Business news

Congress rewrites No Child Left Behind

Jul 9, 2015
Amy Scott

The House narrowly passed a bill Wednesday rewriting the federal education law known as the No Child Left Behind Act. No Democrats voted for the measure, which would significantly reduce the role of the federal government in setting education policy and allow federal funding to “follow” low-income students to other schools. Twenty-seven Republicans voted against the bill. Meanwhile, debate on a bipartisan bill in the Senate is expected to stretch into next week. 

Big stock market trouble in China

Jul 8, 2015
Kai Ryssdal and Daisy Palacios

Ever since the Shanghai Composite index dropped back in June from a 52-week high, it’s been on a downhill spiral. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was off another 5.9 percent on Wednesday.

The drop encouraged the Chinese government to step in and invest money into the stock market in hopes it would fix the problem.

“It’s really kind of dumb and futile,” says Andy Rothman, investment strategist at Matthews Asia. “What’s going to worry me more is if they start intervening in the economy in addition to the stock market.”

Toxic algae bloom endangers Washington livelihoods

Jul 8, 2015
Ashley Ahearn

Tokeland, Washington — Tom Petersen’s 50-foot crab boat is sitting idly in the Port of Willapa Harbor, a tiny coastal inlet 40 or so miles north of the mouth of the Columbia River. On a normal early summer day, Petersen would be selling Dungeness crab to canneries, big-city buyers and even fresh off the back of his boat to locals and tourists. And he’d be making good money doing it. With crab selling at up to $10 per pound, Petersen could be making thousands of dollars a day.

Why the government keeps a helium reserve

Jul 8, 2015
Nancy Marshall-Genzer

Congress is again asking questions about the nation's federal helium reserve — yep, such a thing exists — after a critical audit in April.

Sure, helium is used in balloons, and can make your voice sound funny if you inhale it. But there are so many other uses for helium.

Why not to freak out about the NYSE trading halt

Jul 8, 2015
Kai Ryssdal and Mark Garrison

Try not to freak out too much about Wednesday’s New York Stock Exchange outage. First, it’s over, though many questions remain as to what happened and what NYSE is doing to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But more importantly, stocks were still bought and sold all day, even while the NYSE halted trading.

Marketplace for Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Jul 8, 2015

Airing on Wednesday, July 8, 2015: The government has maintained a stockpile of helium for about 80 years now. And it’s the subject of a hearing on Capitol Hill today, following an audit critical of the reserve in April. We look at why the government is in this business and the applications for helium. Next: Dungeness crab is one of the most valuable fisheries on the West Coast, worth close to $300 million annually. But crabbers have been idle for weeks because an algae bloom is having a toxic effect on shellfish. KUOW'S Ashley Ahearn reports.

Flazingo Photo / Flickr

Hallmark Cards announced it plans to add about 400 employees in the next year at its distribution plant in Liberty, Missouri, while phasing out a plant in Enfield, Connecticut. 

PODCAST: The story of climate change

Jul 8, 2015
David Brancaccio

More on the tumble in the Chinese stock markets today. Plus, Members of the U.S. House call DHS’s focus on climate change as a national security risk “misplaced” and want an explanation of that strategy at a hearing Wednesday. The session speaks to the many ways climate change has been framed — economic, political, religious, etc. We look at how and why that has come to be. New data show primary care doctors are seeing slightly bigger raises from commercial insurers than higher-paid specialists.

A hearing on 'misplaced' climate focus at DHS

Jul 8, 2015
Mitchell Hartman

Climate change and national security are on the agenda in Congress Wednesday at a hearing of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency.

Why primary care doctors are getting paid more

Jul 8, 2015
D Gorenstein

In health care, you can pretty much guarantee that specialists earn more than primary care doctors. That’s what makes a new article in the journal Health Affairs noteworthy.

Researchers found that in 2013 and 2014, commercial insurers started paying primary docs a bit more — a 2 percent increase — while specialists like orthopedists took a hit of 4 percent.

Marketplace Tech for Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Jul 8, 2015

Airing on Wednesday, July 8, 2015: First up, we'll talk to Molly Wood about why technologists are pushing back against the FBI’s call for government-friendly encryption. We'll also talk to Sarah Jeong, a tech policy journalist, about ICANN’s proposed rule that would make it harder for domain registrants to keep their home addresses private. And Hrishikesh Hirway, producer of the Song Exploder podcast, will help kick off our summer series on music technology called "Noise Makers."

Greece crowdfunding campaign fails to reach goal

Jul 7, 2015
Kai Ryssdal

You know that Indiegogo campaign to crowd-fund the European bailout to the tune of €1.6 billion

Yeah ... it didn't quite get there.

It topped out yesterday and closed with €1.9 million in the bank. 

About 108,650 people contributed, which is kind of amazing. 

What it's like to start a business on Instagram

Jul 7, 2015
Eliza Mills

It started with doodling.

Max Dower, the 26-year-old artist behind the Instagram account Unfortunate Portrait, was a law student at UCLA and drawing in his spare time. His friends liked the drawings, and he made an Instagram account to start sharing his pictures.

The drawings are mostly portraits, sketches of celebrities, often full of word play. They're silly, and they were meant to make his friends laugh, Dower says.

Marketplace for Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Jul 7, 2015

Airing on Tuesday, July 7, 2015: Greece’s economy is terrible, almost like a country that's just lost a war. But say Greece got to hit a reset button. What would it have going for it? We survey its natural and human assets. Next: The trade deficit increased in May to $41.9 billion dollars, fueled by a drop in exports, attributed to a strong dollar and weak international demand. We look at what this says about the economy, and how the drivers of growth are changing from export-led sectors to domestic-based ones.

PODCAST: Unlimited vacation

Jul 7, 2015
Mark Garrison

Driving could remain quite cheap going into this fall, with crude oil prices down 7 percent from before the July 4th weekend. More on that. Plus, Greeks don’t have access to online payment systems like Paypal. We look at why that matters. And what would happen if companies offered employees unlimited vacation?

Fast-changing metrics may spoil FOMC minutes

Jul 7, 2015
Tim Fitzsimons

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve releases notes from its last Open Market Committee meeting. Usually that’s a time for Fed watchers to comb through the details to try to divine what the Fed may do regarding its promise to raise interest rates. But this time it should be a little anticlimactic (and it's not because the Fed ended its June meeting with a press conference, taking the wind out of the sails of this batch of meeting minutes). 

Airing on Tuesday, July 7, 2015: On today's show, we'll have an update on the situation in Greece, the future of U.S. interest rates, and the best-of-the-best piece of equipment if one is a professional ballet dancer.



Marketplace Tech for Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Jul 7, 2015

Airing on Tuesday, July 7, 2015: First up, we'll talk about why the Greeks don't have access to online payment systems like Paypal, and why it matters. We'll also talk to Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, about the private companies that are changing the way spyware gets bought and sold. And Andrew Lih, Associate professor of journalism at American University and author of "The Wikipedia Revolution: How a bunch of nobodies created the world’s greatest encyclopedia," explains what happens when a community-driven site revolts.

Unlimited vacation anyone?

Jul 7, 2015
Mark Garrison

An American company offering unlimited vacation sounds like an unthinkable fantasy in a country famed for stingy time-off policies compared with other Western countries. But unlimited time off policies are a reality at a small number of American companies. And the results that they’re getting have other businesses taking a look.

23andMe believes genetics are the future of health

Jul 6, 2015
Kai Ryssdal and Julian Burrell

Genetic data has a lot of medical implications for everyone. Genes can explain your current state of health, your ancestry, even what sorts of diseases you may be more susceptible to.

The DNA service company 23andMe wants to collect all of that valuable data and use it to tell customers more about their health.

"I really believe that we’re trying to do things that democratize health care for people," says Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe CEO.

Marketplace for Monday, July 6, 2015

Jul 6, 2015

Airing on Monday, July 6, 2015: An audit of Blue Shield of California faulted the nonprofit health insurer for amassing a $4 billion surplus while failing to offer more affordable rates. The audit, the details of which were reported in the Los Angeles Times, was one reason California revoked Blue Shield’s tax exemption. It raises the question of how big health insurers ended up with nonprofit status in the first place, and what does that mean for customers today? Next: China’s markets have become so frothy that the government has tried to calm them.

Chicago schools face $200 million in cuts

Jul 6, 2015
Nova Safo

The city of Chicago is cutting its public school budget by $200 million after making a major payment into its teachers' pension system.

The move comes just a couple of years after the city closed almost 50 elementary schools, in what was at the time a historic number of public school closures.

Still, the school district's budget problems persist.

"Chicago Public Schools faces a significant budget crisis," says Sarah Wetmore of the Chicago-based Civic Federation, a government watchdog group. Wetmore says the city's schools have had deficits that won't go away.

Reduce, reuse...rethink?

Jul 6, 2015
Sabri Ben-Achour

Plastic foam is perfectly recyclable. There are machines the size of a refrigerator which can melt it down into blocks that can then be shipped to China and used to make patio furniture. Manufacturers who deal with large amounts of the stuff do recycle it, but in general, consumers don’t.

Why not? The economics just don’t work.   

Its density is low, it’s often dirty and the price one can get for those blocks shipped off to China is not lucrative enough to motivate cities or recyclers to collect and recycle it.

Marketplace Tech for Monday, July 6, 2015

Jul 6, 2015

Airing on Monday, July 6, 2015: First up, Gregory Rosston, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, talks about the AT&T and DirecTV merger. We'll also speak with Christopher Koopman, research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, about San Francisco’s attempts to rein in Airbnb hosts. We'll also be joined by Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips, authors of "The Misfit Economy: Lessons in Creativity from Pirates, Hackers, Gangsters and Other Informal Entrepreneurs."

Molly Wood

Most people aren't paying for things with their phones just yet. If you are, maybe you're just getting used to using your fingerprint to authorize a transaction.

MasterCard is blazing right ahead with an app that will let you pay for items with your face.

Technically, you pay using your MasterCard, obviously. But to authorize your mobile payment, you look at your camera's selfie cam and blink once to prove you're a human.

The FCC is busy enforcing net neutrality

Jul 3, 2015
Molly Wood

The Federal Communications Commission has now been in the business of enforcing net neutrality for a little less than a month and it's been busy. The FCC promptly fined AT&T $100 million for throttling some users unlimited data access. Sprint said it would stop doing the same thing now that the new rules are in effect. 

One formal net neutrality complaint has already been filed, and businesses and the government are trying to figure out what the Internet service game looks like now.

Molly Wood

It’s a holiday weekend, but there's still news to unpack before the Fourth of July barbecues can get started. Catherine Rampell from the Washington Post and Sudeep Reddy from the Wall Street Journal join Molly for this installment of the Weekly Wrap.

In the headlines:

The University of Washington lowers its tuition.

Marketplace for Friday, July 3, 2015

Jul 3, 2015

On today's show wrap up: the week's business news, a look at Phil Knight's impact on Nike, and we contemplate a massive heath care merger. Plus: a conversation with FCC chair Tom Wheeler and the new Battle of the Alamo.

PODCAST: Theme park traffic

Jul 3, 2015
David Brancaccio

On today's show, more on the shrinking stock market in Shanghai, which took a tumble today. Plus, we're headed into the thick of theme park season, and around the country-parks are adding new attractions, scarier rollar coasters, and wilder rides. We take a closer look at the role of a new ride in driving theme park traffic.

What's holding back wearable tech?

Jul 3, 2015
Nova Safo

Personal health and wellness technologies are projected to be a $5 billion business this year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association

Even President Barack Obama wears a wearable wellness device — a Fitbit — on occasion.

But, as it turns out, wearable technologies have a big obstacle to overcome: sensors — the miniaturized devices that measure things like speed and motion.