Marilyn Geewax

Marilyn Geewax is a senior editor, assigning and editing business radio stories. She also serves as the national economics correspondent for the NPR web site, and regularly discusses economic issues on NPR's mid-day show Here & Now.

Her work contributed to NPR's 2011 Edward R. Murrow Award for hard news for "The Foreclosure Nightmare." Geewax also worked on the foreclosure-crisis coverage that was recognized with a 2009 Heywood Broun Award.

Before joining NPR in 2008, Geewax served as the national economics correspondent for Cox Newspapers' Washington Bureau. Before that, she worked at Cox's flagship paper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, first as a business reporter and then as a columnist and editorial board member. She got her start as a business reporter for the Akron Beacon Journal.

Over the years, she has filed news stories from China, Japan, South Africa and Europe. Recently, she headed to Europe to participate in the RIAS German/American Journalist Exchange Program.

Geewax was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, where she studied economics and international relations. She earned a master's degree at Georgetown University, focusing on international economic affairs, and has a bachelor's degree from The Ohio State University.

She is a member of the National Press Club's Board of Governors and serves on the Global Economic Reporting Initiative Committee for the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

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The Two-Way
11:07 am
Tue April 14, 2015

Cheap Oil Fuels Global Growth. Now If We Just Had Roads And Bridges

Men work on an oil pump during a sandstorm in the desert oil fields of Sakhir, Bahrain, in January.
Hasan Jamali AP

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 4:05 pm

The global economy won't sink this year, thanks to the oceans of cheap oil keeping it afloat.

That's the bottom line of the World Economic Outlook, released Tuesday by the International Monetary Fund. The 2015 pace of economic growth will tick up to 3.5 percent, helped along by lower energy costs and weaker currencies.

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It's All Politics
5:03 am
Tue April 14, 2015

'Clintonomics' Ruled The 1990s; 'Hillarynomics' Would Be Different

Hillary Clinton begins to speak as her husband, former President Bill Clinton, moves to take a seat after introducing her at the Clinton Global Initiative on Sept. 22, 2014, in New York.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 12:47 pm

If you are under 30, this may be hard to imagine, but in the late 1990s, the economy was a job-generating machine.

In 2000, the final year of Bill Clinton's presidency, the unemployment rate fell as low as 3.8 percent. Then, within a decade of his White House departure, the rate was up to 10 percent.

Those two numbers explain why the name "Clinton" remains magic for many. People who got jobs, bought homes and invested money two decades ago associate "Clintonomics" with good times.

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The Salt
2:49 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

The Latest Item On McDonald's Shifting Menu: A $5 Burger

The new Sirloin Third Pound burgers will be offered at McDonald's starting later this month, for a limited time.
Courtesy of McDonald's

Originally published on Wed April 8, 2015 4:39 pm

McDonald's has been struggling in recent years to keep pace with fast-casual chains like Five Guys and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

So the fast-food giant is testing different menu options to lure back customers. Starting later this month, McDonald's diners will be able to choose a $4.99 sandwich — the Sirloin Third Pound burger.

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The Two-Way
12:03 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

For U.S. Workers, The March Of Progress Slows Down

The big question hanging over the U.S. economy: Did job growth just take a rest during the harsh winter, or is it shifting to a much slower pace?
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 12:19 pm

Dear March,

We got your news that employers added just 126,000 jobs on your watch. Hate to say it, but you have disappointed everyone. No doubt you'll say you were under the weather — literally. Sure, it was cold, but still ... Let's hope April does better.

Sincerely,

America

On Friday, the Labor Department's report on weak jobs growth left economists scrambling to explain what went wrong in March.

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The Two-Way
7:57 am
Fri April 3, 2015

If A Caller Says, 'I Am With The IRS,' He's Not

The Internal Revenue Service says the number of IRS-related phone scams is on the rise.
gmutlu iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 9:57 am

True story: The other day, I attended a speech by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who said phone scammers are swarming the country in the run-up to April 15, aka Tax Day.

These criminals call taxpayers and insist they must "immediately give up their personal information or make a payment," Koskinen warned. Don't fall for it.

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The Two-Way
3:17 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

IRS Head Says So Far, So Good For Obamacare's First Tax Season

The commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service says everything has gone smoothly as, for the first time, taxpayers have to report their compliance with the Affordable Care Act.
J. David Ake AP

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 3:36 pm

Congress passed the Affordable Care Act five years ago, but it didn't impose tax penalties for failure to obtain health insurance until this year.

So a big question has hung over this tax-filing season: Would the ACA unleash mass confusion as Americans grappled with new tax rules?

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen today said that so far at least, all has gone "swimmingly."

And for that, we can thank software geeks, he says.

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The Two-Way
12:46 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Census Data Prove It: We Prefer Sunshine And Golf Carts

Originally published on Fri March 27, 2015 1:17 pm

If you live in a town still dotted with dirty piles of old snow, this is not going to come as good news:

The U.S. Census Bureau today listed the nation's fastest-growing metro areas. And it turns out, Americans prefer Florida's sunshine, lakes and beaches to your cloudy, cold climes.

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The Two-Way
4:10 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

Does This Strong Dollar Make U.S. Look Too Fat For Foreign Investors?

President Obama speaks at the SelectUSA Investment Summit, hosted by the Commerce Department on Monday, at National Harbor, Md.
Cliff Owen AP

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 11:51 am

The U.S. economic expansion has been gaining so quickly that foreign investors are paying attention. Many want to open factories and offices that could swell their profits while creating jobs for Americans.

But U.S. growth also has pushed up the value of the dollar, which has surged about 14 percent over the past year relative to other currencies. That makes it more difficult for foreigners to spend their money in the U.S. The dilemma is not lost on the White House.

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Business
4:06 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Obama, Unions On Opposite Sides Of The (Fast) Track For Trade Deals

Shipping containers at the Port of Los Angeles. Unions are stepping up their efforts to thwart White House plans for passing foreign trade deals on a "fast track" through Congress.
Nick Ut AP

This week, labor leaders made sure President Obama knows that when it comes to foreign trade, they are living on opposite sides of the track — the "fast track," that is.

That's a term describing a president's broad power to negotiate a trade agreement — and then put the final package on a "fast track" through Congress. Lawmakers can give it a yes-or-no vote, but can't amend or filibuster the deal.

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Business
10:03 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

The Numbers Add Up To This: Less And Less Opportunity For Poor Kids

An employee at the American Disposables Inc. factory works on the assembly line in October 2009 in Ware, Mass. The state has seen rapidly expanding income disparity in the past 50 years as highly educated tech and financial workers have seen big gains and inflation-adjusted income has shrunk for the poorest residents.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 11:57 am

In this country, all children are supposed to have a shot at success — a chance to jump "from rags to riches" in one generation.

Even if riches remain out of reach, then the belief has been that every hard-working American should be able to go from poverty to the middle class.

On Tuesday, a book and a separate study are being released — both turning up evidence that the one-generation leap is getting harder to accomplish in an economy so tied to education, technological know-how and networking.

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Economy
7:22 am
Sat March 7, 2015

More Jobs, Less Inflation Drive Down 'Misery' — So Where's The Joy?

Construction workers in Washington, D.C., in December. The latest jobs report will further drive the "misery index" to its lowest level in more than half a century. But economists say meager wages and big debts are still problems.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

For decades, economists have tracked the "misery index," a simple formula that adds the unemployment rate to the inflation rate. The result equals how miserable — or not — you feel.

On Friday, the Labor Department released February's jobs report, and the good numbers will further drive down the misery index, already at its lowest level in more than a half-century, thanks to falling oil prices.

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The Two-Way
11:49 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Wages And Prices: A Welcome Breakup

Bigger paychecks plus lower prices add up to more buying power for consumers.
DNY59 iStockphoto

A new government report confirms: Wages and prices are going their separate ways.

This breakup is helping consumers on the rebound from recession.

Fresh evidence of the split came Monday in the Commerce Department's monthly report on personal spending, income and saving. It showed paychecks are fatter, prices are leaner and Americans are saving more.

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Economy
10:01 am
Thu February 26, 2015

Higher Wages, Lower Prices Give Consumers A Break

A sharp drop in gasoline prices led the consumer price index to fall in January. The CPI posted its first year-over-year drop since 2009.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 11:54 am

Economists usually worry about a "wage-price spiral" taking hold. That's when workers are earning more, but losing buying power as prices rise.

For now, at least, something very rare is happening: Paychecks and prices are heading in opposite directions.

"You have a schism that's helpful to consumers," IHS economist Doug Handler said about the recent decline in prices and rise in wages.

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Parallels
2:12 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

EU-Greek Drama Deepens As A Deadline Approaches

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras addresses lawmakers at the Parliament in Athens on Tuesday. Greece is in talks with European finance ministers over its debt.
Simela Pantzartzi EPA/Landov

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 3:52 pm

This time, they're done. Through. They're walking out the door on Friday.

Unless they aren't. Unless they renew their vows and their union grows ever closer.

That's basically where Greek officials and European finance ministers are in their complicated relationship. After years of possible-breakup drama, a real deadline will arrive Friday and the parties must decide: Are we in this thing together or not?

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Economy
10:19 am
Thu February 12, 2015

As Commodity Prices Plunge, Groceries May Be Next

The prices of everything from corn to sugar have fallen, too. So some economists predict lower prices at the grocery store later this year.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 12:36 pm

Anyone who has pulled up to a gas station this winter knows oil prices have fallen — down roughly 50 percent since June.

But it's not just oil. Prices for many commodities — grains, metals and other bulk products — have been plunging too.

Here are a few of the changes since many prices peaked in recent years:

- Copper is $2.59 a pound, down from $4.50 in 2011.

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Business
3:03 am
Wed January 21, 2015

To Drive Economy Toward Equality, Obama Requests More Spending

President Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night.
Mandel Ngan AP

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 10:05 am

President Obama revved up quickly for his economic victory lap.

"After a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999," President Obama said less than a minute into his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

The lap was fueled by cheap gas: "We are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we've been in almost 30 years," he said.

Democrats roared.

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Economy
6:07 am
Tue January 20, 2015

State Of The Union Will Tout Progress, But Is The Economy Fixed?

President Obama greets lawmakers as he leaves after delivering the 2014 State of Union address to a joint session of Congress.
Larry Downing AP

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 10:09 am

In so many ways, Jan. 20, 2009, was a frightful day to be taking the oath of office.

The U.S. economy was in free fall as Barack Obama rose to deliver his inaugural address. "We are in the midst of crisis," he said. "Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered."

Exactly six years later, Obama is returning to Capitol Hill to deliver a State of the Union address at 9 p.m. EST. He is expected to highlight the economic progress that has been made since that frigid Day One — and call for more changes.

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Business
8:57 am
Tue January 6, 2015

How A Too-Strong Dollar Might Lead To A Too-Weak World

If the dollar gets too expensive, U.S. exports like heavy equipment made by Caterpillar can get priced out of the market.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 11:53 am

It's flattering to be King of the Hill.

And these days, the U.S. dollar is wearing the crown. It has climbed to its highest point in 11 years, with global investors pushing it ahead of the euro and other major currencies.

But while it's a compliment to have a strong dollar, the honor is not without its downsides. When the dollar rises against other currencies, it increases risks to U.S. manufacturers.

So economists are looking for signs that a good thing may be starting to go too far. These questions and answers may help explain what's happening.

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Business
9:04 am
Mon January 5, 2015

Housing In 2015: Four Reasons For Optimism (And One For Worry)

A builder works on the construction of new homes in Belmar, N.J. Increased hiring and a boost in consumer confidence are expected to lift the housing market this year.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 10:43 am

Six years ago, homebuilders and Realtors were facing brutal business conditions: millions of Americans were losing their jobs and homes.

As 2015 begins, hiring is strong and economic indicators are pointing up. Could this be the year when the housing market finally breaks out of its tepid recovery and takes off?

Economists see several reasons why 2015 might be a banner year for homebuying — and not just in San Francisco and Miami.

They also see One Big Factor that potentially could block a buying binge.

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Business
8:02 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Looking To 2015, Economists See 5 Reasons To Celebrate

Target shoppers Kelly Foley (from left), Debbie Winslow and Ann Rich use a smartphone to look at a competitor's prices while shopping shortly after midnight on Black Friday, in South Portland, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty AP

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 8:39 am

Each December, economists make predictions. And each new year, they get hit by unexpected events that make them look more clueless than prescient.

This year's bolt out of the blue was the plunge in oil's price, which no one saw coming.

Still, top economists' forecasts did get a lot right for 2014. One year ago, most were predicting healthy growth, tame inflation, low interest rates, rising stock prices and declining unemployment — and that's just what we got.

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Business
6:47 am
Mon December 22, 2014

The 5 Business Stories That Made 2014 A Memorable Year

James Franco (left) and Seth Rogen, stars of The Interview, arrive for the film's Los Angeles premiere on Dec. 11. The comedy about a CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was pulled from theaters after a cyberattack on Sony Pictures, the studio behind the film. The FBI said the attack was traced to the North Korean government.
Jim Ruymen UPI/Landov

As the year's end approaches, economists are looking back and assessing the news stories that shaped 2014.

Though their lists may vary, most analysts are pointing to five developments that had very big impacts on the U.S. economy. These were the biggies for 2014:

Oil Prices Plunge

No one saw this one coming. When 2014 began, a barrel of crude oil was selling for about $110. It hovered there until late spring, when the price ticked up to nearly $115.

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Book News & Features
5:03 am
Fri December 19, 2014

3 Business Best-Sellers Show Inequality Is Now The Hot Topic

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 12:30 pm

Best-selling business books typically tell you how to get rich — either by becoming a better worker or investor, or perhaps by learning the secrets of successful entrepreneurs.

And in 2014, readers could find plenty of books promoting pluck and hard work, such as MONEY Master the Game and The Innovators.

But three books broke the pattern, generating headlines and big sales by focusing on unfair aspects of wealth creation.

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Business
11:23 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Economists: Congress Gets A Hat Tip (Barely) For Its Efforts

The Capitol's dome and Christmas tree are illuminated on Dec. 11 as Congress worked to pass a $1.1 trillion U.S. government-wide spending bill and avoid a government shutdown.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 8:59 pm

As the latest Congress draws to a close, economists are looking back — and seeing little.

Lawmakers passed no measures addressing tax reform, trade, immigration or even the minimum wage.

But judged by the very low standards of recent years, the 113th Congress did manage to win at least light applause from economists who are watching as the curtain goes down.

Sure, Congress allowed a disruptive government shutdown in 2013 — but it avoided repeating that drama in 2014.

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Economy
3:06 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Some Liberals And Tea Partiers Unite To Oppose Trade Deals

Protesters of varied stripes and political affiliations gathered outside the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative where negotiators from 12 nations were meeting to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
James Clark NPR

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 4:15 pm

When it comes to environmental regulations, taxes and the minimum wage, business groups generally object to President Obama's positions, while liberals support him.

But one issue blurs the usual political lines: trade.

Just last week, Obama told the Business Roundtable he would push to complete massive trade deals with both Asian and European nations. "If we can get that done, that's good for American businesses," he said.

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Business
1:38 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

2014: The Year When The Job Market Finally Turned The Corner

A construction worker clears wood from a platform that spans the Penn Station railroad tracks in New York City on Nov. 18. Construction jobs rose by 20,000 according to the November jobs report.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 2:23 pm

As 2014 winds down, you might want to save that calendar hanging next to the fridge.

Maybe even frame it.

After so many years of misery for the middle class, 2014 is now looking like the one that finally brought relief. The November jobs report, released Friday by the Labor Department, had blowout numbers showing a surge in job creation, an upturn in work hours and a meaningful boost in wages.

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Business
11:01 am
Mon November 24, 2014

The Economics Of Thanksgiving 2014

Originally published on Thu November 27, 2014 11:39 am

Thanksgiving is remembered for feasts, family gatherings and ... awkward conversations.

You know what I'm talking about. You're back with relatives you haven't seen in years, and the conversation takes a frightening turn toward politics, religion or, worse, your love life.

You need help. You have to switch to a newsy but neutral topic. Here's a handy list of conversation changers you can use at any time.

Just start each sentence with, "Hey, did you know that ... " and here are the safe categories:

The Road

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Economy
3:48 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

As U.S. Leads Growth, It Wants Others To Step Up

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says the global economy is relying too heavily on just the United States for growth.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 4:41 pm

The global economy rolls along more smoothly when it's not riding a unicycle. It needs additional wheels for momentum and stability.

That is, in effect, what Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is telling leaders of other advanced nations.

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Business
5:03 am
Tue November 11, 2014

Politics And A Food Fight Are Stalling A Major U.S.-Asia Trade Deal

A Malaysian flag sits on a table among other flags during a news conference at the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement talks in July 2012 in San Diego. Nearly two and a half years later, the deal remains incomplete.
Gregory Bull AP

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 8:30 am

Earlier this year, some trade supporters had predicted this week's APEC summit would bring a breakthrough on a comprehensive trade deal.

They had hoped that when the 21 global leaders met at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, Obama would be able to use a smaller side meeting to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal involving the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as eight Asian and Latin American countries.

But the deal wasn't reached, and there's no telling when it will be.

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The Two-Way
3:31 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Jet Fuel Is Down, But Not Enough For A Thanksgiving Fare War

A plane takes off over a departure board at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta last November. Airlines say they expect an uptick in Thanksgiving travel this year.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 7:29 am

Airlines are paying less for jet fuel these days. But don't expect that price drop to translate into Thanksgiving travel bargains for you.

Rather than cut fares, airlines are turning fuel savings into cash for acquiring aircraft, upgrading software, rewarding workers and attracting long-term investors, according to John Heimlich, chief economist for Airlines For America, A4A, a trade group.

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Business
10:24 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Thumbs Up For Higher Minimum Wages, And For Marijuana Industry

Fast-food workers and activists demonstrate outside a Chicago McDonald's in July in favor of a higher minimum wage. Illinois voters on Tuesday called on the state Legislature to approve a $10 minimum wage.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 1:44 pm

Besides electing lawmakers Tuesday, voters settled ballot initiatives affecting everything from soda-pop taxes to fracking to marijuana sales.

The outcomes varied, but there was one economic issue that united voters. Overwhelmingly, they approved raises for minimum-wage workers.

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