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Business, the economy, and events that influence them. Presented by American Public Media.

What people get wrong when they talk about NAFTA

9 hours ago
Kai Ryssdal and Daisy Palacios

This story is from our special series that explores NAFTA’s role in our economy from the perspective of workers, business owners and trade negotiators. What exactly is NAFTA? And what happens if it changes? Join us to discuss how one of the most hotly contested issues in our society shapes the way we live.

Why your robot restaurant might get sued

11 hours ago

About half a dozen kiosks stand ready to take your order at Eatsa in midtown New York. With the help of technology, the fast-food startup basically eliminated the need for front-of-the-house staff. Hungry New Yorkers walk in, key in their order, pay and then pick up their order from one of the nearby cubicles. No human interaction necessary.

That is, unless you are blind.

What 'Frozen' had to do with the 'Beauty and the Beast' reboot

13 hours ago
Kai Ryssdal and Bridget Bodnar

When Disney's live-action remake of "Beauty and the Beast" opened in theaters last weekend, it broke a bunch of box office records. That's pretty good news for Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman, the producers at Mandeville Films who made the film for Disney. Lieberman talked to Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal about the experience. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.

There's been another sharp drop in the markets this week, following a delayed vote on the GOP's health care bill. FTN Financial's Chris Low joins us to explain why there's a connection between the two. Next, we'll talk about one indie music label's investment in vinyl records, and then look at the effect that interest rate hikes from the Fed will have on the automobile market. 

Senate votes to end Obama-era privacy rules

15 hours ago

Most congressional headlines are focused on health care this week, but another bill is on the move that could kill off internet privacy protections.

The Senate voted Thursday to put a stop to Obama administration privacy rules that would prevent internet providers like Comcast and Verizon from selling consumer browsing information. The bill looks likely to pass the House and be signed into law by President Trump.

Starting next Monday, customers of Wells Fargo bank will be able to make ATM withdrawals nationwide without a card using a smartphone. The trend could spread quickly to other banks around the country as consumers grow more used to advanced banking technology.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

New York plans to boost broadband infrastructure

17 hours ago

The New York is looking to bridge the digital divide by bringing broadband access to every household in the Empire State by the end of next year. It would be the first state in the country to pull that off. Many poor and rural areas lack broadband. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

This indie music label is investing in vinyl

18 hours ago
Hady Mawajdeh

Dustin Blocker is the owner of Hand Drawn Records near Dallas, a label that caters to independent musicians. And recently, Hand Drawn ventured into a new business: It’s manufacturing vinyl records.

Blocker’s presses are inside a giant packaging facility — it’s about the size of two Home Depots. The place is filled with rows of boxes stacked floor to ceiling. In one corner sit two brand-spanking-new vinyl record presses, each about the size of a pickup.

Why the government can't compete with Silicon Valley

18 hours ago
Nancy Marshall-Genzer

The federal government’s tech workforce skews older. As its IT employees retire, they could be hard to replace — it’s difficult for federal agencies to attract young tech workers. 

You can see the federal IT worker shortage playing out on your computer screen. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a tech think tank, analyzed almost 300 of the most popular federal websites, looking at security and speed, and whether they’re mobile friendly and accessible for the disabled. 

03/24/17: A new way to withdraw money from the ATM

19 hours ago

Wells Fargo is going to start letting customers withdraw money from ATMs using their smartphones, no debit card required. We'll chat with the Tiffany Rad, the CEO and founder of the security firm Anatrope, about whether this method of transaction is actually safe. Afterwards, we'll play this week's Silicon Tally with Vanity Fair's Maya Kosoff, and then look at the Senate's decision to scrap various user privacy rules for Internet Service Providers. 


The Senate has voted to put a stop to rules from the Obama administration that would prevent internet providers like Comcast and Verizon from selling your browsing data. We'll look at how these regulations were supposed to protect your privacy. Next, we'll talk about Wells Fargo's decision to allow customers to withdraw money from ATMs using their phones, and then explore the federal government's difficult recruiting young tech workers.

My Economy: Caring for seniors through art

Mar 23, 2017
Robert Garrova

For this latest installment of our series My Economy, we hear from Martha Rast, a therapeutic art teacher living in Tuscon, Arizona.

“My name is Martha Rast, and I teach therapeutic art lessons.

It’s way better than cool. It’s the best job in the world — I love it. Any kind of therapeutic experience, really, has to be human-to-human. Because the one thing machines cannot do yet, and I don’t think they ever really will, even if there’s AI, is really truly understand emotional intelligence.

Kai Ryssdal

Liza Mundy’s cover story in the current issue of The Atlantic, “Why Is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women,” draws on a long history of sexism in high tech and in Silicon Valley in particular.

The latest carrot that House leadership and the White House are using to win conservative Republican votes for the health care bill is repealing an Obamacare provision that standardized insurance policies. Under Obamacare, virtually all insurance policies cover things like hospitalization, mental health, prescription drugs and pregnancies – known as essential health benefits. But guaranteeing those benefits cost money, while doing away with them would drop the price of premiums.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

As farmworkers grow scarce, wages are on the rise

Mar 23, 2017
Kai Ryssdal

Tighter borders were supposed to mean more jobs for native-born Americans. That's the theory anyway, but California farmers aren't living in that world. Instead, they're competing for a workforce where nine out of 10 people are immigrants, and many are undocumented. While some farmers are raising wages well above the minimum to attract workers, many others can't afford to. Los Angeles Times economy writer Natalie Kitroeff visited several California farmers to see how they're coping with a smaller workforce. Host Kai Ryssdal spoke with Kitroeff about what she learned.

Multiple U.S. companies are pulling their ads from YouTube over offensive material. AT&T, Verizon and Johnson & Johnson’s decision follows other companies here and abroad that will stop advertising until Google can guarantee their ads won’t run before videos containing hate speech. Google says it's committed to working on a resolution, but there are technological challenges, among others.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

What if NAFTA were never born?

Mar 23, 2017
Scott Tong

This story is from our special series that explores NAFTA’s role in our economy from the perspective of workers, business owners and trade negotiators. What exactly is NAFTA? And what happens if it changes? Join us to discuss how one of the most hotly contested issues in our society shapes the way we live.

Trump's trips are expensive. Can Congress step in?

Mar 23, 2017
Tony Wagner

We spent a lot of time this week talking about an existential question for people watching Donald Trump's young presidency: What's a crisis and what isn't? We also spend a lot of time trying to parse what's typical for a new administration and what, like Trump himself, is unprecedented. 

Those questions were still rattling around in our heads when we got this question from Margot S.:

ICE union to Trump: Come drain our swamp

Mar 23, 2017
Jana Kasperkevic

President Donald Trump’s plans for immigration policy enforcement call on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to hire thousands of new employees, but union reps are saying that’s not going to happen without some changes.

Union presidents representing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and Customs and Border Protection agents voiced their concerns Wednesday, citing an arduous hiring process and low morale as obstacles to Trump’s hiring directives, even as they lauded the president’s dedication to immigration enforcement.

It didn't take Apple CEO Tim Cook long. He visited India for the first time just short of a year ago. Now comes word that Apple will begin assembling iPhones in Bangalore within a month or two. India is the world's second-largest smartphone market and growing fast. With China just about tapped out on expensive phones, the Indian market could hold the key to Apple's future growth. The potential for the tech company is huge. But the hurdles Apple needs to clear are pretty big, too. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.


So, no vote on the big GOP health care bill today. There might be one tomorrow, depending on whether you listen to the White House or to Republican leaders in Congress. The latest carrot they're using to win votes is scrapping an Obamacare provision that standardized insurance policies. We'll talk about "health care a la carte." Plus, a NAFTA thought experiment and the latest in our My Economy series.

03/23/17: When your government is a bank robber

Mar 23, 2017

Last week, 258,000 applied for unemployment benefits last week. While these numbers move around week to week, the latest figures indicate a large spike. Diane Swonk, the CEO of DS Economics, breaks down the causes of this increase, which include bad weather. Next, we'll talk about new research that looks at the connection between the mortality rate and job opportunities. And finally, we'll discuss North Korea's possible involvement in a mega bank heist at the New York Fed.

Mark Garrison

New research finds America’s education gap is increasingly a matter of life and death, and lack of job opportunity may be to blame.

A new Brookings Institution paper finds alarming midlife mortality increases for less-educated white Americans. It’s a topic with increasing relevance as policy questions swirl about how to create stable jobs that support families as well as presidential election results that reveal a swath of America deeply frustrated with their economic state.

In spite of a whole lot of predictions to the contrary, the movie industry is hanging in, even as competition for our attention grows. According to a new report from the Motion Picture Association of America, ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada were flat compared to last year. One bright spot – it turns out the movie industry is attracting a more diverse audience.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Trump set to reshape the Wall Street regulation?

Mar 23, 2017

The Senate Banking Committee is scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing Thursday on Jay Clayton, President Donald Trump’s choice to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. Clayton does not have a track record in Washington, and that makes it difficult to know if he shares Trump’s distaste for government regulation. But we can tell something from his past experience in the private sector.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Hospitals worry as Obamacare repeal vote approaches

Mar 23, 2017
D Gorenstein

A heavyset man sits on a gurney pushed to the side of a hallway in the emergency room at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia. It’s not even 9 a.m, and already beds are filling up.

CEO Dr. Stephen Klasko guides me to a fancy-looking IV pump. It can replace nearly half of someone’s blood after they got shot, stabbed or hurt in a car accident.

“In the old days, we would lose patients because we weren’t able to get that volume in quickly enough,” he said. “The difference between three minutes or seven minutes could be life and death.”

Employers struggle to make H-1B visas work

Mar 23, 2017
Sally Herships

There’s really no polite way to say this. When it comes to the H-1B system, the tech industry is pissed off. 

“You know the fantasy of the H-1B opposition is that we’ll just hire more out-of-work coal miners and bring them to New York. And it’s not possible,” said Amol Sarva, a New York-based entrepreneur who’s helped found multiple startups, including Peek and Virgin Mobile USA. “They don’t have the skills or network or knowledge or background,” he said.

03/23/17: Uploading the human mind to a machine

Mar 23, 2017

The physical sports world is now trying to capitalize on the digital sports world. We'll look at the NBA's plan to launch eLeague, a group that'll feature top-notch video gamers who compete against one another. Afterwards, we'll chat with author Luke Dormehl about the history and future of artificial intelligence.


The House is expected to vote tonight on the GOP's health care bill. But opposition is coming from all corners — including hospitals. We'll look at why executives are against the measure. Next, we'll explore the complicated H-1B visa program, and the frustrations business owners have with how it selects recipients.

California’s had one of the wettest winters on record — more than twice as much rain and snow as in an average year. That's especially wild since we're six years into a historic drought. But California doesn't have enough dams, reservoirs or other storage. So instead of using it, all that precipitation just joins the Pacific Ocean.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.