John Ydstie

John Ydstie has covered the economy, Wall Street and the federal budget for NPR for two decades. In recent years NPR has broadened his responsibilities, making use of his reporting and interviewing skills to cover major stories like the aftermath of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. His current focus is reporting on the global financial crisis. Ydstie is also a regular guest host on the NPR news programs Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Talk of the Nation.

During 1991 and 1992 Ydstie was NPR's bureau chief in London. He traveled throughout Europe covering, among other things, the breakup of the Soviet Union and attempts to move Europe toward closer political and economic union. He accompanied U.S. businessmen exploring investment opportunities in Russia as the Soviet Union was crumbling. He was on the scene in The Netherlands when European leaders approved the Maastricht Treaty, which created the European Union.

In August 1990, Ydstie traveled to Saudi Arabia for NPR as a member of the Pentagon press pool sent to cover the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. During the early stages of the crisis, Ydstie was the only American radio reporter in the country.

Ydstie has been with NPR since 1979. For two years, he was an associate producer responsible for Midwest coverage. In 1982 he became senior editor on NPR's Washington Desk, overseeing coverage of the federal government, American politics and economics. In 1984, Ydstie joined Morning Edition as the show's senior editor, and later was promoted to the position of executive producer. In 1988, he became NPR's economics correspondent.

During his tenure with NPR, Ydstie has won numerous awards. He was a member of the NPR team that received the George Foster Peabody for its coverage of 9/11. Ydstie's reporting from Saudi Arabia helped NPR win the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award in 1991 for coverage of the Gulf War. Prior to joining NPR, Ydstie was a reporter and producer at Minnesota Public Radio. While there, he was awarded the Clarion Award for his report "Vietnam Experience and America Today."

A graduate of Concordia College, in Moorhead, MN, Ydstie earned a bachelor of arts degree, summa cum laude, with a major in English literature and a minor in speech communications.

Ydstie was born in Minneapolis, and grew up in rural North Dakota.

On Thursday, President Obama named Daniel Werfel, 42, acting IRS commissioner. The announcement comes a day after the resignation of Steven Miller, who got caught up in the controversy over the IRS targeting Tea Party groups.

As the economy improves, the federal budget deficit is growing dramatically smaller. The Congressional Budget Office has sharply revised its estimates from just a few months ago, knocking off $200 billion in red ink for the current fiscal year. Some temporary factors are being cited for the projected improvement.

The government's employment report for April comes out Friday. It's an important measure of the economy's health and the advance signals have been mixed. One report this week showed layoffs falling to a five-year low, but another suggests disappointing jobs creation.

At least one sector is providing some positive news for the job market: housing.

Consumer advocates call them "debt" traps. The banks that offer them call them direct-deposit advances and describe them as available funds for short-term emergencies.

But the cash advances have many of the negative characteristics of payday loans. And on Thursday, U.S. bank regulators took a step toward protecting consumers from the risks they pose. The regulators proposed standards for "deposit-advance products."



The International Monetary Fund has trimmed its forecast for global growth.

NPR's John Ydstie reports the outlook was adjusted downward, largely because so much of Europe is still in recession.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: The IMF projects the Euro area economy will shrink three-tenths of a percent this year, but return to positive growth next year.

Meanwhile, the IMF forecast, called the World Economic Outlook, predicts the U.S. will grow just under two percent this year and around three percent in 2014.

Currency traders were stunned last week by aggressive action from Japan's central bank. The Bank of Japan embarked on a bond-buying program that, by one measure, is twice the size of the extraordinary moves by Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve in the United States. The BOJ's move is an effort to shock the Japanese economy out of more than a decade of sluggish growth and deflation.

On the second day since Cyprus reopened its banks, depositors continue to face restrictions on getting at their money. ATM withdrawals are limited to 300 euros a day, and there are limits on how much cash travelers can take abroad.



NPR's business news starts with high debt and low wealth.


INSKEEP: Since the financial crisis, many Americans have been saving money and paying down debt. Many are in better financial shape than a few years ago. But when you look at the longer term, it is clear that Americans as a whole have not regained all the ground they lost.

The Census Bureau compared Americans in 2011 with their wealth and debt burdens in that seemingly long-ago year, 2000.

NPR's John Ydstie reports.



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Melissa Block.

Amid Washington's dysfunction, one issue has united some liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans: a common concern that "too big to fail" is alive and well.

Despite the Dodd-Frank financial reforms, these lawmakers believe the nation's largest banks still pose a threat to the economy and that the government will step in to bail them out if they get in trouble.

The stock market's long climb from its recession bottom has some people concerned it may be a bubble about to burst — a bubble artificially pumped up by the Federal Reserve's easy-money policy. That's led to calls — even from within the Fed — for an end to the central bank's extraordinary efforts to keep interest rates low.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the automatic budget cuts that go into effect Friday will shave 0.6 percent from the economy's annual growth rate. That might not be a big worry if the economy were growing at 3 or 4 percent. But growth is a paltry 2 percent, so the impact may be noticeable.



NPR's business news starts with Europe's rocky economy.


WERTHEIMER: It was a tough three months for the eurozone at the end of last year. The area fell deeper into recession.

And as NPR's John Ydstie reports, it's expected to remain in recession well into 2013.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: The output of the eurozone fell six-tenths of a percent in the final three months of last year, according to a report from Eurostat. The decline translates to an economy contracting at a 2.3 percent annual rate.

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Jack Lew, President Obama's pick for Treasury secretary, appears headed toward confirmation by the full Senate. He fared well during his confirmation hearing at the Senate Finance Committee yesterday.

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

Outgoing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has had a bruising four years. He took office when the U.S. economy was plunging into the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Nominating Jack Lew as Geithner's successor Thursday, President Obama praised his departing Treasury secretary for helping to get the economy back on track.

Businesses complained that the uncertainty surrounding the "fiscal cliff" froze their decisions about hiring and expanding, which hurt the economy. Washington has now managed half a deal, which settles tax issues, at least for the time being. But has that removed enough uncertainty to boost some business hiring and investment?

The U.S. economy was a bit of a disappointment in 2012. During the early months of the year, job creation was surprisingly strong, but by the end of the year, uncertainty about the election and the "fiscal cliff" slowed the economy's forward motion. So will 2013 look any better?

Mark Zandi of Moody's Analytics says that while Washington likely will steer us away from the fiscal cliff at the last minute, some elements of the deal will be a drag on the economy early in 2013.

The Federal Reserve continued to keep its foot on the accelerator in 2012, using unusual tactics to try to boost economic growth. But there's disagreement among economists about whether the Fed's policies were effective or whether the risks to the economy outweighed the rewards.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.




In the U.S., the Federal Reserve now says it intends to keep its benchmark interest rate exceptionally low until the unemployment rate reaches six and a half percent. It's the first time the Fed has named a specific thresh-hold for when it would begin raising interest rates.

NPR's John Ydstie has more.

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We asked listeners what they wanted to know about efforts to head off the package of tax hikes and spending cuts set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2012. Today, we get answers from Scott Horsley, Tamara Keith and John Ydstie.

President Obama is lobbying the CEOs of the nation's largest companies to support him as he tries to reach a budget deal with Republican lawmakers. The president met Wednesday with members of the Business Roundtable. The group urges the extension of Bush-era tax cuts for everyone, including the wealthy.

The Republican plan to avert the "fiscal cliff" that the White House rejected Monday includes at least one element that's likely to produce controversy: a proposal that would, among other things, affect the cost of living adjustment for Social Security.

As negotiations continue in Washington over a plan to avoid the fiscal cliff — that combination of tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled for Jan. 1 — one big sticking point is whether to raise tax rates for high-income Americans.

Congress and the White House constructed the cliff last year, thinking it would force them to focus on solving the deficit problem. But they're still battling over what approach makes the most sense.

"No substantive progress has been made." That's what House Speaker John Boehner had to say Thursday about efforts to avoid automatic spending cuts and tax increases at year's end.

The administration's lead negotiator, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, met with congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle Thursday, looking for an agreement on the hazard Congress and the White House created last year to focus their minds on deficit reduction.

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After four years, Wall Street's top regulator, Mary Schapiro, is stepping down. President Obama appointed her to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission in January 2009, in the middle of the financial crisis.

The White House and Congress continue to work on a deal that avoids the fiscal cliff and cuts deficits in the long run. One of the biggest hurdles is President Obama's proposal to raise tax rates for the wealthy.

Republicans think a better course would be to raise revenue by closing loopholes and limiting deductions for high-income people. The question is, could that method raise enough money.

A second term means some new Cabinet appointments for President Obama, including at the Treasury. After four pretty grueling years, Secretary Timothy Geithner has made it clear he will be leaving Washington.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said last week that Geithner would be staying on through the inauguration. He's also expected to be a "key participant" in "fiscal cliff" negotiations.