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New Republic: The Misuse Of The German Example

Apr 26, 2012

Alec MacGillis is a senior editor for The New Republic.

I don't usually wade into global economic policy here on the Stump, but as Mitt Romney reminded us in his speech last night, the 2012 presidential race is "still about the economy — and we're not stupid." So after coming across a particular pet peeve of mine just now, I'm going to wade on in.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now, we turn to a business scandal that could have repercussions on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Wal-Mart, America's biggest retailer, is also Mexico's largest retailer and there, the company has been accused of paying more than $24 million in bribes to Mexican officials to obtain construction permits to build new stores.

Business News

Apr 26, 2012

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NPR's business news starts with a cage-free promise.

Burger King announced yesterday, that by 2017, all of its eggs and pork will come from animals not penned-up in cages and crates. Burger King is the first major U.S. fast food chain to put a firm deadline on such a promise. The move is seen as part of an industry-wide shift to consider animal concerns.

One food industry analyst says it proves quote, "that consumers are willing to pay a little bit more for fairness."

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Britain is a nation in shock, following yesterday's announcement that its economy has slipped back into recession. The bad news is raising new questions about the government's unpopular austerity measures.

Vicki Barker has more from London.

VICKI BARKER, BYLINE: The news that Britain's economy has fallen into the dreaded double-dip recession caught everyone off guard - including Prime Minister David Cameron, who was immediately hit by a wave of criticism from parliament.

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Five years ago, ethanol was seen as the next big thing to wean the U.S. off foreign oil. Then some studies on the corn-based fuel cast doubt on its environmental benefits, and auto companies turned their attention to hybrids and electric cars. The hype died off, but the ethanol industry is alive and well, driving a big change in America's corn consumption.

Rising up out of the corn fields outside Lake Odessa, Mich., is the ethanol refinery for Carbon Green Bioenergy. The company's CEO, Mitch Miller, says a lot of refineries were popping up when this one was built in 2006.

The Last Word In Business

Apr 26, 2012

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's stay in Europe for our last word in business - about an ad that allegedly pushes Nationalist buttons.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The story starts with the Netherlands Energy Company. As a promotion, the energy company is offering free beer taps.

INSKEEP: We do not know how a free beer tap promotes using energy, but never mind. The company bought ads. The ads contain a warning for Netherlands women: Prevent your husbands from traveling to Ukraine to see this summer's European soccer championship. They thought...

Panel: Murdoch Is Too Powerful In U.K.

Apr 26, 2012

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Earlier this month, a judge approved a settlement between five major banks and nearly all of the state attorneys general. The banks admitted to taking shortcuts — or "robo-signing" documents — as they pushed through some foreclosures.

Most of the $25 billion settlement is supposed to go toward reducing mortgage payments for some troubled homeowners. But lots of other programs have promised to help struggling homeowners in the past, and results have been disappointing.

It's dinnertime at a bustling Kentucky Fried Chicken in the Little Africa neighborhood of Guangzhou, in southern China. Chinese schoolgirls nibble on fries, a grandmother feeds her grandson, and Kelvin Njubigbo stares at a single wing on his tray. His foot, wrapped in a gauze bandage, juts out from the table.

"Everything is risk in life," repeats Njubigbo. "It's all risk from the beginning to the last."

Federal Reserve To Keep Interest Rates Low

Apr 25, 2012

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A load of information today from the Federal Reserve's policymaking committee, but no action. After a two-day meeting where officials discussed the economy and interest rates, policymakers decided to stand pat. They said, as they've said before, that a stronger economic recovery requires keeping interest rates exceptionally low through 2014. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke defended that policy in a news conference after the meeting. NPR's John Ydstie reports.

Allegations that Wal-Mart officials in Mexico paid local authorities to speed up permits to build new stores could result in a trial and a huge financial penalty under a U.S. anti-corruption law. But legal experts who spoke to NPR have their doubts it will ever come to that.

As part of Morning Edition's Family Matters financial literacy series, Renee Montagne talks to Jane Gross, author of A Bittersweet Season, about caring for her aging mother, and what she wishes she had known before she started.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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The Last Word In Business

Apr 25, 2012

The town of Boring, Oregon, is twinning with the village of Dull, Scotland. The idea came after a Scottish cyclist passed through Boring. She thought Dull would make a great sister community. Scotland's tourism agency says the partnership could attract visitors to Dull.

In Britain Wednesday, media mogul Rupert Murdoch appears before a panel to testify about contacts with leading British politicians at a time when his News Corp. was trying to takeover broadcasting group BSkyB. On Tuesday, Murdoch's son appeared before the same panel.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

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And I'm Renee Montagne.

After all the reports about massive debts and credit downgrades, we have a story this morning of a credit upgrade. The ratings agency Fitch upgraded Ford.

INSKEEP: The company was at junk bond status, meaning a loan to Ford was considered a major gamble. Now, it's been moved to investment grade, the lowest investment rating: BBB minus.

Business News

Apr 25, 2012

Apple announced higher-than-expected earnings for the most recent quarter — profits nearly doubled over last year. Apple's stock is back up, after falling in recent weeks over fears of a slowdown in iPhone sales. Those fears proved unfounded. Sales of iPhone and iPads beat company estimates.

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And there were protests and arrests at the Wells Fargo annual shareholders meeting in San Francisco yesterday. The demonstration - led by the Occupy Movement - was over the bank's foreclosure and lending policies. Hundreds of protesters bought bank shares so they could attend the meeting and disrupt proceedings. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: While hundreds sought to disrupt the meeting, several dozen people representing community groups had purchased stock.]

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Wal-Mart's stock price has fallen sharply this week. That comes after The New York Times reported that the retailer's rapid growth in Mexico involved systematic bribery. Stock prices have also fallen for Wal-Mart's Mexico subsidiary Walmex.

This negative reaction came, even though financial journalist Eduardo Garcia in Mexico City, says bribery is a normal part of business in Mexico.

Was anybody in the business community in Mexico surprised to hear these allegations against Wal-Mart?

Policymakers at the Federal Reserve wrap up a two-day meeting Wednesday and will explain what they plan to do about interest rates. The consensus seems to be they'll keep short-term rates near zero to help support the lagging economy.

The Beijing auto show runs this week in what is now the world's largest car market, and a crucial one for Detroit companies.

General Motors just announced it will open 600 more dealerships in China, where it sells more cars than it does in the U.S. Last week, Ford announced construction of its fourth Chinese assembly plant.

For longtime American auto executives in China, witnessing the shift in the global auto industry is dramatic.

Now that your child has gotten into college, have you figured out how much it's actually going to cost — and who's going to pay for it?

These questions are hitting college-bound students and their parents right about now, along with the other million questions that nobody seems to have straight answers for. Paying for college can be complicated, if not mind-boggling.

Roughly 7 out of 10 students borrow money to pay for college, and for many, the process might as well be a mystery wrapped in a riddle.

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Rupert Murdoch's son James testified today before a public inquiry in Britain. There, he faced a fundamental question: Did his family use its media influence to bully British politicians into making decisions that advanced the Murdoch's corporate interests? NPR's Philip Reeves followed the hearing in London.

After years of speculation and rumor, today Google announced Google Drive, a new service that allows users to store data on the cloud.

"The first criminal charges in connection with the BP oil spill have been filed against a former BP engineer named Kurt Mix," NPR's Carrie Johnson reports exclusively.

Carrie just told our Newscast unit that Mix has been charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly deleting text messages after the spill. The texts were related to the amount of oil gushing into the Gulf. Mix will make his first appearence in court today.

Business News

Apr 24, 2012

Weeks ahead of its initial public offering, Facebook released its first quarter profits Monday, and they are down 12 percent from a year ago. At the same time, company expenses have nearly doubled. Facebook attributes some of that to market expansion, which requires more employees and infrastructure.

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And let's turn now to the first political leader to be put on trial for his role in the global banking crisis. Yesterday, a special court in Iceland found that country's former prime minister guilty of essentially mishandling the banking bubble that led to Iceland's financial collapse.

Michael Stothard has been covering this trial for The Financial Times. He joined us to talk more about it. Good morning.

MICHAEL STOTHARD: Good morning.

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General Motors is making a bigger effort in what's become the world's biggest car market. At the Beijing Auto Show this week, GM said it plans to open 600 new dealerships in China this year. GM is trying to grow Chinese sales while they still can.

NPR's Frank Langfitt reports from Shanghai.

The Last Word In Business

Apr 24, 2012

Victoria Beckham has teamed up with Range Rover to produce a special edition Evoque luxury SUV. The former Spice Girl, married to soccer star David Beckham, has designed fashion lines before, but says this is her first foray into automobiles.

Wal-Mart could face significant legal liability following a report accusing the company of systematic bribery in Mexico. A report in The New York Times claims Wal-Mart officials in Mexico paid more than $20 million in bribes to help the company open more stores there. The story also says top Wal-Mart executives in the U.S. looked the other way. The company's stock price fell nearly 5 percent Monday.

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The scandal that's engulfed Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is taking center stage in London, at the Royal Courts of Justice, once again. Here, his son James Murdoch.

JAMES MURDOCH: I swear by the mighty God that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

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