Business

Economy
10:25 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Why Congress Didn't Extend Unemployment Benefits

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Economy
9:05 am
Thu December 19, 2013

The Washington Two-Step: Dancing Back To Normal

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., unveil a budget deal Dec. 10 in Washington.
Jonathan Ernst Reuters/Landov

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.

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The Two-Way
6:58 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Existing Home Sales Dip, But Prices Rise

A "sale pending" sign in front of a home in San Anselmo, Calif., earlier this year.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 8:33 am

Update at 10:30 a.m. ET: The day's second major economic indicator is another good news/bad news report.

The good news is that prices of existing homes continue to rise, the National Association of Realtors says.

"The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $196,300 in November, up 9.4 percent from November 2012," according to NAR.

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Business
5:10 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Millions Of Credit Cards Affected By Data Breach At Target

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 10:08 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with Target customers targeted.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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.

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The Two-Way
4:47 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Breach At Target Stores May Affect 40 Million Card Accounts

Justin Sullivan Getty Images

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.

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Around the Nation
3:29 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Scientists Charge BP Oil Spill 'Gravely' Injured Dolphins

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 10:08 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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.

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Politics
3:29 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Senate Follows House, Passes Budget Deal

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 10:08 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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?

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Business
3:05 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Even If FCC Relaxes Rules, Delta Won't Allow In-Flight Calls

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 10:08 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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.

Here's NPR's Kathy Lohr.

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Economy
2:34 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Fed To Dial Back Its Bond-Buying Stimulus Program

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 10:08 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

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Animals
1:05 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Russian Demand Fuels Comeback Of North American Fur Market

A model displays a creation by Russian designer Igor Gulyaev during the Volvo Fashion Week in Moscow on Oct. 27, 2011.
Mikhail Metzel AP

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 10:08 am

North American fur is booming.

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.

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All Tech Considered
1:04 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Bay Area's Steep Housing Costs Spark Return To Communal Living

Residents of the Embassy House, a communal home near San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, eat dinner together every Sunday.
Elise Hu NPR

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 10:08 am

This week, we're exploring the San Francisco Bay Area and the way income inequality is affecting the region. Check out the other pieces of the week, aggregated on this page.

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Planet Money
3:49 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

A Tiny Taper, In 2 Graphs

Tapir
Flickr

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.

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The Two-Way
3:46 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Top SAC Capital Manager Guilty Of Insider Trading

Michael Steinberg (left) departs federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday after being found guilty on charges that he traded on insider information.
Lucas Jackson Reuters/Landov

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.

Reuters writes:

"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."

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Economy
3:46 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Federal Reserve To Cut Stimulus By $10 Billion A Month

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 4:34 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

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Shots - Health News
2:05 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

People Buying Health Insurance Get A Bit More Time To Pay

Oregon is still using paper applications to enroll people through the Affordable Care Act.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 4:34 pm

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.

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The Salt
1:23 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

The Man Who Duped Millionaires Into Paying Big Bucks For Fake Wine

iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 2:32 pm

He was the man with "the nose of a blood hound," as one wine critic once put it.

Rudy Kurniawan was once the toast of the fine-wine world, renowned for his ability to find some of the rarest — and priciest — wines in the world.

He was also, prosecutors alleged, a fraud who duped some of the country's wealthiest wine purchasers with counterfeit bottles of wine that he manufactured in his home laboratory.

And on Wednesday, a Manhattan jury agreed, finding Kurniawan guilty of fraud in connection with selling counterfeit wines and of defrauding a finance company.

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The Two-Way
12:26 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Fed Says It Will Begin Tapering Off Its Stimulus In January

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke delivers remarks Wednesday in Washington, at his final planned news conference before he steps down.
Jonathan Ernst Reuters/Landov

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.

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The Two-Way
10:23 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Ex-BP Engineer Found Guilty Of Obstructing Justice

Former BP drilling engineer Kurt Mix, who has been convicted of obstructing justice.
Jonathan Bachman AP

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.

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It's All Politics
9:32 am
Wed December 18, 2013

5 Things We Learned From The Budget Debate

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., takes a break from the Senate floor Tuesday after a bipartisan budget compromise cleared a procedural hurdle.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

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.

Here are five:

Congress still works, sort of.

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Monkey See
7:07 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Two Ways Of Seeing An iPhone Christmas

Screen shot

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 3:44 pm

Apple recently released a Christmas ad it calls "Misunderstood."

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The Two-Way
7:03 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Already Down 50 Percent, Will Bitcoin Bite The Dust?

How low will they go?
Jens Kalaene DPA/LANDOV

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.

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Business
3:37 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Law Schools See Drop In First-Year Students

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 11:18 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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.

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Business
3:37 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Retail Workers Forced To Deal With Holiday Tunes

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 6:02 am

Morning Edition reports on retail workers who are subject to holiday music for hours on end.

Business
3:37 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Virtual Currency Bitcoin Drops In Value

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 6:02 am

The tumble is due in part to China's central bank which had issued a warning about the currency.

Business
3:37 am
Wed December 18, 2013

British Monetary Officials Announce Changes

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 9:09 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And changes may be brewing when it comes to another old tradition in Europe: the British pound. Our last word in business is: new currency.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

The Bank of England will begin circulating plastic money in 2016, polymer versions of the paper bank notes Britons have used for more than three centuries.

GREENE: Bank officials say the currency should last longer and be harder to counterfeit.

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NPR Story
2:54 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Fed's Final 2013 Meeting Could Indicate Course For Early 2014

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 6:02 am

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.

The Salt
1:05 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Is A 500-Year-Old German Beer Law Heritage Worth Honoring?

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 6:56 am

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.

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All Tech Considered
1:04 am
Wed December 18, 2013

What It's Like To Live On Low Pay In A Land Of Plenty

Manny Cardenas, seen here with his 5-year-old daughter Zoe, has earned $16 an hour as a part-time security guard at Google.
Laura Sydell NPR

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 11:11 am

This week, we're exploring the San Francisco Bay Area and the way income inequality is affecting the region. Check out the other pieces of the week, aggregated on this page.

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Around the Nation
1:03 am
Wed December 18, 2013

A 'Tale Of Two Cities' As Detroit Looks To 2014

Detroit's Midtown neighborhood is reviving in the midst of the larger city's decline.
Carlos Osorio AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 6:13 am

The streets outside Avalon Bakery in Detroit's Midtown are a snowy, slushy, mostly unplowed mess, and all these customers want to do is pay for their loaf of Motown Multigrain or Poletown Rye.

But Detroiters are a gracious, if weary, bunch. So when they see yet another reporter sticking a microphone in their faces, asking what they think of all this media attention, they answer politely.

And even if they're not always crazy about the way their city is portrayed, no one argues with the fact that Detroit had a newsworthy year.

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Number Of The Year
4:44 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Prices Are Low, And That Could Be Bad

Superlow inflation means workers often don't see big raises and consumers may delay buying, thinking prices will drop some more.
Kevork Djansezian Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 7:34 pm

2.

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.

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