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The Mortgage Bankers Association will release some new data today on how many folks are applying for mortgages in the United States. Numbers have been down consistently for the past couple of months.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

 

We're using more Social Security than expected

Jun 6, 2018

(U.S. Edition) Our Social Security program will have to dip into its reserves to meet payouts — the first time since the early '80s — and the primary trust fund for Medicare is expected to be depleted three years earlier than projected. On today's show, we'll look at some of the factors driving this trend, including last year's tax cuts and changing demographics. Afterwards, we'll look at news that the former CEO of Cambridge Analytica, Alexander Nix,  allegedly withdrew $8 million from the company amid the Facebook data scandal, and then we'll talk about a plan from the U.S.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … Italy’s new prime minister faces a second vote of confidence in the lower house today. In his first policy speech, he confirmed several goals, including adopting a tough stance on migrants and a rejection of austerity measures. But is it what investors were hoping to hear after last week’s market turmoil?

How LeBron's breakup with Miami started an Instagram craze

Jun 6, 2018

Steph Curry’s buzzer-beating three-pointer from Game 2 of the NBA Finals has been relived millions of times on Instagram. But not on the Golden State Warriors official account. Or ESPN’s. Or TNT’s for that matter. Instead, the clip blew up on the account called House of Highlights, which has some 9.3 million followers. House of Highlights is doing something that social media managers at major sports networks may be kicking themselves for not doing first.

The Group of Seven leading industrialized nations will meet in Quebec, Canada, this week for the annual G-7 summit. Given all the points of trade unrest between the United States and Canada, that might make it a tad awkward for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump. Last week, Canada retaliated against the United State's steel and aluminum tariffs by announcing metal tariffs of its own.

The White House has made several efforts to prop up failing coal and nuclear power plants. The newest is a presidential directive telling the Energy Department to provide a complex lifeline. That came out Friday, but power grid operators and other key actors in the nation’s electricity system are saying they were blindsided by the news. In the dark, as it were. But one thing seems clear: if this goes through, it would upend the market-based, supply and demand system we have now in the electricity system.

Filing for a tariff exemption? You probably need a lawyer

Jun 5, 2018

The cost of legal fees has come up among many we've interviewed about the process of applying for exemptions from steel and aluminum tariffs from the Department of Commerce. Kate Karol, counsel at Butzel Long in Detroit, has been working with several clients on their applications and said the people at her firm have spent a lot of unbillable hours familiarizing themselves with the tariffs. She said the reason lawyers are necessary for many businesses is that the forms are "deliberately cumbersome."

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A world without NAFTA. How would that work?

Jun 5, 2018

After more than a year of three-party talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, President Donald Trump’s top economic aide says a new approach is needed. Larry Kudlow told “Fox & Friends” Tuesday morning that the administration now prefers to negotiate with Mexico and Canada separately. “When you have to compromise with a whole bunch of countries, you get the worst of the deals,” Kudlow said. “Why not get the best?

Fasting can be tough for pretty much anyone. But what about the men and women who are fasting during daylight hours and spend all day preparing and serving food to the public?

This question got video producer Aymann Ismail thinking. What's it like to be a Muslim food truck owner during the month of Ramadan? Ismail was born to Egyptian parents and he grew up in New Jersey.

When Neriza Caspe said goodbye to her four children in the Philippines 18 years ago, she didn't know how long she'd be gone — just that she wanted to work abroad to better provide for them, and escape her abusive husband.

Meet Pegg, a gender-neutral robot assistant

Jun 5, 2018

The majority of us use artificial intelligence every day — without even realizing it. Like when Google predicts your search phrase or you issue a command to Siri or you scroll through ads and articles on your Facebook feed. 

And that, says AI technologist, Kriti Sharma, is dangerous. 

“Despite the common public perception that algorithms aren’t biased like humans, in reality, they are learning racist and sexist behavior from existing data and the bias of their creators.

“AI is even reinforcing human stereotypes.”

China's quiet hunt to hire top U.S. researchers

Jun 5, 2018

If you stroll around the campuses of China's top universities and research facilities, you may well bump into someone like Chuck David. He’s an assistant professor at Tsinghua University School of Medicine. David is an American. He studied at Duke in North Carolina and Columbia and Sloan Kettering in New York.

And he's not the only foreigner at his school or even his department.

Karla Ornelas remembers the moment when she received her DACA card in the fall of 2012. The rush of emotions, the sense of hope, the embrace of acceptance. For the first time since growing up in the shadows in California’s Central Valley, she had moved into the light.

It was the middle of April when they showed up at the border, covered in mud. Ana, eight months pregnant, accompanied by her 4-year-old daughter, had just crossed the Rio Grande into Texas.

“We didn’t have shoes on, we stood there in our socks,” she says.

(Markets Edition) The latest numbers on job openings, also known as the JOLTS report, is set to come out soon. We'll hear from one global strategist about how the report can reveal the upsides and downsides of at tight labor market. Afterwards, we'll look at what lawmakers have included in the federal budget to combat wildfires, and then explore how some Texas colleges are launching food scholarships to fight hunger on campus (06/05/2018)

Several Houston community colleges and universities have launched food scholarships to help students get enough to eat. At Texas Woman’s University, students on the scholarships get free groceries twice a month, so long as they stay in school. The assistant director of student life there, Deborah Unruh, helped start the program after she noticed students ate free snacks at campus events as if they were meals. She polled some students and discovered one in four was struggling to get enough to eat.

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is holding a hearing on the 2018 Wildland Fire Outlook and Wildland Fire Management Programs today. This comes just a few months after a so-called “fire funding fix” was included in the omnibus spending bill. Last year the costs to fight wildfires exceeded $2 billion.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

For the first time on record, the national median home sale price has passed $300,000, according to a recent report by the real estate brokerage Redfin. Those rising prices have made it tough for people in their 20s and 30s trying to get into a first home. But the trend also presents an opportunity for aging communities with a lot of older, less expensive homes, to try and attract younger residents.

Costlier oil likely means higher prices for air travel

Jun 5, 2018

Every time we pull into a gas station, we see the effect of rising global oil prices. Airlines are getting a bit of sticker shock, too, when they fill their planes with jet fuel. Crude oil is up close to 50 percent in the past year, which is likely to cut into profits and lead to fare hikes.

Correction (June 5, 2018): The original version of this radio story misidentified the affiliation of analyst Jim Corridore. He works for CFRA Research. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

What "old" technology are you hoping will make a comeback?

Jun 5, 2018

Got any old technology that you're still nostalgic about?

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … For the first time in two years, the British government has sold off another chunk of its stake in the Royal Bank of Scotland. But unwinding its financial-crisis era measures comes at a hefty cost for taxpayers. Then, anti-austerity protests are expected to continue for a sixth night in Jordan as people there rally against a new International Monetary Fund-backed tax bill. Afterwards, starting this month, Google has banned cryptocurrency ads from its platform.

Apple's WWDC: Lots of new features, little talk of privacy

Jun 5, 2018

Apple CEO Tim Cook hasn’t been shy in recent weeks about taking shots at Facebook over user privacy. So it was reasonable to think that privacy and social responsibility might be selling points at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Jose this week. But the issue was barely mentioned by Cook or anyone else for that matter. Ina Fried, chief technology correspondent at Axios, spoke with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood about whether Apple missed an opportunity.

Apple CEO Tim Cook hasn’t been shy in recent weeks about taking shots at Facebook over user privacy. So it was reasonable to think that privacy and social responsibility might be selling points at its Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) in San Jose this week. But the issue was barely mentioned by Cook or anyone else for that matter. Ina Fried, the chief technology correspondent at Axios, spoke with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood about whether Apple missed an opportunity. (06/05/2018)

What’s driving the global steel glut?

Jun 4, 2018

For all the current disagreements on trade between the U.S. and China, there's one thing that everyone agrees on. The world is producing too much steel. There's overcapacity. So, why are we awash with steel? And what can be done about it?

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Breaking into the hyper-competitive K-pop music industry is notoriously brutal. But what if you’re a foreigner — and gay?

Meet Marshall Bang, better known to audiences as MRSHLL. He’s a Korean American singer from Orange County, California, who's trying to conquer South Korea’s music scene with his rich, chocolatey voice, and at the same time upend its culturally conservative mores. 

As the steel tariff exemption process drags on, optimism wanes

Jun 4, 2018

The last time we talked to Charles Smith, the process of applying for an exemption from the 25 percent steel tariff President Donald Trump imposed in March had just begun. He was optimistic about his application.

The Chinese electronics giant ZTE finds itself in the middle of U.S.-China tariff and trade war tensions. The controversy is complex, involving trade sanction violations, punishment by the U.S. government and the surprise intervention of President Donald Trump to try to save the firm. But at its core — its technology core — a look inside the internal parts of a ZTE phone reveal a broader critical backdrop of China’s place in the electronics value chain, where it wants to go and what it’s willing to spend to become a world leader.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin got the cold shoulder at the G-7 finance ministers meeting this past weekend, and as President Donald Trump heads to Quebec for more meetings, Canada, Mexico and the European Union are issuing blistering responses to his tariffs. We'll kick off today's show looking at the potential political costs and economic benefits of all this. Then: We'll take apart a bunch of big tech stories from today — and see what you can learn about our relationship with the Chinese by literally taking apart a ZTE phone.

(Markets Edition) Trade talks between the U.S. and China have ended without any agreements. On today's show, we'll take a brief look at some of the sticking points in their negotiations and some of the threats that they've lobbed at one another. Afterwards, we'll discuss Apple's plan to launch a series of tools that might help people spend less time on their phones, and then we'll discuss a new study that finds the GOP tax law actually led some companies to contribute more to defined-benefit pension plans. (06/04/2018)

An unintended consequence of the GOP tax law: bigger pensions for some

Jun 4, 2018

Because of the new tax law, many companies got more serious about saving for retirement last year.

According to a new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the GOP tax bill likely led some companies to increase their defined-benefit pension contributions in 2017. 

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