Along with decent finances, it takes a lot of talent and practice to play in an orchestra. The same goes for being able to make people laugh. And even some of the most brilliant comedians can have a hard time of it. Let's listen to the usually great Johnny Carson in one of his not-so-great moments on the "Tonight Show."
NPR business news starts with record prices at the pump.
You may already have a sense of this from your bank statement, but now AAA has confirmed that the average price of a gallon of gasoline hit a record in 2012. The group says the national average for the year was $3.60. That is nine cents higher than the average in 2011, which was the previous record. For 2013, AAA thinks increased domestic oil production will help keep prices lower. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.
Every year, banks handle tens of millions of transactions. Some of them involve drug money, or deals with companies doing secret business with countries like Iran and Syria, in defiance of trade sanctions.
But if the Justice Department has its way, banks will be forced to change — to spot illegal transactions and blow the whistle before any money changes hands.
Federal prosecutors have already collected more than $4.5 billion from some of the world's biggest financial institutions — banks charged with looking the other way when dirty money passed through their accounts.
It's been a banner year for solar energy. The United States is on track to install a record number of solar power systems — thanks in large part to low-cost solar panels from China. That's been challenging for American manufacturers, and federal officials have put trade tariffs on Chinese panels.
Things look busy at the SunPower solar manufacturing plant in Silicon Valley. Workers are screwing frames onto shiny, 6-foot solar panels as they come off the line.
Amid all the talk of going over the fiscal cliff, we have a report now on another midnight deadline tonight. Few were paying attention when Congress failed to pass the Farm Bill last fall. But now lawmakers are scrambling to extend the law for a year, to dodge a spike in milk prices. While an agreement is in the works, another vote is necessary, and none is scheduled yet. Peggy Lowe of member station KCUR in Kansas City explains how farmers, processors and consumers ended up at what is being called the dairy cliff.
The countdown is on to a new year — and the fiscal changes that are on the other side of midnight. But what else is on the cards economically for 2013, both here and overseas? Guest host Celeste Headlee puts the question to the Wall Street Journal's Sudeep Reddy.
Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 3:48 am
Dealers are looking to move inventory to make way for new models. Consumers have one other advantage: Americans are keeping their cars longer, and that means fewer total buyers with lots of new vehicles to choose from.
The U.S. economy grew at a steady though not very strong pace this year. But Europe slipped back into recession because of the ongoing debt crisis. European leaders took steps to stimulate growth, but it wasn't enough to reverse course.
The economic crisis that got under way five years ago was felt all over the world. But Mohammed El-Erian, CEO of the investment firm PIMCO, says different regions have healed at much different rates.
The year "2012 was another multispeed world globally, in the sense that different parts did different things," he says.
It is almost unimaginable that both the House and Senate would be in session on a Sunday evening on the penultimate day of the year. And yet, they both were, with lawmakers hoping it was not merely a big waste of time and effort.
A bipartisan push by Senate leaders over the weekend has so far failed to forge a deal to spare American wage earners from tax hikes and shield government programs from drastic cutbacks.
The familiar image of the salesman in American culture hasn't always been a flattering one. Just think of Alec Baldwin as the verbally abusive "motivator" of two real estate salesmen in Glengarry Glen Ross.
Daniel H. Pink, author of the new book To Sell is Human, says that this relentless, predator-style approach to selling has become outdated. He believes that the art of sales has changed more in the past 10 years than it did in the previous century.
In June, Scott Walker — the Wisconsin governor who banned collective bargaining for public employee unions — survived a recall election.
And, despite huge protests in Michigan, the union stronghold became the 24th right-to-work state, banning unions from requiring workers to sign up. That came just 10 months after Indiana passed a similar law.
Pedestrians pass the Dow Jones display ticker in Times Square on Wednesday in New York. U.S. shoppers spent cautiously this holiday season, a disappointment for retailers that slashed prices to lure people into stores and now must hope for a post-Christmas burst of spending.
Any new member of Congress faces a steep climb to get up to speed on the economic challenges facing the U.S. over the next 12 months. Some of the loudest demands for congressional attention will no doubt come from America's CEOs and business leaders because while the recovery has been trudging along in the right direction, some of America's largest companies and corporations have not distinguished themselves over the last year.
A threatened strike by the International Longshoremen's Association at 14 ports along the East and Gulf Coasts has been called off. Federal negotiators say the union has reached an agreement with the United States Maritime Alliance and will extend contract talks.
Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 2:46 pm
Longshoremen and East Coast and Gulf Coast port operators have agreed to an extension on labor negotiations, a federal mediator said Friday, averting a potentially crippling strike that would have halted container traffic at many of the nation's largest seaports.
Update at 4:45 p.m. ET: The temporary deal extends the contract to Feb. 6.
Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 4:48 am
So far there are no signs of a breakthrough in talks between Democrats and Republicans in Washington to stave off the tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect on New Year's Day. President Obama has summoned top congressional leaders for talks at the White House on Friday.
Also last month, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency joked to an environmental law conference: Everyone who wants my job, stand up. Yesterday, Lisa Jackson turned serious and made it official: She's leaving the EPA next month.
As NPR's Selena Simmons-Duffin reports, there are mixed feelings about Jackson's departure.
Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 5:14 am
Apple CEO Tim Cook got a relatively modest $4.2 million in salary for the latest fiscal year. That's after the company's board set him up with stock now worth $510 million for taking the reins in 2011.