Business news

Business News

Apr 9, 2012



NPR's business news starts with labor woes at AT&T.


MONTAGNE: AT&T and union officials have agreed to extend contract negotiations, preventing a mass walkout by some 40,000 unionized workers. The deadline to agree on the new contract had been yesterday. AT&T is seeking concessions from its workers, including cuts in pension contributions, and also an increase in health care premiums. The union is calling those concessions unrealistic.

In 2012, the federal tax return deadline is Tuesday, April 17 — so if you haven't already filed your income tax return, you have about one week left to shop around for different options to finish your taxes, or request an extension.

Hundreds of thousands of veterans have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years, eager to get an education under the new post-Sept. 11 GI Bill.

Many vets looking for a school find they are inundated by sales pitches from institutions hungry for their government benefits. Now, lawmakers are looking for ways to protect vets without narrowing their education choices.

A Brief History Of The Mobile Phone

Apr 8, 2012



A new Smartphone goes on sale. The Nokia Lumina 900 represents the Finnish company's big and somewhat desperate effort to regain a toehold in the all-important U.S. market.

NPR's Wendy Kaufman offers this brief history of America's infatuation with the mobile phone.

WENDY KAUFMAN, BYLINE: In The iconic 1987 film "Wall Street," Michael Douglas strolls the beach with and uses his cell phone to congratulate an associate on making a ton of money.


At a government-run public middle school in Bangalore, the blackboard's cracking, the textbooks are tattered and most of the students are barefoot.

But with all those challenges, the biggest obstacle that teachers face in keeping kids in school is hunger. Many students show up at school having had nothing to eat for breakfast.

On mornings one student comes to school hungry, the thought of school makes her break down, she says.

"When I had to get on the bus, I would start crying," says K. Suchitra, 13.



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. The U.S. economy added 120,000 jobs last month according to the Labor Department. A few years ago, that would have had economists cheering. Today, they're using words like disappointing. Here's the problem, 120,000 is half as many jobs as the economy added in February and far fewer than most observers were expecting.

The U.S. economy added only 120,000 jobs in March, far below expectations. The job gains were the smallest in five months. The report isn't a conclusive verdict on the economy. It could be an off month of weak growth or the sign of something more troubling — a serious hiring slowdown.

Hiring Climate Affects Small Businesses

Apr 6, 2012
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You don't go through corporate communications to meet the executive steering committee at Gideon Shoes.

Instead, you walk through a basketball court with graffiti-covered walls and into a sound studio. There, Gideon employees are warming up their talking points: rap lyrics.

"There's no excuses in this life, so I'm fighting on. ... The flame inside my heart is more like a firestorm," they rap.

The team is made up of Suhkdeep Bhogal from India, Thane Poloai from Samoa and Allan from New Zealand, who doesn't want to give his last name.

Diane Turner can't find work. She spent 30 years managing dental practices in Sonoma County, north of San Francisco, but lost her last job in that field a couple of years ago.

She worked for a while greeting customers at an auto body shop, but lost that job a year ago. "It was very depressing," Turner says. "I always worked, and I was always able to get a job."



It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

Let's talk about the surprisingly weak jobs report that came out from the Labor Department today. The numbers for March show just 120,000 new jobs were added to U.S. payrolls. That's considered a disappointment, even though the unemployment rate did decline slightly, to 8.2 percent.

NPR's John Ydstie is here to talk with us about what all this means. Hi, John.


Part three of four

Robert Manne, one of Australia's top public intellectuals and journalists, tells me the first thing to know about The Australian.

"It is by far the most detailed paper in regard to national politics," he says. "And it's also at a higher level of analysis, in general, than the other papers."

Second, he says, the paper is "smarter, sharper" than the others — with more resources and fewer profit demands to boot. Manne explains why:

Steve Inskeep talks to David Wessel, economics editor of The Wall Street Journal, about how the Republican budget by Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan compares with President Obama's proposal. The plans show differences on spending, taxes and dealing with the government.

The Last Word In Business

Apr 6, 2012

According to The Consumerist, the video game publisher received more than 250,000 reader votes for that distinction. It was singled out for deliberately holding back video game content so it can charge for it later, and for buying up small video game companies to squash competition.

Part 3 of a series on Silicon Valley's history

In Silicon Valley, the spotlight is often on young entrepreneurs with fresh ideas that will change the world — people like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, or Jack Dorsey of Twitter.

But for decades, two older titans of the high-tech industry thrived in that fast-paced world: Gordon Moore and Andy Grove of Intel.

Speaking recently in a rare joint interview, the two discussed how their company survived, and what they think of the current crop of Silicon Valley techies.

Intel's Odd Couple

After years of state budget cuts resulting in fewer classes, Santa Monica College has a solution. Starting this summer, certain classes will cost $180 per credit hour compared to the current price of $36 per credit hour. That's raised concerns of a two-tier system: one for those who have financial resources and another for those without.

The Montana attorney general's office has reached a settlement with author and philanthropist Greg Mortenson, and his non-profit Central Asia Institute. While a year-long probe found "serious internal problems" in the charity's management, the attorney general says the settlement allows CAI to continue with what he describes as a "worthwhile" mission.



We learned several days ago, thanks to an ACLU Freedom of Information Act suit, that local law enforcement is often tracking cell phones without court orders to do so. The New York Times, which looked at documents that the ACLU received, reported that cell phone tracking has become widespread, and that it's also big business for cell phone companies.

The monthly employment report Friday could help answer a key question about the economy: Will the recently strong job growth slow once employers finish replacing the people they fired during the depths of the recession?

What America Buys

Apr 5, 2012

See our earlier entries in this series: What America Sells To The World and What America Does For Work

How do ordinary Americans spend their money? And how has spending changed over time?

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NPR's business news starts with Spanish bonds.


The Last Word In Business

Apr 5, 2012



And our last word in business today is cardboard to classy.

Today, Domino's Pizza is hoping to complete its rebranding as a place that does not sell lousy pizza. The effort started a couple of years ago when the company actually criticized itself in ads like this one.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Domino's Pizza crust, to me, is like cardboard.


First of four parts

Ultimately, all roads lead home for Rupert Murdoch.

"The story of our company is the stuff of legend: from a small newspaper in Adelaide to a global corporation based in New York, with a market capitalization of about $44 billion," he said last October, when he addressed a News Corp. shareholders meeting in Los Angeles.

Australians view the company's history differently.

Cleveland resident Cedric Cowan was asleep on an overcast spring morning when the roaring sounds of splintering wood and falling rubble jolted him awake.

Cowan lives in a neighborhood hit hard by foreclosures. He initially thought someone was moving into the house on the other side of Fairport Avenue.

Instead, he woke that morning to find a crew tearing down the two-family house.

Over the course of three hours, an excavator smashed, crushed and ripped apart the abandoned house while a worker sprayed the rubble with a hose to keep the dust down.

Part 2 of our Silicon Valley history series

Think of the most technologically innovative companies of the past 50 years, such as Intel, Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter. Each company has a Silicon Valley address — and each one got backing from venture capitalists. Over the past decade, more than 35 percent of the nation's venture capital has gone to Silicon Valley startups.

High-tech and venture capital go hand and hand in the valley where technology and venture capital grew up together.

Meet The New Official Cab Of New York City

Apr 4, 2012

The "Taxi of Tomorrow" has arrived in New York City. On Tuesday night, officials unveiled the Nissan-designed cab that, over the next 10 years, will gradually replace the country's largest taxi fleet. It's the first New York taxi to be designed for the job since the city's iconic Checker cab.

For Nissan's designers, the process of putting the new cab together involved months of riding in taxis and talking to cab owners, drivers and passengers about what they did and didn't like.

Since the 1900s, the country's most iconic bridges and skyscrapers have been put up by men who risked life and limb to connect steel beams hundreds of feet in the sky. Ironworkers come from all backgrounds, but a small Indian reserve outside Montreal has supplied the U.S. with a proud lineage of Mohawk ironworkers.

Italy's technocrat prime minister, Mario Monti, came to office less than five months ago as the country's finances were in a tailspin. And now he could be facing his toughest challenge yet — pushing through changes to labor regulations.

Italian labor rules ensure job security for older workers but can condemn the younger generation to a series of insecure, temporary jobs.

Since taking office, Monti has pushed through a round of tough austerity measures, budget cuts, pension reform and some deregulation.



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Audie Cornish.

A New England company thinks it's tackled a problem that has been vexing the auto industry for decades - how to make a car fly. For about $300,000, you buy a plane that drives on the ground and parks in your garage. It's called the Transition and it's meant to be just that, bridging the gap between road and sky.

NPR's Sonari Glinton has our story from the New York Auto Show.