Economy & Business

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The federal government provides SNAP benefits, which stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called food stamps, to those that need financial help to buy groceries. It’s a program that’s has not traditionally been on the cutting edge of tech. In fact, eight states won't even let you apply for benefits online and only a few have apps that let you check your balance. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke with Jimmy Chen, CEO of Propel, which created the Fresh EBT app. It allows people to check their Electronic Benefits Transfer balance on their phone or computer.

Tech hasn't kept up with food stamp users' needs

Sep 14, 2017

When you think of food stamps, you may think of physical pieces of paper that people bring to the grocery store. But users actually access their money with a card that looks kind of like a credit card.

But tech hasn't exactly kept up with the needs of people who use food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. To check their balance, they have to call a government number and enter a 16-digit ID number.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service ... President Donald Trump has barred the sale of a U.S. chip manufacturer to a Chinese-backed firm. We’ll tell you what’s behind the move. Afterwards, we reflect on the 10-year anniversary of the first run on a British bank in 150 years, and explore whether the world’s financial institutions are better off now than they were a decade ago. Then, we take you to Berlin where Germans are preparing to head to the polls next week. Though Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to win a fourth term, not everyone is happy.

Episode 647: Hard Work Is Irrelevant

Sep 13, 2017

Note: This episode originally ran in 2015.

Most companies reward hard work. This is why people get paid overtime, and why full-time workers make more than part-time ones.

But, if you think about it, hard work alone says nothing about how much value you create. You could be toiling day and night, and be mostly useless to your employer. To your employer's bottom line, what really matters isn't how much you put in, but what you deliver.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit


Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit


Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit


Last week, as Irma approached, Tesla increased the battery life of its electric cars to help drivers evacuate. As Julia DeWitt from our Planet Money podcast reports, this was a welcome surprise that also raised some questions in the minds of Tesla owners.

FDA Moves To Rein In Drugmakers' Abuse Of Orphan Drug Law

Sep 13, 2017

The Food and Drug Administration is changing the way it approves medicines known as "orphan drugs" after revelations that drugmakers may be abusing a law intended to help patients with rare diseases.

On a clear day, Jocelyn Bentley-Prestwich can see Mount Adams from the vineyard where she works in Hood River, Ore. But lately, she's had difficulty seeing to the end of her property line.

With the Eagle Creek Fire burning along the Columbia River Gorge, Hood River has been cloaked in heavy smoke for more than a week. The fire now covers roughly 36,000 acres and has been burning since Sept. 2. Fire crews don't expect to be able to contain it until the end of the month.

The organic eggs in your grocery store are supposed to come from chickens that have year-round access to the outdoors. That's according to long-standing organic regulations.

China is getting ready this month to sell $2 billion in bonds. But these aren’t bonds in Chinese currency. It’s selling bonds in U.S. dollars — something China hasn’t done in many years. If investors buy bonds from China using U.S. dollars, it means they are lending those U.S. dollars to China. So when China said it's offering dollar bonds, it's saying it wants to borrow dollars. The question is — why? China already has some $3 trillion in U.S. dollar reserves.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Mark your calendars for the week of September 25. That’s when Republicans say they’ll role out more details of their plan for tax reform. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas presented details of his priorities today at the Tax Foundation. On that list, right after “a low, flat tax rate” and “file on a postcard” is “allow full and immediate expensing.” The details of how that gets done are not so clear.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

So just what is a single-payer system?

Sep 13, 2017

Bernie Sanders' new bill in the Senate calls for an overhaul of American health care. The Medicare for All Act, introduced today by the Vermont Democrat, proposes a single-payer system. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke with Sarah Kliff of Vox to get an explanation of what exactly single-payer means. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation. 

Kai Ryssdal: Tell me, would you, what single payer means? 

On the first Thursday of February, New Yorkers were met with an unusual sight: closed bodegas. As thousands of New York’s bodega owners shuttered their doors to protest President Trump’s immigration ban, New Yorkers had to turn elsewhere for their lunch, daily dose of nicotine and lottery tickets.

UFW activist Dolores Huerta's "riches to rags" story

Sep 13, 2017

"Dolores" is a new feature-length documentary about Dolores Huerta, the labor organizer and activist who co-founded the National Farm Worker Association and later the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez. The film is directed by Peter Bratt, and Carlos Santana is the executive producer. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke with them about the film in the Marketplace studios. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation. 

Kai Ryssdal: How did this movie come to pass?

Peter Bratt: See the man sitting next to me?