Business

The Salt
2:29 am
Wed June 13, 2012

Farmers Split Over Subsidies As Senate Farm Bill Debate Begins

Larry Sailer on his corn and soybean farm, just north of Iowa Falls, Iowa.
Jonathan Ahl for NPR

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 6:48 am

The latest proposal for the farm bill — the law governing everything from food stamps to rural development grants — is being considered by the U.S. Senate this week. It's designed to save more than $23 billion over the next 10 years, in part by getting rid of direct payments to farmers. The direct payment program alone costs taxpayers $5 billion per year.

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Politics
2:29 am
Wed June 13, 2012

Why The Farm Bill's Provisions Will Matter To You

Dairy cows feed on a farm in Chilton, Wis., in May. The farm bill being considered by Congress, part of a massive package that could cost nearly $1 trillion over a decade, contains a number of provisions affecting dairies.
Carrie Antlfinger AP

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 10:49 am

If you think only farmers care about the farm bill currently being considered by Congress, you're very, very mistaken.

The measure will not only set policy and spending for the nation's farms for years to come, but it will also affect dozens of other seemingly unrelated programs — all at a cost of nearly $1 trillion over the next decade. Following are a few questions and answers about the massive legislation:

Why is it called the farm bill, and where did it come from?

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Your Money
4:42 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Credit Card Debt Cut: The Reason May Surprise You

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 5:17 pm

A Federal Reserve study showing that Americans lost wealth in the Great Recession turned up another, perhaps more surprising, result: Credit card debt fell sharply.

"The percentage of families using credit cards for borrowing dropped over the period; the median balance on their accounts fell 16.1 percent" between 2007 and 2010, the report concluded.

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Planet Money
11:47 am
Tue June 12, 2012

How Much Money Should You Save For A Rainy Day?

Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 9:09 am

The most important reason Americans save money: To have something salted away for a rainy day.

When researchers asked people the most important reason they save money, building an emergency fund finished slightly ahead of retirement and way ahead of everything else.

This raises a second question: How much do you need in a rainy day fund?

Lucky for us, the researchers asked this question as well. Not surprisingly, people with higher incomes said they needed a bigger emergency fund.

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The Two-Way
10:20 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Verizon Introduces 'Groundbreaking' Pricing Scheme, But Is It Really Different?

Verizon's new plan is the biggest revamp in wireless pricing in years, and one that's likely to be copied by other carriers.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 11:54 am

Verizon Wireless announced on Tuesday what it is calling a "groundbreaking" pricing scheme that will "forever change the way customers purchase wireless services."

Essentially what the new plans — dubbed "Share Everything" by the company — are aiming for is to allow customers to use one bucket of data access to power up to 10 of their devices. The pricing starts at $90 a month, which allows for one smartphone with unlimited voice and text and access to 1 gigabyte of data.

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The Two-Way
10:06 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Employers Could Fill Jobs If They Trained More, Complained Less, Prof Says

At any gathering of business owners, you're likely to hear about how hard it is to fill jobs because of a "skills gap."

Lots of employers say they want to hire welders, software engineers, nurses, oil-field workers and so many others, but can't find applicants with the right talents and education.

But Peter Cappelli, a professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and director of its Center for Human Resources, says these complaints are largely bunk.

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Business
9:34 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Trouble Finding Jobs? It Might Be The Software

Many job hunters are downright frustrated. But one expert says it's not you, it's the employers and a flawed electronic application process that may be preventing qualified people from finding work. Host Michel Martin speaks with University of Pennsylvania's Peter Capelli. He's the author of Why Good People Can't Get Jobs.

Business
9:34 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Dropping Out With Debt

Student loan debt in the U.S. adds up to more than a trillion dollars, putting a major strain on graduates. But the weight of debt is even heavier for those who leave school without receiving a degree. Host Michel Martin speaks with Anthony Carnevale, who heads the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University.

Business
9:34 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Why More Men Are Choosing 'Pink Collar Jobs'

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Throughout the program today, we've talked a lot about tough times for college students and jobseekers, but now we want to turn it around and talk about people who are finding job satisfaction in what might be unexpected places.

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Economy
7:55 am
Tue June 12, 2012

The Fed's Tough Job Gets Harder In Election Year

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke hasn't said whether the central bank will act to further stimulate the economy.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Americans who fear the economy is losing steam would like to see the Federal Reserve turn up the heat.

That might happen when the central bank holds its next meeting June 19-20. The Fed could take steps to drive interest rates even lower, or create fresh piles of cash to stimulate growth.

But with the election season gearing up, the Fed's ability to act boldly may be restrained. That's because the monetary policymakers want to preserve the Fed's credibility as a nonpartisan entity.

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Planet Money
7:06 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Why It's Illegal To Braid Hair Without A License

Jestina Clayton, would-be braider.
Jim Urquhart AP

Originally published on Thu June 21, 2012 4:21 am

Note: This post was updated to add audio from Morning Edition.

Jestina Clayton learned how to braid hair as a girl growing up in Sierra Leone. When she was 18, she moved to America. Got married, had a couple kids, went to college.

When she graduated from college, she found that the pay from an entry-level office job would barely cover the cost of child care. So she decided to work from her home in Utah and start a hair-braiding business.

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The Two-Way
6:48 am
Tue June 12, 2012

JPMorgan Knew Of Risks, 'WSJ' Reports

"Some top JPMorgan Chase executives and directors were alerted to risky practices by a team of London-based traders two years before that group's botched bets cost the bank more than $2 billion," The Wall Street Journal is reporting.

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Business
3:53 am
Tue June 12, 2012

U.S. Oil Production Jumps

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 6:18 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with falling oil prices.

The price for crude oil is the lowest it's been since last fall. That's partly because oil production is up in Saudi Arabia. It's also up in the United States, as NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports.

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Business
3:53 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Ambulance Service A Struggle In Rural Colo. Counties

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 6:18 am

Some rural counties are having trouble affording ambulance services. Urban ambulances have frequent calls and less territory to cover, which helps keep them afloat. But in more sparsely populated areas, calls can be few and far between. Funding for these emergency services are low-hanging fruit for counties facing tough budgets. From member station KUNC, Grace Hood reports.

Business
3:53 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Google Settles E-Book Deal

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 6:18 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And we have more on another debate involving books and technology. It focuses on whether the question rare and out-of-print literary book should be digitized. In 2006, publishers and authors in France sued Google for copyright violation after the Internet company digitized a number of French books.

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Business
3:53 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Last Word In Business

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 6:18 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And for today's last word in business, how about some cake with your coffee?

Fans of the reality show "Cake Boss" will soon be able to sample baker Buddy Valastro's creations at their local grocery store. The TLC program features Valastro and his staff turning out custom cakes for demanding customers.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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Business
3:09 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Starbucks Order Gives Ohio Mug Maker A Jolt

Bob Davis hand-dips mugs before they go into the kiln at American Mug and Stein in East Liverpool, Ohio. Most overseas companies have machines that can do this much faster.
Amanda Rabinowitz WKSU

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 11:03 am

For decades, when you slid into a booth at a diner or a local coffee shop, the waitress probably arrived with a standard-issue, off-white mug. More than likely that mug came from the Ohio River town of East Liverpool, which calls itself "The Pottery Capital of the Nation."

A lot of that city's pottery business is long gone. Now, one of the few remaining pottery factories in the battered town is pinning its survival on a major corporation.

To step inside American Mug and Stein in East Liverpool is to step into another era.

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Planet Money
4:52 pm
Mon June 11, 2012

A Lost Decade For American Families

NPR

Originally published on Mon June 11, 2012 6:17 pm

American families got poorer in the first decade of the 21st century.

The wealth of the median U.S. household — the family at the middle of the middle class — fell from $106,000 in 2001 to $77,000 in 2010.

The fall was driven, not surprisingly, by the housing bust. Homes are the single largest asset for many families, and they represent a particularly large share of wealth for the middle class.

What's more, homes tend to be highly leveraged. People borrow lots of money to buy them. That means huge gains when prices rise — and massive losses when they fall.

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Technology
2:38 pm
Mon June 11, 2012

Apple To Drop Google Maps From Mobile Devices

Originally published on Mon June 11, 2012 6:10 pm

Apple kicked off its Worldwide Developer Conference Monday with the announcement of its own maps in the mobile operating system. It's Apple's bid to challenge the dominance of Google maps for all kinds of location-based apps. Maps underlie many important things people do with mobile and up until now Google has had a lock on maps.

All Tech Considered
11:32 am
Mon June 11, 2012

Facebook's Growth: A Tale Of Two Headlines

Are its days of "wild user growth" over, or is Facebook "eating the world"?
Leon Neal AFP/Getty Images

I love this. Here is a headline today at The Wall Street Journal's online edition: "Days of Wild User Growth Appear Over at Facebook."

And over at The Next Web: "Facebook is eating the world, except for China and Russia."

And the best part is the two sites really are telling the same story.

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Economy
9:34 am
Mon June 11, 2012

Why Is Poverty, Inequality Growing?

The number of people living in poverty is the highest it's been since the U.S. Census Bureau started tracking poverty estimates. Plus, the gap between those earning the most and the least continues to grow. Host Michel Martin discusses the current state of poverty and income inequality with two experts on the subject, Timothy Noah and Peter Edelman.

The Salt
9:13 am
Mon June 11, 2012

The Psychology Of The Honor System At The Farm Stand

Swanton Berry Farm's famous honor till
Sarah Twitchell Flickr.com

Originally published on Mon June 11, 2012 10:04 am

In a state full of tasty surprises, count the Swanton Berry Farm, along the coast highway just north of Santa Cruz, California, among the most charming. At this pick-your-own, certified-organic berry field and farm stand cafe on the planted bluffs above a tumbling surf, you can pick or picnic with ocean views — and, if you're lucky, catch a glimpse of a grey whale and her calf migrating north from Baja.

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All Tech Considered
8:44 am
Mon June 11, 2012

Hey Celebs, Are You Lonesome Tonight? Siri's Gotcha

Zooey Deschanel appears in an iPhone 4S Siri commercial.
Apple.com

Originally published on Mon June 11, 2012 11:44 am

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Shots - Health Blog
7:35 am
Mon June 11, 2012

UnitedHealthcare Pledges To Keep Popular Coverage, Regardless Of Supreme Court

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon June 11, 2012 10:38 am

One of the nation's largest insurers said early Monday it would continue to follow some of the rules in the federal health law that are already in effect, including keeping young adults up to age 26 on their parents' plans and ending lifetime dollar limits, no matter what the Supreme Court decides.

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The Two-Way
5:51 am
Mon June 11, 2012

'Relief Rally' Weakens As Markets Study Spanish Deal

Originally published on Mon June 11, 2012 11:07 am

  • NPR's Philip Reeves, reporting on 'Morning Edition'

After rising sharply earlier today, European financial markets have come off their highs as investors "question the logistics of the $125 billion bailout of Spanish banks and wonder ... whether Monday's gains in financial markets were nothing but a relief rally," Dow Jones Newswires reports.

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Election 2012
4:54 am
Mon June 11, 2012

Fundraising By Text Message

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 9:11 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE HOST: If you've ever felt a sudden urge to give money to a politician but you just couldn't get to your checkbook or your computer in time, well, the Federal Election Commission is getting ready to help. The Commission today might approve a proposal to allow contributions via mobile phone. Here's NPR's Peter Overby.

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Business
4:54 am
Mon June 11, 2012

Last Word In Business

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 9:11 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In Spain, one man is trying to make himself and his country healthier. Today's last word in business is: Fat for Charity.

Oscar Rando is selling his body fat for charity.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Well, not literally. Rondo is losing weight by walking and running the full length of Spain - almost 2,000 miles. Sponsors are donating about three dollars to charity for every gram of fat he loses. And for some perspective, there are 454 grams in a pound.

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Health Care
4:41 am
Mon June 11, 2012

For Uninsured In Ore., A Flat Fee For Health Care

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 9:11 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In the U.S., as we all know, getting basic health care can be financially out of reach for many people who don't have insurance. Some doctors are trying to fill that need by charging patients a flat monthly fee for medical care.

From Oregon, we have story about one of those medical clinics where the doctor is effectively on retainer. Rachael McDonald of member station KLCC reports.

RACHAEL MCDONALD, BYLINE: Steven Kennedy sits in an exam room with Dr. Steven Butdorf. He's getting a physical.

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Around the Nation
4:39 am
Mon June 11, 2012

A Comeback For Downtown Cleveland

Outdoor dining spaces are filled on a warm spring day on E. 4th Street in downtown Cleveland. Like many former industrial towns, downtown Cleveland has seen a revival in the last few years to become an urban hotspot.
Joshua Gunter The Plain Dealer

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 9:11 am

Almost 11 years ago, Phil Alexander opened his company, BrandMuscle, in the affluent Cleveland suburb of Beachwood.

The company sells marketing software to corporate clients worldwide, and its offices have a lean, energetic vibe, with 20-somethings tossing around ideas in multiscreened meeting rooms or a comfortable coffee bar.

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Planet Money
2:39 am
Mon June 11, 2012

Three Ways To Stop A Bank Run

This is what you don't want.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 9:11 am

There's a slow-motion bank run happening in Europe, as depositors move their money from financially troubled countries like Greece and Spain to stronger countries like Germany.

Banks take depositors' money and lend it out. So even a strong bank is in trouble if all the depositors suddenly decide to pull their money out. A full-blown run can sink a bank in an afternoon.

Once a run starts, there are basically three ways to stop it.

1. Slow it down

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