Business news

Marketplace for Monday, March 21, 2016

Mar 21, 2016

The CEO of Valeant pharmaceuticals stepped down today after the company faces questions about pricing; paint company Sherwin-Williams is buying competitor Valspar to expand its market overseas; and at Duke University, the latest group of adjunct professors want to unionize.

The high cost of hospital mergers

Mar 21, 2016

We're glad to have you back.  Here are some need-to-know numbers to get you pumped for the rest of the week. 


Merger mania

Mar 21, 2016

On today's show, we'll talk about U.S. companies that want to do business in Cuba; the effects of hospital mergers on the price of health care; and Apple's plans to release a smaller, cheaper iPhone. 

Hospital mergers within state borders drive up costs

Mar 21, 2016
D Gorenstein

There’s a growing – and troubling – body of evidence that hospital mergers lead to higher prices. In other words, insurers, employers — we all tend to pay more for C-sections, heart surgery and hip replacements as hospitals get bigger and more powerful. 

For more than 40 years, a handful of economists, anti-trust lawyers and health policy wonks have worried hospitals that merge, but operate in entirely different markets — so-called "cross-market mergers" — drive up prices.

Kim Adams

This week, Nashville, Tennessee is hosting a conference for people in the postal industry. Attending will be representatives from the U.S. Postal Service, which, after more than a decade of belt-tightening, is starting to add jobs and increase hours for its workers. But long-term financial problems threaten the stability associated with a postal service job.

Kai Ryssdal

This final note on the way out today, of interest mostly to the slice of you that uses Twitter on a regular basis.

And for those of you curious about what tech companies have do to grow and keep making money:

Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey told the Today Show that the 140 character -- limit arguably Twitter's defining characteristic -- isn't going anywhere.


Weekly Wrap: Janet Yellen and the global economy

Mar 18, 2016

Joining us to talk about the week's business and economic news are David Gura at Bloomberg TV and Leigh Gallagher from Fortune Magazine. 

Click the audio player above to listen to their conversation.

The Dispatch, Ep 7: Will VR for games take off?

Mar 18, 2016
Molly Wood

The world is in a swoon about virtual reality right now: the future of entertainment, education, tourism, video games, even journalism.

Surviving on Social Security and food stamps

Mar 18, 2016

Yes, you did it! You made it to the end of the week! Here are some need-to-know numbers to send you off on your merry way. 


Feeding the crowds at South by Southwest

Mar 18, 2016
Stephanie Hughes

The South by Southwest festival is wrapping up in Austin, Texas, this weekend. According to a report from the festival looking at 2015, last year, it injected more than $317 million dollars into the Austin economy.

A mid-season decline

Mar 18, 2016

On today's show, we'll talk about the Federal Reserve's interest rate hike plans; a possible halt to the Starwood-Marriott merger; and how mid-season hiatuses are causing a viewership decline for some shows. 

The mid-season ratings slump

Mar 18, 2016
Adrienne Hill

After a long break, "Nashville," the country-music drama from ABC, returned this week in all its soapy-twangy glory, with a tear-jerker of a a wedding.

And the audience for that wedding bucked a trend. 

More viewers watched the new season opener than tuned into last season's  finale back in December.

Many other network shows, including some of the most popular, appear to have lost audiences during their multi-month hiatus. 

The financial anxiety of living on a fixed income

Mar 18, 2016
Nancy Marshall-Genzer

I’m with Betty Moncrief in a cemetery in Birmingham, Ala. We’re standing under a tree, which shades four graves.

She points to her mother’s grave, and then to the one she’s picked out for herself.

Betty is a sturdy 79-year-old who tells me to watch my step on the uneven ground. I wanted to see the grave because paying for it is one of the things that keeps Betty up at night, worrying.

miheco / Flickr


In the increasingly health-conscious food market, the use of cage-free eggs is starting to gain some serious traction. After Panera Bread announced its progress on a commitment last November to using cage-free eggs, Hardee’s is the latest restaurant chain pledging to use 100 percent cage-free eggs by 2025. So why are more and more companies jumping in on this trend? Will consumers accept the higher prices of products made from cage-free eggs? KBIA’s Joyce Tao tells the story of how the cage-free egg switch is affecting chains and customers.

Kai Ryssdal

From the Economist Intelligence Unit the top 10 global risks.

Number one is a hard landing for the Chinese economy.

Skipping a bit:

Number five is the Eurozone falling apart.

Number six is Donald Trump winning the election.

Check it out for yourself.


Meeting Mr. Robot

Mar 17, 2016
Bruce Johnson and Levi Sharpe

It's a tech drama that hackers don’t heckle.

The protagonist of the hit USA television drama "Mr. Robot" is a cybersecurity engineer by day and a vigilante hacker by night.  Sam Esmail, the show’s creator and showrunner, said he hoped that the show might be a small cult hit.

“The fact that it broke out bigger than that is beyond surreal,” Esmail said. “It’s a testament that there is something about this world of technology that people are starting to be interested in and investing in.”

Donna Tam

Following public scrutiny spurred by a popular documentary, SeaWorld announced Thursday it’s officially putting an end to its orca breeding program this year.

While this marks a victory for animal rights activists who have long questioned the amusement park’s captivity practices, it also speaks to the bigger issue of keeping animals captive for entertainment.

Ireland's PR strategy

Mar 17, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Here are some need-to-know numbers for your day. 


Bank of America eyes mobile banking expansion

Mar 17, 2016
Ashley Milne-Tyte

The last time Bank of America acquired another company was during the financial crisis. It bought both Countrywide and Merrill Lynch back then, and that didn’t work out so well. But years after its CEO swore "no more acquisitions," it turns out BofA is scouting out Silicon Valley for a potential match with a startup.

Specifically, it wants a partner that can help it handle more mobile payments. Jim Sinegal, a banking analyst for Morningstar, said banks worry startups could muscle into their territory.

Life without a financial safety net

Mar 17, 2016
Kim Adams

Among the questions we asked in the Marketplace-Edison Research poll was how people would handle an unexpected expense. About a quarter of respondents said it would be "very difficult" to come up with $1,000 to cover a bill, and about a third said it would be “somewhat difficult."

The finding confirms that many people lack personal savings, investments and retirement accounts they can tap into during an emergency.

Marketplace for Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Mar 16, 2016

Breaking down Janet Yellen's statement after today's Fed announcement; how companies decide where to list their shares; and how do people really feel about trade agreements?

How Americans feel about free-trade agreements

Mar 16, 2016
Tracey Samuelson

The topics of international trade and free trade agreements have been big issues in the presidential debates and with many voters.  Republican John Kasich, who won Ohio Tuesday night, is the only candidate left standing who supports a pending trade deal that would cover roughly a third of global trade. The Trans-Pacific Partnership has faced heavy criticism from Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, in particular. 

What is a free MBA worth in the marketplace?

Mar 16, 2016
Mark Garrison

Coming soon: a tuition-free MBA. It was announced this week from University of the People, which already offers no-tuition bachelor’s degrees. The idea of its new degree is to extend advancement opportunities to people who can’t afford graduate business education. The question is whether an MBA from an untested new program will be worth their time, as many employers may be skeptical of a new degree from an online program.

Tuition-free university launches MBA program

Mar 15, 2016
Donna Tam

University of the People, an accredited, tuition-free online college, started accepting applications Tuesday for its newly-accredited MBA program.

The total amount students can expect to pay for this degree? $2,400.

Marketplace for Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Mar 15, 2016

FDA takes strong step to improve generic drug competition; what low gas prices mean for everyday spending; and the social cost of a boom in shopping mall developments in Mexico

Avon calling it a day in the U.S.

Mar 15, 2016
Nova Safo

Avon, the American women's cosmetics brand founded in New York 130 years ago, is moving to the U.K.

The company, which made its name in door-to-door direct sales, announced that it is relocating its corporate headquarters overseas to save money by combining with an established commercial operation in the U.K.

Avon said its move is not a corporate inversion to reduce  taxes. The company plans to remain incorporated in New York.

The lay of the land in Florida and Ohio

Mar 15, 2016
Tony Wagner

The primary season is full of milestones, real and and imagined. We'll see the former tomorrow as two of the four remaining GOP candidates, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich fight to win their home states away from front-runner Donald Trump. Missouri, Illinois and North Carolina are up for grabs too. 

The road to self-driving cars

Mar 15, 2016

On today's show, we'll talk about what needs to happen before self-driving cars can hit the road; how low gas prices affects our feeling about the economy; and reports that the administration is changing its position on offshore drilling.

Valeant swears off aggressive drug pricing strategy

Mar 15, 2016
D Gorenstein

A handful of pharmaceutical companies have been in the crosshairs over the last six months or so, both for the price of their products and for their practices.

One of the most notorious recently is Canadian company, Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which is expected to announce fourth-quarter earnings this morning.

In that time, we’ve learned in the last few months is that a handful of drug makers are aggressive — some say reckless — in how they make money.

Andy Uhler

The latest Marketplace Edison Research poll shows younger people and workers depending on hourly wages most appreciate low gas prices at the pump. But paying for gas is also an emotion.

Something emotional happens when people feel like they're getting a bargain — like cheap gas at the pump. And there's pain when they watch money drain out of their wallets.