a makeover, after approval from the city Planning Board. The $5 million project at Jewett Avenue and Halbert looks to build upon the successful development of the nearby Tri-Main Center.


After last week's terrorist attack on Parliament, we revisit the topic of government access to encrypted apps. How does accessing end-to-end encrypted messaging services like Whatsapp resemble steaming open envelopes or tapping phones? Ben Johnson discusses how U.K. agencies are navigating this territory with professor and author Thomas Rid. Then, why Facebook Marketplace isn’t taking off as Craigslist endures.

Colleges try to reassure international students

Mar 28, 2017
Amy Scott

Indiana State University in Terre Haute is typically pretty deserted during spring break. But on a cold afternoon earlier this month, several dozen international students gathered for lunch in the student union.

“I feel for you, and the fact that you’re here at Indiana State University and not in a warmer climate,” Chris McGrew told the students as they dined on Thai noodle salad and apricot glazed turkey breast.

Survivalist expos are drawing thousands

Mar 28, 2017
Tegan Wendland

Political transitions sometimes translate into people buying emergency supplies, though their reasons may vary. It happened after the elections of presidents Reagan and Obama, and to the best of anyone’s ability to track it, it’s happening again with President Trump.

Companies that make bulk emergency supplies, like ready-made meals and water purifiers, have seen an uptick in sales. Prepper conventions are drawing thousands of people, and the American Preppers Network says membership increased to 40,000 this year, the highest it has ever been.  


A drop in international students — who collectively add $31 billion to the U.S. economy — is met by colleges trying to assuage students whose holiday travel plans were put at risk by Trump's travel ban. Also, we take a look at how Americans spend their SNAP benefits and follow the increasing amounts of money U.S. airlines are investing in Chinese air travel.

Think you own your printer cartridge? Think again

Mar 27, 2017

Don’t you hate it when you run out printer cartridges? There’s that thorny question: should you buy name brand or one of those less-expensive cartridges that’s been re-filled? Well, that decision may soon be made for you. Last week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Impression Products Inc. v. Lexmark International Inc. Lexmark, a manufacturer of printers and cartridges, claims that as part of a condition of its sales, the cartridges it manufactures are protected and cannot be resold. Impression Products, which re-fills cartridges, disagrees.

The IMF faces scrutiny by Trump team

Mar 27, 2017

President Trump's "America first" rhetoric has been critical of international cooperation across the board. Trump called NATO “obsolete” and NAFTA the “worst trade deal ever.” And his administration announced plans earlier this month to nominate a fierce critic of the International Monetary Fund to a key role at the Treasury Department. Here’s what that could mean for international financial institutions in the years ahead. 

How augmented reality can improve shopping

Mar 27, 2017
Molly Wood

Retail is struggling. Macy's, Abercrombie & Fitch, The Limited and American Apparel are just a few retailers that have been closing stores recently. One reason is that shopping online is simpler. So, companies are turning to technology to make shopping better and more futuristic. Two companies, Bold Metrics Inc. and Morph 3D recently partnered up to use new virtual and augmented reality technology combined with a virtual map of your body to let you try on clothes in the digital world, in stores or at home.

What now? That's the question after House Republicans last week failed to pass a repeal-and-replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Over the weekend President Trump predicted the ACA will "explode." One way that could happen is if more insurers drop out of state and federal exchanges in 2018. They're worried they'll take a bath insuring sick and expensive customers, as some already have. So they're looking to Congress and the Trump administration for help.

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President Trump is asking top adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner to head up the new department to innovative ideas and implement data-driven practices used in the business world in government. This idea of data-driven management has been around for a while and has been slow to take off in government. For one, unlike a business, government agencies aren’t necessarily designed to function like a business. Also, the access to data needed isn’t always readily available. 

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Sam Whitehead

On a recent Saturday afternoon, the Central High School gym in the small, rural community of Talbotton, Georgia was packed.

The Hawks boys basketball team was in the playoffs. Talbot County schools Assistant Superintendent Cynthia Epps said it was kind of a big deal for this community, with a population of about a thousand people. “Basketball games tends to be a gathering … basketball games and churches,” she said.

Why markets worldwide are down following Congress's failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. Then, a new survey reveals that credit card holders are generally successful when they ask to negotiate rates and waive fees. And Sabri Ben-Achour interviews journalist Jason Koebler about why farmers are fighting John Deere policies by hacking their

Sabri Ben-Achour

In some rural parts of the U.S., there is a bitter divide emerging between farmers and a tractor company over software. Tractors these days are not your grandpa's tractors — they come with sophisticated software. Farmers say this technology locks them out of their equipment so they can't fix it themselves, which is why they’re jailbreaking their tractors using bootleg software.

NYC’s 'Fearless Girl' will keep standing on Wall Street

Mar 27, 2017
Jana Kasperkevic

The faceoff between the Wall Street bull and the “Fearless Girl” will continue.

The 4-foot-tall, pony-tailed statue of a girl with arms akimbo was supposed to be removed on April 2, but New York city officials announced on Sunday that it was extending its stay through February of next year.

03/27/17: Tech startups versus patent trolls

Mar 27, 2017

Companies that exist solely to buy patents and sue tech firms, known as patent trolls, will be affected by a Supreme Court decision today that could limit where they file suits. Currently, venue is key to how patent trolls win cases — for example, one third of such cases are argued in the eastern district of Texas where rules are favorable to plaintiffs. Plus, a test run of Amazon's outfit compare feature, which joins several apps trying to take the place of a friend who tells you what to wear while compiling your shopping data.


Iran responds to U.S. sanctions with their own, aimed at U.S. companies that do business with Israel. Marketplace's Marielle Segarra discusses which companies are involved and what it means for them. Then we turn to Nigeria, where pollution from an oil spill is still astonishingly high almost a decade after two Shell pipelines burst. Plus, how mobile solar-powered vehicle chargers are changing the landscape of the electric car industry.

JaeRan Kim

The push to get more electric vehicles on the road has been hampered by the lack of readily available charging stations. Remedying that problem isn’t a quick fix, since it takes a lot of work to build up the necessary infrastructure. Some are taking advantage of the slow transition to build a business around the need for charging.

On a recent Friday, Desmond Wheatley, president and CEO of Envision Solar, was backing his Chevy Bolt into an EV Arc station in the parking lot of the Rancho Park Golf Course in Los Angeles.

Nancy Marshall-Genzer

A new study from says 87 percent of cardholders who asked for a late fee waiver and 67 percent who requested a lower interest rate were granted their requests, just for asking. The problem is only about 1 in 4 cardholders is making these kinds of requests. So why don’t people negotiate more? Do they not know that banks can be flexible? The survey suggests that it pays to be tough and negotiate. 

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Will the iPhone (RED) boost Apple's sales?

Mar 24, 2017
Jana Kasperkevic

Apple’s new iPhone 7 — a distinctly colored red iPhone — is on sale today. The newest iPhone is a collaboration between Apple and Bono’s (RED) Campaign, but while the phone is connected to a charitable cause, it may also mean a bump in sales.

Scott Tong

An insider says pollution from a Nigerian oil spill in a pipeline owned by Shell's parent company remains “astonishingly high” nearly a decade on.

In 2008, two Shell pipelines burst in a part of Nigeria known as the Bodo community. Local villagers asserted in court that the amount spilled equals that of the Exxon Valdez tanker disaster from 1989.

Even with approval, Keystone pipeline may not get built

Mar 24, 2017

The Trump administration has approved a construction permit on the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline. Back when it was planned in 2010, oil was still trading at $100 a barrel and fracking had yet to fully ramp up. The project still serves as a symbol for both environmentalists and energy companies. But the overall impact of the pipeline may be less than originally thought, both in environmental terms and its demand from a market that is already flush with supply.

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Why hiring a new CEO can be really difficult

Mar 24, 2017

The world’s biggest entertainment company is taking a little more time to choose a new CEO. Disney announced it will extend the contract for CEO Robert Iger for another year, until 2019. This is the third time Disney has extended Iger’s contract. He was originally supposed to retire in 2015, but Disney keeps convincing him to stay on, this time with a $5 million bonus for the extra year. Disney isn’t the first company to have trouble putting a succession plan in place. Why is it so hard?

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What people get wrong when they talk about NAFTA

Mar 24, 2017
Kai Ryssdal and Daisy Palacios

This story is from our special series that explores NAFTA’s role in our economy from the perspective of workers, business owners and trade negotiators. What exactly is NAFTA? And what happens if it changes? Join us to discuss how one of the most hotly contested issues in our society shapes the way we live.

Kai Ryssdal

Leigh Gallagher of Fortune and Sudeep Reddy of Politico join us to discuss the week's business and economic news. This week, they talk about the GOP's health care bill falling apart and what comes next now that President Donald Trump shifts focus on tax reform.   

Why your robot restaurant might get sued

Mar 24, 2017

About half a dozen kiosks stand ready to take your order at Eatsa in midtown New York. With the help of technology, the fast-food startup basically eliminated the need for front-of-the-house staff. Hungry New Yorkers walk in, key in their order, pay and then pick up their order from one of the nearby cubicles. No human interaction necessary.

That is, unless you are blind.

What 'Frozen' had to do with the 'Beauty and the Beast' reboot

Mar 24, 2017
Kai Ryssdal and Bridget Bodnar

When Disney's live-action remake of "Beauty and the Beast" opened in theaters last weekend, it broke a bunch of box office records. That's pretty good news for Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman, the producers at Mandeville Films who made the film for Disney. Lieberman talked to Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal about the experience. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.

There's been another sharp drop in the markets this week, following a delayed vote on the GOP's health care bill. FTN Financial's Chris Low joins us to explain why there's a connection between the two. Next, we'll talk about one indie music label's investment in vinyl records, and then look at the effect that interest rate hikes from the Fed will have on the automobile market. 

Senate votes to end Obama-era privacy rules

Mar 24, 2017

Most congressional headlines are focused on health care this week, but another bill is on the move that could kill off internet privacy protections.

The Senate voted Thursday to put a stop to Obama administration privacy rules that would prevent internet providers like Comcast and Verizon from selling consumer browsing information. The bill looks likely to pass the House and be signed into law by President Trump.

Starting next Monday, customers of Wells Fargo bank will be able to make ATM withdrawals nationwide without a card using a smartphone. The trend could spread quickly to other banks around the country as consumers grow more used to advanced banking technology.

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New York plans to boost broadband infrastructure

Mar 24, 2017

The New York is looking to bridge the digital divide by bringing broadband access to every household in the Empire State by the end of next year. It would be the first state in the country to pull that off. Many poor and rural areas lack broadband. 

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