Business

Media
5:43 am
Thu June 14, 2012

'A Morning Ritual': New Orleans Fights For Its Paper

A New Orleans newspaper stand holds copies of Wednesday's Times-Picayune, which announced layoffs for 200 employees.
Debbie Elliott NPR

Originally published on Thu June 14, 2012 7:07 am

What happens when a media company wants to take away your daily newspaper? In New Orleans, you take to the streets.

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Crisis In The Housing Market
4:30 am
Thu June 14, 2012

Will Credit Be The Spoiler In Housing Recovery?

The housing market is finally showing signs of a comeback, according to an annual study from Harvard. But, though mortgage interest rates are at record lows, banks are often too cautious to lend.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Thu June 14, 2012 11:04 am

Amid all the economic uncertainty over the credit crisis in Europe and slow job growth in the U.S., one sector may be looking up. The U.S. housing market is finally showing more signs of recovery, according to a report being released Thursday by Harvard University.

Harvard comes out with this study once a year, and this time around, it's painting a much brighter picture.

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It's All Politics
2:09 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

Obama Team: Household Net Actually Rose, Not Fell, During His Presidency

Obama administration officials pointed to the 56 percent rise in the Dow Jones Industrial Average since January 2009, and rising 401(k) values as evidence that the personal balance sheets of many Americans have improved during his presidency.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 3:12 pm

The nearly 40 percent drop in median household net worth between 2007 and 2010 the Federal Reserve reported earlier this week was unarguably an arresting statistic. It confirmed for millions what they already knew, that the Great Recession and its aftermath have been a financial setback with few parallels.

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The Two-Way
8:51 am
Wed June 13, 2012

Sharp Drop In Gas Prices Puts Brakes On Inflation

Wholesale prices fell 1 percent in May from April thanks to an 8.9 percent plunge in the price of gasoline, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. The overall decrease is the largest in one month since July 2009.

Excluding the energy and sectors, prices at the wholesale level ticked up 0.2 percent.

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Planet Money
5:03 am
Wed June 13, 2012

Spain's Bank Matchmaker On What Went Wrong

Angel Borges, matchmaker.
Chana Joffe-Walt NPR

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 8:55 pm

A couple years ago, Spain hatched a plan to help its small, regional banks. The banks, called cajas, had made lots of bad loans during Spain's real estate bubble.

The plan: Merge the bad cajas with the good ones, in order to make the losses more manageable and bring down overhead.

The government brought in Angel Borges, a banking consultant from Madrid, as a sort of yenta — a matchmaker who was supposed to help the cajas get together.

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The Salt
4:29 am
Wed June 13, 2012

Farmers Split Over Subsidies As Senate Farm Bill Debate Begins

Larry Sailer on his corn and soybean farm, just north of Iowa Falls, Iowa.
Jonathan Ahl for NPR

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 8:48 am

The latest proposal for the farm bill — the law governing everything from food stamps to rural development grants — is being considered by the U.S. Senate this week. It's designed to save more than $23 billion over the next 10 years, in part by getting rid of direct payments to farmers. The direct payment program alone costs taxpayers $5 billion per year.

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Your Money
7:07 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Credit Card Debt Cut: The Reason May Surprise You

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 7:17 pm

A Federal Reserve study showing that Americans lost wealth in the Great Recession turned up another, perhaps more surprising, result: Credit card debt fell sharply.

"The percentage of families using credit cards for borrowing dropped over the period; the median balance on their accounts fell 16.1 percent" between 2007 and 2010, the report concluded.

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Planet Money
1:47 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

How Much Money Should You Save For A Rainy Day?

Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 11:09 am

The most important reason Americans save money: To have something salted away for a rainy day.

When researchers asked people the most important reason they save money, building an emergency fund finished slightly ahead of retirement and way ahead of everything else.

This raises a second question: How much do you need in a rainy day fund?

Lucky for us, the researchers asked this question as well. Not surprisingly, people with higher incomes said they needed a bigger emergency fund.

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NPR Story
1:44 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Improving The Lives Of Single Moms And Their Kids

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 2:39 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. In a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, Isabel Sawhill argued that then-Vice President Dan Quayle was right 20 years ago when he criticized television character Murphy Brown's decision to become a single mom. Sawhill cited statistics that show children in a two-parent family do better at school, then later in life.

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The Two-Way
12:15 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Verizon Introduces 'Groundbreaking' Pricing Scheme, But Is It Really Different?

Verizon's new plan is the biggest revamp in wireless pricing in years, and one that's likely to be copied by other carriers.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 1:54 pm

Verizon Wireless announced on Tuesday what it is calling a "groundbreaking" pricing scheme that will "forever change the way customers purchase wireless services."

Essentially what the new plans — dubbed "Share Everything" by the company — are aiming for is to allow customers to use one bucket of data access to power up to 10 of their devices. The pricing starts at $90 a month, which allows for one smartphone with unlimited voice and text and access to 1 gigabyte of data.

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The Two-Way
12:06 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Employers Could Fill Jobs If They Trained More, Complained Less, Prof Says

At any gathering of business owners, you're likely to hear about how hard it is to fill jobs because of a "skills gap."

Lots of employers say they want to hire welders, software engineers, nurses, oil-field workers and so many others, but can't find applicants with the right talents and education.

But Peter Cappelli, a professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and director of its Center for Human Resources, says these complaints are largely bunk.

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Business
11:34 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Dropping Out With Debt

Student loan debt in the U.S. adds up to more than a trillion dollars, putting a major strain on graduates. But the weight of debt is even heavier for those who leave school without receiving a degree. Host Michel Martin speaks with Anthony Carnevale, who heads the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University.

Business
11:34 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Why More Men Are Choosing 'Pink Collar Jobs'

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Throughout the program today, we've talked a lot about tough times for college students and jobseekers, but now we want to turn it around and talk about people who are finding job satisfaction in what might be unexpected places.

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Business
11:34 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Trouble Finding Jobs? It Might Be The Software

Many job hunters are downright frustrated. But one expert says it's not you, it's the employers and a flawed electronic application process that may be preventing qualified people from finding work. Host Michel Martin speaks with University of Pennsylvania's Peter Capelli. He's the author of Why Good People Can't Get Jobs.

The Two-Way
11:04 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Elinor Ostrom, First Woman To Win Nobel In Economics, Dies

Elinor Ostrom in January 2011.
Raveendran AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 3:10 pm

  • Elinor Ostrom, speaking with Michele Norris

Elinor Ostrom, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, died this morning at Indiana University's Health Bloomington Hospital.

The university says that the 78-year-old distinguished professor succumbed to cancer.

Ostrom shared the 2009 Nobel. As the prize committee said at the time:

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Economy
9:55 am
Tue June 12, 2012

The Fed's Tough Job Gets Harder In Election Year

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke hasn't said whether the central bank will act to further stimulate the economy.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Americans who fear the economy is losing steam would like to see the Federal Reserve turn up the heat.

That might happen when the central bank holds its next meeting June 19-20. The Fed could take steps to drive interest rates even lower, or create fresh piles of cash to stimulate growth.

But with the election season gearing up, the Fed's ability to act boldly may be restrained. That's because the monetary policymakers want to preserve the Fed's credibility as a nonpartisan entity.

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Economy
5:53 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Americans' Net Worth Has Plummeted, Report Shows

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 8:18 am

Personal wealth was decimated across America by the housing collapse and the financial crisis, according to a new report by the Federal Reserve. Incomes declined for almost all demographic groups, and net worth plummeted to levels not seen in a generation.

Business
5:09 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Starbucks Order Gives Ohio Mug Maker A Jolt

Bob Davis hand-dips mugs before they go into the kiln at American Mug and Stein in East Liverpool, Ohio. Most overseas companies have machines that can do this much faster.
Amanda Rabinowitz WKSU

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 1:03 pm

For decades, when you slid into a booth at a diner or a local coffee shop, the waitress probably arrived with a standard-issue, off-white mug. More than likely that mug came from the Ohio River town of East Liverpool, which calls itself "The Pottery Capital of the Nation."

A lot of that city's pottery business is long gone. Now, one of the few remaining pottery factories in the battered town is pinning its survival on a major corporation.

To step inside American Mug and Stein in East Liverpool is to step into another era.

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Planet Money
6:52 pm
Mon June 11, 2012

A Lost Decade For American Families

NPR

Originally published on Mon June 11, 2012 8:17 pm

American families got poorer in the first decade of the 21st century.

The wealth of the median U.S. household — the family at the middle of the middle class — fell from $106,000 in 2001 to $77,000 in 2010.

The fall was driven, not surprisingly, by the housing bust. Homes are the single largest asset for many families, and they represent a particularly large share of wealth for the middle class.

What's more, homes tend to be highly leveraged. People borrow lots of money to buy them. That means huge gains when prices rise — and massive losses when they fall.

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Europe
4:45 pm
Mon June 11, 2012

Initial Relief Over Spain's Bailout Fades To Worry

Originally published on Mon June 11, 2012 8:10 pm

Financial markets did not show much enthusiasm for the European Union's plan to rescue Spanish banks. While stock markets across Europe managed to hang on to small gains, the interest rate Spain has to pay to borrow actually went up.

Economy
11:34 am
Mon June 11, 2012

Why Is Poverty, Inequality Growing?

The number of people living in poverty is the highest it's been since the U.S. Census Bureau started tracking poverty estimates. Plus, the gap between those earning the most and the least continues to grow. Host Michel Martin discusses the current state of poverty and income inequality with two experts on the subject, Timothy Noah and Peter Edelman.

The Two-Way
7:51 am
Mon June 11, 2012

'Relief Rally' Weakens As Markets Study Spanish Deal

Originally published on Mon June 11, 2012 1:07 pm

  • NPR's Philip Reeves, reporting on 'Morning Edition'

After rising sharply earlier today, European financial markets have come off their highs as investors "question the logistics of the $125 billion bailout of Spanish banks and wonder ... whether Monday's gains in financial markets were nothing but a relief rally," Dow Jones Newswires reports.

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Health Care
7:49 am
Mon June 11, 2012

For Uninsured In Ore., A Flat Fee For Health Care

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 11:11 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In the U.S., as we all know, getting basic health care can be financially out of reach for many people who don't have insurance. Some doctors are trying to fill that need by charging patients a flat monthly fee for medical care.

From Oregon, we have story about one of those medical clinics where the doctor is effectively on retainer. Rachael McDonald of member station KLCC reports.

RACHAEL MCDONALD, BYLINE: Steven Kennedy sits in an exam room with Dr. Steven Butdorf. He's getting a physical.

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Europe
6:47 am
Mon June 11, 2012

Spain Becomes 4th Eurozone Country To Get Bailout

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 11:11 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And now let's turn to Europe's economic troubles. Over the weekend, finance ministers in Europe agreed to lend a hand to Spain - up to $125 billion, specifically - to save the nation's banks from collapse.

An editorial in Spain's leading newspaper, El Pais, declared we can now imagine a future in which Europe's economic nightmare is behind us. Before this move, there was widespread fear that Spain's banking crisis could have a devastating impact on the global economy. But is the nightmare truly over?

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Planet Money
4:39 am
Mon June 11, 2012

Three Ways To Stop A Bank Run

This is what you don't want.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 11:11 am

There's a slow-motion bank run happening in Europe, as depositors move their money from financially troubled countries like Greece and Spain to stronger countries like Germany.

Banks take depositors' money and lend it out. So even a strong bank is in trouble if all the depositors suddenly decide to pull their money out. A full-blown run can sink a bank in an afternoon.

Once a run starts, there are basically three ways to stop it.

1. Slow it down

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Asia
4:37 am
Mon June 11, 2012

In India, A Different Kind Of Austerity

Facing economic woes, India is looking to trim spending - but cutting government services is extremely unpopular. Instead, politicians are targeting foreign travel and meetings at lavish hotels like the Oberoi in Mumbai.
Sajjad Hussain AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 7:44 pm

In Europe, the concept of austerity has meant deep, painful cuts to government spending. In India, however, austerity looks a little different.

India's government has started by reeling in departmental spending on things like hotel space and foreign travel. It may seem like window dressing, but it can be difficult to make deep spending cuts in that country. Many voters see government largesse as a right and usually applaud pork-barrel spending.

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Politics
4:51 pm
Sat June 9, 2012

Could 'Taxmageddon' Crisis Create Compromise?

Originally published on Sat June 9, 2012 6:35 pm

On Jan. 1, trillions of dollars in spending cuts and tax increases — called Taxmageddon — will take effect unless Congress and the White House can agree on a new plan. Many economists say the country will fall back into a recession if it happens. Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin says Congress may actually be "forced to make a decision that affects taxes and spending."

The Two-Way
3:06 pm
Sat June 9, 2012

Spain, Euro Zone Agree To 'Financial Support'

"The Spanish government states its intention to request European financing for the recapitalization of banks that need it," Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said at a press conference on Saturday.
Pedro Armestre AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 11, 2012 6:37 am

Spain will ask, and European finance ministers will agree, to offer up financial aid for the country's struggling banks.

Spanish and eurozone officials announced their intentions after a three-hour emergency conference call on Saturday. If they make good on it, Spain will be the fourth – and largest — member of the 17-nation eurozone to receive outside help as Europe's debt crisis marches on.

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Economy
5:09 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

As Economic Headwinds Pick Up, Employers Lie Low

Srinivas Konanki and his wife own a small laboratory device company near Boston. Concerns about the economy have left them wary of hiring new employees.
Chris Arnold NPR

Originally published on Fri June 8, 2012 6:59 pm

After adding a robust 275,000 new jobs back in January, job growth appears to be slowing. The Labor Department reports that the economy added only 69,000 jobs in May.

Meanwhile, despite the worst recession in generations, there are still countless small business owners plugging away around the country, seeking to expand and hire more employees.

"This year we hired two more technicians, and we hope to hire one more," says Srinivas Konanki, who employs 20 people at Pipette Calibration Services, a laboratory equipment company he owns with his wife.

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Economy
4:19 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Obama Warns Eurozone Crisis Could Drag Down U.S.

Originally published on Fri June 8, 2012 6:59 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. What's scarier than a government that can't get anything done?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Imagine dealing with 17 Congresses instead of just one. That makes things more challenging.

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