Business

Planet Money
1:45 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Why The Fed's Latest Move Isn't Likely To Do Much

Originally published on Thu June 21, 2012 1:38 pm

The Federal Reserve just said it would extend "Operation Twist."

We talked about Operation Twist earlier this month, when we spoke with Joseph Gagnon, a former Fed economist now at the Peterson institute.

We wrote:

Read more
The Two-Way
12:09 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Will The Fed Take Extra Steps To Stimulate Economy?

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 1:33 pm

Update at 12:33 p.m. ET. Fed Extends 'Operation Twist':

The Federal Reserve said it was extending its "Operation Twist" through the end of year. It will add $267 billion more to the program in which the Fed sells some of its medium-term bonds in order to buy longer-term ones. In theory, that pushes down the interest rate on longer-term loans, especially mortgages.

Read more
Planet Money
10:19 am
Wed June 20, 2012

What America Spends On Booze

The price of alcohol we buy at the store has gone down. The price of booze at bars has gone way up.
David Joyner iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 2:21 pm

Related: What America Spends On Groceries

Out of every $100 American consumers spend, about $1 goes to alcohol. That hasn't changed much over the past 30 years.

But where we spend our money on alcohol has changed quite a bit. We spend a bigger chunk of our booze money in bars and restaurants. We spend less money buying alcohol at the store to drink at home.

Read more
Business
6:57 am
Wed June 20, 2012

The Fed In 3 Phrases: Decoding Bernanke And Co.

Many economists are predicting Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his fellow policymakers will continue to depress long-term rates.
Alex Brandon AP

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 12:42 pm

The Federal Reserve — the nation's central bank — will end its two-day meeting on Wednesday by offering its assessment of the economy, and then declaring its latest plan for making things better.

Investors all over the world will be waiting to hear just how weak — or not — the Fed thinks the U.S. economy is. And they will be watching to see whether the bankers plan to continue trying to stimulate growth by extending two controversial programs, one known as Operation Twist, and the other as quantitative easing.

Read more
Business
4:46 am
Wed June 20, 2012

Study: Fat People Burden Earth's Resources

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 8:08 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Now, for a global perspective on our national weight problem. The number of humans on the planet is now more than seven billion. And our total weight is 287 million tons. That number comes from a new study that suggests weight, not just headcount, should be considered when looking at the impact of people on the planet.

To find out more, we called Ian Roberts. He's a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and is the lead author of this study.

Good morning, Professor Roberts.

Read more
Economy
4:46 am
Wed June 20, 2012

G-20 Leaders Promise To Promote Economic Growth

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 8:08 am

Leaders of the world's biggest economies wrapped up the G-20 summit in Mexico Tuesday with a promise to work together to promote jobs. The meeting comes amid worrisome signs of slowing growth in the United States and elsewhere.

Economy
4:46 am
Wed June 20, 2012

Investors Look To The Fed For An Economic Boost

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 9:59 am

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with the Fed in the spotlight.

U.S. stocks rallied yesterday largely on a belief among investors that the Federal Reserve will take further action to stimulate the economy. The Fed concludes a two-day meeting around noon today. Afterwards, Chairman Ben Bernanke will hold a news conference to explain the Fed's strategy.

As NPR's John Ydstie reports, there are several things the Fed could do to try to boost growth, but whether they'd be effective is debatable.

Read more
Economy
11:46 am
Tue June 19, 2012

What Will New Immigration Policy Mean For Jobs?

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 6:58 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News.

Coming up, congressman Keith Ellison is among the Progressive Democrats meeting in Washington, D.C. this week at a conference called Take Back the American Dream. We'll ask him what the meeting's all about in a few minutes.

Read more
Planet Money
10:19 am
Tue June 19, 2012

Why A Strong Yen Means More U.S. Jobs

Ben Margot AP

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 6:11 pm

The cost to build a Toyota Prius hasn't changed much in the past five years — if you measure the cost in Japanese yen. But if you measure the cost in dollars, it's a different story. In 2007, it cost Toyota about $16,000 to build a Prius. Now, it's more like $24,000.

That's because the value of the yen has risen relative to the dollar. In 2007, $1 bought 124 yen; today, $1 buys just 79 yen.

Read more
The Two-Way
9:12 am
Tue June 19, 2012

Signs Of Strength In Latest Housing Data

San Mateo, Calif.: Construction was underway earlier this year at a new housing development.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 10:01 am

There was a 7.9 percent jump in the number of construction permits issued to home builders in May, the Census Bureau says.

That increase boosted permits to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 780,000 — the most since September 2008, The Associated Press adds. It's a signal that construction will be strong in coming months.

Read more
The Two-Way
7:10 am
Tue June 19, 2012

Spain's Borrowing Costs Soar; Latest 'Ominous Sign' In Europe

The Spanish flag blowing in the wind in Madrid earlier this month.
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 8:32 am

Today's developments in Europe's financial crisis focus mainly on Spain:

-- The Wall Street Journal writes that "Spain, on the edge of losing debt market access, paid around 2 percentage points more in interest rates Tuesday than a month ago to lure investors to its Treasury bill sale, an ominous sign ahead of a critical government bond auction Thursday."

Read more
Business
3:07 am
Tue June 19, 2012

It's Taxis Vs. Limos In Laid-Back Portland

Portland, Ore., imposes two different fare structures on taxis and other kinds of short-trip vehicles. Two town car companies say those different rules are unconstitutional.
Thomas Hawk Flickr

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 9:48 am

With just over a half-million residents, Portland, Ore., is not exactly a major metropolis. In this bike- and mass-transit-friendly city, there are typically more bikes and buses plying the downtown streets than taxis and town cars.

So when Mike Porter wanted to drum up business for his town car company, he did what a lot of businesses do: He took out a Groupon ad, offering a discounted fare to or from the airport.

Read more
World
5:03 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Eurozone, Greece The Focus At G-20 Summit

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 5:22 pm

The G-20 economic conference opened Monday in Los Cabos, Mexico. Much of the focus is on the economic woes in the Eurozone, but President Obama took time to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was the first time the two men had met since Putin returned to that job and comes at a tense time between the two nations. Scott Horsley talks to Robert Siegel.

The Two-Way
7:09 am
Mon June 18, 2012

Market Rally Fades As Investors Turn Attention From Greece To Spain

Frankfurt: A German flag hung today in front of a board displaying the DAX stock index.
Daniel Roland AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 1:19 pm

At midday in New York, Bloomberg News' headline pretty much sums up the story for the markets so far today and their reaction to the news about Sunday's vote in Greece:

"U.S. Stocks Swing Between Gains, Losses Amid Europe Woes."

And this paragraph from Bloomberg's account seems to capture what traders are thinking:

Read more
NPR Story
6:51 am
Mon June 18, 2012

Markets React To Greek Election Results

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 8:20 am

Markets in Asia and Europe initially responded positively to the results of the Greek election. Of greatest concern, is another rise in Spanish interest rates to another euro-era record.

Europe
3:05 am
Mon June 18, 2012

Locals Fear Venice Becoming 'A Big Shopping Center'

A gondola sails in front of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, which has been sold to Benetton Group. The clothing company plans to convert the Venice landmark into a shopping mall.
Marco Secchi Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 3:45 pm

As Italy tries to fight its way out of a full-blown recession, the state and local governments are coming up with creative — and some say questionable — sources of revenue.

The latest example comes from Venice, where Benetton, the trendy Italian clothing-maker, is poised to put the city's first shopping mall right on the Grand Canal. Residents are up in arms, but officials say deals like these keep the lagoon city afloat.

Read more
Business
5:34 pm
Sun June 17, 2012

Land, Air And Rail — Summer Travel Has Its Hiccups

Summer travelers face higher gas prices and what seems like ever-increasing airfares.
Don Ryan AP

Originally published on Sun June 17, 2012 7:05 pm

Across the U.S., temperatures are creeping higher, kids are out of school and the days are longer. This can only mean that summer is upon us.

For many, summer also means travel season. Whether you're traveling by plane, train or automobile for that vacation, you're likely to feel the pinch of rising travel costs.

Read more
Around the Nation
5:52 pm
Sat June 16, 2012

State Of The Unions: Labor And The Middle Class

Occupy Wall Street protesters joined with unions in New York on May 1, a traditional day of global protests in sympathy with unions and leftist politics.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Sat June 16, 2012 9:05 pm

For many full-time employees in the United States, the five-day work week, paid overtime and holidays are expected benefits. This wasn't always so, and many workers' benefits today are the achievements of labor unions.

Just five decades ago, unions were on the frontline of the fight for the rights and wages of the middle class. But today, unions are on the decline.

Read more
The Two-Way
4:45 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

The Euro Crisis Has A Beat (And You Can Cry To It)

The Guardian/YouTube

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 8:52 pm

Read more
The Two-Way
9:13 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Central Banks 'On Standby' As Greek Elections Loom

The European Central Bank "is on standby to keep banks flush with liquidity" if Greeks effectively vote on Sunday to support politicians who want to reject austerity measures and pull the nation out of the eurozone, The Financial Times writes this morning.

The ECB joins "a global chorus of central bankers pledging support ahead of Sunday's elections," the FT adds.

Read more
Economy
8:44 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Three Frightening Phrases You Should Understand

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a press conference in Brussels.
John Thys AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 11:42 am

The economy has so much going for it: low inflation, low interest rates, affordable homes, falling gasoline prices and 27 straight months of job growth. Good times, no?

No.

The economy is slowing, but not because of current conditions. The slowdown reflects the fear of what may be coming next. Economists say employers and investors are paralyzed by the uncertainty surrounding three huge problems: one in the United States, another in Europe and the third in China.

Read more
Economy
6:51 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Markets Encouraged By Plans To Calm Eurozone Panic

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 10:56 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And coming to the end of a tumultuous week of global economic news, we're seeing rising shares Asia, plus the euro coming close to a three-week high.

As NPR's Philip Reeves reports, markets are encouraged by reports that the world's central banks have come up with a plan to try to calm panic in the eurozone.

Read more
Asia
4:44 am
Fri June 15, 2012

China's Economy Cools, Perhaps More Than Planned

A Chinese worker operates a machine at a factory in Binzhou in northeast China's Shandong province. China's exports and imports shot up in May year-on-year, the customs agency said on June 10, defying expectations amid a slowdown in the world's second largest economy.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 11:14 am

In recent months, economic growth in China has not only slowed — it's slowed faster than most people expected. Last week, for the first time since the depths of the global financial crisis, the government actually cut lending rates to try to spur growth. All of this has people wondering: Where is the world's star economy headed?

Read more
Planet Money
4:43 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Can Lincoln Be Cool Again?

An ad for the 1965 Lincoln Continental.
courtesy Lincoln

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 10:56 am

In the car business, Lincoln once stood as the pinnacle of luxury. Frank Sinatra drove a Lincoln. So did the Shah of Iran. In the U.S., the presidential limo was a Lincoln.

The brand peaked with the 1961 Lincoln Continental, a beautiful, innovative car that stood for style, individuality and sophistication.

But after the '60s, Lincoln started on a long, slow decline that mirrored the slide of the American auto industry.

Read more
Economy
5:39 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

New Schedules Push Graveyard Shift Off The Clock

A worker builds cars on the assembly line at Ford's Chicago Assembly plant, which has adopted the "three crew" work schedule. The new third shift can increase efficiency in factories, but it can also wreak havoc on sleep needs and home lives.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 14, 2012 10:54 pm

As car companies struggle to meet growing demand, the third shift is making a comeback. But many factories running on three shifts are doing it differently from in the past. And that new "three crew" shift pattern could make what's normally a hard job even harder.

At Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, employees work 10-hour shifts four days a week. The so-called A crew gets days, while the B crew gets afternoons. But the C crew shift rotates its start time every week. On Fridays and Saturdays, workers start at 6:00 a.m. On Mondays and Tuesdays, they start at 4:30 p.m.

Read more
American Dreams: Then And Now
5:39 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Nailing The American Dream, With Polish

A model shows off an ABC student's work. Most of the students are studying manicuring.
Courtesy of Advance Beauty College

Originally published on Thu June 14, 2012 8:25 pm

If you've had a manicure in California, odds are the person at the other end of the emery board was of Vietnamese heritage.

Vietnamese immigrants now dominate California's nail-care industry — and make up a significant percentage of all manicurists nationwide.

The story began with a hurried immigration after the fall of Saigon almost four decades ago.

Sparked by the interest of a group of refugees and the help of a Hollywood star, the demand for affordable manicures quickly became the foundation of the American dream for many Vietnamese newcomers.

Read more
Europe
4:50 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Growing Economic Fractures Threaten Eurozone

Originally published on Thu June 14, 2012 5:39 pm

Europe's debt crisis seems to grow more dire every day as borrowing coasts for Spain and Italy soar. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel holds the purse strings, and says that although saving the single European currency will be a Herculean task, it must be done.

The Two-Way
1:32 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Romney, Obama Squaring Off On Economy

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 12:18 pm

President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivered speeches that framed their visions for the United States moving forward.

While the appearences — both delivered in Ohio; Obama in Cleaveland, Romney in Cincinatti — were billed as dueling speeches scheduled for roughly the same time slot, the campaigns moved things around and the president delivered a much longer address right after Romney finished speaking.

In his address, Romney took shots at Obama for not delivering a recovery. He painted the president as being the "enemy" of business.

Read more
The Two-Way
8:52 am
Thu June 14, 2012

Jobless Claims Rose Last Week; Consumer Prices Fell In May

The number of unemployed Americans who filed first-time claims for jobless benefits rose by 6,000 last week from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration reported this morning.

It says there were 386,000 first-time filings, up from a revised 380,000 (earlier, the agency had estimated there were 377,000 first-time clams in the week ended June 2).

Read more
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.

Read more

Pages