KRWG

Chris Arnold

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The head of the president's National Trade Council this week offered a decidedly bleak and suspicious view of global trade. Peter Navarro says foreign companies buying up U.S. corporations are posing a threat to national security.

That might sound bad, but it's a fringe view that puts him at odds with the vast majority of economists.

The stock market's been charging higher lately. After the Dow Jones industrial average topped 20,000 for the first time in history in January, it kept surging to close above 21,000 earlier this week. So what's going on with the stock market and what does it mean for your retirement account?

Over the past two weeks, the Trump administration has taken steps to delay and perhaps scuttle a new rule designed to save American workers billions of dollars they currently pay in excessive fees in their retirement accounts.

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Friday was the day that many homebuyers across the country were to start saving on average $500 a year on their loans. A fee reduction was set to go into effect at the Federal Housing Administration, lowering the cost of nearly 1 million FHA loans per year.

But that's not going to happen, at least for now, because in his very first hours in office, President Trump issued an order suspending that fee cut.

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In a meeting with business leaders, President Trump on Monday made an eyebrow-raising claim.

As part of an effort to make America more business-friendly, Trump said: "We think we can cut regulations by 75 percent. Maybe more, but by 75 percent."

Republicans do seem serious about some kind of regulatory reform. But even conservative economists say that number is not believable.

It has been said that the president likes to have an adversary. And at the meeting, Trump took aim at government regulations that stifle business.

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President-elect Donald Trump is nominating Jay Clayton, a Wall Street lawyer, to be the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Some who know him say Clayton is a good man for the job, but critics say his ties to big financial firms create too many conflicts of interest.

The big question is whether Trump has chosen a fox to guard the henhouse.

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In the last days of the Obama administration, the federal government has reached multibillion-dollar settlements with Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse over their sale of toxic mortgage securities.

President-elect Donald Trump owes Deutsche Bank hundreds of millions of dollars in loans. So that deal removes a potential conflict of interest — where a Trump Justice Department would have been negotiating the settlement.

Billionaire Wilbur Ross Jr. is one of the wealthiest members of what's being called Donald Trump's "gilded cabinet." The parade of Wall Street and corporate elites is drawing sharp criticism from many on the left. But actually, Ross, who Trump has chosen as his secretary of commerce, is respected by organized labor. Those close to him say he is not a right-wing ideologue, and some who've known him over the years say he's the best possible pick that Democrats could hope for.

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President-elect Donald Trump has pledged a $1 trillion infrastructure spending program to help jump-start an economy that he said during the campaign was in terrible shape.

Speaking on Capitol Hill Thursday, Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen warned lawmakers that as they consider such spending, they should keep an eye on the national debt. Yellen also said that while the economy needed a big boost with fiscal stimulus after the financial crisis, that's not the case now.

During the campaign, Donald Trump characterized himself as a champion of working-class voters who felt left behind and disconnected from more prosperous parts of the country. And Trump's historic upset victory last week was fueled by working-class voters in the Rust Belt and elsewhere who believed in this promise.

Building a better economic future for Americans who feel they've been left behind was a key component of Donald Trump's message during his campaign. It resonated strongly with white, working-class voters: manufacturing workers hurt by globalization, coal miners hurt by the movement to cleaner energy, and others.

But what will the details of Trump's economic policy agenda actually look like? At this point that's kind of opaque — he has no political track record, and his statements about the economy have been all over the map.

Elizabeth Warren and two other U.S. senators are demanding answers from Wells Fargo about reports of retribution by bank managers against would-be whistleblowers. This marks the latest development in the ongoing consumer banking scandal engulfing the banking giant.

In a letter to Wells Fargo's new CEO, Timothy Sloan, Warren, D-Mass., and Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., say the bank may have "misled regulators about the scope of the fraud."

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Former employees of Wells Fargo tell NPR that a toxic high-pressure sales culture at the bank drove some workers to deceive customers and open unauthorized accounts — even in the bank's own headquarters building in San Francisco.

Wells Fargo is embroiled in a scandal for taking advantage of customers by opening as many as 2 million accounts without their consent. The bank fired 5,300 mostly lower-level workers over the wrongdoing.

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Much of the anger and anxiety in the 2016 election are fueled by the sense that economic opportunity is slipping away for many Americans. This week, as part of NPR's collaborative project with member stations, A Nation Engaged, we're asking the question: What can be done to create economic opportunity for more Americans?

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When the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau looked into the Mississippi-based regional bank BancorpSouth, it didn't just review thousands of loan applications. It sent in undercover operatives — some white, some black — who pretended to be customers applying for loans.

"They had similar credit scores and similar background and situations," says CFPB Director Richard Cordray. "Our investigation had found that BancorpSouth had engaged in illegal redlining in Memphis, meaning refusing to lend into specific areas of the city."

With rising home prices and low interest rates, Americans are spending a record amount of money fixing up their kitchens, bathrooms and man-caves. And business would be booming more but there aren't enough carpenters and tradespeople to do all the work.

Nathaniel May survived the housing crash, but just barely. He's a general contractor who does home renovations in the Boston area. As recently as four years ago, he and his partner were feeling a little desperate.

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