August means many parts of the world are virtually shut down with many workers off on summer holiday. A recent blog post in The Atlantic took on the question: Does more vacation mean happier workers? Some data suggests not so much.
And let's hear now about a proposed airline merger. In a surprise move, the Justice Department announced yesterday that it will try to stop American Airlines and U.S. Airways from becoming one. This is largely because of two other mergers that made both Delta and United Airlines much bigger. Those deals were approved back in 2008 and 2010. Now, as NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports from Dallas, the government seems determined to change course.
Now, the story of a man many call an outlaw. His crime: growing raisins and then deciding to sell them all. His case made it all the way to the Supreme Court.
Planet Money's Zoe Chace has the story.
ZOE CHACE, BYLINE: You might imagine that such an ordinary thing like a raisin works the same way lots of other stuff works. The raisin grower takes his sun-dried grapes and sells them, as many as he can to whoever wants them. That's not what happens.
Two years after cantaloupe were linked to one of the worst foodborne outbreaks in U.S. history, lawyers have filed a fresh round of lawsuits. Meanwhile, farmers are trying to win back customers after their signature crop was tarred by a broad brush.
Steinway & Sons, the 160-year-old musical instrument maker, is set to change hands.
Last month, a private equity firm emerged as the company's likely buyer. But a mystery bidder — rumored to be hedge fund manager John Paulson — has swooped in at the last minute, and now looks likely to take control of one of the oldest manufacturers in the United States. Paulson made billions betting against the housing market at a time when many thought housing prices could only go up. His reported offer for the company is $458 million.
The government's decision Tuesday to oppose the merger of US Airways and American Airlines stunned airline analysts, but many predicted the deal eventually will win go through.
"Given that other airline mergers were approved, this was a surprise," University of Richmond transportation economist George Hoffer said. Other major carriers already have been allowed to combine forces, so "it's illogical to oppose this merger. This move comes a day late and a dollar short," he said.
Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 3:26 pm
For a few hours Tuesday, it appeared that Chipotle Mexican Grill, an ever expanding source of fast food for the ethically conscious consumer, had softened its hard line against antibiotics in meat production.
William Ackman, a controversial hedge fund manager, has resigned from the board of the J.C. Penney Company. Ackman is Penny's largest shareholder and had been engaged in a public dispute with the board over who should lead the struggling retailer.
The proposed merger of U.S. Airways and American Airlines ran into major turbulence on Tuesday as the Justice Department and six state attorneys general filed an antitrust suit aimed at blocking the deal. Justice Department officials said the merger would eliminate competition and put consumers at risk of higher prices.
Power companies all over the country are in the process of replacing old residential meters with new digital smart ones. These meters transmit real time data back to the utilities, giving a precise picture of how much electricity customers are using and when. Audie Cornish talks to Severin Borenstein — director of the University of California Energy Institute — about the technology.
The New York Department of Financial Services has issued subpoenas to several companies using the virtual currency Bitcoin for more information on how they do business. Audie Cornish talks to Jerry Brito, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, about the complications of regulating digital money.
Originally published on Tue August 13, 2013 1:46 pm
Derision: It's what would usually greet plans for a futuristic transportation system that could take passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes. But when Elon Musk, the billionaire inventor behind PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX, unveils such a plan, the world pays attention (even if it draws skeptics).
Originally published on Tue August 13, 2013 11:54 am
The railway whose crude oil-carrying train derailed and exploded in the center of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, last month can no longer operate in Canada, the country's Transportation Agency says. The disaster resulted in more than 40 deaths and the destruction of many of the town's central buildings.
Originally published on Tue August 13, 2013 11:05 am
Meet Pamela Maria Wright — the "contemporary Latina consumer." She has two kids — Nico and Rita — whom she hopes will be bilingual, as she is. She's a tech-savvy working professional with a master's degree, but she's also very traditional and family-oriented. (While I was visiting her home, her father showed up for a surprise visit. "How much more Latino can you get?" Wright asked.)
Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 5:59 am
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Hispanic American are an increasingly important consumer demographic to woo. That's according to a new study from the market research firm Nielsen. The report says that most of today's Latinas are the primary decision makers when it comes to household spending.
But marketing to them is a real challenge, as NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji reports.
SHEREEN MARISOL MERAJI, BYLINE: Welcome to the home of the contemporary Latina consumer.
And our last word in business today is: Traffic Solution.
One way to beat bumper-to-bumper traffic is a vintage and very rare 1954 Aerocar, offered for sale by Courtesy Aircraft in Rockford, Illinois.
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This vehicle apparently converts from car to airplane in about 10 minutes and tops out at 60 miles per hour on land, 110 in the sky. That's pretty fast. But with an asking price just shy of a million dollars.
NPR's business news starts with BlackBerry weighing its option.
(SOUNDBITE OF THEME MUSIC)
GREENE: The Canadian telecom firm announced yesterday that it maybe looking for new owners. BlackBerry was valued at more than $80 billion back in 2008. Then the iPhone and Android came along and stole its dominance of the smartphone market. Now BlackBerry is worth only about $5.4 billion and its market share is plummeting.
You can thank brainy billionaire Elon Musk's Hyperloop proposal for bringing electro-magnetic-powered transportation and the linear induction motor back into the public consciousness.
The Hyperloop is a system for really-really rapid transit. If built, Musk claims it can carry people about 800 miles per hour, which could get you from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about 30 minutes.
When unapproved genetically modified wheat was found growing in Oregon earlier this year, it didn't take long for accusations to start flying. A flurry of initial finger-pointing cast potential blame on a federal seed vault in Fort Collins, Colo., which housed the same strain of wheat, developed by Monsanto Corp., for about seven years up until late 2011.
A federal judge in Georgia threw out the discrimination claims against Paula Deen on Monday in a lawsuit that sparked widespread criticism, led sponsors to jump ship and the Food Network to drop her show.
Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 11:37 am
The city of London has ordered a company to cease tracking the cellphones of pedestrians who pass its recycling bins, which also double as kiosks showing video advertisements. The bins logged data about any Wi-Fi-enabled device that passed within range.
The company, called Renew, recently added the tracking technology to about a dozen of the 100 bins it had installed before London hosted the 2012 Summer Olympics.
And our last word in business today is: Premium Parking.
A parking spot in London is on the market for $465,000. That buys an outdoor location near Buckingham Palace and a 91-year lease.
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The price tag is more than two spots sold in Boston this summer off and go for $280,000 apiece. But with London's daily parking go fees running at $60, it's actually a deal actually - at only $14 a day.
NPR's business news starts with more postal problems.
The United States Postal Service posted three quarters of a billion dollars in losses last quarter, making it nearly $4 billion so far this year. These losses come despite major trims to the operating budget in 2013. One immediate impact, it looks unlikely that Postal Service will be able to make a multibillion-dollar payment to a retiree benefits fund at the end of September. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Warner Robins, Ga., is a booming community that is entirely dependent on civilian Defense Department employment. The local Air Force Base is massive, but because it's mostly a logistics depot, the bulk of the employees are not service members.
Two big restaurant delivery websites — Grubhub and Seamless — have announced a merger. Together, they'll allow diners in 500 cities the convenience of ordering from thousands of restaurants with just a few clicks on their computer. For restaurants, the costs of being on these websites can be hard to swallow.