Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 7:40 pm
With negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff" uncertain at best, the Obama administration is trying to tamp down anxiety in the federal workforce.
The administration's message to various federal agencies is that there will be little immediate effect on public employees from the budget cuts scheduled to take effect next week if a deal is not reached. Treasury Department employees, for instance, were told not to expect "day to day operations to change dramatically on or immediately after January 2."
The agency adds that "the 4-week moving average," which tends to smooth out some of the volatility that comes with the weekly figures, "was 356,750, a decrease of 11,250 from the previous week's revised average of 368,000."
Now, if you have BlackBerry at the bottom of the drawer, it turns out it's also at the bottom of the 2012 list of smartphone makers.
Our last word in business is: Bad Call.
The company that makes BlackBerry, Research in Motion, had only 5 percent of the global smartphone market in 2012. That was down from 11 percent the year before. That's according to the market research firm iSuppli. Also in the 5 percent club: Nokia and HTC.
That's the business news on MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 3:06 am
President Obama returns to Washington Thursday as do members of the U.S. Senate. They're cutting holiday plans short in hopes of coming up with a deal to avoid the tax hikes and budget cuts set to take effect on Jan. 1.
Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 3:07 am
What do you keep in your desk drawer at work? Financial Times columnist Lucy Kellaway recently investigated what was in her colleagues' desk drawers, and wrote a column about her findings. She talks to Renee Montagne about some of the items people have, and why they hold on to them.
Owners of Toyota vehicles that experienced sudden and unintended acceleration have reached a settlement requiring the carmaker to pay as much as $1.4 billion in claims. A judge will review the proposal Friday.
For the first time in five years, the U.S. housing sector contributed to economic growth in 2012. The foreclosure crisis is evolving and working its way through the system, although there are still lingering concerns.
The Federal Reserve continued to keep its foot on the accelerator in 2012, using unusual tactics to try to boost economic growth. But there's disagreement among economists about whether the Fed's policies were effective or whether the risks to the economy outweighed the rewards.
Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 5:24 pm
A plaintiffs' attorney says Toyota Motor Corp. has reached a settlement exceeding $1 billion in a class-action lawsuit involving complaints of unintended acceleration in its vehicles. Robert Siegel talks with NPR's Sonari Glinton about the deal, which still needs a judge's approval.
Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 5:27 am
Owners of Toyota vehicles that experienced sudden and unintended acceleration have reached a settlement that could require the carmaker to pay as much as $1.4 billion in claims, according to the auto maker and the law firm representing Toyota customers.
U.S. District Court Judge James Selna, at whose direction the many lawsuits over the "runaway car" fears were consolidated in 2010, will review the proposed settlement Friday.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
7.7 percent, that's the current unemployment rate. It's a full percentage point lower than this time last year. That sounds like progress, a modest number of new jobs are being added every month. But labor force participation, a measure of both people who are working and those who are actively looking for work, is at its lowest point in three decades.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Ari Shapiro in Washington. Neal Conan is away. This week, many of us are making year-end charitable donations. There are countless needy people and worthy causes competing for our dollars. So many philanthropists today want proof that an organization actually succeeds at its mission.
Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 5:23 am
Holiday Sales rose by less than 1 percent from the year before, according to MasterCard's SpendingPulse unit. That's the slowest growth in spending since the 2008 recession. Even online sales — which posted double digit gains over the past few years — were lackluster this year.
Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 4:53 am
David Greene talks to Sydney Finkelstein, who teaches management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, about his list of the worst CEOs of 2012. Of interest is not just who made the list this year, but who didn't.
Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 4:46 am
In the East Bay area outside of San Francisco, a community has turned against its firefighters. The Contra Costa Fire Department is set to close four firehouses after voters failed to pass a tax to keep them open. Some say they want to see changes to firefighter pensions before they give the department more money. The firefighters say they feel like they are under attack.
It was another busy year for federal authorities pursuing insider trading cases. Seventy-five people have now been charged in the last three years, and investigators say that success comes largely from their decision to attack insider trading the way they take down the Mafia and drug cartels — with tools such as wiretaps, informants and cooperators.
The story behind how the government decided to go after insider trading as hard as it goes after the mob is really just a story about dead ends.
Those of us trying to lose some pounds after overindulging this holiday season can get help from a slew of smartphone apps that count steps climbed and calories burned. Self-tracking has also become a way for companies to make money using your fitness data. And some experts worry that the data collected could be used against users in the long run.
At a recent Quantified Self Meetup in downtown San Francisco, technology lovers are testing homemade do-it-yourself devices on people eager to measure their mind and body.
Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 12:46 am
In the United States, popular holiday gifts come and go from year to year. But in Iceland, the best Christmas gift is a book — and it has been that way for decades.
Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world, with five titles published for every 1,000 Icelanders. But what's really unusual is the timing: Historically, a majority of books in Iceland are sold from late September to early November. It's a national tradition, and it has a name: Jolabokaflod, or the "Christmas Book Flood."
We hope that you're spending this holiday around the people who matter most in your lives. But not everyone has the day off. And we wanted to hear from people who are working today. So, we called out on NPR's Facebook page and we heard back from hundreds of people - from soldiers to snow plow drivers. We called a few of them up and put together this audio portrait of people working today. We're calling it Christmas on the Clock.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.
Let's begin our show this Christmas Day with a look back at a business development this year that took many investors by surprise. Just over three months ago, Apple's stock hit a record high - for a few days in September a single share was selling for more than $700. But since then, Apple's stock has tanked. In December, it traded briefly below $500 a share.
NPR's business news starts with possible port shutdowns.
A federal mediator says port operators and workers will start talking to each other again. The clock is ticking because a contract extension expires Saturday for longshoremen from Maine to Texas. Talks broke down last week. Retailers are pushing hard for mediation. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.
And today's last word in business: Dueling Santa Trackers.
We've heard for a while how NORAD tracks Santa's progress on Christmas Eve. Turns out Google is following Santa's path as well. But when NORAD, powered by Microsoft, placed him over Japan, Google cited him over Australia. When Google had him in Iceland, NORAD said no, it was Argentina. Both say he's made all of his drop-offs though, which means he's not using Apple Maps.
That's the business news from MORNING EDITION on NPR News. I'm David Greene.
Now each day we've been looking at those gifts - big and small - that the government gives us in the form of tax benefits and we have finally hit the final day in our series that we've called the Twelve Days of Tax Deductions.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS")
GREENE: And so on this 12th day of tax deductions, we thought we would just dig into a grab bag of a lot of deductions you may or may not even know about.
OK, so the final numbers are not in yet, but it looks like the Christmas shopping season was just OK. There were some bright spots, particularly in online sales.
NPR's Ina Jaffe reports.
INA JAFFE, BYLINE: The frenzy of Black Friday calmed down considerably over the course of the Christmas shopping season. Major chains began offering big discounts as the holiday approached and that'll cut into profits.
Throughout the debate over taxes and the "fiscal cliff," there's been a lot of looking backward — to the 1990s. The economic expansion of the 1990s was the longest in recorded American history.
Democrats say the economy thrived under the leadership of President Bill Clinton, including his tax rate increase on high earners. Republicans say government didn't spend as much then and that growth didn't really take off until the GOP took control of Congress in 1995.
So what actually happened in the '90s? What made them tick?