Business

Energy
4:11 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Shell Faces Pushback As Alaska Drilling Nears

Shell says it hopes to never need to use its new 300-foot-long, $100 million oil recovery ship named Nanuq for anything other than drills and training.
Richard Harris NPR

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 4:59 pm

The federal government could soon give the final go-ahead for Royal Dutch Shell to begin drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean. Shell has spent $4 billion since 2007 to prepare for this work, and is hoping to tap into vast new deposits of oil.

But the plan to drill exploratory wells is controversial — opposed by environmental groups and some indigenous people as well.

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Technology
2:35 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Failure: The F-Word Silicon Valley Loves And Hates

Tech entrepreneurs gather at the offices of Y Combinator, a company based in Mountain View, Calif., that provides seed money to young startups. Founder Paul Graham predicts half of the startups funded by Y Combinator will ultimately fail.
Melissa Block NPR

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 6:18 pm

In Silicon Valley, there's an "F word" that entrepreneurs say in polite company all the time: failure.

For every high-tech business success, there are countless failures in this California cradle of Internet startups. Here failure is accepted, or even welcomed, as a guide for future success.

In fact, failure is dissected in San Francisco at FailCon, an annual one-day conference where tech entrepreneurs and investors spill their guts and share lessons learned.

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The Two-Way
12:57 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Moon Shot From JPMorgan's Dimon Is Day's Money Quote

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon during testimony today before the House Financial Services Committee.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images
  • Rep. Sean Duffy and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon

The top news from Capitol Hill testimony today by JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is that he says "the bank did its best to fully inform investors about its risk strategy several weeks before it suffered a $2 billion-plus trading loss," The Associated Press reports.

But the quote from him that seems to be getting the most attention came in response to a question from Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., who wanted to know if the bank could ever lose "a half a trillion dollars or a trillion dollars?"

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The Two-Way
11:35 am
Tue June 19, 2012

Microsoft's 'Surface': The Early Reviews Are In

Microsoft's Surface.
Microsoft

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 11:51 am

Microsoft announced yesterday that it was jumping into the tablet market with "Surface." That foray has been hotly anticipated and analysts believe with sales of PCs falling, it's an important move for the company known more for its software than its hardware.

Now that the tech writers have had a chance to get their hands on the device, we've rounded up a few of their first impressions:

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Shots - Health Blog
8:51 am
Tue June 19, 2012

Pills On The Job: Companies Add Prescription Services

On-the-job filling of prescriptions is becoming more common.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 10:37 am

Nearly everybody has to fill a prescription now and then. For a lot us, there are several to fill each month.

To make it easier, some companies are adding drug dispensaries to their on-site health clinics. Others offer concierge services that deliver drugs right to workers' desks.

Now, it's true that people could also fill their usual prescriptions by mail, something many employers and managers of pharmacy benefits encourage with lower copays.

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Planet Money
8:19 am
Tue June 19, 2012

Why A Strong Yen Means More U.S. Jobs

Ben Margot AP

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 4:11 pm

The cost to build a Toyota Prius hasn't changed much in the past five years — if you measure the cost in Japanese yen. But if you measure the cost in dollars, it's a different story. In 2007, it cost Toyota about $16,000 to build a Prius. Now, it's more like $24,000.

That's because the value of the yen has risen relative to the dollar. In 2007, $1 bought 124 yen; today, $1 buys just 79 yen.

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The Two-Way
7:51 am
Tue June 19, 2012

Adidas Cancels Its 'Shackle Shoes'

The JS Roundhouse Mids.
Facebook.com/adidasoriginals

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 9:46 am

Sneakers that come with prison orange shackles to wrap around your ankles?

That was Adidas' idea for the "JS Roundhouse Mids" it planned to start selling in August. It was to be "a sneaker ... so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles."

Was to be, that is.

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The Two-Way
7:12 am
Tue June 19, 2012

Signs Of Strength In Latest Housing Data

San Mateo, Calif.: Construction was underway earlier this year at a new housing development.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 8:01 am

There was a 7.9 percent jump in the number of construction permits issued to home builders in May, the Census Bureau says.

That increase boosted permits to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 780,000 — the most since September 2008, The Associated Press adds. It's a signal that construction will be strong in coming months.

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The Two-Way
5:10 am
Tue June 19, 2012

Spain's Borrowing Costs Soar; Latest 'Ominous Sign' In Europe

The Spanish flag blowing in the wind in Madrid earlier this month.
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 6:32 am

Today's developments in Europe's financial crisis focus mainly on Spain:

-- The Wall Street Journal writes that "Spain, on the edge of losing debt market access, paid around 2 percentage points more in interest rates Tuesday than a month ago to lure investors to its Treasury bill sale, an ominous sign ahead of a critical government bond auction Thursday."

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Business
2:58 am
Tue June 19, 2012

The Last Word In Business

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 7:48 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And today's last word business is about a bank takeover that was more of a fake over. Businessman Li Chunping made headlines in China earlier this year. He spoke in the Chinese media of how he took over an American bank - the Atlantic Bank of Delaware, which he said went bankrupt in 2008.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

The story got him plenty of public praise. The communist party touted him as a model citizen, rising from poverty to be a successful businessman in the rice trade. He even got a position as a government adviser.

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Business
2:58 am
Tue June 19, 2012

Microsoft's Surface Tablet To Compete With iPad

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 7:48 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now in Hollywood last night, Microsoft unveiled its newest product: a tablet computer to compete with the iPad. Putting out a computer is an unusual move for Microsoft, which is mostly known for software.

NPR's Mandalit del Barco was at the announcement.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: At Milk Studios in Hollywood, a photo studio for the stars, Microsoft engineers revealed their snazzy new tablet, which they call Surface.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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Business
2:58 am
Tue June 19, 2012

Business News

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 7:48 am

The Federal Reserve starts its latest two-day meeting Tuesday, and analysts around the globe are wondering whether the central bank will end ease monetary policy. The meeting follows some tough U.S. labor data and the recent Greek elections.

Business
1:07 am
Tue June 19, 2012

It's Taxis Vs. Limos In Laid-Back Portland

Portland, Ore., imposes two different fare structures on taxis and other kinds of short-trip vehicles. Two town car companies say those different rules are unconstitutional.
Thomas Hawk Flickr

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 7:48 am

With just over a half-million residents, Portland, Ore., is not exactly a major metropolis. In this bike- and mass-transit-friendly city, there are typically more bikes and buses plying the downtown streets than taxis and town cars.

So when Mike Porter wanted to drum up business for his town car company, he did what a lot of businesses do: He took out a Groupon ad, offering a discounted fare to or from the airport.

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All Tech Considered
2:18 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

You Know You Want One: Personal Robots Not Ready For You Yet

Research scientist Leila Takayama poses with a PR2 robot at Willow Garage, a robotics company in Menlo Park, Calif., that produces programmable robots.
Melissa Block NPR

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 9:06 pm

Meet Jake. At 500 pounds, he stands 4 feet 4 four inches tall, with a spine that stretches another foot. He has white urethane skin, a flat head sporting an array of camera lenses, and a laser scanner in his throat.

And he may be coming to a home near you.

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The Two-Way
10:31 am
Mon June 18, 2012

Microsoft Promises A 'Major' Announcement; What Will It Be?

Microsoft's Surface.
Microsoft

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 7:01 pm

Update at 7:23 p.m. ET. The Surface:

Saying that Microsoft wanted to give its new operating system "its own hardware," CEO Steve Ballmer announced "Surface," Microsoft's foray into the tablet world.

The Verge reports:

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Business
5:37 am
Mon June 18, 2012

Microsoft Expected To Debut Tablet Rival To iPad

Microsoft isn't confirming but the company is expected to unveil a tablet device at an event in Los Angeles on Monday. Bloomberg News reports sources say the device would compete with Apple's iPad and Amazon's Kindle. Meanwhile, IBM has created a computer that ranks the fastest in the world. The Sequoia machine beat out the previous No. 1, the Japanese Fujitsu.

Business
5:32 am
Mon June 18, 2012

Chevy Volt Sales Begin To Show Improvement

General Motors is pinning some of its hopes for the future on its gas-electric hybrid the Chevy Volt. After a slow start last year, Volt sales are beginning to pick up. According to Edmunds.com, Volt sales so far this year are almost level with all of last year's sales. GM has sold about 7,000 of the hybrids.

The Two-Way
5:09 am
Mon June 18, 2012

Market Rally Fades As Investors Turn Attention From Greece To Spain

Frankfurt: A German flag hung today in front of a board displaying the DAX stock index.
Daniel Roland AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 11:19 am

At midday in New York, Bloomberg News' headline pretty much sums up the story for the markets so far today and their reaction to the news about Sunday's vote in Greece:

"U.S. Stocks Swing Between Gains, Losses Amid Europe Woes."

And this paragraph from Bloomberg's account seems to capture what traders are thinking:

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Business
5:05 am
Mon June 18, 2012

Markets React To Greek Election Results

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 6:20 am

Markets in Asia and Europe initially responded positively to the results of the Greek election. Of greatest concern, is another rise in Spanish interest rates to another euro-era record.

Latin America
1:09 am
Mon June 18, 2012

G-20 Leaders In Mexico Concentrate On Euro Crisis

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 8:39 am

President Obama and other world leaders are gathering in Los Cabos, Mexico, on Monday for the G-20 summit. They're hoping to get some assurances that European governments are getting control of their financial problems before they become a further drag on the global economy.

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Europe
1:05 am
Mon June 18, 2012

Locals Fear Venice Becoming 'A Big Shopping Center'

A gondola sails in front of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, which has been sold to Benetton Group. The clothing company plans to convert the Venice landmark into a shopping mall.
Marco Secchi Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 1:45 pm

As Italy tries to fight its way out of a full-blown recession, the state and local governments are coming up with creative — and some say questionable — sources of revenue.

The latest example comes from Venice, where Benetton, the trendy Italian clothing-maker, is poised to put the city's first shopping mall right on the Grand Canal. Residents are up in arms, but officials say deals like these keep the lagoon city afloat.

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The Salt
1:03 am
Mon June 18, 2012

Is The Coconut Water Craze All It's Cracked Up To Be?

John Gordon Gauld, a 35-year old artist, bikes with coconut water in New York City.
Jacob Anderson

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 10:48 am

You've probably seen them in the grocery store — cans of coconut water with their come-hither photos of young, green coconuts, tops sheared off, a straw poking out, and blue and green boxes that evoke cool, tropical breezes. Some vendors even sell the real thing. Artist John Gordon Gauld enjoys fresh coconut water when he's thirsty after biking through New York City.

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Shots - Health Blog
1:02 am
Mon June 18, 2012

Consumers Stuck With Murky Sunscreen Labels Another Summer

Which one of these sunscreens would be considered safe and correctly labeled by the Food and Drug Administration? Not a single one. Safe sunscreens are SPF15 or higher, and the new rules require those with broad-spectrum protection to include the term next to and in the same style as the sun protection factor.
Benjamin Morris NPR

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 7:41 am

Anyone who has gone to the drug store knows that the labels on sunscreens can be confusing. The sun protection factor, or SPF, numbers are all over the place. Some say "sunblock"; others says "sunscreen." What's the difference between "waterproof" and "water-resistant?"

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Around the Nation
3:30 pm
Sat June 16, 2012

State Of The Unions: Labor And The Middle Class

Occupy Wall Street protesters joined with unions in New York on May 1, a traditional day of global protests in sympathy with unions and leftist politics.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Sat June 16, 2012 7:05 pm

For many full-time employees in the United States, the five-day work week, paid overtime and holidays are expected benefits. This wasn't always so, and many workers' benefits today are the achievements of labor unions.

Just five decades ago, unions were on the frontline of the fight for the rights and wages of the middle class. But today, unions are on the decline.

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Law
2:58 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

Hedge Fund Tycoon Convicted In Insider Trading Case

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 4:25 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Former Goldman Sachs board member Rajat Gupta was found guilty today of conspiracy and securities fraud. Prosecutors had accused Gupta of passing on inside information about the firm to hedge fund tycoon Raj Rajaratnam. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: The verdict came on only the second day of deliberations. Gupta was acquitted of two charges but convicted of four others. The 63-year-old Indian-born Gupta is the most prominent business leader convicted so far in the government's ongoing insider trading investigation.

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Planet Money
12:58 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

The Karl Marx MasterCard Is Here. It Needs A Tagline.

The Karl Marx credit card.
via Sparkasse Chemnitz

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 3:48 pm

The German bank Sparkasse Chemnitz recently launched a Karl Marx credit card. The bank let people vote online for 10 different images, and Marx was the "very clear winner," beating out a palace, a castle and a racetrack, among others. Reuters has more on the story.

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The Two-Way
10:10 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Rajat Gupta Guilty In Insider Trading Case

Rajat Gupta on Wednesday as he arrived at the federal courthouse in Manhattan.
Emmanuel Dunand AFP/Getty Images

"Rajat Gupta, who reached the pinnacle of corporate America as managing partner of McKinsey & Co. and was a director at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Procter & Gamble, was convicted by a federal jury of leaking inside information to hedge-fund manager Raj Rajaratnam," Bloomberg News writes.

The Associated Press recaps the case:

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Shots - Health Blog
10:09 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Insurers Wait For Verdict On Health Care Law And Their Bottom Line

Demonstrators both for and against the health care law turned out on the steps of the Supreme Court on March 27, the second day of oral arguments before the court.
John Rose NPR

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 4:25 pm

All eyes these days are trained on the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to rule sometime this month on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

But some people are waiting more anxiously for the court to rule than others. Among them are those with a major financial stake in whether the law goes forward or not and if so, in what form.

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The Two-Way
7:13 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Central Banks 'On Standby' As Greek Elections Loom

The European Central Bank "is on standby to keep banks flush with liquidity" if Greeks effectively vote on Sunday to support politicians who want to reject austerity measures and pull the nation out of the eurozone, The Financial Times writes this morning.

The ECB joins "a global chorus of central bankers pledging support ahead of Sunday's elections," the FT adds.

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Economy
7:12 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Three Frightening Phrases You Should Understand

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a press conference in Brussels.
John Thys AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 9:42 am

The economy has so much going for it: low inflation, low interest rates, affordable homes, falling gasoline prices and 27 straight months of job growth. Good times, no?

No.

The economy is slowing, but not because of current conditions. The slowdown reflects the fear of what may be coming next. Economists say employers and investors are paralyzed by the uncertainty surrounding three huge problems: one in the United States, another in Europe and the third in China.

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