Business news

Kai Ryssdal

Theranos used to be one of the hottest names in Silicon Valley. Theranos and its founder and CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, were equally buzzy. This was due mostly to the company's near-revolutionary blood-testing machine.

In the past six months or so, though, a good part of the shine has worn off.

Marketplace for Thursday, May 19, 2016

May 19, 2016

"Grey's" long life, the fraught relationship between galleries and museums, and what it's like to live in a Chinese "Cancer Village."

Wal-Mart profits beat expectations

May 19, 2016

On today's show, we'll talk about Wal-Mart's much higher-than expected-profits in the first quarter; an increase in the number of seven-figure homes; and prime-time ad real estate.

Ashley Milne-Tyte

Retailers have been releasing earnings the past week, and the big names like Macy’s and Nordstrom haven’t been doing so well. Meanwhile, big box stores like Target have weathered this winter better.

Department stores are feeling their age. Ken Morris of Boston Retail Partners said they can’t whisk new fashions to market like the nimble Spanish chain Zara. And unlike their rivals, they don’t know how to attract young buyers. He said he saw a Spanish-language TV ad for Target recently that had multigenerational appeal.

Million-dollar homes are no longer anything special

May 19, 2016
Mark Garrison

A million-dollar home may be out of reach for many Americans, but a new report from the real estate website Trulia says that in many major cities, seven-figure values are becoming common.

When a $2 million pay cut is a symbolic blow

May 18, 2016
Kai Ryssdal

This final note on the way out, ending, in a way, where we started: Worker pay.

The board of directors at Viacom voted today to stop paying the salary of 92-year-old Sumner Redstone, its founder and chairman emeritus. Until this afternoon, Redstone made $2 million a year.

Symbolism here is everything. Redstone's worth something like $5 billion dollars. 

He just won a legal fight over his mental competency a couple of weeks ago.

Kai Ryssdal

Yesterday the White House announced new rules for salary workers when it comes to overtime pay. The gist of it is, if you make less than about $47,000, you get to clock overtime. In other government news, the United States will now impose even steeper tariffs on steel coming out of China.

Both of these announcements are important, especially if you're in the steel business, so Kai Ryssdal called up Lisa Goldenberg, president of Delaware Steel Co. in Pennsylvania to see how her economy is holding up.

Google wants to get into your home — again

May 18, 2016
Kai Ryssdal

It's not necessarily how a lot of us would spend an otherwise beautiful Northern California afternoon, but Wednesday was the first day of Google I/O, the internet giant's annual conference for its developer community.

New CEO Sundar Pichai and his team of executives took the opportunity to roll out their newest, and hopefully for them, whiz-bangiest piece of hardware.

Our senior tech correspondent Molly Wood was there, and Kai Ryssdal talked to her about it.

What did Google unveil? 

The perils of swapping a car for money

May 18, 2016

On today's show we'll talk about a new report that states about 20 percent of people who take out loans using the titles of their vehicles end up getting their cars seized by the lenders; a sales decline for Target last quarter; and one Mesoamerican archaeologist's must-have item: a Marshalltown trowel.

Airlines worry security lines will hurt bottom lines

May 18, 2016
Nancy Marshall-Genzer

The trade group Airlines for America said airlines’ pretax earnings stayed basically flat over the past year. But its chief economist, John Heimlich, expects 4 percent more passengers this summer.

“That will be an all-time high of 231 million passengers — 2.5 million per day on average,” he said.

And all of those passengers will have to go through security. Heimlich thinks if security delays drag on months or even years, they’ll definitely have an impact on airlines’ bottom lines.

Bruce Johnson

Competition among ridesharing companies is growing at home and abroad. Just this week, Waze, the mapping app owned by Google, started a small carpooling pilot program for people in California's Bay Area.

Lyft and Uber are the two big players domestically. The companies are moving beyond ridesharing to the world of driverless cars. Lyft recently partnered with an investor, General Motors, to push forward self-driving vehicles.

John Zimmer is co-founder and president of Lyft. He believes that autonomous vehicles will roll out first on a network.

A different take on ‘Audit the Fed’

May 17, 2016

In front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today is House Resolution 24, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2015. It's a bill “to require a full audit of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal reserve banks of the United States.” But this proposed legislation is better known as the Audit the Fed bill, an idea made famous by, among others, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

HP Inc. CEO Dion Weisler banks on 3-D printing

May 17, 2016
Kai Ryssdal

Dion Weisler rapidly ascended to CEO of HP Inc. in just three years. Weisler has a solid background in PCs, holding positions at Acer and Lenovo before moving to HP in 2012 to head its Asia Pacific and Japan Printing and Personal Systems. When the company known as "HP" was split into two publicly traded companies, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and HP Inc., he was propelled to the top. A large proponent of technological innovation, Weisler is confident that his company will lead innovation in the digital sector despite a decline in the sales of PCs.

A jump in U.S. consumer prices

May 17, 2016

On today's show, we'll talk about the core rate of inflation; efforts to increase diversity in the tech field; and a $1 billion desalination plant in Carlsbad, California.

Lane Wallace

We’ve been poring over thrilling new filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that let us know where big investors put some of their money over the last quarter.

Jeff Tyler

In Southern California, fresh water is constantly in short supply. But the San Diego area can now tap into a resource that’s not dependent on rain — a new $1 billion desalination plant that is the largest in the Western Hemisphere.

In Carlsbad, California, intake pumps pull water from the Pacific Ocean.

“We bring 100 million gallons of water through our intake pump system and up the hill to the desalination plant," said Jessica Jones, spokesperson for Poseidon Water. "We get a 55 percent recovery. We turn half of it into fresh drinking water."

Annie Baxter

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell meet Tuesday with stewards of regional forest lands to discuss preparations for fighting wildfires this season. 

Last year was a record fire season. And with 2016 poised potentially to be the hottest year on record, many experts expect another difficult year for firefighting.

Seeking solutions to diversify the tech industry

May 17, 2016
Nancy Marshall-Genzer

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is searching for solutions to the lack of diversity in the tech industry. It's starting with a hearing on the issue this week. But some in the tech diversity sphere already have ideas. 

The Sound Bite: Bill Clinton's economic record

May 16, 2016
Kai Ryssdal

Here's another installment of our new, occasional segment, The Sound Bite, in which we play a piece of tape and then tell you what's actually going on.

Kim Adams

For the first time in almost two years, oil supply might be less than demand, according to Goldman Sachs. In a note to investors, the company said “the oil market has gone from nearing storage saturation to being in deficit much earlier than we expected.” With that news, oil prices reached six-month highs Monday.

Goldman said multiple shocks to the oil industry around the world have shifted it into deficit mode this month, with the surplus oil that’s been flooding the market now dwindling.

Banks look at new ways to recruit recent graduates

May 16, 2016
Mark Garrison

A big bank is offering its new hires something unusual: a gap year. Citigroup is launching a program in which some incoming analysts will delay their start date at the bank for a year so they can work for nonprofits after graduating from college.

Now you can crowdfund your angel investors

May 16, 2016
Lane Wallace

A new kind of crowdfunding campaign launched on Monday: For the first time, companies will be able to seek out small investors by using a similar model as Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

An uptick in crude oil prices

May 16, 2016

On today's show, we'll talk about an increase in crude oil prices; the ongoing Verizon strike and what it highlights about the changing telecom industry; and the decline of Wyoming's coal industry. 

Wyoming's powerful coal industry facing a downturn

May 16, 2016

Wyoming’s powerful coal industry is starting to feel the full force of the market’s decline. In March, hundreds of workers were laid off from two of the country’s largest mines, and three of the state’s four largest producers are now in bankruptcy. Inside Energy’s Leigh Paterson reports on the issue from Gillette, Wyoming, the state's coal capital.

Click the above audio player to hear the full report.

Millions more white-collar workers could get overtime

May 16, 2016
Nancy Marshall-Genzer

The Labor Department is expected to issue a final rule soon that could make millions more white-collar workers eligible for overtime.

Right now, workers don't get overtime if they're managers or administrative workers making at least $23,660 a year.  So, say a convenience store manager works long hours but doesn't get overtime. The Obama administration wants to change that.

Marketplace Morning Report for Monday, May 16, 2016

May 16, 2016

On today's show, we'll talk about expanded opportunities for people to participate in venture capitalism; an anticipated new rule from the Labor Department that will make millions of white-collar workers eligible for overtime; and retailers who are embracing both the old-fashioned storefront and e-commerce.

Verizon strike underscores changes in telecom

May 16, 2016
Annie Baxter

About 40,000 workers at Verizon have been on strike since April 13 in several East Coast states, including New York, Massachusetts and Virginia.

They include unionized network technicians and customer service representatives of the company's fiber optic or Fios Internet, telephone and television services.

“The workers who are striking are on what’s known as the wireline side of the business. In other words, people who deal with landline services, whether that's phone or TV or broadband,” said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research. 

Transgender students and the cost of noncompliance

May 13, 2016
Mitchell Hartman

A Dear Colleague Letter was issued Friday by the Department of Justice and the Education Department as guidance to states, school districts and individual schools on the applicability of civil rights law (specifically, Title IX) to transgender students. Among other things, it instructs states and schools to accommodate transgender students’ access to bathrooms, locker rooms and other school facilities based on the gender identity those students choose.

Americans are not so great at talking about death

May 13, 2016
Lizzie O'Leary

Last week on the show, we asked for your stories about wills. What experiences have you had with wills? Do you have a will? Why, or why not? What questions do you have about wills?

Weekly Wrap: Hillary and the banks

May 13, 2016

Joining us to talk about the week's business and economic news are Cardiff Garcia from FT Alphaville and Leigh Gallagher from Fortune Magazine. 

Click the audio player above to listen to their conversation.