Every weekday, host Kai Ryssdal helps you make sense of the day’s business and economic news — no econ degree or finance background required. “Marketplace” takes you beyond the numbers, bringing you context. Our team of reporters all over the world speak with CEOs, policymakers and regular people just trying to get by.
Seventeen percent of Spotify employees were laid off today in the company’s third round of layoffs this year. CEO Daniel Ek says a major reason for staff cuts is that capital has “become more expensive.” But how can money suddenly cost more? In this episode, why companies that grew by borrowing a bunch are scaling back in a high-interest-rate environment. Plus, gold isn’t the stable investment some think it is, 3D-printed houses could aid the affordable housing crisis and going splitsies on dinner is now en vogue.
Over half of major retailers now have a “return-less” refund policy — aka, they’ll pay you to keep not-quite-right items — according to a goTRG report. Returns cost retailers a lot, so why take stuff back? In this episode, big-box stores are adopting this practice (but not necessarily advertising it). Plus, the “endless shrimp” offer tanks Red Lobster profit, farmers try to monetize carbon-trapping agricultural methods and the manufacturing sector shrinks.
People in cities have, on average, made more money than people in rural parts of America for decades. Now, that disparity seems to be widening. In 2023, urban dwellers are making 23% more than rural ones, compared to 20% more before the pandemic. In this episode, why inflation, telework and higher education all play into the urban-rural wage gap. Plus, more older Americans are still paying off their mortgages, ESG investing goes under the microscope and global markets don’t quite believe OPEC+.
The United Nations’ climate change conference kicks off tomorrow in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where tens of thousands of global leaders, experts and activists will discuss how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, the host country’s main export is fossil fuels and the host of the event is CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. In this episode, could conflicting interests stall progress in the transition to renewable energy? Plus, hybrid and electric vehicle sales ramped up while overall consumer spending slowed down in Q3.
We’ve been talking about making an economic “soft landing” for over a year — but how will the Federal Reserve know we’re there? In this episode, Chicago Fed President Austan Goolsbee tells us what indicators he looks at to gauge inflation trends and why cooling the economy is sorta like cooking a turkey. Plus, we’ll answer some business world questions: How is the chemicals sector doing after a pandemic boom? Why are corporate profits trending down? What does a board of directors do?
After a yearlong slump, the World Trade Organization said the volume of global trade in goods is set to rebound in the coming year. Leading the charge will be auto parts and electronic components, the WTO said, particularly because demand for electric vehicles is high. In this episode, what it’ll take for global trade to return to pre-pandemic levels. Plus, retailers need those holiday discounts to draw customers, utility companies test out geothermal networks and newly built homes drive the homebuying market.
Americans will drop $37 billion online this long holiday shopping weekend, according to Adobe Analytics. A lot of those consumers are counting on free, easy returns if their items don’t work out, but retailers are unhappy with how much that process costs. In this Black Friday episode, whether stores will ever shrink that return window or go back to charging you for changing your mind. Plus, noisy workplaces, the cookie decoration business and Queen Nefertiti, the original beauty influencer.
It’s not just you: The holiday shopping season really did start sooner this year. Retailers are competing for consumer dollars with sales and discounts, early and often. Plus, tomorrow is one of retailers’ favorite holidays: Black Friday. But the lines between in-store and online shopping are blurring. Later, we hear about post-breakup splurges and healthier habits for night shift workers.
The Farm Bureau says Thanksgiving meals will cost a bit less than they did in 2022. But everyone experiences the economy differently. So we talked to last-minute grocery shoppers in Houston about the prices of holiday essentials, from turkey wings to mac and cheese ingredients. Also in this episode: Google makes a business out of CAPTCHA puzzle data, the FCC wants to ban cable cord-cutting fees and OPEC+ delays a key meeting.
Next week marks one year since ChatGPT debuted, kicking off a surge in generative artificial intelligence products. In just a year, AI has gone from a futuristic concept to a tool tons of companies have incorporated into their workflows. In this episode, the growth in AI use and why some people still don’t trust it. Plus, homebuyers are getting older, migrants who lack work permits are desperate to find jobs and more Americans are pulling cash out of their retirement accounts.
OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, ousted its CEO Sam Altman last week. Chaos ensued. Now, although Altman has already scored a job at Microsoft, most of OpenAI’s employees are threatening to quit if he isn’t reinstated. In this episode, we’ll talk about what could be next, from an employment shakeup to more regulations. Plus, SNAP approval in some states takes months, Argentina’s president-elect wants to swap the peso for the U.S. dollar, and applications to borrow money are down.
There is a provision in the newly passed farm bill extension has enemies across the political spectrum: the Federal Crop Insurance Program. Left-leaning groups believe it doesn’t reach a breadth of farmers, and conservative ones think it encourages unnecessary risk. But some farmers rely on the program and say without it, food prices would skyrocket. Also in this episode, Apple plans to make it easier for iPhone and Android users to connect, and Utah is on top when it comes to labor force participation.
At last, the labor market is showing signs that it’s finding a happy medium: New unemployment claims are inching up while overall unemployment is still at a historic low. While this isn’t the gangbusters labor market of summer 2022, it’s also not the COVID shutdown, with sky-high furloughs and layoffs. In this episode, why slowed hiring is a good sign. Also, retail stories, big and small: big-box stores cut costs where they can, street vendors scrape by and Toyota sticks to hybrids.
Like it or not, economist Milton Friedman had lots of ideas that still affect economic policy and programs. In her new book, “Milton Friedman: The Last Conservative,” Jennifer Burns writes about Friedman’s complicated position as a contrarian among economists of his time and as an adviser to members of the Republican Party. We’ll hear from her about Friedman’s life and economic beliefs. Also in this episode: international student enrollment and discretionary spending.
Climate change may have us spending more on food, health care, home repairs and more, according to the Fifth National Climate Assessment, published by the federal government. The fact is, climate change is already impacting many aspects of our daily lives. In this episode, we’ll talk about how it’ll also impact our wallets. Plus, ESPN launches its sports betting platform, travel should be a little cheaper this holiday season and a leading U.S. port gets updated infrastructure.
Congress is facing yet another government shutdown deadline at the end of this week. If a deal isn’t reached by Friday at midnight, hundreds of thousands of federal workers will stop getting paid, which may have broader economic ramifications. In this episode, we look at what might happen in the event of a shutdown, from airports to the nation’s global reputation. Plus, a shift in how medical spending is calculated for the CPI, a monetary vs. fiscal policy refresher and a war over groundwater in the Southwest.
Consumer sentiment just dropped to a new six-month low, according to the University of Michigan’s consumer survey. But in this post-2020 world, how folks feel about the economy doesn’t always line up with how they spend. In this episode, we’ll dig into that disconnect and how it might affect holiday retail outcomes. Plus, the farm bill expires soon, community college students have trouble transferring credits to four-year institutions and not even the Federal Reserve knows exactly why long-term bond yields are so high.
More than 16 million people signed up for health care coverage last year through federal or state marketplaces, which were made possible by the Affordable Care Act. One reason that number is so high? Subsidies for ACA plans were more generous in 2021 as part of a pandemic relief program. In this episode, we’ll check in on the program’s success. Plus, the creator economy goes untracked by the U.S. government, Albuquerque makes free public transit permanent, and “hot desking” irks workers.
House Republicans are floating a new idea for staving off a government shutdown: staggered funding deadlines for different parts of the government, or, as they’re calling it, a laddered continuing resolution. In this episode, we’ll talk to political experts about what this type of CR could look like and if it would work. Plus, small businesses crank out content, commercial airlines offer experienced pilots huge bonuses and while more Americans are behind on their debt, fewer are in collections.
China is the second-biggest foreign holder of U.S. debt, but its total holdings recently hit a low not seen since 2009. In this episode, we’ll talk through a few theories on why China appears to be offloading U.S. Treasurys. Could it be trying to pump up the value of the yuan? Or has China just hidden a bunch of Treasurys? Plus, big-box retailers renovate to draw in shoppers, the repossession industry faces a repo man shortage, and corporate earnings reports go better than expected.