Business

Shots - Health Blog
1:28 am
Tue August 21, 2012

Health Law Gives Medicare Fraud Fighters New Weapons

With help from the Affordable Care Act, government fraud investigators will make more use of computer programs to detect Medicare and Medicaid scams.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 7:01 am

Fighting health care fraud in the U.S. can seem like an endless game of Whack-a-Mole. When government fraud squads crack down on one scheme, another pops up close by.

But the fraud squads that look for scams in the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs have some new weapons: tools and funding provided by the Affordable Care Act.

Medicare and Medicaid pay out some $750 billion each year to more than 1.5 million doctors, hospitals and medical suppliers. By many estimates, about $65 billion a year is lost to fraud.

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Business
11:44 am
Mon August 20, 2012

Aetna To Buy Coventry Health Care

Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 11:50 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Changes in the health insurance industry are at the top of NPR's business news.

The giant insurance company Aetna plans to get a little bigger. It's buying Coventry Health Care for more than $5.5 billion. Now, if you want to know why, consider the changing landscape in which Aetna does business. Medicaid is expanding under President Obama's health care law, Medicare is expanding as Americans grow older, and those government-run plans include many opportunities for private insurance companies.

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Economy
2:30 am
Mon August 20, 2012

The Latest On The Global Economy

Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 3:43 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Exports of goods and services have been one of the bright spots in the lackluster U.S. economy lately. Exports have been growing much faster than almost anything else. But, economies around the world are now slowing.

And to find out what that means for U.S. exports and jobs, we turn, as we often do, to David Wessel, economics editor of The Wall Street Journal.

Good morning, David.

DAVID WESSEL: Good morning.

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Business
2:30 am
Mon August 20, 2012

The Last Word In Business

Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 3:52 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And let's talk about one more bright spot in the American economy - anything that is wrapped in bacon.

Today's last word in business is the double bacon corn dog.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Yeah. Vendors at the Iowa State Fair delighted - or disgusted - consumers when deep-fried butter made its debut last year. Well, this year, Campbell's Concessions took a hotdog, wrapped it in bacon, dipped it in corn batter, which is infused with even more bacon, and they dropped it, where else, into a deep fryer.

(LAUGHTER)

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Business
2:30 am
Mon August 20, 2012

Business News

Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 11:52 am

American is currently seeking to cut costs in bankruptcy protection so the flight attendants' union pushed hard for this vote — warning that rejecting the contract could mean even deeper cuts or furloughs. The company's trying to cut about a billion dollars in labor costs. Mechanics and other union workers had previously accepted new contracts but pilots rejected American's latest offer earlier this month.

Business
4:21 am
Sun August 19, 2012

She's No Man; She's A Lobsterman

Lobsterman Genevieve Kurilec holds a lobster caught while fishing along Deer Isle, Maine. Kurilec says more women are beginning to captain their own lobster boats.
Chris Arnold NPR

Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 3:46 pm

In New England, more women are breaking through the glass gangway. That's the ramp you use to walk down onto a dock to hop onboard your own fishing boat. For generations lobstermen in Maine have been predominantly, well, men — but that's starting to change.

At a small gas dock in a rock-lined cove on Deer Isle, Maine, there's a new captain fueling up. Genevieve Kurilec, 29, wears a tank-top, orange fishing overalls and lobster buoy earrings.

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Your Money
4:21 am
Sun August 19, 2012

Stores Banking On Personalized Loyalty Programs

A customer using Safeway's personalized deals gets this loaf of bread for 99 cents instead of the original $4.29.
Ashley Gross KPLU

Originally published on Sun August 19, 2012 4:56 pm

Loyalty cards have long given discounts to shoppers who sign up, but stores are increasingly offering personalized discounts tailored to each customer's shopping patterns.

Those tailored discounts mean someone standing in front of you at the supermarket checkout line might get a lower price on the exact same gallon of milk that you're buying.

A 'Secret Deal'

Heather Kulper is one of those people who really wants to get a good deal. She's a mom in a suburb north of Seattle who writes a blog about coupon clipping and saving money.

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The Salt
4:21 am
Sun August 19, 2012

Shop Owners Hope Yogurt Smooths A Path Out Of Greek Recession

Dimitris Plassas and Georgia Ladopoulou work the yogurt bar at Fresko, which specializes in several varieties of Greek-style yogurt.
Joanna Kakissis NPR

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 9:23 am

Greeks used to take their yogurt for granted. This year, at anti-austerity protests, they even threw it at their politicians. But Greeks are finally realizing yogurt might actually help the country during its worst recession in half a century.

In Athens, dozens of entrepreneurs have opened yogurt bars. The first one, called Fresko, opened last year on a pedestrian street near the Acropolis. It features four types of rich, strained yogurt kept cool in traditional ceramic pots.

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Economy
3:01 pm
Sat August 18, 2012

In Weak Economy, College Grads 'Surge' Into Military

When his parents Tuy (center) and Mydung (right) Lam lost their jobs, electrical engineering major Louis Lam enlisted in the Navy.
Michael Tomsic NPR

Originally published on Sat August 18, 2012 5:14 pm

The weak economy is helping to drive thousands more college graduates into the U.S. military.

Since the recession began in 2007, there's been a steady increase in the number of college graduates joining the armed forces. The Navy and Army have seen the biggest jumps. About 60 percent more college grads joined the Navy last year than in 2007.

For some of them, it's a job some would never have imagined for themselves just a few years ago.

Not 'What I Thought I'd Be Doing'

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Business
4:31 am
Sat August 18, 2012

In Wall Street 2.0, Computers Are King

Originally published on Sat August 18, 2012 1:03 pm

Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon talks to Sean Gourley, physicist and founder of quid.com, about the computers that trade stock shares faster than human minds can comprehend.

Business
4:31 am
Sat August 18, 2012

Settlement Shines Light On N.Y. Regulator, Agency

Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of New York state's Department of Financial Services, got British bank Standard Chartered to pay a $340 million settlement over allegations that it schemed with the Iranian government to launder billions of dollars.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Sat August 18, 2012 3:03 pm

Banking industry officials say it's unheard of: A state regulator, flying solo, threatens to take away the state license of a global bank — and then secures a very public settlement.

That's exactly what happened in New York this past week, when the state's Department of Financial Services reached a settlement with Britain's Standard Chartered Bank over allegations that it schemed with the Iranian government to launder billions of dollars.

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The Salt
10:42 am
Fri August 17, 2012

Rwandan Coffee Farmers Turn Premium Beans Into Harvest Gold

Welcome to Rwanda's coffee land, where some of the world's best coffee is grown. Here, Minani Anastase, president of Musasa Coffee Cooperative in northern Rwanda, looks over the coffee drying tables.
Courtesy of Jonathan Kalan

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 9:04 am

Yesterday on All Things Considered, Allison Aubrey explained how coffee is the new wine — or, at least, how our morning brew is catching up with the evening Chardonnay in terms of our appreciation for its flavor and textures. And that's piquing our interest in learning where our coffee comes from.

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Shots - Health Blog
10:11 am
Fri August 17, 2012

When Does Mom's Blog Become An Ad?

Some mommy bloggers threw parties with Madagascar 3-themed activities for kids. Here's one suggestion from Merck's Children's Claritin Facebook page.
Facebook

Blogging about being a mom is a booming business. And the popularity of these blogs has spawned an industry that turns some of the moms into virtual product reps.

With companies and conferences devoted to connecting moms with industry, regulatory agencies that keep track of truthfulness and transparency in advertising are struggling to keep up.

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The Two-Way
8:57 am
Fri August 17, 2012

Insurer Will Pay In Case That Quickly Went Viral

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 9:20 am

Monday, New York comedian Matt Fisher wrote a very serious blog post headlined "My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court."

It quickly drew considerable attention on the Web, bad publicity for Progresssive Insurance and coverage from national news outlets because he laid out a sad story:

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Business
2:46 am
Fri August 17, 2012

Former Georgia Coach Charged In Ponzi Scheme

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 9:06 am

The Securities and Exchange Commission says former University of Georgia football coach Jim Donnan used his influence to get high-profile college coaches and former players to invest $80 million into a Ponzi scheme. Donnan has denied the allegations

Business
2:42 am
Fri August 17, 2012

The Last Word In Business

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 9:06 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

As in much of the country, it's been a hot summer in the state of Oklahoma, and the heat has forced those without air conditioning to get creative.

Today's last word in business is a Scottish solution.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Mechanics at O'Brien Auto Performance are keeping cool in kilts. From May to October, some employees there don kilts to enjoy a breezier workday.

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Your Money
12:59 am
Fri August 17, 2012

Student Loans Can Dent Retirees' Social Security

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 12:37 pm

Families often pull together to help finance a college education, with parents and grandparents chipping in or co-signing loans. And now, a SmartMoney report finds the U.S. government withholding money from Social Security recipients who've stopped paying on federal student loans.

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Economy
12:46 am
Fri August 17, 2012

Low Mortgage Rates Boost 'Serial Refinancers'

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 12:35 pm

Refinance activity continues to boom, fueling the home-loan market. Low interest rates have created a class of "serial refinancers" — those lucky enough to borrow at lower rates — and given them new opportunities to spend their freed up cash.

Settlement attorney Robert Gratz never used to be on a first-name basis with his clients.

"In the past, our practice was such that you'd see people, and that was the end of it," he says.

Gratz now sees the same faces all the time, of clients refinancing again and again — these days in the mid-3 percent range.

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Planet Money
12:44 am
Fri August 17, 2012

Competing Against The Nicest Guy In Town

Hondo (left) and Dizz.
Chana Joffe-Walt NPR

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 12:36 pm

For more: Why does the government subsidize crop insurance in the first place? We try to answer that question in our latest podcast.

The federal government spends about $7 billion a year on crop insurance for U.S. farmers. Policies are sold by private companies, but the government sets the rates, so the companies can't compete on price.

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All Tech Considered
4:39 pm
Thu August 16, 2012

What's In Your Wallet? Wait, You Don't Need One

A barista processes a customer's payment using Square, a device that turns a mobile device into a card swiper. More businesses are using the devices to simplify credit card payments. Others are embracing technology that allows consumers to pay with their cellphones.
Jeff Wheeler MCT/Landov

Most Americans pay with plastic or cash when they visit the grocery store, buy their daily coffee, or fill up the gas tank. But a growing number of large companies are trying to change that.

Google, Starbucks and Wal-Mart are among the many firms that are eager to replace consumers' wallets and stores' cash registers, with smartphones and other mobile devices.

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The Salt
3:45 pm
Thu August 16, 2012

Coffee Is The New Wine. Here's How You Taste It

Samantha Kerr prepares coffee at Artifact Coffee in Baltimore, MD.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 9:03 am

The "know your farmer" concept may soon apply to the folks growing your coffee, too.

Increasingly, specialty roasters are working directly with coffee growers around the world to produce coffees as varied in taste as wines. And how are roasters teaching their clientele to appreciate the subtle characteristics of brews? By bringing an age-old tasting ritual once limited to coffee insiders to the coffee-sipping masses.

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The Two-Way
2:42 pm
Thu August 16, 2012

EBay Says Users Will No Longer Be Able To Sell Magic, Potions, Curses

A "powerful" love potion for sale on eBay. The "buy it now" price is $21.
eBay

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 3:04 pm

It's a tough day for the Harry Potters among us: Ebay said today that beginning in September it will no longer allow the sale of some, um, metaphysical products.

Among them: advice, spells, curses, hexing, conjuring, magic, prayers, blessing services, magic potions and healing sessions.

The Los Angeles reports:

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The Two-Way
1:42 pm
Thu August 16, 2012

Facebook Shares Battered As Insiders Are Allowed To Sell

An illustration of an Apple iPhone displaying the Facebook app's splash screen in front of the login page.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

At one point today, Facebook's stock price sunk to a new low. At about $19.69, it was worth about half of what it was initially sold for in May.

Bloomberg explains that what is happening is that early investors in the company — including founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg — were allowed to sell some of their stocks for the first time today.

Bloomberg adds:

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The Two-Way
6:40 am
Thu August 16, 2012

Jobless Claims Held Steady At 366,000 Last Week

There were 366,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, up by 2,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration says.

So what we said last week applies again:

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Business
2:38 am
Thu August 16, 2012

Kentucky, W.Va., To Ship Coal To India For 25 Years

Originally published on Tue August 21, 2012 2:53 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The U.S. coal industry is getting a boost. Nine million tons of American coal will be sent overseas to India this year, and for the next 25 years - it's the result of a new $7 billion deal signed yesterday between an Indian coal group and several producers in Kentucky and West Virginia.

Erica Peterson of member station WFPL has more.

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Television
2:38 am
Thu August 16, 2012

Low Ratings Force CNN To Find A New Direction

Originally published on Tue August 21, 2012 2:53 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The news network CNN has recently seen its ratings during primetime hit record lows. The company is still making money, thanks to its international presence, but here in the United States, viewers are increasingly turning to more opinionated competitors: MSNBC and Fox News. At the end of the year, the president of CNN Worldwide is going to step down. And TV critic Eric Deggans sees this as a big opportunity for CNN to shake things up.

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Business
2:38 am
Thu August 16, 2012

Business News

Originally published on Tue August 21, 2012 2:53 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a subpoena.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Business
2:38 am
Thu August 16, 2012

Olympians Try To Turn Medals Into Endorsements

Originally published on Tue August 21, 2012 2:53 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And while the Olympic Games are over and the athletes have all headed home, the competition for athletes to turn their gold into gold by securing valuable endorsements is in full swing.

To talk to us about some of the big sponsorship deals that might be in the works, we're joined by Emily Steel, who covers media and marketing in New York for the Financial Times.

Good morning.

EMILY STEEL: Good morning.

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Business
2:38 am
Thu August 16, 2012

The Last Word In Business

Originally published on Tue August 21, 2012 2:53 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

All right. So we just heard in Renee's conversation there that American Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas has hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers, giving her clout with potential sponsors.

Our last word in business today is Klout spelled with a K. Klout, k-l-o-u-t, is a Web startup that's been around for a few years. The company says it can measure your online influence by using a special algorithm.

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American Dreams: Then And Now
1:28 am
Thu August 16, 2012

Persuading Banks To Give Homeowners A Break

Sara Millan (left) thanks Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America CEO Bruce Marks after NACA was able to reduce her family's mortgage during an event in Los Angeles in September 2010.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Originally published on Tue August 21, 2012 2:53 pm

Over the past four years, Bruce Marks has been on a traveling road show to help people avoid foreclosure. His nonprofit, the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, has held more than 80 events in cities around the country. So far, Marks says, NACA has helped 202,000 people get their payments lowered so they can afford to keep their homes.

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