Business news

Living in a wildfire zone

Aug 27, 2015
Andy Uhler

Hundreds of wildfires are burning in the West. The drought that's dried out the region got the fire season started early, and so far, this is shaping up as one of the worst years ever in the Pacific Northwest.

Marketplace for Thursday, August 27, 2015

Aug 27, 2015

The fundamentals of America's economy in three numbers; China's Ironman; and living in the fire zone.

Just how strong are those fundamentals?

Aug 27, 2015
Mark Garrison

During this week’s wild ride for stocks, analysts have been telling people not to freak out because, essentially, the stock market is not the economy and vice versa. Kai Ryssdal says that on Marketplace so often that a fan built that phrase into a drinking game. (Which, by the way, is not to be played while driving!)

Digital assistants: If they only had a brain

Aug 27, 2015
Amy Scott

If you’ve ever used Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana or another so-called “virtual assistant” on your smart phone, chances are there has been some cursing involved. That frustration has created a big opportunity for whomever can make a better one. Now Facebook is stepping into the fray on a small scale at first. For a few hundred users in the Bay Area, Facebook’s Messenger app will now come with a feature called M.

Flores-Roux is a nose ahead in the perfume business

Aug 27, 2015
Kai Ryssdal and Bridget Bodnar

Rodrigo Flores-Roux, head perfumer at Givaudan perfumes, says that “a perfumer’s life is a little bit busy.” That explains why his office is covered in perfume bottles — some professionally packaged, others in clinical bottles titled with a label maker. Magazines, postcards and photos fill up the rest of the space.

It’s all inspiration for when Flores-Roux sits down to create a scent. The first step usually involves a computer and a process that he says resembles creating a recipe.

Brian Chesky of Airbnb on "the worst idea ever"

Aug 27, 2015
Kai Ryssdal

The first step in starting a successful business is having a good idea, but sometimes even a bad one can work. Brian Chesky started Airbnb on the risky premise that people would agree to open their homes to strangers, and it worked. He didn’t just build a $10 billion company, he changed culture as we know it, helping to usher in the sharing economy.

PODCAST: Happy birthday, now cut me a check

Aug 27, 2015
David Brancaccio

First up: market's seem to be mellowing slightly, but that doesn't mean we're out of the volatile, volatile woods. We look at what that could mean for interest rates. Next, financial planners are telling people to stay the course and think about the long term, but what if you don't have that kind of time? Finally, you can sing the "Happy Birthday" song all you want but be careful about putting it in that screenplay you're working on. Believe it or not, the copyright is owned by Warner/Chappell Music, and they've been known to charge six figures for its use.

Gigi Douban

"Stay the course" and "don't panic" were common tips as the stock market dropped this past week. But what about people who are so close to retirement, they can practically smell it? Traditionally that means folks who are almost 65 or older, but to financial planners, it can mean anyone who plans to stop working full-time within 10 years.

Whether you're a year away from retirement or 30 years, the advice is the same, says Elizabeth Mannen, an investment adviser with Wells Fargo Advisors: "Don't sell at the bottom. Don't turn a trip into a fall."

Marketplace Tech for Wednesday, August 27, 2015

Aug 27, 2015

Airing on Thursday, August 27, 2015: On today's show,  gaming retailer GameStop reports earnings. The world's largest personal asset manager, BlackRock,  is turning to robots to give clients financial advise. Plus, a conversation with a security researcher in Australia who may change the way you think about the Ashley Madison data hack. 

Airing on Thursday, August 27, 2015: What recent market volatility means for the stewards of the Federal Reserve descending on Jackson Hole, Wyoming, this week  for their annual retreat. China cracks down on warehouse executives at the center of the Tianjin explosion. Plus, a conversation about urban planning in New Orleans and how the city's innovative approach to parking reduces congestion and creates more opportunities for local businesses. 

How volatile is the market? Let's consult the VIX

Aug 26, 2015
Kai Ryssdal

The Volatility Index (VIX) measures whether or not there’s too much fear or optimism in the markets. Robert Whaley, father of the VIX, says at the “beginning of the week it was about at a level of 12, at the end of the week it was at 28. That was the biggest percentage increase the VIX has ever had in its entire history.”

Currently, the VIX is around 34 percent. But what exactly does that mean? “It’s a measure of the volatility you expect over the next 30 days,” Whaley says. He adds that the VIX is usually around 20 percent.

No worries on China's streets

Aug 26, 2015
Kai Ryssdal, Rob Schmitz and Hayley Hershman

The Yuan devaluation and China’s market crash has caused global chaos. But Rob Schmitz, Marketplace’s China correspondent in Shanghai, says people on the street in China really aren’t that worried. A Sichuan restaurant owner told Schmitz “that business is really good.”

“Most importantly [China’s] got a growing economy," Schmitz says. "We've seen the headlines this week about China’s market crash ... [but] China’s economy is continuing to grow at around 6 or 7 percent, faster than nearly every other economy in the world.”

No, the economy is not like a roller coaster

Aug 26, 2015
Sam Weiner

When the market goes wild, people say the economy is like a roller coaster. And, frankly, I am sick and tired of this disgusting comparison. Someone has got to stick up for the inventor of roller coasters, my grandfather, Dr. Johann T. Rollercoaster.

And yes, laugh at his name if you must. It was changed at Ellis Island from the original Rollercoasterstein.

Marketplace for Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Aug 26, 2015

What we've learned about the market's safety nets; Apple's "Sinodependency"; and stopping the roller coaster metaphor in its tracks.

PODCAST: Wall Street's rusty plumbing

Aug 26, 2015
David Brancaccio

Stocks are rallying early in the day, but after yesterday's last-minute drop, we try and figure out what we're in for. Then: all the recent volatility is exposing some issues with the way the markets are handling exchange traded funds. Finally: we look at the winners and losers in Corinthian College's bankruptcy plan.

Abercrombie bets future earnings on a turnaround

Aug 26, 2015
Andy Uhler

Abercrombie & Fitch is reporting second quarter earnings just a week after its stock hit a more than six-year low, and the retailer announced it is restructuring its front office by bringing in a batch of new designers and executives to reinvent the brand.

Marketplace for Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Aug 25, 2015

No, it's not 2008; China's stock market has a long way to go; and the tough business of steel.

Freakonomics and end-of-life health care

Aug 25, 2015
Kai Ryssdal and Stephen Dubner

Stephen Dubner admits that he and the team behind Freakonomics Radio sometimes explore ideas most sane people would leave untouched. This time, Dubner decided to look at the economics of end-of-life health care.

It’s certainly a touchy subject, but also one that most families will have to face at some time in their lives.

It's a contraction, not another Great Recession

Aug 25, 2015
Mitchell Hartman

U.S. financial markets rallied through most of the Tuesday, then fell back in the final hour of trading to close with another day of solid losses.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 204 points, 1.3 percent, to close at 15,666. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 25 points, 1.3 percent, to close at 1867. The Nasdaq fell 19 points, 0.44 percent, to close at 4506. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury bond rose to 2.07 percent.

You have to give him a hand

Aug 25, 2015
Carrie Barber

2 days

That's the amount of time it takes to make parts for an award-winning robotic hand on a 3-D printer, the BBC reports. Joel Gibbard of Open Bionics says he can use a sensor on his tablet to size an amputee in minutes, print the parts in about 40 hours and fit them together in two hours. The prototype earned Gibbard the James Dyson engineering award, which carries a $3,500 prize and the chance to win the $45,000 international title.

10 percent

PODCAST: Looking for a rebound

Aug 25, 2015
Noel King

China tries to take control of its economy, looking for a rebound after Black Monday, and how Chicago's "zombie homes" got that way. 

Second Ward Councilman and co-chair for the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Violence Michael Trapp hopes that $150,000 approved by the Columbia City Council for the 2016 fiscal year budget will go towards the creation of a violence interruption program for the city.

One of the Missouri House's budget writers is warning Gov. Jay Nixon to change his stance on pursuing funding for a new NFL stadium without a vote of the people.

Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob, is vice chair of the House select committee on the state budget. In a letter to Nixon, a Democrat, he said he won't support any budget bill next year that includes funding for debt service on bonds issued for a new NFL stadium in St. Louis.

Market Update: Is it a correction?

Aug 25, 2015
Paddy Hirsch

Here's another way the markets are not like the real world: in the markets, the B word is worse than the C word. So much worse!

C is for Correction, a sharp drop in prices, with a defined ending and a recovery.

B, on the other hand, is for bear market, a long-term drop, with no obvious end.

Here's a short video explaining the difference: 

Housing market is one upbeat note right now

Aug 25, 2015
Mitchell Hartman

A key asset class for many American households that is not suffering from a crisis of investor confidence and wild volatility is the U.S. housing market.

After the recession, housing was the missing leg of the recovery, beset by depressed prices, extremely tight credit, millions of homeowners underwater and a large percentage of properties in default, foreclosure or bank-owned. Home construction ground to a halt. 

Airing on Tuesday, August 25, 2015:  The latest on China's move to cut interest rates to quell the market plunge. As stocks tumble, there is one number that’s going up — the price of your home. Plus, with Best Buy's earnings report, we look at its turnaround campaign, which includes moving to private-label electronics. 

Marketplace Tech for Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Aug 25, 2015

Airing on Tuesday, August 25, 2015: On today's show, how swings in the stock market impact startups and investors. Also, a look at how Windows 95 compares to Windows 10 on the day of the operating system's 20th birthday. 

Kai Ryssdal

You've heard by now that the stock market took a pretty steep downturn, but not everyone is concerned. Click below to hear our survey of listeners from across the country to see how they're feeling about all the chaos:

Joke stealing is no laughing matter

Aug 24, 2015
Kai Ryssdal and Adrienne Hill

When the self-titled internet comedian the Fat Jewish, aka Josh Ostrovsky, got picked up by a talent agency, people took note.

“This guy basically built a career around aggregating/stealing, depending on how you want to call it, other people’s content … often without attribution,” says Marketplace's Adriene Hill. "The news that he got picked up by CAA sort of made everybody’s head explode a little bit.”

The larger issue around this is whether or not jokes fall under copyright law.

As 911 outages increase, FCC considers new rules

Aug 24, 2015
Nova Safo

Imagine this scenario: You have an emergency. You pick up the phone and dial 911. And no one answers.

It seems unthinkable. But a year ago, more than 6,600 emergency calls went unanswered in an outage that affected 11 million people. Officials say there were no deaths as a result.

The cause of the outage was a software glitch. And outages like it are happening more often, as the nation's 911 system transitions from analog to digital.