Business

Planet Money
3:32 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Duke: $60,000 A Year For College Is Actually A Discount

Students attend graduation ceremonies at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Two-thirds of college students now graduate with debt, owing an average amount of $24,000.
Butch Dill AP

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 10:36 am

In 1984, it cost $10,000 a year to go to Duke University. Today, it's $60,000 a year. "It's staggering," says Duke freshman Max Duncan, "especially considering that's for four years."

But according to Jim Roberts, executive vice provost at Duke, that's actually a discount. "We're investing on average about $90,000 in the education of each student," he says. Roberts is not alone in making the claim. In fact, it's one most elite research institutions point to when asked about rising tuition.

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It's All Politics
7:14 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Obama Buoys Democrats By Dropping Social Security Cut Idea

President Obama very likely made Democrats' midterm campaign messaging easier by dropping from his new budget a proposal that would have reduced the size of Social Security checks.
Matt Rourke AP

For a political party already facing a difficult midterm election the way the Democrats are, the fewer internally divisive issues the better.

And few items were more divisive among Democrats than President Obama's previous proposal to reduce Social Security entitlement spending by using a less generous formula to calculate cost-of-living increases, so long as Republicans agreed to raise revenue by ending or reducing loopholes that would raise revenue.

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Business
6:25 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

After A Weak Holiday Season, Wal-Mart Profits Shrink

A man shops at a Wal-Mart store in San Jose, Calif., in September. Wal-Mart on Thursday reported that its annual profits fell.
Jeff Chiu AP

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 3:37 pm

Wal-Mart on Thursday reported that its annual profits failed to grow. And failed by a lot.

Full-year net income tumbled to $16 billion, down by nearly $1 billion from the previous year.

That tells you a great deal about how hard the economy has been on the lower-income shoppers who make up Wal-Mart's core customer base, according to Charles Fishman, author of The Wal-Mart Effect.

"This clearly reflects the economic constraints on people who shop at Wal-Mart," Fishman said.

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Business
4:18 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

What's Up With Facebook's Big Acquisition?

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 8:02 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. Yesterday, Facebook bought a little startup for a lot of money, $19 billion in cash and stock. It's hard to fathom a price tag that big. Half the companies in the S&P 500 aren't worth that much. But a look at who exactly is using the application called WhatsApp may explain the value that Facebook sees in it. Here's more from Aarti Shahani of member station KQED in San Francisco.

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The Two-Way
10:52 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Nebraska To Appeal Ruling That Blocks Keystone Pipeline In State

TransCanada President and CEO Russ Girling comments on the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline route through Nebraska during a January 2013 news conference in Calgary, Alberta.
Todd Korol Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 11:43 am

The company in charge of the Keystone XL extension said Thursday that it is considering its next move now that a Nebraska judge has struck down a law that allowed the pipeline to be routed through that state.

"We are disappointed and disagree with the decision of the Nebraska district court and will now analyze the judgment and decide what next steps may be taken," TransCanada Corp. said in a statement. "Nebraska's attorney general has filed an appeal."

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The Two-Way
9:06 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Dip In Weekly Jobless Claims Seen As Sign Of Better Times Ahead

As the weather warms, will more signs such as this pop up? Economists say the latest data on claims for unemployment benefits may signal that better times are ahead.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 10:37 am

There were only 3,000 fewer first-time claims filed for jobless benefits last week, but the slight decline is being seen as another sign that the nation's labor market will gain some strength once spring arrives.

The Employment and Training Administration said Thursday that 336,000 applications were submitted last week, versus 339,000 the week before.

That means the pace of claims is still running about where it's been since late 2011.

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Planet Money
3:43 am
Thu February 20, 2014

What It Was Like To Be A Wall Street Recruit After The Bailouts

John Angelillo UPI/Landov

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 10:05 am

Back in 2012, reporter Kevin Roose went undercover at a very exclusive party.

It was a dinner for a secret society, held once a year, at the St. Regis hotel in New York City. The secret society is called Kappa Beta Phi, and it's made up of current and former Wall Street executives — people like Michael Bloomberg, former heads of Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs. And every year the group holds a dinner to induct new people into the group — they're called neophytes.

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Parallels
3:42 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Why More Americans Are Renouncing U.S. Citizenship

A case against the Swiss bank UBS in 2008 led Congress to create more regulations for foreign banks holding American money. Rather than comply, many banks opted to stop serving American account-holders.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 8:32 am

A few times a year, the Treasury Department publishes a long list of names announcing all of the Americans who have lately abandoned their U.S. citizenship.

According to the legal website International Tax Blog, the number hovered around 500 a decade ago. Last year, it hit a record high of nearly 3,000.

This was not a gradual change. It was a sudden spike. It's a story of dominoes falling, one after another, leading to an unexpected outcome.

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The Two-Way
7:01 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Facebook Will Buy WhatsApp Message Service For $19 Billion

Seeking new ways to be a player in mobile messaging, Facebook announced today that it will acquire the fast-growing WhatsApp firm for some $16 billion in cash and stock. The deal includes an additional $3 billion in Facebook stock for the employees of WhatsApp, who would see the shares vest over four years.

This is the second headline-grabbing acquisition by Facebook, following the $1 billion deal for Instagram that was announced in the spring of 2012. The new deal calls for Facebook to pay $4 billion in cash, along with around $12 billion in stock.

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Business
5:12 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Manufacturing Association Wants Progress In Obama's Trade Agenda

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 7:37 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

A leader of the U.S. manufacturing sector is calling on Congress and the president to put aside their differences. Jay Timmons, who is head of the National Association of Manufacturers, would like to see some progress on the president's trade agenda.

Chuck Quirmbach of Wisconsin Public Radio reports.

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The Salt
3:44 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Is Tyson Foods' Chicken Empire A 'Meat Racket'?

Chickens gather around a feeder in a Tyson Foods poultry house in Washington County, Ark.
April L. Brown AP

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 2:38 pm

Christopher Leonard's new exposé on the chicken industry, The Meat Racket, doesn't devote much ink to the physical object on our plate, the chicken meat itself.

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Shots - Health News
3:41 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Elusive Goal: A Transparent Price List For Health Care

Some states are trying to make health care prices available to the public by collecting receipts from those who pay the bills: Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers. Some states' efforts to make these prices available are in jeopardy.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 7:37 am

Coffee is important to many of us, but let's say your coffee maker breaks. Finding a new one is as easy as typing "shop coffee maker" into your browser. Voila — you've got models, prices and customer reviews at your fingertips.

But say you need something less fun than a coffee maker — like a colonoscopy. Shopping for one of those is a lot harder. Actual prices for the procedure are almost impossible to find, and Bob Kershner says there's huge variation in cost from one clinic to the next.

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The Two-Way
6:23 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

CBO: Minimum Wage Hike Could Boost Paychecks – And Cut Jobs

Darlene Handy of Baltimore holds up a banner at a rally supporting a pay measure in Maryland. More than 20 states have raised minimum pay rates above the federal level.
Jose Luis Magana AP

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 6:42 pm

Whatever you already believed about raising the federal minimum wage, you now have more ammo for your argument, thanks to a report released Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office, titled "The Effects of a Minimum-Wage Increase on Employment and Family Income."

Yes, you're right: Raising the wage in steps to $10.10 an hour by 2016 would push employers to cut jobs — about 500,000 of them, says the CBO, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress.

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Economy
4:12 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

CBO Predicts Job Losses From Minimum Wage Hike

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 7:58 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

A new report out this afternoon poured some gasoline on the already raging debate over whether to raise the minimum wage. The report from the Congressional Budget Office says boosting the federal minimum to $10.10 an hour, as President Obama has proposed, would lift 900,000 people out of poverty. But it would also cost about half-a-million jobs.

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Business
4:12 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Dealt A Recent Defeat, Union Organizers Plot A Future In The South

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 7:58 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The United Auto Workers Union suffered a major defeat when a drive to represent workers at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee failed last week. Right now, leaders of the AFL-CIO are holding their winter meetings in Houston and that VW vote is a major topic.

NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea has more.

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Economy
12:22 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Long-Term Unemployed End Up Earning Less After They Get A Job

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Now we want to take a look at the economy, and we wanted to focus today on people who have been unemployed for a while. There are currently 3.6 million Americans who've been unemployed for more than six months. That's according to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor statistics.

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Around the Nation
3:33 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Battling Blight: Detroit Maps Entire City To Find Bad Buildings

A map of Detroit is spread on a table; on laptops, workers see the same map, overlaid with a grid of the city and blue dots representing surveyors in the field.
Dawn Uhl-Zifilippo

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 11:39 am

Inside one in a series of abandoned homes along a blighted block of Detroit's Brightmoor neighborhood, filmmaker Tom McPhee walks through the remnants of a life — broken furniture, scattered knickknacks and a flooded basement.

"This is fresh water that's coming into the basement here," McPhee points out. "All of that plumbing has been ripped away 'cause someone found a value in it, so they don't care that it's running. This is all over the city."

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Business
4:43 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Demographic Shifts Contribute To The Changing Face Of Retail

Retailers, including Wal-Mart, are trying to adapt their models to suit urban areas, including this mixed-use retail and residential development in Washington, D.C.
Meredith Rizzo NPR

Originally published on Mon February 17, 2014 7:59 pm

So far this year, retail chains have announced some heavy cuts. J.C. Penney said it would close 33 stores. Macy's said it would lay off 2,500 workers. Sears will close its flagship Chicago store in April.

That's creating a glut of excess space. But that's just one of several forces changing the face of retail.

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Shots - Health News
3:39 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Finessing Health Coverage: When To Buy Insurance For A New Baby

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Mon February 17, 2014 9:59 am

We're heading into the home stretch to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act this year. The open enrollment period ends March 31 for most people.

But there are exceptions. And they are the subject of many of our questions this month.

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Shots - Health News
3:37 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Candy Flavors Put E-Cigarettes On Kids' Menu

Kids as young as 13 purchase e-cigarettes, or "vape pens," online, where independent sellers don't necessarily ask a buyer's age.
Jenny Lei Bolario Youth Radio

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 3:59 pm

Electronic cigarettes are often billed as a safe way for smokers to try to kick their habit. But it's not just smokers who are getting their fix this way. According to a survey published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 5 middle school students who've tried one say they've never smoked a "real" cigarette. And between 2011 and 2012, e-cigarettes doubled in popularity among middle and high school students.

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Business
9:09 am
Sun February 16, 2014

The Green Rush Begins: Investors Get In On Pot's Ground Floor

Marijuana is sold for recreational use in Denver. Legalization of pot has set off a "green rush" to invest among venture capitalists.
Brennan Linsley AP

Originally published on Sun February 16, 2014 11:44 am

In the past, you could go to jail for selling marijuana. Now, depending upon where you live, you could end up going to the bank.

Medical marijuana is now legal in 20 states, and legislation is pending in 13 others. It's become a $1.5-billion-a-year industry, and it's expected to triple in just a few years. With legal cannabis one of the world's fastest growing market sectors, investors are seeing green.

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Around the Nation
11:13 am
Sat February 15, 2014

Tenn. Workers Vote To Reject Union At VW Plant

Originally published on Sat February 15, 2014 1:13 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Tough night for the United Auto Workers. The union hoped employees at Volkswagen's only U.S. plant might help give them a foothold into foreign-owned auto plants across the South, but VW workers voted no, and Volkswagen had not opposed their efforts. Blake Farmer of member station WPLN in Nashville has been covering the story and joins us now. Blake, thanks for being with us.

BLAKE FARMER, BYLINE: Thanks for having me.

SIMON: Didn't the union think they had the numbers?

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Health Care
9:54 am
Sat February 15, 2014

A Love Of Medicine Runs Through Three Generations

Originally published on Sat February 15, 2014 1:13 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Being a physician today bears little resemblance to the Rockwellian family doctor who generations ago made house calls. The Affordable Care Act is one reason, but just the latest among many factors that have reshaped the practice of medicine. We wanted to get a view of those changes through the eyes of doctors.

Eric Whitney spend time with a father and son who are part of three generations of physicians. We're airing this encore story that looks at whether medicine will still be a good career choice for a fourth generation.

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The Two-Way
10:56 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Tenn. VW Workers Reject Move To Join Union

Volkswagen's car plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., is the company's only one in the U.S. Its employees voted this week on whether to join the United Auto Workers union.
Volkswagen

Some 1,500 workers at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee have voted not to join the United Auto Workers union. The tally of the three-day vote follows days of political prodding from both sides of the issue.

The 712-626 vote was a devastating blow to the UAW, which had tacit support from VW. The union had hoped to make inroads in auto plants in the South, where organizers have been striving for decades to represent factory workers.

VW had even allowed organizers into the plant to make their sales pitches.

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Law
6:32 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

With New Rules, Pot Business Gets A Little Less Hazy For Banks

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 7:58 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

The Treasury and Justice Departments today sought to clarify for banks how they might navigate the murky legal waters of the marijuana business. Murky because pot is legal in a growing number of states but remains illegal under federal law. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports on these new terms under which a bank must operate if it wants to offer financial services to this emerging industry.

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Politics
11:57 am
Fri February 14, 2014

Why 'No One is Running With The President In Missouri'

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 1:30 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Much of the East Coast is digging out from ice and snow including Washington, D.C. But members of Congress beat the bad weather out of town and are back in their districts for a two week recess, this after a vote to raise the debt ceiling - a vote that came unusual for these times without an ugly showdown.

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Business
5:03 am
Fri February 14, 2014

Romantic Economist Applies Economic Terms To Relationships

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 7:18 am

On this Valentine's Day, Renee Montagne talks to a young economist about how he tried to apply the rules of the market to his love life. William Nicolson chronicles his journey to find a girlfriend in the memoir, The Romantic Economist.

Media
3:46 am
Fri February 14, 2014

'Harried Mom' Becomes Dynamic Woman In These Stock Images

Getty's new collection of stock images of women and families veers away from the "overworked mom" stereotype.
Cavan Images Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 10:46 am

This week Getty Images teamed up with LeanIn.org, the nonprofit foundation of Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, to release a new collection of stock photos. There are about 2,500 new images of modern women and families.

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Parallels
3:44 am
Fri February 14, 2014

Iran's Hope Is Sanctions Relief, But Reality Is Struggling Economy

Low-income Iranians line up to receive food supplies in south Tehran. Iran remains an economy of subsidies, although some direct cash payments have been replaced by food baskets for the poor.
Davoud Ghahrdar AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 11:07 am

Iran's economy may be struggling, but that doesn't mean everyone is suffering.

In a downtown Tehran restaurant, a well-dressed young man who asks to be identified only as Ahmad sits with a friend enjoying a water pipe of flavored tobacco.

Ahmad is a bit vague about what he does — first he says he's in the petrochemical business, then describes himself as an independent trader. He shares the general consensus that President Hassan Rouhani has brought a better atmosphere to the country but no real economic changes.

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It's All Politics
4:46 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Debt Ceiling Vote Relied On GOP's 'Tough Vote' Caucus

House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (left), and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (right) were among the 28 Republicans whose votes made it possible for most other Republicans to vote against the debt ceiling hike.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 3:08 pm

Within the House Republican Conference, an unofficial "tough vote" caucus is taking shape.

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