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

Here's what full employment looks like

Mar 1, 2017

Last night in his speech to Congress, President Donald Trump said 94 million people are out of the labor force. But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that figure includes retirees, students, stay-at-home parents and other people who just aren't looking for a job. The truth is, at 4.8 percent unemployment, the U.S. economy is close to reaching full employment. That means for many companies, it’s actually pretty hard to find workers to hire. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

D Gorenstein

Top Republicans – including President Donald Trump – have been huddling today to discuss ways to repeal and replace Obamacare. No doubt one item is on the agenda — shrinking Medicaid, the health program that serves 70 million Americans, people with disabilities, the elderly and those with low incomes.

Are we going to see meaningful tax reform soon?

Mar 1, 2017
David Brancaccio and Marketplace staff

There’s been a lot of talk from the Trump team about reforming the country’s tax system, both on an individual and corporate level.

During his first address to Congress last night, President Donald Trump’s discussion of the issue included a call for massive tax relief for the middle class and a tax-rate reduction for companies. At one point on the campaign trail, Trump said he wanted to reduce taxes from 35 percent to 15 percent for big and small businesses.

Kai Ryssdal and Bridget Bodnar

In this episode of Corner Office, Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Expedia and an Iranian immigrant, talks about Trump's travel ban and the travel industry. "Companies don't like uncertainty, travelers don't like uncertainty," Khosrowshahi said. Also, how Ticketmaster helped him convince Barry Diller to get into the online travel business and why those cheap United airline tickets might be a good thing for Expedia.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Later this month, "March Madness" returns to Buffalo when the city hosts first- and second-round games of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Local tourism leaders are acting to make sure the city and its businesses are ready.

03/01/17: America's health care debate

Mar 1, 2017

What's going on with Janet Yellen and co.? Joining us to talk about the Fed is Susan Schmidt from Westwood Holdings Group, who says the odds of an interest rate hike have increased drastically. Afterwards, we'll discuss President Trump's future plans for health care and tax reform based on his address to Congress last night.

Here are the economic highlights from Trump's first address to Congress

Mar 1, 2017
Kim Adams and Marketplace staff

President Donald Trump laid out his agenda to both houses of Congress on Tuesday night, saying he wants to work with them on immigration, health care reform and various economic initiatives.  

Many of the economic themes Trump addressed last night echo the promises he made on the campaign trail — for example, his push to create more jobs.

While the speech didn’t provide many new details, it did clarify what his priorities will be. Here are some of the key economic points from his speech.

Improving the country’s infrastructure:

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

The Common Council is looking at how to regulate and possibly tax home-sharing computer apps like Airbnb.

David Brancaccio

In the last few days, some of greatest minds in business journalism have scoured Warren Buffett's annual letter to harvest wisdom.  

The Berkshire Hathaway boss and billionaire investor praised the American economy, calling the country's achievements "miraculous." 

03/01/17: The market for nostalgia

Mar 1, 2017

Nintendo Switch will launch this Friday, a console that's being marketed to kids — and their parents. We'll look at what Nintendo has in store for its new system. Afterwards, Tradesy CEO Tracy DiNunzio joins us to discuss the company's decision to offer parental leave for all of its employees. 


In his first address to Congress, Trump talked about infrastructure and tax reform. We're here to recap the economic highlights from his speech. Next, we'll look at the important items that Warren Buffett decided to leave out of his annual letter to shareholders, and then talk about why Uber's CEO wants to change his image. 

We now have three years of data points on where China’s coal and carbon emissions are heading: downward. It may have to do with China’s economy becoming less energy-intensive as it moves away from infrastructure and heavy industry. It may also have something to do with policy. Beijing has shuttered coal plants already in construction. And renewables use is growing to nearly 20 percent of the country’s energy mix. Despite what President Donald Trump plans on energy and climate deregulation, there are 181 other countries, most of which are moving toward decarbonizing.

Trump is about to run into the budget reality

Feb 28, 2017

President Donald Trump has his big speech tonight, and one of the issues he’s expected to talk about is the budget. On the campaign trail and in speeches, Trump has made budgeting sound easy: You cut here, add there and you’re done, sort of the way businesses run their processes. But the federal budget is not a zero-sum game — there are political pressures,and many items that simply can’t be cut.

Hard times for soft power spending

Feb 28, 2017

The White House wants to bump up defense spending and reduce the budgets of some other federal agencies. One agency in the crosshairs is the State Department. It wields something known as soft power — diplomacy and foreign aid. So what happens when you slash spending on soft power? 

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YouTube gets into the live streaming game

Feb 28, 2017
Kai Ryssdal and Adrienne Hill

Go ahead and add another player in the ever-contentious battle for your eyeballs. On Tuesday, Google's YouTube announced YouTube TV, a live streaming service with access to CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX and ESPN, along with a number of cable channels. 

Marketplace's Adriene Hill visited YouTube Space LA, the scene of YouTube's announcement, and spoke to host Kai Ryssdal from there. An edited transcript of their conversation appears below.

Amy Scott

Inside a cavernous building, solid bars of copper are heated and stretched into miles and miles of shiny tubing. This is Cambridge-Lee Industries, in Reading, Pennsylvania. For nearly 75 years, this plant on the Schuylkill River has produced copper tubing, mostly for plumbing, heating and refrigeration.

“Across the United States, Cambridge-Lee copper tubing’s in just about one of every four homes,” said Mike Fischetti, the company’s new vice president of human resources.


President Donald Trump will address a joint session of Congress tonight for his first don't-call-it-a-State-of-the-Union. He's expected to touch on a lot, including his budget. Crafting a federal budget isn't a zero-sum game, and it'll be a big test of Trump's "run the country like a business" ethos. Plus, under the White House's budget plan, the State Department is in the crosshairs. What happens when you cut funding for soft power? Plus, YouTube's new TV service and the latest in our My Economy series.

We'll look at the strong 2016 for Norway's biggest sovereign wealth fund, which is now worth about $900 billion. Afterwards, Washington Post reporter Drew Harwell joins us to discuss news that hundreds of former employers at Sterling Jewelers are alleging widespread sexual harassment and discrimination. Finally, we'll explore the latest data about India's economic growth: a new report shows that about 140 million people have been lifted from poverty in the country over the past decade. 

Chris Caya

A local father and son are breaking new ground in high-tech manufacturing. Scott and Zack Vader of East Amherst have developed a machine that prints metal parts.  

David Brancaccio

The Washington Post has obtained documents showing that about 250 former employees at Sterling Jewelers — which owns the Kay and Jared jewelry chains — are alleging widespread sexual harassment and discrimination.

The Trump Administration is expected to issue an executive order as early as today on historically black colleges and universities or HBCUs. Many of them are struggling financially, but proponents say the schools are more needed than ever. President Donald Trump's order is expected to move an initiative to assist HBCUs – a change that could help bolster Trump's relationship with the schools and, possibly, African-Americans.

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President Trump wants to boost defense spending by $54 billion

Feb 28, 2017

President Donald Trump addresses his first joint session of Congress tonight, where he’s expected to talk about his spending goals. The White House released a budget outline yesterday that calls for a $54 billion increase in defense spending. So what’s on the Pentagon’s wish list?

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Justin Ho

With recreational marijuana getting all the attention these days, it’s easy to forget how far the medical marijuana industry has come since California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. Today, Arcview Market Research estimates that the legal medical marijuana industry pulls in $4.7 billion in consumer spending.


Amid news that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has been checking staffers' phones, multiple reports say that government officials have been using encrypted chat apps. We'll look at exactly what information becomes federal record and what doesn't. Next, we'll discuss what current stock market optimism means for venture capitalism, along with Elon Musk's announcement that two people have paid a hefty sum to go on a weeklong mission around the moon.

02/28/17: Marijuana's push into the mainstream

Feb 28, 2017

The White House has released a budget outline that calls for a $54 billion increase in defense spending. We'll explore what's on the Pentagon's wish list and whether Congress is likely to approve it. Afterwards, we'll take a look at one marijuana lab that's found an innovative financing mechanism.

What's your movie 'constituency'?

Feb 27, 2017
Kai Ryssdal and Bridget Bodnar

Last night’s Oscar show had some upsets — even without that envelope snafu. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal talked with New York Times culture critic Wesley Morris about what just happened at the Oscars and why even movies are more polarizing than they used to be. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.

President Donald Trump’s administration promises a very different trade approach than its predecessors. Trump and his team have criticized trade deals involving multiple countries, preferring to work with countries one-on-one. It appears multilateral deals are out and bilateral deals are in.

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Textbook publishers in a bind as students go digital

Feb 27, 2017

Pearson, the global education publisher, announced a nearly $3.3 billion loss for 2016. It's struggling, as many traditional publishers are, with big shifts in the way college kids buy (or don’t buy) textbooks. According to the National Association of College Stores, spending on course materials has fallen 14 percent in the last 10 years. Students are renting digital versions or buying used books. Pearson said it is investing nearly $930 million a year to make a transition to digital. But there are other challenges for publishers as well.

Trump’s spending plan isn’t all that new

Feb 27, 2017

In his speech to a joint session of Congress tomorrow night, President Donald Trump will outline his approach to budgeting: a big boost to defense spending and no cuts to entitlements like Medicaid or Social Security. That means reductions for domestic programs. But Trump's budget proposal really changes very little about the nation's federal spending priorities.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Why Wall Street needs courageous leadership

Feb 27, 2017

In the American psyche, few phrases have more baggage attached to them than “Wall Street.” Depending on whom you talk to, Wall Street is either the backbone of American capitalism or part of a rigged system that makes the rich richer. William Cohan worked on Wall Street for 17 years and has written several books on the subject. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal talked with him about his latest book, “Why Wall Street Matters.” Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.