Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before the Senate Banking Committee in Washington last month. Some analysts wonder if he and other policymakers have kept interest rates too low for too long.
The stock market's long climb from its recession bottom has some people concerned it may be a bubble about to burst — a bubble artificially pumped up by the Federal Reserve's easy-money policy. That's led to calls — even from within the Fed — for an end to the central bank's extraordinary efforts to keep interest rates low.
Every year, the South By Southwest music, film and interactive festival gets larger, and navigating the blur of panels, parties and shows gets more daunting. The girth of it all is enough to keep many SXSW old-timers away from Austin this year.
Look around your kitchen table and you'll see the work of Ambassador Ron Kirk. He's the United States Trade Representative, which is a cabinet-level position, and he's negotiated trade deals all around the world. Host Michel Martin talks to him about why he's choosing to step down from his post and the importance of U.S. trade.
What it means to own something in the digital age is being re-negotiated.
Few of us own the music we listen to or the movies we watch in exactly the same way we did a decade ago. And today if you buy a smartphone from a cellphone company, what you can legally do with it — how and where you can use it — may be proscribed even if that phone is fully bought and paid for.
I keep a lot of music on my phone. I have the Stones, Janis Joplin and OK Go.
There were 198,000 jobs added to private employers' payrolls in February, according to the latest ADP National Employment Report — a privately produced snapshot of the employment picture that's sometimes a signal of what the Bureau of Labor Statistics will say when it releases its data from the same month.
Martha Stewart took the stand Tuesday in a lawsuit that involves her company Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Macy's and J.C. Penney Co. Macy's is suing J.C. Penney and Stewart's company for breach of contract.
Benjamin Franklin said the only certain things are death and taxes. Let's add a third thing: Interviews. At many points, starting with school admissions or a new job, you're going to sit down before someone else and answer their questions.
Which is what NPR's Shankar Vedantam is about to do with us because he's got some new research relating to this topic. Hi, Shankar.
SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.
INSKEEP: And let's begin this interview. What's the new research about?
It may seem like the tech company is squeezing every cent out of you, but our last word in business is the story of a man who let some money go. A University of Delaware student stepped up to an ATM and asked for $40 - two 20s, that's what would normally come out.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Two bills arrived but there were hundred dollar bills, and then more bills arrived, and more. Devon Gluck received $1,800.
What it means to own something in the digital age is being re-negotiated. Few of us own the music we listen or the movies we watch, in the same way as we did a decade ago. And today, if you get a smartphone from a cell phone company what you can legally do with it - how and where you can use it - may be restricted, even if that phone is fully bought and paid for.
NPR's Steve Henn explains. And we'll also find out a little bit about his music taste.
Increasingly, people are continuing to work past 65. Almost a third of Americans between the ages of 65 and 70 are working, and among those older than 75, about 7 percent are still on the job. In Working Late, a series for Morning Edition, NPR profiles older adults who are still in the workforce.
Economists look at many tea leaves as they try to determine the health of the economy. One of the most important surrounds vehicle sales, and more specifically pickup truck sales, which are tied to the construction industry. And as last month's sales rose 18 percent, the auto industry is betting big on a real estate rebound.
It's arguable that the Ford F-150 is the most important vehicle to come out of Detroit since the Model-T. It's also built where many parts for the old Model-T were made in Dearborn, Mich.
Federal stimulus money has helped cut the high cost of lithium-ion batteries, but not nearly enough to make electric cars affordable. Now there's an abundance of advanced battery manufacturers and not enough major companies to buy them. Many plants in the United States, South Korean, Japan and China that got government subsidies aren't producing many batteries, if at all. Three years ago Michigan's governor touted the state as the new battery capital of the world. There were five new advanced battery plants in the works, all of which were to get major tax breaks and some federal grants.
Lithium-ion batteries sparked a crisis for Boeing's Dreamliner 787 — but the crisis is not an unprecedented one. Four decades ago, a very similar transition to new battery technology in airplanes yielded similar problems. Audie Cornish describes what happened then — and what lessons might be learned as lithium-ion batteries become the next generation that power planes.
Throwback Brewery in New Hampshire is one of almost 20 New England breweries using malts from Massachusetts' micro-malt house Vally Malt.
Credit Courtesy of Throwback Brewery
Valley Malt, in Hadley, Mass., works with 25 farmers growing six different types of grain in the Northeast.
Credit Courtesy of Valley Malt
North Carolina farmers Buddy Hoffner (left) and son Chris have been growing barley for Riverbend Malt House in Asheville since 2010. Riverbend then processes the grain into malt for use by local breweries.
Brent Manning is a maltster on a mission. The co-founder of Riverbend Malt House in Asheville, N.C., wants people to be able to taste local grains in North Carolina's beers, just as vino aficionados can identify the provenance of fine wines.
"In the wine industry ... they will tell you that the No. 1 Syrah grape grows on this hillside over here because it's a bit rockier," Manning explains. "It's that very same connection to the soil and the underlying geology that creates these nuances in flavors."
Skipping $4 lattes will save you some money — but buying into bogus financial advice won't. Finance journalist, Helaine Olen says many of the so-called 'financial experts' are selling you advice to make themselves rich. She discusses her book, Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry with host Michel Martin.
Hi! It's Ask a Banker! Once again, I'm a former banker, current Dealbreaker editor and occasional answerer of questions here. Send more questions to email@example.com with "ask a banker" in the subject line, or ask on Twitter (@planetmoney). This week's question comes from Ellen in Minneapolis and I think you'll like it:
NPR's business news starts with a ketchup jackpot.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MONTAGNE: Last month, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and a private equity firm announced they were buying Heinz for $29 billion. Now we're learning what the deal means for Heinz's CEO, William Johnson.
And our last word in business is, no more working in your pajamas. Best Buy says it's ending its flexible work program, calling its corporate employees back to the office.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
This is getting to be a trend. The move comes after Yahoo stirred debate for ending its work-from-home program. A Best Buy spokesperson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the hope is that quote, "all-hands-on-deck approach will lead to collaboration."