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

Blog: The Make Me Smart Book Group

Mar 10, 2017
Jennie Josephson

On a recent Facebook Live video, Molly Wood talked about a book that includes one of her favorite topics: path dependence — the idea that the decisions we make depend a lot on past knowledge and decisions we've made, even if those ideas are no longer relevant. Kai Ryssdal suggested a book club. You responded! So drum roll, please. Welcome to the Make Me Smart book club.

Here are a few of the books we're reading (listeners included): 

03/10/17: The end of sugary soda's reign

Mar 10, 2017

February employment numbers are out, revealing that the U.S. added 235,000 jobs last month. FTN Financial's Chris Low joins us to explain what these numbers say about the economy. Next, we'll explore rise of co-worker spaces designed specifically for women. Plus: news that bottled water has overtaken soda as the no. 1 drink of choice for Americans.

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

There's another fight brewing over a decaying Buffalo building. While it may be one of the oldest surviving structures in the city, the building currently features boarded up windows.

Karen DeWitt

Members of a leading senior citizens lobby group are advocating for a retirement plan in New York that could benefit their children and grandchildren.

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added a robust 235,000 jobs in February and raised pay at a healthy pace, evidence that the economy remains on solid footing nearly eight years after the Great Recession ended.

The unemployment rate dipped to a low 4.7 percent from 4.8 percent, the Labor Department reported Friday. More people began looking for jobs, increasing the proportion of Americans working or looking for work to the highest level in nearly a year.

America wastes an estimated 63 million tons of food each year, while 1 in 6 Americans are without enough affordable, nutritious food. We’re all responsible, whether it’s leftovers at a restaurant or that bruised peach that gets thrown. But one more guilty party? The law. A report out of Harvard Law and the Natural Resources Defense Council says rules around food labeling and even taxes aren’t helping. Truth is, a lot of things aren’t helping.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

The rise of female co-working spaces

Mar 10, 2017
Erika Beras

It's early morning, and Mary Jane McCullough drops her 14-month-old daughter off at day care. Then she walks through a set of doors and heads to her desk, where she starts her day running a language interpretation company. She used to do this at home.

“Trying to work from home with kids is impossible. It's keeping my phone on, taking conference calls in the bathroom, with kids screaming outside,” she said.

Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea's Constitutional Court removed impeached President Park Geun-hye from office in a unanimous ruling Friday over a corruption scandal that has plunged the country into political turmoil and worsened an already-serious national divide.

The decision capped a stunning fall for the country's first female leader, who rode a wave of lingering conservative nostalgia for her late dictator father to victory in 2012, only to see her presidency crumble as millions of furious protesters filled the nation's streets.


We'll look at what to expect from this morning's release of one of the most anticipated jobs reports in a long time. Next, we'll discuss the ouster of South Korea's president, and then explore what environmental policy might look like under the Trump administration.

03/10/17: How secure are our smartphones?

Mar 10, 2017

Earlier this week, we looked at Wikileaks' decision to release documents about the CIA's alleged hacking practices. As experts still comb through the details, we'll discuss what U.S. consumers should be thinking about their devices right now. Then to cap off today's show, we'll play this week's Silicon Tally with Lemu Coker, a member of the open innovation team at Verizon. 

Chris Caya/WBFO News

Work on the $60 million Northland Corridor Redevelopment Project is ramping up. The focus of the mostly-state funded project is a workforce training center.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

A downtown Buffalo casino is nearly finished with its $40 million dollar expansion. Casino officials invited local reporters to preview some of the new additions Thursday.

Gabe Altieri / WSKG News

The New York Public Service Commission could make a decision this week that would have a big impact on the state's solar industry. Advocates for small solar producers worry they will be left behind.

How Putin's and Trump's economic messages are similar

Mar 9, 2017
Kai Ryssdal and Robert Garrova

Peter Pomerantsev spent many years in Russia working as a television producer and has seen the country’s economic highs and lows. He's the author of the book "Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia" and is a visiting senior fellow at the Institute of Global Affairs at the London School of Economics. He talked with Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal about the Russian economy and media. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Why we need anti-drone technology

Mar 9, 2017
Kai Ryssdal and Robert Garrova

As consumer drones get cheaper and more popular, there are lots of drones in inexperienced hands and growing concern that they could be used for terrorist attacks. Legally speaking, you cannot just shoot drones out of the sky. So now, both government agencies and private companies are developing technology to keep drones away from places where they shouldn't be. Douglas Starr is the co-director of the graduate program in science journalism at Boston University and a contributor to Wired magazine.

NYS Comptroller's Office

Once again, the New York State Comptroller's Office has millions of dollars in unclaimed funds looking for their owners, including more than $113 million owed to 241,221 accounts in Erie County.

Tony Wagner

In the run-up to Super Tuesday, when Sen. Bernie Sanders was still an insurgent candidate and President Donald Trump was just one of a dozen or so GOP hopefuls, we called up a bunch of experts to ask how the themes of the campaign were manifesting in their states. Our conversation with economist Ray Perryman sticks out. At the time, he estimated as much as 10 percent of Texas' workforce was made up of immigrants who entered the country illegally.

New signs of softness in foreign travel to the U.S.

Mar 9, 2017
Marielle Segarra

One of the spots tourists flock to in New York City is Grand Central Station. You’ll often find them in the Main Concourse, craning their necks to look at the green ceiling dotted with tiny golden stars or standing on the marble staircase looking down as hundreds of New Yorkers run to catch their trains.

That’s where where Luis Bechara, 29, and Vitor Saiki, 30, from Brazil were taking selfies one recent night during rush hour. 

03/09/17: U.S. stocks continue to be on a roll

Mar 9, 2017

U.S. infrastructure has just received a report from the American Society of Civil Engineers. The overall grade? D+. Diane Swonk from DS Economics stops by to explain the benefits of investing in infrastructure. Next, we'll look at how a February shooting in Kansas against two men from India is causing fear among international workers. And finally, we'll discuss whether U.S. stocks can continue with their winning streak.

America’s infrastructure is underachieving

Mar 9, 2017
Christopher Olin

The U.S. earned a D+ on its infrastructure in an American Society of Civil Engineers report released today.

The American Infrastructure Report Card looks at 16 different categories of the government that make up the infrastructure Americans use on a daily basis. Then, over a span of four years, the ASCE grades them.

Housing prices have pretty much done nothing but rise for a long time now. That hasn't just been good news for sellers, but it's been good news for house flippers, who are back with a vengeance. Flipping — the high-risk art of buying a house, fixing it up and selling it for a sizeable profit within a year — is at a 10-year high, according to a study out today from ATTOM Data Solutions. Could we be heading into a housing bubble? 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Republican lawmakers in several states are moving to bar college campuses from offering sanctuary to undocumented immigrants. Several colleges have pledged not to cooperate with immigration officials or share information about their students without warrants. But what sanctuary means legally is far from clear. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Peggy Lowe

Mira Mdivani, a Kansas City immigration attorney, has been flooded with calls since President Donald Trump was elected. The one that sticks in her mind came a couple of days before a February shooting in  Olathe, Kansas, that targeted two men from India. The caller, an Indian national who works as an engineer, said he was scared for his family and wanted to move back to India.  


Several power players in the health care industry disagree with the House GOP plan to replace Obamacare. We'll look at some of the issues they have with the proposal. Afterwards, the Economist's Paris bureau chief, Sophie Pedder, will join us to discuss where France's leading presidential candidates stand on various economic issues. And finally, we'll explore the return of house flipping and what the practice says about America's housing market.

Laura Yuen

Minnesota is home to the nation’s largest Somali-American population, including U.S. citizens, their children and more recent newcomers. And after about 25 years of building their lives here, they’re pushing for increased investments in their community.

Somalia is one of the predominantly Muslim countries targeted by President Donald Trump’s new travel ban, which he signed March 6. The executive order blocks visa processing for nationals from Somalia and five other countries for 90 days.

WBFO's Mike Desmond

Buffalo's homegrown computer maker showed off its new expansion and manufacturing operation on Buffalo's East Side on Tuesday. Bak USA headquarters continues to expand in Compass East, on the site of the old Sheehan Hospital.

Andy Uhler

The private payroll processing company ADP came out with its best guess at the February jobs figures, and the company said businesses added 298,000 jobs last month. More than 100,000 of those new hires were made by small-sized businesses. 

Chicken farmer ramps up biosecurity measures

Mar 8, 2017
Kai Ryssdal

The words "avian influenza" make people in the chicken business pretty nervous. Bird flu can wipe out millions of chickens if it spreads. In past outbreaks, countries have banned poultry and eggs from the United States, causing prices to tumble. Earlier this week, the H7N9 strain of bird flu was detected in a chicken farm in Tennessee. So Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal checked in with Ed Fryar, CEO of Ozark Mountain Poultry in Rogers, Arkansas, to ask if he was worried about the latest bird flu outbreak.

Committee work has begun on the process of marking up the GOP alternative to the Affordable Care Act. But while Obamacare took months to craft, Republican lawmakers are trying to move through their repeal-and-replace bill much swifter. Committee markup on a bill of this size would normally take weeks, but in this case, Republicans are trying to get it done by Friday.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Consumer watchdog agency is at risk under Trump

Mar 8, 2017
Nancy Marshall-Genzer

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law during the Obama administration. Now that Republicans control the White House and Congress, they’re proposing some big changes for the CFPB. Some members of Congress even want to abolish it.