Jim Zarroli

Jim Zarroli is a business reporter for NPR News, based at NPR's New York bureau.

He covers economics and business news including fiscal policy, the Federal Reserve, the job market and taxes

Over the years, he's reported on recessions and booms, crashes and rallies, and a long string of tax dodgers, insider traders and Ponzi schemers. He's been heavily involved in the coverage of the European debt crisis and the bank bailouts in the United States.

Prior to moving into his current role, Zarroli served as a New York-based general assignment reporter for NPR News. While in this position he covered the United Nations during the first Gulf War. Zarroli added to NPR's coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the London transit bombings and the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Before joining the NPR in 1996, Zarroli worked for the Pittsburgh Press and wrote for various print publications.

Zarroli graduated from Pennsylvania State University.

Several states are rushing to establish a foothold in online gambling — an activity that federal officials were only recently trying to ban.

Just a while ago, the federal government actually viewed online gambling as a crime. Lately, the Obama administration has taken a more permissive stance. It now allows states to sell lottery tickets online.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had expressed reservations about online gambling a month ago and had vetoed an earlier version of the bill. But in the end, the pressure to sign the legislation was just too great.

The Justice Department said Tuesday it could seek more than $5 billion in damages from Standard & Poor's, the nation's biggest credit ratings company, a day after it sued the company, alleging that S&P defrauded investors by giving triple-A ratings to risky subprime mortgage investments.

The Justice Department may seek as much as $5 billion from Standard and Poor's. In a lawsuit filed Monday night, prosecutors accuse the firm of misleading investors with fraudulent credit ratings on dozens of different mortgage bonds. It's not yet clear whether federal officials plan to file a similar suit against the other big rating firms, Moody's and Fitch. Regulators would like to see the industry be more competitive and less dependent on the firms whose securities they are rating.

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The U.S. Justice Department plans to file a civil suit this week accusing the credit rating company Standard and Poor's of fraud. Standard and Poor's is the company that famously downgraded U.S. debt in 2011. This investigation focuses on S and P's actions before the financial crisis. The civil action accuses S and P of fraudulently inflating the ratings of mortgage investments, setting them up for the crash that lead to the great recession. The investigation is the focus of today's Business Bottom Line, and here's NPR's Jim Zarroli.

The economy shrank a bit in the fourth quarter and analysts are trying to figure out why. It's clear that declines in business inventories and government spending played a role, but was the real problem the narrowly averted fiscal cliff?

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It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep, with Renee Montagne. Good morning.

Let's try again, shall we, to explain what it means when we hear that the U.S. economy shrank in the fourth quarter of 2012. As we've discussed elsewhere in the program, the decline was slight - just one-tenth of a percentage point - but it is the first contraction of the economy since the Great Recession officially ended in 2009. NPR's Jim Zarroli is with us once again in New York. Jim, good morning.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: Good morning.

Moves taken by Japan's central bank are raising fears that the world could face what's called a "currency war." The measures, announced Tuesday, are designed to flood Japan's moribund economy with money and encourage businesses and consumers to spend more.

Steps like these have been tried again and again by countries all over the world — including the U.S. — in recent years, with mixed success.

What's Wrong With Pouring Money Into The Problem?

The prime minister of Algeria is defending his government's response to last week's attack on a natural gas plant that left 37 hostages dead. He says the Islamic militants who were behind the attack planned to blow up the facility and would have killed a lot more people if they hadn't been stopped.

The attack happened at a huge, internationally operated facility in the Sahara. And it underscores the dangers that energy companies face when they do business in politically unstable places.

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You heard the president acknowledge that in some parts of the country - and more specifically, some congressional districts - gun ownership is stronger than in other parts of the country. He would need allies in those places to overcome or persuade the gun industry and its lobbying groups. Industry officials are ready to fight.

As NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, some of the proposals, especially a ban on assault weapons, could take a bite out of gun-makers' revenue.

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Wal-Mart said today that it will soon begin offering a job to any newly discharged veteran who wants one. The offer comes at a time when new veterans are having a tough time finding work. Also, Wal-Mart CEO Bill Simon promised the company will increase the amount of products it buys from domestic sources.

NPR's Jim Zarroli tells us more about both announcements.

Banking regulators are telling JPMorgan Chase that it must take action to improve its risk analysis and money-laundering controls. The bank racked up a $6 billion trading loss last year. CEO Jamie Dimon cited managerial lapses and called the loss inexcusable.

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Five years ago today, Bank of America announced it was buying the troubled subprime mortgage lender Countrywide Financial for $40 billion. At the time, the financial crisis had not fully revealed itself, and many people thought Bank of America was getting a good deal. Instead, the acquisition has turned into a never-ending legal and financial nightmare. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

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Some other news: Some of the biggest banks in the country have agreed to pay more than $18 billion to settle allegations of wrongdoing in their mortgage lending. That's today's "Business Bottom Line."

Bank of America said yesterday it would pay more than $10 billion to the mortgage company Fannie Mae because of bad loans sold during the housing boom. And in a separate settlement, 10 banks agreed to pay more than $8 billion in total, to settle claims that they made errors in foreclosing on people's homes. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

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I'm Robert Siegel. And here's a case of an old business colossus buying up a scrappy innovator. Avis, the traditional car rental company, is buying Zipcar for $500 million. Zipcar is the car-sharing company with the slogan: Wheels when you want them. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports the deal illustrates how car sharing is reshaping the rental business and drawing in a new demographic.

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.

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After more than two centuries as an independent company, the New York Stock Exchange is about to change hands. It's being acquired by Atlanta-based IntercontinentalExchange, or ICE, as part of a deal valued at $8.2 billion. In recent years, ICE has exploded in growth.

And as NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, today's announcement is the latest in a series of rapid-fire changes that have transformed the world of stock trading.

Newtown, Conn., is a white-collar community an hour and a half northeast of New York City. It's the kind of place where crime is rare and the biggest thing that happens each year is the Labor Day parade.

Now the peace and quiet has been shattered, and residents are trying to make sense of what's happened.

Hours after the shootings that left so many people dead, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church opened its doors for a prayer vigil. People filed through the streets and past houses decorated with Christmas lights.

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And I'm Audie Cornish. It is the biggest penalty ever paid by a bank to the U.S. government. HSBC, a British company, will hand over $1.9 billion to settle a money laundering case. The Justice Department says HSBC violated the bank secrecy act and the trading with the enemy act by doing business with the likes of Iran.

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British banking giant, HSBC, will pay 1.9 billion dollars to the U.S. to settle allegations of money laundering. In a statement released overnight, the bank said it accepts responsibility for past mistakes. U.S. officials will have further details of the settlement later today. NPR's Jim Zarroli has more.

Tax increases are only a part of what lies ahead if Congress can't come to an agreement to avert the fiscal cliff by the new year. Massive spending cuts will also kick in — and those cuts will be felt throughout the economy.

The current stalemate got under way two years ago when Congress, locked in a bitter partisan battle over whether to extend the George W. Bush-era tax cuts, passed what was known as the Budget Control Act of 2011.

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NPR's business news starts with questions for Chinese regulators.

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The United States has accused five Chinese auditing firms of violating U.S. securities laws. A lawsuit says the auditors are refusing to turn over documents tied to companies that the U.S. wants to investigate.

NPR's Jim Zarroli has the story.

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Cyber Monday saw a big retail push following a Black Friday that expanded into Thanksgiving Day. The big question now is whether all the early shopping will boost total holiday sales or just push them up earlier on the calendar.

Ever since Hurricane Sandy ripped through the New Jersey coast, some of the hardest-hit towns have been closed altogether. Authorities say gas leaks and unstable buildings have made them too risky to visit.

This week, residents were allowed to enter Seaside Heights for a few hours each day to get a firsthand look at the damage. Many are struggling with whether to rebuild their homes.

Weighing The Cost

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House Republicans have released portions of a report on the collapse of MF Global, the commodities firm run by former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine. The report chastises Corzine for taking excessive risk.

NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

The health care industry is one of the most reliable sources of new jobs in the country. And in cities that suffer from high unemployment, the local hospital is often the biggest employer still standing. But the downturn in the economy has left some hospitals in perilous financial shape. In Waterbury, Ct,, the biggest hospitals are going through a painful process of outsourcing and layoffs.

Hurricane Sandy left a long trail of destruction across the New Jersey shoreline. And it did a lot more than just flood houses.

In towns like Seaside Heights and Belmar, Sandy wiped out the boardwalks that line the beach. In places like these, boardwalks served as the commercial center knitting the towns together, and residents are wondering where to go from here.

Until two weeks ago, the boardwalk was the place to hang out in Belmar, N.J. Ann Summer was walking along the water with her husband this weekend.

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The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, also held a press conference yesterday, and gave a warning that Sandy could end up costing his state $33 billion in economic damage, which could worsen the state's already-perilous fiscal situation.

NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: Cuomo said the initial estimates are that the storm will cost the region $50 billion in lost economic activity and infrastructure damage. And he said two-thirds of that will be borne by New York.

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And it was no ordinary Election Day either in Belmar, New Jersey, one of the beach towns that was badly damaged by Superstorm Sandy. Some of the regular polling places were flooded out and town officials had to come up with new ways to get voters to the polls. NPR's Jim Zarolli reports.

JIM ZAROLLI, BYLINE: These days the Belmar Town Hall has been turned into a kind of rescue center for displaced residents, a place where they can get food and clothing. And yesterday they could vote, too.

Much of the worst damage from Superstorm Sandy happened in New York's less touristy outer boroughs.

Some neighborhoods have been changed forever by the storm. Staten Island saw half of the city's fatalities. On Friday, residents sorted through waterlogged belongings and tried to figure out next steps.

Rosemarie Caruso lives a block from the water on the eastern shore of Staten Island. She says there have been hurricanes before and all they brought was a little flooding. She figured she could ride out Sandy.

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