Business

It's All Politics
3:25 am
Mon November 19, 2012

In Fiscal Cliff Talks, Higher Taxes Vs. Closing Loopholes

President Obama, accompanied by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, speaks to reporters at the White House on Friday during a meeting to discuss the fiscal cliff.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 10:38 am

The White House and Congress continue to work on a deal that avoids the fiscal cliff and cuts deficits in the long run. One of the biggest hurdles is President Obama's proposal to raise tax rates for the wealthy.

Republicans think a better course would be to raise revenue by closing loopholes and limiting deductions for high-income people. The question is, could that method raise enough money.

Read more
Economy
6:41 am
Sun November 18, 2012

An Evolutionary Explanation For The Fiscal Cliff

Originally published on Sun November 18, 2012 7:04 am

Host Rachel Martin speaks with NPR's Shankar Vedantam about the psychology behind the fiscal cliff negotiations. Vedantam says humans evolved as short-term thinkers, which makes dealing with the long-term problem of the national debt particularly difficult.

Planet Money
5:25 am
Sat November 17, 2012

A Sequester Is A 'Jelly-Like Mass,' And Other Notes On Fiscal-Cliff Jargon

Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Sat November 17, 2012 7:48 am

Here's a quick rundown on three of the most impenetrable terms related to the fiscal cliff. For more, see our post, The Fiscal Cliff In Three And A Half Graphics.

1. Sequester

Read more
Economy
5:23 am
Sat November 17, 2012

Solving Fiscal Cliff Math Might Come Down To Two

President Obama reaches to shake hands with House Speaker John Boehner, during a meeting Friday at the White House to discuss the deficit and economy.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Sat November 17, 2012 1:54 pm

Fresh off his re-election, a politically fortified President Obama summoned the top four congressional leaders to the White House on Friday for the first of what could be many rounds of talks for a deal to avert fiscal calamity.

The meeting was part of the opening moves to keep the nation from sailing over the so-called "fiscal cliff" — those across-the-board tax hikes and deep spending cuts set to kick in at year's end.

In welcoming the quartet of lawmakers, Obama struck a conciliatory note.

Read more
The Two-Way
1:25 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

FHA Announces Moves Designed To Avoid Taxpayer Bailout

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan in May of 2012.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 2:40 pm

The Federal Housing Administration is on track to run out of money next September and may need a taxpayer bailout, an audit released today found.

Responding to the audit, however, the Obama administration announced a series of measures that they hope will raise enough revenue to keep the agency from seeking government help.

The Wall Street Journal explains:

Read more
Planet Money
10:57 am
Fri November 16, 2012

Hidden Housing Subsidy May Soon Come Out Of Hiding

Lam Thuy Vo NPR

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 2:47 pm

The federal government has all these ways of paying people to buy houses without actually, you know, paying people to buy houses.

We've talked a lot about two examples of this:

1. The mortgage-interest tax deduction is effectively a government payment to people who are paying a mortgage.

Read more
It's All Politics
8:42 am
Fri November 16, 2012

Can A Lame-Duck Congress Save The Day?

The Capitol on Monday, as Congress prepared to return for its post-election lame duck session.
Alex Brandon AP

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 7:23 pm

As the lame ducks waddle up to Capitol Hill for the final few weeks of this Congress, some political observers are hoping they will bring the "Spirit of 2010" with them.

Despite all the partisan bickering, the lame-duck session two years ago — bolstered by a bevy of outgoing Democrats with nothing to lose — actually got big things done, including the $850 billion stimulus and tax cut deal, a measure setting in motion the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," passage of the defense authorization bill and an arms treaty.

Read more
Business
4:47 am
Fri November 16, 2012

Federal Housing Administration To Run Out Of Funds

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 5:17 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with more mortgage problems.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Independent auditors released a report this morning, showing that the Federal Housing Administration is facing a shortfall from losses on the mortgages it insures. The Obama administration says it's going to take steps to prevent a taxpayer bailout.

As NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, the FHA has been struggling since the foreclosure crisis hit four years ago.

Read more
Business
4:47 am
Fri November 16, 2012

Nintendo Wii U Out This Weekend

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 7:31 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

For those who want to buy Nintendo's new video game console, you may have to wait a while. The Wii U goes on sale Sunday, but many stores have already sold out pre-orders. On Amazon, you can find the new console, but for much more than Nintendo's $350 price.

To find out what's the big deal for gamers and for Nintendo is, we've called Daisuke Wakabayashi. He covers Japanese video game companies for The Wall Street Journal, and joins us from Tokyo.

Good Morning, Dai.

DAISUKE WAKABAYASHI: Good morning.

Read more
NPR Story
4:42 am
Fri November 16, 2012

Everyone 'Has To Participate' To Avoid Fiscal Cliff

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 5:26 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Listen carefully to both President Obama and Republican leaders, and you hear hints of room for compromise. They're talking of taxes and spending as a deadline approaches, December 31st, when higher taxes and spending cuts would take effect. That would reduce the federal deficit, but also damage the economy, according to forecasters.

Read more
NPR Story
4:42 am
Fri November 16, 2012

U.S. Mayors Concerned About Fiscal Cliff Cuts

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 6:49 am

The two biggest fears of the fiscal cliff are defense cuts and tax hikes. The nation's mayors say the devastating effects of automatic cuts reach further than the Defense Department — right into their own cities. Steve Inskeep talks to the Democratic Mayor of Charleston, S.C., Jospeh Riley and Republican Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa, Ariz., about the impact sequestration could have in their cities.

Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond
3:25 am
Fri November 16, 2012

Want To Help Sandy Victims? Send Cash, Not Clothes

Volunteers sort through donated clothes in Sea Bright, N.J.
Pam Fessler NPR

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 4:47 am

Whenever there's a disaster, people want to give, and Hurricane Sandy is no exception. According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, U.S. charities collected more than $174 million in donations as of Nov. 9 to help respond to the storm.

But it's not only money that has been pouring in. Relief programs have also received mountains of clothes, food and other supplies, not all of which are needed.

Read more
Law
2:19 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Busted: What Happens When Shoplifters Get Caught?

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 3:25 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. As the holidays get underway, retailers go on high alert against shoplifters. Cases spike at this time of the year, and they're expected to raise losses for the year to nearly $35 billion.

Read more
Money Coach
12:42 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

A Military Boot Camp For Your Money

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Switching gears now, we've all heard about how veterans leave the military with lifelong lessons about discipline, camaraderie and staying cool under fire, but our next guest says his military service also helped him with his finances.

Steve Repak is a veteran who is now a certified financial planner. He says he's applied what he learned in the Army to apply discipline to his finances. He's written a book to share what he learned. It's called "Dollars and Uncommon Sense: Basic Training for Your Money," and he's with us now.

Read more
The Two-Way
8:56 am
Thu November 15, 2012

Superstorm Sandy Sends Jobless Claims Up Sharply

The line was long last week at a job fair in Chicago.
Scott Olson Getty Images

There were 439,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, up by 78,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration says. Behind the big increase: Superstorm Sandy, which threw some people in the Mid-Atlantic onto the unemployment rolls and shut down state unemployment offices the week before — meaning that some claims were postponed into last week.

Read more
Business
5:06 am
Thu November 15, 2012

Thompson Takes Over New York Times Company

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 6:58 am

This week marks the start of Mark Thompson's tenure as the new chief executive officer at the New York Times Co. It is facing financial head-winds, and is hoping Thompson can recapture some of the success he enjoyed in leading the BBC. But there's concern within the Times that its new leader has been tainted by scandals at his old employer.

NPR Story
4:46 am
Thu November 15, 2012

Studies Vary On How Many Jobs Will Be Lost If Taxes On The Wealthy Ride

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 7:07 am

Republicans claim President Obama's plan to raise taxes on the wealthy will cost the economy 700,000 jobs. Another study from the Congressional Budget Office puts the number of lost jobs as 200,000. But both studies also assume millions of new jobs will be created.

Crisis In The Housing Market
4:35 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Foreclosed Homeowners Getting Back In The Market

Millions of U.S. families have a recent foreclosure on their record. Typically, that means waiting at least seven years before securing another home loan. But some families say they are having luck buying again — sometimes in as few as three years.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 6:15 pm

Buyers are coming back into the housing market after losing their homes during the financial crisis — returning to homeownership more quickly than lenders have typically allowed.

With millions of families with recent foreclosures on their records, some report that they are having luck buying a house — in some cases within three years.

Read more
Business
6:39 am
Wed November 14, 2012

Down Economy Injures Local Hospitals

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 8:06 am

The health care industry is one of the most reliable sources of new jobs in the country. And in cities that suffer from high unemployment, the local hospital is often the biggest employer still standing. But the downturn in the economy has left some hospitals in perilous financial shape. In Waterbury, Ct,, the biggest hospitals are going through a painful process of outsourcing and layoffs.

Economy
5:37 am
Wed November 14, 2012

A Preview Of Obama's News Conference

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 8:06 am

At the White House, President Obama will hold his first East Room news conference since March on Wednesday. He's expected to talk about the nation's fiscal condition, as well as the scandal that has cost him his CIA director.

NPR Story
5:20 am
Wed November 14, 2012

Some Nonprofits Look Suspiciously Like Forprofits

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 5:33 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The word nonprofit evokes the image of a charity or a church, an educational institution, public radio station. But David Evans of Bloomberg Markets Magazine took a closer look at the world of nonprofits and discovered something that he considered suspicious. Even though many nonprofits make millions and millions in profits, they pay no taxes.

Read more
Your Money
12:36 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

How The Alternative Minimum Tax Could Slam You

Customers line up at an H&R Block office in Nashville, Tenn., on April 17, the deadline for filing 2011 federal income taxes.
Mark Humphrey AP

Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 1:29 pm

Seriously, again?

Anyone who follows the adventures of the alternative minimum tax has to be getting sick of the many sequels. Again and again, this unpopular income tax threatens to hit middle-class families with large and unexpected tax increases.

And each time the threat reappears, Congress applies a "patch" to fix the problem temporarily. That makes the threat an annual event — along with the associated congressional hand-wringing and taxpayer confusion.

Read more
Your Money
11:06 am
Tue November 13, 2012

Alternative Minimum Tax And Your Bottom Line

Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 1:31 pm

If the government goes over the "fiscal cliff," millions of households could see tax increases because of an obscure part of the tax code, known as the alternative minimum tax. Host Michel Martin talks with NPR Business Editor Marilyn Geewax about exactly what could happen and who would be affected.

Shots - Health News
9:35 am
Tue November 13, 2012

High-Deductible Health Plans Can Cost Patients A Discount

Health insurance plans that require consumers to pay more in out-of-pocket medical expenses may have hidden costs.
iStockphoto.com

As workers consider their health insurance options this fall, chances are there's one on the open-enrollment menu with a deductible of more than a $1,000.

Coverage like that is often linked to a tax-advantaged financial savings account to pay for medical expenses that fall below the hefty deductible.

Read more
The Salt
3:46 am
Tue November 13, 2012

Danes May Bring Back Butter As Government Rolls Back Fat Tax

Toothbutter, illustrated.
Sidsel Overgaard NPR

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 3:34 pm

Toothbutter: noun. Butter spread so thickly as to reveal teeth marks upon biting.

The fact that this word exists in the Danish language should help to explain what politicians were up against when they introduced the "fat tax" just over a year ago. This is a country that loves it some butter (and meat, and all things dreadful to the arteries).

Read more
Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond
3:33 am
Tue November 13, 2012

Beach Towns Mourn Sandy-Ravaged Boardwalks

Waves break Oct. 31 in front of a destroyed amusement park wrecked by Hurricane Sandy in Seaside Heights, N.J.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 1:15 pm

Hurricane Sandy left a long trail of destruction across the New Jersey shoreline. And it did a lot more than just flood houses.

In towns like Seaside Heights and Belmar, Sandy wiped out the boardwalks that line the beach. In places like these, boardwalks served as the commercial center knitting the towns together, and residents are wondering where to go from here.

Until two weeks ago, the boardwalk was the place to hang out in Belmar, N.J. Ann Summer was walking along the water with her husband this weekend.

Read more
Europe
5:37 pm
Mon November 12, 2012

A German City With Debt Problems Of Its Own

The main street in Oberhausen — Germany's most indebted city — is dotted with vacancies. Despite its economic woes, Oberhausen, like other western German cities, must make "reunification" payments to the former communist East. The payments help explain German voters' reluctance to bail out Greece and other eurozone countries.
Patrik Stollarz AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 12, 2012 8:31 pm

Germany, the economic engine of Europe, has been a key player in bailing out the Continent's most troubled economies.

Yet there are places in the former West Germany — like Oberhausen — that are struggling with their own debt problems, even as they pay hefty sums to revitalize former East German cities with transfers known as "Solidarity Pact" payments.

Borrowing To Stay Afloat — And Pay Out

Read more
Economy
4:28 pm
Mon November 12, 2012

Opportunities Emerge For Vets In Tough Job Market

Last year, Congress passed legislation that — among other things — gave employers tax credits for hiring vets.
Haraz N. Ghanbari AP

Originally published on Mon November 12, 2012 6:28 pm

Many veterans aren't just looking for a job; they're looking for a career, a calling and, of course, financial stability. Those recently separated from the military have to confront what is still a fairly weak civilian job market.

Read more
Politics
5:39 am
Mon November 12, 2012

With Election Over, Washington Moves On To 'Fiscal Cliff'

Originally published on Mon November 12, 2012 6:36 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

With the election settled, Washington, Wall Street and much of the rest world, it seems, are focused on whether Congress and a reelected president can avoid the fiscal cliff. To tell us what's at stake, we turn now to David Wessel. He's the economics editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "Red Ink," a new primer on the federal budget and the deficit.

Read more
Politics
4:07 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Lew, Bowles Rumored To Replace Treasury's Geithner

Originally published on Mon November 12, 2012 5:43 pm

A second term means some new Cabinet appointments for President Obama, including at the Treasury. After four pretty grueling years, Secretary Timothy Geithner has made it clear he will be leaving Washington.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said last week that Geithner would be staying on through the inauguration. He's also expected to be a "key participant" in "fiscal cliff" negotiations.

Read more

Pages