Business news

The House is scheduled to vote this week on a small-business tax cut bill offered up by Republicans. It's just the latest piece of legislation to focus on small businesses, which are widely praised in the political discourse as engines of job creation. The adoration is nearly universal — and it reflects something beyond economic reality.

"Small businesses create 2 out of every 3 jobs in this economy, so our recovery depends on them," President Obama said in 2012 at a New Jersey sandwich shop where he met with small-business owners.

Before Facebook and MySpace transformed how we interact virtually, there was another kind of Internet — a 1980s network, where users connected via phone lines and communicated through simple lines of text.

And while that may sound outdated, that version of the Internet is still very much alive.

'A Lot More Elegant'

Pat McNameeking, a college student in Concord, N.H., is one champion of this throwback social network known as SDF, or Super Dimensional Fortress.

Warren Buffett, 81, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, his Berkshire Hathaway company announced Tuesday afternoon. The cancer is at Stage 1, according to MarketWatch. The billionaire investor's condition is not life-threatening, he says.

Buffett send a letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders to inform and reassure them. Here's the text of that letter:

Angry Birds — a mobile phone game in which players use a slingshot to propel birds at tiny little green pigs — has been a runaway hit since its 2009 release, with more than 700 million downloads, a TV show and a feature film in the works. It isn't alone. NPR's Neal Conan talks with New York Times Magazine critic-at-large Sam Anderson about people's fascination with — and addiction to — what Anderson calls "stupid games."

Chrysler, Ford and General Motors gained market share in the past couple years. Helped by Toyota's much-publicized recalls, the problems that Japanese carmakers faced after last year's earthquake and tsunami, and an improving reputation for the quality of American-made vehicles, Detroit's Big Three grabbed 47 percent of sales last year — up from 45.1 percent in 2010 and 44 percent in 2009.

Our friend Micki Maynard of Changing Gears, though, reports that the Detroit companies' comeback — in terms of market share — may be over.

The Last Word In Business

Apr 17, 2012



They say the only things that are certain in life are death and taxes. But half that statement appears to be under challenge by one late rap star and some special effects, which brings us to today's last word in business - virtual comeback.


TUPAC SHAKUR: (Singing) California love.



President Obama's so-called Buffett rule has slammed into a wall of GOP opposition. On the eve of tax day, Senate Republicans voted yesterday to block a measure that would have made mega-investor Warren Buffett and billionaires and millionaires like him pay at least a 30 percent tax rate. Although Buffett endorses such a rule, Senate Republicans call it an election year gimmick. Their Democratic counterparts insist it's all about fairness. NPR's David Welna has our story.

Business News

Apr 17, 2012

Apple share prices dropped more than 4 percent on the NASDAQ Monday — continuing a five-day decline for the maker of iPads and iPhones. In that span, the company's market value has dropped by almost $60 billion. Analysts say this may just be a price correction but warn that it could drag the markets down with it.

The day that many dread is here: It's Tax Day. Of the 143 million federal tax returns filed last year, more than 80 percent qualified for a refund. Steve Inskeep talks to David Wessel, economics editor of The Wall Street Journal, about the economics of tax refunds.

The 2012 presidential election is approaching, and President Obama's fate may hinge on how well the economy fares over the coming months.

On the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been highlighting the economy's weaknesses. The former Massachusetts governor has made a similar claim about the president, and the recession, at almost every campaign stop.

"I don't blame the president for the downturn," Romney told a crowd in New Hampshire earlier this year. "He didn't cause it. But he made it worse and made it last longer."

There's a boom in natural gas production in the United States, a boom so big the market is having trouble absorbing it all.

The unusually warm weather this winter is one reason for the excess, since it reduced the need for people to burn gas to heat their homes. A bigger reason, however, is the huge increase in gas production made possible by new methods of coaxing gas out of shale rock formations.

Jim Yong Kim, 52, who immigrated from Korea at age five, is currently the president of Dartmouth College. He faced an international campaign challenging his nomination to lead the massive global development bank. Kim's selection continues a decades-long tradition of having a U.S. citizen lead the World Bank.

Part of the Family Matters series

The Great Recession slammed into all age groups, flattening the career dreams of young people and squeezing the retirement accounts of middle-aged savers. It financially crippled many elderly people who had thought they could stand on their own.

Family Matters: Meet The Families

Apr 16, 2012

Even as the recovery gains steam, record numbers of people are living under a roof where adult children, middle-aged parents and elderly grandparents must learn to live together. In a series called "Family Matters," NPR's Morning Edition explores the lives of three multigenerational households struggling with issues of money, duty and love.

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



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.



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.