Every weekday on Marketplace, Kai Ryssdal hosts a lively and unexpected exploration of the day’s business and economic news from Wall Street to your wallet.
Lots of police departments in the U.S. have tear gas, which they throw at disorderly civilians. But where does that tear gas come from? And how big a business is it for the companies that produce it? Plus, there’s word this week that Chinese hackers stole records of 4.5 million patients from computers at Community Health systems, one of the largest hospital networks in the Southeast. Healthcare records contain social security numbers, birth dates, addresses - a goldmine of information for identity thieves. Which is likely to make them a big fat target for future hacks. Will they be ready? Many experts say no.
There's a dollar store bidding war going on out there. We report on the extent of the competition in the market, and how the stores involved differentiate themselves. Plus, the Fed is paying close attention to the number of part time workers, as it looks like the number of part-time workers has increased after reaching a five-year low. We look at why this has happened, and ask if it’s something we should be worried about. Also, every year the federal government sets the amount its employees may spend per day when they travel. The per diems for fiscal 2015? $83 for lodging and $46 for meals and other expenses. The standard is also followed by federal contractors and some private businesses. What impact do these standards have on hotels and other businesses that depend on these travelers?
Starbucks changes some of its computer-driven scheduling policies, and we use it as a way to explain the growing phenomenon of using algorithms and big companies to schedule employes to manage labor costs — and the (negative) consequences for them — lost hours, flexibility, control. Plus, Coke is acquiring a 17 percent stake in Monster Beverage for just over $2 billion. The energy drink business is booming and the soda business — not so much. So Coke wants an energy jolt from Monster... but to get it, it's exchanging its own energy brands for Monster’s non-energy drinks. We use Coke to look at swaps. What they are, why they’re done and whether they work. Also, the 2014 United States Open Miniature Golf Tournament that begins in Erie, Pa., today. Prizes are small, but apparently there’s enough action that it can sustain a pro circuit, Queena Kim reports.
Among the many striking images from the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, are those of local and state police using military-style weapons and gear. But it’s not unique to this St. Louis suburb. It’s part of a trend among local law enforcement since the 1990’s. We explain what’s behind it. Plus, Walmart has invited dozens of small and medium sized companies to a junket in Denver. It wants to convince them to do business with the retailer. But small firms are often reluctant to get into bed with Wal-Mart, as the retailer’s demands are often so overwhelming that they can end up smothering its smaller partners. Also, German car maker Daimler is offering its staff the option of turning off email while on vacation. All employees can now switch their mailbox off altogether, have all messages deleted, and send an auto-reply offering an alternative contact. Will employees return to work refreshed from a break with no office-related hassles? Are they more productive if they don’t have to wade through thousands of emails when they get back? Or will they stress out over what they missed?
Retail sales fell last month to their weakest reading since January, according to figures out today from the Commerce Department. So why isn’t the American consumer spending? Plus, Amazon is launching its own version of the mobile credit card reader. Amazon Local Register is taking on established mobile payments apps such as Square and Paypal Here by offering a lower cost per swipe. We look at the battle for space in the growing sphere of mobile transactions. Also, the Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ has been a viral and financial success, reportedly raising at least $4 million nationwide since the campaign launched on July 29. The numbers are impressive, so what has contributed to this success and how sustainable is this model for other campaigns and organizations?
The European Union imposed sanctions on Russia over its activities in Ukraine. The Russians hit back with a raft of bans on European produce on alleged health and safety grounds. With the Russian export market cut off, many European nations are faced with a produce glut and are having to work out how to offload all their unwanted apples, dairy products or meat. Plus, the U.S. has begun providing weapons to Kurdish forces in northern Iraq to help in their battle against ISIS militants. Administration officials would only confirm that guns and other ”light” weapons have been shipped to Kurdish Peshmerga forces. But this wouldn't be the first time arms have been sent to non-state actors. Think Afghanistan. And most recently, Syria. So who provides the arms, who pays for them and how do they get to their intended recipients? Also, Apple is reportedly talking to hospitals about a "health kit" where all your information goes into the cloud. Every big tech company seems to be interested in this space. We explain why.