Business

It's All Politics
2:19 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

The Federal Deficit Is Actually Shrinking

The Treasury Department announced this week it will pay down some of its debt for the first time in six years.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 11:33 am

During the housing bust, taxpayers were forced to bail out mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But thanks to the real estate recovery, Fannie Mae could end up paying tens of billions of dollars back to the Treasury this summer.

That's just one of the factors behind a better bottom line for the federal government. This week, the Treasury Department announced it will pay down some of its debt for the first time in six years.

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The Salt
12:46 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Chicken Diapers? Urban Farming Spawns Accessory Lines

Clucking all the way to the bank: A hen models a polka-dot diaper from MyPetChicken.com, a multimillion-dollar business that sells everything from chicken caviar treats to day-old birds.
Courtesy of MyPetChicken.com

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 8:19 am

There's free range and then there's free rein — around your house.

When Julie Baker's backyard birds started spending more time inside, it was tough to keep them clean. So she got innovative.

She sewed up a cloth diaper — chicken-sized, of course — added a few buttons and strapped it onto her little lady.

One thing led to another, and eventually, a business was born.

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Economy
12:23 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Luring Doctors And Lawyers To Rural America

Transcript

JOHN DONVAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm John Donvan, in Washington. Neal Conan is away. A lawyer shortage, really? Well, yes, depending on where you live, and rural America is in some places apparently suffering a lawyer shortage right now, just as it has long been coping with a doctor shortage. Small town life is not selling with certain professions, and in distinct ways communities can be truly undermined by the absence of, say, doctors and lawyers and architects and so on.

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Business
12:18 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

The Quiet Strength Of Introverts In The Workplace

Transcript

JOHN DONVAN, HOST:

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Business
8:51 am
Wed May 1, 2013

Chuck E. Cheese Slims Down Along With Restaurant's Profits

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm David Greene. If you're like me you remember some great birthdays at Chuck E. Cheese. The mascot at the pizza joint, an oversized rodent, gave the best birthday hugs. But these days Chuck E. is just not himself. It looks like he's been on a major diet. The restaurant chain has had a few tough years.

The Two-Way
6:59 am
Wed May 1, 2013

Slow Growth In April: Survey Shows 119,000 Jobs Added

In Denver last month, a recruiter (right) talked with a job seeker at a health care career fair. There was job growth in April, according to a new survey, but the pace was modest.
Rick Wilking Reuters /Landov

A relatively weak 119,000 jobs were added to private employers' payrolls last month as federal spending cuts and tax increases began to bite, according to the latest ADP National Employment Report.

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Business
4:01 am
Wed May 1, 2013

The Last Word In Business

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 12:36 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Ah, suitors, makes me think of this. Cue it.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME SONG TV SHOW, "DOWNTON ABBEY")

GREENE: "Downton Abbey," it's our last word in business today. The hit PBS program is expanding into the world of merchandise.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

CNBC reports the costume drama, set in Edwardian England, will soon launch a line of fashion, furniture, wallpaper and beauty products. The show's popularity has already created a boost in sales for items from the era, like gloves, fur capes and old-fashioned sherry.

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Business
4:01 am
Wed May 1, 2013

Foreign Factory Audits, Profitable But Flawed Business

A Bangladeshi soldier walks through rows of burnt sewing machines Nov. 25, after a fire in the nine-story Tazreen factory in Savar, near Dhaka. The fire killed 112 people.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 9:11 am

A factory collapse in Bangladesh last week killed more than 400 people, mostly garment workers. Hundreds more are still missing, making it one of the largest manufacturing disasters in history. It's just the latest horrific accident in the garment industry despite more than a decade of auditing aimed at improving working conditions.

In September 2012, a fire at the Ali Enterprises factory in Pakistan killed nearly 300 workers. Six weeks later, in November, a fire in the Tazreen factory in Bangladesh killed 112 people. Then, last week, there was the Rana Plaza collapse.

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Business
4:01 am
Wed May 1, 2013

J.C. Penney Wins Legal Fight Over Martha Stewart

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 8:51 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Proof of Martha Stewart's ongoing commercial appeal has been on display in a New York courtroom. Yesterday, an appeals court decided that department store J.C. Penney can continue selling a new line of housewares designed by Stewart. But the ruling keeps Macy's from having the exclusive rights to the brand.

NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: There is one reason why both J.C. Penney and Macy's want Martha Stewart.

MARSHAL COHEN: She's had a history of having success.`

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Business
4:01 am
Wed May 1, 2013

Apple Sells Bonds

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 8:51 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a scramble for Apple bonds.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: Apple, yesterday, sold $17 billion worth of bonds - which is a new industry record. Apple issued the bonds to take advantage of low interest rates as it prepares to make a payout of $100 billion to shareholders by 2015. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Your Money
1:21 am
Wed May 1, 2013

Automatic-Enrollment IRAs Get A Test Run In California

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 8:51 am

With all of the controversy over entitlement reform, there's one thing both sides can agree on: Social Security alone does not provide enough money for a comfortable retirement. For these workers, the Obama administration is proposing automatically enrolling workers in IRAs through their employers.

California adopted a version of this last year. Democratic state Sen. Kevin de Leon sponsored the bill to automatically enroll workers in an individual retirement account. The inspiration, he says, was his Aunt Francisca, who's 74.

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Business
1:20 am
Wed May 1, 2013

Would You Pay A Higher Price For 'Ethical' Clothing?

The Joe Fresh store in New York City. Some of the clothes made in the building that collapsed last week in Bangladesh were destined for the brand.
Stephen Lovekin Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 8:51 am

Look at photographs from the Bangladesh garment factory collapse, and you can see clothing in the rubble destined for a store called Joe Fresh, one of the many retailers using supercheap fashions made overseas to keep shoppers buying often.

But in the aftermath of the tragedy, would customers pay more if they knew the clothes were made by workers treated fairly and safely?

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The Salt
1:11 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Why An Immigration Deal Won't Solve The Farmworker Shortage

American farms like this iceberg lettuce field owned by Duda Farm Fresh Foods outside Salinas, Calif., are facing a dwindling supply of farmworkers from rural Mexico.
Kirk Siegler

Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 6:01 pm

The Salinas Valley in Northern California grows about 80 percent of the country's lettuce, and it takes a lot of people to pick and pack it. In a field owned by Duda Farm Fresh Foods, a dozen lechugueros, or lettuce pickers, are bent at the waist, cutting heads of iceberg lettuce. They work frantically to stay in front of a line of 12 more packers, who seal them with tape and toss them onto a conveyor belt.

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The Two-Way
12:35 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

NBA Player Jason Collins Could Snag Endorsements, Speaking Gigs

Jason Collins of the Washington Wizards rebounds against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center earlier this month in Chicago.
Jonathan Daniel Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 2:04 pm

For Jason Collins, coming out just might prove a winning career strategy.

Before this week, the NBA center seemed like just another second-tier professional athlete, slouching toward retirement while still in his 30s. But all that changed overnight when Collins acknowledged he was gay in an interview with Sports Illustrated magazine published Monday.

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Code Switch
10:43 am
Tue April 30, 2013

What Do We Do About America's Racial Wealth Gap?

When the housing market collapsed, Latino families lost two-thirds of their household wealth while black families lost half.
Jae C. Hong ASSOCIATED PRESS

We've known about the gap in wealth between white Americans and black and Latino Americans for some time. Just last year, the Census revealed that whites had about 22 times the wealth of African-Americans and 15 times the wealth of Latinos — and those numbers only got worse over the last five years during the Great Recession.

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The Salt
9:45 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Mon Dieu! Fast Food Now Rules In France

Fast times on the Champs-Elysees: People walk past a McDonald's on one of Paris' most storied avenues. But it's not just McD's that has caught French interest: Fast food now accounts for the majority of restaurant spending in the country.
Thomas Coex AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 8:27 am

When it comes to culinary matters, France, in many minds, is synonymous with fine dining. So it might surprise you that, for the first time, sales at fast food chains have overtaken those at traditional restaurants in the country that gave us the word gastronomie.

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The Two-Way
7:41 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Home Prices Continue To Rise Across The Nation

A home that was for sale earlier this month in Washington, D.C.
Jonathan Ernst Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 8:10 am

There were solid increases in home prices during the month of February across all 20 major cities where that data is tracked, according to the latest S&am

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Business
3:13 am
Tue April 30, 2013

The Last Word In Business

Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 9:19 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

OK. So that's a vision of L.A.'s future. Our last word in business is a vision for clothes of the future.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In particular, it's a dress shirt for those who are tired of the effort to look dressy. The American company Wool and Prince says it has developed a wool shirt so odor resistant you could wear it for 100 days in a row without washing it.

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Business
3:13 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Business News

Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 9:19 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news begins with a rare payment on the debt.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Business
3:13 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Re-'Training' Los Angeles' Car Culture

Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 9:19 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Los Angeles has notoriously awful traffic. I know. I live here, and it seems to have gotten worse, as the city tries to fix it with a massive transportation development project aimed at getting commuters to choose the train over jammed freeways.

As Alex Schmidt reports that a change on that level needs to involve more than just laying down tracks.

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NPR Story
3:01 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Virgin Galactic Reaches Milestone In Space Tourism Industry

Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 9:19 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The billionaire Richard Branson is happy this morning. His Virgin Galactic spacecraft successfully completed its first rocket-powered test flight.

NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.

WENDY KAUFMAN, BYLINE: Branson's high flying endeavor has been plagued with delays and technical problems, but on Monday, after an early morning flight from the California desert, the often flamboyant billionaire said history was being made.

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All Tech Considered
1:19 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Will Bureaucracy Keep The U.S. Drone Industry Grounded?

Paul Applewhite of Applewhite Aero isn't allowed to fly this 3-pound Styrofoam plane. That's because he has added circuitry to make it autonomous — it can find its way to specified coordinates — which means it's an unmanned aerial vehicle requiring a special testing permit.
Martin Kaste NPR

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 1:27 pm

Americans are suspicious of drones. Reports of the unmanned aerial vehicles' use in war zones have raised concerns about what they might do here at home. For instance, in Seattle earlier this year, a public outcry forced the police department to abandon plans for eye-in-the-sky UAV helicopters.

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Shots - Health News
1:09 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Why Calif. Doesn't Want Smokers To Pay More For Health Insurance

Californian State Assemblyman Richard Pan (center) is the author of legislation that would bar higher prices for health insurance sold to smokers.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 1:27 pm

Smoking has its risks, but in California higher prices for health insurance probably won't be among them.

The federal health law allows states to charge smokers up to 50 percent more for a health plan, but a bill moving forward in the California Legislature would prevent that from happening.

The Affordable Care Act is supposed to remove discrimination in the pricing of health insurance for things like gender and medical condition. Critics say a tobacco surcharge creates a new category of discrimination against smokers.

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All Tech Considered
1:07 am
Tue April 30, 2013

When It Comes To Productivity, Technology Can Hurt And Help

With instant messages buzzing, emails pinging and texts ringing, how can employers increase productivity in the workplace? Software companies are tackling the problem, tracking employees' computer time to find ways to improve their efficiency.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 1:27 pm

Even when people think they're buckling down, studies show the average office worker wastes over a third of the day. There's Facebook, of course, and the email from a friend with a YouTube link. After all that, is it time to go get coffee?

Worker pay is the most expensive line item in the budget for most businesses, which means billions of dollars are going to waste.

But here's the silver lining: It turns out lack of productivity presents a big business opportunity.

Joe Hruska is pretty blunt about how much work anyone does in a typical day.

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Business
3:48 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

As Health Law Changes Loom, A Shift To Part-Time Workers

Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 1:21 pm

Nearly all of the remaining provisions of the new health care law go into effect next January, including one that requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to pay for their health care or pay a penalty.

Some businesses may already be making personnel changes to save money when that provision of the Affordable Care Act kicks in. One option on the table: shifting full-time workers to part time.

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Technology
3:00 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Tech Week Ahead: Touch Screen Keyboards

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 3:48 pm

Steve Henn looks ahead to a new touch screen keyboard developed by researchers at the University of St. Andrews. Melissa Block and Audie Cornish have more.

All Tech Considered
3:00 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

A Real-World Connection Between Video Games And Guns

Medal of Honor's authentic action is a selling point for its publisher, Electronic Arts.
Courtesy of Electronic Arts

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 11:43 am

In the aftermath of last year's Newtown, Conn., school shootings, the Entertainment Software Association, which serves computer and video game publishers, issued a statement saying that years of research has shown no connection between entertainment and real-world violence.

But there's still a connection between video game makers and real-world gun makers.

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The Two-Way
2:40 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Europe Bans Pesticides In Move To Protect Honey Bees

Beekeepers demonstrate at the EU headquarters in Brussels Monday, as lawmakers vote on whether to ban pesticides blamed for killing bees.
Georges Gobet AFP/Getty Images

Three popular pesticides will soon be illegal in the European Union, where officials hope the change helps restore populations of honey bees, vital to crop production, to healthy levels. The new ban will be enacted in December.

"I pledge to do my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over €22 billion ($28.8 billion) annually to European agriculture, are protected," said EU Health and Consumer Commissioner Tonio Borg.

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The Salt
1:58 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

If TV's Your Cup Of Tea, Try A Character-Infused Blend

What is a "tea blend?"
Sasha Courtesy of Adagio Teas

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 4:27 pm

Apparently, fan fiction and fan art aren't the only options for expressing your love of Sherlock, Doctor Who and The Hunger Games. There's also tea.

If you visit the online tea store of Adagio Teas, you'll find a collection of "Fandom Blends." They're the teas that customers have mixed and named after characters in favorite TV shows, books, movies and comics.

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The Salt
11:57 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Pork Producers Root Out Market Niche With Berkshire Pigs

Berkshire pigs on Happy Hula Farm, a member of the Eden Farms collective.
Amy Mayer Iowa Public Radio

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 1:08 pm

Raising pork can be a tough business for producers, who've lately been watching feed prices rise along with the cost of corn. That's one reason why a small but growing number of former commodity pork producers are trying their luck with specialty breeds instead. These premium pigs, raised on small farms with methods that appeal to consumers, can also fetch a premium price.

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