In the words of the president, the so-called “war on coal” is over. One could get that impression on news that coal production ticked up the first quarter, thanks to a cold winter boosting business for all energy. But long-term rival fuels like natural gas and renewables are pushing coal out of the market. And yet this administration seems to have a special thing for coal. Two agency heads have recently been drumming up support for coal by raising concerns about its alternatives — concerns that market watchers and experts don’t necessarily share.

Aaron Schrank

The Trump administration’s one-page tax plan released last month doesn’t say much, but it does propose doubling the standard deduction for income tax filers. That would make about $25,000 of a couple’s income tax free. About 70 percent of taxpayers take the standard deduction rather than itemizing their deductions.

Over the years, the standard deduction has been raised to provide tax relief to the middle class. But it came about for another purpose: to make paying taxes simpler.

One woman's fight to stop a cycle of 'institutional abuse'

May 9, 2017
Kai Ryssdal and Bridget Bodnar

 A New Way of Life is a nonprofit organization in Los Angeles that offers transitional living and support services for women just released from prison. But to understand how that organization came to be and why it matters, you have to understand the story of the woman who founded it. Susan Burton served six prison sentences in 17 years, caught in a cycle of drug addiction and incarceration. Since founding A New Way of Life in 1998, she’s provided transitional housing and support services for over 900 formerly incarcerated women.

A starter guide for aspiring gold bugs

May 9, 2017
Jana Kasperkevic

This is just one of the stories from our "I've Always Wondered" series, where we tackle all of your questions about the world of business, no matter how big or small. Ever wondered if recycling is worth it? Or how store brands stack up against name brands?

05/09/2017: Your landline still has value

May 9, 2017

For the first time, most American households have mobile phones but no landlines. Turns out, though, that landline systems still have their benefits. We'll talk about the trade-off that comes with this shift in consumer behavior. Later on today's show, we'll also explore why investors seem to be so calm right now based on VIX levels, and then look at one global tech competition that's encouraging girls to create their own apps.

'Fear index' at its lowest level since 1993

May 9, 2017
Marielle Segarra

The VIX, sometimes called as the fear index, has reached its lowest level since 1993. The index is commonly used as a barometer of volatility in the stock market. 

It works like an insurance market, allowing traders to buy a sort of insurance on their portfolios if they’re nervous the stock market is going to drop in the short term. If a lot of them do that, the VIX goes up.

So what does it mean that the VIX is so low right now?

Annie Baxter

Each year, 10,000 girls from around 80 countries participate in a challenge called Technovation. They identify problems in their communities, and with mentoring, create apps to solve the problems. U.S. Bank backed six teams of girls, made up of Latin American and Somali immigrants as well as some from more traditionally white middle-class suburbs, to come up with financial apps for the competition.

In the bank’s hometown, Minneapolis, some of those young app developers met in a junior high classroom to practice their elevator pitches for apps they've spent weeks developing.

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control finds, for the first time, most American households have mobile phones but no landline. That’s important information for collecting data, lest researchers leave out wireless users when they do surveys and wind up with inaccurate results. Wireless connections are getting better and cheaper, but most homes still have an unused landline connection — and that has its own kind of value.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Tuesday is National Teacher Day. Starting today and throughout the week, school-age children will be showering their teachers with everything from thank you notes to home baked goods to gift cards. It’s meant to show appreciation for all teachers do. But school systems across the country are having a hard time attracting and retaining quality teachers. Morale is low and as many as half of new teachers leave the profession within the first five years.

 Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

05/09/2017: The cost of losing a teacher

May 9, 2017

It's National Teacher Day, which means kids will likely be showering their teachers with thank-you notes and gift cards and apples. And they need all the support they can get — about half of new teachers leave the profession within the first five years. On today's show, we'll explore the dissatisfaction they face and the negative effects such a high turnover rate has on schools.

05/09/2017: The ethics of the dark web

May 9, 2017

Comcast and Charter, companies with a combined 47 million customers, put out a vague press release this week stating they would explore opportunities for "operational cooperation." Roger Cheng, executive editor of news at CNET, explains why the two are coming together and what that could mean for consumers' internet options. Afterwards, we'll take a brief look at the story of Dread Pirate Roberts. No, not the character from "The Princess Bride," but the man who created the Silk Road website using that name as his online pseudonym: Ross Ulbricht.

The return of Senegal's Orchestra Baobab

May 8, 2017

I've always wanted to tell the story of the lead guitarist in the legendary Senegalese ensemble, Orchestra Baobab.

His name is Barthelemy Attisso and he's an amazing musical talent. Attisso also happens to be a lawyer in his native Togo, though. So he would commute from there to Senegal to rehearse and tour with the band.

A few years ago, he recommitted himself to the law, which meant that when Baobab was ready to record its latest album, they needed a replacement for Attisso.

How Russia’s hacking and influence ops help Putin

May 8, 2017

In case you missed it, the presidential election in France was rocked at the last minute by a massive hacking attack on Emmanuel Macron's campaign.

No surprise, perhaps, given what happened in the US before the election last year.

Also no surprise: There's evidence that points to Russian hackers as the potential culprits.

Emmanuel Macron won handily in France's presidential election at the weekend, securing two-thirds of the vote. Next month, he faces an even more daunting election challenge — winning a majority in the parliamentary elections. Without control of Parliament, he will struggle to deliver the wide-ranging economic reforms he's promised. It won't just be the French judging his performance; the rest of Europe will be watching Macron's every move.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 


Luxury goods maker Coach announced today it’s splurging. It has agreed to buy rival company Kate Spade for $2.4 billion. Coach has already acquired high-end shoe designer Stuart Weitzman, and with the Kate Spade purchase, it seems it’s on a mission to create a stable of luxury brands.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Andy Uhler

More than 20 percent of the electricity being generated in Texas now comes from wind. It's a little-known legacy of former Texas governor — now U.S. Energy Secretary — Rick Perry. He got it all going with infrastructure and incentives more than a decade ago. Developers are buying up more and more land rights to build wind turbines. In Comanche County, Texas, it's been an economic lifesaver, if an unexpected one.

Judge Bobby Arthur been living in Comanche County for all 77 years of his life.

The family of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner was in the news over the weekend. The reports said Kushner's sister was in China drumming up investment for a Kushner family project in New Jersey. Chinese investors were apparently told they could get a U.S. visa if they ponied up $500,000. The EB-5 visa is meant for foreigners who invest in projects that create jobs for rural America or urban neighborhoods with high unemployment. But it’s also been used to fund projects in Manhattan or other decidedly non-blighted areas.

Kai Ryssdal

In the last fiscal quarter, Starbucks reported that over 25 percent of it sales in the U.S. were paid through the Starbucks app. That means a lot of money is passing through the app, which is great news for Starbucks' mobile presence. But on the internet, where there's money and a way to pay it out, there are going to be people who've figured out how to take it.


Mexico will elect a new president next year. And although President Trump has now at least temporarily delayed withdrawing the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement, continued uncertainty over the trade deal and Trump's plans for a border wall are roiling Mexican politics.

Kai Ryssdal

The center of the English-speaking publishing world is shared between two cities, London and New York. But what if you based a major publishing company somewhere else, say, Abuja, Nigeria? How would that change the writers and stories we publish? That's the question that, in 2006, inspired Bibi Bakare-Yusuf to co-found Cassava Republic, a Nigerian publishing house dedicated to changing the way we read African literature. Bakare-Yusuf spoke with Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal about the company.

Video: At the center of everything

May 8, 2017

Media consolidation, the FCC and how to get a visa for $500,000 or less.  

Even though the pro-EU candidate Emmanuel Macron snagged the French presidency, he could face some resistance from other political groups in Parliament. The BBC's Gavin Lee stopped by to discuss Macron's background and some of the hurdles that lie ahead for him. Afterwards, we'll look at KKR's possible purchase of Toshiba's memory chip business and then discuss whether business groups have too much influence at Germany's climate talks.

Legal services for immigrants have ramped up. Have financial ones?

May 8, 2017
David Brancaccio and Marketplace staff

With the Trump administration taking a tougher line on immigration and border security, a lot of groups have ramped up legal services for noncitizens. But when it comes to financial information and resources, a new gap may be emerging.

Families experiencing an immigration emergency may suddenly face thousands of dollars in attorney fees, bail and lost income if a breadwinner is detained.

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

A 13-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit heard arguments on Monday over President Trump's revised travel ban, with judges repeatedly questioning the government's lawyer in the case about Trump's campaign call "for a complete and total shutdown" of Muslims entering the country.

Climate talks are underway in Bonn, Germany, this week starting on Monday. There have been concerns that the new Trump administration may be overly friendly to energy companies at the cost of the environment. Some countries at the talks worry that business has too much influence over delegates, and they are calling for more transparency.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

The Fed today publishes its Labor Market Conditions Index for the month of April. The release follows Friday’s news that the unemployment rate dropped to 4.4 percent last month, near a 10-year low. The index, which Janet Yellen started releasing publicly in 2014, goes further than just looking at the unemployment rate and payroll job gains. It also provides a wide view of the labor market that the Fed watches for one of the two mandates. So how’s it working, and what valuable information about the health of the economy does it tell us?

Emmanuel Macron may have won the French presidency, but challenges await him

May 8, 2017
Sam Beard and Marketplace staff

Though France has elected Emmanuel Macron as its new president, the centrist candidate may run into some big challenges for his reform plans.

He faced off against the far-right politician Marine Le Pen, who was his stark opposite: an anti-EU, anti-immigration candidate who called for protectionist measures to defend French companies against foreign competition. Macron ended up winning by about 66 percent to roughly 33 percent.


Snap has tons of daily active users, tons of daily active media brands, and soon, it could have television programming. Shalini Ramachandran from the Wall Street Journal shares the type of programming Snap is planning to roll out, and how the company will collaborate with old media like NBC. Afterwards, Jalek Jovanputra, a managing partner and founder of Future Perfect Ventures, explains how the underlying technology of bitcoin might be used in the physical world. 


The pro-European Union candidate, Emmanuel Macron, just won the French election, so why's the euro down this morning? Its dampened value may be a sign of things to come during his term. On today's show, we'll take a look at the uphill battle Macron could face in the near future. Afterwards, we'll talk with Jose Quiñonez about the approaches his nonprofit, the Mission Asset Fund, is using to support families who face deportation. 

Emmanuel Macron Declared Next French President

May 7, 2017

Updated at 10 a.m. ET Monday

Emmanuel Macron — an independent centrist who has never held elected office — has won a resounding victory over far-right, nationalist Marine Le Pen in the most important French presidential race in decades.

According to the French Interior Ministry and multiple news outlets, Macron won with near 66 percent of the vote over Le Pen's just over 34 percent.