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

Existing home sales on the rise

Jun 22, 2015
Tracey Samuelson

The pace of existing homes sales increased just more than 5 percent from the month before, according to the National Association of Realtors, but perhaps more interesting is who it thinks is doing the buying: almost a third of buyers in May were first-timers. That's moving closer to the 40 percent that the organization sees as normal for the housing market.

Ben Fein-Smolinski and his girlfriend, both 26, were among those first-timers who leaped into the housing market in May.

Taylor Swift convinces Apple to pay indie artists

Jun 22, 2015
Adam Allington

Taylor Swift’s social media shaming of Apple appears to have prompted the company to make changes to its new music streaming service—Apple Music.

Swift had threatening to withhold her album, "1989,” because of the company’s policy to not pay artists during a three-month trial period.

PODCAST: They're not coming to America

Jun 22, 2015
David Brancaccio

Players in financial markets are betting big money that Greece cuts a deal with its creditors soon. More on that. Plus, we'll have more context on Europe and its debt from Mark Blyth, Professor of Political Economy at Brown University and author of "Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea." And a technical glitch in the U.S. Visa system may cause a headache for thousands of visitors to the United States this summer.  We'll talk about the possible impact on recreational travelers, as well as visas for farmworkers from Mexico and visiting students.

Gigi Douban

Those going to the U.S. State Department’s website this week looking for a travel visa will likely get a message saying the department’s having technical difficulties. This is putting potentially tens of thousands of visitors and summer workers on hold.

D Gorenstein

Over the course of his career, Dr. Seth Berkowitz has met with patients much like one of his first – a 300-pound farmer in rural North Carolina with diabetes and heart trouble.

“His own diet was highly processed food, and he knew that was making his health worse,” Berkowitz says. “You’d talk with him and he’d be like, ‘Oh, I know what I need to be doing. It’s just not an affordable thing for me.’”

The FCC takes action to deal with robocalls

Jun 22, 2015
Mark Garrison

The Federal Communications Commission is taking new action to deal with robocalls — recorded phone calls and text messages offering various products and services. Unwanted solicitations are annoying at best and can be fraudulent at worse. The FCC gets hundreds of thousands of angry complaints a year. In its declaratory rulings, the FCC aims to close loopholes and bulk up protection.

Marketplace Tech for Monday, June 22, 2015

Jun 22, 2015

Airing on Monday, June 22, 2015: A technical glitch in the U.S. Visa system may cause a headache for thousands of visitors to the United States this summer. In addition to recreational travelers, visas for farmworkers from Mexico and visiting students could also be affected. More on that. We'll also talk to Will Oremus, senior tech writer for Slate, about Twitter’s Project Lightning. And Eric Markowitz, senior writer for International Business Times, joins us to talk about how new technology gets inside prisons, the first segment in our “Jailbreak” series.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

A long-time '5 & 10' store in East Aurora is celebrating a milestone. Vidler's turns 85 and will be holding a special celebration Saturday. WBFO'S Eileen Buckley toured Vidler's on Main Street in the village, exploring the many items sold and how a family continues the tradition.

Fatherhood programs pair job training with therapy

Jun 19, 2015
Miles Bryan

If you work in social services in a town like Cheyenne, Wyoming, guys like Michael Peña are a big chunk of your budget.

“I’ve been in and out of prisons and jails,” Peña, 35, says. “Drug possessions, drug charges. It's been a rough one, man.”

Marketplace for Friday, June 19, 2015

Jun 19, 2015

Airing on Friday, June 19, 2015: Apple’s effort to get into the streaming business as a latecomer is creating tension between Apple and the musicians it has long relationships with. The company is playing hardball because the stakes are so high. Next: as part of our series on infrastructure and choke points, "The Weak Link," we bring you the second of two stories on the power grid. We last left you with the Connecticut power grid problem. So how to make it better? Marketplace's Scott Tong reports.

Weekly Wrap:

Jun 19, 2015
Adrienne Hill

Joining Adriene to talk about the week's business and economic news are Linette Lopez of Business Insider and the Wall Street Journal's Sudeep Reddy. The big topics this week: Greece nears default, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen releases a message this week about the possibility of a rate hike and Pope Francis criticizes consumerism. 


Socially anxious? Try some kimchi

Jun 19, 2015
Adrienne Hill

I'm delivering this to you — I'll admit it — with some amount of skepticism.

But it's kind of amazing.

And it's about pickles — one of the world's great foods.

Researchers at William & Mary and the University of Maryland say they've discovered a connection between eating fermented foods, such as pickles and kimchi, and feeling less anxious.

Just think, loading up on sauerkraut could help you ace that job interview. (Maybe.)  

Indpedendent record labels push back against Apple

Jun 19, 2015
Adam Allington

Taylor Swift’s smash album "1989" will not be available on Apple’s new music streaming service when it launches on June 30.

Swift has pulled the album from both Apple Music and Spotify over concerns the streaming services do not provide fair compensation for artists.

The Rise of Women Gamers at E3 2015

Jun 19, 2015
Adrienne Hill

E3 — video games, gamers and traditionally lots and lots of men. But there are signs that the total male domination is changing.

Produced by Preditorial |
Director of Photography and Editor: Anton Seim
Reporter: Adriene Hill

"Windfall" TheFatRat, Released on Tasty Records
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

The big business of Indian weddings

Jun 19, 2015
Alberta Cross

For Indian millennials living in the U.S., a wedding may be the biggest party of their lives. Combining ancient tradition and American extravagance, these events can last for weeks and run well over six figures. It’s a booming industry, and venues across the country are all vying for a piece of the action.

“When hotels hear ‘Indian weddings’ they think, ‘cha-ching!’” says Ani Sandhu, owner of Ace of Events in the District of Columbia.

The price of the American wedding

Jun 19, 2015
Eliza Mills

At the courthouse and beyond, the American wedding is more than just a legal act or even a big day— it's a massive business. The wedding industry brings in about $80 billion a year. 

Businesses across the country reap the benefits: venues and florists, caterers, tent rental companies, dressmakers — they're all making big money. 

David Wood, president of the Association of Bridal Consultants, spoke about the wedding industry and how to make the price of a wedding fit into a budget. 

Scott Tong

Economies of scale. We talk about it all the time, making lots of something to bring the costs down. It works with electricity, as large power plants far away affordably generate most of our energy. The thing is, the delivery system, the plumbing of electricity – i.e., the grid – is becoming less reliable. In Connecticut, failures affecting up 850,000 customers from three major storms in 2011 and 2012 have the state investing in a new type of redundancy: locally made power. 

PODCAST: Off the grid

Jun 19, 2015
David Brancaccio

Why are financial market players betting the Greek debt crisis is about to be resolved? Greek, German, and French bond yields are down this morning — hinting not of crisis, but of some kind of resolution. More on that. Plus, is there an alternative to giant power plants sending electricity out over far-flung grids? Maybe. We head to Bridgeport, Connecticut, where they're experimenting with fuel cells.

U.S. colleges to recruit in Cuba

Jun 19, 2015
Amy Scott

As U.S. relations with Cuba thaw, colleges and universities are among those lining up to do business in the communist country. The Educational Testing Service has confirmed plans to offer some of its admissions tests in Cuba starting this month. The island nation is home to an estimated 1.5 million people between the ages of 15 and 24.

Don’t expect a rush of Cuban students on campuses just yet, though. When the Test of English as a Foreign Language debuts in Havana later this month, just four students are expected to take it.


Airing on Friday, June 19, 2015: Just in case, Greeks are increasingly taking money out of the bank. We check in with Marketplace's Stephen Beard on the $3 billion that has pulled out of banks there this week alone. Plus, the online marketplace Etsy has been trying to win back the favor of investors — its stock has fallen by about half since its IPO in April. Now the company is trying a new crowdfunding system where Etsy users can put up money to help promising businesses get off the ground.

Marketplace Tech for Friday, June 19, 2015

Jun 19, 2015

Airing on Friday, June 19, 2015: First up on the show, we'll talk with Adrienne LaFrance, Senior Technology Editor at The Atlantic, about how the NFL’s “Rooney Rule” could be applied to Silicon Valley hiring practices to bring in more diverse candidates. And how well have you kept up with the week in tech news? It's time for Silicon Tally! This week, host Ben Johnson takes on Simon Doonan, the Creative Ambassador-at-Large for Barneys New York. He’s also the author of “The Asylum: True Tales of Madness From a Life in Fashion."

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Officials from SolarCity came to Buffalo Thursday to update hundreds of local business leaders and other guests on what is one of the city's most anticipated economic development projects.

Chris Caya/WBFO News

Developer Carl Paladino and his partner Victor Liberatore are the proud new owners of a prime piece of Buffalo riverfront property.

Tug-of-war over restoring ridesharing services in region

Jun 17, 2015
Avery Schneider/WBFO News

A group of upstate taxi operators and limousine companies has hired a political heavy-hitter to lobby state lawmakers in a push to ensure that ridesharing services comply with existing regulations.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Developers are going through the early steps to convert the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle hospital complex into a multi-use site. But neighbors are expressing concerns for potential traffic and parking headaches.

Many years ago, nearby Cleveland was the shining example of a hard-luck town that enjoyed an economic resurgence. Then, it cooled off. With Buffalo now enjoying its own economic renaissance, how does this city get hot... and then stay hot?

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

City leaders say they've acquired the final piece of property needed for their plan to convert several blocks of Buffalo's Masten District into a new business park.

J.W. Danforth Co. buys land in Buffalo's RiverBend

Jun 10, 2015

The John W. Danforth Company is buying a parcel of land in Buffalo's RiverBend section with the intent to build a new 50,000 square foot operations hub on the site.

Former church bell tower will centerpiece new housing

Jun 3, 2015
Michael Mroziak, WBFO

A lonely bell tower that is the lone remnant of a former church will soon be the centerpiece of a new residential complex in North Buffalo.

Ellicott neighborhood to gain new restaurant

Jun 2, 2015
Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Buffalo’s Ellicott Street neighborhood continues to experience new projects, helping it emerge as the city's latest hot space for development.