Business

The Two-Way
10:19 am
Tue July 17, 2012

In 'Dour' Report, Fed's Bernanke Says Economy Has Decelerated

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 2:10 pm

"The U.S. economy has continued to recover, but economic activity appears to have decelerated somewhat during the first half of this year," Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke tells Congress this morning in testimony prepared for his semiannual report on economic conditions and monetary policy.

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Planet Money
9:59 am
Tue July 17, 2012

Why South Dakota Won't Bail Out Maine

TaxFix.co.uk Flickr

Originally published on Fri August 24, 2012 12:00 pm

Last week, on a trip to New York City from Washington, D.C., I found myself talking about economics with a British intern sitting next to me. He asked a disarmingly simple question: Could the U.S. ever find one state asking others to bail it out, similar to the way Greece or other countries are seeking aid from other nations in the European Union?

My instinct was no — but I had to think about why. As it turns out, two economists in D.C. have written a concise history that helps explain the answer.

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The Two-Way
7:26 am
Tue July 17, 2012

Drought In U.S. Now Worst Since 1956; Food Prices To Spike, Economy To Suffer

On Monday, a weed was growing through the dry earth at Marion Kujawa's pond, which he normally uses to water the cattle on his farm in Ashley, Ill.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 5:16 pm

With about 55 percent of the continental U.S. suffering from "moderate to extreme drought" conditions the nation is withering under conditions that haven't been this bad since 1956, according to a new report from National Climatic Data Center.

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Business
4:48 am
Tue July 17, 2012

Silicon Valley Firm To Help UVA Expand Online Courses

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 12:17 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And we're here next about a new educational partnership with Silicon Valley. It's what the University of Virginia. You may recall last month, UVA's board of governors fired and then rehired President Teresa Sullivan. One reason some board members say they called for her ouster in the first place was that she had not moved quickly enough to expand the university's online courses. That has prompted new initiative being announced today, as NPR's Claudio Sanchez reports.

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Economy
3:00 am
Tue July 17, 2012

Romney's Plan To Revive Jobs Has Mixed Results

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks about job numbers July 6 at Bradley's Hardware in Wolfeboro, N.H.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 5:10 pm

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says he can do better than President Obama at finding jobs for unemployed Americans. One way he would do that is by bringing back personal re-employment accounts.

When people lose their jobs, one of the first places they turn to is their state unemployment office, where they can sign up for unemployment benefits; they often can enroll in some kind of retraining class as well.

In 2004, the Bush administration conducted an experiment to begin privatizing a small part of the federal retraining program.

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Business
5:31 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

For Jobs, Some Young Lawyers Are Keepin' It Rural

Attorney John Pabst, 66, does not have an associate ready to take over his practice in Albia, Iowa, after he retires. He is mentoring a law school student who is interning with him this summer with hopes the young attorney will decide to move to the area.
Sarah McCammon For NPR

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 9:42 am

Plenty of young aspiring lawyers dream of landing a job at a high-powered, big-city firm after graduation. So an internship in a sleepy, rural town might not sound like a dream summer job. But that's just what three law schools in Iowa and Nebraska are encouraging their students to consider.

With recent law school grads facing mountains of debt and one of the worst job markets in decades, practicing law in smaller towns is becoming more attractive for some young lawyers.

Kicking The Tires

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Economy
4:25 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

Call Me Maybe When Your School Loan Is Paid In Full

Some young adults say their student loan debt affects their dating and marriage potential. A few have had partners break up with them over debt, while other couples forge ahead, but keep finances separate and avoid legal marriage.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 5:12 pm

The increasing debt load of college graduates has affected young people's lives in untold ways, from career choices to living arrangements. Now add another impact on a key part of young adult life: dating and marriage.

Rachel Bingham, an art teacher in Portland, Maine, learned this a few years back, when a guy broke it off after four months of a budding relationship. Among other reasons, he cited her $80,000 in student loan debt.

"He said it scared him," she recalls, "that it really made him anxious. And he just did not want to take on my responsibility."

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The Salt
3:17 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

Coney: The Hot Dog That Fed Detroit's American Dream

Patrons pack in at American Coney in this undated photo. 1942
Courtesy Grace Keros

Originally published on Fri October 26, 2012 12:18 pm

Take a hot dog from New York's famed Coney Island, throw in plenty of Greek immigrants and a booming auto industry, add some chili sauce, a steamed bun, chopped onions, mustard and an epic sibling rivalry and you've got the makings of a classic American melting pot story.

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Planet Money
3:02 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

What Americans Earn

Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 3:29 pm

With all the talk about what to do with the Bush tax cuts — and whether they should be extended for no one, everyone, or everyone under a certain income cutoff — we thought it made sense to check in on how much Americans actually make.

Roughly $50,000. That's how much the median households makes in income and benefits per year. In other words, half of American households made less than $50,000 and half made more.

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Economy
11:48 am
Mon July 16, 2012

AFSCME: Attacks On Public Sector Harm Middle Class

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, one of the country's largest unions, is facing a difficult climate. Local governments are slashing employee pensions and state governments are considering measures to curb collective bargaining rights. Host Michel Martin talks with Lee Saunders, AFSCME's new president.

Arts & Life
11:48 am
Mon July 16, 2012

A Writer's 'Cold, Calculated Acts Of Kindness'

After he was laid off in 2008, writer T.M. Shine adopted a unique approach to finding a job. He says his new goal is being nice to people, and he put that right at the top of his resume. Host Michel Martin speaks with Shine about his journey from unemployment back to work, which he wrote about for this week's Washington Post Magazine.

Planet Money
9:59 am
Mon July 16, 2012

How A Bloated Wall Street Can Hurt Growth

Helping or hurting the economy?
Bebeto Matthews AP

We all know an out-of-control financial sector can cause acute and long-lasting problems, thanks to the recent financial crisis. But is there also a more chronic drag on the economy when the finance crowd gets too thick?

One recent paper (PDF) suggests so, and tries to quantify just how much a bloated financial sector can hurt economic growth.

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The Two-Way
8:49 am
Mon July 16, 2012

Retail Sales Dip For Third Straight Month, But Are Still Up From Year Earlier

The bad news: Retail sales fell 0.5 percent in June from May, the Census Bureau says. It's the third straight month that sales have been down from the month before.

But, Census adds that June sales were 3.8 percent above the pace of June 2011. And, "sales for the April through June 2012 period were up 4.7 percent ... from the same period a year ago."

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Business
4:30 am
Mon July 16, 2012

Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Mazda Struggle In U.S Market

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 4:40 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The recession came close to killing off some of the American automakers. Now in a slow recovery, the American companies are doing better. Japanese car companies, some of them, are struggling - in particular some of the smaller Japanese automakers are facing trouble. NPR's Sonari Glinton looks at the fortunes of what are known as the Little Three.

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Business
3:29 am
Mon July 16, 2012

In Bankruptcy, American Airlines Looks At All Options

Will American emerge from bankruptcy as a stand-alone airline, or will it merge with US Airways? An American spokesman says it's considering all options.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 7:30 am

Imagine going into bankruptcy with billions of dollars in cash still in your bank account. That's what American Airlines did last November. The thinking was that management would gut the company's pensions and union contracts and emerge from bankruptcy ready to compete.

But then US Airways said it could take over American and be profitable, and it wouldn't have to hurt American's employees nearly as bad in the process. American's pilots, mechanics and flight attendants loved that idea.

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Business
3:26 am
Mon July 16, 2012

Bucking Bulls Draw Crowds, And Dollars

Bulls are judged with a "dummy" weight for four seconds to see how hard they will jump and twist to buck a rider. Bulls that do well can sell for up to $50,000.
Laura Ziegler KCUR

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 5:04 pm

The bucking bull has long been the embodiment of the American rodeo, and it takes just four seconds for a strong young bull to reap its owner as much as $50,000 in prize money.

Four seconds is how long each 1- or 2-year-old bull will wear a weight strapped to its back as the massive animal is judged on how high it kicks and how much it twists.

In the past 10 years, bucking bulls have become a major industry. The price of the best bloodlines can soar to $250,000, and competitions take place everywhere from Madison Square Garden to Wyoming.

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Economy
5:52 pm
Sat July 14, 2012

A Tale Of Two Cities: Too Many Jobs, Or Not Enough

Agriculture is a key job sector in Yuma, Ariz., where the seasonal workforce and migrant labor tend to boost the unemployment rate.
Jacob Lopez AP

Originally published on Sat July 14, 2012 6:12 pm

Maria Arvizu continues to fill out job applications even though she has yet to deposit her last paycheck.

Arvizu, 53, relocated to Yuma, Ariz., to become a bus driver for the local school district last year. After school closed for summer break, she was caught off guard when she was laid off. She had expected to get another driving assignment and was denied collecting unemployment because she was still considered a school employee.

"I just keep looking for a job," Arvizu says.

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NPR Story
7:49 am
Sat July 14, 2012

$6B Deal Eases Credit Card Surcharge Restrictions

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 4:54 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Visa, MasterCard, some of the nation's other largest banks have agreed to a multibillion dollar settlement of a class action suit involving credit card transaction fees. Now, those are what merchants pay when you use plastic instead of cash. Retailers allege that the two largest payment networks conspired with the banks to keep so-called swipe fees high. NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.

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Mitt Romney
5:49 am
Sat July 14, 2012

Bain, Bain, Go Away: In Defense, Romney Attacks

Mitt Romney appears on ABC News in one of the five TV interviews he did Friday. He mostly responded to comments from the Obama campaign about his role at Bain Capital.
ABC News

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 4:54 pm

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney sat for a hastily arranged flurry of TV interviews Friday, strongly denying he had any role in running Bain Capital at a time when, according to reports, the company invested in firms that outsourced jobs overseas.

He also called for an apology from President Obama for statements by his campaign that Romney said were beneath the dignity of the presidency.

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Planet Money
7:35 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

Episode 386: The Cost Of Free Doughnuts

Navy veteran Howard Dunn and Army veteran Tom Kaine remember when the Red Cross briefly charged servicemen for doughnuts during World War II. Many veterans still resent it.
Chana Joffe-Walt NPR

Originally published on Thu May 30, 2013 6:22 pm

If you think about every other price in the world — a dollar, $12.99 — free stands out.

Free has the power to make us do completely irrational things. It can drive us to break rules, and take risks we never thought possible. It can make us feel savvy and smug and exhilarated.

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Energy
4:46 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

What's Killing 'King Coal' In West Virginia?

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 10:24 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This week, one of the biggest coal mining companies in Central Appalachia, Patriot Coal, filed for bankruptcy protection. Over the past three months, a wave of layoffs has hit coal country hard, and this past month, the share of all U.S. electricity generated from coal hit its lowest level since the 1940s. Our colleague Guy Raz visited Webster County in the middle of West Virginia to find out what's killing King Coal.

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Planet Money
4:46 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

The Cost Of Free Doughnuts: 70 Years Of Regret

U.S. soldiers receive refreshments, including doughnuts, from an American Red Cross clubmobile in London. Soldiers today still resent a Red Cross move to charge for doughnuts.
Library of Congress

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 5:06 pm

A lot of the online services you probably use are free. Gmail is free. Facebook is free. Yahoo News and NPR are free (though we certainly solicit contributions!). But increasingly, online companies are trying to figure out how to start charging, at least for some services, some of the time.

But today, we have a cautionary tale about charging for things that were once free. It's the story of how one small mistake moving away from free can cause trouble that's impossible to fix.

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Poverty In America: The Struggle To Get Ahead
3:02 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

Struggling Families Lift Themselves Out Of Poverty

Support group members Pamela Travis (from left), Dominique Martin, Yovanda Dixon, Shanna Chaney and Ramona Shewl hold a meeting as part of the Family Independence Initiative. The Oakland nonprofit encourages low-income families to form small groups to help each other get ahead.
Pam Fessler NPR

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 10:24 pm

It's been almost 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson declared a "War on Poverty." But today, the poverty rate in the U.S. is the highest it's been in 17 years, affecting some 46 million people.

The economy is partly to blame, but even in good times, millions of Americans are poor.

That's been a longtime concern for Maurice Lim Miller. He ran social service programs in the San Francisco Bay Area for 20 years. Then one day, the painful truth hit.

"The very first kids I had trained back in the early '80s, I saw their kids now showing up in my programs," he says.

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Presidential Race
10:26 am
Fri July 13, 2012

How Battleground States See The Economy

A young supporter of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney holds a sign during an election party at the Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas in February.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 12:33 pm

For all the chatter that the winner of the 2012 presidential election will be determined by the economy, you wouldn't know it by looking at the most closely contested states.

The recovery is still tepid in most parts of the country, and there's a sense of trepidation that signs of improvement might not last. Among the swing states, some are doing comparatively well while others are struggling — but the political picture looks roughly the same in all.

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Asia
5:09 am
Fri July 13, 2012

China's Economy Slows To 3-Year Low

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 11:04 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renée Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. China's economic growth has slowed down to a three-year low. That's according to new figures released today. The numbers matter to us because of the way the world economy is so interconnected. Americans import a lot from China, sure, but have also been working to boost exports to other nations, including China.

NPR's Louisa Lim joins us from Beijing to make sense of the latest news. Hi, Louisa.

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Crisis In The Housing Market
3:20 am
Fri July 13, 2012

County Considers Eminent Domain As Foreclosure Fix

Half of San Bernardino County's 300,000 mortgages are underwater. In an attempt to ease the mortgage crisis, the Southern California county is considering taking control of some of those properties by eminent domain.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 11:04 am

County and city officials in San Bernardino, Calif., are considering a controversial plan: using the power of eminent domain to take over "underwater" mortgages, where the value of the home is worth less than the original loan. Taking on those properties, officials say, would allow the homeowners to refinance those troubled loans.

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Planet Money
3:19 am
Fri July 13, 2012

The European Central Bank's Guide to Influence

European Central Bank president Mario Draghi, left, speaks with Spanish Finance Minister Luis De Guindos on Monday. The ECB has increased its influence over European countries struggling with debt.
Georges Gobet AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 6:08 pm

Europe is struggling, thanks to a relentless debt crisis. Compounding its problems: It is not one country, but 17.

Many observers agree that to solve their problems, those countries have to start looking a lot more like one country. And there is a force in Europe trying to make that happen: the European Central Bank. The weapon it has that everyone else lacks? Money.

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Asia
5:02 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Global Markets Brace For China's Slowing Economy

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 6:10 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Global stock markets are anxiously awaiting new figures from China. Analysts are expecting the numbers to show the world's second largest economy suffering its biggest slowdown since the global financial crisis.

NPR's Louisa Lim is in Beijing.

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Poverty In America: The Struggle To Get Ahead
4:26 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Turning Trash Into Cash To Help Nation's Poor

A worker dismantles a mattress at a recycling facility in Oakland, Calif. The material will be used to make carpet products and proceeds will help support the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County, a nonprofit that helps low-income families in Eugene, Ore.
Pam Fessler NPR

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 6:10 pm

The bad economy has hurt many nonprofits around the country, even as demands for their services have grown. That's certainly the case in Reading, Pa., which has been labeled the poorest city in America, with a poverty rate of more than 41 percent.

Now, one local nonprofit, Opportunity House, hopes to salvage some of its services by salvaging junk.

Looking For Help

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Opinion
2:51 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Weekly Standard: Obamacare Cost Estimates Rise

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney addresses the NAACP National Convention on July 11 in Houston, Texas. Romney was booed by the audience when he reiterated his commitment to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Eric Kayne Getty Images

Daniel Halper is an online editor at The Weekly Standard.

The Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee released the following chart yesterday, detailing the rising projected cost of President Obama's signature legislation, Obamacare:

The latest estimate, as the chart details, is that Obamacare will cost $2.6 trillion dollars in its first real decade. The bill does not fully go into effect until 2014, therefore the estimate begins with that year.

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