Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 11:24 am
Time and again, business leaders say the one thing they want out of Washington is more certainty.
But rarely do they get their wish.
In recent years, business owners have found themselves wondering whether their government would default on its debts, shut down national parks, change tax rules, cancel supplier contracts, confirm key leaders at federal agencies or hike interest rates.
Finally on Wednesday, they saw policymakers take two big steps toward a more certain future.
NPR's business news starts with Target customers targeted.
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INSKEEP: This is the story of a recent cyber-attack on Target customers around the country, which is now under investigation by the giant retailer. Over 1,500 stores may have been compromised, and at least one million customers. It's being described as one of the largest retail breaches to date. The credit card data was apparently stolen with software installed on the machines customers use to swipe their cards.
Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 7:04 am
Target Corp. acknowledged early Thursday that there was a massive security breach of its customers' credit and debit card accounts starting the day before Thanksgiving and extending at least to Dec. 15 — the heart of the holiday shopping season.
The BP oil spill turned out to be less disastrous than people feared at the beginning, but it still was a disaster, and the effects are still being felt. Dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico are getting very sick, we're told, from exposure to oil. For the first time, a government study confirms a host of problems in dolphins who live in one of Louisiana's bays worst affected. Here's NPR's Debbie Elliot.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
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And I'm David Greene. Despite some very loud grumbling, both chambers of Congress have approved a two-year federal budget plan. This drops the odds of a federal government shutdown early next year, but it certainly does not end the debate over federal spending.
INSKEEP: NPR's Tamara Keith is on the line this morning to talk about one figure from the agreement, which suggests the scale of budget fights ahead. And Tamara, what's the figure?
If you ever fly, you've heard it countless times: You cannot use your cellphone while en route to your destination. Federal rules will not allow it. That could change now, as the FCC considers relaxing those rules. But in advance of that decision yesterday, Delta Airlines said it plans to remain committed to high altitude quiet time.
Not in North America, necessarily, but "you can't keep fur in stock in Russia," says furrier Greg Tinder. "The higher the price tag you put on it, the faster it sells."
Tinder, who left Saks Fifth Avenue to start his own label, says the East has always been a furrier's dream — think big, plushy Soviet-era hats. But now, with Russia's economy on the rise, there's some new money on the block, and designers know that.
In the past five years, the Federal Reserve has created roughly $3 trillion out of thin air.
The Fed uses the money it creates out of thin air to buy bonds. The idea is to drive down interest rates, which encourages people and businesses to borrow and spend money. It's called quantitative easing.
Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 5:42 pm
Michael Steinberg, a top portfolio manager at SAC Capital Advisors, has been found guilty of insider trading — the latest conviction stemming from a years-long federal investigation into the hedge fund's activities.
Steinberg was found guilty on five counts of conspiracy and securities fraud.
"Prosecutors said he traded on confidential information that was passed to him by an employee, who later admitted to swapping illegal tips with friends at other firms."
There are seven shopping days left until Christmas. But there are just five days until another important deadline — the last day to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act if you want coverage to start January 1.
After a slow start, activity on the federal website HealthCare.gov has been heavy all month. And with the deadline approaching, some people are getting worried that they won't get signed up in time.
And this being the health care law, it's complicated. There is more than one deadline.
Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 5:31 pm
(This post was last updated at 3:50 p.m. ET)
Citing an improving economy, the Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that it would begin gradually paring back an $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program aimed at stimulating growth.
The move was seen as a tentative vote of confidence and comes amid an improving jobs picture and other positive signs as the U.S. continues struggles to emerge from the worst downturn since the Great Depression.
Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 11:01 am
The first of four current or former BP employees charged with crimes related to the 2010 Gulf oil spill has been found guilty of obstructing justice because he deleted text messages from his cellphone that contained information about the worst offshore spill in the nation's history.
NPR's Debbie Elliott tells our Newscast Desk that a federal jury in New Orleans convicted 52-year-old Kurt Mix on Wednesday.
Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 3:08 pm
Now that the bipartisan budget agreement has passed the Senate and is headed for the president's desk, it's a good time to consider some of the takeaways from the past two weeks of congressional Sturm und Drang.
Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 8:00 am
Talk about a fall:
"Prices of virtual currency bitcoin fell 20% Wednesday and are now down more than 50% from their record high hit two weeks ago amid worries that China is moving to block the purchase and use of the currency by its citizens," The Wall Street Journal writes.
Could we be facing a shortage of lawyers? It hardly seems possible. But according to the American Bar Association, law schools are seeing their lowest number of first-year students since the 1970's.
NPR's Ina Jaffe has more.
INA JAFFE, BYLINE: This year, there were fewer than 40,000 first-year law students, which still seems like a lot. But it's an 11 percent drop from last year, and about a 24 percent drop from 2010, when new enrollments hit an all-time high.
Federal Reserve officials end a two-day meeting on Wednesday amid signs that the U.S. economy is slowly mending. David Greene talks to David Wessel, economics editor of The Wall Street Journal, about the Fed's last meeting of the year.
Germans are serious about their beer. Serious enough for the European country's main brewers association to urge the United Nations to recognize that fact.
The brewers association wants a five-century-old law governing how German beer is made to become part of the UNESCO World Heritage list. It would join the Argentinian tango, Iranian carpet weaving and French gastronomy, among other famous traditions, that are considered unique and worth protecting.
Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 7:34 pm
That's the number the Federal Reserve Board's policymakers wanted to see this year. Having an annual inflation rate of 2 percent would confirm that the U.S. economy is strengthening — workers are getting raises and companies are seeing enough customer demand to mark up prices.
But the 2 percent target turned out to be too high.