economy

News coverage of the economy.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

Turn on the TV and you can barely escape it: presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle deriding free trade agreements, like the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP is a bum deal that will hurt the U.S. economy and especially low-wage workers, according to pols from Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton.

But if you venture into the Midwest and ask a farmer about the TPP, you’re likely to get a different answer.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is offering to stop spending state tax incentives to lure Missouri businesses across the state line but only if the Missouri General Assembly amends an offer to stop using tax breaks to poach Kansas jobs. Missouri extended the compromise two years ago, contingent on Kansas reciprocating.

Bill Hall, president of the Hall Family Foundation, says what's been called an economic border war has been extremely wasteful.

“We’re using our incentives to move existing jobs, rather than trying to compete for new jobs,” says Hall.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

Charles Bassett wants you to buy hamburgers made from his Missouri cows. That’s why the Missouri rancher wants to pay an extra dollar into an industry-created fund every time he sells one of his cattle.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City’s economy hasn’t bounced back as quickly from the recession as similar U.S. cities.

Many metro-area businesses are unaware of global export opportunities in their own backyards.

Those findings and others from a 2014 report commissioned by the Mid-America Regional Council startled Kansas City’s business community into action.

Jake Joslyn for KCUR 89.3

In case you blinked, today is April 1, 2046.

The Royals opener is next week. The team is hoping to recreate that glorious season from 31 years ago. So here at KCUR 89.3, we’re looking back three decades to see how much has changed in Kansas City since the last time we were World Series champs.

The biggest turning point for our region happened on July 19, 2035, on Kaw Point Beach. Mayor Alex Gordon signed the Mo-Kan Unified Government charter, creating a single metropolitan area across state line.

Political and economic unrest has many wondering about the power and limitations of democratic values and diplomacy. On this edition of Up To Date, we talk  about the idea of a "democracy recession" and how to best battle human trafficking and rights violations.

Guest:

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

There are mounting concerns about the direction of the farm economy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects farm income to fall for the third year in a row in 2016. At the same time, farmers are borrowing billions more from banks to get by.

The change in farm fortunes follows a drop in prices for corn and soybeans, the top Midwest crops. Supply and demand are both working against the commodity markets. Farmers have raised an oversupply of grain, while at the same time the slow global economy has brought down demand.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

If you look at the travel brochures about Kansas City, or talk to the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association, the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District is always listed among the top destinations.

People come from all over the world in search of that distinctive Kansas City sound.

There are ways to make a living that sound too good to be true. But they do exist. Consider the guy who makes stuff out of Legos for a living, or the one who plays his favorite records for several thousand friends on Friday and Saturday nights. How do you get those jobs?

Guests:

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

The time is ripe for the sharing economy in farm country.

Much like other Web-based companies like Airbnb or Uber, a site dedicated to leasing and using farm equipment is making available expensive machinery during the times producers need it most. And the idea is taking root as crop and livestock prices trend lower and costs climb higher.

“You get innovative when things get tighter,” said Chad Hart, an agriculture economist at Iowa State University. “We're looking for ways to enhance income right now especially in a low margin environment.”

Hyatt Hotels

Citizens for Responsible Government, the organization that collected petition signatures to send financing plans for a downtown Kansas City convention hotel has filed suit attempting to force the City Council to put their initiative on a ballot.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Almost all the stuff we buy spends some time in a truck before it gets to us. So, since store shelves are full and sales are strong this holiday season, you might assume that the trucking industry is doing great.

They're not.

Trucking companies say they are critically short of drivers. Truckers say they’re really just short of pay.

Teaching truckers

Co-working is a new and growing trend nationwide, and Kansas City is home to eleven co-work studios. Does this model reflect the future of work?

Guest:

  • Gerald Smith, founder and CEO, Plexpod

For the last 25 years, Bob Marcusse has been at the helm of the Kansas City Area Development Council. We look back on his career and talk about how the city has become more marketable since he began his position.

Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich has spent a lifetime thinking about all manner of economic questions — including one of the toughest issues facing the U.S. these days, which is the growing income disparity between rich and poor. His latest book, Saving Capitalism, asks the central question: Is the free market really free?

Ke’shauna Spratt was one of more than 1,300 young Kansas Citians who participated in the first Summer Job League, a Missouri workforce development program.

Spratt, 18, sent her summer answering phone calls at Children’s Mercy, helping patients start the scheduling process, and other administrative tasks.

“I actually want to get my bachelor’s in nursing, so it was a great opportunity to sit there and be able to work in a health care facility to be able to watch nurses,” Spratt says.

After the mortgage meltdown and bank bailouts that kicked off the Great Recession, many were pointing fingers at those who were supposed to foresee these catastrophes, economists. Steve Kraske talks with one who defends his profession, saying economists' ideas have contributed $1 trillion to this country’s economy.

Guest:

  • Robert Litan, author of "Trillion Dollar Economists: How Economists and Their Ideas Have Transformed Business"
Andrea Tudhope / KCUR

It's Saturday morning and Sherry's Place, the only bar in Keytesville, Missouri, is full of life. Kids are playing pool as adults enjoy beers at the bar.

But just outside, the street is desolate. The only sounds are caused by an eerie breeze — the waving of an American flag and the creaking of sheet metal patched over a missing window.

Praeger publishing

The escalating problem of student debt isn't just about the pain of writing large checks. So say two University of Kansas professors who have co-written a book on the crisis, using their own personal stories to make a case that differences in access to higher ed begin long before loans, and influence life and career paths far beyond graduation.

Guests:

Emilian Robert Vicol -- Flickr/CC

In his book, Understanding Modern Money, Randall Wray wrote that the way the eurozone was structured would likely cause a financial crisis.

That was in 1998.

Wray, a professor of economics at UMKC, is just one of a handful of economists who predicted the current crisis in the eurozone (the countries in the European Union that use the euro as currency).

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR

Research into income mobility across US counties inspires Central Standard to take a roadtrip, talk to an economist and hear from locals with their own research and experience to share. Is the "land of opportunity" created by individuals or their environments?

Guests:

On this edition of Up To Date, we continue our ongoing conversation about the economics of Kansas City's east side. 

Guests:

  • Rev. Dr. Vernon Howard is with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Urban Summit.
  • Councilman Scott Taylor represents the 6th District. He is chair of the Special Committee on Small Business.
  • Councilman Jermaine Reed represents the Kansas City’s 3rd District.

How much is a good teacher worth? Around $50 trillion by 2090, according to Eric Hanushek's calculations. On this edition of Up To Date, we discuss the economic value of quality teaching and the radical steps Hanushek proposes to achieve that goal.

Guests:

Frank Morris / KCUR

As Kansas state government braces for another round of budget cuts or tax increases (or both) to balance the state’s declining revenue, Wyandotte County is looking forward to a big jump in tax collections. That’s just part of the county’s profound, if spotty, change of fortunes.

Death spiral

Twenty years ago, Carol Marinovich became mayor of a city in steep decline. The Kansas City, Kansas she grew up in was collapsing. The house she grew up in, along with half her Strawberry Hill neighborhood, had long since been bulldozed to make way for I-70. But that was far from the worst of it. Wyandotte County seemed locked in a death spiral. 

Ford Motor Company / Wikimedia Commons

The middle class is seemingly ever-present in American politics and ideals. President Obama pushed for what he calls "middle class economics" in his State of the Union address, and according to a Pew research study in 2012, nearly half of all Americans identified themselves as being part of the middle class.

courtesy of the artist

For the past 35 years, artist and YJ’s Snackbar owner David Ford has been traveling to Guatemala.

His interests in the area have ranged from local foods and recipes to indigenous festivals and politics. But recently, his focus has narrowed — he’s become totally obsessed with broken doll heads, called muñecas, used in bustling marketplaces to advertise hair-braiding and hair-wrapping services to white tourists.

“It’s an advertising thing,” Ford explains.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Community activists and faith leaders from Kansas and Missouri rallied at the intersection of 63rd Street and Troost Avenue Thursday, calling for a "moral economy."

One issue that several speakers focused on was a recent comment by Federal Reserve Bank  of Kansas City president Esther George suggesting that interest rates may be increased to combat inflation. 

Frank Morris / KCUR

Stealing from your neighbor may not sound like a good idea, but Kansas and Missouri can’t seem to get enough of it.

For years now, the states have been locked in an economic border war, paying businesses –through tax incentives — to move across the state line, without necessarily creating new jobs. Lately there have been a few tentative signs of rapprochement. 

Cody Newill / KCUR

Missouri has the lowest average gasoline prices in the country at just $2.05 a gallon, according to AAA's daily fuel tracker.

On Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo., that average is even lower, at $1.97 a gallon.

The only city with lower prices in Missouri was Springfield, at $1.94 a gallon, according to AAA.

KU researcher Akiko Takeyama has been studying "the host" in Japanese society. The host is the male equivalent of the geisha, and became part of the Japanese economy with the decline of the seniority system and a shift from a manufacturing economy to a service economy. Changing gender roles, and expectations that Japanese women be "superwomen," demand that some tasks be outsourced; romance, an imported western concept according to Takeyama, is among them.

Guest:

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