The housing crisis hits America’s heartland

Oct 2, 2018

When you think of high rents and overcrowding, you probably don’t think of farmland. However, according to a new report by the Urban Institute, rural communities are facing a lack of affordable housing, just like more densely populated urban areas. One hundred fifty-two rural counties throughout California, Texas and several southeastern states, among others, were classified as “most severe” — that’s approximately 8 million people in need of more affordable rentals.

Exemptions for steel tariffs are still in limbo

Oct 2, 2018

Remember those steel and aluminum tariffs that set off this whole trade war? The Department of Commerce is still sifting through companies' applications for exclusions from them. As of Oct. 1, 35,872 steel and 4,711 aluminum exclusion requests have been filed. Overall, 9,057 steel exclusion decisions have been posted (5,954 were approved), while 508 aluminum decisions have been posted (385 approved). The odds aren't great for an exclusion application to be processed, let alone accepted.

Amazon announced today that it's raising the minimum wage it pays U.S. employees to $15 an hour. The company said more than 250,000 Amazon employees and 100,000 seasonal employees will benefit from the wage hike. Amazon’s new, higher pay will take effect on Nov. 1. We called Abigail Wozniak, a professor of economics at the University of Notre Dame who works primarily in the field of labor economics, to talk us through the news.

The newly inked trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico resolves issues regarding pharmaceuticals and dairy — but that still the leaves the separate, unresolved feuds around steel and aluminum tariffs. How will the three countries use the NAFTA negotiations to influence how they figure out a metal tariff deal?

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

The new NAFTA — or as it's officially known, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement — is already raising some complaints from north of the border. Canadians are worried their drug prices will go up.

That's because one piece of the deal gives years of extended patent protection to high-end, expensive drugs known as biologics. That means the trade deal could delay the time it takes for cheaper generics to get to market.

Biologic drugs are complex medicines made in living cells. Examples of biologics include AbbVie's Humira and Johnson & Johnson's Remicade.

On this day, 70 years ago, Dec. 7, 1941, Japan bombed the Pearl Harbor Navy Base in Hawaii.

The surprise attack propelled the United States into World War II, fighting not only the Japanese but also the Germans and Italians, and led American leaders to implement one of the most sweeping suspensions of the U.S. Constitution. More than 100,000 Japanese Americans were forced into relocation camps away from coastal areas, fearing they would aid the Japanese in attacks on America.

Monopsony: When there's only one employer in town

Oct 2, 2018

Amazon is raising the minimum wage for all its U.S. workers to $15 per hour, a decision that follows backlash from labor rights groups over the company’s pay and working conditions.

Updated at 9:49 p.m. ET

President Trump continued his defense Tuesday of his Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, mocking one of Kavanaugh's accusers at a Mississippi campaign rally.

The latest move by Trump came just hours after he had highlighted the possibility of false accusations against young men in the midst of a cultural moment brought on in the past year by the #MeToo movement.

As more communities across the country face flooding, wildfires and other natural disasters, some are starting to ask questions about new development. In Bastrop, Texas, a small city outside of Austin that has seen rapid growth, officials have paused new construction. The city wants to use this time to update its regulations to try to prevent damage from flooding.

(Markets Edition) Affordable housing isn’t just an issue in packed, urban areas. A new study has found that half of rural counties are also in dire need of it. Then, we look at the markets in light of the new NAFTA agreement as well as a monthly index of the manufacturing sector.

Amazon, which has faced political and economic pressure to raise pay for thousands of employees, is boosting its minimum wage for all U.S. workers to $15 per hour starting next month.

The wage hike will benefit more than 350,000 workers, which includes full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal positions. Employees at Whole Foods, which Amazon now owns, will get the same pay hike. Amazon's hourly operations and customer service employees, some who already make $15 per hour, will also see a wage increase, the Seattle company said.

TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, is pressing forward with plans to build an oil pipeline between Alberta and Nebraska. Many landowners along Nebraska’s portion of the company’s planned route have joined the Nebraska Easement Action Team to help them resist the pipeline by refusing to sign easements or negotiate with the company. Others have even raised constitutional issues that will be argued in Nebraska’s Supreme Court in November. Other landowners who haven’t joined are trying to negotiate a better deal themselves. 

(U.S. Edition) While the new USMCA (formerly known as NAFTA) agreement addresses a variety of issues, one thing that’s still left unattended are the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum. Meanwhile, Italy and the European Union are on the verge of a budget battle, as Italy’s proposed budget has more deficit spending than the EU prefers.

Auto chiefs cautiously welcome new NAFTA

Oct 2, 2018

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service ... Car bosses have gathered at the Paris Auto Show and the hot topic is the new NAFTA. Chiefs of BMW and Toyota tell us their thoughts. British Prime Minister Theresa May tells us once again that businesses can be reassured in the face of Brexit, despite what some firms are saying about its aftermath. In the midst of London's concrete jungle, in its first commercial vineyard since the Middle Ages, we visit a social enterprise with a unique purpose.

In the insanely popular video game "Fortnite," players can spend about $5 to unlock dances called emotes for their characters to perform. And these dances are everywhere. You see them on playgrounds, in pro sports, and there are "Fortnite" dance classes. But are these really "Fortnite" dances? Most of them appear borrowed, like the dance called “Ride the Pony,” which is pretty clearly “Gangnam Style.” There's the one called “Fresh” which is a dead ringer for the “Carlton Dance” from the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."

In the insanely popular video game "Fortnite," players can spend about five bucks to unlock dances called emotes for their characters to perform. And these dances are everywhere. You see them on playgrounds, in pro sports, and there are "Fortnite" dance classes.  But are they really "Fortnite" dances?

General Electric told investors today it has ousted CEO John Flannery after only about a year in the job. The company said it's also going to miss profit forecasts this year. These are tough times at one of America's most iconic businesses, which raises the question: What is the role of an industrial conglomerate like GE in today's economy?

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

In the growing cities of the early 20th century, rent strikes were a common tool to protest conditions in crowded tenements. But the practice is making a modern-day comeback in cities faced with a housing shortage and rising rents. 

Take Los Angeles, for example. 

It was bad news when Joana Ochoa's landlord told her back in January that her monthly rent would go up by $100 in her 200-unit apartment complex west of downtown. But the alarm bells really started going off in April, when the rent went up again another $250.

For farmers in central Washington, the USMCA is "a big relief"

Oct 1, 2018

This weekend, Canada agreed to join the United States and Mexico in a new trade deal.

California law says corporate boards must include women

Oct 1, 2018

Publicly held corporations in California must include women on their boards, thanks to a bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, Sunday.

The winners and losers of NAFTA 2.0

Oct 1, 2018

The United States, Canada and Mexico have just struck a new trade deal after several months and rounds of tense negotiations.

The pact, now called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, will give American farmers greater access to Canada's dairy market and require automakers to make more of their vehicle's parts in North America (if they don't want to pay tariffs). 

Emerging economies have had a tough time in the global economy recently. We’re talking about countries like India, Turkey, South Africa and Argentina. They’re deeply engaged in the world economy, and, in some ways, very vulnerable to its ups and downs.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Major League Baseball and its pitcher economy

Oct 1, 2018

(Markets Edition) Canada joined the U.S. and Mexico to overhaul NAFTA. One of the sticking points that was resolved was that Canada would remove some of the protections on its dairy farms. Then, we talk about emerging economies, and how countries like India and South Africa are navigating life in the world economy.

BP's CEO outlines the issues surrounding the oil and gas industry

Oct 1, 2018

Two years ago oil prices collapsed. What followed was a recession, of sorts, in the oil and gas industry, along with communities tied directly to it. Today, the price of crude has bounced back from around $30 a barrel to roughly $70. While it appears that life for the energy industry is going well, there are still complications. Bob Dudley, the CEO of BP, talked with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio about the looming obstacles still facing the oil and gas industries. 

Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.

(U.S. Edition) The U.S. and Canada have managed to iron out new terms for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) right before the U.S. imposed deadline, so now we have to learn about the letters USMCA. What do they mean? Then, we look back at the collapse of oil prices from two years ago, which led to a recession in the oil and gas industry.

Elon Musk must resign from Tesla's board of directors after a settlement on Saturday with the Securities and Exchange Commission over his tweets about taking the company private. He will stay on as CEO. It's tough to separate the conversation about Tesla from the conversation about Elon Musk. But let's talk about cars for a minute. Because it feels like electric car announcements are fast and furious lately. Ford is promising an electric crossover that's the size of a Tesla Model X but inspired by the Mustang. There are rumors of a $30,000 electric Volkswagen.

Updated at 1:02 a.m. ET Sunday

Elon Musk, Tesla's chief executive, has reached a deal with the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle a securities fraud charge brought against him on Thursday, the agency announced on Saturday.

Under the terms of the settlement, Musk has agreed to step down as chairman of the Silicon Valley-based company, but will remain in his post as CEO.

About year ago, the U.S. Department of Education started accepting applications from public servants to have their student loan balances wiped away. Twenty-eight thousand borrowers applied for forgiveness in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program; 96 were approved. To qualify, applicants must spend at least 10 years working for government agencies or certain kinds of nonprofits and make at least 120 monthly payments on their federal loans.

Here’s a very different way to sell a home from the usual: Go to a website. Plug in your address. Answer a few questions about the house. And wait about 24 hours to see if you get a cash offer. A handful of companies are buying up houses this way, including Zillow. The biggest player though, is Opendoor, which just collected a $400 million investment from Japanese conglomerate SoftBank. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Unpacking this week's news at Tesla and Facebook

Sep 28, 2018

There are two big stories swirling around two of the tech world's biggest names at the end of this week: Tesla and Facebook. Tesla's leadership is up in the air after the Securities and Exchange Commission announced Thursday it's suing CEO Elon Musk for making what it called "false and misleading statements" on Twitter about taking the company private. And Facebook revealed Friday that the data of tens of millions of its users had been exposed to hackers. Host Amy Scott unpacks these stories with Marketplace Tech's Molly Wood.