Business/Economy

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

America’s infrastructure is underachieving

Mar 9, 2017
traffic_4.jpg
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.

IMG_3905.jpg
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.  

healthcare_7.jpg
Marketplace

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.

sambusa02.jpg
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.

GettyImages-120787006.jpg
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
GettyImages-628011524.jpg
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
GettyImages-633698090.jpg
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.

Strong employment numbers are moving the market this morning. Private companies grew payrolls by 298,000 jobs — way ahead of expectations. Susan Schmidt from Westwood Holdings Group explains what these figures say about confidence in the business community. Next, we'll look at how the Raisin Capital of the World is coping with falling prices and foreign competition.

Here's what the wage gap looks like

Mar 8, 2017
womensday.jpg
Janet Nguyen

International Women’s Day kicks off today with the aim of promoting gender equality across every arena, including workplace pay. Overall, women get paid 83 cents for every dollar that men do.

California's raisin farmers are struggling

Mar 8, 2017
main%20image_0.jpg
Andy Uhler

If you drive north on Highway 5 from Los Angeles, in about an hour you're going to start seeing a lot of farmland. About halfway between LA and San Francisco, you'll run into Selma, California, population 24,000. There's a typical town square downtown where you'll find the Chamber of Commerce.

Robert Allen, the chamber's executive director, was born in Selma and has lived in town for 72 years.

“We’re very proud of the fact that we still produce raisins and can call ourselves the raisin capital of the world,” he said.

Restaurants are off to another tough year

Mar 8, 2017

Last year was one of the worst for the restaurant industry. The number of restaurants per million people hit a 10-year low, and traffic for most categories was lousy, especially in casual dining. And this year's not off to a great start. Overall traffic was down another 2.5 percent in January, according to TDn2K. With grocery prices falling and prepared foods and delivery on the rise, diners need a really good reason to leave the house. And restaurants are struggling to give them one.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Caterpillar%20-%20mini%20hydraulic%20excavator.jpg
Dan Weissmann

A couple of weeks ago, the heavy-equipment company Caterpillar was getting a very public thumbs-up from President Donald Trump. Then, last Thursday morning, investigators from three federal agencies descended on Caterpillar’s world headquarters in Peoria, Illinois, to grab files and computer equipment.

No charges have been filed, but it’s very rare for federal investigators to show up at a company like this.

03/08/17: Is the CIA spying on you?

Mar 8, 2017
CIA_0.jpg
Marketplace

New documents from Wikileaks appear to reveal the number of ways that the CIA may be using previously unknown tech vulnerabilities to do things like spy on citizens. Security expert Tiffany Rad, founder and CEO of Anatrope, discusses how the security industry is reacting to this news. Next, we'll look at why a German court sided with Facebook in a defamation case brought forth by a Syrian refugee. 

TV ownership is in decline, new study says

Mar 8, 2017

Americans don’t own as many TVs as they used to. That’s according to a new study out from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. No surprise, as we’re watching more programming on mobile devices and laptops. What does this mean for the companies that make and sell televisions?

Click the above audio player to hear the full story.

WBFO's Mike Desmond

Across Western New York, the list of plants that have closed is very long and getting longer. Those were good jobs and many paid well, well enough to support making life and a family possible. Tulip Molded Plastics just opened a newly renovated plant in Niagara Falls that is keeping its current workforce but finding it difficult to find more employees.

grand%20prairie%2002.jpg
Kai Ryssdal

Grand Prairie Foods in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, maker of microwavable sandwiches, prepackaged scrambled eggs for hotels and other convenience foods, relies on immigrant refugee labor. The unemployment rate in Sioux Falls is under 2.5 percent, and Grand Prairie Foods owner and CEO Kurt Loudenback says it can be tough to find workers. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal met Loudenback when he visited their factory in 2013 as part of the American Futures series with Jim Fallows from The Atlantic.

'The Real O'Neals' runs into reality

Mar 7, 2017
GettyImages-504206816.jpg
Adrienne Hill

"The Real O'Neals" is, in many ways, a par-for-the-course network comedy.

The show centers on an Irish Catholic family in Chicago.

"The perfect veneer of a family crashes in a night," said Casey Johnson, one of the show's executive producers. "And it's a story about the aftermath of how this family comes together."

Toss in a few musical numbers, and you have a not-unfamiliar formula.

bible_0.jpg
Mark Garrison

A new set of funds has been created for people with strong religious views.

Most people use exchange-traded funds, which allows investors to put money into a lot of companies at once, to invest in something big and broad like the S&P 500 index, but you can also get very specific, like companies that share the same beliefs. The new ETFs, which debuted a few weeks ago, focus on biblically friendly companies.

What it means to close the 'dignity gap'

Mar 7, 2017
GettyImages-623390426.jpg
Kai Ryssdal

For some Americans, dignity isn’t a right so much as it’s a commodity. Or at least it is according to Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, who makes this argument in his article for Foreign Affairs, “The Dignity Deficit: Reclaiming Americans’ Sense of Purpose.” Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke to Brooks about the article, and about where he thinks American culture is heading. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Permian Basin oil find cheers U.S. drillers

Mar 7, 2017

Oil drilling and fracking are back in America — that's the storyline out of the big annual oil industry confab in Houston this week. Crude oil prices have recovered from a two-year bust. The rigs are getting back to work. But a new location is the talk of the day. No, not Alberta, Canada, or North Dakota, but West Texas. That’s where a formation known as the Permian Basin has resurrected itself — again.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

US trade deficit jumps to 5-year high of $48.5 billion

Mar 7, 2017
exports.jpg
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The U.S. trade deficit jumped in January to the highest level in nearly five years as a flood of mobile phones and other consumer products widened America's trade gap with China. The result underscores the challenges facing President Donald Trump in fulfilling a campaign pledge to reduce America's trade deficits.

The deficit in January rose 9.6 percent to $48.5 billion, up from a December deficit of $44.3 billion, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. It was the largest monthly gap since a deficit of $50.2 billion in March 2012.

03/07/17: Jackie Chan's push for more foreign films

Mar 7, 2017

House Republicans have unveiled a plan to replace Obamacare. JPMorgan Funds' David Kelly stopped by to discuss how the new proposal will affect businesses. Next, we'll chat with scholar Daniel J. Levitin how we can become better critical thinkers amid a sea of fake news. And finally we'll look at why Jackie Chan wants a more open movie market in China.

 

International players from the oil industry are meeting in Houston this week for the annual gathering called CERAWeek. It’s the first meeting since the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, declared a historic cut in oil output last November in order to bring prices up from a 12-year low. It's also the first meeting since the U.S. presidential election and the new pro-business Trump administration. How is that development playing out in the oil sector?

Click the above audio player to hear the full story.

A federal judge in Colorado has approved the first class-action lawsuit testing whether private prisons can force detained immigrants to work as “volunteers” for as little as $1 per day. The case centers on an ICE detention facility run by the GEO Group, one of the country’s largest private prison operators, and may turn on whether detainees are considered the same as inmates convicted of crimes.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

How to be a more critical thinker about news

Mar 7, 2017
reading_0.jpg
David Brancaccio and Marketplace staff

Our brain is wired to make snap judgments. And those judgments can be very, very wrong. 

Daniel J. Levitin, a neuroscientist by training and a distinguished faculty fellow at UC Berkeley, said our best defense against being taken advantage of by others is to employ evidence-based thinking. 

samsung.jpg
Marketplace

We'll look at a Samsung scandal involving one of the company's top executives, who's about to go on trial as part of a larger corruption investigation involving the South Korean government. Afterwards, we'll chat with Slate's Will Oremus about how Twitter's algorithm affects the way we consume news.

Pages