National/International

66: "Roseanne" and ethics in business

May 29, 2018

When we called up business ethicist Greg Fairchild from the University of Virginia this morning, we expected to have a wide-ranging conversation to get at Kai's question of a few weeks back: Are there market-based solutions to ensure better ethics? We didn't expect we'd have such a timely case study in Disney-owned ABC and "Roseanne." The network canceled its show hours after a racist tweet from star Roseanne Barr. We got the Darden School of Business professor's reaction as the news played out in the way it always seems to these days: fast, furious and on Twitter.

Updated at 11:50 p.m. ET

After Roseanne Barr posted a series of incendiary tweets, ABC canceled the reboot of her eponymous sitcom.

Instruction manuals tell us more than how to use a product

May 29, 2018

You might think of instruction manuals as too dry and too technical, a necessary evil that's in the way of what you really want to interact with: the purchase itself. 

But instruction manuals don't just tell us how to use a product. They can illuminate how well it was designed, create a bond with the customer, and reveal how much technology has evolved. 

European politics are causing tremors in financial markets

May 29, 2018

Turbulent financial markets in Europe are setting a risk-averse mood among market players around the world this morning. The Dow dropped more than 400 points, while key indices in London, Spain and Italy fell. The euro is a deal for Americans, with the European single currency falling below $1.16 for the first time since late 2017.

Who invests in the stock market?

May 29, 2018

(Markets Edition) European politics are causing turbulence in the world's financial markets. We'll look how fresh elections in Italy and Spain are playing a role in all of this. Afterwards, we'll discuss how Costco is holding up in the age of Amazon compared to retailers like Walmart and Target, and then we'll look at the demographics of who invests in the stock market and what keeps some groups from investing. (05/29/2018)

Federal Reserve data show that just 14 percent of U.S. families own stock directly, and only 52 percent have a retirement account. It's a highly skewed group: White households are far more likely to hold stock than black or Hispanic households, while the vast majority of stock holdings belong to the wealthiest 5 percent.

Later this week, we’ll get quarterly earnings from Costco, the nationwide warehouse-discounter. The chain offers a limited number of items — premium and private-label — priced to sell. So how is the company faring as it faces an ever-more competitive retail landscape for brick-and-mortar and online sales?

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

The history of instruction manuals

May 29, 2018

(U.S. Edition) You may see a "closed" sign on your local Starbucks this afternoon. The reason? Nationwide, the coffee giant is giving its employees racial bias training. We'll recap why Starbucks is offering this training and look at what topics the sessions will address. Afterwards, we'll discuss the Trump administration's push to make "short-term" health insurance plans to become permanent — and why they might not be a good fit for many people. Plus: We talk to the BBC's Helene Schumacher about the world of instruction manuals and why they tell us more than how to operate a product.

Is a populist takeover inevitable in Italy?

May 29, 2018

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … Italy is likely to return to the polls within months after the populist coalition’s nominee for finance minister raised the possibility of leaving the euro currency. But after the president prevented the appointment, protests broke out. So are his tactics merely delaying populists taking more power? Then, parents have become one of Britain’s largest mortgage lenders as younger generations struggle with soaring property prices the world over. Will young homebuyers ever have an opportunity to enter the market?

The Craig behind the internet's most famous list

May 29, 2018

There’s a lot of focus right now on the tech industry and its big personalities. As well as what they’re doing to help (or possibly hurt) society. However, one tech founder is trying to be a smaller personality while still leaving a big footprint on issues like education, support for military families, equality in tech and journalism. Craig Newmark founded Craigslist Inc. in 1995 and the site basically looks the same now as it did then. Though it still bears his name, Newmark isn’t involved in the day-to-day at Craigslist.

The Craig behind the internet's most famous list

May 29, 2018

There’s a lot of focus right now on the tech industry and its big personalities, as well as what they’re doing to help (or possibly hurt) society. However, one tech founder is trying to be a smaller personality while still leaving a big footprint on issues like education, support for military families, equality in tech and journalism. Craig Newmark founded Craigslist, Inc. in 1995 and the site basically looks the same now as it did then. Though it still bears his name, Newmark isn’t involved in the day-to-day at Craigslist.

A bill that could expand the way military veterans can access healthcare has gone to President Trump.  The VA Mission Act includes money for a program that allows some veterans to seek care from neighborhood emergency clinics and private doctors. The measure provides $5 billion to keep this "choice" program going. But it also outlines ways that more veterans could have access to private care.

More than half of American workers left unused vacation days on the table in 2017. That’s according to a survey commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association. But there are some signs that with low unemployment and a tight labor market, workers are feeling they can take more time off.  What role does paid time off play in our current economy?

AAA estimates more than 36 million of us hit the road over the Memorial Day weekend.  That's nearly a five percent increase from last year at the same time. And, that’s in spite of higher prices for gas at the pump. Higher gas prices may not keep people off the roads as this vacation season kicks off, but consumers may consider shorter trips, or other cost savings while they’re on vacation.

Are you using your vacation days?

May 28, 2018

Or are you in the 52 percent of American workers who left them on the table in 2017? We look at the economic effects of people taking their paid vacation time. And on this Memorial Day, the future of of the $55 billion VA Mission Act, which provides a boost of funding for the system that delivers healthcare to more than 9 million veterans.

Veggie burgers for meat lovers go mainstream

May 28, 2018

These days, vegetarians, vegans and eco-conscious omnivores have a lot more meat alternatives to choose from, including a new class of vegetable-based burgers that look and taste a lot like meat. They even sort of bleed, thanks to beet juice. There are two main competitors you may have noticed: Beyond Meat is available at grocery stores like Whole Foods, and Impossible Foods markets mainly to restaurants.

Amsterdam moves to curb disruptive tourism

May 28, 2018

While the city of Amsterdam only has a population of around 850,000 people, it gets around 18 million visitors each year. That has consequences for the quality of life of the people who live there. To curb the worst effects for local people the city authorities are adopting some new measures, like limiting the number of days owners can rent out their properties to 60 a year. It's also planning to increase the room tax by as much as  $15 a night. It has also banned new hotels, and even some stores.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

The future of the euro

May 28, 2018

(Markets Edition) In Italy, a group of populist, right-leaning parties had been preparing to put together a government, but that got derailed after Italy's president vetoed their choice for finance minister — someone highly critical of the euro. We'll look at what this means for Italian politics, the health of the European Union and the eurozone. Is this a harbinger for political conflict elsewhere in Europe?  Afterwards, we'll explore how Amsterdam is trying to curb the disruptive effects of tourism.

The business of dealing with husbands' mistresses

May 28, 2018

(U.S. Edition) Thousands of Starbucks stores across the country will close tomorrow afternoon so that the company can provide racial bias training to its employees. We'll hear from some social scientists about the effectiveness of this plan. Afterwards, we'll look at how the rise in gas prices could mean more expensive airline rides, and then we'll take you to China, where an unusual industry has popped up: scorned wives can pay experts to make their husband's mistresses break off the affair. (05/28/2018)

Do people even work 9-to-5 anymore?

May 28, 2018

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? What do you wonder?

Italy’s post-election turmoil worsens

May 28, 2018

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … Italy’s populist coalition failed to form a new government after the country’s president rejected their choice for finance minister. The president is now holding talks today about a possible interim, technocratic administration. But it is welcome news for investors? Then, a state in southern India is threatening to permanently close a controversial copper smelting plant. There have been deadly demonstrations against the facility, which is run by a British firm. Afterwards, has wine earned a spot on your Memorial Day BBQ menu?

Yao was happily married for more than a decade. Then last January, just before the Chinese New Year, she received a phone call.

“It was a young woman. She said my husband was not going on vacation with me and the children, because he was going to be with her,” Yao said. She declined to give her full name to protect her family’s privacy.

Venture capitalist John Doerr on the virtues and perils of setting goals

May 28, 2018

John Doerr is a legend in Silicon Valley and the venture capital world. He’s the chairman of the VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, at which he has funded companies like Google, Amazon and Netscape. Doerr has also mentored many of their founders and sits on the board of Google, Zynga and One.org — Bono’s nonprofit campaign to fight global poverty.

Now more than ever, cars are just rolling computers

May 25, 2018

Fiat Chrysler is recalling 4.8 million vehicles in the U.S. because of the risk that drivers may not be able to turn off the cruise control. The recall includes 15 Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler and Ram models from six model years. Fiat Chrysler says it can fix the issue with a software update. Earlier this week Tesla said it could fix a braking performance issue highlighted by Consumer Reports via a software update. These cases highlight the extent to which software controls critical safety systems in cars. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Instagram entrepreneurs are searching vintage racks for you

May 25, 2018

We've been shopping online for more than two decades. Now social media is a burgeoning new venue for shoppers who would rather scroll and comment than hunt for treasures themselves at brick-and-mortar stores. But how does it work for both the consumers and "shop" owners? Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal talked about it with Alexandra Stratton, who wrote about the trend for Bloomberg. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Not white? Ancestry services don't work so well. Companies are looking for fixes.

May 25, 2018

Ever wondered where you come from? Like, every wanted to look far back? Really, really far back?

Beyond calling up your oldest relative and combing through there family tree, there's a whole industry that wants to help: Direct-to-consumer genetic ancestry products ranging from Ancestry.com to 23andMe. They say they provide a way to dive into your heritage, possibly unearth some skeletons in your genetic closet and really narrow down what percentage of what ethnicity lives in your genes.

What's the return on investment for bias trainings?

May 25, 2018

Starbucks plans to close 8,000 stores for a single day to conduct racial bias training for over 175,000 members of their workforce. It follows public outrage after two black men were arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks while waiting for a friend. In recent years, companies have embraced bias training as a way to get ahead of — or get out from under — similar incidents. So, how do businesses know whether these training sessions really work and how do you measure their effectiveness?

Starbucks stores around the country are closing down next week for unconscious bias training. The programs are getting more and more popular, but is their impact measurable? Plus, we cap of our week covering graduates in the recession with the story of one man who regrets going to college. But first, a look back at the week's business and financial news.

Where did the word "economics" come from?

May 25, 2018

When it comes to economics, it's easy to get caught up in big ideas: Money, the markets, trade, labor and more.

Now, believe it or not, the study of these ideas can all be traced back to one guy in ancient Greece — a mercenary who lay down his weapons, thought long and hard about household management and then wrote a text about it. 

So let's take a look backward to where the original idea of economics came from and why that's important today.

1. Xenophon, the mercenary turned armchair philosopher

Bias, feral hogs and ancient money

May 25, 2018

Want to know why you've been getting bogged down with terms-of-service emails from companies, how to tell if bias trainings work or how entrepreneurs learn the business of, well, business? We dive into all of that on this week's show. Plus, the surprising ancient origins of the word "economics." And why hunting feral hogs has become an aerial activity in Texas.

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