Business news

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



The U.S. drug giant Pfizer and its smaller rival Allergan have agreed to merge, creating the world's biggest pharmaceutical company by sales.

The $160 billion deal is the largest example so far of a corporate inversion, in which a U.S. company merges with a foreign company and shifts its domicile overseas in order to lower its corporate taxes.

Juliet Bartz, a 20-year-old New Yorker who is studying in Paris for a semester, sneaks out of her apartment for an interview on the street.

"It feels nice to walk around," she says. "Because I've just been cooped up all day. My roommates and I are packing up everything and coordinating our flights. It's kind of a domino effect. We're all kind of influenced by each other's fear."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



This month, hundreds of thousands of Americans are starting seasonal jobs. They'll be helping holiday shoppers, who are expected to increase their spending by about 3.5 percent this year.

Some retailers are adding more services like curbside pickup and same-day delivery. Stores will also have more workers on the floor, creating demand for seasonal hires.

Ford workers narrowly approved a new four-year contract, wrapping up five months of negotiations between the United Auto Workers union and Detroit automakers.

The UAW said late Friday that Ford's contract passed with a 51.4-percent vote. The agreement covers 53,000 U.S. hourly workers at 22 plants.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Each year Americans pay billions of dollars in fees when they roll over their retirement accounts — and those fees can be hard to see.

Elizabeth Merry, 49, a marketing manager at a technology company, has saved up $150,000 in a 401(k) there. At the end of the year, though, she's leaving her job, and so she was thinking about rolling over that money into an IRA with the help of her financial adviser with Ameriprise Financial. She pays him $1,000 a year to manage her money.

As it grapples with an ongoing emissions cheating scandal, Volkswagen is "driving cautiously" — financially speaking.

The German carmaker is cutting spending by a billion euros ($1.07 billion) in the coming year, CEO Matthias Mueller announced Friday.

After the cuts, Volkswagen will be spending 12 billion euros in 2016, The Associated Press reports:

"Among other things, [Mueller] said Volkswagen would postpone the building of a new design center in Wolfsburg and the introduction of an all-electric Phaeton sedan, and review other projects."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



When the state of Maryland wanted to reach dads who were behind on their child support payments, it started in the boarded-up blocks of West Baltimore, in neighborhoods marked by drugs, violence and unemployment.

In just four zip code areas, the state identified 4,642 people who owed more than $30 million in back child support. Most of that was "state-owed," meaning that rather than going to the child through the custodial parent, it's supposed to reimburse taxpayers for welfare paid to the child's mother.

You've probably seen Square's white plastic reader — it's a small square that plugs in to a smart phone or tablet. Customers swipe their card and the money is put into the merchant's Square account. It's really easy for small and new businesses to get an account.

In France, the third Thursday in November is usually a day of fireworks and festivals, when people pause to celebrate a uniquely French custom: the uncorking of the first Beaujolais of the season.

But in a country in deep mourning, no one feels much like celebrating.

Two tech startups you know have now gone public: Square (which makes the little white square to swipe credit cards) and Match, the online dating giant. Both companies got nice, first-day pops to their share prices as they started selling for well above the initial price. But interestingly, those initial prices were set low.

Really low.

Square was planning to price somewhere between $11 and $13 a share, which, analysts say, is already pretty cheap. But then, the company went even lower, settling for just $9. That's really, really cheap.

Whether it's in the hands of animated polar bears or Santa Claus, there's one thing you'll find in nearly all ads for Coca-Cola: the emblematic glass bottle.

Most Americans don't drink soda out of the glass bottles seen in Coke's ads anymore. But this week, the company is celebrating a century of the bottle that's been sold in more than 200 countries.

A kind of salmon that's been genetically modified so that it grows faster may be on the way to a supermarket near you. The Food and Drug Administration approved the fish on Thursday — a decision that environmental and food-safety groups are vowing to fight.

In recent days, presidential candidates and even the American Medical Association have griped about rising drug prices, pointing to brand-name blockbusters with splashy ad campaigns.

When it comes to patient satisfaction, however, there isn't much difference between brands and generics, according to data collected by the website Iodine, which is building a repository of user reviews on drugs.

Days after announcing that America's Test Kitchen co-founder Chris Kimball had left the company over a contract dispute, the enterprise's parent company says Kimball will continue to host America's Test Kitchen Radio, which is also a podcast.

UnitedHealth Group, the nation's largest health insurance company, says it's considering dropping out of the public exchanges that are an integral part of the Affordable Care Act, because it's losing money on them.

"We cannot sustain these losses," CEO Stephen Hemsley said in an investor call Thursday morning. "We can't really subsidize a marketplace that doesn't appear at the moment to be sustaining itself."

Cancer patients shopping on federal and state insurance marketplaces often find it difficult to determine whether their drugs are covered and how much they will pay for them, the advocacy arm of the American Cancer Society says in a report that also calls on regulators to restrict how much insurers can charge patients for medications.

Julija Svetlova had already made reservations at two Paris restaurants, booked hotels and paid for the two-hour Eurostar train from her home city of London last week when she turned on the television.

"I was about to pack my luggage on Friday, and then I just sat down and started to see all the stuff happening in Paris," she says.

Svetlova and her boyfriend stayed up until 3 a.m. watching the news. Brokenhearted, they canceled their plans.

The U.S., Japan and other major economies have agreed to restrict public financing for coal-burning power plants built in other countries.

The agreement limits — but doesn't entirely eliminate — export financing for coal plants. (Export financing includes a variety of loans and programs to help companies doing business abroad.)

And it comes at a symbolically important moment: Major climate change talks are scheduled to begin in Paris at the end of the month, and the pact signals at least some international commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., may not be running for president in 2016, but she was campaigning hard Wednesday to be an agenda-setting power broker.

At 9:30 a.m., she joined the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute to release the Women's Economic Agenda, a list of 12 proposals aimed at closing the gender wage gap. It covers issues such as raising the minimum wage, providing paid family leave and increasing access to child care.

The upcoming Thanksgiving holiday is generally celebrated with a bounty of food — and a mountain of leftovers, some of which, let's face it, will end up in the trash.

Blake Atkins gets a lot of texts from his mother when he's at school. But unlike most teenagers, this 16-year-old doesn't seem to mind.

That's because four years ago, Atkins was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. And now, his mother, Lori, has a way to find out and let him know when his blood sugar levels are out of the normal range.

"I do like that my mom can look at my numbers," says Blake, from San Carlos, Calif. "It keeps me sane. It helps keep her sane."

Built it and they didn't come.

That could be the motto for China's infamous "ghost cities" — vast housing complexes that were frantically erected over the past decade but remain largely uninhabited.

For years, the real estate market in China has been booming. Chinese laws allow city governments to cheaply grab nearby rural areas for development, and that's fueled the frenzy to build, build, build. Over the past 20 years, the country's urban areas have quintupled.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Complaints about unwanted calls are up. Why can't somebody make them stop?

Regulators say telemarketing and robocalling top their list of consumer complaints. Nearly a dozen years since the federal Do Not Call Registry took effect, automated calling systems have exploded.

David Allred of Waynesville, N.C., says he gets a half-dozen robocalls every day.

He memorizes the numbers of the companies that are annoying him so that he knows not to answer the calls.

Earlier this year, singer and cookbook author Patti LaBelle teamed up with Wal-Mart to make a sweet potato pie.

It costs $3.48, it's got her face on the box, and sales were just OK when it came out in September.

But today, it's a scarcity. The pies have sold out in many Wal-Mart stores and are going for up to $40 on eBay. (We found this Craigslist listing selling slices for $10 each in Washington, D.C.)

The U.S. investment company TIAA-CREF has amassed vast holdings of Brazilian farmland through a joint venture that has done business with one of the country's most notorious "land grabbers," according to a report published by a nonprofit group.