Marketplace | KERA News


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Business, the economy, personal finance, Wall Street, and more.

In any workplace, there are many things to consider: Who gets promoted and when? What are the steps to creating a diverse work environment? How should grievances be handled?

Right now, these questions are playing out in Congress as the Senate Judiciary Committee addresses allegations of sexual misconduct against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Tight budgets strain 911 call centers

Sep 26, 2018

Marilyn Scott is a retired police officer and 911 call taker for city of Little Rock, Arkansas. She sits in a large room of desks that are mostly empty in front of four computer monitors that show her emergency call information. She takes a call.

“Little Rock 911, what’s the address of your emergency? Ma’am, it was doing what? Ma’am, I’m sorry, you’re pulling the phone away from your mouth. I can’t hear you,” she told the caller.  

Want to know the nitty-gritty on tariffs? Ask a customs broker

Sep 26, 2018

We've been talking a lot about tariffs in the last several months and trying to answer your questions while we're at it. In doing so, we've reached out to a lot of people whose day-to-day jobs have been shaped by the rounds of tariffs, the latest of which went into effect this week on more than 5,000 Chinese products.

Three years ago, Job Fickett and his wife bought a four-bedroom ranch house in Jacksonville, Florida, for $263,000. He’s a lawyer and she works for a commercial real estate brokerage. Since then, they’ve watched similar houses in the neighborhood sell for much more.  

“We haven't had it officially appraised, but according to some of the apps and whatnot, our house is worth over $325,000, $330,000 now,” he said.

My Economy tells the story of the new economic normal through the eyes of people trying to make it, because we know the only numbers that really matter are the ones in your economy.

How real is that Sunday NAFTA deadline?

Sep 26, 2018

The Trump administration says the U.S. and Canada need to reach a new NAFTA agreement by Sunday, or else Canada might get left out. Why Sunday? It’s all about getting a deal signed before Mexico’s current president leaves office Dec. 1, and a bunch of procedural things that need to happen before pen is put to paper. But how firm is the Sunday deadline? 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Everything is fine!

Sep 26, 2018

According to the Federal Reserve, anyway. We'll play some of Chair Jerome Powell's statement from today's rate hike announcement and unpack how the central bank sees this economy right now. Then, with the NAFTA deadline looming, we'll look at how close the United States, Mexico and Canada really are to a deal. Plus, your tariff questions, answered by a customs broker.

The Federal Reserve has voted to raise its benchmark interest rate for the third time this year, fueled by a strong economy.

The central bank decided to raise its short-term rate by a quarter point to a range of 2 percent to 2.25 percent and has indicated plans for another rate hike by the end of the year.

While the aim of these hikes is to cool down the economy, consumers might also feel their effects.

Who is Michael Ovitz?

Sep 26, 2018

You may not know the name Michael Ovitz, but you almost certainly know his work. For years, he was one of the most powerful people in Hollywood, the deal-making talent agent behind "Jurassic Park," "Ghostbusters," "Tootsie," "Rain Man" and "Schindler's List," to name a few. Creative Artists Agency, the talent agency he co-founded and ran for two decades, represents Hollywood A-listers like Meryl Streep, George Clooney and Tom Hanks. Ovitz tells us how the practice of "packaging" talent together helped shift Hollywood's balance of power from studios to artists and their agents.

How employee training has suffered in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis

Sep 26, 2018

Throughout 2018, Marketplace's series Divided Decade is exploring how the financial crisis continues to play out ten years later. There are the obvious ways, such as housing, investments and attitudes towards money. There's another, less discussed impact: the decline of training programs for American workers.

(Markets Edition) The Federal Reserve is likely raising its target for short-term interest rates, but Fed chair Jay Powell is also expected to speak out about the future of the economy. We talked to an economist of our own for more. Then, we look back at how the financial crisis of 10 years ago affected the aspect of training — specifically, how companies had to roll it back when the economy tanked. Also, you might have heard that Dunkin’ Donuts is actually dropping the “Donuts” part of the name. However, it's coffee that's at the heart – or hole – of this story.

Eviction is considered one of the biggest risk factors for homelessness. It can be the first step in a downward spiral for those with few resources living in expensive cities. But in many cities, like Los Angeles, only a fraction of residents facing eviction can avail themselves of free legal help. Voters in San Francisco recently approved a ballot measure to set aside $5.6 million a year to offer legal counsel to anybody facing eviction. New York has a similar program.

Who's going to pay for 5G?

Sep 26, 2018

The rollout of 5G service marks a new era in wireless communications, with fast internet speeds expected to spur on advances like driverless cars and remote surgeries. The demand will be high, and the Federal Communications Commission is seeking to limit the municipal fees that wireless companies must pay to install their new 5G antennas. While many urban areas face a loss of revenue under the new rule, underserved communities may find the digital divide has grown even larger.

(U.S. Edition) We’re on Fed watch, where the Federal Reserve is expected to have a word in the coming hours on whether interest rates will rise for the third year in a row. Fed chair Jay Powell is also expected to field some questions and share some insight about the economy. Also, we’re checking in on what the FCC has to say about 5G, the next level of wireless internet. Then, we examine the connection between lawyers and the homeless, especially when it comes to eviction.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service ... The world's biggest biometric data scheme gets a legal green light, but private firms are excluded from using data gathered by India's national ID cards. Online ticket re-sales form a massive industry – we speak to victims of re-sale scams and find out how it dents the long-term survival of the music industry. Also, a Harry Potter-themed bar pops up in London to attract millennials.

Much of the physical makeup of the internet lies on the ocean floor in the form of fiber optic cables that snake between continents. They’re what allow you to send email or Facebook messages to friends around the world. But just like roads get clogged with traffic, these information highways are starting to get clogged, too. An ambitious initiative out of Finland is underway to solve the problem by laying a new route through the one body of water still largely untouched by sea cables: the Arctic Ocean. (09/26/18)

A melting Arctic could be key to faster global internet

Sep 26, 2018

Ever wonder how an email gets from a friend in Europe to your inbox? Or a Facebook message gets to you from a cousin in Asia?

How Michael Ovitz shifted Hollywood's balance of power

Sep 25, 2018

"Jurassic Park," "Shindler’s List," "Rain Man" and "Ghostbusters" are all movies that might never have been made were it not for a guy named Michael Ovitz. He grew up over the hills from Hollywood in the San Fernando Valley, started working in the entertainment business giving studio tours on Universal's back lot while he was still in high school and eventually became one of the most powerful people in Hollywood. CAA, the talent agency he co-founded and ran for 20 years is still a force in the industry, representing Hollywood A-listers like Meryl Streep, George Clooney and Tom Hanks.

Novartis moves away from mass-market drugs

Sep 25, 2018

Drugmaker Novartis announced it's cutting more than 2,000 jobs — most of them in Europe — as part of a global restructuring. The company plans to focus on producing and selling more innovative drugs, but these specified medicines require lots of research and carry higher price tags.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

You don’t have to travel Washington, D.C. or peruse some 838 miles of shelves to visit the Library of Congress.

Among the library’s 167 million items are rare books, photographs, historical recordings, baseball cards and even some human hair. Thousands of elements are added every day and millions of entries can be viewed online. 

“It’s a treasure chest,” said Carla Hayden, the current librarian of Congress,  on this week’s Make Me Smart. “It’s the ultimate in terms of a library.”

83: The Sanctuary of Smart

Sep 25, 2018

This is a really special episode, folks. We're talking with Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress. She's the first woman and the first African-American to hold the job, presiding over some 167 million items in the Library. It  may just be the least-partisan part of Congress, an invaluable public resource that endures in an age of polarization and misinformation. We'll talk with Hayden about some of the important, obscure and wild stuff held in that building, and online, and how she's working to keep the Library relevant and useful for a new generation.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused the United States on Tuesday of trying to overthrow his government, rejecting bilateral talks after President Donald Trump predicted stepped-up U.S. sanctions would get Tehran to negotiate over its nuclear program.

Addressing world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly, Rouhani accused the Trump administration of violating “state obligations” from the Obama administration by withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran signed with the United States and five other major powers.

U.S. importer struggles to respond to trade war

Sep 25, 2018

Raise your hand if you're struggling to keep up with all these tariffs.

This week, the Trump administration imposed a new round of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese products. And importers, like Jeff Starin, had just one week's notice in advance.

Starin is president of Rostar Filters in Oxnard, California. It sells all kinds of filters for cars. Some it makes; some it imports from China.

Starin calls his company "methodical" in its planning. But his business model suddenly blew up a week ago Monday when the latest tariffs were announced.

Caught in the middle of a trade war

Sep 25, 2018

Tariffs on more than 5,000 new Chinese products went into effect this week, and American importers are scrambling to catch up. The notice was so short that some shipments were on the water on the way to the United States when tariffs hit. We'll talk about how companies are dealing with the unexpected cost. Then: Why Arby's parent company wants to buy Sonic, and the dramatic drop in foreign investment last quarter. Plus, a conversation with Creative Artists Agency co-founder Michael Ovitz.

Why high prices mean good news for U.S. oil

Sep 25, 2018

The price of oil has hit a four-year high. One reason: Sanctions on Iran may limit that country's contribution to the oil market. Another: OPEC and Russia don't want to boost output. These are all good things for American oil, with the U.S. on track to become the world's biggest oil producer. And yet, the future is still murky for this industry.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Running for office? Perfect the art of the ask

Sep 25, 2018

The midterms are just weeks away and for many first-time candidates, the election will signal not only the end of the campaign, but the end of a crash course in how to run for office. And how to ask for money.

(Markets Edition) The European Union announced a system that lets companies buy things from Iran, a payments-through-bartering system that’s called the “Special Purpose Vehicle.” We ask how this fits in with talk surrounding economic sanctions. Also, the Federal Reserve is meeting Tuesday and Wednesday to talk about the economy and the cost of borrowing.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is scheduled to meet Tuesday in New York with trade officials from the European Union and Japan. It’s the fourth meeting they’ve held in the past year, all in an effort to join forces against Chinese trade practices they say are unfair.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

(U.S. Edition) Trade officials from the European Union and Japan are slated to meet up with U.S. trade rep Robert Lighthizer in an effort to band together against what they call unfair Chinese trade practices. Also, while the numbers show a strong overall economy, data is also showing that housing sales could be slowing down.

European Union helps Iran evade U.S. sanctions

Sep 25, 2018

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service ... The EU is setting up a payment system that will allow businesses to continue trading with Iran, after U.S. sanctions are reintroduced. A 48-hour general strike has started in Argentina, as people protest huge cuts in public spending – which the government agreed to in exchange for a $50 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to help out with the country's economic woes. Finally, India has rolled out a multi-billion dollar health insurance system that will provide cover for almost half of its population.