Business news

What business schools teach about shareholder value

Jun 15, 2016
Dan Bobkoff

Our series, “The Price of Profits,” is looking at how the idea of maximizing shareholder value has changed American business and the nation, starting with where the idea came from. One starting point is the nation’s business schools. But what those schools teach is changing.

Dan Bobkoff, an editor with our partner Business Insider, recently spent a year in a business journalism program at the Columbia Business School. He went back to report on what's taught today.

Scott Tong

CEOs say it all the time: they have a responsibility to “maximize shareholder value.” Fund managers say it too: CEOs have a responsibility to maximize profits for shareholders. That’s the job of a corporation.
But companies have not always seen themselves as serving stockholders first.

The big change began with a professor. At the University of Chicago, economist Milton Friedman (who would later win the Nobel Prize) wrote this in the New York Times Magazine in 1970:

Kai Ryssdal

I don't know that there's been a less anticipated meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee since back in the Bernanke days.

Brexit, lousy jobs report, you know the drill.

That said, I'm obliged by the business journalists' code of conduct to mention that Chair Yellen et al. are indeed meeting today and tomorrow.

A mere 6 percent of economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal think the Fed's going to raise rates.

An anthropologist's view of Wall Street

Jun 14, 2016
Kai Ryssdal

In our series "The Price of Profits," we're exploring corporations. What are they for? Who are they for? And how that impacts the economy and you.

Karen Ho is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Minnesota and the author of the ethnography "Liquidated." She's spent years studying the culture of Wall Street. She spoke with Marketplace's Kai Ryssdal.

On the people and culture in Wall Street:

A company that deserved a shareholder-value makeover

Jun 14, 2016
Steve Gardner

Merriam-Webster defines a conglomerate as “a large business that is made of different kinds of companies.” That doesn’t begin to describe the wacky business combinations that grew out of the 1960s. Conglomerates like ITT, Textron, LVC and Gulf and Western Industries were the darlings of Wall Street, but by the 1980s many had been dismantled or restructured into leaner, more focused corporations.

What happened?

Donna Tam

Many well-known brands come from companies that have little to no female representation within their leadership, according to a database released Tuesday.

Created by LedBetter, a volunteer-driven research group, the index tracks gender equality among the boards and executive teams of companies, and covers 2,000 brands. It found that, on average, women make up about 20 percent of the leadership at these companies.

Background checks only tell you so much

Jun 14, 2016

The man Orlando law enforcement says is responsible for the night club shooting reportedly passed several background checks for his job as a security guard.

Businesses that turn to the background checking industry often rely on companies that scrape data from court records and elsewhere to assess if someone is a risk. Information can be scattered and incomplete. Even if it wasn’t, security experts are quick to point out that not even the best screening can always catch those bent on killing.

Video game insiders head to a new dimension at E3

Jun 14, 2016
Lane Wallace

Tens of thousands of video game insiders head to Los Angeles this week for E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, a giant exhibition where major companies launch new products and game updates, and try to create buzz.

The $23.5 billion industry is changing quickly, with growth driven by digital game sales and the sustained popularity of mobile gaming.

Every year, video game makers try to one-up themselves and each other with game updates and new hardware.

IBM: when corporations took care of their employees

Jun 13, 2016
Dan Bobkoff

For those of us feeling insecure about our jobs and our futures, this story may sound like a fairy tale. Imagine for a moment an employer that takes care of you from cradle to grave, a company that hosts lavish carnivals for your family, a place where workers feel intensely loyal because they're treated so well. That company was IBM. 

Introducing "The Price of Profits"

Jun 13, 2016
Marketplace staff

For many people, it feels like the wheels have come off the American Dream. Wages are stuck. The once sure-fire step up, a college degree, is becoming unaffordable. Jobs a family can plan a future around can seem scarce. Much of the angry passion this election year stems directly from these concerns about Americans' personal economies.

Microsoft purchases LinkedIn for $26.2 billion

Jun 13, 2016

On today's show, we'll talk about business security amid the news that a gunman killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida; the future of Theranos; and Microsoft's decision to buy LinkedIn for $26.2 billion.

Loyalty frays for both employers and employees

Jun 13, 2016
Steve Gardner

The ranks of Americans working contract, freelance and temporary jobs are growing. Many companies have a two-tier workforce now, a blend of permanent employees and contractors. We’ve been here before.

AR-15 rifle becoming tragically iconic

Jun 13, 2016
Annie Baxter

A gunman at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida killed nearly 50 people Sunday and injured at least as many more. The gunman, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, was wielding a handgun and a style of semi-automatic rifle called the AR-15, a weapon that has now been used in several mass shootings.

The AR in AR-15 stands for ArmaLite Rifle, named after the company that developed it in the 50s — originally for military use. Later, a civilian variant was designed.

Marketplace Weekend for Friday, June 10, 2016

Jun 10, 2016

On this week's show, we go long and short on stories from the news with Marketplace's Nancy Marshall-Genzer and The Atlantic's Vann Newkirk II. Writer Sloane Crosley takes the Marketplace Quiz, and Lizzie interview's former Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota. We continue our conversation about traveling on a budget with kids, and Buzzfeed's Sapna Maheshwari joins Lizzie to talk about the changing landscape of retail. 


On today's show, we'll talk about investors' flight from the low — and negative — yields of Asia and Europe; Nordstrom's partnership with the Tony Awards to sell clothing viewers see on the red carpet; and Airbnb's plans to revamp its service so that hosts don't discriminate customers based on race.

Nordstrom partners with the Tony Awards to sell clothing

Jun 10, 2016
Ashley Milne-Tyte

This Sunday is Broadway’s biggest night — the Tony Awards are taking place in Manhattan. The event hasn’t exactly drawn stellar viewership during the last few years, but the organizers are hoping all that will change this year given the buzz around the smash hit musical "Hamilton."

And one famous department store is hoping the same thing. 

Boat-sharing can make your sailing dreams a reality

Jun 10, 2016
Jonathan Bastian

These days it’s not hard to Uber your car or Airbnb your apartment. But what exactly do you do with a sailboat?

One young couple from Santa Barbara, California is using the shared economy to turn the elite world of boating into an affordable adventure.

I was lucky enough to learn about this firsthand when I jumped on their 42-foot boat, and sailed down the west coast of Costa Rica with three other crew members.

Why the middle class has less money and bigger bills

Jun 9, 2016
Kai Ryssdal and Tommy Andres

More from this month's series

Election 2016: Presidential Twitter drama

Jun 9, 2016
Kai Ryssdal

On the solemn constitutional obligation we're all embarked upon — choosing the next President of these United States: Donald Trump saw President Barack Obama's Hillary Clinton endorsement video this morning and tweeted this:

What it feels like to be a middle class family today

Jun 9, 2016
Kai Ryssdal and Tommy Andres

More from this month's series

The middle class is the most talked about group in the 2016 presidential election. But who are they?

Marketplace staff

A recently introduced bill could establish a program that would train healthcare providers to identify and aid human trafficking victims.

George Soros is back in the trading game

Jun 9, 2016

On today's show, we'll talk about billionaire George Soros' gold purchases; a new report that finds the U.S. will become majority non-white over the next two decades; and California's overabundance of solar power. 

A backlash may be brewing against no-tipping policies

Jun 9, 2016
Sally Herships

How much to tip? Figuring between 10, 15, 20 percent, or extra for extra excellent service is one decision. But when it comes to haggling over the percentage of a gratuity, the choice is no longer solely in the hands of diners.

The shifting U.S. working class

Jun 9, 2016
Adrienne Hill

The working class in the U.S. — defined as working people without a college degree — will be "majority-minority" more than a decade before the overall population. That's according to a new study from the nonprofit Economic Policy Institute. The report's author, Valerie Wilson, projects the working class will become majority non-white in 2032.

Sold: Playboy Mansion for $200 million

Jun 8, 2016
Kai Ryssdal

This final note on the way out today: A little bit ew, a little bit misplaced nostalgia.

Businesses ponder the effects of Brexit

Jun 8, 2016
Sam Beard

In less than three weeks,  Britain holds a critical referendum on whether it should remain a part of the European Union or, after more than 40 years of membership,  pull out of the bloc.

One of the battlegrounds in the campaign has been business. British companies (or their managers and employees) are facing an excruciating  choice: would they be better off staying inside the tariff free, single market of 500 million Europeans or would they prosper more if they were free from the constraints of EU regulation.      

More than half of 2015 grads are working

Jun 8, 2016
Tony Wagner

Millennials may be living with their parents more than ever, but at least they're working.

On today's show, we'll talk about the European Central Bank's kick-off of its corporate-bond buying program; the nuclear power industry's decline; and the success of a San Francisco homeless shelter program. 

Annie Baxter

Low prices and a global oversupply of cotton have been putting a lot of pressure on the nation's cotton producers. This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it would offer cotton growers $300 million in aid to help stabilize the industry.

“The market is certainly not where any of us would like it to be,” said Steve Verett, executive vice president of the Plains Cotton Growers in Lubbock, Texas, the nation's leading cotton-producing state.

Why nuclear plants are having trouble making money

Jun 8, 2016
Mark Garrison

Nuclear power may have made Mr. Burns a rich man on "The Simpsons," but in the real world, it’s getting harder and harder to make money running nuclear plants.

On June 2, industry leader Exelon said it will shut down two Illinois nuclear plants in 2017-2018. It says they have lost a combined $800 million in the past seven years. The company had hoped Illinois legislators would help out the plants, but it didn’t happen.