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.
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.
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.
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?
GM, Ford and Chrysler are turning their focus to selling luxury cars — something they haven't succeeded at in decades. They're hoping that success in the competitive but lucrative luxury sector will signal that the U.S. auto industry's comeback is complete.
After years of recession and slow recovery, maybe you didn't notice. But it turns out, 2012 was a fairly good year for the U.S. economy.
The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index has risen nearly 14 percent this yearand the unemployment rate has fallen to 7.7 percent, the lowest point in four years. Inflation and interest rates have stayed low, allowing families to cut their debt loads.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee in for Michel Martin. Coming up, the U. S. economy has had an interesting year. I don't need to tell you that we're still facing huge hurdles. But on the other hand, the stock market shot up this year and some sectors are thriving. We'll talk about signs of hope in just a few minutes.
Wall Street didn't get much of a gift at the end of last week. The Dow lost 120 points, or nine-tenths of a percent, on Friday. The slump is partly tied to events in Washington last week — a Republican plan to avoid the "fiscal cliff" came undone.
In Spain, entrepreneurship is largely a high-class hobby. Family money and connections have long been the best indicators of small business' success. A recent World Bank report ranked Spain lower than Bangladesh and Afghanistan on the ease of starting a business. Now Spain's ruling conservatives want to change that.
Morning Edition's series, the Twelve Days of Tax Deductions, zeroes in on some of the tax breaks lawmakers are grappling with as they hammer out a budget deal, to raise revenue, cut spending and avoid the end-of-year "fiscal cliff." On Day 11, we look at the deduction for employer sponsored health insurance.
Nariman Behravesh, chief economist of IHS Global Insight, talks to Steve Inskeep about his economic forecasts for 2013. Among his predictions: the U.S. recovery will gradually pick up steam. Unless it falls off a cliff — then a recession will probably be unavoidable.
Among the candidates President Obama may nominate for the next defense secretary is Michele Flournoy, formerly the highest-ranking woman in the Pentagon.
Flournoy is a mother of three, and in February, she stunned her colleagues when she stepped down from her job as undersecretary of defense for policy to spend more time with her children.
It wasn't an easy decision, but it's a dilemma that many working mothers face. While some call for changes in workplace policy to make caring for families and working easier, others argue women ultimately have to make a choice.
All over India, an unusual name has been popping up on signs in restaurants and businesses: Hitler.
Yes, Hitler. As in Adolph. Just last year there was even a Punjabi movie called Hero Hitler in Love.
To understand why a name generally associated with mass murder is turning up on storefronts around the country, reporter David Shaftel investigated and wrote about it in a recent issue of Bloomberg Businessweek.
If there's one common language that some recent immigrants in Dayton, Ohio, seem to share, it's soccer.
The first Dayton World Soccer Games kicked off earlier this year, an initiative hosted by the city to welcome an influx of immigrants. On the field, a rainbow of brightly colored jerseys represented nearly 20 of the different immigrant communities in the city.
"I've been really surprised to see that there's a lot of soccer going on in Dayton," says Adolphe Bizwinayo, who left Rwanda as a refugee.
With Christmas on Tuesday, the last-minute holiday shopping this weekend should make for some of the biggest spending all year. Those busy stores are also going to be on the lookout for shoplifters, especially in self-checkout lanes, where it is a big problem.