KRWG

Business

Please note: Sometimes, NPR publishes headlines before the story and/or audio is ready; check back for content later if this occurs. We also publish national/world news on our home page from AP, BBC, and others.

America's big technology companies are negotiating the details of a new privacy system called "Do Not Track," to let people shield their personal data on websites. There's no deal yet, but people inside the talks say the main reason American companies are even considering "Do Not Track" is the pressure they're feeling from Europe.

Cellphones were once simple tools for making calls on the go. But the phones have quickly become all-purpose devices, used to send email, read articles, find restaurants — and tell time.

And as more people carry that tool in their pocket or purse, fewer are relying on wristwatches to keep on schedule.

Monica Espitia is one of them. "Since I've had a cellphone, I pretty much stopped wearing watches," she says. "Until I went on vacation and I didn't know what time it was."

Natural gas pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners is buying Sunoco in a deal valued at about $5.3 billion.

The acquisition would give Energy Transfer the capability to transport crude and other liquid hydrocarbons that are being produced in greater quantities thanks to the boom in shale drilling. Sunoco's pipelines crisscross the country, connecting the Great Lakes and Northeast to America's refining center along the Gulf Coast.

Saying that "of course it will sink if you put a hole in it," Australia's wealthiest business executive today announced he has contracted with a Chinese shipbuilder to construct a replica of the Titanic.

Mining magnate Clive Palmer also, as The Sydney Morning Herald reports, said he's planning to run for a seat in Australia's parliament.

Microsoft is committing $300 million to the venture with Barnes & Noble. They are working to create a new subsidiary of the bookseller. The two companies are hoping to energize sales of the Nook tablet.

Regulators Eye Verizon's Proposed Airwaves Deal

Apr 30, 2012

Verizon Wireless announced plans last year to auction off some of its wireless spectrum, if federal regulators signed off on its plan to buy a $3.6 billion chunk of airwaves from cable companies. Public interest advocates say the deal would be bad for consumers. The FCC and Justice Department are reviewing the deal.

Business News

Apr 30, 2012

The International Labor Organization issued a report Monday warning that austerity measures imposed in many countries are hurting the job market, as well as failing to effectively reduce deficits. The major European economies received the brunt of the report's criticism. The report predicts a 3 percent rise in the global unemployment rate for 2012.

Steve Inskeep talks to John Peet, Europe Editor of The Economist about eurozone economies, and the backlash against austerity measures.

The Last Word In Business

Apr 30, 2012

The structure will open in Tokyo next month. The building is nothing but a tower of steel and concrete — no offices, no apartments.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Let's stay in China now. With its growing population and economic rise, that country has become the world's largest car market. It's a distinction China has held for several years now. And it's an auto market that's becoming increasingly important to American companies. All that is on display at the Beijing Auto Show, which opened this past week. The big emphasis at the show this year is luxury cars with big chrome grilles and also very big price tags.

Paul Krugman's Prescription For A 'Depression'

Apr 27, 2012

In his new book, End This Depression Now! Paul Krugman states that the U.S. is in the throes of a depression — not merely an economic crisis. The New York Times columnist and Nobel laureate argues that Keynesian economics got us out of a much worse depression in the 1930s, so if we were to follow Keynesian prescriptions now, we could get out of this one too.

The U.S. economy lost some steam during the first three months of the year. The Commerce Department said Friday that growth slowed to just 2.2 percent, down from 3 percent at the end of last year.

The good news was that the economy continued to grow during the first quarter of the year. But anyone who was waiting for growth to kick into a higher gear was disappointed once again. One reason for that was a slowdown in business investment — companies spent less on new equipment and software even though profits were surprisingly strong.

The Federal Communications Commission on Friday approved a rule requiring TV stations to post details online about the amount of advertising time political candidates and campaigns buy, as well as how much the stations charge for those ads.

TV stations already are required to keep such public records. But in most cases, the information has been accessible only to those who visit a TV station and physically look through paper files, NPR's Brian Naylor reported.

Lehman Bros., the Wall Street giant, collapsed in September 2008 in the nation's largest bankruptcy and arguably kicked off a financial meltdown that helped drag the economy into the Great Recession.

The U.S. economy hit the recession exit ramp nearly three years ago, but it's been lost on the back roads somewhere near Recoveryville ever since.

Growth rates have been modest at best compared with the 4-plus percent growth in the years well before the U.S. began slouching toward its worst post-World War II recession.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with impressive earnings for Amazon.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Amazon released its first-quarter earnings for 2012, which far exceeded Wall Street expectations. As NPR's Steve Henn reports, that sent Amazon's stock price soaring.

The Last Word In Business

Apr 27, 2012

Sales of previously owned homes are up more than 10 percent from last year, according to The Wall Street Journal. At the same time, the number of homes for sale is at the lowest levels in years. The result, say many real estate firms, is that most of the offers being made these days come with competing bids.

The walls of the Clock Shop in downtown Frankfurt, Germany, are lined with timepieces of every kind, from cuckoo clocks to digital watches. It's a testament to the store's 55-year history as a functioning business.

One of the things that has remained constant for much of that time is the store's relationship with its bank, owner Basia Szlomowicz says.

Government regulators take up a rule with wide political implications Friday. The Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote on a proposal requiring TV stations to post online information about the campaign ads they air.

Stations are already compelled to keep those records in public files. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski says it's time to make that information available on the Internet. But TV stations are resisting.

Iceland is a tiny nation in a big financial mess. It's still recovering from the aftermath of the 2008 global economic crisis, which caused a domestic banking collapse.

Its currency, the krona, is also in really bad shape. That's led Icelanders to pose an existential currency question: Should they abandon the krona?

One key problem is size. Iceland has about as many people as Staten Island, so there just aren't that many people on the planet who need to use the krona.

"There are more people using Disney dollars," says Arsaell Valfells, an Icelandic economist.

Remember that California mom who sued Nutella maker Ferrero over misleading advertising that made the addictive and gooey chocolate-hazelnut spread seem healthy?

If you buy your own health insurance, there's nearly a 1 in 3 chance that come this summer you'll get a nice little surprise in the mail: money back from your health insurance company.

At least that's the prediction from an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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.

Transcript

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.

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

Transcript

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Business News

Apr 26, 2012

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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."

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF VOICES)

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.

Pages