When the North American Free Trade Agreement was being negotiated, supporters promised it would increase the income of Mexicans. And the middle class did grow in Mexico over the past two decades. But it's clear that Mexico's ultrarich are among its big winners.
Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 11:58 am
Ford and GM are calling 2013 the best year for U.S. auto sales in at least five years. On Friday, they reported double-digit annual gains, while Chrysler reported an increase of 9 percent for its strongest year since 2007.
The new sales figures reflect a continuing turnaround from the struggles that led to a federal bailout in recent years. Here are highlights from each company's report:
Retail sales were up 14 percent in 2013, as Ford sold 2,493,918 vehicles.
Minimum wage workers in 13 states will see a bump in their paychecks this year. Host Michel Martin talks about the possible ripple effects of raising minimum wages. She's joined by Bloomberg Businessweek contributor Roben Farzad and NPR Senior Business Editor Marilyn Geewax.
Recreational marijuana has been on sale in Colorado for a couple days now. And pot shops there have been surprised by the long lines of customers. Many people have been coming in from out of state hoping to be among the first to buy recreational pot legally.
But as Colorado Public Radio's Ben Markus reports, tourists are finding there are few legal places to smoke it.
And a vote takes place today that could have a major impact on the economy in and around Seattle. The giant airplane maker Boeing is threatening to move thousands of jobs away from the Seattle region unless 30,000 unionized Boeing workers vote to accept cuts to retirement and health benefits.
Ashley Gross of member station KPLU has the story.
NPR's business news begins with securing cyberspace.
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GREENE: All right, we're talking about a $1 billion deal here. The cybersecurity company FireEye has bought Mandiant. Mandiant gained some fame last year. They exposed a secretive branch of the Chinese military that was hacking into the computer networks of over 100 multinational companies.
Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 8:09 am
Cost overruns are threatening to shut down a multibillion-dollar expansion of the Panama Canal aimed at allowing the world's largest ships to pass through the short cut between the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean.
A European consortium funding the project says it won't continue the work until Panama coughs up the extra cash — which amounts to $1.6 billion over and above an original $3.2 billion bid to build a third set of locks.
The widening gap between the rich and poor in the U.S. has become a central touch point for economists, pundits and politicians across the U.S. New York City's newly sworn-in mayor, Bill deBlasio, was elected after campaigning against a city divided between the haves and have-nots. President Obama has called tackling inequality the defining challenge of our time, saying that growing inequality and a lack of upward mobility jeopardizes the American dream. But what, exactly, is income inequality?
If you're a wine drinker, you've probably noticed that screw caps are no longer considered the closure just for cheap vino. Increasingly, bottles of very good wines are unscrewed, rather than uncorked.
And our last word in business today is green rush.
The first legal sale of recreational marijuana in recent memory happened in Denver yesterday.
TONY FOX: 8 a.m., we're going to do.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
That's Tony Fox, who owns the 3-D Cannabis Center. She was making the ceremonial first sale, surrounded by dozens of reporters, to Sean Azzariti, an Iraq War veteran with PTSD, who was involved in the campaign to legalize pot in Colorado.
A Harvard economist finds there are psychological connections between the bad financial planning of many poor people and the poor time management of busy professionals. In both cases, he finds the experience of scarcity causes biases in the mind that exacerbate problems.
And even as things are looking up for the auto industry, many Americans still feel the sting of the 2008 recession. In the years since, many banks have been hit with large fines, but no major Wall Street executive has been convicted of criminal charges for their role in the financial crisis. That's not always how it went. A few years ago, a series of corporate scandals generated outrage and some stiff prison sentences.
Let's hear now about a new reality show featuring a mild-mannered Canadian who gives outlandish advice to companies looking to up their game. It's called "Nathan for You." And as NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports, it's become an unlikely hit for Comedy Central.
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MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: On a sunny winter day in North Hollywood, Nathan Fielding is directing his latest quirky marketing ploy, this one for a new housecleaning service.
This famous bet — between a biologist and an economist — was over population growth. It started three decades ago, but it helped set the tone for environmental debates that are still happening today.
The biologist at the heart of this bet was Paul Ehrlich at Stanford. He wrote a best-selling book in 1968 called The Population Bomb. It was so popular he appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
NPR's business news starts with Fiat and Chrysler.
The Italian automaker Fiat has paid $4.3 billion to gain complete ownership of Chrysler. The agreement announced yesterday is not a big surprise. Fiat already held a majority share of the Detroit automaker that produces Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles.
Industry analysts say this final step in the merger creates a global company that's better able to compete with the likes of General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 7:29 am
As the new year begins, most economists' annual forecasts are brimming with good cheer.
"The economic news remains broadly encouraging," the Goldman Sachs forecasters write in their 2014 outlook.
And the brighter prospects are not limited to this country. "The global economy is likely to emerge in 2014 with modest growth of 3.3 percent compared with 2.5 percent this year," according to Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at the forecasting firm IHS Global Insight.
Because what happens in Vegas should stay there, like there hangover - if you celebrated New Year's Eve they are big time. A Las Vegas company called Hangover Heaven is offering much needed relief to midnight revelers with house calls and a walk-in clinic. The cure: an IV offering one and a half liters of hydration, plus a concoction of vitamins, antioxidants and headache medicine. $99 gets you the basic package called The Redemption.
NPR's business news begins with Hewlett-Packard layoffs.
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MONTAGNE: In a securities filing, the maker of computers and printers confirmed that it will cut 5,000 more jobs this year than it originally estimated. That would bring to 34,000 the number of jobs the company is planning to cut worldwide by October.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne.
Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are in the small town of Casselton, North Dakota, trying to learn what caused a fiery train crash. It's the latest in a series of accidents involving trains hauling crude oil. By far the most destruction happened last summer in Canada, where the center of a town in Quebec was destroyed, leaving 47 people dead.
There's a drive-thru ATM in Charlotte, N.C., that looks pretty standard, but it has an extra function: a button that says "speak with teller."
The face of a woman wearing a headset sitting in front of a plain blue background flashes onto the ATM screen. "Good afternoon," she says. "Welcome to Bank of America. My name is Carolina. How are you today?"
She's one of a cadre of Bank of America employees in Florida and Delaware call centers, where they remotely control ATMs across the country. I ask for $26.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish.
2013 was a so-so time for the U.S. economy, but it was a banner year for the stock market. Investors poured money into stocks, driving up prices to record highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the year up 26 percent. The S&P 500 did even better. NPR's Jim Zarroli looks at how the market defied expectations.
One year ago, many were pointing to the growth of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, as the most important trend in higher education. Many saw the rapid expansion of MOOCs as a higher education revolution that would help address two long-vexing problems: access for underserved students and cost.
In theory, students saddled by rising debt and unable to tap into the best schools would be able to take free classes from rock star professors at elite schools via Udacity, edX, Coursera and other MOOC platforms.