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The National Retail Federation estimates that 11 percent of online purchases will be returned this year. Even though more people are buying online, they are more inclined to make in-store returns, which brick-and-mortar stores hope will translate into added sales. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Concrete walls topped with concertina wire is what most South Koreans only ever see of the Yongsan Garrison, a sprawling US military base in the center of Seoul.

But as a teenage guitarist in 1955, Shin Joong-hyun remembers the first time he entered the base. He and other local musicians had been hired to entertain soldiers with American songs, which Shin says were all but unheard of to most Koreans at that time.

Randall Huft once crafted ad campaigns for United Airlines and Nestle. Now he’s schmoozing with clients inside a Marriott ballroom near Disneyland, at the California Cannabis Business Conference.

“Now we’re one of the leading ad agencies in the cannabis sector," said Huft, creative director at the Innovation Agency. “It’s probably about 80 percent of our work right now.”

(U.S. Edition) Tax day may not be for another few months, but there are some homeowners who have decided to pre-pay their taxes now that the GOP overhaul has gone through. On today's show, we'll look at why those who own homes in states and counties with high property taxes are scrambling. Afterwards, we'll discuss why retailers are actually kind of happy with customers who decide to return their online purchases in-store.

Mayor of Naples, Florida, unfazed by hurricane damage

Dec 27, 2017

2017 was full of natural disasters. They didn’t seem to let up — fires in California, floods in Texas, hurricane after hurricane in the Caribbean and on the Gulf Coast. The media moved on quickly, but recovery efforts are long from over. We talked to local officials in five American cities about their hopes and objectives in the coming year. Check out the rest of our series here.

12/27/17: Obama's social media warning

Dec 27, 2017

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service ... Throughout the year, we've been reporting on increasing efforts by both the U.S. and the international community to curb North Korea's nuclear ambitions by punishing the country economically. Now, the U.S. has placed sanctions on two North Korean officials for their role in the country's missile program.  Afterwards, former President Barack Obama sat down with Prince Harry for a rare interview. He issued a warning about the dangers of social media echo chambers.

Our 14 favorite albums of 2017

Dec 26, 2017

There was a lot of great music released in 2017. It was hard to narrow down our favorites, but here they are. 

Marco's picks: 

1. La Vida Boheme, "La Lucha"

Last year when I was walking around Ritsona refugee camp in Greece I heard wisps of music floating up from the dense sea of military tents. As I followed the sound I met a young woman with intense green eyes who invited me to sit with her.

Suham Noh was 23, and before she fled the conflict in her native Iraq, she had been studying Shakespeare at a university in Dohuk. The music came from one of her brothers strumming a long-necked saz as he sang a mournful tune in Kurdish.

Inside the sweet business of Zingerman's Bakehouse

Dec 26, 2017

Of the businesses that get extra busy around the holiday season, Zingerman's Bakehouse is most certainly one of them. The Ann Arbor-based bakery has fans across the country, thanks to a robust mail order business. And on top of that, owners Frank Carollo and Amy Emberling recently released a cookbook with all their most popular recipes.

When our social ills were solved with a little pink

Dec 26, 2017

In her new book, "The Secret Lives of Color," Kassia St. Clair chronicles the origin stories of a rainbow of colors, dyes and shades. In this occasional series, we'll highlight some of the hues featured in her book and the unusual stories behind them. Today, she tells the story of a Baker Miller pink, a shade that at one time, seemed a solution to rising crime rates.

The U.S. used to be the world’s number one uranium producer, and most of it came from Wyoming. But since the 1980s, production has dropped precipitously. These days, prices are too low for most U.S. uranium operations to make any money. But that may be about to change – uranium’s biggest customer is the nuclear energy industry. In the coming years, hundreds of new nuclear reactors are planned for China and India.

Uranium companies in the U.S. are banking on the possibility all that demand will drive up prices, creating an industry boom.

12/26/2017: You gave some nice gifts this year

Dec 26, 2017

This holiday season, many retailers saw 5 percent increases in sales from last year, and higher-end products did well. We speak with Ellen Davis of the National Retail Federation, who chalks it up to economic security, or maybe you're just really nice. In today's energy news, what the world's fastest battery means for energy-storage technology and fossil-fueled power plants, and how uranium companies in the U.S. are getting ready for India and China's hundreds of new nuclear reactors.

Holiday shopping reflects our personal economy

Dec 26, 2017

This holiday season, many retailers saw sales increase  by almost 5 percent compared to last year. It's due to a number of reasons, said Ellen Davis, the senior vice president of the National Retail Federation. The NRF's numbers will be released in January, but Davis spoke with Marketplace host Adriene Hill about how some of retailers' success has to do with how people are feeling about their economic security. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Rebuilding or "building forward": A post-Harvey Houston

Dec 26, 2017

2017 was full of natural disasters. They didn’t seem to let up — fires in California, floods in Texas, hurricane after hurricane in the Caribbean and on the Gulf Coast. The media moved on quickly, but recovery efforts are long from over. We talked to local officials in five American cities about their hopes and objectives in the coming year. Check out the rest of our series here.

47: Make Me Smart predictions

Dec 26, 2017

It's the final Make Me Smart of 2017 and we got a few of our previous guests to give us predictions about what they think might happen in 2018.

Who made predictions:

Andy Weir, author of "The Martian" and "Artemis."

Your regularly scheduled episode of Marketplace is coming later today, but for now we have a special investigation from the team at The Uncertain Hour.

When OxyContin went to market in 1996, sales reps from Purdue Pharma hit one point particularly hard: Compared to other prescription opioids, this new painkiller was believed to be less likely to be addictive or abused.

(Markets Edition) The global economy is shifting, with countries once considered "developing economies" replacing western ones as the strongest players in the marketplace. We'll take a look at which countries are moving up in the rankings — and which ones are moving down. Afterwards, we'll discuss how a pilot shortage in the U.S. means more lucrative opportunities for those who want to become one.

Starting on Jan. 1, workers earning minimum wage in 18 states and 20 cities will see a increase in pay. The wage increases result from ballot measures and cost of living adjustments. They come amid a lot of discussion about wage stagnation in recent years. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

It's getting a lot more lucrative to become a pilot

Dec 26, 2017

Zack Tusing is training to be a pilot. One of his favorite places to fly is a spot along the Hudson River, overlooking New York City. Sure, he says, it’s a little scary hovering next to skyscrapers and being suspended over water in a one engine Cessna.

"Other than that, it’s really cool," Tusing said. "Central Park is cool to see. Being right at the top of One World Trade Center is cool. You can see Yankee Stadium."

Tusing is 19, and he has been training to be a pilot since he was a toddler.

(U.S. Edition) Now that Christmas is over, we'll talk about spending habits this holiday season. Retail growth was strong, which analysts say was driven by low- and middle-income Americans. Afterwards, we'll discuss what a wave in minimum wage hikes next year could mean for local economies. Plus, a conversation with Marvin Odum — chief recovery officer for Houston, Texas — on what recovery is looking like for the city.

Why are most health plans tied to the calendar year?

Dec 26, 2017

This is just one of the stories from our "I've Always Wondered" series, where we tackle all of your questions about the world of business, no matter how big or small. Ever wondered if recycling is worth it? Or how store brands stack up against name brands? What do you wonder?

12/26/2017: Which country is the most generous?

Dec 26, 2017

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service ...Which country in the world is the most generous? Hint: it's not the U.S. We take a look at global giving trends and find out which countries were more inclined to donate in 2017. Then, what do you do in a country where nearly half the population is below the age of 15,  but where the majority of young people don't have access to "formal" jobs? That's the situation plaguing the east African country of Mozambique.

They're considered inefficient, under-utilized and useless, respectively, and all face uncertain futures. Incandescent light bulbs will no longer be available to purchase in California beginning in 2018; instead, Californians will buy compact florescent lights and LED bulbs, which have triple the energy efficiency. Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge could lose 1.5 million acres to energy developers, due to a mandate in the new tax bill. And even though you can't buy anything for a penny anymore, the coin may stay in circulation despite calls to get rid of it once and for all.

In countries near the Arctic Circle, it’s cold and dark for much of the year.

That, as you may have guessed, leads to some pretty specific drinking habits.

Just over a year ago, I was scrolling through Instagram when I saw a picture of  a billboard in Haiti advertising Manischewitz wine. The kosher wine has been a constant in Jewish homes for Passover seders and sacramental occasions.

In Jewish circles, Manischewitz has a certain nostalgic value, but it’s not exactly considered a fine wine. 

Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski pardoned former autocrat Alberto Fujimori Sunday night. Fujimori was serving a 25-year prison sentence for corruption and human rights abuses.

Days earlier, Kuczynski himself narrowly defeated a bid by Congress to get him impeached.

And behind it all could be the Fujimori children, who are also politicians.

“So what people are now speculating — it’s the obvious theory — is that there was some kind of deal or quid pro quo [between] Kuczynski and the Fujimorista members of Congress,” says reporter Simeon Tegel in Lima.

On Jan. 1, 2018, California will be the first state to move forward with stricter light bulb standards. Regulations that take effect in the new year mean that retailers in the state should stock their shelves with bulbs that deliver at least 45 lumens per watt. Translation: they need to be roughly three times more energy efficient than the old incandescent bulb. Instead, people will choose between compact fluorescent lights and LEDs, which can last for more than a decade, saving Californians a total of $1 billion a year in electricity costs.

The president of Guatemala announced Christmas Eve that the Central American country will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

President Jimmy Morales announced on Facebook that, after speaking with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday, he has instructed the chancellor to begin the process of moving the embassy.

(Markets Edition) The restaurant industry has been struggling, and the year ahead looks bleak too, according to reports. To stay competitive, the restaurant chain Chili's is slashing the number of items on its menu by 40 percent. We'll talk about their new strategy, and explore some of the reasons restaurant traffic has been down.

It can be tough to study robotics at a high level if you don’t have access to expensive equipment. But this fall, Georgia Tech researchers are hoping to change that.

The University has launched an open robotics research lab. It allows anyone around the world to remotely watch and control dozens of robots that are in Atlanta using just a computer. The idea is to help scientists collaborate on research and give students access for their studies.

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