Back in 2012, reporter Kevin Roose went undercover at a very exclusive party.
It was a dinner for a secret society, held once a year, at the St. Regis hotel in New York City. The secret society is called Kappa Beta Phi, and it's made up of current and former Wall Street executives — people like Michael Bloomberg, former heads of Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs. And every year the group holds a dinner to induct new people into the group — they're called neophytes.
Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 5:01 pm
Seeking new ways to be a player in mobile messaging, Facebook announced today that it will acquire the fast-growing WhatsApp firm for some $16 billion in cash and stock. The deal includes an additional $3 billion in Facebook stock for the employees of WhatsApp, who would see the shares vest over four years.
This is the second headline-grabbing acquisition by Facebook, following the $1 billion deal for Instagram that was announced in the spring of 2012. The new deal calls for Facebook to pay $4 billion in cash, along with around $12 billion in stock.
Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 4:05 am
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced a multibillion-dollar loan guarantee Wednesday for building nuclear reactors in Georgia, underscoring the White House's plan for an "all of the above" energy strategy.
The two reactors will be the first built in this country in nearly three decades.
Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 9:58 am
"I'm worth 83.7 million dollars and bored out of my mind."
"My friend who is a banker just told me he's working on Dropbox's IPO...oooh."
"The drug use in Silicon Valley is outrageous. So are the inflated egos. It's like LA for smart, ugly people."
Declarations like these — some plaintive, some fueled by professional frustration and some just plain gossipy — tumble forth anonymously on the new app Secret, and because many of them seem to be coming from within the booming tech industry, the app has built early buzz.
Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 2:21 pm
I have a new streaming music service in my life. Let's call him Beatsy. It's an open relationship — I'm still accessing other music streams, and Beatsy's positively promiscuous, winning the hearts of the music press and thousands of trial subscribers. But I don't mind. When I'm with Beatsy I feel special. Yes, he is a computer program — the world knows him as Beats Music, just one of many services that make it possible for me to listen to music stored in its cloud library via my phone or computer.
And our Last Word In Business is an update on the campaign against the scourge of cheap food. This really is a problem in the minds of small-business people. Think about how giant stores have crowded out local retailers.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
But in this case, the giant food is local. It's the $1 slice of pizza, which has been a tradition in New York City for many, many, many years.
NPR's business news starts with a climb in consumer debt.
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INSKEEP: Household borrowing is on the rise. It gained 2.1 percent last quarter, which is the biggest gain since the fall of 2007 - which is to say, the biggest gain since before the financial crisis peaked. A new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says consumer debt held by American households has reached $11.5 trillion.
Let's talk next about Iraq. Not the violence there, but the other thing the country is - for better or worse - quite famous for, oil. An ethnic group that controls a large slice of Iraq also control some of the oil, and this group, the Kurds, have found a way to export the oil while bypassing the rest of the country, including the central government - which is not happy.
Ben Lando is the editor-in-chief of the "Iraq Oil Report," and has been covering the story. Welcome to the program, sir.
A leader of the U.S. manufacturing sector is calling on Congress and the president to put aside their differences. Jay Timmons, who is head of the National Association of Manufacturers, would like to see some progress on the president's trade agenda.
Chuck Quirmbach of Wisconsin Public Radio reports.
Here's a reality. Of the individual insurance plans being offered under the Affordable Care Act, the price you pay for the same coverage may vary tremendously depending on where you live. In fact, you may well be paying three times as much for the same insurance as somebody else in a different part of the country.
We know this thanks to Jordan Rau. He's a senior correspondent for Kaiser Health News and he ran the numbers. He's in our studios. Welcome to the program.
The Treasury and Justice Departments issued guidelines, last week, allowing marijuana stores to do their banking like any other small business. The new rules assures banks there will be no retribution if they provide financial services to state licensed firms that provide medical or recreational marijuana. Banks are still not so eager to play since the drug is still against federal law, which leaves legit pot businesses dealing mostly in cash.
On a Wednesday it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
And I'm Renee Montagne. President Obama arrives in Mexico today to meet with Mexico's president and Canada's prime minister. It's been dubbed the meeting of the Three Amigos. The one day summit of North America's leaders will focus on trade and commerce, but also on the agenda: security, energy, border issues and immigration. NPR's Carrie Kahn is in Toluca near Mexico City, where the summit begins later today. Good morning.
Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 4:22 pm
Hungry for a Philly cheesesteak or a hot Reuben sandwich? That'll be about 0.001 bitcoin, please.
From restaurants to breweries, to even your local farmers market and lemonade stand, the popular cryptocurrency has inched its way into the food industry, as more vendors consider it a valid form of payment.
The United Auto Workers Union suffered a major defeat when a drive to represent workers at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee failed last week. Right now, leaders of the AFL-CIO are holding their winter meetings in Houston and that VW vote is a major topic.
NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea has more.
Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 12:02 pm
President Obama said Tuesday that he has told the Environmental Protection Agency to work with the Department of Transportation on a second round of regulations to improve the fuel efficiency of medium- and heavy-duty trucks. The goal: reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions they contribute to the environment.
Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 9:51 am
This post was updated at 11:45 a.m.
A bankruptcy judge in Delaware has approved the sale of bankrupt electric carmaker Fisker to China's largest auto parts company.
NPR's Frank Langfitt reported on the story for our Newscast Unit.
"Wanxiang Group — China's largest auto parts company — won a bankruptcy auction last week for Fisker, which made plug-in, hybrid sports cars. Wanxiang's bid is valued at about $150 million. Fisker, which is based in California, filed for bankruptcy protection late last year.
Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 1:02 pm
Dealing with the aftermath of a suicide or attempted suicide is stressful enough. But some health plans make a harrowing experience worse by refusing to cover medical costs for injuries that are related to suicide, even though the federal health law doesn't allow such exclusions, legal and government analysts say.
Yet patients or their loved ones often don't realize that.
King Digital Entertainment filed for an initial public offering aimed at bringing in a half-billion dollars. The company revealed it has 128 million active daily users, with 93 million playing Candy Crush Saga, the Apple App Store's No. 2 highest-grossing game. King also makes Pet Rescue Saga and Farm Heroes Saga.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene. Good morning.
The cost of health care in this country seems to be coming under control. Health care spending, while still on the rise, has increased at historically levels the last few years, which makes you wonder: Why aren't we feeling it?
When CVS announced it would stop selling tobacco products later this year, industry experts predicted that other drugstore chains might follow suit - which makes you wonder if this means more business for other places that sell cigarettes.
Reporter Kaomi Goetz checked in with some of the grocery stores, newsstands and other small shops in New York City.
NPR's business news starts with the Bank of Japan.
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MONTAGNE: This morning, Japan's Central Bank doubled incentives it offers to banks in an effort to encourage more lending. The move is meant to weaken the yen, which would make Japanese goods more affordable - in turn, encouraging Americans and Chinese to buy those goods.
Inside one in a series of abandoned homes along a blighted block of Detroit's Brightmoor neighborhood, filmmaker Tom McPhee walks through the remnants of a life — broken furniture, scattered knickknacks and a flooded basement.
"This is fresh water that's coming into the basement here," McPhee points out. "All of that plumbing has been ripped away 'cause someone found a value in it, so they don't care that it's running. This is all over the city."
So far this year, retail chains have announced some heavy cuts. J.C. Penney said it would close 33 stores. Macy's said it would lay off 2,500 workers. Sears will close its flagship Chicago store in April.
That's creating a glut of excess space. But that's just one of several forces changing the face of retail.