From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
I'm Robert Siegel. And here's a case of an old business colossus buying up a scrappy innovator. Avis, the traditional car rental company, is buying Zipcar for $500 million. Zipcar is the car-sharing company with the slogan: Wheels when you want them. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports the deal illustrates how car sharing is reshaping the rental business and drawing in a new demographic.
Gina Bianchini speaks during a conference in Palm Desert, Calif., in 2010. She is founder of Mightybell, a company she hopes will unlock social media's power by helping small groups organize easily and quickly in the real world.
Credit Francis Specker / Landov
Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet software and services, speaks at an Apple event in San Francisco, last March.
Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 3:08 pm
Though more big battles lie ahead in Washington, Wall Street is following the lead of financial markets around the world in giving a thumbs-up to the deal that kept the federal government from going completely over the so-called fiscal cliff.
Let's begin NPR's business news with some fiscal deal details.
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GREENE: You might remember over the holiday season, we delved into some of the tax credit lawmakers were considering changing as part of a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. We called it our 12 Days of Deductions.
Let's turn now to a developing story in Alaska. A crew is trying to get aboard a massive oil drilling rig that ran aground in the Gulf of Alaska. Workers have already been evacuated and there is no risk of an oil spill here, but the rig is carrying thousands of gallons of diesel fuel. The rig is a key component of Shell Oil's controversial efforts to explore for oil in the Arctic Ocean, and joining us now with the latest on the situation in Alaska is NPR science correspondent Richard Harris.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
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And I'm David Greene.
Congress can at least say it started the new year without blowing up the economy. The House approved a plan that eliminates scheduled higher taxes for most Americans and puts off spending cuts for now. President Obama praised its passage last night.
A development project in a remote area of northeast Vermont is one of the largest in the country to bring in funds using the federal EB-5 immigrant investor program. It allows qualified foreigners who invest $500,000, and create at least 10 American jobs, to get green cards.
And our last word in business might make you hungry. It's crispity, crunchity Butterfinger, as in the peanut butter and chocolate candy bar, which designated the year 2013 as its 90-ish birthday.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
That's 90-ish because, while there is a trademark document that dates back to 1928, the company believes the candy bar was first promoted in 1923. So, you know, 85, 90, 90-ish is what the people at Nestle settled on as Butterfinger's official age.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm David Greene.
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And I'm Steve Inskeep.
Let's talk about everything that was left out of the fiscal cliff compromise approved by Congress yesterday. The measure does raise taxes for the wealthy and preserve tax cuts for others, and extend unemployment insurance again, among other things. But it left a huge amount of fighting for the New Year.
Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 4:44 am
The budget compromise bill that is meant to allow the U.S. government to avoid higher tax rates and austere budget cuts has tax rates as its central issue, with discussions about more spending cuts, and the federal debt limit, put off until the coming weeks.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden make a statement regarding the passage of the fiscal cliff bill in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House late Tuesday evening.
Credit Charles Dharapak / AP
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio arrives on Capitol Hill on Tuesday as legislation to negate a fiscal cliff of across-the-board tax increases and sweeping spending cuts moves to the GOP-dominated House.
Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 2:23 am
The House of Representatives voted 257-167 late Tuesday to pass a Senate-approved compromise deal that stops large tax increases for 99 percent of Americans, and delays massive spending cuts for two months.
The bill now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.
NPR's S.V. Date is reporting on the deal for our Newscast unit. Here's what he says:
"The eventual deal was hammered out by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden. It passed the Senate with overwhelming, bipartisan support.
This New Year could mean a new cost for the craft store chain Hobby Lobby. The federal health care law requires employee insurance plans to cover emergency contraceptives. Hobby Lobby's owners did not want to do that. They say drugs commonly known by names like the morning-after pill are tantamount to abortion.
Now, the Supreme Court has turned aside Hobby Lobby's request to block the mandate. So, starting today, the company could be fined as much as $1.3 million per day for defying the law.
Along with decent finances, it takes a lot of talent and practice to play in an orchestra. The same goes for being able to make people laugh. And even some of the most brilliant comedians can have a hard time of it. Let's listen to the usually great Johnny Carson in one of his not-so-great moments on the "Tonight Show."
NPR business news starts with record prices at the pump.
You may already have a sense of this from your bank statement, but now AAA has confirmed that the average price of a gallon of gasoline hit a record in 2012. The group says the national average for the year was $3.60. That is nine cents higher than the average in 2011, which was the previous record. For 2013, AAA thinks increased domestic oil production will help keep prices lower. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.
Every year, banks handle tens of millions of transactions. Some of them involve drug money, or deals with companies doing secret business with countries like Iran and Syria, in defiance of trade sanctions.
But if the Justice Department has its way, banks will be forced to change — to spot illegal transactions and blow the whistle before any money changes hands.
Federal prosecutors have already collected more than $4.5 billion from some of the world's biggest financial institutions — banks charged with looking the other way when dirty money passed through their accounts.
It's been a banner year for solar energy. The United States is on track to install a record number of solar power systems — thanks in large part to low-cost solar panels from China. That's been challenging for American manufacturers, and federal officials have put trade tariffs on Chinese panels.
Things look busy at the SunPower solar manufacturing plant in Silicon Valley. Workers are screwing frames onto shiny, 6-foot solar panels as they come off the line.
Amid all the talk of going over the fiscal cliff, we have a report now on another midnight deadline tonight. Few were paying attention when Congress failed to pass the Farm Bill last fall. But now lawmakers are scrambling to extend the law for a year, to dodge a spike in milk prices. While an agreement is in the works, another vote is necessary, and none is scheduled yet. Peggy Lowe of member station KCUR in Kansas City explains how farmers, processors and consumers ended up at what is being called the dairy cliff.
The countdown is on to a new year — and the fiscal changes that are on the other side of midnight. But what else is on the cards economically for 2013, both here and overseas? Guest host Celeste Headlee puts the question to the Wall Street Journal's Sudeep Reddy.
We are in a great season to buy a car. Automakers and dealers are offering lots of incentives. And those incentives are just one of the factors in what may end up as the best year for the auto industry since 2007, before the height of the financial crisis. So why has it been a good year? Well, when millions of people hold off on their car purchases for years, that pent up demand, along with cheap credit, will eventually drive stronger sales.
The U.S. economy grew at a steady though not very strong pace this year. But Europe slipped back into recession because of the ongoing debt crisis. European leaders took steps to stimulate growth, but it wasn't enough to reverse course.
The economic crisis that got under way five years ago was felt all over the world. But Mohammed El-Erian, CEO of the investment firm PIMCO, says different regions have healed at much different rates.
The year "2012 was another multispeed world globally, in the sense that different parts did different things," he says.