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Hosted by Kai Ryssdal, award-winning Marketplace is a daily magazine of business and economics.

The last week of December is one of the least productive times of the year. Many workers use their vacation days to spend the time with their family in between Christmas and New Year. Others show up to work and suffer through their holiday hangovers while in the office.

12/18/2017: China's embrace of the global stage

6 hours ago

(U.S. Edition) A power outage at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport this weekend led to the cancellation of more than a thousand flights, and not everything is back to normal yet. On today's show, we'll discuss some of the lingering effects. Afterwards, we'll chat with author Shaun Rein about his latest book, "The War for China's Wallet," which examines the diplomatic opportunities China will be able to take advantage of as President Trump looks more toward the United State's domestic issues.

How China is putting the global economy in its wallet

7 hours ago

We've all heard this: China is going to be the key driver of growth in the global economy in the decades ahead of us. That means China is starting to write the rules for companies that want to a slice of the pie, especially as more Chinese consumers start defining the demand for products worldwide.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service…South Africa’s governing African National Congress is choosing a new leader. We’ll take you to the region and tell you what the vote means for the languishing economy amid corruption allegations against the incumbent president. Then, cows that text? A look at the latest in wearable tech gadgets farmers are using to help look after their livestock. 

How will technology change war?

8 hours ago

Laser weapons mounted on ships or planes that can silently beam death to enemies. Electromagnetic weapons that direct energy at a target to cause pain, physical damage or destroy electronics. Autonomous lethal weapons that can make decisions about who and when to shoot. These are just some of the technologies that are being developed or are in use on real battlefields.

12/18/2017: What AI means for the future of war

8 hours ago

Some pretty astonishing technology is being developed and used on battlefields today. There are laser weapons that can beam death to enemies and autonomous lethal weapons that can decide when and who to shoot. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks with Robert Latiff, a former Air Force major general, and a professor at George Mason University, about the future of war.

What happens when your designer-in-chief resigns?

Dec 15, 2017

The first chief creative officer at Diane Von Furstenberg left his job today. Jonathan Saunders lasted 18 months as the venerated fashion outfit's head designer. His two predecessors, who did not share the same title, didn't last much longer. The company also happens to have been without a CEO since November 2016. The troubles at DVF reflect the fashion industries larger struggles. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke with fashion writer Elizabeth Holmes to get a better sense of where the industry stands. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

The Department of Homeland Security has announced plans to reverse an Obama administration immigration rule. This one applies to the spouses of H-1B visa holders. The H1-B, you may recall, goes to skilled workers, often in the tech sector. The Obama administration gave the OK for the spouses of some of these skilled workers to get their own legal jobs in the U.S. DHS gave notice yesterday that it intends to end that work authorization. Here’s why.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Regulatory “Ping-Pong” no game for businesses

Dec 15, 2017

The Federal Communications Commission voted yesterday to get rid of Obama-era net neutrality rules that were just over two years old. It was a similar story over at the National Labor Relations Board, where some Obama-era rules that unions liked, and companies didn't, have gone away. Politics aside, this kind of big switch, when a new administration comes in and changes the composition of the commissioners at regulatory agencies, results in substantial regulatory uncertainty for big chunks of the American economy.

Under my bed, I have a box stuffed with high school memories, including a bright orange binder, labeled “Warning, this is not school-related."

Inside, there are pages and pages of deeply meaningful conversations I had on AOL Instant Messenger, full of gossip, flirting and those tortured goodbyes. Like this one: 

Sweetnsour435 — that was me. 

Congress faces a deluge in fixing flood insurance

Dec 15, 2017

Last year, when Hurricane Matthew was spinning havoc in the Atlantic, Virginia Wasserberg’s house was spared gale-force winds, but the hurricane brought storm surge into her home.

“The entire first floor of the home suffered about 18 inches of flood water,” said Wasserberg, who lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Much of the loss had sentimental value. “Some items that were irreplaceable — things that were given to us from family members that had passed away,” she said. “You’re not going to recover those items again.”

Managing mental health in the midst of disaster

Dec 15, 2017

After a disaster, a major network of disaster counselors and mental health professional spring into action. Their task? Aid people with the sometimes long and invisible recovery that takes place following a traumatic event.

It could be after a natural disaster, like a hurricane or wildfire. Or a tragedy, like a mass shooting or crime. Either way, there's an important personal recovery that needs to take place — and people whose job it is to help.

Elizabeth Jameson sure hopes so.

“I'm a quadriplegic which means I can't use anything to navigate a wheelchair by myself,” said Jameson, who learned she had multiple sclerosis in her mid-30s. “I don't have the use of hand or arms, so I can't use a joystick to do anything with my power wheelchair.”

As companies from Uber to Ford to Tesla scramble to perfect self-driving car technology, others hope companies also set their sights elsewhere, on using that technology to create self-driving wheelchairs.

What does it cost to replace large parts of a barren ice planet with a big ol’ gun? It’s actually a lot less than you’d think.

What's next for Brexit?

Dec 15, 2017

British Prime Minister Theresa May must be feeling more than a little punch drunk over Brexit — Britain's exit from the European Union. A week ago, she was hailed a heroine in Parliament for pulling off the first stage of the exit negotiations. Then, only days later, she suffered a humiliating parliamentary defeat when a number of pro-EU supporters voted against her during the passage of an important bill. The next day in Brussels, she was applauded by other EU leaders, some of whom earlier in the week had been bitterly criticizing her. So what is going on with Brexit?

12/15/2017: Forget brunch, plan a dinner party

Dec 15, 2017

(Markets Edition) Republicans are still trying to hammer out the details of their tax overhaul, with some concerned about the expiration date for individual tax cuts and who will stay in the top tax bracket. Christopher Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, joined us to talk about how markets are feeling about it. According to them, this tax plan still seems to be on the path for passage, despite reservations from leaders in Congress.

As technology changes, so do our daily lives — whether it's the places we go on the internet, how we pay for goods or how we get from point A to point B. On this week's show we dive into the future of the internet now that the Federal Communications Commission has rolled back net neutrality, take a look at mental health following disaster and touch on the opioid epidemic. Then, the five questions you always wondered, but were too nervous to ask, about bitcoin. Also, could driverless technology transform how we think about wheelchairs?

Over the past year, powerful men in the U.S. have faced consequences over claims of sexual harassment in the workplace. But is there change going on in the rest of the world? Women across different national, ethnic and occupational lines are dealing with exploitation on the job.

After Purdue Pharma brought its blockbuster painkiller OxyContin to market in 1996, the company began an aggressive marketing push to convince doctors to start prescribing the drug for moderate pain, like arthritis.  

Purdue’s marketing efforts worked: Within five years, OxyContin became the most frequently prescribed brand name narcotic to treat moderate to severe pain in the country.  

The National Labor Relations Board has overturned a 2015 law that made it easier for contractors and workers at franchised businesses to form unions and collectively bargain with big corporations. 

The 2015 NLRB ruling said contract workers at a recycling center were jointly employed by a third party staffing firm and the business they worked for. Sharon Block was a member of President Obama's NLRB. She's now executive director of the labor and worklife program at Harvard Law School. 

Today is the last day to enroll in Obamacare insurance plans. Earlier this year, the Trump administration slashed the Affordable Care Act advertising budget by $90 million, so many people assumed there would be far fewer TV ads encouraging people to sign up. But it turns out there’s been 51 percent more insurance commercials compared to a similar time last year. So what’s going on?

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Want to build social capital? Throw a dinner party.

Dec 15, 2017

Marketplace's David Brancaccio spoke to Rico Gagliano and Brendan Francis Newnam about their book "Brunch Is Hell: How to Save the World by Throwing a Dinner Party," and their rules for creating the best dinner party. 

Click the above audio player to hear the full story.


(U.S. Edition) The National Labor Relations Board has overturned a joint-employment standard that was set back in 2015 under Obama. We'll look at how this decision will make it harder for contractors and workers at franchise businesses to form unions. Afterwards, we'll discuss the rising number of people who are defaulting on their student loans, and then talk with BBC reporter Karishma Vaswani about the issue of sexual harassment in workplaces around the world.

12/15/2017: A shakeup at Airbus

Dec 15, 2017

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service ... A day after plane maker Airbus secured a $12 billion deal from Delta, it announced a change of leadership. We’ll tell you what’s behind the shakeup, which comes amid a series of corruption allegations. Then, ever heard of “The Brussels Effect?” It refers to the regulatory power of the European Union, and we’ll explain why it will matter to Britain as it moves on to phase two of its Brexit negotiations.

As expected, the Federal Communications Commission voted yesterday to overturn net neutrality, the Obama-era rule that says internet service providers have to treat all content equally on their networks. So what happens next? Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks with Tom Merritt, host of the "Daily Tech News Show" podcast, about what this means for the internet and how long it will be before we see changes. 

12/14/2017: There goes neutrality

Dec 14, 2017

The Federal Communications Commission rolled back Obama-era regulations today, ruling that internet providers are no longer required to treat all internet content equally. But what will that look like? And the holiday season is officially upon us, so we check in with the people keeping the $400 billion online shopping industry afloat: an item “picker” at a fulfillment warehouse and package deliverers struggling to meet deadlines with volume up 17 percent this year.

Net neutrality is gone, so now what for consumers?

Dec 14, 2017

The Federal Communications Commission has voted today to take some reins off the internet. In a 3-to-2 party line vote under the Trump appointed Chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC scrapped net neutrality rules that were put in place in 2015 under the Obama administration. Those rules generally prohibited internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast from charging more for higher quality, faster service, or access to specific internet content. Now that those reins will be off, how might consumers be affected? The wireless cellphone service industry may be a good one to look at for clues.

The financial service industry has become more diverse in the recent years – overall – says a new government report. There are more women and minorities. But looked at more closely, the number of women in top positions has stayed the same – around 29 percent. How can things change?

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Disney-Fox deal makes CEO succession tougher

Dec 14, 2017

The Walt Disney Co. has agreed to buy most of 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets in a $52 billion deal that will reshape the media landscape. If the megamerger goes through, the already huge Disney will become an even bigger Hollywood player and digital streaming competitor. Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger was set to retire in 2019. He now says he'll stick around until 2021 to oversee the integration. The company's had trouble lining someone up to fill Iger's big shoes — and the Fox deal only makes those shoes even bigger. 

These days, the holiday magic happens in warehouses

Dec 14, 2017

Holidays, Brought to You By is our series about all the stuff that’s become part of the culture and of the economy. Where did they come from and who thought of them?

Holiday shoppers can take their time agonizing over every little detail before hitting the "buy" button, but once an online order makes it to a warehouse worker like Natalia Andrade, the clock starts ticking.