Economy & Business

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This guy's invention got U.S. Patent No. 10 million

Jun 19, 2018

Today marks a milestone of in the American innovation economy. Back in 1836, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued patent No.1 under the current numbering system. It took 155 years to get up to patent No. 5 million and then just another 27 years to issue 5 million more. Patent number No.

A look at China's unlikely lingerie capital

Jun 19, 2018

On a dusty road in China’s eastern province of Jiangsu, a slim, middle-aged man stood in front of an open truck and played an announcement through a speaker.

“Apples for sale! 1.20 yuan per jin,” the message repeated on a loop.

That's less than 20 cents a pound, which is cheap even for China. Guanyun County, some 300 miles north of Shanghai, used to consistently rank among the poorest areas in this province.

How a small plant became a big business

Jun 19, 2018

When things get popular on Instagram, there’s probably a profit to be made. That’s just what happened with the popular succulent house plant. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal sat down with Alyssa Bereznak of the The Ringer, who wrote "How Succulents Took Over Instagram," to talk about how the plants are a booming business. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation. 

It's summer and that means vacation time. Kids are out of school and all the photos on Instagram seem to feature blue water and white sand. 

So what's the right way to bring it up to your boss? Perhaps your boss isn't that cool about you taking time off. Can you finagle a few more days for travel time, or use your sick days for vacation? And what are the do's and don'ts of vacation time — can you fully ignore your emails? Should you post about it on Facebook?

President Trump told a group of small-business owners Tuesday that the nation's economic future has never looked brighter. But that future could be imperiled by Trump's own multifront trade war.

"Main Street is thriving and America is winning once again," Trump declared in a speech to the NFIB, a small-business lobbying group. "You know, we're respected again. This country is respected again."

The president touted surveys showing near-record business confidence, along with solid job gains and an expected rebound in economic growth.

Big banks are skirting the rules on the sale of the complex financial instruments that helped bring about the 2008 financial crisis, by exploiting a loophole in federal banking regulations, a new report says.

The loophole could leave Wall Street exposed to big losses, potentially requiring taxpayers to once again bail out the biggest banks, warns the report's author, Michael Greenberger, former director of trading and markets at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

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The Venezuelan economy has collapsed. Years of economic mismanagement and a deepening political crisis have led to a recession that has almost no parallel in recent memory.

But explaining just how bad things have gotten is also really hard because the normal economic indicators that we use to measure a country's economy have started to sound so so unfathomable — 25,000% inflation, for example — that it feels impossible to get our heads around them.

The view from the border

Jun 19, 2018

The tariff threats flying back and forth between Washington and Beijing have had a certain symmetry. We tax $34 billion worth of Chinese imports, and they follow. We add $16 billion in other Chinese stuff, same. But last night, when the Trump administration said it's exploring tariffs on a whopping $200 billion in goods, Beijing said fine, they're gonna hit back in "quantitative and qualitative ways." We'll start today's show trying to unpack what that means. Then, speaking of China: When Americans and Europeans were buying less, dozens of factories closed in China. Millions lost jobs ...

If you've heard any of rapper Cardi B's recent string of hits, you know the woman has expensive taste. The Bronx-born star loves Balenciaga, Prada and Gucci. But true fans know that for years she's been one of the most visible spokespeople for a brand that's far more affordable: Fashion Nova, a popular retailer known for being sexy, cheap, and worn by celebrities.

U.S.-China trade tensions lead to volatile markets

Jun 19, 2018

(Markets Edition) The back and forth between the U.S. and China over trade continues. Trump says he might slap tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, which has prompted China to issue its own threats. We'll look at how trade tensions are affecting the markets and whether traders are starting to panic.

This morning, a Senate committee checks in to see how the cuts to the so-called 340b program, which allows hospitals to buy drugs at a discount, are impacting hospitals and patients. Critics say there’s little evidence that hospitals used the savings to help patients.

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Updated at 4:31 p.m. ET

The U.S. stock market fell sharply Tuesday in response to President Trump's recent threats to add another layer of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 287 points, or about 1.15 percent, marking its sixth straight daily drop. The broader S&P 500 index lost 11 points, or about 0.4 percent.

Entrepreneur Paul Schueller Believes in 'Learning, Not Lamenting'

Jun 19, 2018

Paul Schueller was interested in energy and environmental issues as a young boy in Port Washington and was lucky enough to get into that area as a pipeline construction engineer at Wisconsin Electric. He left the utility to form his own consulting firm, then in 1994 founded Franklin Energy, a Port Washington company that operates energy-saving programs for customers of utilities. Franklin does everything from running rebate programs for purchases of energy-saving light bulbs to performing energy audits for large corporations.

I visited a detention center called Casa Padre in Brownsville, Texas that used to be a Walmart. It’s run by a nonprofit, Southwest Key, and it’s currently housing about 1,500 children who were detained at the Texas/Mexico border. Some of those children were separated from their parents when border protection officials captured them.