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Another Tech Bubble? Maybe Not

Apr 16, 2012

It's beginning to feel frothy in Silicon Valley. Here are a few numbers:

The Central American nation of Panama is booming. Fueled by a multibillion-dollar expansion of the Panama Canal, a thriving banking industry and capital flight from Venezuela, the tiny nation has the highest economic growth rate in the hemisphere.

But even as the government builds a subway system and markets the country as a tropical paradise for multinational corporations, not everyone is sharing in the prosperity.

World Bank Selects Another American Leader

Apr 16, 2012

The World Bank has named Dr. Jim Yong Kim as its new president. Kim is a Korean-born American and currently the president of Dartmouth University. Kim is a health expert who doesn't have strong finance credentials. Audie Cornish talks with John Ydstie about Kim's appointment.

Foreclosure filings in March fell to their lowest level in four years. Some analysts see the market healing and turning around, yet others argue the next wave of foreclosures are just around the corner. NPR's Chris Arnold discusses how housing markets are faring across the nation.

Business News

Apr 16, 2012

The action by China's central bank widens the range at which the currency can be traded on the international market. The move is seen as seen a step toward addressing foreign complaints that China was suppressing the value of its money to boost Chinese exports, and hurt foreign imports.

'New Rules For Everyday Foodies'

Apr 16, 2012

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's turn now, to the economics of a good meal. Tyler Cowen is an economist, author of the blog Marginal Revolution, and a serious eater. He seeks to use his understanding of economics to zero in on the best food and best restaurants, and he shares what he's learned in a book called "An Economist Gets Lunch." Cowen is a fan of local food. But for the taste, not because he thinks it will save the world.

The Last Word In Business

Apr 16, 2012

It's in a ritzy section of town, so the company is hoping to appeal to high end customers with a retro farmhouse style decor. This includes Ottomans covered in vinyl cowhide fabric and the front of a 1960s van mounted on the wall.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The tornado season started early in much of the nation and continued over the weekend. Spotters reported more than 120 tornadoes on Saturday. One killed five people in Woodward, Oklahoma. Others ripped into homes and businesses in Iowa and Kansas. And that includes the heart of the economy in Wichita, the aviation industry. Here's Frank Morris from member station KCUR.

The housing market has a new frontier — turning foreclosed homes into rental properties. Some big-time investors are starting to buy up thousands of homes to turn into rentals. That might help shore up home prices. But some housing advocates are nervous.

For decades, most single-family homes available for rent have been owned by mom-and-pop landlords. Sometimes it's the nice old guy up the street who owns a couple of rental homes, and some even offer advice on the Internet.

What would Jesus do with the U.S. economy?

That's a matter of fierce debate among Christians — with conservatives promoting a small-government Jesus and liberals seeing Jesus as an advocate for the poor.

After the House passed its budget last month, liberal religious leaders said the Republican plan, which lowered taxes and cut services to the poor, was an affront to the Gospel — and particularly Jesus' command to care for the poor.

The Tax Man Cometh! But For Whom?

Apr 15, 2012

It's that time of year again – tax week.

With the deadline for Americans to file their income taxes looming, there's a good chance you've heard or will hear from politicians, on cable news and on talk radio about those who pay little or no taxes.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has said that we "have a situation in this country where you're nearing 50 percent of people who don't even pay income taxes." There are even those who say that there are nearly 50 percent of Americans who pay no taxes at all.

Redefining 'Hacker' In Technology Hotbed

Apr 15, 2012

Palo Alto, Calif., recently hosted a 12-hour bonanza for software developers, artists and families. The "Super Happy Block Party Hackathon" was a marathon for coders to make new software in a short amount of time. It also featured food trucks, music and homemade robots. Corey Takahashi reports.

What America Pays In Taxes

Apr 13, 2012

Why Tax Day Falls On April 17 This Year

Apr 13, 2012

Every year, millions of Americans scramble to file their income taxes before the filing deadline — ordinarily April 15.

But procrastinators get a reprieve this year: The 2012 deadline falls on Tuesday, April 17.

This year, April 15 falls on a Sunday. One might expect that would make Monday, April 16, the 2012 filing deadline.

But not so this year. Monday is the District of Columbia's Emancipation Day — a local holiday unfamiliar to most Americans.

Google Announces Stock Split

Apr 13, 2012

Google Inc. plans to split its stock 2-for-1 to preserve its leadership's control over the company. The online search leader also announced a 61 percent jump in profits for the first quarter.

J.K. Rowling's publisher has announced her book will be set in an English town, where the death of a councilman sets off "the biggest war the town has yet seen." The publisher is also likely hoping this title can conjure up Harry Potter-sized sales. The children's series has sold a record 450 million copies.

It's been a week since a coalition of liberal and civil rights groups went public with a campaign to undermine the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has advocated stringent voter-identification and "stand your ground" laws around the U.S.

Seven corporations — Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mars, Kraft Foods, McDonalds, Wendy's and the software maker Intuit — say they have dropped their memberships in ALEC. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said it won't give ALEC any more grants, though one already under way will continue.

On Friday morning a hearing scheduled in the criminal copyright case of Megaupload may have implications for all kinds of companies that sell storage space in the cloud — storage space used for anything from music files to family photos, research data to movie collections. The hearing will focus on what happens when the federal government blocks access to allegedly illegal files along with clearly legal ones.

Since the Arab oil embargoes of the 1960s and 70s, it's been conventional wisdom to talk about American dependence on oil from the Persian Gulf. But the global oil market has changed dramatically since then.

Today, the U.S. actually gets most of its imported oil from Canada and Latin America.

And many Americans might be surprised to learn that the U.S. now imports roughly the same amount of oil from Africa as it does from the Persian Gulf. African imports were a bit higher in 2010, while Persian Gulf oil accounted for a bit more last year.

Business News

Apr 12, 2012

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a big fine for Johnson & Johnson.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: So much for no more tears. A judge in Arkansas ordered the company most famous for its baby shampoo to by more than a billion dollars in fines yesterday over its marketing for a very different product. That would be an antipsychotic drug, Risperdal.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Some other news: Tax day is rapidly approaching, and it turns out that day can hazardous to your heath.

As NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports, researchers found a rise in fatal auto accidents on the day taxes are due.

WENDY KAUFMAN, BYLINE: Back in 1789, Ben Franklin wrote: Nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes. He couldn't possibly have foreseen the linkage reported in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association: 6 percent more people than usual are killed on the roads on tax day.

The Last Word In Business

Apr 12, 2012

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Our last word in business is about another driving hazard, DWD: driving with dogs.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Mitt Romney has taken a lot of heat this political season over a decades-old story in which his dog was strapped to the roof of his car while going on a family vacation.

Why Didn't Passengers Panic On The Titanic?

Apr 12, 2012

As the Titanic was sinking and women and children climbed into lifeboats, the cellist and violinist from the ship's band stood and played. They died when the ship went down. Men stood on the deck and smoked cigars. They died, too.

This behavior is puzzling to economists, who like to believe that people tend to act in their own self interest.

"There was no pushing and shoving," says David Savage, an economist at Queensland University in Australia who has studied testimony from the survivors. It was "very, very orderly behavior."

Mike Huckabee fell short four years ago in his quest to become the Republican presidential nominee. As of this week, the former Arkansas governor has a new job: national radio talk show host.

The Mike Huckabee Show started Monday with an anticipatory flourish.

"Welcome to the community of conversation. You've just made a right turn, and you've arrived at the corner of conservatism and common sense," he said. "In this show, we're going to be confronting the issues — not the listeners."

Colombia was once associated with cocaine trafficking and powerful drug lords, but today's reality is different: It's stable, a magnet for foreign investment and diplomatically engaged — and this weekend hosts the Summit of the Americas. Increasingly, Colombia is seen as South America's rising star.

There's a gold rush under way on the East Coast of the U.S. for tiny baby eels known as elvers. Fishermen in Maine and South Carolina are reaping profits upward of $2,000 per pound for the fish that are considered a delicacy in Japan.

Elvers have an almost ghostly appearance in the water — their bodies are a cloudy white, skinny as a cocktail straw and no longer than your finger. They look like tiny snakes as they squiggle through the water.

A state judge in Arkansas ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a $1.1 billion fine after a jury found the company had minimized the risks of its antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

The Federal Reserve's policymakers seem to be reluctant to consider any more efforts to inject a monetary stimulus into the U.S. economy — but that doesn't mean you should expect the central bank to raise interest rates any time soon.

The economy is officially in recovery. But a lot of people are still feeling squeezed, and many used their savings to ride out the financial storm. Guest host Viviana Hurtado talks with personal finance expert Louis Barajas about rebuilding your finances during the economic recovery.

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