Business

U.S.
11:14 am
Thu September 20, 2012

'Fiscal Cliff' Scenarios Leave Economists On Edge

Economists hope lawmakers can avert a "fiscal cliff" after November's election, but what if Congress runs out of time?
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 2:46 pm

Members of Congress are about to flee Capitol Hill, and they'll be gone until Nov. 13, one week after Election Day.

As they shift to full-time campaigning, lawmakers are leaving behind many questions about the "fiscal cliff," a massive cluster of automatic spending cuts and tax-break expirations that come together around year's end.

Read more
Planet Money
11:04 am
Thu September 20, 2012

The Fiscal Cliff, In Three And A Half Graphics

Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

Originally published on Tue November 6, 2012 11:50 am

For more, see this story from NPR's Marilyn Geewax on how Congress might pass some stopgap measures to blunt the effect of the fiscal cliff.

A bunch of federal tax increases and spending cuts are scheduled to kick in around Jan. 1, 2013. This is what people are talking about when they talk about the "fiscal cliff."

Read more
The Two-Way
8:45 am
Thu September 20, 2012

Jobless Claims Changed Little Last Week

There were 382,000 first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week, down by just 3,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration says.

Meanwhile, "the 4-week moving average was 377,750, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week's revised average of 375,750." That figure offers a slightly better look at the trend.

Read more
The Two-Way
7:10 am
Thu September 20, 2012

Census: In 2011, Number Of Poor Americans Increased

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 9:21 am

(We retopped this post at 8 a.m. ET.)

Though fresh data from the Census Bureau show that the number of Americans living in poverty edged higher in 2011, its latest American Community Survey also signals that after a Great Recession and a painfully slow recovery the U.S. economy may finally be bottoming out.

The Associated Press leads its report on the news this way:

Read more
Business
5:09 am
Thu September 20, 2012

Samsung Keeps Up Patent Fight Against Apple

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 5:14 am

Apple and Samsung remained locked in their high stakes patent dispute. A Silicon Valley jury last month ordered Samsung to pay Apple more than $1 billion for infringing on its patents. Samsung is fighting in court and with a new aggressive marketing campaign for its Galaxy smartphones.

Around the Nation
5:09 am
Thu September 20, 2012

Census Survey: Poor Americans Increased In 2011

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 5:14 am

The Census Bureau has released the results of the American Community Survey. The bad news is that poverty is up. Nearly 16 percent of Americans live below the poverty line. Median household income is down too. The good news is that declines are not as steep as the depths of the recession.

The Two-Way
9:30 am
Wed September 19, 2012

Housing Starts Rose Again In August, Pace Remains Well Above Previous Years

Construction that was underway this summer in San Mateo, Calif.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 10:30 am

(This post was updated at 10:05 a.m. ET.)

In the morning's second sign of strength in the housing sector, the National Association of Realtors reports that sales of existing homes rose 7.8 percent in August from July and were 9.3 percent above the pace of August 2011.

Read more
The Salt
3:05 am
Wed September 19, 2012

So What Happens If The Farm Bill Expires? Not Much, Right Away

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., talk to reporters about the farm bill at the U.S. Capitol in June.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 4:53 pm

Congress is set to make a brief appearance in Washington this week, then recess until after Election Day. That means a farm bill is likely to be left undone, just one of the many items on lawmakers' "to-do" lists that won't happen anytime soon.

Read more
Education
3:01 am
Wed September 19, 2012

Do Scores Go Up When Teachers Return Bonuses?

An incentive system that gave bonuses to teachers upfront, with the threat of having to give the money back if student performance didn't improve, proved effective in one study.
David Franklin iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 8:47 pm

In Chicago, parents were fuming over a weeklong strike by teachers. Around the rest of the country, in the face of growing evidence that many U.S. students are falling behind, administrators have tried to devise different ways to motivate teachers.

Read more
The Salt
3:33 am
Tue September 18, 2012

Japanese Sake Makers Shake Off Tradition, Try Brewing Craft Beer

Kiuchi Brewery vice president Youichi Kiuchi holds a bottle of his company's Hitachino Nest beer. To make beer, the brewery is using equipment that once was used for sake.
Lucy Craft NPR

Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 7:25 am

Until recently, if you ordered Japanese beer, there weren't many to choose from. Before the industry was deregulated in the 1990s, four major brewers — Asahi, Suntory, Sapporo and Kirin – controlled the manufacture of Japanese beer.

But the major brands' domination is ebbing, for reasons that have as much to do with Japan's ancient history as with its evolving palates. And now some traditional sake brewers are ditching the tradition and trying their hand at craft beer brewing.

Read more
The Salt
3:44 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

Shriveled Mich. Apple Harvest Means Fewer Jobs, Tough Year Ahead

A lonely Michigan apple.
Noah Adams NPR

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 2:42 pm

An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but what do you do when there are no apples? It's a question western Michigan's apple growers are dealing with this season after strange weather earlier in the year decimated the state's apple cultivation.

Michigan is the third-largest apple producer in the U.S. after New York and Washington, but the state's apples will soon be in short supply. Now in the middle of harvest season, growers are picking only 10 percent to 15 percent of their normal crop.

Read more
Economy
11:34 am
Mon September 17, 2012

Is The 'Fiscal Cliff' As Bad As It Sounds?

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 12:29 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, last year the Occupy Wall Street movement dominated headlines for weeks and added terms like the 99 percent to our political vocabularies. But a year after the protests started we wanted to know where the movement stands now. We're going to call writer and activist Debra Dickerson about this. She's at the heart of the anniversary protest. That's later in the program.

Read more
Africa
6:20 am
Sun September 16, 2012

Rwanda's Economy: An Unlikely Success Story

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame at the International Fund for Agricultural Development headquarters in Rome in February. Changes in agriculture have been part of the country's economic growth.
Tiziana Fabi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 9:52 am

East Africa is a tough place to do business. Want to open shop in Kenya? Prepare for a month of paper work, surly officials and bribes. To the west, in Rwanda, it's a different story.

"Registering a business takes just a matter of hours. It no longer takes months, weeks, as it used to be," says Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

Read more
Economy
4:58 pm
Sat September 15, 2012

Fed's Latest Stimulus Lacked Unanimous Support

Originally published on Sat September 15, 2012 5:48 pm

Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, was the lone dissenting vote in a 12-member body that authorized a new, open-ended round of quantitative easing this week designed to tackle the persistently high unemployment rate. Lacker talks with weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz about his vote and the stimulus.

Planet Money
2:50 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

Even If You're All-Powerful, It's Hard To Fix The Economy

This guy lives in a computer. Can you get him a job?
Walt Disney Pictures The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 2:43 pm

The world inside Mark Zandi's computer model feels pretty familiar. It's full of people who are worried about the economy. Their homes are being foreclosed on. They're paying more for gas. Something like 13 million of them can't find jobs.

Read more
U.S.
4:24 am
Fri September 14, 2012

California Online Sales Tax Faces Enforcement Hurdle

An Amazon worker sorts packages at a fulfillment center in Goodyear, Ariz.
Ross D. Franklin AP

Originally published on Fri September 14, 2012 11:43 am

It's not hard to find online shoppers these days. Take the hipster cafe in San Francisco's Mission District where Shirin Oskooi opens her laptop and ticks off her latest Amazon purchases.

Next to her is Craig Sumner. He opens an Amazon invoice to see how much sales tax he was charged on his latest pair of Levis: none.

Read more
Economy
4:24 am
Fri September 14, 2012

Discouraged In Hunt For A Job, Many Stop Looking

A job fair was held at the The Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., last month. The U.S. unemployment rate declined in August in part because the number of "discouraged workers" climbed.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Fri September 14, 2012 11:43 am

The U.S. population is growing. In normal times, the labor force — working or not — would be growing too. But these are not normal times, and the labor force is actually smaller than it was four years ago, meaning millions of people who should be there aren't.

The reasons people drop out of the workforce are myriad. People go back to school. Others have health issues or family priorities that keep them from looking for work. But some stop looking because they are discouraged.

Read more
Economy
4:57 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Fed Unveils New Programs To Stimulate Economy

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 11:19 pm

The Federal Reserve expanded its list of stimulus programs Thursday with a new one aimed squarely at the housing market. The Fed will begin buying $40 billion worth of mortgage-backed securities every month, and will continue doing so until it sees the labor market improve.

The Two-Way
3:30 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Ben Bernanke: Fed Is Looking For 'Sustained Improvement' Of Economy

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks during a news conference in Washington.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 3:55 pm

Federal Reserve Chief Ben Bernanke said the new monetary policy announced today is aimed at getting the U.S. economy moving for good.

After a meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed announced that it would spend $40 billion a month on mortgage-backed securities in an effort to stimulate the economy and drive the the unemployment rate down.

Read more
Planet Money
2:57 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

The Fed Goes Big

Any questions?
Jim Watson Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 6:06 pm

What people think is going to happen to the economy has a huge influence over what actually happens. If you can change peoples' expectations, you can change the world.

The Federal Reserve knows this. And, as Robert Smith pointed out this morning, Ben Bernanke and the Fed have been using the power of expectations more and more in recent years.

This afternoon, the Fed took another huge step in this direction.

Read more
Economy
2:22 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Smiley, West: Poverty Is A Political Issue

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan.

Read more
Economy
12:25 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

William Julius Wilson: Ending Poverty Is Possible

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 4:55 pm

The Census Bureau announced that 15 percent of Americans lived in poverty in 2011 — a slight drop from the year before. But income disparities continue to grow. Host Michel Martin talks with Harvard professor William Julius Wilson, author of the 1987 book The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy.

The Two-Way
12:10 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Federal Reserve Announces New Round Of Economic Stimulus

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke arrives for a dinner at the Jackson Hole Economic Symposium on Thursday.
Ted S. Warren AP

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 1:22 pm

Update at 12:31 p.m. ET. Federal Reserve Announces QE3:

The Federal Reserve announced it would spend $40 billion a month on bond purchases in an effort to stimulate the economy and drive the the unemployment rate down.

The Wall Street Journal says that unlike the first two rounds of Quantitative Easing, this time the Fed will focus solely on buying mortgage-backed securities.

Read more
NPR Story
5:45 am
Thu September 13, 2012

Buddhist Meditation: A Management Skill?

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 2:07 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Companies like Google, General Mills and insurance giant Aetna are teaching yoga and meditation in the workplace to help combat stress. Now some business schools are teaching aspiring MBAs the techniques, as well. Reporter Lisa Napoli visited one school in Southern California offering mindfulness as a management skill.

Read more
Around the Nation
3:35 am
Thu September 13, 2012

Can Marriage Save Single Mothers From Poverty?

New census figures showing a link between single motherhood and poverty have some analysts touting marriage as a means to curb poverty. But others say it's not so simple.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 2:05 pm

Newly released census figures show a long-standing and glaring contrast: A third of families headed by single mothers are in poverty, and they are four times more likely than married-couple families to be poor. The disparity is on the rise, and as the number of single mothers grows, analysts are debating if more marriages could mean less poverty.

Read more
Planet Money
2:16 am
Thu September 13, 2012

The Fed's Other Big Power

Give us a sign.
Alex Brandon AP

Originally published on Fri September 14, 2012 2:06 pm

We think of the power of the Federal Reserve as the power of money. After all, the Fed is the one institution that can create U.S. dollars out of thin air.

But recently, Ben Bernanke has argued that the Fed has another, critical power: the power of words. And when you're the chairman of the Fed, a few words can go a long way.

Read more
Economy
2:03 am
Thu September 13, 2012

Fed Stimulus Expected, But Remedy May Not Be Right

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke in a hearing of the Joint Economic Committee on Capitol Hill in June.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 9:02 am

Federal Reserve policymakers are meeting in Washington, trying to decide whether — and exactly how — to boost the sluggish economy. Many analysts are expecting the Fed to take action, but they're also beginning to question whether another stimulus program will have any effect.

Read more
U.S.
6:39 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

When Telemarketers Pocket Money Meant For Charity

Telemarketers at work at an InfoCision call center. The for-profit company solicits millions in charitable donations each year and also provides marketing services to for-profit clients.
Courtesy of InfoCision

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 2:55 pm

Americans donate billions of dollars to charity each year, and a portion of that money is raised by telemarketing solicitations.

Some of those charitable contributions are solicited by InfoCision Management Corp., an Ohio-based telemarketing company that, on its website, claims to raise more money for nonprofit organizations over the phone than any other company n the world.

Read more
Economy
5:39 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Poverty Rate Unchanged, But Still Historically High

A child waits with a box of food at a mobile food bank in Oswego, N.Y., in June. New census data show that 46.2 million people in the U.S. lived below the poverty line last year.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 12, 2012 9:45 pm

The U.S. poverty rate last year was unchanged from the year before, according to new figures Wednesday from the Census Bureau. But that still means almost 1 in 6 Americans was poor.

The new data show that 46.2 million people in the U.S. lived below the poverty line — about $23,000 for a family of four. The number of poor was almost exactly the same as it was the year before, but still historically high.

Read more
Economy
5:07 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

A Snapshot Of Poverty In The U.S.

The U.S. poverty rate in 2011 was unchanged from 2010, according to new data from the Census Bureau. Here, an historic look at poverty in the U.S.

Pages