National News

Apps help employees care for aging parents

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 11:39

Owen Tripp designed a healthcare app for companies to offer workers. It links people digitally to top medical specialists, for, say, second opinions. Some firms bought it, and some surprised Tripp.

"Those employers really wanted to make sure that they could offer it not only for their employees' needs, but for the family around the employee," he says, specifically parents.

More employees are asking for benefits that help them care for aging parents. Will companies respond in general? Those chasing top talent might, they're in a compensation arms race. But many are still assessing if eldercare benefits pay off.

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Goldman Sachs argues for a big bank breakup

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 11:37

For years, we’ve been talking about whether some of the country’s largest banks are “Too Big to Fail” and what to do about them. Should the government somehow force them to be smaller? And would the public be better off? The question of banks and size came up again this week when a Goldman Sachs report argued that JPMorgan Chase should split itself in smaller pieces – not for the benefit of the public, but for the company’s shareholders, because the bank is now subject to increased capital requirements after the financial crisis.

Former Korean Air Executive Faces Prison Over 'Nut Rage'

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 11:16

A week after she was arrested over a tantrum on a tarmac in New York, Cho Hyun-ah faces charges of interfering with the inquiry into what officials say was a breach of aviation laws.

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For Europe, cheap oil is all boon and little bust

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 11:07

The long-feared threat of European deflation finally materialized at the end of 2014, according to data released today. Consumer prices in the Eurozone fell for the first time since the 2009 global financial crisis. But it’s not entirely bad news: Prices are falling in large part because oil is so cheap, which acts as a windfall for consumers and a stimulus for Europe’s economy.

"It is a massive stimulus for Europe, and it also hits the right people, it is going to everybody, there are lots of knock-on effects for industries," says Ken Rogoff, a Harvard University economist.

Since Europe imports most of its energy, cheap oil is all boon and little bust. Rogoff says the problem is that the European Central Bank has been trying to create a healthy level of inflation for years. “What makes it a little bit difficult for them is they’ve been struggling to get inflation up to 1 percent and ideally 2 percent,” he says.

Not all countries in the Eurozone are seeing outright deflation. Germany, for instance, is still OK. But the central bank will be under pressure to act. “The worry is, is that you could  end up, in some countries, getting into a deflationary spiral,” says Howard Archer, chief European economist for IHS analysts. “There would be a risk of that happening, in Italy, for example, and perhaps Greece as well.”

The next trick the central bank  has to pull off, according to Archer: Decide which countries should receive stimulus and how much.

For small businesses, nothing but blue skies

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 11:03

Optimism among small businesses is at a seven-year high, according to a recent study by the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Olalah Njenga, a small-business owner and CEO of YellowWood Group in Raleigh, North Carolina, expects 2015 to be a great year.

"I believe that small business, in general, the optimism is really kind of through the roof going into 2015," Njenga says. "My colleagues are feeling it, my clients are feeling it."

Although she's optimistic, Njenga worries about things that could impact her clients' industries.

"Not getting some firm decision from the FCC on crowd funding, that’s something that is definitely keeping me up at night and tax reform is always going to keep me up," says Njenga. "But things like net neutrality and cyber security are definitely at the top of my radar because I am a previous tech employee, and I have some clients in the tech space."

Intel commits $300 million to diversify tech ranks

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 11:00

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has pledged to spend $300 million to increase diversity within Intel and at other high-tech companies. Krzanich made the announcement Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. 

Women, African-Americans and Latinos have long been underrepresented in the technology industry, a challenge some attribute, in part, to fewer women and minorities earning degrees in engineering and computer science. Intel says it will reach out to historically black colleges and other minority-centered institutions, expand engineering scholarships and bolster mentoring programs.

The company has firm plans to hire more women and minorities in the next five years: Krzanich is tying executive compensation to the success of Intel's diversity initiative.

How diverse are tech companies right now?

Intel commits $300 million to diversify tech's ranks

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 11:00

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has pledged to spend $300 million to increase diversity within Intel and at other high-tech companies. Krzanich made the announcement Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. 

Women, African-Americans and Latinos have long been underrepresented in the technology industry, a challenge some attribute, in part, to fewer women and minorities earning degrees in engineering and computer science. Intel says it will reach out to historically black colleges and other minority-centered institutions, expand engineering scholarships and bolster mentoring programs.

The company has firm plans to hire more women and minorities in the next five years: Krzanich is tying executive compensation to the success of Intel's diversity initiative.

How diverse are tech companies right now?

U.S. airlines are least punctual ... in the world

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 11:00

American airlines – meaning airlines in the United States, not the airline company – are the least punctual in the world. That's according to a study published by OAG, a company that provides global aviation flight schedules.

Of the top 20 punctual airlines, 13 are based in Europe and five in Asia. Just two are from the United States: Hawaiian and Alaska Airlines.

You can read a full report on Quartz.

Compound From Soil Bacteria May Help Fight Dangerous Germs

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 09:15

A natural compound kills germs that have become resistant to antibiotics, researchers say. If it works in humans, it could help combat diseases like tuberculosis.

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United In Grief, Cartoonists Show Solidarity With 'Charlie Hebdo'

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 09:03

From France to Australia, India and the U.S., cartoonists around the world paid tribute to their colleagues at the French magazine that was attacked today.

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A Magazine Staff Is Slaughtered, A French Nightmare Is Realized

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 08:13

The satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo kept taking jabs at Islamic radicals despite a 2011 firebombing that destroyed its office.

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Why Some Chefs Just Can't Quit Serving Bluefin Tuna

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 08:01

Japanese sushi chefs can't say no to Bluefin tuna on offer. Some American chefs can't, either, even though conservation groups and marine biologists have been badgering them about Bluefin for years.

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For 'Charlie Hebdo,' A History Defined By Humor, Controversy — And Cartoons

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 07:46

Renee Montagne talks to NPR's David Folkenflik about the provocative editorial stance adopted by the French satirical magazine, which was attacked by gunmen this morning in Paris.

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AirAsia Flight's Tail Spotted In The Java Sea, Official Says

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 07:22

It might provide clues to what caused the flight to crash Dec. 28 with more than 162 people on board. An aircraft's black boxes — the flight data and cockpit voice recorders — are located in its tail.

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Quiz: The source of public college revenue? Students.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 06:21

Median tuition at public college rose 55 percent between 2002 and 2012 as other funding sources declined, according to the Government Accountability Office.

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'Charlie Hebdo,' A Magazine Of Satire, Mocks Politics, Religion

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 06:14

The magazine that was the target of a deadly attack today is part of a long tradition of French satire dating to the days before the French Revolution.

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Between Speech And Religion, Freedoms Often Spell Friction

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 06:03

Renee Montagne speaks with Suzanne Nossel, executive director for PEN American Center, to discuss how issues of free speech and religious freedom can clash.

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Education Plan: Sell Goat, Ride Bus 500 Miles, Sneak Into Prez's House

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 05:35

Getting into high school was a long, strange journey for 11-year-old Ugandan orphan James Arinaitwe. It started when his grandmother sold the family goat to pay for shoes and a bus ticket.

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The age of the community banker

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 03:00

Right now there are three economists and two lawyers on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, and two empty seats. President Barack Obama has faced pressure from politicians to mix it up; add someone with experience in the small, local banks. 

In appointing Allan Landon, former CEO of the Bank of Hawaii, the President has done so—Although with $14.5 billion in assets, the Bank of Hawaii is hardly tiny.

“It’s helpful to have somebody who has experience as an on the ground banker,” says Elizabeth Duke, the last Fed Governor with community banking experience. Duke served from 2008 to 2013.   

The Fed has more regulatory powers than ever before, and small banks experience regulation differently than large banks.

“The fewer people you have, the harder it is,” she says. “If you go way back to the last crisis—savings and loan crisis—there were 63 implementing regulations and at the time my bank only had 62 employees.”  

Orienting regulations to make them easier to follow for small banks is important. “Even on monetary policy it’s good to have a ground level view of how things are going,” she says. “Monetary policy is implemented through the banking system, through lending, and having the experience dealing with small businesses helps to understand how will this work as it moves through the banking system.”

But the idea of the community banker on the Fed board has become somewhat politicized in recent years. For some conservatives, a local banker would be a bulwark against onerous legislation. For some liberals, a community banker would be a protector of Main Street against the interests of Wall Street.

Lawmakers including Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp and Republican Senator David Vitter want to require the President to appoint at least one community banker to the Fed Board.  Former Fed Governor Elizabeth Duke, as well as current Fed Chair Janet Yellen, oppose this.

“There are only seven seats and a lot of different profiles that need to be filled,” says Duke.

The Federal Reserve has long been fiercely protective of its independence.

Frederic Mishkin served on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors from 2006 to 2008. He says, “When we’ve had community bankers on the Federal Reserve Board, they have played a positive role. But we should not have a litmus test saying because a person’s a community banker, they’re qualified, or because a person’s an economist, that person is qualified.”

It’s going to be a big year for anyone sitting on the Fed Board—The Fed is expected to raise interest rates for the first time in nine years.

PODCAST: Expensive scallops

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 03:00

First up on today's show, we'll talk about President Barack Obama's nomination of Allan Landon, a community banker, to the Fed. Plus, the CFPB is going after payday loans. We look at why this industry been largely unregulated so far, and if regulations are doable, what might a regulated payday loan market look like. And turkey season is over, so it must be scallop season. But, this year, the people that love Maine scallops will pay for their tastes. 

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