Business

The Two-Way
5:11 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Fed Hints At More Action To Boost Economy

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke talks to educators Aug. 7 in Washington, D.C. At their most recent meeting, many Fed members backed action to boost the economy.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

The Federal Reserve could take more steps to boost the struggling U.S. economy. That's according to minutes released Wednesday of the Federal Open Market Committee's July 31-Aug. 1 meeting.

"Many members judged that additional monetary accommodation would likely be warranted fairly soon unless incoming information pointed to a substantial and sustainable strengthening in the pace of the economic recovery," the minutes said. [PDF]

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The Two-Way
10:48 am
Wed August 22, 2012

Sales Of Existing Homes Rose In July, Another Sign Of Stronger Market

More of these sorts of signs are popping up (November 2011 file photo from San Rafael, Calif.).
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

A 2.3 percent increase in sales of previously owned homes in July from June is the latest sign that the housing market is on the mend, Reuters reports.

The National Association of Realtors said this morning that sales of existing homes increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.47 million.

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The Two-Way
10:19 am
Wed August 22, 2012

Deficit To Be $1.1 Trillion, Unemployment To Stay Above 8 Percent, CBO Says

Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 10:33 am

Expect to hear about this from the campaign of Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney as he continues to take aim at President Obama's record on the budget and the economy:

The Congressional Budget Office reports this morning that "for fiscal year 2012 (which ends on September 30), the federal budget deficit will total $1.1 trillion ... marking the fourth year in a row with a deficit of more than $1 trillion."

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Business
7:03 am
Wed August 22, 2012

Video Game Sales Fall, While Downloads Increase

Video games are getting better in terms of quality, so why are sales falling month after month? David Greene talks to Chris Kohler, who writes about video games for Wired Magazine. The two examine the trends and new technologies reshaping this big, and growing industry.

Your Money
11:36 am
Tue August 21, 2012

Refinancing: How To Wade Through The Choppy Waters

Interest rates on mortgages are at an all-time low. But refinancing can be a daunting process. Financial guru and author Louis Barajas speaks with guest host Viviana Hurtado about the ins and outs of refinancing, and what consumers can do to make the process go more smoothly.

Business
4:48 am
Tue August 21, 2012

UCLA's MBA Program Wants To Give Up State Funds

Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 9:01 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The business school at UCLA wants to go into business for itself. The Anderson School of Management is part of a public university. Of course, it's in California and the school's leaders find that being part of public education in California right now is a little maddening. Budget battles and state budget cuts have become normal.

Will Stone reports on what the school wants to do instead.

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Latin America
4:39 am
Tue August 21, 2012

Cuba Views China, Vietnam As Economic Hope

People, one holding an image of Cuba's President Raul Castro and his brother Fidel Castro, wait in line at a bus stop in Havana last month.
Franklin Reyes AP

Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 9:01 am

Cuba is one of the world's last remaining communist states. Cuba's allies in China and Vietnam also maintain firm one-party rule, but have prospered by introducing market principles to their economic models. With Cuban President Raul Castro easing government controls on property rights and private enterprise, many are wondering if the struggling island is looking to Asia for a way forward.

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Economy
4:30 am
Mon August 20, 2012

The Latest On The Global Economy

Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 5:43 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Exports of goods and services have been one of the bright spots in the lackluster U.S. economy lately. Exports have been growing much faster than almost anything else. But, economies around the world are now slowing.

And to find out what that means for U.S. exports and jobs, we turn, as we often do, to David Wessel, economics editor of The Wall Street Journal.

Good morning, David.

DAVID WESSEL: Good morning.

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The Salt
6:41 am
Sun August 19, 2012

Shop Owners Hope Yogurt Smooths A Path Out Of Greek Recession

Dimitris Plassas and Georgia Ladopoulou work the yogurt bar at Fresko, which specializes in several varieties of Greek-style yogurt.
Joanna Kakissis NPR

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 11:23 am

Greeks used to take their yogurt for granted. This year, at anti-austerity protests, they even threw it at their politicians. But Greeks are finally realizing yogurt might actually help the country during its worst recession in half a century.

In Athens, dozens of entrepreneurs have opened yogurt bars. The first one, called Fresko, opened last year on a pedestrian street near the Acropolis. It features four types of rich, strained yogurt kept cool in traditional ceramic pots.

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Business
6:21 am
Sun August 19, 2012

She's No Man; She's A Lobsterman

Lobsterman Genevieve Kurilec holds a lobster caught while fishing along Deer Isle, Maine. Kurilec says more women are beginning to captain their own lobster boats.
Chris Arnold NPR

Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 5:46 pm

In New England, more women are breaking through the glass gangway. That's the ramp you use to walk down onto a dock to hop onboard your own fishing boat. For generations lobstermen in Maine have been predominantly, well, men — but that's starting to change.

At a small gas dock in a rock-lined cove on Deer Isle, Maine, there's a new captain fueling up. Genevieve Kurilec, 29, wears a tank-top, orange fishing overalls and lobster buoy earrings.

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Your Money
6:21 am
Sun August 19, 2012

Stores Banking On Personalized Loyalty Programs

A customer using Safeway's personalized deals gets this loaf of bread for 99 cents instead of the original $4.29.
Ashley Gross KPLU

Originally published on Sun August 19, 2012 6:56 pm

Loyalty cards have long given discounts to shoppers who sign up, but stores are increasingly offering personalized discounts tailored to each customer's shopping patterns.

Those tailored discounts mean someone standing in front of you at the supermarket checkout line might get a lower price on the exact same gallon of milk that you're buying.

A 'Secret Deal'

Heather Kulper is one of those people who really wants to get a good deal. She's a mom in a suburb north of Seattle who writes a blog about coupon clipping and saving money.

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Economy
5:01 pm
Sat August 18, 2012

In Weak Economy, College Grads 'Surge' Into Military

When his parents Tuy (center) and Mydung (right) Lam lost their jobs, electrical engineering major Louis Lam enlisted in the Navy.
Michael Tomsic NPR

Originally published on Sat August 18, 2012 7:14 pm

The weak economy is helping to drive thousands more college graduates into the U.S. military.

Since the recession began in 2007, there's been a steady increase in the number of college graduates joining the armed forces. The Navy and Army have seen the biggest jumps. About 60 percent more college grads joined the Navy last year than in 2007.

For some of them, it's a job some would never have imagined for themselves just a few years ago.

Not 'What I Thought I'd Be Doing'

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Economy
4:12 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

New Terms Set For Frannie And Freddie

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 6:03 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The Treasury Department today changed the terms of its bailout agreement with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As NPR's Chris Arnold reports, those terms were proving hopeless for the companies to keep up with.

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Your Money
2:59 am
Fri August 17, 2012

Student Loans Can Dent Retirees' Social Security

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 2:37 pm

Families often pull together to help finance a college education, with parents and grandparents chipping in or co-signing loans. And now, a SmartMoney report finds the U.S. government withholding money from Social Security recipients who've stopped paying on federal student loans.

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Economy
2:46 am
Fri August 17, 2012

Low Mortgage Rates Boost 'Serial Refinancers'

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 2:35 pm

Refinance activity continues to boom, fueling the home-loan market. Low interest rates have created a class of "serial refinancers" — those lucky enough to borrow at lower rates — and given them new opportunities to spend their freed up cash.

Settlement attorney Robert Gratz never used to be on a first-name basis with his clients.

"In the past, our practice was such that you'd see people, and that was the end of it," he says.

Gratz now sees the same faces all the time, of clients refinancing again and again — these days in the mid-3 percent range.

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All Tech Considered
6:19 pm
Thu August 16, 2012

What's In Your Wallet? Wait, You Don't Need One

A barista processes a customer's payment using Square, a device that turns a mobile device into a card swiper. More businesses are using the devices to simplify credit card payments. Others are embracing technology that allows consumers to pay with their cellphones.
Jeff Wheeler MCT/Landov

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 6:39 pm

Most Americans pay with plastic or cash when they visit the grocery store, buy their daily coffee, or fill up the gas tank. But a growing number of large companies are trying to change that.

Google, Starbucks and Wal-Mart are among the many firms that are eager to replace consumers' wallets and stores' cash registers, with smartphones and other mobile devices.

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U.S.
5:30 pm
Thu August 16, 2012

Drivers Wonder Where Price Of Gas Will Go Next

Teresa Jones tanks up in Los Angeles. The high price of crude oil, combined with refinery problems in California and the Midwest, have helped drive up the price of gas nationwide.
Grant Hindsley AP

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 2:39 pm

If you plot out a chart of 2012's average gasoline prices, you get what looks like a roller coaster. There's a steady increase from January to April, the spring peak around $4 per gallon, and then a steady decline in May and June.

By the beginning of July, the national average was hovering around $3.42.

But since then, that roller coaster chart has been heading into its second big climb. Prices have been going up since July 1, and are now approaching $3.80.

So, many drivers are now wondering if we should soon expect to pay even more — or if we're near the peak.

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The Two-Way
8:40 am
Thu August 16, 2012

Jobless Claims Held Steady At 366,000 Last Week

There were 366,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, up by 2,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration says.

So what we said last week applies again:

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Business
4:38 am
Thu August 16, 2012

Olympians Try To Turn Medals Into Endorsements

Originally published on Tue August 21, 2012 4:53 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And while the Olympic Games are over and the athletes have all headed home, the competition for athletes to turn their gold into gold by securing valuable endorsements is in full swing.

To talk to us about some of the big sponsorship deals that might be in the works, we're joined by Emily Steel, who covers media and marketing in New York for the Financial Times.

Good morning.

EMILY STEEL: Good morning.

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American Dreams: Then And Now
3:28 am
Thu August 16, 2012

Persuading Banks To Give Homeowners A Break

Sara Millan (left) thanks Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America CEO Bruce Marks after NACA was able to reduce her family's mortgage during an event in Los Angeles in September 2010.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Originally published on Tue August 21, 2012 4:53 pm

Over the past four years, Bruce Marks has been on a traveling road show to help people avoid foreclosure. His nonprofit, the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, has held more than 80 events in cities around the country. So far, Marks says, NACA has helped 202,000 people get their payments lowered so they can afford to keep their homes.

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Economy
3:24 am
Thu August 16, 2012

Amid Budget Squeeze N.Y. Sells Nursing Homes

Horace Nye Nursing Home in Elizabethtown, N.Y., was sold in June, part of a wave of privatizations in rural counties across New York state.
Brian Mann for NPR

Originally published on Tue August 21, 2012 4:53 pm

The national recession may be over, but local governments around the country are still hurting. Core services and programs are being scaled back, cut or privatized. In Upstate New York, county officials are scrambling to sell off nursing homes that have been taxpayer-funded for generations.

Horace Nye Nursing Home in Elizabethtown, N.Y., a modest brick building that sits a stone's throw from the village square, has 100 beds, and that's how many elderly people live here. There is always a waiting list.

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Planet Money
2:51 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

Everybody Always Thinks Inflation Is Higher Than It Really Is

Tony Gutierrez AP

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 10:30 am

The world is going to hell, and prices are going through the roof. This, more or less, seems to be the perpetual conventional wisdom.

The first half of the statement is debatable. But the second half is clearly wrong at the moment: Prices are not going through the roof.

Prices for U.S. consumers rose by just 1.4 percent over the past year, according to the consumer price index numbers released this morning. In other words, inflation is very low.

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The Two-Way
8:41 am
Wed August 15, 2012

Inflation Stayed In Check Last Month: No Change In July

There was no change in the consumer price index last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

It's the second month in a row that the index was flat — a sign that inflation remained in check for the first half or so of summer. Whether that trend will continue, however, is uncertain.

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All Tech Considered
3:40 am
Wed August 15, 2012

Twitter Lets Customers Skip Recordings, And Make Choices

For customer Laura Hargrove, the choice between moving-truck companies Budget and Penske came down to how they use Twitter.
NPR

Originally published on Wed August 15, 2012 8:48 am

Once used mostly for one-time promos and marketing, Twitter is now something businesses are relying on to provide customer service. For instance, Southwest Airlines tweets to alert folks about delays. And Best Buy responds to questions and complaints via Twitter. And they're not alone.

Let's say you're thinking of ordering a pair of shoes online and you want to know the store's exchange policy. You could pick up the phone — but then you'll hear the old recording: "To ensure quality service, your call may be monitored or recorded."

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It's All Politics
4:49 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Ryan's Mission For Fed: Focus On Prices, Not Unemployment

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., shakes hands with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke at the close of the committee's hearing on the state of the economy in February 2011.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 1:07 pm

Mitt Romney's new running mate has authored some provocative policy proposals to cut budget deficits and overhaul Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. But Rep. Paul Ryan has also been an advocate for a different course for the central banking system of the United States, the Federal Reserve.

For the past 35 years, the Fed has had a dual mandate from Congress: to set interest rates at levels that will both foster maximum employment and keep prices stable. Put another way, the Fed's goals are to get unemployment as low as possible while keeping inflation in check.

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Planet Money
3:38 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

What A Very Old Menu Tells Us About The Price Of Steak

Matt Sayles Associated Press

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 11:08 pm

Delmonico's, the New York City steakhouse, has been around forever.

The New York Public Library's archival menu collection doesn't go back quite that far. But it does have a Delmonico's menu from 1918. The archive also, sort of randomly, has a Delmonico's menu from 1988. Delmonico's current menu is online.

One item that's on all three menus: filet mignon.

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Economy
2:50 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Back-To-School Shoppers Open Wallets, But Carefully

Shoppers walk along Chicago's Michigan Avenue last month.
Sitthixay Ditthavong AP

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 5:29 pm

After months of sitting on their wallets, Americans went shopping in July. The uptick reported Tuesday is boosting economists' hopes for a reasonably strong back-to-school season. And retailers are looking for clues about how the holiday shopping season will turn out later in the year.

"This is a good report," Chris Christopher, an economist with IHS Global Insight, a forecasting firm, wrote in an assessment of the latest report. "It indicates that consumers came back after hunkering down" during the year's first half when sales were "dismal."

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Economy
11:10 am
Tue August 14, 2012

Retail Sales Jump, But Are They High Enough?

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 5:30 pm

July saw the largest retail sales increase in months, according to the Commerce Department. But not all the news is rosy. NPR Senior Business Editor Marilyn Geewax joins guest host Jacki Lyden to take a look at consumer spending and the "back to school" season.

The Two-Way
8:50 am
Tue August 14, 2012

Retail Sales Rose 0.8 Percent In July; More Than Expected

There was a 0.8 percent increase in retail sales in July from June, the Census Bureau says, thanks in part to gains in purchases of cars, furniture and appliances.

Overall, The Associated Press says, "all major categories showed increases, a sign that consumers may be gaining confidence." If that is indeed the case, it's good news for the economy. Consumers purchase about 70 percent of all goods and services.

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The Salt
3:30 am
Tue August 14, 2012

Crayfish Go On The Menu To Restore Lake Tahoe's Blue Hue

A commercially harvested crayfish from Lake Tahoe near Incline Village, Nev., in July.
Max Whittaker Prime for NPR

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 11:30 am

Around the country, environmentalists are cooking up ways to battle invasive species by serving them up on a platter.

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