Business

The Two-Way
10:19 am
Tue February 26, 2013

FDIC Says In 2012, Banks Posted Second-Best Earnings On Record

Martin Gruenberg, Acting Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), testifies during a U.S. House Financial Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 19, 2012.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Profits for U.S. banks skyrocketed in 2012, a report from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. finds today.

According to Bloomberg, U.S. banks made $141.3 billion in net income last year. That is the "second-best earnings on record." The best year was 2006, when banks reported $145.2 billion in earnings.

The AP explains:

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The Two-Way
8:27 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Home Sales, Consumer Confidence And Bernanke All On Positive Side

Today's economic indicators all point up:

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The Salt
6:09 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Oxfam Gives Big Food Companies Bad Behavior Grades

Oxfam's "report card" evaluates giants of the supermarket aisle on their commitment to social and environmental issues.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 7:42 am

Do failing grades inspire more effort? Oxfam hopes so. The activist group on behalf of the poor has just handed out report cards to 10 of the world's top food companies, grading their commitments to protect the environment and treat people fairly.

Oxfam doesn't grade on the curve, evidently. Every company flunked. But two European-based companies, Nestle and Unilever, were at least better than the others.

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Economy
3:21 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Shipyard Workers Worry About Sequestration Furloughs

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 7:44 am

Military communities are keeping a wary eye on the sequester debate in Washington, D.C. In Maine, employees of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard have already been dealing with budget cuts. Now they could face furlough days as well. The smaller payroll could send shock waves through the local economy.

Television
3:21 am
Tue February 26, 2013

CBS Continues New TV Formula With 'Golden Boy'

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 7:44 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Real life crime and court scenarios are often plot lines for television shows. And since there aren't enough new hit dramas this season, CBS is staying competitive with its old standbys, crime procedurals, like "The Mentalist" and "NCIS."

TV critic Eric Deggans says the network is also trying something new, with a show that premieres tonight.

ERIC DEGGANS: In some ways, the new drama "Golden Boy" seems like a serious Hail Mary pass for CBS.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW "GOLDEN BOY")

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Business
3:21 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Has The Nook Saved Barnes & Noble From Going The Way Of Borders?

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 7:44 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Barnes & Noble Chairman and chief stockholder, Leonard Riggio, is looking into the possibility of buying the company's retail book business, but not the Nook, the e-book, the company had staked it future on.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

That news comes as the company is set to release its third quarter earnings on Thursday. Barnes & Noble has already signaled the report will be disappointing, especially with the e-reader.

NPR's Lynn Neary reports on the future of the bookstore chain.

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Business
3:21 am
Tue February 26, 2013

The Last Word In Business

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 7:44 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

If you were to open a new brick-and-mortar bookstore, New York City would be a very pricey place to do it. Manhattan boasts some of the world's most valuable land - and, as it turns out - air. And that is our last word in business this morning.

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Business
3:21 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Business News

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 7:44 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a Fed status update.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is in front of the Senate Banking Committee this morning. It's his semi-annual report to Congress.

And Bernanke is facing questions, as he has for years, about the Fed's bond buying program that's been pumping money into the economy and keeping interest rates low. Some lawmakers fear this policy could eventually cause inflation.

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All Tech Considered
1:25 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Seeking A 'Field Of Dreams' For A Rising Drone Industry

Joe Kummer, president of Propulsive Wing in Elbridge, N.Y., is rooting for having a drone test site in upstate New York. He says it could save him trips to the West Coast to try out new drone prototypes.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 9:18 am

In three years, the federal government is expected to open the skies for the civilian use of drones. But before that, the Federal Aviation Administration will set up six drone test sites around the country. Stiff competition to get one of the sites is anticipated — driven by hopes of attracting thousands of new jobs.

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Business
1:21 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Technology Upends Another Industry: Homebuilding

The recession forced Mid-Atlantic Builders Executive Vice President Stephen Paul to cut the company's staffing. But he says the firm is being efficient with half the original number of employees.
Marie McGrory NPR

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 7:44 am

Years into the economic recovery, hiring remains slow. Many businesses learned to do more with less during the recession, so they don't need to bring on as many people now.

These new efficiencies have led to what economists call "labor displacement," which is taking place around the country. One business in Rockville, Md., is doing the same amount of work with half its original staff.

Two things are noticeably absent from the offices of Mid-Atlantic Builders: people and paper.

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Economy
3:53 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Too Soon To Blame Payroll Tax For Stagnant Retail Sales?

Wal-Mart is one of several large retailers that say an increase in the payroll tax may hurt U.S. sales in the months ahead.
Daniel Acker Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 5:23 pm

For Darden Restaurants, the company behind Olive Garden and Red Lobster, its earnings projections out last week were not pretty. Sales will fall, it said, and company CEO Clarence Otis called higher payroll taxes a "headwind."

After a two-year tax break, the payroll tax, which funds Social Security payments, went back up to 6.2 percent on Jan. 1. The 2-percentage-point increase is an extra $80 a month in taxes for someone earning $50,000 a year.

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Business
3:01 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

To Become 'One Yahoo,' Tech Company Bans Telecommuting

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 5:23 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish, and it's time now for All Tech Considered.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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Law
3:01 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Civil Trial Against BP Seeks To Place Blame For Gulf Oil Spill

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 5:23 pm

The long-awaited BP trial opened Monday in New Orleans. The oil giant is in court to determine how much it should pay because of the massive 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Audie Cornish talks to Jeff Brady.

Governing
12:27 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

The Scramble Over The Sequester Showdown

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 12:50 pm

If Congress fails to make a deal on government spending and taxation before Friday, federal cuts of more than 85 billion dollars will be enacted. NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley discusses the politics of a potential deal and the options for avoiding sequestration.

The Opinion Page
12:20 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Op-Ed: It's Time To Raise The Minimum Wage

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 12:48 pm

Transcript

JENNIFER LUDDEN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Jennifer Ludden.

Now, the Opinion Page. It's a no-brainer, that's how secretary - former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich described President Obama's recent proposal to raise the federal minimum wage. The plan would boost minimum pay from 7.25 an hour to $9. In a syndicated column, Reich wrote, a mere $9 an hour translates into about $18,000 a year, still under the poverty line.

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All Tech Considered
11:13 am
Mon February 25, 2013

Working From Home: The End Of Productivity Or The Future Of Work?

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer on Feb. 20, 2013. Under Mayer, Yahoo is ending its remote work policy for employees.
Peter Kramer ASSOCIATED PRESS

In its bid to reshape itself for the future, Yahoo is returning to a workplace culture of the tech industry's past. The Internet giant has reportedly notified its employees they'll no longer be allowed to work from home.

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The Salt
7:59 am
Mon February 25, 2013

Horsemeat Found In IKEA's Meatballs

For many, Swedish meatballs are part of the allure of shopping at Ikea.
Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar/Flickr

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 9:36 am

Bad news for those whose shopping trips at Ikea are partly motivated by the allure of the store's famous meatballs: The giant Swedish furniture retailer on Monday said it had recalled a batch of frozen meatballs sent to more than a dozen European countries after tests detected traces of horse meat.

Food inspectors in the Czech Republic discovered the horse meat DNA last week in 2.2-pound packs of frozen meatballs labeled as beef and pork and sold under the name Kottbullar.

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Business
3:38 am
Mon February 25, 2013

E.U. Governments Cautioned Against Cutting Technology Budgets

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 7:11 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

European budget problems prompted governments to cut back on investments in digital services and broadband networks. Industry officials say this damages Europe's ability to compete.

Terri Schultz reports from Brussels.

TERRI SCHULTZ, BYLINE: The European Union's own officials acknowledge there's a serious disconnect between what Europe is doing and what it needs to do to stop falling behind in the telecommunications industry.

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Business
3:38 am
Mon February 25, 2013

Insurance Industry Lab Creates Indoor Hailstorm

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 7:11 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Bad weather can mean big losses for homeowners and insurance companies. So recently, the insurance industry built a laboratory in rural Richburg, South Carolina in hopes of developing more weather-resistant buildings. The latest experiment was a giant, indoor hailstorm.

Julie Rose of member station WFAE takes us inside.

JULIE ROSE, BYLINE: Tanya Brown has had a single obsession these past two years...

TANYA BROWN: I'm a research engineer and the lead engineer on this project.

ROSE: How to make hail.

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Business
3:38 am
Mon February 25, 2013

Business News

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 7:11 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a new economic forecast.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: The latest survey of economic forecasters by the National Association of Business Economics predicts 2 percent growth this year. That is down from last year's 2.2 percent. The current budget battle in Congress is partly blamed for slowing the economy now.

The survey goes on to say that next year could be better if budget issues are resolved by then. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Business
3:38 am
Mon February 25, 2013

The Last Word In Business

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 7:11 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And today's last word in business is: pirates beware.

If you download copyrighted material illegally, you might get a warning from your Internet service provider starting as soon as today. That's according to blogs covering file-sharing communities like Bit Torrent, where users share and download movies and music for free. Big copyright holders like the Motion Picture Association of America, have been working with Internet providers on ways to punish online pirates, although we do not yet know what the punishment might be.

Around the Nation
3:07 am
Mon February 25, 2013

Oakland To Issue IDs That Double As Debit Cards

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan (center) and former Oakland Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente are registered for the Oakland City ID Prepaid MasterCard program by Jaime Suriano (left) Feb. 1 in Oakland, Calif.
Ben Margot AP

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 7:11 am

The city of Oakland, Calif., is taking a major step toward helping to bring many of its residents, especially illegal immigrants, out of the shadows.

It will issue a municipal identification card to anyone who can prove residency.

Oakland isn't the only city to issue such ID cards to illegal immigrants. New Haven, Conn., and San Francisco already do that.

The Oakland card, however, has a unique feature — it doubles as a debit card.

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The Two-Way
3:35 pm
Sat February 23, 2013

Flipping The Switch: What It Takes To Prioritize Electric Cars

A Ford Focus electric concept car with a home charging unit on display at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mich., in January.
Stan Honda AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 8:48 am

"Electricity is the most likely out of all of the alternative fuels ... to be the next fuel for the consumer."

That's what Jonathan Strickland of the website HowStuffWorks tells NPR's Jacki Lyden.

But electric vehicles are not without their controversies or challenges. One of the biggest questions is how a transition from gasoline to electric fuel can actually take place.

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Oscars 2013: The 85th Annual Academy Awards
10:54 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Despite Dark Themes, A Big Oscar Bounce

Despite its dark themes (slavery and the Civil War are hardly feel-good topics), Lincoln, like other Oscar nominees, has done very well at the box office. Disney has spent about $10 million campaigning for the best-picture prize, hoping for a payoff down the line.
DreamWorks

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 4:47 pm

How much is a best-picture Oscar worth? Not the statuette — winners are required to sell that back to the Academy for a buck if they want to get rid of it. No, what's the Oscar worth at the box office?

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BackTalk
10:06 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Who Should We Honor On Presidents' Day?

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now it's time for BackTalk. That's where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere. Editor Ammad Omar is with us. What's going on today, Ammad?

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Economy
10:06 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Could Minimum Wage Increase Boom Or Bust Economy?

President Obama's plan to jump-start the economy starts with increasing the minimum wage and avoiding sequestration. Host Michel Martin talks about those challenges and others, like rising gas prices and expanding waist lines. She's joined by NPR's senior business editor Marilyn Geewax and Wall Street Journal economics reporter Sudeep Reddy.

Business
3:42 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Boeing Believes It Has Safety Fix For 787s

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 4:22 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Let's talk about another meeting happening today. Senior officials from Boeing are sitting down with the head of the Federal Aviation Administration. Boeing wants its 787 Dreamliner fleet back in service. It's been grounded for more than a month. Neither Boeing nor safety investigators have discovered exactly what caused two 787 batteries to overheat and in one case catch fire last month. But, Boeing believes, it can mitigate any future risk with a series of fixes.

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Politics
3:42 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Obama To Urge Japan To Join Trans-Pacific Partnership

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 4:26 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a Japanese visit to the White House.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will meet with President Obama at the White House today. For Abe, the primary focus of the summit is re-vitalizing Japan's security alliance with the United States in the face of the threat from North Korea as well as tensions between Japan and China.

But as NPR's John Ydstie reports, the leaders will also discuss economic issues.

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Business
3:42 am
Fri February 22, 2013

The Last Word In Business

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 1:33 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And today's last word in business is Oscar swag.

On Sunday, nominees who do not win an Academy award will nevertheless take home about $47,000 worth of consolation gifts - which sounds like a lot, but in 2010 the swag was worth a lot more - more than $90,000.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This year, goodies include trips to places like Australia, Hawaii and Mexico. The gift bags may also include such useful items as hand illustrated tennis shoes, portion controlled dinnerware, and a book by Leeza Gibbons.

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Planet Money
1:46 am
Fri February 22, 2013

At A Trade Show, Power Tools Fit For The Amish

Robert Smith / NPR

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 7:59 pm

The Buckeye Tool Expo in Dalton, Ohio, is held in a massive hall filled with bearded men in black hats and women in white bonnets. A few horses and buggies are tied up outside.

The Amish have chosen to forgo many of the delights of the modern world, but they still need to drill, sand and cut wood. This trade expo shows off all the loopholes that let the Amish get their hands on power tools.

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