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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Economy
2:45 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

So Far, So Good For The Economy. But What About The Second Half?

A worker welds parts in fans for industrial ventilation systems at the Robinson Fans Inc. plant in Harmony, Pa., in February. Hourly wages in the U.S. remained unchanged last month.
Keith Srakocic AP

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 3:36 pm

Maybe it seems like just yesterday that you were storing away your holiday decorations.

Maybe it actually was yesterday because life gets busy and tasks get put off, and before you know it, half the year is over and you're scrambling to catch up.

So in case you have been too busy to pay close attention, here's what we now know about the just-ended half of this year's economy:

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The Two-Way
3:20 pm
Tue June 30, 2015

Debate Begins: New OT Rules Will Raise Wages — Or Kill Jobs

President Obama has proposed a rule requiring requiring overtime pay for more workers. The plan has drawn fire from many employers.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Business groups and labor unions sharply disagreed today over the potential impact of a proposed change to the federal rule governing overtime pay.

In coming months, the two sides will submit comments in writing to the Labor Department to try to shape the rule's final wording, but the verbal sparring already has begun.

Business leaders say hiking overtime pay would reduce hiring, while unions say the change would stimulate the economy by raising incomes for about 5 million Americans.

Before laying out the different reactions, we'll look at what happened today:

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The Two-Way
3:23 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

If The Mess In Greece Is All Greek To You, Then Read This

The EU and national flags fly in the foreground of the Parthenon, as Greek voters prepare to decide whether to continue negotiating for more international loans.
Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 8:59 am

"It was Greek to me."

Shakespeare used that phrase in one of his tragedies to suggest that a complicated matter was beyond understanding.

Many Americans may be muttering those words again as this week's Greek tragedy plays out.

The situation in Athens really is complicated, but it's also important. So let's walk through the basics together, and then consider what it might mean to Americans.

Here's what has happened so far:

-- The Greek government has way too much debt and can't pay its creditors.

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The Two-Way
11:26 am
Thu June 25, 2015

Congress Signs Off On Trade Bills, Handing Obama A Huge Win

Originally published on Thu June 25, 2015 2:14 pm

The U.S. House voted 236-138 Thursday to tie a bow on President Obama's package of trade-related legislation — giving him final approval on everything he wanted.

The Senate already had signed off on all of it, granting: 1) enhanced trade negotiation powers to the president, 2) aid for displaced workers and 3) trade incentives for sub-Saharan Africa.

Thursday's vote marked a stunning victory for Obama by clearing his path to completing the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal involving the United States, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim nations.

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The Two-Way
2:50 pm
Wed June 24, 2015

Senate Passes Fast-Track Trade Legislation, 60-38

Originally published on Mon July 6, 2015 10:03 am

The Senate handed President Obama a huge victory Wednesday afternoon, giving him final approval of legislation that enhances his power to negotiate trade deals.

The bill needed just 51 votes, but passed 60-38, making it look almost easy.

But earlier this month, the legislation granting Trade Promotion Authority seemed likely to die because of fierce opposition from many Democrats and some Republicans. Various legislative maneuvers were employed to set back the measure.

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The Two-Way
11:43 am
Tue June 23, 2015

Senate Votes To Advance The White House Trade Agenda

Originally published on Tue June 23, 2015 2:58 pm

The Senate voted 60-37 Tuesday to advance President Obama's trade agenda — setting up a big victory for the White House and a painful loss for labor unions.

This latest Senate vote clears away procedural hurdles for legislation granting Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to Obama. That power allows the president to negotiate trade pacts and then put them on a so-called fast track through Congress. With TPA in place, Congress would take a simple yes-or-no vote on any trade deal, with no room for amendments.

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Business
9:55 am
Tue June 23, 2015

Airlines Vs. Airports: A Dogfight Over Fees Imposed On Fliers

A plane takes off from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport on May 25. Airports want Congress to raise passenger fees to pay for improvements.
Trevor Collens AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 23, 2015 12:35 pm

You'd think everyone in the aviation industry would be on the same page about improving air travel. Surely they all want more modern aircraft and upgraded airports, right?

They do. But airlines and airports are in a political dogfight this summer over who should be getting more of your money for improvements.

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The Two-Way
1:46 pm
Wed June 17, 2015

Yes, Your Car Loan Will Still Be Cheap As Fed Holds Rates Low

Lincoln Mercury vehicles at a dealership lot in Sterling Heights, Mich.
Paul Sancya AP

Originally published on Wed June 17, 2015 2:48 pm

The Federal Reserve's policymakers Wednesday held steady on interest rates — and gave no specific time frame for when they might change course.

That was the expected outcome of their two-day meeting.

But this changed: The policymakers seemed a bit more optimistic about the U.S. economy. Their statement said that while inflation is very low, "economic activity has been expanding moderately."

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The Two-Way
9:42 am
Tue June 16, 2015

U.S. House Votes To Buy Time For Obama's Trade Agenda

Originally published on Wed June 17, 2015 3:10 pm

Updated at 2:55 p.m. ET

This afternoon, the U.S. House voted 236 to 189 to give itself six more weeks to sort out tangled legislation involving trade.

The House Republican leaders prodded their members to approve a rule change that extends time for a second vote on one part of a trade package. This portion, called Trade Adjustment Assistance, failed on Friday.

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The Two-Way
9:46 am
Fri June 12, 2015

Dealing Blow To Obama, Efforts To Pass Trade Plan Fail In The House

President Obama walks with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as he visits Capitol Hill on Friday.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Mon June 15, 2015 11:14 am

Dealing a big blow to President Obama's agenda, the House of Representatives failed to pass a key element of a package of bills that would have given Obama the ability to fast-track a trade deal with Pacific Rim nations.

The House began by voting on a bill that would provide funding for training Americans who would lose their jobs because of the trade deal. Failing to attract enough Democratic votes, the body rejected the measure by a large margin.

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Economy
12:30 pm
Fri June 5, 2015

Teens Hoping For More Jobs, Higher Wages This Summer

José Moncada, 16, signed up for a summer youth employment program in New York City. He said hopes to earn enough to help his family, which lives on less than $30,000 a year.
Kaomi Goetz for NPR

Originally published on Mon June 8, 2015 1:10 pm

Recipe for a good summer-job market: First, hire a lot of people in May. Second, give workers raises, and third, push down gasoline prices. Mix it all together — and pour out hope for teen workers.

"Having a job makes me feel really excited. I can put my own money in my pocket instead of asking my parents for money all the time," said José Moncada, a 16-year-old job seeker in New York City.

Moncada and other teens may have caught a break Friday when the economy followed that seasonal employment recipe precisely.

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The Two-Way
5:45 pm
Fri May 15, 2015

Big 3 Airlines Say Foreign Competitors Are 'Dumping' Seats In U.S.

A Qatar Airways plane loads cargo on Feb. 3, 2013, at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. The big three U.S. airlines — Delta, United and American — say Persian Gulf carriers like Qatar Airways, Emirates Airlines and Etihad are "dumping" seats in the U.S.
Robert Nickelsberg Getty Images

Many U.S. passengers who have been wedged into coach-class seats on long flights might welcome more flying options — even if that competition were to come from overseas.

But the chief executives for Delta, United and American airlines say it's not fair if such competition involves big government subsidies given to state-backed carriers.

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It's All Politics
3:01 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

The Morning After: Lawmakers Vote To Reduce Amtrak Funding

"Starving rail of funding will not enable safer train travel," Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., told the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, admonished Democrats: "Don't use this tragedy in that way," he said. "It was beneath you."
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 13, 2015 3:24 pm

Transportation funding was going to get plenty of attention this week in Washington — even before an Amtrak train derailed about 140 miles to the north.

This is National Infrastructure Week, so lobbyists, labor leaders and activists started swarming Capitol Hill on Monday, seeking funds for roads, bridges and other projects related to transportation.

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The Two-Way
1:48 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

Would More Trade Help The Job Market Run Faster Or Trip It Up?

Workers unload cargo at the Port of Portland's Terminal 6 in Portland, Ore.
Rick Bowmer AP

The Labor Department's latest report shows employers created 223,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate went down another notch to 5.4 percent.

So, yay!

But study the wage figures in Friday's report — and your "yay" turns to "meh."

Workers got raises of just 0.1 percent in April. Over the past year, wages advanced only 2.2 percent, a pace that amounts to treading water for most families. The average workweek has stalled at 34.5 hours, unchanged from the previous month — and from a year ago.

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The Two-Way
12:33 pm
Wed May 6, 2015

Fed Chair Yellen's Warning Adds To Recent Market Jitters

Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen's remarks Wednesday made a lot of investors blink. But there's something to keep in mind before you sell based on her advice.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 6, 2015 4:06 pm

Both stock and bond markets had already been having a rough week, and then on Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen added to the jitters.

She warned that stock valuations are "generally quite high," and that "there are potential dangers there."

So if you happen to be an investor who wants to buy low and sell high (and really, who doesn't?), then you might take Yellen's comment as a suggestion that it's time to sell.

And that's just what happened: Measures of U.S. stock prices all slipped — down about 0.7 percent by midday.

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Business
3:01 pm
Wed April 29, 2015

Japan's Abe Pushes The Pacific Trade Deal Onto Center Stage

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a joint press conference at the White House with President Obama on Tuesday. Abe is urging U.S. lawmakers to approve a trans-Pacific trade deal.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

President Obama's plan for creating a Pacific Rim trade zone has been hovering in the wings, waiting for the right moment to demand attention.

On Wednesday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed it out on to center stage during a dramatic joint meeting of the U.S. House and Senate. He urged Congress to approve the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.

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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
3:50 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
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
2:01 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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