Existing home sales are down. What does that mean?

Jul 23, 2018

Sales of existing homes fell in June for the third straight month, the National Association of Realtors said today. Sales in June were about 2 percent below where they were a year ago.

What are existing homes sales? Existing homes have already been lived in — think used cars. Around 90 percent of the houses sold in the U.S. are existing homes, so they’re a good barometer for the housing market.

Investing in the weed stock market

Jul 23, 2018

Stock in a cannabis company called Tilray is up 46 percent since launching on the NASDAQ market on Thursday, and it's a multi-billion dollar bet that the legal marijuana business is here to stay.

You can trade stocks in marijuana companies informally over-the-counter (OTC is the term) but trading on a regulated big time U.S. stock exchange is the next big step for cannabis companies.

Where does welfare money really go?

Jul 23, 2018

Welfare reform is in the air again, with a House bill and a renewed push at the White House Council of Economic Advisers. But what do we really know about welfare in America? Especially since the last reform effort two decades ago? Our podcast The Uncertain Hour will break down the latest numbers. But first: Summer homebuying season is underway, but sales fell in June for the third-straight month amid a shortage of existing homes. We'll look at why, and what that says about the housing market. Plus, why is Amazon suddenly the destination for strange novelty food items? 


How welfare has changed since 1996, in three charts

Jul 23, 2018

Note: This piece originally ran in 2016, we're reposting it this week in light of updated welfare data.

When your credit card can come to the rescue

Jul 23, 2018

(Markets Edition) GDP figures are out later this week, and it's possible that the economy grew more than 4 percent from the spring to the summer. We'll discuss how tariff fears might actually be contributing to this boost.

With Toys R Us gone, Hasbro's finding new retail shelves

Jul 23, 2018

Toymaker Hasbro will report second-quarter earnings later this morning. Earlier in 2018, the company reported that first-quarter revenue had fallen by 16 percent compared with the same period last year. It’s been a tough couple of months as retailer Toys R Us went bankrupt and closed hundreds of stores.

But Hasbro is finding new shelves to display its toys, both virtually and in brick-and-mortars. The company is expanding its e-commerce business and moving some of its toys to dollar stores, drug stores and sporting goods stores.

President Trump threatened Iran in a late-night tweet on Sunday, responding angrily after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani criticized Trump and warned the American president not to "play with the lion's tail" and that "war with Iran is the mother of all wars."


The stock market for weed

Jul 23, 2018

(U.S. Edition) A G-20 summit of financial ministers has ended with the U.S. signing (for a change) a joint statement about potential risks to global economic growth, which include trade tensions. We'll recap some of the key highlights from the event. Afterwards, we'll discuss how shifts in the toy and retail industry — like Toys R Us' bankruptcy — are affecting toymakers. Plus: We talk to Alan Brochstein, founder of the platform 420 Investor,  about what the stock market for weed is looking like.

How those big credit card reward programs could help you save on insurance costs

Jul 23, 2018

Credit cards with rewards programs are sometimes expensive and complicated to navigate. Their rewards vary depending on each individual's purchasing situation and not all credit cards are on equal footing. For example, you may be wasting money $450 a year on your Chase Sapphire Reserve card if you're not traveling and eating out very regularly. 

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … G-20 leaders have been meeting to try and head off a global trade war. We’ll bring you the latest. Then, in India, at least 18 people have been killed in a series of lynchings after a video spread widely via WhatsApp groups. The killings have prompted WhatsApp to take action. We’ll explain what it plans to do and how misinformation is being transmitted widely among those groups. Then, Americans streamed more than 400 billion songs in the first half of this year, a trend that’s upending the way the music industry works.

Between social media, election meddling, privacy concerns and fears of internet addiction, we are at a time when we are re-evaluating the grand bargain that we have made with technology. We've gotten used to trading personal information for tailored ads and letting devices into every part of our lives for convenience. But, as we develop these habits and make these trade-offs, what does it mean for our kids? For the next week, we're going to look at this tech bargain and its impact on the next generation. We're starting with a conversation about marketing.

AP world history covered about 10,000 years when 16-year-old Paige Becker took it last year in Lady Lake, Florida.

“For me, it wasn’t too much because I love the course,” she says, “but I know not everybody’s a history lover.”

And now, a currency war?

Jul 20, 2018

President Donald Trump today accused Beijing of manipulating its currency. This is not a new charge. But what has occurred is an 8 percent fall in the Chinese currency against the dollar since the trade spat began in the spring. That helps Chinese exporters, because it effectively makes their products cheaper.  

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

"Mamma Mia!" The numbers behind the music

Jul 20, 2018

Ten years after the original movie hit the big screen, the sequel, "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again," has been released.


The musical follows a single mother, her daughter and three potential fathers — it's a long story — all set in the beautiful (and fictional) island of Kalokairi. 

In honor of the release, let's do the numbers on "Mamma Mia!," the stage production and the movie. 

So long as sharks are terrifying, there will be shark content

Jul 20, 2018

In 1975, "Jaws" became the first movie to gross over $100 million. Its success made it the first summer blockbuster. This summer's shark offering is "The Meg," a story about Carcharodon megalodon, the largest shark that ever lived. The movie is based on a novel written by Steve Alten, who saw "Jaws" when it came out and became obsessed with sharks. It turned out to be a lucrative obsession — sharks are a moneymaker.

In a rare move for a president, Donald Trump has criticized the Federal Reserve’s decision to hike interest rates.

“I don’t like all of this work that we’re putting into the economy and then I see rates going up,” Trump said in an interview with CNBC.

Live every week like it's Shark Week

Jul 20, 2018

President Donald Trump accused China of manipulating its currency today. It's not the first time the White House has thrown out the accusation, but this time it comes amid trade tensions, when the yuan has fallen 8 percent compared to the dollar, which could offset the effects of tariffs. We'll talk about that at the top of the show today, along with Trump's recent comments about the Fed. Then, the latest in Trump’s efforts to roll back Obama-era regulations includes the Endangered Species Act.

The extraordinary power of Comic-Con and pop culture

Jul 20, 2018

Ready your wigs, blasters, and convention badges — the mecca of all things pop culture has finally arrived.

This weekend kicks off the 49th annual Comic-Con International: San Diego. Taking over downtown San Diego, California for upwards of four days, SDCC has become ground zero for all things entertainment – everything from films, television, video games, and of course, all things comic book.

Three mayors, three economies (encore)

Jul 20, 2018

Back in 2017, we visited three cities: Dalton, Georgia; Gillette, Wyoming; and Corvallis, Oregon. In each place, we met with the mayor and with folks around town, getting a sense of the economy there and how it's changing. We visited carpet factories and coal mines, spoke to students and business owners, and found unique stories of economic change — and how it affects real people and their lives. 

The U.S. economy is going strong nearly a decade after the Great Recession. The unemployment rate was 4.0 percent in June 2018, and fell even lower earlier in the year (3.8 percent in May 2018) before ticking up as new job seekers entered the labor force.

(Markets Edition) President Trump has criticized the China and the European for allegedly "manipulating their currencies and interest rates lower." Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, joined us to discuss how true these claims are. Afterwards, we'll chat with labor economist Giovanni Peri about what America's changing immigration policies could mean for wages, employment growth, and the overall economy.

The number of people filing for unemployment benefits has fallen to its lowest point since 1969, according to data released by the Labor Department Thursday. These numbers are another sign of a tight labor market. And they’ve got retailers thinking about the holiday season.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

The wealth of the world's billionaires has increased steadily by 13 percent per year since 2010, according to a report released by Oxfam in January. This rate is six times faster than that of regular workers.

(U.S. Edition) General Electric has reported second-quarter earnings, revealing that it beat expectations. But over the past year, its stock has been down 50 percent. We'll take a look at how a company that used to be the most valuable in the world is trying to turn itself around. Afterwards, we'll discuss how a gas pipeline connecting Russia and Germany is causing controversy, and then we'll turn back the clock to examine whether the job market is as good as it was at the end of the Clinton administration.

What U.S. immigration policy has to do with wages and labor shortages

Jul 20, 2018

A report from the U.S. Department of Labor on job opportunities and labor turnover, or JOLTS, showed there were more reported job opportunities than unemployed people in May. This suggests that the economy is dealing with a labor shortage, but that raises the question of where these workers will come from when current U.S. immigration policy is reducing the amount of immigrant labor.

Indian workers win "the right to sit"

Jul 20, 2018

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … North Korea’s economy suffered its biggest contraction in two decades as international sanctions imposed over the country’s nuclear programs began to bite. But can the economic pressure on Pyongyang force change to its nuclear policy? Then, feeling tired at work? Spare a thought for a group of women in India who have just won the right to sit down on the job. We'll explain how the case began. And, what do you do if you're a luxury clothing brand with excess stock at the end of the season? Apparently you burn it.

This week, representatives from Google, Twitter and Facebook all spoke at a congressional hearing about how they present news and opinions on their platforms. The next day, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg told the Recode podcast that Facebook shouldn't overregulate speech on the site, even if it means not banning Holocaust deniers. So how much should these companies be responsible for what is said online?

Comcast looks to Sky for international expansion

Jul 19, 2018

Comcast said today it was giving up its bid to acquire Twenty-First Century Fox's entertainment assets. Instead, Comcast said it will “focus on our recommended offer for Sky,” the U.K.-based broadcaster. Last week, Comcast upped its offer to $34 billion. Sky has until Aug. 22 to accept. So what does Sky have that Comcast wants?

A dreaded ending to the tariff exemption process

Jul 19, 2018

 Todd Adams is vice president of Stainless Imports Inc., a small family-owned stainless steel manufacturer based in Florida. We had Adams on the show in early May. His company had applied for an exemption from tariffs on a specific product; the company had "combed the earth" to find a mill that could produce it and found one in China.

Today, surrounded by executives from some of the country's best-known companies, President Donald Trump signed an executive order creating the National Council for the American Worker, aimed at developing a stronger workforce. The strategy is heavy on pledges, committees and advisory boards. But who’s going to foot the bill?

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.