Chris Arnold

NPR correspondent Chris Arnold is based in Boston. His reports are heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. He joined NPR in 1996, and was based in San Francisco before moving to Boston in 2001.

In recent years, Arnold has spent much of his time reporting on the financial crisis, its aftermath, and the U.S. economy's ongoing recovery. He has focused on the housing bubble and its collapse. And he's reported on problems within the nation's largest banks that have led to the banks improperly foreclosing on thousands of American homeowners. For this work, Arnold earned a 2011 Edward R. Murrow Award for the special series, The Foreclosure Nightmare. He's also been honored with the Newspaper Guild's 2009 Heywood Broun Award for broadcast journalism. He was chosen by the Scripps Howard Foundation as a finalist for their National Journalism Award, and he won an Excellence in Financial Journalism Award from N.Y. State's society for CPA's.

Arnold is also reporting on the now government-owned mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In a series of stories in partnership with ProPublica, Arnold exposed investments at Freddie Mac that raised serious concerns about a conflict of interest between Fannie and Freddie's massive investment portfolios, and their mission to make home ownership more affordable. The stories generated widespread attention, and led to calls for an investigation by members of Congress.

Arnold was recently honored with a Nieman Journalism Fellowship at Harvard University during the 2012-2013 academic year. He joined a small group of other journalists from the U.S. and abroad and studied, among other things, economics and the future of home ownership in America.

Prior to that, Arnold covered a range of other subjects for NPR – from Katrina recovery in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, to immigrant workers in the fishing industry, to a new kind of table saw that won't cut your fingers off. He traveled to Turin, Italy, for NPR's coverage of the 2006 Winter Olympics. He has also followed the dramatic rise in the numbers of teenagers abusing the powerful and highly addictive painkiller Oxycontin – more than 1 out of 20 high school seniors report using the drug.

In the days and months following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Arnold reported from New York and contributed to the NPR coverage that won the Overseas Press Club and the George Foster Peabody Awards. He chronicled the recovery effort at Ground Zero, focusing on members of the Port Authority Police department, as they struggled with the deaths of 37 officers - the greatest loss of any police department in U.S. history.

Prior to his move to Boston, Arnold traveled the country for NPR doing feature stories on entrepreneurship. His pieces covered technologists, farmers, and family business owners. He also reported on efforts to kindle entrepreneurship in economically disadvantaged areas ranging from inner-city Los Angeles to the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota.

Arnold has worked in public radio since 1993. Before joining NPR, he was a freelance reporter working out of San Francisco's NPR Member Station, KQED.

At the end of World War II with the continent in ruins, Winston Churchill famously proclaimed, "We must build a United States of Europe." He believed such a union would bring an end to centuries of European wars.

For 70 years Europe has been engaged in a political and economic quest to make that happen. But many in Greece, such as Athens cabdriver Jordan Repanidis, feel this historic reshaping of the Western world has a stranglehold on their country.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

There's a serious problem in the American economy: Big corporations are doing well, but real household income for average Americans has been falling over the past decade — down 9 percent, according to census data.

"That's not good for America," says Harvard economist Michael Porter. "That's not good for America's standard of living. That's not good for our ultimate vitality as a nation."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Oil prices hit a new high for the year Wednesday — closing at just under $61 a barrel. They've been rallying for a month, but nobody's predicting $4-per-gallon gasoline anytime soon. And some analysts say weak demand will send oil prices down again.

The recent rise follows an historic drop in prices, which were as low as about $45 a barrel less than two months ago.

So to understand what's going on now, let's look at what sent prices tumbling in the first place

When it closed at 5,056.06 on Thursday, the Nasdaq Composite Index hit a new high — surpassing the old record close of 5,048.62, reached March 10, 2000, during the dot-com craze.

That also makes it 15 years since that infamous tech bubble burst, sending the index down more than 75 percent by the time it hit bottom.

Saving enough money to retire can be tough. But it's next to impossible if a financial adviser is steering the client into bad investments — and getting big commissions in return. And according to the Obama administration, that's exactly what too many advisers have been doing.

Millions of Americans trying to save for retirement have ended up with investments where high fees cripple their returns over time. U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez says much of that is due to bad advice.

The sprawling conglomerate General Electric is radically paring down its business, ditching most finance and real estate operations. GE was badly burned by the financial crisis, and the plan announced Friday would protect it from the risks associated with banking.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

John Hancock announced a new program promising discounts for policyholders who wear a fitness tracker, exercise more and go to the doctor. The life insurance company says that if people live longer healthier lives, everybody wins. But privacy advocates worry about all the electronic monitoring.

The vast majority of U.S. workers haven't seen any real wage gains since the recession. But that's starting to change, at least for low-income workers.

This week, fast-food giant McDonald's announced it will pay workers $1 more than the local minimum wage.

It joins some of the nation's other largest employers, including Wal-Mart, Target and TJX, the parent company of Marshalls and TJ Maxx. All say they will be boosting pay to at least $9 per hour this year, and some will go to $10 next year.

For Wal-Mart alone, that's a pay raise for half a million Americans.

Never before has the U.S. had so much oil spurting up out of the ground and sloshing into storage tanks around the country. There's so much oil that the U.S. now rivals Saudi Arabia as the world's largest producer.

But there has been some concern that the U.S. will run out of places to put it all. Some analysts speculate that could spark another dramatic crash in oil prices.

It's not just Benjamin Netanyahu and other world leaders who are scrutinizing the Iran negotiations. Oil traders are, too. That's because there's already an oil glut, and an Iran deal could lift sanctions and mean even more oil.

"Even the thought that Iranian oil could be unleashed on the global market is, you know, getting people to sell first and ask questions later," says Phil Flynn, a senior market analyst and oil trader at The Price Group in Chicago.

The three major credit rating agencies reached an agreement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Monday to change the way they handle errors on credit reports. Under the reforms, consumers can initiate a formal dispute to challenge inaccurate information and agencies must use trained employees to investigate the complaints.

The Obama administration is creating new protections for Americans saving and investing for retirement, but industry groups say the new rules could hurt the very people the president says he wants to help.

If you're building a retirement nest egg, big fees are the dangerous predators looking to feast on it. The White House says too many financial advisers get hidden kickbacks or sales incentives to steer responsible Americans toward bad retirement investments with low returns and high fees.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's been seven years since the housing crash. The housing market and the economy are both recovering. But housing advocates say you still have to have a near perfect credit score to get a loan from a major bank.

At first look, it seems like the trouble in the housing market has quieted down. There are fewer foreclosures. Home prices have stabilized and risen. But, as any parent with young kids will tell you, when things get too quiet that can be a bad sign.

Mike Calhoun, the president of the Center for Responsible Lending, says that's basically what's going on here.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This story is part of the New Boom series on millennials in America.

As the economy continues to recover, economists are seeing stark differences between people with high school and college degrees. The unemployment rate is nearly twice as high for Americans with a high school diploma as for those with a four-year college degree or more.

NPR and ProPublica have been reporting about nonprofit hospitals that seize the wages of lower-income and working-class patients. Now, Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says hospitals could be breaking the law by suing these patients and docking their pay. And he wants some answers.

Many Americans love a good deal, shopping around to save $10 or $20 on a pair of pants or winter coats for the kids — but when finding mortgages, nearly half don't even call around to different banks. Three-fourths only fill out an application with one lender.

Richard Cordray, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, says there may be a few reasons consumers aren't comparison shopping for loans.

The U.S. economy saw the strongest job growth last year since 1999, according to statistics released Friday by the Department of Labor. The country gained another 252,000 jobs in December.

That's the good news — but this jobs report also dashed some hopes for fatter paychecks. Employers are hiring more people, but overall, the wages they're paying remain flat.

A month ago, it seemed wages were starting to pick up — but those November numbers were revised lower. In December, wages actually fell slightly.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

On the eastern edge of St. Joseph, Mo., lies the small city's only hospital, a landmark of modern brick and glass buildings. Everyone in town knows Heartland Regional Medical Center — many residents gave birth to their children here. Many rush here when they get hurt or sick.

A federal directive will go into effect Saturday making it easier for some Americans to come up with a down payment to buy a house.

The vast majority of home loans are guaranteed by the government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The regulator in charge of Fannie and Freddie will allow first-time homebuyers to put down as little as 3 percent.

It's a busy time of year for turkey farmers around the country. And these days, with the growth of the local food movement, small family farms are struggling to keep up with all the orders for birds. So, we went to find out what one New England farmer is doing to get her gobblers from the field to the table. Enter the "abattoir."

The fallout from the housing crisis isn't over.

According to Moody's Analytics, there were 700,000 foreclosures last year. And some of those people probably didn't need to lose their homes. Even now, more than six years after the housing crash, lawyers for homeowners say mortgage companies are still making mistakes and foreclosing on homes when they shouldn't be.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's talk next about the economic effects of oil prices. We've been reporting this week on oil prices that seem to drop measurably day by day. Eventually, that translates to cheaper gas. We asked NPR's Chris Arnold just how much that matters.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

If you are driving anywhere this three-day weekend, you may do a little happy dance at the gas station, or at least you'll take notice gas prices are falling. And that's happening because oil prices have been falling. NPR's Chris Arnold tells us why.

Pages