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

03/03/17: What's behind Bitcoin's success?

Mar 3, 2017

Bitcoin closed above the price of gold for the first time. It's seen wild swings in price during it short lifetime, but it's been up as of late. Steve Hanke, an economics professor at Johns Hopkins, breaks down the reasons. Afterwards, we'll explore Trump's decision to pursue one-on-one talks instead of multilateral trade negotiations. And finally, we'll look at the effect of March Madness on workplace productivity.

In England, fewer people own their homes

Mar 3, 2017

The British government released the latest English Housing Survey this week. It found that home ownership in England has fallen to its lowest level in 30 years. It also noted that almost half of all the people in England age 25 to 34 currently rent their home from an individual private landlord. 

Click the above audio player to hear the full story.

Jana Kasperkevic

Just feet away from the hustle and bustle of Times Square, David Mendlewicz took the stage in front of about 80 young professionals. Looking over the audience, he asked: “How many of you are managers?”

The majority of people in the room raised their hands.

“How many of you ever received manager training?” Mendlewicz continued. Just three hands remained in the air. Awkward laughter filled the room.

Mendlewicz himself became a manager around the time he was 24. He, too, did not receive management training.

Multilateral trade deals? Trump's just not that into them

Mar 3, 2017
Ashley Milne-Tyte

President Donald Trump has made clear he is not into multilateral trade negotiations. Take the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He withdrew the U.S. from that agreement, and he says he will conduct these kinds of talks one-on-one from now on, which is quite a change from the past.

For decades, the U.S. has mostly pursued multilateral negotiations. Nora Bensahel, a professor in the School of International Service at American University, said there’s good reason for that.


Costco is raising its membership fees — its first hike since 2011. Marketplace's Annie Baxter explains why retailers are facing tricky times. Next, we'll discuss the reason for low levels of home ownership in England, and then look at how craft brewers feel about Trump's promises on regulation.


2017 hasn't been Uber's year. There have been accusations about sexual harassment from former employees, a lawsuit over intellectual property, and questions about the CEO's temperament. The ridesharing company might need some crisis management. Andy Gilman, the CEO of CommCore Consulting Group, shares how his company helps other companies respond to crises. Afterwards, we'll play this week's Silicon Tally with Simon Ogus, COO of the website 

Kim Adams

The Trump administration is moving ahead with efforts to build a border wall, even as questions about the financial and physical feasibility of the project remain.  

Beginning next week, the Department of Homeland Security will begin soliciting bids to design and build wall prototypes, and well over 300 businesses have already expressed interest in taking part.

Is Germany a currency manipulator?

Mar 2, 2017
Sam Beard

President Donald Trump’s chief trade adviser, Peter Navarro, recently accused the German government of gaining an unfair trade advantage over American businesses because its currency, the euro, is “grossly undervalued.” He also argued that the government in Berlin was using its dominant position in the currency union to unfairly exploit its European partners. Though many Europeans have voiced strong objections to the new U.S. administration, this is one pronouncement that they might actually agree with.

Snap's IPO creates a new class of young money

Mar 2, 2017
Reema Khrais

Back in 2013, Facebook offered Evan Spiegel $3 billion — in cash — for his fledgling disappearing message app, Snapchat.

Spiegel turned it down, leaving many people to think he needed to have his head examined. Spiegel later told Forbes magazine: "There are very few people in the world who get to build a business like this. I think trading that for some short-term gain isn't very interesting."

WBFO's Mike Desmond

For well over a century, Tulip Molded Plastics Corporation and its predecessors have been on Highland Avenue in Niagara Falls. The company is now in a $12 million new plant using old plastics to make new molded plastics.

The greenback challenges Donald Trump’s agenda

Mar 2, 2017

 The U.S. dollar is moving full steam ahead. It's on its longest winning streak since May. That’s because investors like U.S. economic fundamentals and because they’re betting on an interest-rate hike by the Federal Reserve in March. But the rising dollar is creating problems for President Donald Trump.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Investors cheered by the recent rally that took the stock market to record highs have another reason to celebrate. Some of the nation’s biggest brokerage firms — Fidelity, Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade — all announced this week that they're lowering their commission fees. What's going on? 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Snapchat is going to start trading its stock publicly today at $17 a share, placing its value at $24 billion. But despite that impressive amount, what does the future hold for the company? Its user growth is slowing and net losses are widening. Next up, we'll look at an end to water discounts in Flint, Michigan, and then explore Graceland's expansion plans. 

Emma Jacobs

During his speech to Congress on Tuesday night, President Donald Trump reiterated his pledge to step up immigration enforcement, saying Americans cannot succeed in  “an environment of lawless chaos.” In memos, his administration has said it plans to hire 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents and 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers within the next several years.

03/02/17: Trump vs. California

Mar 2, 2017

We'll explore Snapchat's plans to go public today, a move that could prompt other tech companies to have IPOs. Also on today's show: a look at how much a border-adjustment tax would cost consumers, and the cost of California's pushback against Trump.


Snap Inc. made a splash in its first day of trading today. Shares rose 44 percent from the initial offering, valuing Snapchat's parent company at about $33 billion. The company's young founders are billionaires, and many of its employees are now millionaires (on paper anyway). We'll look at the effect all that young money is having on Venice, California, where the company is based. Plus, more than 300 companies have expressed interest in building President Donald Trump's proposed border wall with Mexico. We'll take a look at the bidding process and what these companies stand to make.

Best Buy released earnings this week, at a time when retailers are concerned about the imposition of a border adjustment tax. The National Retail Federation has launched a media campaign hoping to win consumers over by pointing out how costs of everyday purchases will go up. The TV ad is airing on "Fox and Friends" and "Saturday Night Live" this week, chosen, no doubt, to influence another key area of power: the president.  

Click the above audio player to hear the full story.

California's resistance to Trump could cost it

Mar 2, 2017
Andy Uhler

Speaking with Bill O’Reilly on Fox before the Super Bowl, President Donald Trump said California was, “in many ways out of control.” But he said he didn’t want to defund anybody.

“I want to give them the money they need to properly operate as a city or a state," he said. "If they’re going to have sanctuary cities, we may have to do that. Certainly that would be a weapon.” 

03/02/17: Will Snapchat be a good investment?

Mar 2, 2017

Snapchat is going public today. On today's show, we'll talk about why its IPO will take place on the NYSE instead of tech-friendly Nasdaq, and whether its stock is overvalued or undervalued. We'll also look at the most interesting news coming from wireless providers at this year's Mobile World Congress.

Christopher Blank

Nearly 40 years after his death, Elvis Presley is getting a King-sized complex of buildings surrounding his famous home, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennesee. The popular destination for visitors just quintupled in size, a testament to the singer’s legacy and future earning potential.

Nearly 600,000 people visit Graceland annually. For fans such as Marvin Hernandez, of Stockton, California, a trip inside Elvis’ inner sanctum is an emotional pilgrimage.

The accountants behind that Oscars flub are out

Mar 1, 2017
Kai Ryssdal

In a way, you knew it was coming.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, told the Associated Press today that she's reviewing the Academy's relationship with PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm responsible for the best picture debacle Sunday night.

Markets saw a big bounce today following President Donald Trump's speech last night. The Dow jumped more than 300 points, closing above 21,000 for the first time today. That follows an upward market trend since the election, which the president noted. But his speech lacked details about a lot of the promises he has made — to reform the tax system, undo Dodd-Frank, roll back regulations and repeal the Affordable Care Act — all things Wall Street cares about. So what is it, exactly, that the market is trading on? 

Ashley Milne-Tyte

Back in 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower addressed the United Nations General Assembly with these words:

“I know that the American people share my deep belief that if a danger exists in the world, it is a danger shared by all.”

But President Donald Trump is more skeptical of taking on other nations’ problems. He has made “America first” his mantra, and he’s talked about cutting funding to international organizations. That would mark a real change. The U.S. is a big contributor to many multilateral institutions, like the United Nations, and has been for decades.

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: