Business news

Marketplace for Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Jun 24, 2015

Airing on Wednesday, June 24, 2015:  A merger between Sysco, a marketing and distribution food corporation, and US Foods has been put to a halt by a federal judge – a victory for the Federal Trade Commission. But on the retail end, European grocery chains Ahold and Delhaize are merging, which will make them the fifth-largest grocery operator here in the U.S. Next: Marketplace's Kai Ryssdal talks to Judd Apatow about his new book, “Sick in the Head” and about the comedy business. The "Bridesmaids" producer talks about his comedic beginnings, success, and mentoring young comics. 

Judd Apatow on his band of comedians and radio roots

Jun 24, 2015
Kai Ryssdal and Bridget Bodnar

Producer, director, writer, and comedian Judd Apatow has a lengthy resume that includes cult classic TV shows like “Freaks & Geeks,” and hit films like “Knocked Up” and “Bridesmaids.” He’s worked with the likes of Gary Shandling, Ben Stiller, and Roseanne Barr. Before he became someone who worked alongside some of the greatest minds in comedy, he interviewed them.

PODCAST: Putting money in the luxury car

Jun 24, 2015
Mark Garrison

Greece and its endless troubles are on investors' minds today as EU leaders meet in hopes of finding a way out of the Greek debt crisis. There's also fresh data today that gives us a look into the U.S. economy. We'll look at what it all adds up to.

After TPP vote, what's next for unions?

Jun 24, 2015
Nova Safo

The Senate today is expected to give final approval for a bill that gives the president fast-track authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

If the measure passes, it will be a defeat for labor unions, which have been trying to scuttle the trade deal. They built a large coalition to oppose it; from firefighters, to environmental and non-profit groups, to tech companies.

Their argument has been, among other things, that other trade policies have cost jobs and contributed to stagnating wages.

Airing on Wednesday, June 24, 2015: Senate is expected to clear fast-track authority legislation and send it to the president today. Big labor has gotten the blame or credit, for tough opposition against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The question is: how might they influence the trade deal going forward? Plus, a mega-merger in Europe may seem far away until you realize what it could mean for what you pay for food in America. More on that. And when it comes to providing social services as a way to head off health costs, it’s not one-size-fits-all. It’s one-size-fits-one.

Kicking the Highway Trust Fund can

Jun 24, 2015
Tim Fitzsimons

The House of Representatives will hold a hearing Wednesday on a proposed a corporate tax holiday on money kept overseas as a way of refilling the drained coffers of the Highway Trust Fund. The plan would temporarily reduce the tax rate to get the money back to the U.S., then stash it away to pay for roads and bridges. 

D Gorenstein

Indiana Jones, he’s not.

“I’m a 5’7” guy from Portland, Oregon, raised in a Jewish family,” says Dr. David Labby, making him perhaps more Woody Allen than Harrison Ford.

But like the daring archaeologist from the movies, Labby is after a rare and elusive prize: He wants to keep chronically ill and poor patients in Portland from landing in the hospital again and again.

Darden's real estate play

Jun 23, 2015
Tracey Samuelson

Eaten at the Olive Garden lately? You probably thought more about the bread sticks than who owns the building — fair enough. However, Darden Restaurants, which owns the Olive Garden, Long Horn Steakhouse and some other chains, announced Tuesday that it’s going to spin off its real estate into something called a REIT — a real estate investment trust — and then lease the properties back.

Marketplace for Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Jun 23, 2015

Airing on Monday, June 23, 2015: Massachusetts has scrapped the decades-old method of defining low-income students in public schools based on income information submitted on applications for free and reduced-price lunches. The new measure relies on whether families receive benefits like food stamps, and it has “reduced” the number of kids classified as poor. Marketplace looks at this new assessment, its potential impact on school funding and whether it will catch on in other states.

KBIA file photo

  Gov. Jay Nixon has signed a bill aimed at keeping a federal intelligence agency in the St. Louis area.

File Photo

  A Missouri measure set to take effect this year will ensure restaurant owners are responsible only for collecting income taxes on cash tips workers report to them.

MU Extension Offers Low Cost Energy Audits

Jun 23, 2015
Christopher S. Penn / Flickr

  Reducing energy consumption has long been a topic of concern for many but the costs of assessing our energy efficiency can sometimes be prohibitive. University of Missouri Extension seeks to change that by making energy audits affordable to Mid-Missouri farms and small businesses.

Marketplace Tech for Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Jun 23, 2015

Airing on Tuesday, June 23, 2015: First up, we'll talk to Lindsey Turrentine, CNET, about Instacart reclassifying some of its workers as employees. Then, Peter Wayner, author and programmer, joins us to talk about Amazon’s new pay-per-page structure for self-publishers and what it means for writers and readers. And Bernadette Rabuy, Prison Policy Initiative, tells us about video visitation in jails, the second segment in our “Jailbreak” series.

PODCAST: Fees, glorious fees

Jun 23, 2015
David Brancaccio

2015 is the year bonds have been convulsing around the world. More on that. Plus, Fees to check bags, change tickets, cancel flights – airlines now charge their customers a raft of fees for all sorts of things. We take a closer look at the exponential growth of airline fees. Plus, if there is one (unqualified) success story from the Empowerment Zone in Baltimore, it might be a small but vigorous job-training program started by the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in conjunction with Johns Hopkins.

Airing on Tuesday, June 23, 2015: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley declared that the Confederate flag should be removed from the statehouse grounds. Now, Wal-Mart is saying its removing all Confederate flag merchandise from its stores. More on that. And Congress gets to work this week figuring what to do with federal education funding for next year. A lot is on the chopping block, including grants for improving math and science education, and school safety, as well as Title I funds for low-income students.

House bill slashes education funding

Jun 23, 2015
Tim Fitzsimons

The House Appropriations Committee released its draft spending bill for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education departments, and budget watchers noted deep cuts to federal education funding.

It cuts nearly $3.8 billion from mostly education and healthcare. The National Institutes of Health is one area that gets more money.

How much do TV theme songwriters earn?

Jun 22, 2015
Caitlin Esch

Listener Cathy Lane wrote in with a question about music: How much do songwriters and performers earn when their music is used as a television theme song? Are they paid for every episode?

It’s a simple question with a complicated answer.

So we went to Gary Portnoy.  He was just 25 years old when he co-wrote the "Cheers" theme song in 1982.

Marketplace for Monday, June 22, 2015

Jun 22, 2015

Airing on Monday, June 22, 2015: Sales of existing homes increased by about 5 percent in May, reaching their highest level since 2009. We look at what’s behind this housing number, and the role of first-time buyers—who accounted for about 30 percent of transactions—in this increase. Next: Instacart is reclassifying part of its workforce as part-timers to get out of the independent contractor issue, which is threatening to drop an anvil on the sharing economy.

PODCAST: They're not coming to America

Jun 22, 2015
David Brancaccio

Players in financial markets are betting big money that Greece cuts a deal with its creditors soon. More on that. Plus, we'll have more context on Europe and its debt from Mark Blyth, Professor of Political Economy at Brown University and author of "Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea." And a technical glitch in the U.S. Visa system may cause a headache for thousands of visitors to the United States this summer.  We'll talk about the possible impact on recreational travelers, as well as visas for farmworkers from Mexico and visiting students.

Gigi Douban

Those going to the U.S. State Department’s website this week looking for a travel visa will likely get a message saying the department’s having technical difficulties. This is putting potentially tens of thousands of visitors and summer workers on hold.

The FCC takes action to deal with robocalls

Jun 22, 2015
Mark Garrison

The Federal Communications Commission is taking new action to deal with robocalls — recorded phone calls and text messages offering various products and services. Unwanted solicitations are annoying at best and can be fraudulent at worse. The FCC gets hundreds of thousands of angry complaints a year. In its declaratory rulings, the FCC aims to close loopholes and bulk up protection.

Marketplace Tech for Monday, June 22, 2015

Jun 22, 2015

Airing on Monday, June 22, 2015: A technical glitch in the U.S. Visa system may cause a headache for thousands of visitors to the United States this summer. In addition to recreational travelers, visas for farmworkers from Mexico and visiting students could also be affected. More on that. We'll also talk to Will Oremus, senior tech writer for Slate, about Twitter’s Project Lightning. And Eric Markowitz, senior writer for International Business Times, joins us to talk about how new technology gets inside prisons, the first segment in our “Jailbreak” series.

D Gorenstein

Over the course of his career, Dr. Seth Berkowitz has met with patients much like one of his first – a 300-pound farmer in rural North Carolina with diabetes and heart trouble.

“His own diet was highly processed food, and he knew that was making his health worse,” Berkowitz says. “You’d talk with him and he’d be like, ‘Oh, I know what I need to be doing. It’s just not an affordable thing for me.’”

Scott Tong

Economies of scale. We talk about it all the time, making lots of something to bring the costs down. It works with electricity, as large power plants far away affordably generate most of our energy. The thing is, the delivery system, the plumbing of electricity – i.e., the grid – is becoming less reliable. In Connecticut, failures affecting up 850,000 customers from three major storms in 2011 and 2012 have the state investing in a new type of redundancy: locally made power. 

Fatherhood programs pair job training with therapy

Jun 19, 2015
Miles Bryan

If you work in social services in a town like Cheyenne, Wyoming, guys like Michael Peña are a big chunk of your budget.

“I’ve been in and out of prisons and jails,” Peña, 35, says. “Drug possessions, drug charges. It's been a rough one, man.”

Marketplace for Friday, June 19, 2015

Jun 19, 2015

Airing on Friday, June 19, 2015: Apple’s effort to get into the streaming business as a latecomer is creating tension between Apple and the musicians it has long relationships with. The company is playing hardball because the stakes are so high. Next: as part of our series on infrastructure and choke points, "The Weak Link," we bring you the second of two stories on the power grid. We last left you with the Connecticut power grid problem. So how to make it better? Marketplace's Scott Tong reports.

The Rise of Women Gamers at E3 2015

Jun 19, 2015
Adrienne Hill

E3 — video games, gamers and traditionally lots and lots of men. But there are signs that the total male domination is changing.

Produced by Preditorial |
Director of Photography and Editor: Anton Seim
Reporter: Adriene Hill

"Windfall" TheFatRat, Released on Tasty Records
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

The price of the American wedding

Jun 19, 2015
Eliza Mills

At the courthouse and beyond, the American wedding is more than just a legal act or even a big day— it's a massive business. The wedding industry brings in about $80 billion a year. 

Businesses across the country reap the benefits: venues and florists, caterers, tent rental companies, dressmakers — they're all making big money. 

David Wood, president of the Association of Bridal Consultants, spoke about the wedding industry and how to make the price of a wedding fit into a budget. 

PODCAST: Off the grid

Jun 19, 2015
David Brancaccio

Why are financial market players betting the Greek debt crisis is about to be resolved? Greek, German, and French bond yields are down this morning — hinting not of crisis, but of some kind of resolution. More on that. Plus, is there an alternative to giant power plants sending electricity out over far-flung grids? Maybe. We head to Bridgeport, Connecticut, where they're experimenting with fuel cells.

U.S. colleges to recruit in Cuba

Jun 19, 2015
Amy Scott

As U.S. relations with Cuba thaw, colleges and universities are among those lining up to do business in the communist country. The Educational Testing Service has confirmed plans to offer some of its admissions tests in Cuba starting this month. The island nation is home to an estimated 1.5 million people between the ages of 15 and 24.

Don’t expect a rush of Cuban students on campuses just yet, though. When the Test of English as a Foreign Language debuts in Havana later this month, just four students are expected to take it.