The WBFO Business & Economy News Desk is funded by The M&T Charitable Foundation.

What it means to be a diplomat in a digital age

Mar 20, 2017
Stephanie Hughes and Bruce Johnson

When we think of diplomacy, we may think of talking — people in a room, face to face.

But that world of diplomacy is changing and the connected world is playing a much greater role, according to Anne-Marie Slaughter, who worked for the State Department during the Obama administration.

The risky business of building Trump’s wall

Mar 17, 2017
Jana Kasperkevic

It’s been almost two months since President Donald Trump took office as the 45th President of the United States and so far, no construction has begun on the border wall that was at the core of Trump’s campaign. Yet local governments are already taking steps to sever their connection to companies that might end up working on the wall that Trump says will protect the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

New York's taxi economy implodes

Mar 17, 2017
Marielle Segarra

As ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft have become more popular, ridership in New York City's yellow taxis has dropped by nearly 30 percent in the past three years. And that means financial hardship for the people who own taxi medallions — the metal plaques that permit someone to drive a cab — along with huge losses for the financial institutions that fund them. 

On 8th Avenue in Manhattan, Qudratullah Saberry is sitting in the driver's seat of his cab across the street from a hotel.

The U.S. spends a lot less on foreign aid than you think

Mar 17, 2017
Sabri Ben-Achour

The idea that the United States spends too much on the rest of the world is a consistent theme from President Donald Trump.

Right there in the introduction to his budget proposal, he writes, "It is time to prioritize the security and well-being of Americans, and to ask the rest of the world to step up and pay its fair share."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in Washington, D.C., for the first meeting with President Donald Trump. The relationship between Trump and Merkel thus far has been somewhat frosty, in no small part because of Trump’s continued tough talk about Germany’s balance of trade status with the U.S.

Kai Ryssdal

Nela Richardson of Redfin and Cardiff Garcia of FT Alphaville join us for the Weekly Wrap to discuss the week's business and economic news. This week is all about Janet Yellen and Donald Trump. While Yellen's Federal Reserve increased interest rates, Trump released his budget proposal aimed at cutting funds for government agencies and increasing defense spending.  

Indie musician Conor Oberst takes the Marketplace Quiz

Mar 17, 2017
Hayley Hershman

No matter who you are, you've probably had a rough day at the office that changed your perspective, or maybe you made an impulse purchase you really, really wish you could take back. This week, indie star Conor Oberst took our money-inspired personality questionnaire. Below is an edited transcript of our conversation.

Oberst's new album "Salutations" is out now.

What is something you bought that you now completely regret buying?

Trump's new budget blueprint for the upcoming year includes a $9 billion reduction in the federal education budget. We'll look at how the cuts will affect after-school programming and teacher training. Afterwards, we'll discuss what's on the agenda at this week's meeting between the world's finance leaders, and then explore the difficulties happening for rural hospitals across the country.

Kim Adams

A new report out from the International Energy Agency says global CO2 emissions remained flat for the third year in a row.

This plateau in emissions comes during a period of global economic growth. According to the agency:

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

The state treasury has  $14.5 billion of someone else's money, potentially your money. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is trying to give it back.

Will ‘Beauty’ be a blockbuster?

Mar 17, 2017

Disney’s new, live-action movie, “Beauty and the Beast,” opens this weekend. The movie has set a record for advanced ticket sales for a family film. And it could be one of the top March openings ever. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Elly Yu

At the emergency room in Irwin County Hospital in Ocilla, Georgia, nurses treat a man for a possible stroke. The man is propped on a bed and hooked up to a machine that monitors his heart rate. He’s the only patient in the emergency room.

“Our ER is not very large. It’s only four exam rooms, a cardiac room and trauma room,” said Jason Baxley, a nurse at the hospital.

While it isn’t very large, Baxley said the ER stays busy treating patients from the community.

How will Merkel approach her meeting with Trump?

Mar 17, 2017
Mark Garrison

President Donald Trump will host German Chancellor Angela Merkel today at the White House, and while Trump has accused Germany of being a currency manipulator, Merkel will try to convince the president on the need for strong relations between the two countries. That’s what Ulf Roeller, the Washington, D.C. correspondent for ZDF sees happening.

Roeller joined host Mark Garrison to discuss how Merkel could approach today’s meeting with Trump. Below is an edited transcript. 

03/17/17: Economic espionage

Mar 17, 2017

Four people — including two Russian intelligence officers — have been charged over their alleged involvement in a massive Yahoo data breach. Chester Wisniewski of the cybersecurity firm Sophos explains the hacking methods involved in the case. Afterwards, we'll play this week's "Silicon Tally" with Sam Thielman from the Guardian.


Later today, President Donald Trump will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel — two leaders who have sharp differences on important issues involve business. We'll look at the messages Merkel will try to send during her visit, and how business/political leaders in Germany perceive Trump. Afterwards, we'll explore new report from the International Energy Agency that says global CO2 emissions have stayed flat for the third year in a row. And finally, we'll look at the connection between a movie's presale numbers and its box office success. 

Bill Ackman's billion-dollar bet against Herbalife

Mar 16, 2017
Kai Ryssdal and Bridget Bodnar

Investor Bill Ackman and his company Pershing Square Capital Management lost $4 billion on Monday by selling its stake in Valeant, the controversial pharmaceutical company. But this isn’t the first time that Ackman has taken a big stake in a company that didn’t turn out well. Before Valeant, Bill Ackman made a billion-dollar bet against the nutrition and weight-management company Herbalife. He accused Herbalife of operating a pyramid scheme and attempted to short Herbalife’s stock.

Amy Scott

At the North Campus of Miami Dade College in Florida, more than half of the nearly 50,000 students live below the poverty line. About three years ago, the community college started a food pantry for students and their families. A counselor helps connect the students with other services, like tutoring and child care.

For decades, the college prided itself on providing academic supports to students, said Malou Harrison, president of the campus.

Let’s do the numbers: the U.S. relationship with Germany

Mar 16, 2017
Jana Kasperkevic

Angela Merkel has been doing her homework. In anticipation of her meeting with Donald Trump this week, the German chancellor has been watching his speeches and interviews and spent time poring over a Playboy interview published in 1990, German officials told Reuters.

When robots get creative

Mar 16, 2017
Tony Wagner

Around here, we talk a lot about automation. Which jobs are being taken by robots? Does adding more automation to the workplace actually create more jobs? Which jobs are safe?

We got an email from Julian in Australia about that very issue. Here's part:

Janet Yellen and co. raised interest rates by a quarter percent — but there's much more to the story than that. DS Economics' Diane Swonk joined us to discuss what this says about the Fed's views toward inflation. Afterwards, we'll look at what Trump's budget proposal means for U.S. cities, and then explore the challenges that exist for luxury brands that go public. 

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is probably the happiest man in Europe today after the anti-Muslim and anti-European Union candidate Geert Wilders did worse than expected in elections yesterday. Trans-Atlantic economic attention now turns to Washington visits this week by two European leaders, both of whom have been critical of President Donald Trump. Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny is in town for the annual St. Patrick's Day Reception. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is at the White House tomorrow, and that meeting could be awkward. Trump has accused Germany of unfair trade practices.

TaskRabbit is what work will look like in the future, CEO says

Mar 16, 2017

Stacy Brown-Philpot took over as CEO at TaskRabbit less than a year ago. Today, she's announcing that the on-demand chore and handyman service will double the number of cities it operates in over the next six months. The first five include Cincinnati, Minneapolis, and Charlotte, North Carolina. Brown-Philpot also talks to host Kai Ryssdal about the changing nature of work and why she thinks working for companies like TaskRabbit is the future. 


Somebody's in McTrouble

Mar 16, 2017
Jana Kasperkevic

McDonald’s official corporate Twitter account was "compromised" this morning when it sent a tweet insulting President Donald Trump, the company said.

“Twitter notified us that our account was compromised. We deleted the tweet, secured our account and are now investigating this,” a McDonald’s spokeswoman told Marketplace. The company later tweeted out the statement as well.

via National Public Radio

The Internal Revenue Service is extending deadlines to file business income tax returns for small businesses affected by wind and snow storms in the state.

Why some say Fed interest rate hikes are premature

Mar 16, 2017
Nancy Marshall-Genzer

The Federal Reserve voted to increase interest rates by a quarter percentage point at its March meeting. It's signaling two more quarter-point rate hikes this year.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said the economy is strong and ready for a rate hike. Inflation is closing in on the Fed’s target of 2 percent, and Yellen said the unemployment rate is continuing to fall. But some people say it’s premature to raise rates. 

How tech is finding its way into your beauty bag

Mar 16, 2017
Erika Beras

Tech has found its way into your beauty bag. Earlier this year, L'Oreal announced it's releasing a smart $200 hairbrush, which has a built-in microphone that listens to your brushing patterns to make sure you don’t overbrush. The vibrating brush also measures the force you're applying to the scalp. All of that connects to an app. It's like a Fitbit for your hair.

Rising car loan default rates spell trouble for automakers

Mar 16, 2017

People who took out subprime loans to buy a car are falling behind on their payments at the highest rate since the financial crisis. That could lead to higher costs for people who want a car loan. It’s also bad news for the automakers. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

High-end Toronto retailer Canada Goose is looking to raise at least $230 million with its IPO launch. Its product line is tiny, and the coyote fur-lined winter coat price tags are big, with some parkas going as high as $1,300. These are the challenges for luxury brands that go public. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.


South by Southwest has kicked off in Austin, Texas, which has its own "Tech under Trump" programming. Marketplace's Molly Wood explains what the tech industry hopes to get out of it, and whether there are any aspects of the Trump administration that tech companies are excited about. Afterwards, we'll look at the unique songwriting process of Bombadil, a folk-pop trio based in North Carolina that's using data and algorithms to try and give fans more of what they want. 


With the release of the White House's budget proposal, we'll look at who gets the big money and who may end up facing big cuts. Next, we'll look at Janet Yellen's rationale for the Fed's interest rate hike, and then explore the rising number of people who are falling behind on subprime car loans.