Business

Business
3:35 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Coal Mines Keep Operating Despite Injuries, Violations And Millions In Fines

This photo of Roy Middleton working underground at the Kentucky Darby mine now sits on the mantel in the Middleton home in Harlan County, Ky. He was killed after an explosion in 2006.
Anna Boiko-Weyrauch/NPR Original photo courtesy of the Middleton family

Originally published on Thu November 13, 2014 9:21 am

Jack Blankenship was pinned facedown in the dirt, his neck, shoulder and back throbbing with pain.

He was alone on an errand, in a dark tunnel a mile underground at the Aracoma Alma coal mine in Logan County, W.Va., when a 300-pound slab of rock peeled away from the roof and slammed him to the ground. As his legs grew numb, he managed to free an arm and reach his radio. For two hours, he pressed the panic button that was supposed to bring help quickly.

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Business
5:22 pm
Sun November 9, 2014

Low Gas Prices Haven't Slowed Domestic Drilling — Yet

Lower oil prices, while good for the economy, are a threat to what has been a dramatic surge in oil production in the U.S.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 3:22 pm

It's lunchtime in Douglas, Wyo., a town smack in the middle of the state's booming oil patch, and the line of cars at the McDonald's drive-through wraps around the building. A hiring poster hangs in the window, and the parking lot is full.

Troy Hilbish, a tool hand for the oil field servicing company Schlumberger, says while he didn't know oil prices have been falling, he does know what falling prices mean.

"If the oil prices go up, we drill more," Hilbish says. "If they go down, we don't drill as much."

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Chornyak & Associates
3:38 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Five steps to survive your adult child's return home

When you waved your grown-up kids off to college, cheered at their graduation, congratulated them on a first job or helped them move in with a partner, you didn't expect that one day you'd be following up those milestones with: "Welcome home!"

But one of the ironies of 21st century life is that just at the crossroads when emerging adults want to take a great leap forward toward independence, many are forced by circumstance to come back home. 

The New Perfect Storm

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Business
5:39 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Some Americans Boosted Charitable Giving In Recession; The Rich Did Not

During the recession, middle-class and poor Americans gave more of their incomes to charity organizations than did the wealthy, according to a new study.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue October 7, 2014 12:44 pm

As times got tough in the recent recession, the less well-off of America's citizens became more generous when giving to charity. But at the same time, wealthy Americans cut the proportion of their incomes they donated, according to a new study that analyzed data from tax returns.

NPR's Pam Fessler reports for our Newscast unit:

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Business
7:06 am
Fri October 3, 2014

U.S. Manufacturing: A Remembrance And A Look Ahead

A worker cuts slabs of steel at a mill in Cleveland in 2004.
Ron Schwane AP

Originally published on Fri October 3, 2014 11:28 am

If it weren't for American manufacturing, I wouldn't be here today.

Literally.

A century ago, my grandfather moved from Poland to Youngstown, Ohio, to work in a steel mill. At the time, Ohio factories were cranking out steel slabs, tires and cars — building a mountain of wealth that the next generation could climb. And the generation after that.

But what will happen in the 21st century? Is the path that led to higher ground blocked now?

The answer is complicated.

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Business
3:36 am
Fri October 3, 2014

Bedbugs, Lava And Bowling Balls: Inside My Homeowners Insurance Policy

The details in a homeowners insurance policy are amazing
Jacob Goldstein NPR

Originally published on Fri October 3, 2014 9:02 am

My homeowners insurance policy reads as though somebody took all of the bad things that can happen in the world and divided them into two buckets: stuff that is covered and stuff that is not covered.

I'm covered for damage from fire, lightning and malicious mischief. I'm covered if a volcano spews lava onto my house. It's right here under "Additional Coverages." Paragraph 10. "Volcanic Action."

But there's this other section, "Losses Not Insured," that tells you how insurance really works. For example, Paragraph 2, Subparagraph e:

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Business
10:17 am
Fri September 26, 2014

Former Fed Bank Examiner Says Secret Tapes Show Fed Leniency

A former Federal Reserve employee says that audio recordings show Fed examiners being too gentle with the banks they regulate.
David Karp AP

Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 10:43 am

The Federal Reserve is among the most powerful institutions in the nation and also among the more private. But new audio tapes secretly recorded by a former employee provide a rare look into meetings involving officials from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

In them, you hear officials considering how to oversee Goldman Sachs, and specifically, they discuss a financial transaction that one official describes as "legal but shady."

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Business
3:28 am
Mon September 22, 2014

Why Jewelry Stores Hide The Price Tags

How much for the blue one?
Stacey Vanek Smith NPR

Originally published on Mon September 22, 2014 10:12 am

When Tara Silberberg was a little girl, she helped out at her parents' jewelry store and wrote the prices on the tiny price tags.

"I had such good handwriting, too," said Silberberg. "Just teeny tiny, minuscule little handwriting."

Not that customers would see it: The price tags were turned upside down or tucked away. Even now, when Silberberg runs the store, she still hides the prices.

Customers have to ask Silberberg what the price is, or guess it. It's like playing a jewelry store version of The Price Is Right.

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Business
10:37 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Like It Or Not, Scotland's Drama May Hit Your Wallet

The Saltire, the flag of Scotland, flies near the Union Jack in Gretna in Scotland. Some economists say Thursday's vote on Scotland's independence could have wide-ranging economic impacts.
Andy Buchanan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 4:37 pm

Does news of Scotland's independence vote make your eyelids feel heavy?

Americans may feel a yawn coming on when told of a political squabble playing out in a distant land less populated than metro Atlanta.

But economists say this Thursday's vote is no snoozer. You may wake up to find its outcome has triggered another global financial upheaval.

To understand the risks to your economic health, let's first review a couple of basics:

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Business
5:17 am
Tue September 16, 2014

With Debt Collection, Your Bank Account Could Be At Risk

Conrad Goetzinger and Cassandra Rose struggle to pay their bills as $760 is garnished from their paychecks every two weeks by debt collectors. Twice, Goetzinger's bank account has been emptied by collectors after he failed to payoff a loan for a laptop.
Eric Francis AP for ProPublica

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 8:36 am

Kari Fiotti moved back to Omaha, Neb., in 2009 after a decade living in Italy. She had divorced her husband and returned to the U.S. to start a new life.

Then, Fiotti, 44, took a pricey fall.

"When I came back, I fell and I broke my wrist without insurance," she says.

Her doctor, she says, rejected her offer to make partial payments. So, like millions of Americans, her debt — which had grown to $1,640 with interest and fees — was turned over to collectors.

Fiotti soon learned how hard they would try to collect her unpaid bills.

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Business
3:40 am
Tue September 16, 2014

GM Ignition-Switch Defect Now Linked To 19 Deaths

Kenneth Feinberg, who is administrating a crash victims fund, testified before a Senate commerce subcommittee hearing in July that was examining accountability and corporate culture following GM recalls.
Lauren Victoria Burke AP

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 11:03 am

A special compensation fund for victims of GM's faulty ignition switch has issued its first report, and it makes clear that GM will pay claims for more than the 13 deaths the automaker says were linked to the defect.

GM established the voluntary compensation fund as part of its ongoing mea culpa for delaying an ignition switch recall for a decade.

The program is only for Cobalts, HHRs, Saturn Ions and a few other GM models, all no longer in production, and only for those killed or injured when their airbags did not deploy because the ignition switch had turned off.

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Business
9:29 am
Fri September 12, 2014

U.S. Threatened To Fine Yahoo $250K A Day If It Didn't Release User Data

Yahoo's new logo.
Yahoo.com

Originally published on Fri September 12, 2014 8:39 am

In a dramatic showdown in 2008, the United States government threatened to sue the Internet giant Yahoo! $250,000 a day if it did not turn over a vast amount of user data.

That's according to the company's general counsel, who announced today that it had won a fight to release documents relating to a secret court decision, which sided with the government, finding the broad request constitutional.

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Business
3:21 am
Thu September 11, 2014

The Alibaba Effect: How China's eBay Transformed Village Economics

Handsome Zhang — that's his real name in Mandarin --€“ runs a shipping company, one of many supporting businesses spawned by East Wind village's furniture industry. The shipping business helped Zhang, 25, buy this Kia sports car.
Frank Langfitt NPR

Originally published on Thu September 11, 2014 10:58 am

The Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba is poised this week for what could be one of the biggest IPOs in Wall Street history. One reason Alibaba has been so dominant in China is its business-to-consumer platform, Taobao, a sort of Chinese eBay.

Last year, Taobao and Alibaba's brand-name retail site, Tmall, drove nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in transactions.

Along the way, Taobao has even transformed village economies.

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Chornyak & Associates
8:29 am
Wed September 10, 2014

Market Watch: September 2014, Financial News from Chornayk & Associates

  U.S. markets shoot higher

August was another very strong month for U.S. stock markets, even as the conflict in Ukraine worsened and signs of weaker global economic growth appeared. After a slow first week, gains were steady through month-end, with the S&P 500 Index closing out August up 4 percent, the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 3.6 percent, and the Nasdaq up 4.82 percent. The larger uptick for the Nasdaq suggests that investors were becoming more focused on gains than on market risks.

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Business
3:21 am
Wed September 10, 2014

New York Says It's Time To Flip The Switch On Its Power Grid

A worker repairs electrical lines in Plainview, N.Y., after Superstorm Sandy in 2012. A proposed plan to overhaul the state's power grid could help the system better withstand severe weather and enable energy to be stored and managed more efficiently.
Bruce Bennett Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 10, 2014 11:18 am

In the power business, it's all about managing the peaks.

During the hottest days of summer, electric utilities run at full capacity to keep giant cities comfortably cool. But most of the rest of the year, half that capacity goes unused — and that's highly inefficient.

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Business
8:47 am
Fri September 5, 2014

Hiring Slows In August, But Unemployment Dips To 6.1 Percent

A chart showing the number of jobs added by U.S. employers since January of 2004.
Bureau of Labor Statistics

Originally published on Fri September 5, 2014 11:46 am

The August jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is a mixed one: It shows that hiring slowed in August, but the unemployment rate dipped a tenth of a percent.

Here are the two big numbers:

-- The economy added 142,000 jobs; way below the 200,000 level needed to continue pushing down the unemployment rate and way below that of the previous six months.

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Business
3:31 am
Wed September 3, 2014

As Airports Find New Ways To Make Money, Pittsburgh Tries Fracking

At the Pittsburgh International Airport, Consol Energy will begin extracting gas — even under the runways.
MeRyan Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 9:19 am

Pittsburgh International Airport employee Bob Mrvos jokes that you could golf in the terminals' corridors — they're that empty, especially compared with other airports he flies into in cities like Los Angeles and Chicago.

"You walk through those airports and you can barely get through the hallway there's so many people," Mrvos says. "And when you land in Pittsburgh, it's like the airport's closed."

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Business
4:35 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Should Local Police Get The Military's Extra Armored Trucks?

Page County, Va., Sheriff John Thomas received an MRAP for his department in May. "Is it overkill? Yeah, it is. I mean, for our use, it's more armor than we need. But it's free," he says.
David Welna NPR

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 6:17 pm

Mine-resistant, ambush-protected troop carriers, known as MRAPs, were built to withstand bomb blasts. They can weigh nearly 20 tons, and many U.S. troops who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are alive today because of them. But many of the vehicles are now considered military surplus, so thanks to a congressionally mandated Pentagon program, they're finding their way to hundreds of police and sheriff's departments.

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Business
5:07 am
Tue September 2, 2014

What's In A Name? Former Arthur Andersen Employees Spell It Out

Courtesy of Prime Group

Originally published on Tue September 2, 2014 10:01 am

Arthur Andersen is back. Or at least the old accounting firm's name will be, for the first time since its association with accounting scandals at Enron more than a decade ago.

The firm was criminally convicted — a decision that was later overturned, although that came too late to save the company.

As of Monday, a company called WTAS is adopting the Andersen name and, in doing so, hopes clients will have forgotten the bad associations.

'That Was The End'

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Business
3:31 am
Tue September 2, 2014

Detroit Bankruptcy Battle Begins In Federal Court

The murals by Diego Rivera and other works at the Detroit Institute of Arts would be safe from creditors under the plan before a bankruptcy judge Tuesday.
Carlos Osorio AP

Originally published on Tue September 2, 2014 10:04 am

Detroit's historic bankruptcy case is entering the home stretch. The crucial, final trial phase begins Tuesday in a Detroit courtroom.

The trial will decide the fate of a plan to wipe out billions of dollars in debt and help Detroit emerge from bankruptcy as a new, revitalized city.

This trial is a big deal, but don't expect anything with lots of courtroom drama. For one thing, it's federal bankruptcy court — and there's no jury.

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