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Over the last few years, Haripriya Mukundarajan has gotten intimately acquainted with the world’s most efficient serial killers.

“This is Anopheles gambiae, the most dangerous animal in the world,” she says, pulling up a recording of one flying around.

Cold snaps mean way more demand for natural gas

Jan 3, 2018

There’s plenty of natural gas available to heat and power homes through the cold spell that’s gripping much of the U.S. The problem is getting it where it’s needed, and hiccups in that process can mean price spikes.

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The mystery behind slowing business borrowing

Jan 3, 2018

The amount companies borrow from banks can be an important economic indicator. That’s money those companies might use to buy new equipment or purchase more stuff to sell, or to expand their business or be more productive. And yet, despite a strong economy, last year the rate of business-loan growth slowed. To be clear, it’s not that corporate loans have shrunk, but where loans were growing in the double digits just a few years ago, loan growth was in the low single digits by the end of 2017. 

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Over the past few days, President Donald Trump has tweeted quite a bit about foreign aid. On New Year's Day, he complained about the amount of foreign aid we send to Pakistan and criticized its government for not doing more to stop terrorism. Yesterday, he targeted aid to Palestinians, questioning whether payments should continue. What is the role of foreign aid in American foreign policy?

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Broadway box office has a record-breaking season

Jan 3, 2018

2017 was a great year for musical producers on Broadway. Buoyed in part by the continued success of "Hamilton," the Broadway box office claimed a record-breaking $1.6 billion last year. The previous record was $1.12 billion in 2014. Yet, for every action there's an equal opposite reaction (pardon the "Hamilton" reference). And in this case, in the era of high-grossing musicals, there may not be as much room left for non-musical theater.

In December, the Trump administration ordered nonprofits that receive federal funding for refugee resettlement to close any sites around the country receiving fewer than 100 refugees.

In October, Los Angeles opened its Section 8 housing voucher waiting list for the first time in 13 years and began taking applications for a lottery to get a spot on it. Valerie Stacker submitted hers as soon as she could.

“I’m just waiting and anticipating that I will make that list, that lottery list, because I really need it for me and my grandson,” said Stacker, a 62-year-old retiree and primary caregiver to her 10-year-old grandson, Angel.

What's a corporate board do anyway?

Jan 3, 2018

You've probably heard of a corporate board, but what do they do exactly? Host Kai Ryssdal talks to Jena McGregor at the Washington Post about what a corporate board can and can't do, what its real responsibility is and how it might be changing in this post #MeToo era. 

(Markets Edition) European regulators are officially overhauling the rules that govern financial services and markets in Europe, with the aim of bringing transparency to the financial services industry. We'll talk with Justin Urquhart Stewart — partner and cofounder of Seven Investment Management in London — about how people in the industry are handling these changes. Afterwards, we'll look at why Nashville's mayor is pushing for the end of the city's inpatient unit at Nashville General Hospital.

After you collect your cans, bottles and paper, then put them out by the curb, do you ever think about where everything goes after the truck picks things up? Largely, it goes to China.

Every day, nearly 4,000 shipping containers full of recyclables leave US ports bound for China. China sends the US toys, clothes and electronics; in return, some of America’s largest exports back are paper, plastic and aluminum.

The retail industry is taking a cue from coal country

Jan 3, 2018

Over the course of the year, about 12,000 retail stores are expected to close. 

While these store closings reach into communities and livelihoods across America, this trend still has not — by and large — become a front and center public policy issue.

01/03/2018: Unionizing the retail industry

Jan 3, 2018

(U.S. Edition) About 12,000 retail stores are expected to close over the course of 2018. With this massive upheaval in the industry, we'll take a look at how mall operators are responding to these closures, and then talk to Stuart Appelbaum — president of the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union — about whether retail workers will band together like coal workers have. Plus: How big tech companies are helping the Nasdaq reach record highs.

Public hospitals are often cash-strapped. And in Nashville, the city's safety net facility is seen by many as an unnecessary money pit. Now the mayor has proposed ending the inpatient part of the hospital and rethinking the city's role in caring for the uninsured.

This year could see thousands of additional store closures in malls across the country, according to a new study from commercial real estate company Cushman & Wakefield. That’s on top of some 9,000 store closings last year. Mall operators are trying a variety of options to secure their own future.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service ...Today has been dubbed the "Day of the MIFIDs"  in the U.K. — when the biggest changes to European financial regulation since the financial crisis come into effect. So will it actually make investing in Europe safer for consumers? Afterwards, it's the biggest Chinese acquisition that the Trump administration has blocked yet. What's behind the decision to prevent the Chinese internet giant Alibaba from buying the U.S. money transfer service MoneyGram?

Why the protests in Iran are happening

Jan 2, 2018

Protests in Iran have left more than 20 people dead since they started last week. These are the country's largest demonstrations since 2009, when millions protested the results of a presidential election. This current wave of protests was sparked by something different, however: economic inequality. Marketplace host Lizzie O'Leary spoke with Bahman Kalbasi of the BBC's Persian Service.  

The retail industry got a gift this holiday season

Jan 2, 2018

If you spent the last few weeks of 2017 frantically running around a shopping mall, the retailers of America probably owe you one. Despite the negative forecasting for the future of brick and mortar, retailers had a strong holiday season. Holiday sales were up almost 5 percent over 2016, according to Mastercard.

In a dark, abandoned warehouse on the edge of Europe, a group of young men are gathered around a fire with a nervous eye on the exit.

They came here to the Greek island of Lesbos from Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco in the hopes of pressing on to mainland Europe and to a better life, but they are stuck.

Their claims for asylum have either been rejected or placed at the bottom of the pile. Some have been waiting for more than a year.  

Oil prices start the year on a high note

Jan 2, 2018

It’s the highest first-of-the-year price for oil since 2014. But the companies producing crude are taking a more cautious view of things than the investors and lenders who back their efforts. From unrest in Iran to uncertainty about the new tax code, oil could face a profitable but turbulent year.

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Congress has to pass legislation to fund the government by Jan. 19. Otherwise, there will be a partial government shutdown.  And some policy analysts believe there’s a good chance a partial shutdown is coming.  That’s because Democrats and Republicans are far apart on issues like immigration, and the ratio of defense and non-defense spending. They also have to address funding for disaster relief and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). But lawmakers are also aware that if past history is any guide, a shutdown could rattle the stock market.

California has been hit hard by wildfires this year. It's too early to know how many billions of dollars there will be in damages, but there is already a legal battle brewing over who will pay for it all.

Dennis Hunter's business took a big hit from the fires in Northern California this October. His cannabis farm is on the outskirts of Santa Rosa, and the fires ripped through his rows of greenhouse. Hunter estimates $500,000 to $600,000 in damages. That's just a small part of the roughly $9 billion of damage claims so far from the wine country fires.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — As Iranians take to the streets in the biggest demonstrations in nearly a decade, residents of the increasingly tense capital say they sympathize with the protesters' economic grievances and anger at official corruption.

The Associated Press spoke to Iranians in Tehran on Tuesday, the sixth day of protests that have seen at least 21 people killed and hundreds arrested across the country. The protests, which have erupted in several cities, are the largest since those that followed the disputed 2009 presidential election.

Why the retail apocalypse isn't being taken seriously

Jan 2, 2018

As the holiday shopping rush comes to an end, hours get cut back and temporary retail workers say their farewells.

But there's a much greater unwinding happening in retail, with thousands of workers from the sector losing their jobs. Big words are attached to this: tectonic shifts, cataclysm and for some, opportunity.

(Markets Edition) Even though the Federal Reserve engineered a few short-term interest rate hikes last year, the cost of borrowing a house or apartment didn't really go up. To find out if mortgage rates will rise in 2018, we'll check in with David Kelly, chief global strategist at JP Morgan Funds. Afterwards, we'll discuss how restaurants near Amazon's first headquarters haven't brought in the number of customers that their owners expected. Plus: A look at the high price of youth sports.

Trump trying to fill Pentagon posts

Jan 2, 2018

This week, the Senate is set to vote on President Donald Trump’s nominee for Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. But like many of Trump's picks, John Rood is a controversial nominee. 

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Around 6 p.m. on a recent weekday, people flood out of South Lake Union and squeeze onto buses. This neighborhood has become the heart of Amazon in Seattle and has utterly transformed since the company moved in almost a decade ago. It’s now full of gleaming office buildings and tech workers. But those workers are not spending their income on fancy dinners close to work, at least not in the numbers some of the restaurant owners expected.

(U.S. Edition) Regulators have been working on some massive new rules, called MiFID II, for European financial markets that'll take effect at midnight. On today's show, we'll take a look at some of the reasons for this overhaul, which include trying to improve protections for investors. Afterwards, we'll chat with Mark Cohen, head of retail studies at Columbia Business School, about the shifts happening in the retail sector and whether we're headed toward a "retail apocalypse." 

 

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service ... Iranians have taken to the streets in some of the biggest anti-government protests the country has seen in years. One thing underlying their discontent? A sluggish economy that hasn't seen the expected benefits from the lifting of U.S. sanctions. Afterwards, Egypt's leading cleric has issued a fatwa against the cryptocurrency bitcoin, saying it violates Islamic law. Then, as of Monday, China has banned the import of foreign plastics.

This week we’re bringing you our favorite episodes of the year.

Companies are required to file equal employment opportunity reports with the government. But few make that information public. Reporters at Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX looked into how diversity stacks up in Silicon Valley. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talked with reporter Will Evans about why hard data on diversity in tech remains a bit of a mystery.

2017 was a rough year for the insurance industry

Jan 1, 2018

By some measurements, 2017 was a disastrous year. Hurricanes wreaked havoc in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. California saw its most destructive wildfire season ever. Beyond the human toll, natural and man-made calamities also made 2017 one of the most expensive years ever for insurance companies. According to estimates from Swiss Re, insured losses from disasters totaled $136 billion last year. That's more than double the 10-year average.

 

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