Holidays, Brought to You By is our series about all the stuff that’s become part of the culture and of the economy. Where did they come from and who thought of them? 

House Republicans are currently floating ideas for a short-term fix to keep federal funding flowing and avoid a partial government shutdown next week.

“I think it will go all the way down to the wire. The deadline being so near in December … it will come to a crisis, I think,” Charles Tiefer, a professor from the University of Baltimore law school, said.

12/01/17: The economics of disaster

Dec 1, 2017

From hurricanes to wildfires to earthquakes, we've dealt with a lot in 2017. As communities recover, there's a trail of money behind it all. This week, we give you an hourlong special on the economics of disaster. We head to Puerto Rico to examine life on the ground following Hurricane Maria. We look at the debt situation, the realities of life when the lights stay out and what it takes to bring power back. Plus, Puerto Rico's dairy farmers and a surprising boom in renewable energy.

Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program ran out at the end of September, meaning millions of kids and pregnant women won’t have coverage in the new year. There are bills in Congress that would fund the program, but nobody can agree where to get to money to do it. The $15 billion program funnels federal money to states, which they use to subsidize healthcare for some families. Now some states are sending notices to CHIP recipients that their coverage may go away next year.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Is this the right time for a tax cut?

Dec 1, 2017

The GOP tax cuts may add about 0.8 percent to GDP growth during the next 10 years, according to several budget models. But that's economic growth for an economy that's already heating up. And you know who you call when the economy gets too hot? The Federal Reserve. It's the Fed's job to come in and put on the brakes. So there are some concerns that the Fed might have to mop up the very growth the GOP is promising.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

When Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico — or Hurricane Irma into Florida, or Hurricane Harvey into Texas, or wildfires ravaged California — the federal government stepped in to help with recovery. It's been quite a year.

And recovering from all those natural disasters, well, has had quite a cost.

Where does that money come from? We took a closer look at how the federal aid process works, from what triggers federal involvement, to how federal dollars are spent, to what happens when things don't go according to plan. 

Some Puerto Ricans refuse to leave their island, despite lack of power

Dec 1, 2017

On Puerto Rico’s north coast is a town called Hatillo. At this time of year, the fields are lush green, the air is thick, and humid. It's the middle of the day and cars drive slowly through the neighborhoods, along roads with electricity poles leaning at a 45 degree angle, holding power lines that drape into U-shapes in front of people's homes, for as far as the eye can see.

It’s been more than three months since Hurricane Harvey devastated southeast Texas. The eye of the storm first made landfall in the coastal town of Rockport — population 10,000 — and the destruction is evident right when you arrive. It’s a tourist town, mostly charter fishing and bird watching. Local officials said that up to a third of the town’s full-time residents are displaced, living in other towns miles away. There’s no vacancy in hotels, even for those who received Federal Emergency Management Agency vouchers. Many live in damaged RVs, some in tents. 

How will corporations spend their tax cuts?

Dec 1, 2017

At the heart of the GOP tax plan is a proposal to cut taxes on corporations. Republicans argue that would help the economy; they say companies would take the money they save and use it to grow — to make acquisitions, buy equipment, and hire people.

But Robert H. Frank, who teaches economics at Cornell University, said there's nothing stopping companies from doing those things now. 

(Markets Edition) Amid all this discussion about taxes, what does the Federal Reserve think? Christopher Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, joined us to discuss how they might react to a growth in GDP from the overhaul like Republicans are hoping. Afterwards, we'll discuss the Department of Education's plan to give the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) a tech makeover by making a mobile app for it. Plus: We'll look at whether the ultra-discount retailer Big Lots has what it takes to keep up with other discounters like Walmart and Dollar General.

The Trump-Russia investigation: A timeline

Dec 1, 2017
Carlos Barria/Reuters 

Possible ties between the Kremlin and President Donald Trump have dominated headlines for months. Here's everything you need to know about the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the Kremlin's alleged collusion with the Trump campaign.

Michael Flynn Pleads Guilty To Lying To FBI

Dec 1, 2017

Updated 12/2, 11:47 a.m. ET

President Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the transition, and he is cooperating with the special counsel's investigation into Moscow's interference in last year's election.

Flynn told investigators that he was instructed to engage with the Russians by senior members of the Trump transition team.

The ultra discount retailer Big Lots is expected to release third quarter earnings today. Stocks have gained 20 percent in the past six months, and they’re predicted to continue to go up. But the question is whether Big Lots can keep up with other retailers in the stiff competition for the best products at the best prices. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

(U.S. Edition) The GOP tax overhaul could add more than $1 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, according to an analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation, and that has Republicans concerned. On today's show, we'll take a look at what this means for the bill's future, and what Senate leaders are doing to gain more votes. Afterwards, we'll chat with Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz about the link between globalization and inequality.

The dreaded FAFSA form is going mobile

Dec 1, 2017

It’s deadline day for students to apply to many U.S. colleges and universities, marking a moment of respite for families stressed out over essays and SAT scores. It’s a brief respite for many, however, as the deadline for another dreaded application, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, looms just months away.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … The Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz warns the U.K. not to trust Donald Trump when it comes to making any kind of post-Brexit trade deal. Afterwards, Tesla heralds a breakthrough in green energy technology as it fires up the world’s largest battery in South Australia. Then, we hear how India has to create millions of new jobs each month to try and absorb the young and unemployed.

Cash is becoming a thing of the past. More than one-third of Americans don’t carry it anymore, according to a recent survey by the bank ING. The U.S. hasn’t totally embraced a truly cashless society, but China has. People use WeChat to pay for taxis, groceries and rent. Even panhandlers on the street accept digital contributions. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks with our correspondent Jennifer Pak, who recently spent a whole month living without cash in Shanghai.

A Nobel Prize-winning, left-leaning economist and President Donald Trump actually agree on something. And it's that globalization — freer trade with less friction at borders — really stuck it to lower-income people. But there seems to be no agreement at all on remedies for how to fix this issue. 

If there is one thing that our friends at America's Test Kitchen know is true, it's that you can roast almost anything. In fact, they are putting the finishing touches on a cookbook focused solely on roasting. Their many hours spent in the test kitchen included roasting not only classic large cuts of meat, but foods like fish and vegetables. Managing Producer Sally Swift talked with Julia Collin Davison and Bridget Lancaster, hosts of America’s Test Kitchen. They talked about how they love roasting for both convenience and flavor.

Having failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Congress is now working on a tax overhaul. But it turns out the tax bills in the House and Senate also aim to reshape health care.

Here are five ways the tax legislation could change health policy:

1. Repeal the requirement for most people to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty

What Congress could learn from Kansas

Nov 30, 2017

Making the rounds on Capitol Hill yesterday was Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. He was talking up his tax cuts in Kansas from 2012 as a model for the GOP to follow in its national tax plan. Thing is, the five years since those Kansas tax cuts were put in place have not been kind to the governor or his state.  

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Trade in bitcoin at your own risk

Nov 30, 2017

Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency is on a wild and volatile ride. The price of a coin has grown ten-fold in the past year, hitting a high of more than $11,000 for one bitcoin yesterday, before tumbling some 20 percent this morning. Everybody, it seems, wants in on the action. But a growing number of economists and investment advisors are trying to warn people off the stuff. Here’s why.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Amazon announced plans to bring its Echo devices into conference rooms and cubicles through a platform called Alexa for Business. The new feature comes through Amazon’s cloud computing business, Amazon Web Services, not its retail side, and it’s the company’s latest move in the competitive voice assistant space. To start, Alexa for Business will let workers ask the virtual assistant to do things like schedule meetings, order supplies and coordinate travel through partnerships with existing office tools like Microsoft Exchange and Concur. 

Republicans calling for lower corporate tax rates often say that the cash corporations save will stimulate growth, but the truth is, they may already have the cash on hand to do that.  And then there's the cautionary tale of what happened in Kansas, where five years ago Gov. Sam Brownback brokered deep cuts that stagnated growth and ballooned the state's deficit to $1 billion before the state legislature reversed them this year.

It seems that every morning the world waits for a new tweet notification from the president of the United States, but is it always Donald Trump hitting the send button?

Early Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump retweeted three videos from a Twitter account linked to the extreme right-wing group Britain First.

As a young adult, Reem Kassis left her Palestinian family behind in Jerusalem. She pursued her education and her dreams in business overseas, including in the US.

But the smell of home cooking knows no boundaries. And now Reem Kassis has written a book, "The Palestinian Table," that's as much a memoir as a collection of recipes.

11/30/2017: Revamping the way we evaluate schools

Nov 30, 2017

(Markets Edition) As part of the GOP's planned tax overhaul, some Republicans have been pushing for changes aimed at helping families, like an expansion of the Child Tax Credit. But low-income parents wouldn't see that big of a benefit, according to a new study from the left-leaning Tax Policy Center. On today's show, we'll look at why they may not get as much help as advertised. Afterwards, we'll chat with economist Diane Swonk about President Trump's new choice to join the Federal Reserve: Marvin Goodfriend, a Carnegie Mellon University economist.

Low-income families with young children wouldn’t see a lot of benefit from the House or Senate tax overhauls, according to a new study from the left-leaning Tax Policy Center. It found the tax cut proposals tilt heavily toward middle- and upper-income families. That’s even if the final version of the tax overhaul increases the child tax credit. The Senate proposal for expansion of the child tax credit would expire after 2025. 

On a recent evening, Meredith Chaiken picked up her son Ezra after a day of school at Margaret Brent Elementary in Baltimore. He’s in pre-kindergarten, and Chaiken’s older son, Tavi, is in second grade. Both boys are thriving in their neighborhood public school, she said.

“I appreciate the teachers,” she said. “They’re dedicated, they’re working really hard, they’re interested in my kids, and it’s a nice community for us to join.”

(U.S. Edition) Farmers and farm lobbyists, overall, seem to be pretty positive about the GOP's planned tax cuts, according to economist Chris Farrell. At least, for now. On today's show, we'll look at what aspects of the tax bill may be a cause for concern for this group, and whether these new tax rates could mean more government austerity to come. Afterwards, as part of Marketplace Weekend's reporting trip to Puerto Rico, we'll look at the growth of solar on the island.