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Full interview: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell

Jul 12, 2018

In the five months since Jerome “Jay” Powell took over as chairman of the Federal Reserve, the country is facing a growing number of tests: stagnant wage growth, tariff disputes around the world and a White House that likes to publicly offer the Fed economic advice.

Costa Rica recently created a program to offer hormone replacement therapy for transgender people for free through its national universal health care system. Since the program started in fall of 2017 about 30 people have signed up. The government is expecting around 600 people to sign up. Officials are confident the hormone replacement therapy will be low cost for the country, and might actually defray future costs by keeping people out of the black market where they might fall victim to bad medicine and dirty needles.

Vanilla bean prices have been running between the equivalent of $1,000 and $1,200 dollars per pound, nearly five times what it was a few years ago. And that's rippling through the ice cream industry.  One key reason for the increased cost is last year's cyclone in leading vanilla producer Madagascar, which created a huge crop shortage. Larger ice cream companies, like Minnesota-based Kemps, a top-selling brand in the Upper Midwest, are having to make some adjustments.

A crisis in the vanilla economy

Jul 12, 2018

(Markets Edition) Over the next few days, the country's biggest banks are gearing up to report their earnings for the most recent quarter — and expectations are high. We'll look at why analysts are anticipating strong earnings. Afterwards, we'll discuss how investors are starting to ask for higher returns in the short term from the government — a potential sign of a recession. Then finally, we'll talk about the rising price of vanilla, which is forcing some players in the ice cream world to make adjustments.

(U.S. Edition) With the China and the U.S. constantly going back and forth about trade, we'll take a look at how U.S. businesses in China are feeling about escalating tensions. Afterwards, we'll discuss what the United States' increase in oil production means for U.S. consumers, and then we'll explore how Costa Rica has created a program to offer hormone replacement therapy for transgender people.

Crunch day for Brexit

Jul 12, 2018

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … After a stormy week of resignations, the British government is about to publish its latest proposals for exiting the European Union. Will this blueprint deliver the promised "comprehensive vision" to businesses craving a clear direction? We hear from the new Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, and Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce. Also in this edition: as President Trump begins his first official visit to the U.K., the BBC's Anu Anand finds out whether he can expect to receive a warm welcome.

Yes, lots of people are still playing "Pokemon Go"

Jul 12, 2018

This page was updated on July 12. 

The summer of 2016.

It may not be the most notable summer in history, but it was most definitely a special summer for some people after the release of Pokémon Go.

For those of you who didn’t happen across the phenomenon that swept the globe like wildfire, Niantic’s Pokémon Go brought the world of Pokémon into the hands of millions of smartphone users across the world through the use of augmented reality.

Yes, lots of people are still playing "Pokemon Go"

Jul 12, 2018

"Pokemon Go" was one of 2016’s most popular mobile games, but it seemed to lose players just as quickly as it gained them. That may have been due to some technical glitches, but "Pokemon Go" appears to be back. That's at least in part thanks to some new social features. Those are what got Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood back in the game, and got her thinking about who else is playing "Pokemon Go."

More Americans are quitting their jobs nowadays, according to the latest numbers out from the Labor Department. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) shows that in May, the “quits rate” hit its highest level in 17 years.  That means that in some sectors, workers feel good enough about the economy to leave a job and take a chance on a new gig. And some workers are finding they may be rewarded for changing jobs, in this low unemployment, low wage-growth environment, with better pay or other perks.

NATO's IOUs

Jul 11, 2018

If you thought all the Chinese trade talk was testy, you should see footage from President Donald Trump's first day of North Atlantic Treaty Organization meetings today. Trump slammed American allies, saying "many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money" from years of defense spending. And that was just the photo op. We'll fill you in on the NATO meeting and what to expect during the next few days of talks in Brussels. Plus, the latest on those tariffs.

It’s been two months now since the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem. The embassy opened May 14 to official fanfare while dozens died the same day along the Israel-Gaza border. More than 130 have been killed since protests began on March 30 and have continued for months.

The phone call that lowered Pfizer drug prices

Jul 11, 2018

(Markets Edition) Pfizer has reversed its big price increase following pressure from Trump and his administration. We'll discuss some of the reasons why they may have taken heed of the government's words, and why there could still be a catch. Afterwards, we'll explore how the trade war affects banks, and then we'll talk about a potential bilateral trade deal between the U.S. and the U.K.

Residents of Puerto Rico are expressing relief that Hurricane Beryl has weakened as it sweeps over the island. But Puerto Rico is still recovering from last year’s hurricanes as more crop up in the Caribbean. One suggestion for how the island should prepare and react to natural disasters? Incorporate the private sector.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

China vows retaliation for $200 billion U.S. tariff threat

Jul 11, 2018

The Chinese government vowed Wednesday to take “firm and forceful measures” against U.S. threats to expand tariff hikes to thousands of products like fish sticks, apples and French doors as their trade dispute escalates.

China gave no details but earlier threatened “comprehensive measures” if Washington took more action. That prompted fears Beijing, running out of imports for retaliation due to its lopsided trade balance with the U.S., might try to disrupt operations of American automakers, retailers and others that see China as a key market.

The trade war is getting bigger

Jul 11, 2018

(U.S. Edition) The trade war between the U.S. and China is escalating. The Trump administration has published an additional list of $200 billion worth of Chinese goods that it wants to hit with tariffs. We'll discuss China's response to this list, and the change in the types of products that we're hitting with penalties. Afterwards, we'll look at how some U.S.-China deals are staying on track, despite all this trade turmoil. Tesla is building its first factory outside of the U.S. in Shanghai.

In early June 2018, the Social Security Trustees board reported that the Social Security Trust Funds — a main source of funding for Social Security benefits aggregated from Social Security taxes — would be depleted by 2034, one year sooner than previously estimated in last year's report. According to the trustees, factors that would contribute to this increased depletion are general increases in the cost of living expenses like health care costs. 

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy had a hand in some of the most important environmental law cases in recent history.

“He’s been on the court just over 30 years and he’s been in the majority in every single environmental case but one. You don’t win without Kennedy,” Harvard law professor Richard Lazarus told The Atlantic after Kennedy’s retirement.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … A fresh list of potential Chinese tariff targets from the U.S. this morning is sending global markets solidly lower. China says it’s “shocked” by the measures. So what’s included and when could they go into effect? Then, President Trump is at the NATO meeting in Brussels today. While he’s criticized Germany for not contributing enough to the alliance’s defense budget, the meeting has big implications for trade, too. Afterward, it’s a big night for England as its team makes a semi-final appearance in the World Cup.

Tesla's China plant will serve the world's biggest electric car market

Jul 11, 2018

China is a huge market for electric cars. Tesla is looking for a place to build and sell lots of electric cars. But the U.S. is in a trade war with China and right now there's about a 40 percent tax on American-made cars being sold in China. That hurts all automakers, but if you're trying to become the dominant electric car maker in the world you need to sell cars in China. This week Tesla said it will open a plant in Shanghai to eventually build 500,000 cars a year without the import taxes.

China is a huge market for electric cars. Tesla is looking for a place to build and sell lots of electric cars. But the U.S. is in a trade war with China and right now there's about a 40 percent tax on American-made cars being sold in China. That hurts all automakers, but if you're trying to become the dominant electric car maker in the world you need to sell cars in China. Dan Sperling is the founding director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis.

Donald Trump's choice of Brett Kavanaugh to be the next Supreme Court Justice may have contained an element of surprise. But there's nothing surprising about what happens next. Ads. Millions and millions of dollars worth of ads on television and the internet aimed at influencing those who have the power to influence whether or not Kavanaugh gets the black robe.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

The government agency that handles US citizenship applications has been using newly digitized fingerprints to investigate cases of fraud since the beginning of 2017. So far, one person’s citizenship has been revoked.

Davinder Singh came to the US on a fall day in 1991.

72: Are we an eponymous lifestyle brand yet?

Jul 10, 2018

Make Me Smart loves the art of the zoom out. Wages aren't rising? Let's look at how capitalism is or isn't working for people. Big leak at Facebook? Let's talk about the ethics of running a huge tech company. And one way to approach big problems is to change your thinking about them in a big way. So could an issue with an economy or a corporation — at any scale — be seen as a design flaw? We talk this week with Sarah Stein Greenberg, who runs the design program at Stanford (the "d.school"). She introduces us to the fundamentals, promises, and limits of a hot term: design thinking.

Sandy González-García looked like any other 8-year-old Friday, blowing out the candles on a Frozen-themed birthday cake.

You’d never suspect she spent her real birthday in a shelter on the other side of the country with other kids deemed unaccompanied minors by the government. Many of them, like her, were separated from their parents by the US government.

For years, 63-year-old Aminta paid around $1,000 for a 2-bedroom apartment in Huntington Park, south of Los Angeles. It was fine until Aminta’s husband and primary breadwinner was deported, to Tijuana. Then came the rent increases.

“My landlord raised my rent last year by $125, and when the building was bought out by new landlords this year, they increased it by $250 more,” Aminta said. “It’s difficult for me to pay $1,375 because I don’t have enough money left for food and bills.”

The SCOTUS news is just starting

Jul 10, 2018

President Donald Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court came with a little surprise and a lot of theater. But what happens next should come as no surprise at all: millions of dollars and hundreds of hours of advertising for and against Kavanaugh's appointment. We'll talk about what to expect. Then: We'll explain the upcoming rent control ballot measure in California, and what it could mean for the affordable housing crisis around the country. Plus, what you need to know about Trump, Pfizer and the market for one of that company's most profitable drugs: Viagra.

Tad Montgomery can still remember when he first discovered morels. He was five years old, working in the garden with his mom and siblings, when a thunderstorm suddenly rolled in. They all ran under some nearby trees for shelter.

“Mom, what are these things? They’re really weird!” exclaimed his sister, looking to the ground.

During spring negotiations at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, the US delegation threatened Ecuador and other countries with punitive trade measures if they didn't water down language in a resolution to "protect, promote and support breastfeeding," The New York Times reported

The US delegation, pressured by infant formula manufacturers, ultimately failed when Russia instead introduced the measure after more than a dozen other countries backed off. 

(Markets Edition) With news that Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court Justice, we'll take at look at the high court's track record when it comes to  pro-business issues. Afterwards, we'll chat with market strategist Karyn Cavanaugh about how all this trade war talk has yet to be reflected in company earnings, and then we'll discuss how Norway is undergoing an oil supply squeeze due to a worker's strike.

For decades the only place you could legally wager on a basketball or football game was in Nevada. And to do it, you had to go to a casino “sports book”— in essence, a room where bettors sit in cushy seats while watching games on panoramic screens, and giant digital billboards tick out numbers to help them calculate how much they stand to win, or lose, on each match-up.

Kelly Stewart, a professional sports bettor, has spent hours of her life in sports books in Las Vegas. “College football season, I have no life,” she said. “I’m working 65 hours a week.”

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