Business

Business news

Yahoo will lay off 2,000 employees in an attempt to save money and restructure the company. Despite an enormous Web audience, Yahoo has struggled to build an identity as social media has taken off. It is currently embroiled in a big patent dispute with Facebook.

Robots Creep Into Every Corner Of Life

Apr 4, 2012

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NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. We've all become accustomed to robots on the assembly line. We don't even think about automatic doors and the card swipe that lets us fill up when the gas station is closed. But Marketplace special correspondent David Brancaccio recently drove across the country with the goal of never speaking to another human being along the way.

He did meet a robot comic, hotel check-in kiosks and a robot receptionist.

DAVID BRANCACCIO, BYLINE: So Tank(ph), I'm looking for Room 2111.

Yahoo Cuts 2,000 Employees

Apr 4, 2012

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with layoffs at Yahoo.

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Jobs at U.S. businesses increased by 209,000 in March, according to a report released Wednesday by the payroll processing firm ADP. That's in line with expectations for the monthly jobs report due out Friday.

Analysts expect Friday's official employment report from the Labor Department to show that employers added 215,000 in March and that the unemployment rate remained at 8.3 percent, according to Bloomberg News.

Business News

Apr 4, 2012

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a Silicon Valley lawsuit.

Facebook has fired back in its patent dispute with Yahoo. The social networking site says Yahoo products, including the photo-sharing site Flicker, are infringing on 10 of Facebook's patents. Facebook's legal action is a counter-claim to a suit filed by Yahoo last month, also claiming 10 patent infringements. The pending court battle is a distraction for Facebook as it prepares to go public - a move that could see the company valued at up to $100 billion.

Nokia Aims For Comeback With New Phone

Apr 4, 2012

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And this weekend Nokia rolls out its newest smartphone to the American public. It's called the Lumia 900. Nokia is trying to break its way back into the high-end mobile phone market it once dominated. In this fight against Apple iPhone and Google's Android, Nokia is the underdog now.

And as NPR's Steve Henn reports, it has joined up with Microsoft in its bid to make a comeback.

The Last Word In Business

Apr 4, 2012

The New York Times reports that Williams-Sonoma, the maker of cooking pots and appliances, now wants to get you out of the kitchen and into the backyard. The Agrarian Collection includes everything you need to grow your own food.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

American universities, like American companies, have been looking to expand into new markets. They open campuses overseas. And now many private colleges are looking for growth back home, building satellite campuses around the United States. Now, any given public college may spread campuses across a state, but private institutions reach across state lines. Here's Monica Brady-Myerov from member station WBUR.

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Only four people in the United States carry the official designation of Lego Master Model Builder. And 23-year-old Andrew Johnson of Illinois is the newest — and youngest — to earn the title.

Legos are robots in disguise for Johnson, as in a 4 1/2-foot replica of the Transformer Optimus Prime made only from those tiny bricks.

For as long as he can remember, German teenager Robin Dittmar has been obsessed with airplanes. As a little boy, the sound of a plane overhead would send him into the backyard to peer into the sky. Toys had to have wings. Even today, Dittmar sees his car as a kind of ersatz Boeing.

"I've got the number 747 as the number plate of my car. I'm really in love with this airplane," the 18-year-old says.

Two giant ships move through the Panama Canal's two parallel channels at the Miraflores locks, heading toward the Pacific Ocean.

The orange and white Bow Summer is a tanker. The deck of the Ever Dynamic is stacked high with burgundy and blue shipping containers. More boats like these are backed up in both the Pacific and the Atlantic waiting to enter the narrow waterway.

Global trade has grown dramatically, but the Panama Canal — one of the most vital transit routes — hasn't changed its basic structure since it opened in 1914.

But that is about to change.

The first in a 3-part series airing this week on Morning Edition.

When Facebook goes public later this spring, its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, will be following in the footsteps of a long line of Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs that includes Steve Jobs and Google's Larry Page and Sergey Brin. But there was a time when the idea of an engineer or scientist starting his or her own company was rare.

A nonprofit foundation set up to support scientific research of interest to the Food and Drug Administration is finally starting to take off after years of struggling financially — and it's about to get some long-promised funding from the FDA.

But some critics worry that this foundation, which will also raise money from private sources including industry, could provide a way for the food and medical industries to sway FDA decisions.

As we've reported, fish fraud – labeling a less-desirable species as a more desirable one – is more widespread than you'd think. Olive oil, too, isn't always what it seems. And honey from Asia is fraught with suspicion.

The turmoil in the housing market over the past few years has scared a lot of people away from homeownership. That means many people who can afford to buy are now renting. With so much demand for apartments, rents are once again on the rise. And in places like New York City, they're near record highs.

A few weeks ago Lauren Weitz got her first apartment in the city. Every night when she gets home from the office, she upholds a New York City tradition.

Shopping apps and retail websites give consumers the power to compare prices, read reviews and shop on the go. Stephanie Clifford, business reporter at The New York Times and market researcher Paco Underhill discuss how many brick-and-mortar stores are altering pricing strategies.

How Much Would You Pay For A Flying Car?

Apr 3, 2012

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And that brings us to our last word in business, flying cars. Finally, they're here. Well, almost here. We're not exactly in Jetsons' territory quite yet. But a company in Massachusetts says its prototype flying car, called the Transition, completed its first flight and will be ready for sale within the next year.

The two-seat vehicle soared to 1,400 feet in its maiden voyage. The car - can we call it that - is expected to cost $279,000, and 100 buyers have already plunked down their deposits.

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Mobile gaming, or at least playing games on a cellphone, is nothing new. Just think of all the quick, sometimes mundane rounds of Snake you played if you were one of the lucky owners of that brick of a Nokia phone from the late '90s and early 2000s.

Yet as smartphones evolved in recent years, the number of games available on them grew rapidly, as well. It has become common to see users of Android phones and iPhones wrapped up in intense sessions of games like Angry Birds or Draw Something.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Well, from a classic American company to a classic industry. It turns out automobiles are improving, so much so in fact, that the U.S. seems to be entering a golden age of vehicle quality and reliability.

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton has this story about the demise of the lemon.

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UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Please step into the door.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with what happens in Vegas...

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GREENE: What happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas, especially if it involves taxpayer dollars.

The head of a federal agency has resigned after reports of inappropriate spending at a conference near Las Vegas. Martha Johnson led the General Services Administration, which manages the federal government's property.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Sixteen years - that is a long time to be number one. And this week, media critics and TV viewers are wondering whether NBC's "Today Show" can stay on top. There was a time, of course, when the name Katie Couric was synonymous with the "Today Show," helping them make it the ratings winner in morning news. And this week, Katie Couric could be the one who helps break that winning streak. Couric now works for ABC, and all week, she's guest hosting rival show "Good Morning America" with George Stephanopoulos.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The city of Detroit is broke - verging on bankruptcy, in fact. And we may have come to a moment of reckoning. This week, Michigan's governor is giving city officials a choice: either they allow the state to help run Detroit's finances, or the state will appoint an emergency manager with total authority over budgetary matters. WDET's Quin Klinefelter reports.

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Avon Rejects Coty's Buyout Offer

Apr 3, 2012

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now, to news of a failed cosmetic takeover.

Avon, the global cosmetics company known for its door-to-door sales, has rejected a $10 billion takeover bid from Coty. That company is best known for things like its Lady Gaga and Calvin Klein fragrances.

NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports that Avon believed the offer was just too low.

Two of the biggest behind-the-scenes players in the health care industry have become one.

For the health policy world, the Supreme Court's tough questioning of the individual mandate last week was a seismic event.

But in Hartford, Conn., the city sometimes called the epicenter of the insurance industry, David Cordani isn't quaking.

Cordani is the CEO of Cigna, the nation's fourth-largest health insurer. He says the insurance industry started changing itself before the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010. And the changes will continue regardless of what happens at the high court.

When you think of cutting-edge technology, power tools don't generally come to mind. Take the table saw: Many woodworkers are using 30-year-old saws in their wood shops and, among the major tool companies, there hasn't been much innovation since those decades-old tools came out.

But more and more inventors are trying to make these saws safer — and David Butler is one of them. At his home in Cape Cod, Mass., Butler flips on the fluorescent lights in his basement turned wood shop.

The rising cost of oil isn't just a hit to the family budget. Businesses are hurt, too. Few are more affected than firms like FedEx. It deploys nearly 700 planes and tens of thousands of trucks and vans every day to deliver packages around the world. And few business leaders are more focused on finding alternatives to petroleum-based fuels than FedEx CEO Fred Smith.

Shortly after Smith founded Federal Express, the 1973 Arab oil embargo almost killed it. The experience imprinted Smith with a keen interest in the price and availability of oil.

Tax Day 2012 is looming — and after we file our returns, many of us will try to figure out what to do with the seemingly innocuous but possibly crucial documents we use to prepare our returns. Filing electronically can make those records easier to manage. But what should we really keep, and for how long?

Most experts recommend holding on to financial records for three years after they're used in a tax return — that's the amount of time the IRS has to audit taxpayers.

Producers Blame EU Regs For Egg Shortage

Apr 2, 2012

With the Easter holiday right around the corner, Europe is facing an egg shortage. The egg industry blames the shortage on new European Union rules for chicken welfare.

The Last Word In Business

Apr 2, 2012

David Greene has the Last Word in business.

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