Business Daily

By BBC World Service

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The daily drama of money and work from the BBC.

Episode Date
Supermarket Archaeology
What can soap boxes, sweet wrappers and tin cans tell us about our shopping history? Manuela Saragosa visits Robert Opie at his Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising in west London. He's been keeping discarded items and packaging since he was a school boy - well over 50 years. In the process he's created a collection that charts the retail revolution of the past century. It's one that showcases how the whole idea of branding and packaging evolved and tells us something about how we once lived.
Aug 20, 2018
Adapting To Climate Change
Many places around the world have seen extreme temperatures this summer. In California, wildfires have devastated an area bigger than New York City, and forest fires have even spread in Sweden's Arctic Circle. On this edition of Business Daily, we hear from farmers in Australia where a devastating drought has gripped an area more than twice the size of Texas, and we meet a farmer in Suffolk in England who is already adapting his crops to cope with the effects of climate change. Manuela Saragosa speaks to Professor Johan Rockström from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, on what the extreme effects would be if global warming passes beyond a certain temperature increase, and planetary futurologist, Alex Steffen, explains how economies must adapt to cope with these effects. (Image: A boy plays on a farm in Australia during the drought. Credit: Getty Images)
Aug 17, 2018
The Power of Brand Vegan
Animal-free is a huge business as more and more people are adopting plant-based diets, and a vegan label can mean bumper profits. From meat-free foie gras to vegan cheese, Elizabeth Hotson looks at how the food industry is adapting to the growth of veganism. (Photo: Animal-rights activists protesting. Credit: Getty Images)
Aug 16, 2018
Trading Ancient Bones
Mongolia is a gold-mine for palaeontologists, where thousands of dinosaur skeletons have been unearthed in the Gobi desert. But many of these skeletons have been smuggled out of the country to be sold at auction abroad as trophies for the super rich. Joshua Thorpe reports on how this adversely impacts on the work of palaeontologists and what is being done to repatriate these dinosaur skeletons back to Mongolia. The trade in ivory from woolly mammoths dug up in Siberia is worth billions of dollars and is currently legal. So should it be banned? Iris Ho, senior specialist for Wildlife programmes and policy at the Humane Society in Washington DC, explains how the legality of the mammoth ivory trade enables traders in China to sell banned elephant ivory as mammoth; and Douglas Macmillan, professor of bio diversity at the University of Kent, gives his view on whether a ban on mammoth ivory would be effective. (Image: the skull of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Credit: Getty Images)
Aug 15, 2018
Tackling Africa's Land Rights
Could the tide by turning for one of the continent's trickiest issues - land rights? In Tunisia, President Essebsi has announced plans to submit a draft bill to parliament that would give women the same inheritance rights as men. Wafa Ben-Hassine, a lawyer and human rights advocate welcomed the news. However, she stressed that for real change to occur, the existing laws need to be implemented effectively. Jenna Di Paolo Colley from the US-based campaign group, Rights and Resources says the inability of local, indigenous populations to defend what's traditionally been theirs is a basic obstacle to development. We hear from one man in Uganda who says a powerful gang has attacked and tried to kill him in order to claim his tribal land. The police officer accused has yet to be tried and is still working, contrary to police guidelines. Chief magistrate Juliet Hatanga explains that the problem in Uganda is getting the law to work for you, especially if you're a poor land-owner. (Picture: A woman holding a basket filled with vegetables she has harvested. Credit: Getty Images)
Aug 14, 2018
Wildfires: The Growing Menace
Europe and the United States have seen a series of devastating fires, with the biggest ever recorded in California and the most lethal in Greece. How can we tackle the issue of forests burning like never before? Ray Rasker from Headwater Economics in Montana has been researching financial and legal responses to US wildfires. Yiannis Baboulias, a journalist in Greece, says the government in his country has created an incentive for people to start fires, by failing to adequately register land titles. Christina Tague, Professor of Hydrology at the University of California Santa Barbara, has been using computer simulation models to try and predict how wildfires will behave and to establish what measures are most effective at tackling the problem. (Picture: A firefighter working on the Medocino Complex fire in California. Credit: Getty)
Aug 13, 2018
Has Mining Cleaned Up its Act?
Mining in the developing world still sparks violent protests - so what has the industry learned? Grace Livingstone reports from the Tintaya copper mine in Peru, owned by mining giant Glencore, where local people are angry over the pollution of waterways, and two protesters have been shot. Why do these things still happen? Vishala Sri-Pathma speaks to Henry Hall of mining consultants Critical Resource. Plus, meet "Dr Copper" - the copper market's reputation as a bellwether for the global economy. But why is the market price falling at a time when the world continues to boom? We ask Charlie Durant of commodities analysts CRU Group. (Picture: Miners take a break at the Cabeza de Negro copper mine in Peru; Credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Aug 10, 2018
Stars, Shirts and Sponsors
How are elite football clubs able to raise so much money from sponsors and merchandise to spend on the top players? Juventus just paid 100 million euros to buy Cristiano Ronaldo, a player who at 33 years old has only 2-3 years of his peak playing left. Ed Butler asks football finance expert Rob Wilson of Sheffield Hallam University to explain how they get the numbers to add up. Plus Doug Bierton of retailer Classic Football Shirts talks about the fan nostalgia over vintage sponsors, and Nathan Brew, commercial manager at the Llanelli Scarlets explains why the Welsh rugby club decided to make room on their kit for more than 20 sponsors. (Picture: Juventus new signing Cristiano Ronaldo poses with club shirt; Credit: Valerio Pennicino - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images)
Aug 09, 2018
India's Tea Crisis
There's trouble brewing in India's tea industry. Tea production is one of India's biggest industries. But it's struggling in the face of increased competition from Africa. Rahul Tandon reports from the tea estates of Assam, where tea pickers demand higher wages, but producers worry about rising costs and falling global prices for tea. (Photo: Tea pickers in Assam, India, Credit: Getty Images)
Aug 08, 2018
Could Pattern Discovery Change Big Data?
Ever since the coining of the term big data, people have been hailing it as an asset of potentially immeasurable value to businesses and to medical science. But to master it, we need to master the patterns that data contains. A new firm claims to have done just that, with software that doesn't just recognise patterns in data, it discovers patterns we weren't even looking for. Tech entrepreneur Mark Anderson has pioneered pattern discovery technology, which has many uses, such as working out which gene combinations are causing a disease. He says it would it would take today's supercomputers centuries to do calculations at the same level as his pattern computer. Professor Ben Brown is chair of environmental bioinformatics at Birmingham University. He has used the technology for a pilot study on breast cancer treatment. His research identified three genes which interact together in a complicated way, which was previously impossible. But Teppo Felin, professor of strategy at Oxford's Said Business School, says we still need a human to assess the quality and usefulness of data. (Picture: a blue digital computer brain on a circuit board. Credit: Getty)
Aug 07, 2018
What's Up with Whatsapp?
The developing world's favourite chat app is accused of spreading malicious rumours. In India the rumours led to the lynching of people falsely accused of child abduction, while in Uganda the government has introduced a controversial tax on social media platforms to stop alleged political gossip. Ed Butler visits Kampala where he discovers how popular the app is, both for socialising and for business. Meanwhile Rahul Tandon reports from Kolkata on the unnervingly fast spread of the app across India. Plus Samantha Bradshaw of the Oxford Internet Institute explains what makes Whatsapp particularly well suited for lower income countries. (Picture: Ugandan woman with painted nails using a cell phone; Credit: Godong/UIG via Getty Images)
Aug 06, 2018
Africans not Welcome
It seems authorities in China's third richest city have introduced a ban blocking all Africans from checking into the city's low and middle-range hotels. Guangzhou has seen a growing migrant population in recent years and some locals claim African communities commit more crimes than other groups. We hear from Juliet Hatanga, a senior magistrate from Uganda, who recorded the moment she was turned away from a hotel. The BBC's Danny Vincent visited Guangzhou and saw several hotels which were still rejecting people with African passports. Some hotel staff told him there was an order from the police demanding that hotels were not to take African bookings. What does all this mean for the burgeoning trade relationship between China and Africa? African oil and minerals are key supplies in China's domestic industrial development. Are these latest controversial measures in Guangzhou a symptom of problems in the partnership? We discuss this with Buddy Buruku, a digital financials services advisor at the World Bank Group in Ghana and Dr Jing Gu, a Chinese-born research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies in Britain's Sussex University. (Picture: People walk by in the Little Africa district in Guangzhou, China; Credit: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)
Aug 06, 2018
Welcome to Nicaragua
How is political turmoil hitting tourism and the economy in Nicaragua, and where will it all end? President Daniel Ortega has faced months of mass protests, which have been met with violence by pro-government paramilitary groups, resulting in some 275 deaths. The president has also lost the support of much of the business community. Caitlin Pierce reports from the troubled country on how the once-booming tourism sector is coping. And back in London, Ed Butler speaks to Manuela Orozco of think tank Inter-American Dialogue, and to Nicaraguan opposition leader Juan Sebastian Chamorro. (Picture: A student wearing a gas mask marches demanding the resignation of President Ortega; Credit: Marvin Recinos/AFP/Getty Images)
Aug 03, 2018
The Skin Business
Skincare is a multi-billion-dollar industry. But do skincare products really work? Vishala Sri-Pathma hears from Amy Elizabeth, a beauty expert at the shopping channel QVC, and dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto. And Tim Caulfield, professor at the University of Alberta in Canada and author of the book Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? explains why people still buy beauty products even through they know many of their scientific claims are wrong. (Photo: Woman with clay face mask, Credit: Getty Images)
Aug 01, 2018
The Business of Body Curves
Designers and retailers have long thought of the plus size market as high-risk. Predicting what these customers will buy can be difficult, as they tend to be more cautious about styles. Making larger clothes can be more expensive; higher costs for fabric cannot always be passed on to consumers. In turn, plus-size women shopped less because the industry was not serving them well. Louise O'Reilly is one of Europe's best known plus-size models. She runs a fashion blog called Style Me Curvy, and she says women need to feel good about themselves before they will lose weight. Weight loss expert Steve Miller, who lost several stone himself and now helps others to do the same, says pandering to the overweight is bad for their health. Jacqueline Windsor, a partner at accountants PwC, says retailers may be waking up to the opportunity of styling for larger sizes. Vishala Sri Pathma presents. (Picture: plus size fashion model in blue dress outdoors. Credit: Getty Images.)
Jul 31, 2018
How to Spot a Narcissist
Almost all offices have them. The person whose self-belief exceeds their abilities, who belittles their co-workers, and who considers themselves so special and unique, they're left infuriated when others fail to recognise them. We're talking about the office narcissist. Tim Judge, an organisational and leadership psychologist at the Ohio State University, tells us how to spot one. Karlyn Borysenko, author of a book called Zen Your Work, found herself working for what she later realised was a narcissistic boss. She said she had to make use of a number of strategies to cope. And Don Moore, professor at the Haas Business School, says that while self confidence is ok, overconfidence destroys businesses and politics. (Picture: A woman kissing a mirror; Credit: Getty Images)
Jul 30, 2018
The Death of the Job Interview
Can AI takeover from the traditional job interview? Ed Butler speaks to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of business psychology at University College London and chief talent scientist at Manpower, about the shortcomings of the traditional interview, and to Kevin Parker, CEO of HireVue - a firm that employs artificial intelligence to conduct remote video interviews for major companies. And Victoria McLean, boss of CityCV, defends the face-to-face interview. (Photo: A robot job interviewer, Credit: Getty Images)
Jul 27, 2018
The Future of TV
Young people may be turning their backs on the traditional TV set, but is it stimulating a golden age of drama? Netflix, YouTube and Amazon are better at grabbing our attention via our phones and computers than the screen sitting in the corner of our living rooms. Manuela Saragosa asks how this is transforming the creativity of TV-making, whether it is leading to unhealthy binge-viewing, and if it will kill off the job of the TV channel scheduler. Programme features Christoph Klimmer of TV streaming service Xstream, and Amanda Lotz of the University of Michigan. Produced by Laurence Knight. (Picture: Abandoned TV; Credit: tacojim/Getty Images)
Jul 26, 2018
Are Things Getting Worse?
Millennials are the first generation set to be worse off than their parents. Daniel Tomlinson, economic researcher at the Resolution Foundation in the UK, explains. But one notable exception to the trend is Norway. The BBC's Maddy Savage reports from Oslo. And are things really getting worse? Hear why there are reasons for optimism from Gregg Easterbrook, author of a book called It's Better Than It Looks. (Photo: A fishing cabin in Norway, Credit: Getty Images)
Jul 25, 2018
Brexit: Deal or No Deal?
The UK faces hard choices on what kind of future trading relationship it wants with the EU, or indeed whether it wants to do a deal at all. Patrick Minford, of the pro-Brexit advocacy group Economists for Free Trade, lays out his vision of an economically thriving Britain, free of EU regulation, and striking free trade deals around the world. But is this realistic? And what would happen if the UK simply walked away from the negotiating table? Former trade negotiator Sir Andrew Cahn has serious concerns. Plus Dutch author and journalist Joris Luyendijk gives an acerbic European perspective on the dilemmas facing the UK. Presented by Manuela Saragosa. Produced by Edwin Lane and Laurence Knight. (Picture: Brexit negotiators' clasped hands with flags; Credit: vchal/Getty Images)
Jul 24, 2018
Are Algorithms Taking Over?
Computer algorithms are running more and more of our lives. Should we be worried? Ed Butler speaks to Matthias Spielkamp from the pressure group Algorithm Watch, and to Julia Dressel, who's research uncovered the truth about algorithms in the US criminal justice system. And computer scientist and artist Max Hawkins explains how he broke free from the control of algorithms by living randomly. (Photo: Computer code displayed on a screen, Credit: Getty Images)
Jul 23, 2018
Putin's Great Nemesis
Businessman Bill Browder was singled out by Russian President Vladimir Putin, at his summit with US President Donald Trump, as a "person of interest". In an extended interview, Manuela Saragosa asks the man who was once the biggest foreign fund manager in Russia how he came to incur Mr Putin's ire, and about his campaign to get Western nations to pass a "Magnitsky Act" imposing sanctions and visa restrictions on Russian individuals. Plus Dr Florian Otto of political risk consultancy Maplecroft explains what Mr Browder's case can tell us about the risks of doing business in Russia. (Picture: Bill Browder testifying to the US Senate; Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Jul 20, 2018
Bosses, Babies and Breast Pumps
Engineers showcase new technologies to help women return to work after maternity leave - but why is the engineering profession itself so male-dominated? Jane Wakefield attends a breast pump hackathon at MIT, speaking to businesses venture capitalists and campaigners such as Catherine D'Ignazio from Make The Breast Pump Not Suck. Jane also hears from engineers Emma Booth of Black & Veatch and Isobel Byrne Hill of ARUP about their experiences of returning to a very male-dominated industry after the birth of their own children, and the importance of networks such as The Women's Engineering Society. (Picture: Woman holds up smart breast pumps; Credit: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)
Jul 19, 2018
Music Stardom in the Spotify Age
Recording artists and industry figures discuss the impact of the streaming revolution. Edwin Lane reports on how emerging artists are looking to streaming services like Spotify to help them build a fanbase. Manuela Saragosa hears from recording artist Verite on how she makes a living from streaming revenues alone, and Conrad Withey, the boss of a company called Instrumental, explains how streaming data can help record companies discover new talent. (Photo: A phone displaying Spotify in front of old vinyl LPs in a Paris record shop, Credit: Getty Images)
Jul 18, 2018
Pride and Prejudice
What responsibility do corporates have to promote LGBTQ rights in countries where homosexuality is still illegal, or gay people are widely persecuted? Ed Butler speaks to Mark McLane, the global head of diversity and inclusion at Barclays, one of the sponsor's of London's pride march this week about what his company is doing in the many countries in which it operates, including the US, where legislation still limits LGBTQ rights. And Nigerian actor Bisi Alimi tells his personal story of why he had to flee his home country because of his sexuality, and why he is now lobbying multinational firms to do more to protect gay and lesbian staff in Nigeria. (Picture: Ugandan men hold a rainbow flag during the annual gay pride in Entebbe, Uganda; Credit: Isaac Kasamani/AFP/Getty Images)
Jul 13, 2018
Living Fast and Slow
Abbreviated books, short-form TV, time-management gurus - has the cult of speed gone too far and is it time to slow everything down? Ed Butler speaks to two business people hoping to cash in on our ever more hectic lives: Holger Seim co-founded Blinkist, which offers boiled down versions of long-form non-fiction books, while Perrin Chiles runs Adaptive Studios, which produces TV mini-dramas squeezed into slots that can be as short as 10 minutes. But rebellion is afoot in the form of Carl Honore, whose unabbreviated book, In Praise of Slowness, pushes back against our culture's supposed need for speed. (Picture: People rush through Manhattan, New York City; Credit: Georgijevic/Getty Images)
Jul 12, 2018
Fighting Fraud in the Food Chain
Could blockchain technology solve the global problem of food fraud? Rahul Tandon reports on a meat scandal in India and Manuela Saragosa speaks to Jessi Baker, the boss of Provenance, a company that uses the blockchain to make supply chains more transparent, and to Chris Elliott from the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University in Belfast in the UK. (Photo: Cow farming in the UK, Credit: Getty Images)
Jul 11, 2018
Battling Mongolia's Pollution Problem
Coal fires used to beat the bitter cold of Mongolian winters blanket capital city Ulaanbaatar with smog in the winter, the BBC's Roger Hearing finds, when he meets residents from the Ger District. Typical sanitation is makeshift and in the form of latrines, says Choikhand Janchivlamdan, a sanitation expert at the Green Initiative. This can lead to the spread of disease. Lost livestock due to harsh winters and a desire for better education is leading people to the city, she says. As people move to the city from the countryside, the problem gets worse as no new sewage systems are built. Tserenbat Namsrai, Mongolia's environment minister, plans to introduce smokeless fuel in a bid to combat pollution and introducing more electric heating. Robert Ritz, a US professor who lives in the city, says PM2.5 particulates - that's atmospheric particulate matter that have a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres - kill thousands of people per year.
Jul 10, 2018
A Spectacular Merger
Two companies dominate the global eyewear industry - and now they are merging into a glasses behemoth. What does it mean for the bespectacled public? Manuela Saragosa investigates the story behind these two anonymous giants - Italian fashion frames designer Luxottica, and French lens-maker Essilor - with the help of American eyewear retail pioneer E Dean Martin, and Gordon Ilett of the UK's Association of Optometrists. And she asks the European Commission why they were happy to wave through their merger earlier this year. Producer: Laurence Knight. (Picture: Glasses model frames - black silhouettes isolated on white; Credit: Alxyzt/Getty Images)
Jul 09, 2018
Mongolia's Mega Mine
The gigantic Oyu Tolgoi copper mine will certainly make some people rich, but how many of them will be Mongolian? Ed Butler speaks to the BBC's Roger Hearing, who is at the mine, fresh from taking a taxi ride hundreds of metres below ground. He has been delving into who will profit more from this vast project in the middle of the Gobi Desert - the Mongolian state or mine operator Rio Tinto. Meanwhile, above ground, the BBC's Joshua Thorpe speaks to some disgruntled herdsmen. (Picture: Mongolian herdsman; Credit: BBC)
Jul 06, 2018
Britain's Brexit Befuddlement
The UK still doesn't know what kind of future trading relationship it wants with the EU, more than two years after voting to leave and with less than nine months left to go. Ed Butler and BBC politics correspondent Rob Watson explore the difficult choices that London politicians still refuse to face up to. Audrey Tinline looks at one of the most vexing issues in the negotiations - the Irish border. And Ed speaks to Allie Renison of UK business lobby group, the Institute of Directors, about what kind of a deal her member companies would like to see. (Picture: British Prime Minister Theresa May stands at an EU press conference podium; Credit: JP Black/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Jul 05, 2018
Is Germany Losing its Mojo?
Germany is booming, yet some commentators suggest the nation's loss of confidence on the football pitch may mirror economic angst back home. A shortage of skilled workers, inadequate public investment, a failure to grasp new technologies - these are just some of the criticisms that Germans level at their own economic performance. And at the heart of it is a political crisis over the influx of migrants - something many economists say is sorely needed in this ageing nation. Anna-Katarina Noryskiewicz reports from Berlin, plus presenter Rob Young speaks to Gabriel Felbermayr, director of the Ifo Centre for International Economics in Germany. (Picture: A German fan looks dejected following defeat in the 2018 World Cup; Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Jun 29, 2018
Trump's Trade War
Harley Davidson and Mid Continent Nail Corp are some of the US employers being hammered by America's escalating tariffs spat with its biggest trade partners. Manuela Saragosa asks Vanessa, the author of The Girl On A Bike blog, what Harley fans like her make of the company's decision to move some motorcycle manufacturing from the US to Thailand in order to dodge new EU retaliatory tariffs. James Glassman of Mid Continent explains how the blow from the US President's steel import tariffs may flatten his company altogether in a county that voted 79% for Mr Trump. Plus former US trade advisor Pippa Malmgren explains why it may be wrong-headed for her government to try to address the country's perennial trade deficit in the first place. (Picture: Hammer and nail; Credit: kutaytanir/Getty Images)
Jun 28, 2018
Turkey's Refugee Workforce
Millions of Syrians, including children as young as 10, are employed illegally in Turkish factories and shops - working long hours, underpaid and without insurance or legal rights. There is talk of an entire lost generation of child workers, missing out on school because their families need them to earn. Ed Butler reports from Istanbul, where he meets a family of garment factory workers who say they are paid less than Turkish colleagues for their 10-12 hour days. He also meets some highly educated professionals, who have been reduced to taking on much lower skilled work since fleeing the civil war in their home country. But does their plight evoke pity among their Turkish hosts? Or resentment that cheap Syrian labour is undercutting their own wages? And what can be done to improve lives, and get their kids out of work and back into school? Ed visits the Turkish charity Hayata Destek (Support to Life) to get some answers. (Picture: A young Syrian refugee in Istanbul; Credit: Raddad Jebarah/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Jun 27, 2018
Trump's Conflicts of Interest
Does the US President mix his business with his politics? And is this anything unusual in Washington DC? Lisa Gilbert of Public Citizen, a non-profit watchdog in Washington DC, gives a summarised list of the alleged conflicts of interest of this administration, while Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, explains that contrary to popular expectation, almost none of the best performers among the first 44 US Presidents have been businessmen. Plus Professor Martin Gilen of Princeton University tells Ed Butler that the evidence suggests that the influence of money over modern US politics has become as great as during the Gilded Age of robber barons of a century ago. (Picture: Donald Trump at the Trump International Hotel In Washington DC; Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Jun 22, 2018
The Kidnapping Business
Is kidnapping really that lucrative, and why are some countries, such as Mexico, plagued by the crime? Ed Butler speaks to one kidnap victim from Mexico City, as well as Ioane Grillo, a journalist based there who has spent years studying the phenomenon. Kidnapping consultant Carlos Seoane explains what to do if you receive that dreaded phone call announcing that a loved one has been taken hostage. And Anja Shortland of Kings College London talks us through the logic behind kidnap insurance. (Picture: A woman sits on a dirt road near Tijuana in Mexico after crashing her car while fleeing from would-be kidnappers; Credit: The Washington Post/ contributor/Getty Images)
Jun 21, 2018
What Can We Do About Fake Reviews?
If you have ever bought something in an online shop or been to a restaurant, chances are you’ve read a review for it, apparently written by a customer. And chances are you’ve also spotted more than a few suspicions ones, which stand out for their unqualified and lavish praise while being unusually free of personal details, or perhaps because they appear as a diatribe of awfulness designed to put you off forever. Who wrote those? In fact, there's a whole industry surrounding fake reviews - and it matters because more and more of us are buying things online and relying on other people's online advice to make the right choice. Freelance journalist Oobah Butler talks to us about his entire fake restaurant in London, James Kay, at review site Tripadvisor, tells us how they try to weed out inventions such as Oobah’s and brand reputation consultant Simon Wadsworth lays on tips for consumers and businesses. (Picture: Customer review rating. Credit: Getty)
Jun 19, 2018
Imagining an Open North Korea
Would you invest in North Korea? US President Donald Trump raised the idea at his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. His vision of a private condo on a North Korean beach is probably a long way away, but there are plenty of other countries lacking investment. Paul Domjan, global head of research at Exotix, an investment firm and research agency, explains what a frontier market is. Byung-Yeon Kim, professor of economics at Seoul National University, tells us how North Korea’s economy works. (Picture: A woman carries a boxed flat-screen television on her back as she crosses a road in Pyongyang. Credit: Getty Images.)
Jun 18, 2018
Shades of Privilege
Colourism is a more insidious form of racism, and harms the prospects of finding work and love for people with darker skin around the world. Natasha Pizzey reports from Mexico and Daniel Gallas reports from Brazil on the efforts to fight back against the prejudice against skin tone, which often emanates from within the same ethnic community as the victims. Meanwhile, Ed Butler speaks to Sunil Bhatia, a professor of human development at Connecticut College in the US, who has studied the rise of this phenomenon around the world. (Picture: Two young black women with contrasting skin tones; Credit: PeopleImages/Getty Images)
Jun 15, 2018
Dirty Money in Zimbabwe
People queue all night to get filthy notes in a country which is running out of cash. Lesley Curwen visits Harare, the country's capital and talks to those who have to spend all night outside the bank and who then often don't manage to get any cash. And also when they do it's so dirty that it's not accepted outside the country. Plus Monica de Bolle of the Petersen Institute research group in Washington tells Manuela Saragosa about the economic similarities between Venezuela and Zimbabwe. (Picture: People queue outside a bank in Harare; Credit: Zinyange Auntony/AFP/Getty Images)
Jun 14, 2018
Mongolian Yoghurt and the World Cup
The usual western sponsors in this years World Cup have largely been replaced by Asian brands. Why? FIFA makes most of its money from selling the broadcast rights to the World Cup, and through corporate sponsorship. But this year fans won't be seeing as many of the usual brands they're used to on billboards and adverts. Instead, they'll be seeing a lot of...well, Mongolian yoghurt as Simon Chadwick Professor of Sports Enterprise at Salford University in Manchester tells Manuela Saragosa. She also hears from Toby Hoare, CEO of J Walter Thompson in Europe, a marketing communications company which advises large global clients on how to manage their brands. Plus Sean O'Connor, co-founder of Statsports tells her about the tech players will be wearing this year. (Picture: A girl standing in front of an advertisement by a Chinese dairy company sponsoring the 2018 Football World Cup, at a subway station in Beijing; Credit: Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images)
Jun 14, 2018
Tackling Trump in Trade Talks
As G7 countries gather for trade talks in Quebec, could they gain some tips on how to fight back against the US steel tariffs from one of President Trump's favourite "sports" - WWE pro-wrestling? Manuela Saragosa gets the views of Financial Times columnist and editor Rana Foroohar, and of William Alan Reinsch of the Washington DC think tank the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. Plus Adrienne Murray gathers the rather mixed feelings of Trump voters about the US President's trade tactics in the rusty steel town of Warren, Ohio. (Picture: Donald Trump pushes WWE chairman Vince McMahon over, in the ring at a Wrestlemania event; Credit: Sam Greenwood/WireImage for World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc)
Jun 08, 2018
Zimbabwe's Mineral Wealth
Zimbabwe is "open for business", claims its new President Emmerson Mnangagwa, but can it finally put its natural resources to good use? The BBC's Ivana Davidovic reports on the country's diamond sector, which has been a source of popular resentment and corruption, while Vivienne Nunis speaks to the Australian company hoping to develop one of the world's biggest lithium deposits in the country. Back in London, presenter Manuela Saragosa speaks to economist Judith Tyson of the Overseas Development Institute about the country's prospects following the fall of Robert Mugabe. (Picture: Mine worker with lithium ore; Credit: BBC)
Jun 07, 2018
Do We Really Decide for Ourselves?
Why do we behave the way we do in a group setting? Is it because of gender, because of taught behaviour or because of obligation? Ginny Smith, a science writer and memory expert, shows us how to make a “mind palace” to remember lists, and explains how the power of suggestion can affect how we remember things. What caused the last financial crisis? Some commentators suggest some of the blame can be placed on a male, testosterone-fuelled environment, but author Cordelia Fine says that ignores the real problem – bad decision making. Journalist Angela Saini says gender balance in science is not such a problem globally as it is in the west, which she says sounds paradoxical. But because modern science took off later elsewhere, in countries which already had votes for women, more women take part as a matter of course. Tax is a good topic when it comes to choice. Is how we think about fair shares of tax influenced by who we think about when it comes to tax avoidance? Yes, says Helen Miller of the Institute of Fiscal Studies. Vishala Sri-Pathma presents. (Picture: Woman trying to remember. Credit: Getty.)
Jun 06, 2018
When the Bitcoin Miners Come to Town
The real-world impact of the cryptocurrency business. Edwin Lane reports from Iceland, which has attracted power-hungry Bitcoin mines looking for a cheap source of electricity. Arni Jensen from the Borealis Data Centre shows him around a cryptocurrency mine near Reykjavik, and Johann Sigurbergsson from the geothermal energy company HK Orka describes the massive growth in the demand for electricity the miners have created. And the mayor of Plattsburgh, New York, Colin Read explains why his city is the first in the world to announce a temporary ban on cryptocurrency mining, amid concerns over its electricity supply. (Photo: An illustration of Bitcoin mining, Credit: Getty Images)
Jun 04, 2018
Who is Elon Musk?
He’s had a few outbursts in recent weeks. Calling stock analysts boring. Criticising his critics over the performance of his cars. Is he a genius, behaving like a playground bully, or both? Tim Urban, a US blogger who has interviewed Mr Musk, says his lack of a PR team means his opinions come unfiltered, but his innovations make him a genius. We also hear from Melissa Schilling, a professor at the Stern school of management and the author of Quirky: The Remarkable Story of the Traits, Foibles, and Genius of Breakthrough Innovators Who Changed the World. She says he shares a number of traits with Nikola Tesla, the namesake of his cars. Not everyone though is so enamoured. James Moore, chief business commentator for the UK's Independent newspaper, reckons he needs to engage with his critics rather than calling them names, or else run the risk of having them think they are right. Thomas Asterbro, professor of entrepreneurship at the HEC Paris business school, says his pioneership may not be such an advantage business-wise. Companies like Amazon and Facebook were not the first in their field, but they are now dominant. (Picture: Elon Musk and Grimes attend the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. Credit: Getty.)
Jun 01, 2018
Being Watched at Work
Why are we being watched more and more by technology, including in the workplace? Is it an aid to hard work, or prelude to oppression? Wiretap co-founder Jeff Schumann creates software that monitors employee activity on workplace messaging apps. He says his technology is good, and can protect employees from backstabbing co-workers. But to many, this technology has sinister potential. Professor Andre Spicer at Cass Business School in London says it is a reminder for employees of who is boss. Ben Waber, president of a firm called Humanyze, tells presenter Ed Butler it has huge potential when it comes to spotting the previously unknown patterns of good productivity. Even having bigger lunch tables in the office canteen can increase output, as workers have more opportunity to chat and share ideas, he says. (Photo: Giant surveillance desk with monitors. Credit: Getty Images)
May 31, 2018
Rebranding Africa
Africa is developing economically, but its own companies don’t have the same profile as western brands. How come? Mary-Ann Kaikai of Madam Wokie Fashion, tells presenter Ed Butler about her dress designs in Freetown Sierra Leone. Her label made an impact on Hollywood red carpets, as well as in her home city. The Brand Leadership Group conducts survey each year of the continents' favourite 100 brands. This year's list came out last week, revealing once again that more than 80% of the names are Asian or western, such as Samsung, Levi's, and Coke. Only 19 were African. Thebe Ikalafeng, founder of the company, tells us more. So, what do African entrepreneurs need to do? Where can they get the experience to make a local product into an international one? That's where consultancies like De Charles come in. Ndubuisi Kejeh is a founding partner of this London-based firm, which aims specifically to build up African brands and what he calls it brand narratives for the continent. (Picture: Mary-Ann Kaikai of Madam Wokie Fashion, and friend. Credit: Madam Wokie .)
May 30, 2018
Ecstasy on Prescription
MDMA, the key ingredient in the illegal party drug ecstasy, may soon be approved as a medicine. Meanwhile, it's also making a comeback across Europe's clubs and music festivals. Manuela Saragosa speaks to neuropharmacologist David Nutt of Imperial College, who once got fired by the UK government for saying MDMA was less dangerous than horse-riding, and with psychedelic psycho-therapist Rick Doblin, who is seeking to get the chemical approved for the treatment of PTSD. But while the drug may be safe in a clinical setting, dozens of people still die each year from taking illicit ecstasy pills. We hear from Andrew Cunningham of the EU drugs agency EMCDDA, and from Fiona Measham of the illegal drugs-testing service, The Loop. (Photo: Ecstasy pills; Credit: portokalis/Getty Images)
May 29, 2018
Racist AI
Can artificial intelligence and face recognition technology be racist? AI is increasingly being used in all aspects of our lives but there is a problem with it. It often can't see people because of the colour of their skin. Zoe Kleinman speaks to Joy Buolamwini founder of the Algorithmic Justice League, Suresh Venkatasubramanian from the School of Computing at the University of Utah and Calum Chase, an AI expert and author about what is being done to overcome this problem. (Photo: Facial recognition system, Credit: Getty Images)
May 28, 2018
Europe's Data D-Day
The EU's new data rules, coming into force today, could spell the end of spam mail - that at least is the hope of the General Data Protection Regulation. Manuela Saragosa speaks to Rachel Aldighieri, managing director of the Direct Marketing Association, which represents companies in the UK that send adverts directly to customers, while the BBC's John Lloyd takes a more satirical look at the issue of junk mail and why he wishes it came with free scone. Plus Jeremy Daum of the Yale Law School in Beijing explains how China's data rules gives the state - rather than the individual - new powers, and why anyone who skips paying a fine should think twice before trying to buy a plane ticket. (Picture: Diary reminder tab for the General Data Protection Regulation; Credit: SBphotos/Getty Images)
May 25, 2018
The Death of Traditional Advertising
How do brands survive in an era of big data, social media, and increasing consumer cynicism? Ed Butler looks at the case of Royal Enfield motorbikes, whose sales in India were boosted even though it made a point of not paying for star sponsorship - unlike its rivals. But if glossy magazine splashes and billboards featuring big name cricket stars don't cut it anymore, what is the way forward? Ed speaks to two practitioners of the dark arts of advertising - Steve King of social media analytics company Black Swan, and Jason Peterson, the chief creative officer at ad giant Havas. (Picture: Torn and fading billboard car advert; Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
May 24, 2018
Pointless Jobs
Being paid to do nothing at work might sound like every employee's dream, but it can also bring shame and depression. We speak to a French man who successfully sued his employer because they gave him too little to do. Plus, how many of us can say we are truly engaged with our work? We speak to anthropologist David Graeber, who found most of us think our jobs are meaningless or that they actually do harm. But in India, people are crying out for work - Rahul Tandon reports on a job advertisement that attracted 23 million applicants. (Picture: A woman wasting time at the office. Credit: Getty Images)
May 22, 2018
Agony in India
A chronic lack of opioid drugs leaves millions of people throughout the developing world to live and die in unrelenting, excruciating pain. It is a particularly bitter irony in India, which historically had the world's biggest legal opium poppy industry. The Lancet journal has dubbed the lack of access even to cheap pain killers such as morphine a "medical, public health, and moral failing". Justin Rowlatt reports from Kerala, where Dr M R Rajagopal is pioneering a revolution in palliative care, including the successful lobbying of the Indian government to liberalise its draconian laws on opioids in 2014. But where will the drugs come from? Megan O'Brien of the American Cancer Society explains a cheap solution they are advocating in Sub-Saharan Africa. And Kunal Saxena, managing director of pharma company Rusan, tells of his hopes for the privatisation and expansion of India's opium business. (Picture: Benedict Alexander, a patient at the Pallium India clinic, with his wife Bindu; Credit: BBC)
May 21, 2018
Venezuela in Tatters
Economic depression, 13,000% inflation, oil seizures by creditors, international sanctions, a refugee crisis - can the Maduro government hold on to power at elections this weekend as Venezuela implodes? We hear the views of Chavistas on the streets of Caracas, and of refugees on the Brazilian border. Back in the studio, Ed Butler speaks to Maduro critic and former government minister Professor Ricardo Hausman, of Harvard University. Plus oil analyst Amrita Sen explains why an old legal dispute with ConocoPhillips has come to a head at the worst possible time for the government, and former Obama administration official Adam M Smith discusses the pros and cons of economic sanctions. (Picture: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro surrounded by tiikertape during a campaign rally in Caracas; Credit: Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images)
May 18, 2018
Is China Tech a Trojan Horse?
Are US allegations that Huawei is helping Beijing hack US data networks motivated by genuine suspicions or by trade protectionism? Joe Miller reports from the US where some Americans feel frustrated that their government is restricting them from using the Chinese tech firm's cheap and reliable products. Meanwhile Ed Butler asks Wired journalist Scott Thurm whether the Trump administration's clampdown is just part of the broader trade standoff between the world's two biggest economies. Plus, Chinese billionaire and artificial intelligence expert Kai-Fu Lee explains why he thinks ultimately China may win the tech arms race with the US over everything from mobile payments to autonomous vehicles. (Picture: Programmer facing computer screen; Credit: xijian/Getty Images)
May 17, 2018
Fighting Ad Fraud
Digital advertising fraud cost companies an estimated $16bn last year. Often the clicks or downloads generated by the ads they paid for came not from people, but robots. Alex Hewson, from mobile advertising firm M &C Saatchi, describes the scale of the problem and the tricks some fraudsters use. And Gary Danks, managing director of Machine Advertising explains how his company is tracking fraudulent app downloads. The gaming of the online advertising system raises an age-old issue in economics - the principal agent problem. Jerry Z Muller, author of The Tyranny of Metrics, explains and also warns of the dangers inherent in setting targets in business and economics. (Picture: A hand touching a screen and icons. Credit: Getty Images)
May 16, 2018
Italy: The EU's Next Headache?
As Italy's anti-establishment Five Star Movement and anti-immigration Northern League edge closer to a coalition, we ask whether such a eurosceptic government might scupper plans for further EU integration. Manuela Saragosa is joined by Federico Santi, from Eurasia Group, and Jeremy Cliffe, Berlin bureau chief at The Economist. Plus, what do business schools teach about the art of negotiation? We hear from Heather McGregor, entrepreneur and Dean of Herriot Watt Business School in Edinburgh. (Picture: A mural by artist TVBOY depicting Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio kissing Northern League leader Matteo Salvini, seen on a wall in Rome in March 2018. Credit: Tiziana Fabi, Getty Images)
May 15, 2018
Are You Ready for GDPR?
New data protection rules are due to take effect in the European Union on 25 May, and complying with them is proving to be a headache for businesses throughout the world. Manuela Saragosa speaks to two small British businesses struggling to meet the requirements of the new General Data Protection Regulation. Jo Bausor of the Henley Festival of music and arts says she has actually benefited from culling back their database of client contacts. But life coach Clare Josa says it is costing her an arm and a leg to audit all her clients' digital data trails. Meanwhile Wim Remes of data consultants Wire Security explains why the new European rules have led to a flood of enquiries from clients in the US and elsewhere around the globe. (Picture: Man in white shirt buries his face in his hands as digital icons fly around him; Credit: photoschmidt/Getty Images)
May 14, 2018
Netflix vs the Silver Screen
Does Netflix threaten to wipe out the traditional cinema in much the same way that it already annihilated video rentals? The online streaming service is spending a lot of money on producing original movies, and its refusal to give them a public screening has led to a bust up with the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. But are these arbiters of the art of the silver screen right to fear Netflix's encroachments? Manuela Saragosa speaks to Hollywood producer Brian Udovich, author Jonathan Taplin and film critic Jason Solomons. (Picture: Empty cinema auditorium with popcorn strewn across the floor; Credit: Ingram Publishing/Getty Images)
May 11, 2018
Hormones: The Pill
Hormonal contraceptives liberated women around the world, and are now proliferating in Africa too. Manuela Saragosa talks to endocrinologist Maralyn Druce about how such a tiny pill can have such a transformative effect on our biology and on our societies. And Faustina Fynn-Nyame of the NGO Population Services International explains why an injectable version of the contraceptive is proving to be a hit in Sub-Saharan Africa. Plus, why is there still no male pill on the market? We ask research head Diana Blithe of the US National Institutes of Health. (Picture: Woman holding contraceptive pills; Credit: sam74100/Getty Images)
May 10, 2018
Justice on Death Row
Africa has about a million prison inmates, many of them jailed without a fair trial or proper legal representation, often because they cannot afford it. The African Prisons Project is working to change that, establishing the world's first prison-based legal college and law firm and working primarily with prisoners in Uganda and Kenya. Susan Kigula, who was put on death row for killing her husband, used the project to overturn her conviction and regain her freedom after 16 years behind bars. She tells us her remarkable story, and we also speak to the project's founder Alexander Maclean. Plus, we hear from Babatunde Ibidapo-Obe, who has launched an app in Nigeria offering free advice and help on legal services. (Picture: Inmates at the Zonderwater prison in South Africa. Credit: Mujahid Safodien, Getty Images)
May 09, 2018
Tech Solutions for the Poor
How can we think differently about some of the most entrenched economic problems facing the poor? Jane Wakefield finds out how tech can cure blindness in Africa from ophthalmologist Dr Andrew Bastawrous, Co-Founder and CEO of Peek. Pediatrician Lucy Marcil from Streetcred tells her why a tax form in a doctors office can help poor families in the US lift their economic prospects, plus DeAnne Salvador from RETI tells her how she helps low income families to access technology to lower their energy costs. And Romain Lacombe, CEO & Co-Founder of Plume Labs says he is dedicated to raising awareness about air pollution and has created a personal electronic pollution tracker. (Picture: A woman being tested with a smartphone visual-test application in her home in Kianjokoma village, near Kenya's lakeside town of Naivasha. Credit: AFP/Getty.)
May 07, 2018
Economists in the Doghouse
The economics profession has sought to reinvent itself since the its failure to foresee the 2008 financial crisis. Manuela Saragosa speaks to two economists: Wendy Carlin discusses her efforts to transform the way economics is taught in universities in order to make it more relevant to the real world; and Mariana Mazzucato explains why she thinks one of the biggest problems is false narratives that have been peddled to policy-makers and the public about how the economy works. (Picture: Sad-looking bulldog wearing glasses; Credit: monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images)
May 04, 2018
How Economists Forgot Housework
Feminist economists argue that GDP statistics need to start taking account of care-giving and housework if we want to start valuing these things as a society. For example author Katrine Marcal points out that Adam Smith claimed that the economy was based on self interest, overlooking the fact that his mother cooked his meals for free. Manuela Saragosa speaks to Hannah Peaker of the UK's Women's Equality political party, and professor Joyce Jacobsen of the Wesleyan University in the US. (Picture: Young mother holds her crying baby while loading the washing machine; Credit: SolStock/Getty Images)
May 03, 2018
Paying the Price of Prison
For most people, a traffic violation simply means a fine. But for poorer people in the US, it could mean being imprisoned. Since the global financial crisis, local and state governments have tried to make up for shortfalls in tax revenue by issuing more, and larger, fines. If you can't afford to pay, you may well end up behind bars, as the BBC's Kim Gittleson reports from South Carolina. Presenter Ed Butler talks to Robin Steinberg, CEO of the non-profit Bail Project in Los Angeles, which is aimed at helping accused people stay out of jail while they're awaiting trial. And we hear from Lisa Greybill, deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Centre, and North Louisiana defence attorney Eric Johnson, on the pros and cons of working prisoners. (Picture: Inmates from the Brevard County Jail work to fill sandbags for residents as people in the area prepare ahead of Hurricane Irma on September 07, 2017 in Meritt Island, Florida. Credit:Getty Images)
May 02, 2018
Iran Nuclear Deal Hangs In Balance
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made fresh allegations against Iran, adding to mounting pressure on the 2015 nuclear deal. What might be the impact on Iran, and for US and European businesses, if the agreement is ultimately scrapped? We hear from Iran itself and what the threat of fresh sanctions has done to the country's currency, the money in ordinary people's pockets, and their hopes for the future. But is the average Iranian actually better off since the lifting of sanctions three years ago? Ellie Geranmayeh, from the European Council on Foreign Relations, tells us the promised economic progress hasn't really materialised. One reason is that huge pressure is still being put on firms not to do business with Iran. Californian entrepreneur Honor Gunday, CEO and founder of online money transfer platform Paymentwall, says his firm received a surge of interest from the Islamic Republic after sanctions were lifted, but that he was warned off by US lobby organisations. We speak to one of those, United Against a Nuclear Iran, and its president David Ibsen. Plus, what next for the nuclear deal? UK sanctions lawyer Nigel Kushner and Ellie Geranmayeh tell us we could be in for many months of renegotiations and a possible trans-Atlantic split on the issue. (Picture: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reveals what he says are Iran's "secret nuclear files". Credit: Jack Guez, Getty Images)
May 01, 2018
Africa's Free Trade Pact
The leaders of more than 40 African countries have signed a deal to create one of the world's largest free trade blocs, promising to bring prosperity to more than 1.2 billion people. But some of the continent's biggest economies, including Nigeria and South Africa, have so far refused to join. And with more than 80% of African trade currently done outside the continent, what impact will the new deal actually have in Africa? Some people on the streets of Kampala, Uganda, tell us they fear increased competition from neighbouring Kenya, and we ask Tonye Cole, billionaire co-founder of power and infrastructure giant Sahara Group, why his native Nigeria has decided not to take part. Plus, we hear words of optimism from Ghana's trade minister, Alan Kyerematen, and Arancha González, executive director of the International Trade Centre. (Picture: Workers at a clothing factory in South Africa. Credit: Rodger Bosch, Getty Images)
Apr 30, 2018
Iran's Foreign Currency Problem
With US President Donald Trump threatening to impose more sanctions, Iran remains frozen out of much the international financial system despite the 2015 nuclear weapons deal. Ed Butler speaks to a British businessman who has plenty of would-be Iranian buyers of his oil equipment, but who cannot get paid into his UK bank account. Sanctions lawyer Nigel Kushner explains why most international banks still steer clear of Iran, despite the lifting of sanctions, plus Ellie Geranmayeh of think-tank the European Council on Foreign Relations explains the latest diplomatic rumblings. (Picture: Iranian rial banknotes, alongside US one dollar bills; Credit: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)
Apr 27, 2018
Creativity in the Digital Age
How do designers and advertisers get people's attention when there is so much competition online? And how do brands get around ad-blocker software? Manuela Saragosa goes to the annual Design and Art Direction festival in London's Shoreditch to find out. She speaks to D&AD's Tim Lindsay, Trevor Eld of the Fader magazine, and photographer Perou. Meanwhile Andrew Geller and Isabella Parish of video production company 1st Avenue Machine take Manuela through a music video packed with optical illusions that they made with the band OK Go, and explain why it is so hard to be original these days. Plus Chris Moody of brand consultants Wolff Olins gives feedback on Business Daily's new logo. (Picture: Photographer Perou and his models of being photographed at the D&AD festival; Credit: BBC)
Apr 26, 2018
Malaria: Costs and Cures
Malaria continues to be one of the world's most destructive and widespread diseases, killing around 500,000 people each year, almost all of them in sub-Saharan Africa. On World Malaria Day we hear how it continues to cripple communities and speak to one Kenyan woman who lost a child to the disease. Ethiopia's former health minister, Dr Kesete Admasu, explains how outbreaks can have far-reaching economic consequences, depriving farms and other businesses of workers at vital times. He also describes his current work at Roll Back Malaria, a foundation aiming to tackle the disease through genetically engineered mosquitoes and new vaccines. Plus, Kenyan infectious disease specialist Dr Faith Osier tells us about another malaria vaccine she's working on, and we hear about the smartphone that could alert people when the breeds of mosquitoes that carry the disease are nearby. (Picture: A mother and her sick child during a malaria outbreak in DR Congo. Credit: John Wessels, Getty Images)
Apr 25, 2018
Has #MeToo Backfired in India?
India's women workers have joined the global #MeToo movement, but there are signs it may be backfiring, with some company bosses afraid to hire women, for fear of sexual harassment claims. And that could be one of the reasons why the number of women participating in the workforce in India has fallen from 36% to 24% over the last ten years. Rahul Tandon reports from Kalkota. Deepa Narayan, author of Chup - the Hindi word for quiet - shares insights gained by her team, after speaking to 600 women about their experiences of sexism at work and in wider Indian society. Professor Heather McGregor from Edinburgh Business School talks about office life since #MeToo and says, at the very least, people are more aware of what kind of behaviour is unacceptable and are more confident in reporting incidents of harassment. (Picture: Women sit during a protest highlighting sexual crime in India. Credit: Money Sharma/Getty Images)
Apr 24, 2018
Will Tariffs Save US Jobs?
Donald Trump says tariffs on Chinese goods are necessary to 'protect American workers'. So who in the US might benefit from this action? Tennessee voted overwhelmingly for Mr Trump in 2016 and does more trade with China than any other US state. We hear from farmers facing Chinese tariffs on soy bean exports and a manufacturer worried about rising US steel prices. We also hear from Shelbyville, once called 'pencil city', where one of the last US pencil factories says its business has been damaged by cheap Chinese imports for decades. But is President Trump pointing the finger in the wrong direction when it comes to job losses? Calum Chace, author of The Economic Singularity and Our Jobless Future: An Essay on Artificial Intelligence and the Economic Singularity, says the decline in manufacturing has much more to do with automation than it does with China. (Picture: US President Donald Trump at the American Farm Bureau Federation's Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Credit: Jim Watson/Getty Images)
Apr 23, 2018
Good Looks and Getting Ahead
How much does your physical attractiveness affect your career prospects? And can the attention it draws be something of a mixed blessing? Vishala Sri-Pathma hears from British barrister Dr Charlotte Proudman about her personal experiences in what is a very male dominated profession. But while good looks may help you land a job, does it make it harder to get on with your colleagues? Vishala speaks to Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology at Manchester University, body language expert Judi James, and headhunter John Purcell. (Picture: Attractive businesswoman looks at camera with colleagues in background; Credit: Jacob Wackerhausen/Getty Images)
Apr 20, 2018
Transgender in the Workplace
What happens if you are carrying out a high profile job, and then go public as transgender - for example switching from a "he" to a "she" or vice versa? Will your employer, colleagues and clients accept your new status? Manuela Saragosa speaks to Claire Birkenshaw, who did exactly that whilst working as a head teacher at a secondary school. She also hears from Beck Bailey of the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for LGBTQ rights, about the surprising progress among big US and multinational corporations in supporting transgender employees. Plus endocrinologist Maralyn Druce explains why, even when it comes to your biological sex, life isn't as binary as we often assume. (Picture: Former head teacher Claire Birkenshaw; Credit: Claire Birkenshaw)
Apr 19, 2018
What's in a Name?
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is keen to accelerate its path towards membership of the European Union. But there are obstacles too. Top of the list for the Balkans nation is resolving a dispute with its neighbour Greece over what the country calls itself. Our reporter Tanya Beckett has travelled to the capital Skopje to find out what's at stake. We also hear from the founder and chair of the UK Branding consultancy BrandCap, Rita Clifton, who tells us about some high-profile naming battles to secure corporate names and trademarks, reflecting on the sometimes extraordinarily high price companies will place on defending their named identity. PHOTO: Greeks protesting against Macedonian name. Credit: EPA
Apr 17, 2018
Does Trump Have a Trade Plan?
The missiles that struck Syria on Friday night have certainly shifted the international economic focus from China tariffs to new potential trade sanctions targeting Russian companies with ties to the Syrian president, Bashar al Assad. So how does this economic tit-for-tat play at a time when America is apparently preparing for economic war with China? We hear from Pippa Malmgren, head of the risk consultancy, the DPRM group in London and former economic adviser to President George W Bush in Washington. She believes that US President Trump does have a grand plan for international trade and foreign policy. To discuss China's place in the global pecking order, we turned to Professor Kishore Mahbubani, a veteran former diplomat from Singapore and former dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. He argues that China will be soon on top and the West has failed to realise it. However, leading China-based economist, Michael Pettis from the Peking University told us he was skeptical that China would overtake the US in economic size. PHOTO: President Trump/Getty Images
Apr 17, 2018
TED2018: Can We Fix the Internet?
Jaron Lanier is a pioneer of the modern internet and known as the "father" of Virtual Reality. But at the TED conference in Vancouver, Jane Wakefield hears why he thinks things have gone so badly wrong that there should be a mass deletion of social media, and the tech titans should start charging for their services. Jane also hears from Gizmodo's privacy expert Kashmir Hill about her experiment with turning her home into an internet-connected "smart-home" and the enormous amounts of data her devices produced, even as she slept. Plus Olga Yurkova, a Ukrainian journalist who set up the website StopFake to debunk fake news and propaganda, and Mikhail Zygar, a prominent Russian journalist who argues that the impact of fake news and Russian trolls is vastly over-stated. (Picture: Jaron Lanier speaking at TED2018; Credit: Bret Hartman/TED)
Apr 13, 2018
Who Needs Cash?
The cashless economy: Who are the winners and losers in the worldwide shift to digital payments? Rob Young hears from a grumpy pensioner in Sweden, a country that has blazed the way in ditching physical currency, as well as a Swedish expert on payment systems, Professor Niklas Arvidsson. Plus what difference has Narendra Modi's "demonetisation" policy of banning large denomination notes made to India's economy? Monika Halan, consulting editor at Indian financial newspaper Mint, gives her considered opinion. Meanwhile Rahul Tandon explains why Indians still don't know what Bitcoin is, even though they know they like it. (Picture: Indian farmer with daughter using mobile phone and credit card for online payment; Credit: triloks/Getty Images)
Apr 12, 2018
Hope for Ethiopia?
Ethiopia's economic growth has been hailed as a miracle by some, but it is a country deeply divided along the lines of ethnicity and wealth, and in recent years has been wracked by violence. New Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has made a public apology to the hundreds who have died and hundreds of thousands displaced, but will his words be enough to bring harmony? We hear from an Ethiopian medical student who fled to Yemen several months ago for fear of persecution, and ask Dr Awol Allo, a human rights lawyer and émigré from Ethiopia, about the reasons for the conflict, which prompted the government to declare a national state of emergency earlier this year. Ed Butler also visits a Chinese-built shoe factory south of the capital Addis Ababa to hear about pay and working conditions. Plus, what has been the international business reaction to the unrest? Has it deterred investment? We speak to Arusha Mehta, from clothing firm Goldmark Ltd, William Attwell from Frontier Strategy Group, and Zemenedeh Negatu, the Ethiopian-American chairman of the Fairfax Africa Fund, which invests heavily in the country. (Picture: A protest against government crackdowns in the Oromo and Amhara regions of Ethiopia. Credit: Gulshan Khan,Getty Images)
Apr 04, 2018
A Crisis in Tech?
As shares tumble and talk of regulation increases, we ask whether Facebook, Google and Amazon are facing a crisis. High-profile data breaches, falling user numbers and presidential questions over tax affairs have upped the pressure on these corporate giants in recent weeks. Bilal Hafeez, from the Japanese investment bank Nomura, tells us why he thinks their tech bubble is bursting. Another troubled tech firm, Uber, is under pressure once again - Jeremy Wagstaff tells us that this time it is from rivals in Southeast Asia. Plus, we take to the skies with real-life Iron Man Richard Browning, founder of tech start-up Gravity, who has set a world record in his jet-powered suit. (Picture: A man holding a smartphone showing Facebook's logo. Credit: Kirill Kudryavtsev, Getty Images.)
Apr 03, 2018
Farming's Future: Food Factories
Does the world face a food crisis in the next 10 years? Or could the solution to world hunger already be at hand? Laurence Knight explores whether technological solutions like multi-storey indoor farms and self-driving tractors could help provide affordable food for everyone. (Photo: Greens growing on floating beds. Credit: Mira Oberman/AFP/Getty Images)
Mar 27, 2018
West Africa: Youth and Ambition
Africa has the youngest population of any continent in the world and that figure is expected to double in less than 30 years. The BBC's Tamasin Ford travels across three countries to hear from young people about their hopes and dreams for their working lives. In Ghana, she talks to award winning actor and producer Yvonne Nelson. In Ivory Coast Tamasin hears from Edith Brou, CEO of her own Digital Agency, the Africa Content Group. And in Liberia, young people tell Tamasin about their hopes for the future in a country where youth unemployment is very high amongst the sixty percent of the population who are under 25. (Photo; Young men on the streets of Monrovia, Liberia. Credit: Tamasin Ford)
Mar 13, 2018
Sierra Leone's Economic Struggle
As the country prepares for elections, Ed Butler visits Sierra Leone to find out how people are feeling about the economy as it fights back following the devastating Ebola outbreak. Ed speaks to top politicians and also hears from ordinary people struggling to make a living. And he asks what happened to money donated to deal with Ebola victims, amid reports of corruption. (Picture: Children attending school on November 15, 2017 at the Old Skool Camp. Credit:SAIDU BAH/AFP/Getty Images)
Feb 26, 2018
Yemen: Trade in Wartime
Business Daily hears remarkable stories from Yemen's civil war. The tens of thousands of African economic migrants risking everything each year to travel into the world's worst humanitarian crisis. And the man who decided to start a coffee export business out of the very heart of the war-zone. Ed Butler talks to Mokhtar Alkhanshali from the Port of Mokha coffee company, humanitarian worker Rabih Sarieddine at the International Organization for Migration's office in the Yemeni port of Aden and journalist Iona Craig who's been reporting on Yemen for many years. The programme contains descriptions of kidnapping and violence. (picture: Yemeni tribesmen from the Popular Resistance Committees, keep watch at Nihm district, on the eastern edges of the capital Sanaa, on February 2, 2018. (Credit ABDULLAH AL-QADRY/AFP/Getty Images)
Feb 20, 2018
Tricking Yourself to Save
Are you saving for a rainy day? Eight of the world's major economies will between them have a joint shortfall of some $400 trillion in the next thirty years in terms of pension provision, according to the World Economic Forum. The assumption here is that most of us need about 70% of our working income to get by in our retirement years. But the shortfall they've come up with is a staggering 5 times the size of global stock markets. Luckily, Dan Ariely, a behavioural economist based at Duke University in the US, has been studying some of the simple human tricks that perhaps might nudge us towards a more prudent attitude. (Picture: Getty images)
Feb 13, 2018
Who Profits from Nuclear Weapons?
US President Donald Trump has pledged a major upgrade to the country's nuclear deterrent, but are a handful of private defence contractors driving the multi-billion dollar modernisation programme? Jonathan King, a veteran campaigner against nuclear proliferation and professor at MIT, argues guaranteed profit margins and secrecy make the industry very attractive to such companies. But Hawk Carlisle, chief executive of the US National Defense Industrial Association, tells Ed Butler the private sector is the only area capable of building such weapons and that there is adequate competition and government scrutiny. Plus, how complicated is it to make a bomb these days? Robert Kelley, a former weapons inspector in Iraq, says technology is advancing so fast that it's getting easier and easier. (Picture: Ballistic missiles being launched in North Korea. Credit: AFP photo/KCNA via KNS, Getty Images)
Feb 12, 2018
What Should We Look Out For in 2018?
We predict and discuss the biggest business and economic trends of the coming year. Have we failed at handling globalisation, and how can we deal with it in the coming year? The Nobel prize winner Joseph Stiglitz tells us how the global economy can thrive without the failings of globalisation which we have seen so far - and advises us on how to handle the increasing tendency towards interdependence between countries. And the BBC's Rahul Tandon hears the woes of street market sellers in India. Hawkers sell their products at a much cheaper price than many other retailers - but at what cost to the country and society? We look at the role of the open market seller in an increasingly regulated economy. Plus, we take a look at what's in store for global stock exchanges and industries with experts Stephanie Hare, an independent political risk analyst, and Gabriel Sterne from Oxford Economics. (Image: Reflection of Jubilee Bridge and Central Business District of Singapore during dusk hour in a glass ball. Credit: Getty Images)
Jan 02, 2018
Paradise Papers: Apple's Secret Tax Bolthole
There's been another round of revelations from the Paradise Papers - the leaked documents from a big offshore law firm. The leaks put Apple's tax affairs under scrutiny. The company shopped around for a tax haven after a crackdown on its controversial tax practices in Ireland. The BBC's Andrew Walker explains the background and Manuela Saragosa asks tax specialist Rita de la Feria, professor of tax law at the University of Leeds, whether it is possible to create a level playing field for tax globally. Also in the programme: Daniel Gallas reports from Brazil two years after the country's worst ever environmental accident. On November 5th 2015, a dam operated by the iron ore company Samarco - a joint venture between commodity giants Vale and BHP Biliton - burst in the town of Mariana. Two years on, has the region's economy recovered? (Picture: The Apple logo is displayed on the exterior of an Apple Store in San Francisco. Credit: Getty Images)
Nov 07, 2017
Paradise Papers: Secrets of the Global Elite
A huge new leak of financial documents has revealed how the powerful and ultra-wealthy, including the British Queen's private estate, secretly invest vast amounts of cash in offshore tax havens. Donald Trump's commerce secretary is shown to have a stake in a firm dealing with Russians sanctioned by the US. The leak, dubbed the Paradise Papers, contains 13.4m documents, mostly from one leading firm in offshore finance. Manuela Saragosa hears more from the BBC's Dominic O'Connell. Also in the programme we hear from the Premier of Bermuda David Burt and the Secretary General of the OECD OECD - and its secretary general Angel Gurria.
Nov 06, 2017
The Stigma of Great Wealth
We explore the anxieties of the wealthy, and the mentality of conspicuous consumption, which is about more than being discreet about high-end purchases. Journalist Rachel Sherman tells us her accounts of interviewing some of New York's elite wealthy - who are equally as stealthy about their endeavours and purchases. We hear more about the anxiety associated with wealth, both earned and inherited, including the constant need to seem 'normal', and justify funds. Stephen Lussier, a chief executive from diamond company De Beers, tells us about the changing buying habits of some of the world's richest - including the increasing number of women who prefer to buy their own diamonds for reasons other than romance. Plus, extravagant signs of wealth are at their peak during India;s wedding season. Weddings can go on for days, and include thousands of guests and private chartered planes, and over 70 types of food. The BBC's Rahul Tandon reports that some Indian states are cracking down on what they say are 'excessive' affairs. (Image: A wealthy man anxiously facing a City landscape. Credit: Coldsnowstorm/ Getty Images)
Sep 15, 2017
Does it Pay to Be Nice in Business?
The path to a profitable business could lie in your ability to be nice. From The Empathy Business, Belinda Parmar OBE tells us that some understanding between leaders and customers, and within teams, has proven to lead to sharp rises in profits. And some people throw billions in to the business of being compassionate, and can turn huge profits. We speak to the founder of LeapFrog Investments, Andy Kuper, whose business invests in fast-growing companies that bring about serious change to the world and to shareholders. His projects include the world's first insurer to give life cover to HIV positive people across Africa. (Image: A black and white photo English airline entrepreneur Freddie Laker (1922 - 2006) giving a thumbs up gesture and smiling; plane in background. (Photo by London Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Sep 14, 2017
Bitcoin bubbles and safe havens
In times of economic crunch, where should you store your savings? Perhaps you are tempted by the rise in value of bitcoin. But can it last? And what is bitcoin anyway? A currency or an asset? Garrick Hileman, Research fellow at the Cambridge centre for alternative finance, tells the BBC's Manuela Saragosa what to make of the cryptocurrency. British business couple Baroness Michelle Mone and Doug Barrowman tell Ed Butler about their property development where units will be sold for bitcoin. And Martin Arnold, an analyst at London investment firm ETF Securities, weighs it up against other assets, like the safe haven of gold. (Picture: bars of gold. Credit: Getty.)
Sep 06, 2017
Computer Says No?
Will robots and artificial intelligence help us in our daily lives, or steal our jobs and discriminate against us? Manuela Saragosa talks to Max Tegmark, who has just written a book about what it means to be human in an age of artificial intelligence. In it he recounts how he was left in tears after a recent visit to London's Science Museum. She also interviews Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robots at the University of Sheffield. And regular commentator James Srodes has a warning about letting computers make decisions for us. (Photo: Model robots. Credit: Getty Images)
Sep 05, 2017
The Texan Energy Revolution
Texas has undergone an energy revolution, and even has its own power grid to service the vast State’s needs, but while some claim renewables are the future, others are staunch supporters of oil and gas. How do the two sides fit together? Joe Miller speaks to Jim Briggs, deputy City Manager in Georgetown, which despite its Republican politics, has gone 100% renewable. He also hears from author Kate Galbriath, about how wind energy has a long history in Texas and has sat side by side with oil for decades. Joe also hears from ERCOT, the Texas energy grid, about how they manage supply and demand, and from Fred Beach an energy policy expert from the University of Austin about the motivation for the switch to renewables in places like Georgetown. (Photo: Georgetown Town Square. Credit: City of Georgetown)
Sep 01, 2017
Taxing Times in India
India's financial shock therapy continues, this time with an all-new tax system. The BBC's Rahul Tandon reports on its progress. Presenter Ed Butler speaks about the new plan with businessman Gaurav Daga, founder of plastics supply company Oswal Cable, near New Delhi. And Simon Ruda, the director of home affairs and international programmes at the Behavioural Insights Team in London, also known as the Nudge Unit, says getting people to pay tax isn't as simple as it might seem. (Photo: India flag. Credit: Getty Images)
Sep 01, 2017
Working refugees
How can refugees improve their lot? There are about 65 million displaced people in the world, according to the UN. And as many flee their places of birth for the long term, they need work to support themselves and for a sense of purpose. The BBC's Jane Wakefield talks to urban refugee worker Robert Hakiza, who escaped violence in Congo to live in Kampala, Uganda. She also hears about an innovative new system to find out where you are. Chris Sheldrick explains how What 3 Words, his company, can help. And Dale Gavlak reports on a new scheme to get Syrian refugees into work from Jordan's Zaatari refugee camp. (Picture: An immigrant worker cutting paving stone on wood. Credit: Getty.)
Sep 01, 2017
Should all Drugs Be Legal?
Are most countries' policies on drugs irrational? From the tolerance of Holland and decriminalisation in Portugal to the Philippines, where President Rodrigo Duterte's crackdown on drug users and dealers has claimed thousands of lives, there is little international consensus. Presenter Manuela Saragosa speaks to David Nutt, professor of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, who says some drugs are less harmful than alcohol. She also speaks to Joao Goulao, one of the architects of Portugal's decriminalisation policy. And, the BBC's Anna Holligan reports on the rise of nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, in Holland. (Photo: A woman contemplating pills. Credit: Getty Images)
Aug 25, 2017
The $18tn Question
As the world's central bankers meet for their summer retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, what will be on their minds? Perhaps it will be their $18tn balance sheets, and all the extra cash they created as a consequence, argues author and policy analyst Pippa Malmgren. The BBC's Joe Miller has been finding out how Frankfurt might cope with a sudden influx of bankers, should the world's lenders choose it as their new European home. Air India has recently decided to offer only vegetarian food to those travelling inside India in economy class. Rahul Tandon does that quite a lot, and he says the airline's move has got him thinking. (Photo: Coins stacked on each other in different positions. Credit: Getty Images)
Aug 24, 2017
Emojis: Love 'em or Hate 'em?
They're everywhere, but can businesses actually make any money out of them? The programme includes Jeremy Burge, who has developed an Emojipedia business that catalogues the nearly 3,000 existing emoticons, Su Burtner, who successfully got a new cricket emoji accepted, and Keith Broni, the world's first emoji translator at Today Translations, guiding businesses through the shifting quagmire of emoji meanings. Ed Butler presents. (Picture: Smiley emoji and poo emoji; Credit: denisgorelkin/Getty Images)
Jul 14, 2017
Are We Overmedicated?
We ask if patients are being prescribed too many medicines. Confusion and lack of research, says one physician, can be a culprit in some cases where patients are handed prescriptions for medicines which are not necessary for the improvement of their overall health. Commercial influence from pharmaceutical businesses is seen as another factor in overmedication - so we speak to a representative from the pharmaceutical industry about who is responsible for educating patients and doctors about medicines, and how information can be improved. Also, 'the pill' could be a thing of the past, as an app called Natural Cycles becomes approved for use as a contraceptive - using body temperature to see when a woman is most fertile. (Image: Contraceptive pills. Credit: Philippe Huguen / AFP / Getty Images)
Jun 23, 2017
Record High US Consumer Debt
Household debt is at record levels as US consumers spend, spend and spend some more. And with America's interest rates set to rise again, could there be trouble ahead? Former Federal Reserve governor Randy Kroszner tells presenter Manuela Saragosa that watching the debt problem get fixed will be like "watching paint dry" - but that it is a deliberately slow process, to avoid shocks to consumers. We hear from retirees in the US who are struggling with debt - and one expert who says that the current workforce may not be able to rely on their pensions when they retire. Also in the programme, Ryan Holmes, the chief executive and founder of social media managing software, Hootsuite, gives his take on whether a company can survive these days without a presence on social media. (Image: Credit cards in a wallet. Credit: Getty Images Staff)
Jun 14, 2017
Could China Shut Down North Korea?
Military tensions between the United States and North Korea seem to rise on an almost daily basis. But how important are economic factors in putting pressure on the North Korean state? Could China, with its close trading relationship, choose to shut down North Korea - putting pressure on the leadership there? The BBC's Danny Vincent travels to the border between China and North Korea to look at some of the trade passing between the two nations. And Ed Butler talks to Korea Expert Aidan Foster-Carter and asks him whether China could shut down North Korea if it chose to do so? Also, our veteran commentator Lucy Kellaway admits that she does not always learn from experience. (Picture: A North Korean man standing at a border fence next to the Yalu river, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong. Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)
May 02, 2017
Japan's Exploited Foreign Workers
Japan's workforce is shrinking due to an ageing population and a policy of very low immigration. But though the world's third largest economy needs workers, the government isn't keen on immigration when it comes to filling lower-skilled jobs. A loophole in the rules, however, means every year about 200,000 labourers from overseas go to Japan on its guest worker trainee scheme. Arranged through a network of brokers in countries such as China and Vietnam, workers often find themselves underpaid, and the US State Department categorises the scheme as human trafficking, and points to mass exploitation. Edwin Lane investigates in Tokyo and Gifu, meeting workers from China who are stuck in Japan fighting for their wages, and to lawyers and politicians about what can be done, and asks why Japan is so hesitant to open its borders to more foreigners. (Image: Tokyo's Akihabara district.Credit: Chris McGrath/ Getty Images)
Apr 30, 2017
A Basic Income for All?
Social scientists, technologists, and politicians from across the political spectrum think they have a potential solution to the unemployment that automation and artificial intelligence are expected to create. It's called a universal basic income. And it involves getting the state to pay a fixed sum to all of its citizens, whether or not they have a job. The Canadian province of Ontario has become the latest to announce a trial - for 4,000 households. We hear from Finland where a basic income pilot project is already underway. And Manuela Saragosa talks to Guy Standing, co- founder and co-president of the Basic Income Earth Network - who is advising a number of pilot projects around the world. (Picture: Five pound sterling note, London 2017. Credit: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Apr 26, 2017
Machine Learning
Machines are about to get a lot smarter and machine learning will transform our lives. So says a report by the Royal Society in the UK, a fellowship of many of the world's most eminent scientists. Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence that's already being used to tag people in photos, to interpret voice commands and to help internet retailers to make recommendations. Manuela Saragosa hears about a new technology that is set to revolutionise computing, developed by a UK company called Graphcore. Manuela talks to Graphcore's chief executive Nigel Toon, who is taking on the AI giants. And Manuela hears how we are 'bleeding data' all the time. Dr Joanna Bryson from the University of Bath and professor Amanda Chessell, an IBM distinguished engineer and master inventor, explain how our data is being used. (Photo: A robot pours popcorn from a cooking pot into a bowl at the Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI), University of Bremen, Germany. March 2017. Credit: Ingo Wagner/AFP/Getty Images)
Apr 25, 2017
A Snap Election in Britain
The British Prime Minister Theresa May is proposing a general election for 8 June- and it will be a poll all about Brexit. Mrs May says political divisions are risking Britain's ability to make a success of its departure from the European Union. So will the result of the poll give the prime minister a firm mandate in her negotiations with the EU, and perhaps help her to wangle a better Brexit deal? Manuela Saragosa talks to the BBC's Dominic O'Connell who has been gauging opinion amongst business leaders, including Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of advertising giant WPP. And the ethics of digital design. Are we unable to tear ourselves away from computers and TV because we are weak - or because the digital designers are manipulating us unfairly? (Photo: British Prime Minister Theresa May. Credit: Getty Images)
Apr 19, 2017
Oil's Murky Future
Tensions in the Middle East and protests in Russia are not just caused by internal politics and war but also, some say, the stresses of economic decline as the result of cheap oil. While the price of oil has gone up this week in response to the US military's missile attack on a Syrian government airbase, this uptick is likely, many analysts say, to be short-lived. Some experts now believe the price of oil could remain low forever. That's the view of Dieter Helm, an economics professor at the University of Oxford, who has just written a book, entitled Burn Out. Ed Butler asks Professor Helm to lay out the possible effects of a permanently lower oil price. Also in the programme, the BBC's Phil Mercer reports from Australia where renewable energy is on the rise. More homeowners are installing solar power battery systems to guarantee that the lights stay on. (Picture: A Russian LUKOIL oil platform. Credit: MIKHAIL MORDASOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Apr 11, 2017
Libor Lowballing
A secret recording that implicates the Bank of England in Libor rigging has been uncovered by the BBC . The 2008 recording adds to evidence the central bank repeatedly pressured commercial banks during the financial crisis to push their Libor rates down. Libor is the rate at which banks lend to each other, setting a benchmark for mortgages and loans for ordinary customers. The Bank of England said Libor was not regulated in the UK at the time. Ed Butler hears more from the BBC's economics correspondent, Andy Verity. Also in the programme, we hear from our Business editor, Simon Jack, about evidence the BBC has seen that top executives at the oil company, Shell, knew money paid to the Nigerian government for a vast oil field would be passed to a convicted money-launderer. The deal was concluded while Shell was operating under a probation order for a separate corruption case in Nigeria. Shell said it did not believe its employees acted illegally. And finally, our regular commentator Lucy Kellaway disapproves of the advice given publicly by one US corporate boss to her growing children. (Picture: The Bank of England in central London, England. Credit: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
Apr 10, 2017
Russian Hacking
The investigation into the hacking of Democratic National Committee computers during the US election campaign continues to haunt international politics. Was Russia responsible for the hack? The US Secret Services say this is now beyond doubt. Just before he left office President Obama hit back with a series of retaliatory measures against Russia. Those measures included a range of sanctions against institutions and people: two intelligence agencies, four senior intelligence officials, 35 diplomats, three tech companies. They also targeted a man who was infamous in tech security circles. His trade name is Slavik. Ed Butler hears the remarkable story behind Slavik's years spent attacking and compromising the servers of international banks and what it all reveals about Russian cyber-espionage. (Picture: An employee walking behind a glass wall with machine coding symbols at the headquarters of Internet security giant Kaspersky in Moscow. Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)
Apr 04, 2017
Trump v China, Should We be Scared?
As President Trump prepares for key talks with China's President Xi Jinping, we hear from the editor of the Financial Times, Lionel Barber, who warns that Mr Trump is threatening to go it alone in tackling North Korea, if Beijing refuses to help. Fresh from an interview with Donald Trump in the Oval Office, Mr Barber tells Ed Butler that there is cause to be concerned about the risk of US military action against North Korea. Ed also hears what to expect from the US-China trade discussions this week, with Peter Trubowitz, director of the US Centre at the London School of Economics. And Jennifer Pak reports from Shenzhen in Southern China on the Chinese 'makers', coming up with new ideas (not stolen ones). And Lucy Kellaway says sexism is never acceptable, no matter how old you are. (Picture: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, impersonated by Hong Kong actor Howard, and US President Donald Trump, impersonated by US actor Dennis, pose outside the US consulate in Hong Kong on in January 2017. Credit:ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)
Apr 03, 2017
How to Age and Keep Working
Manuela Saragosa investigates how we should age. We're all living much longer yet we live in a world that prizes youth and productivity above all. So, we're asking how to age? For many of us it will mean working beyond the usual retirement age. Manuela hears from those who argue that's something to welcome, not dread. Including 97-year-old athlete, oarsman, writer and former dentist Charles Eugster. Also in the programme: Lynda Gratton, co-author of The 100-year life and Aubrey de Grey, a British researcher on aging who claims he has drawn a roadmap to defeat biological aging and that the first human beings who will live to 1,000 years old have already been born. (Photo: Charles Eugster at the Henley Royal Regatta. Credit: Getty Images)
Aug 05, 2016
Unpacking Russia's Economy
Russia's economy became mired in sanctions back in 2014. First it was those from the West as a result of Russia's involvement in the Ukraine conflict. Then, exactly two years ago this week, Russia fired back with sanctions of its own. The idea was partly to boost domestic agriculture by replacing foreign imports with Russian ones. It has helped some local cheese-makers. But many consumers are not happy with the loss of foreign goods and general spike in food prices. We also look at the wider economic crash in Russia's economy, with the help of two experts - Alex Nice, an analyst with the Economics Intelligence Unit, and Bill Browder, CEO and a co-founder of the investment fund, Hermitage Capital Management. He was once Russia's most prominent foreign investor before falling out with President Vladimir Putin, and fleeing into exile in 2006. He is doubtful about any predictions of an economic recovery in Russia, as long as the current government remains in power. (Photo: Vladimir Putin depicted on a traditional Russian doll. Credit: Getty Images)
Aug 02, 2016
How to be Frugal
What happens when you abandon consumerism? The BBC's Ed Butler talks to Pete Adeney, also known as Mr Money Moustache. He retired at 30 and is so frugal he thinks he will never have to work again. Plus, we go urban foraging in London, and a Danish food campaigner tells us what we should do about all that unwanted food left at the back of the freezer. (Photo: A woman sews buttons in Mumbai. Credit: STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)
May 06, 2016
Australia's Drought
One farmer suffering from the drought in Australia tells BBC Business Daily that it looks "like a lunar landscape", with the ground crackling under his feet. We look at how much the weather conditions have damaged the country's economy. And since the thaw with the US, Cuba is now enjoying a tourist boom - but the country can't keep up with the influx of new visitors - meaning some tourists have ended up sleeping in open squares. (Picture: Cracked land in drought. Credit: Getty Images)
Feb 05, 2016
Regulating Our Food Choices
Sugar tax is the hot topic that has got governments, health campaigners and the food industry talking. As rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes rise in many parts of the world, some say taxes on sugary drinks are a simple way of encouraging healthier choices. But should governments make those kinds of judgements? Katy Watson in Mexico and the US, meets those who think a 'sin tax' is the best way forward for fast food and fizzy drinks. She asks Mexico’s government and drinks industry how their sugar tax has affected sales of the products subject to extra tax. And, she hears from food industry lobbysists and those who think that government has no role to play in our food choices.
Feb 03, 2016
The Economics of Migration
Is migration a good thing for economies? Does it bring innovation? Or does it drain resources? We have both sides of the argument as we hear Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, debate the matter with Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research in London. Plus, our reporter Vishala Sri Pathma reports on India's Nestle Maggi instant noodle food scare and how it's affected attitudes towards food in the country. (Picture: Migrant families leaving a transit area in Macedonia; Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Sep 04, 2015
China's Defence Budget
As China shows off its military muscle in a parade commemorating victory over Japan in World War Two, we examine what lies behind this dazzling display of hardware. China's defence budget has doubled over the last decade, and some of its neighbours are worried. We ask defence analyst, Michael Caffrey of IHS Jane's, whether the numbers are a cause for concern. Also in the programme, as part of the BBC's India season, we hear from Kolkata where millions of Muslims continue to struggle for equal rights in the jobs market. The government is promising tougher action to redress the prejudices against them. And as Azerbaijan this week jails one of its leading investigative journalists and anti-corruption activists, Khadija Ismayilova, we hear her recent assessment of the way economic and political power have been centralised in the hands of the ruling family of President Aliyev. What's really going on in the oil-rich country? Is there an oil curse in Azerbaijan and should this affect international attitudes towards it? We speak to Barnaby Pace of the campaign group Global Witness, who has conducted his own research into who really controls Azerbaijan's oil wealth. (Picture: Chinese soldiers ride armoured vehicles in the Tiananmen Square military parade; Credit: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
Sep 03, 2015
Where are India's Working Women?
Women make up a comparatively small proportion of India's formal labour force. Those that do work tend to be at the extremes of the social spectrum - either poor or highly educated. Why are there not more middle class women working? We hear the stories of a maid and doctor in Delhi, and speak to the newspaper columnist Kalpana Sharma about the cultural and societal factors that are keeping millions of women out of formal employment. Plus the BBC's Katy Watson shows us how women in Latin America and the Middle East also struggle to just get on with their working lives.
Sep 02, 2015
China: Innovator or Thief?
China's latest factory data is the worst in 3 years. What's wrong with China's business model? Mark Anderson is CEO of InventIP, a consortium of US companies and experts who've put together a report, claiming that some 50% of Chinese growth in recent decades has been founded on the stealing of western business ideas, via old-fashioned industrial espionage and more sophisticated state-sponsored hacking. He exclusively tells the BBC the basis for his claims. And we also hear from Chinese author Edward Tse, who says the old stereotypes of Chinese companies leeching off western technology and possessing few ideas of their own is outdated. He's spent years advising Chinese companies, and in a new book, China's Disrupters, he claims a new genuinely entrepreneurial and innovative spirit has transformed the country's business climate.
Sep 01, 2015
Elements: Hydrogen and Acids
These powerful chemicals are essential to obtain the minerals that build our world, the fertilisers that feed the planet, and the fuels that propel our vehicles - as presenter Laurence Knight discovers on a trip to the Ineos Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland. But while most traditional acids are based on the power of hydrogen ions, Prof Andrea Sella of University College London explains that many modern industrial "acids" do not, and come in startlingly unexpected forms such as powders. Many of the most corrosive acids are very tricky to contain, resulting in the occasional nasty accident, as chemical engineer Keith Plumb explains. Also, Justin Rowlatt has a report on acid attacks in southern Asia in which he speaks to campaigner Selina Ahmed of the Acid Survivors Foundation on how Bangladesh has tackled the problem. (Picture: A team working with toxic acids and chemicals secures a chemical cargo train tanks crashed near Sofia, Bulgaria; Credit: Cylonphoto/Thinkstock)
Aug 19, 2015
Elements: Iron and Industrialisation
Iron is the chemical element at the heart of steel, and by extension of industrialisation, so what does the collapse in iron ore prices say about the economic progress of China and India? In the last of three programmes looking at this most abundant of metals, Justin Rowlatt asks whether the steel-making party is over, or whether a new one is just about to begin. And if, one day, humanity can stop digging this element up altogether. To find the answers, he speaks to material flow analyst Prof Daniel Beat Muller, sceptical China economist Andy Xie, Andrew Harding of the world's second biggest iron ore miner Rio Tinto, and Ravi Uppal who heads Jindal Steel of India.
Apr 01, 2015
Elements: Iron and Manganese
Iron and manganese are the two key ingredients that enabled the mass production of steel - one of the most versatile and complex materials known to humanity. Justin Rowlatt chews on salad leaves with Andrea Sella of University College London, who explains how manganese is present in all plants and plays a key part in photosynthesis and ultimately oxygen production. He also travels to Sheffield to visit a modern steelworks - the specialist engineering steel-maker Forgemasters - where Peter Birtles and Mark Tomlinson give a taste of just how hard it is to produce unbreakable parts for nuclear power stations and oil rigs.
Mar 25, 2015
Elements: Iron and the Industrial Revolution
Justin Rowlatt explores two moments in history that transformed this most abundant of metal elements into the key material out of which modern life is constructed. In the first of three programmes, Justin travels to St Paul's Cathedral, where professor Andrea Sella of University College London recounts why Christopher Wren was so vexed that the new railings were built out of cast iron. Then onto Ironbridge, where curator John Challen tells how the world's first major iron structure came into being. And, Justin ends at Cyfarthfa in Wales, once home to the world's biggest ironworks, where historian Chris Evans explains why puddling and rolling are far more world-changing than they sound.
Mar 18, 2015
Elements: Technetium
Technetium is essential for medical imaging, yet supplies of this short-lived radioactive manmade element are far from guaranteed. Justin Rowlatt heads to University College London Hospital to see a technetium scan in progress, to view the clean rooms where technetium cows are milked, and to speak to nuclear medicine researcher Dr Kerstin Sander about a possible solution to cancer. Professor Andrea Sella explains why this element sparked a 70-year wild goose chase by chemists in the 19th Century. And, we dispatch Matt Wells to Winnipeg in Canada to meet the team hoping to come up with an alternative source of technetium, when the biggest current source - the Chalk River reactor in Ontario - shuts down in 2016.
Mar 11, 2015
Elements: Fluorine
Fluorine is a ferocious yellow gas that is the key building block for a string of other gases that pose a threat to mankind if released into the atmosphere. From the ozone-depleting CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) to potent greenhouse gases such as sulphur hexafluoride, Justin Rowlatt gets the full rundown from professor Andrea Sella of University College London. Justin travels to the source of fluorine in Britain, a fluorspar mine in Derbyshire, before following the ore to the giant acid works of Mexichem in Runcorn in the UK, where site director Ron Roscher explains the incredible array of uses for this chemical element. And, he also hears from environmental scientist Stefan Reimann about the environmental legacy of CFCs and the threat posed by Chinese and Indian air conditioners.
Mar 04, 2015
Elements: Chromium
Chromium: Justin Rowlatt visits the Warrs Harley dealership to find out from Professor Andrea Sella why this metallic element links the motorbikes on show, with the leather jackets and flick-knives of the archetypal biker gang. He hears from Erin Brockovich about the insidious role hexavalent chromium has played in drinking water and human health. And he travels to the luxury Savoy hotel in London, and the Harry Brearley memorial on a dingy post-industrial corner of Sheffield, to discover crucial role chromium plays in stainless steel.
Feb 26, 2015
Elements: Nickel (& Rhenium)
Nickel is the metal that made the jet age possible, not to mention margarine and bicycle sprockets. In the latest installment in his journey through the periodic table, Justin Rowlatt travels to Rolls Royce to discover the incredible materials science that this chemical element and its super-alloys have driven, as well as the miniscule market for another, far more valuable metal - rhenium. Justin also descends deep into the bowels of University College London with Professor Andrea Sella to encounter the clang of a Monel rod, a magic trick with a Nitinol paper clip, and an almost uncuttable piece of Inconel. (Photo: Airbus jets. Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Feb 18, 2015
Elements: Uranium
Uranium is the fuel for nuclear power stations, which generate carbon-free electricity, but also radioactive waste that lasts a millennium. In the latest in our series looking at the world economy from the perspective of the elements of the periodic table, Justin Rowlatt travels to Sizewell in Suffolk, in a taxi driven by a former uranium prospector. He is given a tour of the operational power station, Sizewell B, which generates 3% of the UK's electricity, by EDF's head of safety Colin Tucker, before popping next-door to the original power station, Sizewell A, where he speaks to site director Tim Watkins about the drawn-out process of decommissioning and cleaning up the now-defunct reactors. But while Sizewell remains reassuringly quiet, the big explosions come at the end of the programme. We pit environmentalist and pro-nuclear convert Mark Lynas against German Green politician Hans-Josef Fell, the joint architect of Germany's big move towards wind and solar energy, at the expense of nuclear. Is nuclear a green option? It really depends whom you ask.
Oct 08, 2014
Elements: Lead
Lead is the sweetest of poisons, blamed for everything from mad Roman emperors to modern-day crime waves. Yet a lead-acid battery is still what gets your car going in the morning. So have we finally learnt how to handle this heavyweight element? Justin Rowlatt travels to arts shop Cornelissen in London's Bloomsbury to find out why they've stopped stocking the stuff, and hear from professor Andrea Sella of University College London, about the unique properties that have made it so handy in everything from radiation protection to glassware. Yet lead in petrol is also accused of having inflicted brain damage on an entire generation of children in the 1970s, as the economist Jessica Wolpaw-Reyes of Amherst College explains. And, producer Laurence Knight travels to one of the UK's only two lead smelters - HJ Enthoven's at Darley Dale in Derbyshire, the historical heartland of the UK lead industry - to see what becomes of the lead in your car battery, and speak to the director of the International Lead Association, Andy Bush.
Oct 01, 2014
Elements: Caesium
The atomic clock runs on caesium, and has redefined the very meaning of time. But it has also introduced a bug into timekeeping that affects everything from computerised financial markets to electricity grids, to satellite navigation, to the Greenwich Meridian. Justin Rowlatt travels to the birthplace of modern time, the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, England, to speak to Krzysztof Szymaniec, the keeper of the 'Caesium Fountain', and Leon Lobo, the man charged with disseminating time to the UK. He also hears from Felicitas Arias, director of Time at the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures in Paris, about plans to abolish the “leap second”. And the Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees, explains why even the atomic clock can never hope to provide an absolute measure of time.
Sep 24, 2014
Elements: Bromine
Bromine puts out fires - both in the home and in the heart. But despite its reputation as an anti-aphrodisiac, this chemical element's biggest use is in fire retardants, found in everything from your sofa to your radio. But do these bromine-based chemicals pose a risk to your health? Presenter Justin Rowlatt hears from chemistry professor Andrea Sella of University College London, about his own childhood encounter with this noxious red liquid. Justin speaks to chemicals industry analyst Laura Syrett of Industrial Minerals about why she thinks bromine may have been the victim of 'chemophobia' - an irrational public prejudice against chemicals. And, the BBC's Mark Lobel travels to the world's biggest source of bromine, the Dead Sea, to see the bromine works of Israel Chemicals Ltd, and comes face-to-face with some of the company's allegedly dangerous products in the hands of deputy head Anat Tal.
Sep 17, 2014
The Elements: Plutonium
We investigate the econonomics of plutonium, the chemical anti-hero which has killed tens of thousands and threatened the lives of millions more. We visit the Berkeley campus of the University of California, where plutonium was first discovered and meet David Shuh director of the The Glenn T. Seaborg Centre to get an insight into this infamous element and to find out what the latest research is telling us about its potential use into the future. We hear about the desperate legacy of testing that was done on vulnerable youngsters in the 1950s and 1960s, in which they were exposed to radiation in order to find out what the effect on them might be. They continue to live with the consequences of those experiments, to this day and the BBC's Peter Marshall tells us more about their stories. And plutonium expert Robert Kelley tells about plutonium's use both as a weapon and as the basis for nuclear power and outlines the precautions that are still being taken, to this day, to try to keep the world safe from the extraordinary potential of this element.
Sep 11, 2014
Elemental Business: Silicon and the Sun
Silicon, ordinarily associated with micro-chip production, is also a key component in solar panel manufacturing and as such, is crucial to the future of power for the planet. We hear from John Schaeffer, a solar power pioneer who at his shop and "solar living centre" in California, was one of the first to punt this eco-friendly form of power generation to his local community of sun-seeking Californian hippies - all to great effect. Richard Swanson of Sun Power and Lynn Jurich founder of Sunrun are busy developing ways to make solar panel manufacturing and distribution ever more cost efficient. While Barry Goldwater Jr., former Republican Congressman and one-time friend of Ronald Reagan, who is definitely not a hippie, has become a big solar power fan and is busy fighting its cause in the corridors of power. The sun, he says, will win the day.
Aug 18, 2014
Elemental Business: Silicon Chips
Silicon chips have shrunk a million-fold since Gordon Moore made his famous forecast in 1965, but is Moore's Law - and the computer revolution it heralded - about to run up against fundamental laws of physics? In the first of two programmes investigating silicon - the latest in our series looking at the elements of the periodic table and their role in the global economy - we travel to Silicon Valley to the biggest chip company of them all, Intel, co-founded by Gordon Moore himself. We visit the Intel museum with company spokesperson Chuck Mulloy and get up close to a giant ingot of the purest material on earth. We speak to Intel's chief chip architect Mark T Bohr about the future of computing. And, professor Andrea Sella of University College London explain's what micro-processing has to do with old Muscovite windows - with a trip to the beach.
Jul 31, 2014
Elemental Business: Vanadium
Vanadium, and obscure metal, provides the latest installment in our journey through the economics of the periodic table. This element has hardened steel since ancient times, and today it lies at the heart giant batteries that could be vital to the future of solar energy. Our regular chemistry maestro, professor Andrea Sella of University College London, demonstrates vanadium's surprisingly colourful properties. And, Justin Rowlatt meets Bill Radvak, chief executive of American Vanadium - the only vanadium company in the US - and asks what a 'redox flow battery' could do for the BBC's headquarters in London. We also hear from solar energy entrepreneur Alexander Voigt about the particular niche that vanadium will fill in the future ecosystem of electricity grid storage.
Jul 28, 2014
Elemental Business: Nitrogen Fertiliser
Nitrogen-based fertilisers have banished hunger in the rich world and ushered in an era of abundance. But they are a double-edged sword - the glut of food also comes with a glut of nitrogenous pollution that threatens to destroy our rivers and oceans. In our latest programme about the elements of the periodic table, Professor Andrea Sella of University College London tells presenter Justin Rowlatt why exactly our crops - and we humans - could not survive without nitrogen. The BBC's Washington correspondent Rajini Vaidyanathan sees - and smells - first-hand the denitrification of raw sewage, and hears from water scientist Dr Beth McGee of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation about the eutrophication of America's largest river estuary. And, Justin travels to Norwich to meet Giles Oldroyd of the John Innes Centre, who is seeking to genetically engineer cereal crops that can fix nitrogen from the air. He also meets farmer David Hill, who explains the hi-tech lengths he goes to in order to squeeze the maximum yield out of his fertiliser.
Jul 27, 2014
Elemental Business: Nitrogen Explosives
Nitrogen - the world's most abundant gas - has brought life and death to humanity on an epic scale - and tragedy to the scientists that have harnessed its power. It is seemingly inert, yet it can also blow things up. In the first of two programmes on nitrogen, chemistry guru Andrea Sella of University College London explains to Justin Rowlatt how the forces that make this gas so stable are the same ones that make nitrogen compounds such as nitroglycerin so explosive. Jez Smith, former head of research at the world's biggest explosives firm, Orica, talks about the shocking accuracy of modern mining detonations - all of them based on nitrogen. And Justin travels to the headquarters of German chemicals giant BASF to learn about ammonia production from Dr Michael Mauss and Bernard Geis, and how the work of chemists Fritz Haber and Karl Bosch a century ago saved the planet from starvation.
Jul 26, 2014
Elemental Business: Carbon Plastic
Plastics are one of the most useful substances known to man, strong, durable and abundant, but once in the environment, they are here to stay. Professor Andrea Sella tells us about the unique properties of carbon-based plastics - why they are so useful and why they are so hard to get rid of. And, Dr Susan Mossman, a materials science specialist at the Science Museum, gives us a plastics history lesson which has a few surprises along the way. But what happens when the high cost of hydro-carbons make plastics too expensive? Head of the National Non-Food Crops Centre in York, Dr Jeremy Tomkinson, is amongst those out there looking for alternatives. He tells us what a new generation of plastics might have to offer.
Jul 25, 2014
Elemental Business: Lithium (long version)
Lithium is the electro-chemical element - big in batteries and bipolar disorder. Over two decades it has shot from obscurity to become almost synonymous with the way we power our gadgets. Presenter Justin Rowlatt hears from chemistry powerhouse Prof Andrea Sella of University College London about what makes lithium so light and energetic. We hear from Gideon Long in Chile, who visits the world's richest source of lithium in the Atacama Desert, and about how neighbouring Bolivia believes it will dominate supply if demand for this alkali metal continues to see double-digit growth. Justin speaks to Prof Nigel Brandon of Imperial College, an expert on cutting-edge battery research, about whether this week's element can ever realistically hope to challenge a can of petrol as the best way to power a car. And we hear from clinical psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison of Johns Hopkins University about the literally life-saving role lithium has played for sufferers of bipolar disorder - including herself.
Jul 22, 2014
Elemental Business: Rare Earths
The rare earth elements are the focus of the latest instalment in Business Daily's exploration of the real basis of the world economy - the basic building blocks of everything in the universe, the chemical elements. And it's not a short list we cover: Lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, turbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytturbium and lutetium. You may not have heard of most of them but some have insinuated themselves deep into modern life. We'll be finding out the extraordinarily range of uses to which they've been put, as well as the big problem: The supply of these is overwhelmingly dominated by China. We'll be hearing from Professor Andrea Sella of University College London, Jack Lifton of Technology Metals Research, the journalist Cecile Bontron who provides a first-hand account of the Chinese processing plant at Baotou, as well as Henrik Stiesdahl and Rasmus Windfeld of Siemens' wind turbine division.
Jul 21, 2014
Elemental Business: Carbon Diamonds
Synthetic or natural? Diamond ring hunters may soon be asking themselves this question, as technological advances mean the gemstone market could be poised for a flood of man-made stones. Presenter Justin Rowlatt visits the new research headquarters of Element Six, the synthetics arm of mining giant de Beers, to find out how they are made and their proliferating industrial uses. He hears from diamonds journalist Chaim Even Zohar about the factory-made diamonds fraudulently passed of as natural gems. Author Matthew Hart retells the yarn of how a lowly small-time prospector first broke the de Beers cartel. And we hear from de Beers itself - their marketing head Stephen Lussier explains why diamonds really are forever.
Jul 20, 2014
Elemental Business: Carbon Materials
We take a second look at carbon, one of the most versatile of all the elements, in the latest episode of our series looking at the economy of the elements of the periodic table. We all now know that carbon-based fossil fuels are driving global warming, threatening to disrupt all our lives, but could carbon come riding to the rescue? Our favourite chemist, Andrea Sella of University College London, takes us through the basic chemistry of carbon and we visit some of the world's leading materials scientists in two leading carbon research centres. At Manchester University we meet professor Aravind Vijayaraghavan, an expert in the revolutionary nano-material, graphene and two of his colleagues. We also get a tour of the National Composities Centre with its chief executive Peter Chivers. And, we meet Colin Sirett, head of research at the European aerospace group Airbus.
Jul 17, 2014
Elemental Business: Carbon Energy
In our series examining the world economy from the perspective of the chemical elements, we look at how the industrial revolution was really an energy revolution driven by carbon-based fossil fuels. Chemistry professor Andrea Sella of University College London and his geology colleague professor Mark Maslin explain the chemical wizardry that makes carbon the ultimate fuel. We hear from Dr Paul Warde an industrial historian at the University of East Anglia, about how the 'C' element has powered the longest and most sustained economic boom in the history of humanity. But how long can it last? Can we expect the mother of all crashes when the carbon crunch finally comes? Two former oil men, Chris Mottershead, former head of energy security at BP and now vice principal for research at King's College in London and John Hofmeister, former president of Shell Oil, give us their perspectives on the whether the world is ready to tackle its addiction to fossil fuels, before the fuel runs out and in time to avert a looming climate change disaster.
Jul 16, 2014
Elemental Business: Gold
What makes gold so valuable, why is it golden and why is it the only elelment that makes a good currency? In chemical terms it is virtually useless. Justin Rowlatt talks to one of the world's biggest manufacturers of mobile phones about how you can recover the gold in your handset and learns how little gold there actually is. Find out more in the latest in our series examining the world economy from the perspective of the building blocks of the universe - the chemical elements.
Jul 15, 2014
Elemental Business: Mercury
Mercury is the bad-boy of the periodic table, often called 'quicksilver', it is both mesmerising and toxic as Professor Andrea Sella of University College London vividly explains. In the fourth of our series examining the global economics of chemical elements Justin Rowlatt speaks to Tim Kasten of the United Nations' Environment Programme who is one of the architects of a new international treaty that aims to ban the metal from industrial uses by 2020. As we discover, that ban will affect everything from coal-fired power stations to small-scale gold miners in developing countries, to the illumination of the lowly office. We visit a fluorescent bulb recycling plant outisde Norwich and speak to small scale gold miners in Ghana about how the ban might affect them. But it is all in a good cause, as Justin discovers when he visits one of the finest fishmongers in London.
Jul 14, 2014
Elemental Business: Aluminium
We look at aluminium, a more dazzling metal than you may imagine. A sceptical Justin Rowlatt visits the lab of our perennial chemist, Andrea Sella, to find out why it is used in everything from drinks cans to packaging to insulation to window frames.This metal used to be incredibly rare, because it is so hard to extract from its ore, bauxite. We visit Britain's only aluminium smelter - in the Scottish Highlands - to find out why so much electricity is needed in the process. But once you have it, it can be used, recycled and re-used almost ad infinitum. As the stock of metal in circulation increases every year, we ask the world's biggest manufacturer of rolled aluminium sheets whether one day the world may not need to mine the metal at all any more. And, as if that were not enough, we dispatch Justin to tour the world's biggest aluminium car body shop to find out why vehicle manufacturers are dropping the use of steel in favour of its lighter rival. (Photo: Aluminium bodied Range Rovers in production at the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) plant in Solihull. Credit: Press Association)
Jul 13, 2014
Elemental Business: Helium
Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe but very rare on earth. Professor Andrea Sella of University College London, explains to Justin Rowlatt the properties that make this inert gas so useful. He explains where it comes from and where it goes to. Washington correspondent, Jonny Dymond, is out in the wilds of the Texas pan-handle to explore the US national helium reserve. And, we hear from the head of General Electric's Magnetic Resonance Imaging division - one of the world's biggest users of helium - on why the gas is so important in the fight against many diseases.
Jul 12, 2014
Elemental Business: Phosphorus
In the first of Elementary Business - a new series of programmes about the chemical elements - Justin Rowlatt asks whether phosphorus poses the biggest looming crisis that you have never heard of. Since 1945, the world's population has tripled. Yet the fact that we've still managed to feed all those mouths is in no small part thanks to phosphates. We mine them, turn them into fertiliser, and then spread them onto our fields, whence they are ultimately washed away into the ocean. Justin speaks to chemist Andrea Sella to find out just why phosphorus is so vital to sustaining life, and modern agriculture. He also hears from Jeremy Grantham, a voice from the world of high finance, who warns that pretty soon Morocco may find itself with the dubious honour of a near-monopoly of the world's remaining phosphate supplies. And Justin travels to the lowly town of Slough, near London, to take a look at one new way of staving off the dreaded day when the world eventually runs out of the stuff. (Photo: The Thames Valley sewage treatment facility at Slough, which can extract phosphorus)
Jul 11, 2014