Business news

Sugar, you might think, is just sugar, no matter where it comes from. But not anymore.

About half of all sugar in the U.S. comes from sugar beets, and the other half comes from sugar cane. Now, for the first time, sugar traders are treating these as two different commodities, with two different prices.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Studies have been showing for years that this country's middle class is shrinking.

Now, the nonpartisan Pew Research Center has added another dimension to the story: Its examination of government data shows the problem is not confined to the Rust Belt or Appalachia.

In fact, the middle is shrinking from coast to coast.

A few weekends ago, Texas entrepreneur Regina Vatterott stood in front of 50 people on the top floor of a startup hub in Austin. She was there to pitch her smart pillbox company, EllieGrid, to a panel of six judges.

Presidential candidates like to float solutions to long-standing problems. Making those solutions stick is another thing altogether.

When it comes to health care, the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, rather than tamping down chatter about how to insure people, seems only to have spurred more of it.

But you know what? There's a reason some problems are long-standing. They may have no easy solution. Or the solution isn't politically feasible. Or there's a solution that sounds good on the campaign trail but isn't likely to actually work.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Transparency over real estate in the UK

12 hours ago

On today's show, we'll talk about a push for property ownership transparency in the U.K.; a suffering retail industry; and a revitalization for some Texas lake businesses as the state's drought subsides. 

Copyright 2016 West Virginia Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

A federal judge's ruling in Florida has brought a new development in the various government investigations of the for-profit college industry: prison time for the school's founder.

Alejandro Amor, the founder of a college called FastTrain in South Florida, was sentenced last week to eight years in federal prison for fraud.

Copyright 2016 WMFE-FM. To see more, visit WMFE-FM.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Gold prices are starting to rebound, but why?

15 hours ago
Lane Wallace

Several large gold miners release quarterly earnings reports Thursday, and the outlook is not too shabby.

Texas lake businesses booming again after long drought

17 hours ago
Lucia Benavides

In Central Texas, the lifeblood of outdoor activity is Lake Travis, a reservoir on the Colorado River that runs through Austin. The lake is just as popular with tourists as it is with locals, who take to its waters to cool off in the heat of Texas summers.

On a Sunday evening in early April, the weather outside is a breezy 70 degrees. The Oasis on Lake Travis has a one-and-a-half hour wait. There’s a live band, and the restaurant’s four decks are packed with customers overlooking the water, waiting for the oncoming sunset.

Access to high-quality preschool remains unequal

17 hours ago
Sally Herships

For publicly funded preschool, last year was a good year. In some schools.

The National Institute for Early Education Research has just released its annual The State of Preschool report. Spending per child is up, enrollment is up slightly and more states met the benchmarks for quality standards. 

But that good report card depends on where you live.  

Oil companies are pressed to address climate change

17 hours ago
Ashley Milne-Tyte

A report out on Thursday from the MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group says investors care more about sustainability than you might think. The reason? They believe companies' environmental records affect their success. This comes as a large group of academics presses ExxonMobil and Chevron shareholders to open up about their efforts to combat climate change.

Marketplace Tech for Thursday, May 12, 2016

17 hours ago

On today's show, we'll talk about increasing rates of sextortion — a form of online abuse where hackers try to blackmail others into sending them adult content. We'll also chat with actor Martin Starr, who plays Bertram Gilfoyle on the HBO series "Silicon Valley."


On today's show, we'll talk about Obama's signing of a trade secrets bill; the pressure for oil companies to go greener; and the new San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. 

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Maybe it's time for more emoji equality

May 11, 2016
Kai Ryssdal

Emojis have actually become serious for a minute.

If you want to use an emoji to represent somebody doing a job, be it a cop, a surgeon or a construction worker, your only choices were emojis showing men. Your female choices were brides and princesses.

Some Google employees have made a pitch to the group that decides these things, asking them to roll out a new set of 13 professional female emojis -- from generic business woman all the way to farmer and teacher.

Which is cool.

Crispy fried sardines. Spicy labneh dip for sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumbers. Chilled arugula lemonade.

The top U.S. diplomat in Jerusalem, Counsel General Donald Blome, served Gaza-style cuisine at a garden party Monday night. Sound like the old-fashioned society pages? Nope. This is U.S. policy at work.

The event was designed to promote the potential of agribusiness in Gaza and tout new U.S. government investment in that crowded, narrow strip of Palestinian territory on the Mediterranean Sea.

Updated at 3 p.m. ET.

Out in the Nevada desert today, the world got a good look at the first public test of the Hyperloop — a concept that could someday become a new mode of transportation.

Don't call it a Wright Brothers' "Kitty Hawk" moment just yet, though. The demo focused on only one piece of a very complicated system.

If you're looking for fast cash, feel free to Google it. But if you're selling fast cash, the search giant might not be the place for you.

Starting this summer, Google will no longer allow payday lenders — companies offering short-term, high-interest loans — to buy advertising on Google ad systems.

Marketplace for Wednesday, May 11, 2016

May 11, 2016

Kai talks to Senior Tech Correspondent Molly Wood about Facebook's Trending Topics sidebar and it's role in distributing media; why impeaching Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff might be a good thing for their economy; and a look at troubling statistics about the increasing homeless population in Los Angeles. 

Kai Ryssdal

Almost 100 years ago, two European men were tasked with drawing up a new border map for the Middle East.

Their names were Sir Mark Sykes and Francois George-Picot and their map was arbitrary and largely ignored the intricate politics of the area. To this day, power brokers in the region still blame what became known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement for fostering unrest in places like Iraq and Syria.

Cigna deal calls for rebates if drugs don't perform

May 11, 2016
D Gorenstein

Cigna announced a deal today with drug makers Sanofi and Amgen wherein the insurance giant will get money back if new cholesterol drugs don’t work as advertised.

It’s called outcome-based contracting in the industry, but to a lot of people it just might look  like common sense, and these sorts of deals are becoming more common industry-wide.

D Gorenstein

In an aggressive move, the Federal Trade Commission is appealing a federal court ruling to block a merger of two healthcare providers in Pennsylvania.