National News

Scientists Publish Recipe For Making Bird Flu More Contagious

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 11:03

Researchers ignited a debate three years ago when they changed a deadly flu virus so that it could spread between people. Only five mutations are needed to turn the virus into a pandemic threat.

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Why low inflation can be dangerous

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-10 10:51
Friday, April 11, 2014 - 06:36 JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images

Euro cents are seen on a chessboard and the word 'inflation' as a part of a advertisement on October 12, 2010 in Berlin.

Right now our inflation rate is around 1 percent. But some at the Fed say that's way too low.

The hope is to see inflation go up. But why on earth would we want to increase inflation?  

"A little bit is good, but not too much. It's like a lot of things in life -- good in moderation," says Jeremy Siegel, a professor of finance at Wharton. "Higher inflation is a bad thing, but mild inflation, statistically has been associated with very good economic times."

Siegel says during times of inflation, the dollar decreases in value. So the $100 you borrowed back in the day was worth more then, than your $100 payment today -- which means less financial burdens for consumers and more cash to spend.

And that's one reason the Fed wants to see inflation go up -- just a little bit. 

"It's not so high as to be hurting a lot of people, but it's at a level which would probably create a lot of jobs," says Gary Thayer, chief macro strategist at Wells Fargo Advisers. Thayer says the benefit of job creation would probably outweigh a slightly higher inflation rate.

Marketplace Morning Report for Friday, April 11, 2014by Sally HershipsPodcast Title Why low inflation can be dangerousStory Type News StorySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Ukraine not on the agenda as IMF gathers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-10 10:46
Friday, April 11, 2014 - 06:20 Mark Wilson/Getty Images

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde speaks during a media briefing at the IMF Headquarters, on April 10, 2014 in Washington, DC. Director Lagarde spoke about their agenda for the 2014 Spring Meetings that are taking place now and will end on Sunday.

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are set to open their annual spring meetings. It will be a busy weekend for finance ministers and economists who are visiting Washington from all over the world. Dozens of panels and speeches are on the agenda, but none are about Ukraine, a country the IMF has offered billions of dollars.

According to Ken Rogoff, former IMF chief economist, right now, “the geopolitics overrides what the finance ministers and the central bankers think.”

But at a gathering of policymakers from close to 200 countries, it is bound to come up.

“I think it’s going to be talked about behind closed doors,” says Barry Eichengreen, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley.  

Marketplace Morning Report for Friday, April 11, 2014by David GuraPodcast Title Ukraine not on the agenda as IMF gathersStory Type News StorySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Obama: 'The Story Of America Is The Story Of Progress'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 10:31

In a speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, President Obama remembered Lyndon Johnson as complex man who seized a moment and became a giant of American history.

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What Family Dollar says about the economy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-10 10:10
Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 16:47 Ryotaro takao/ Flikr

Family Dollar exterior in Honeoye Falls, NY.

The retail chain Family Dollar said Thursday it's going to close more than 300 stores. Shrinking sales and falling profits are the proximate causes. There is a line of thinking that says, "If a discount store like Family Dollar is reporting bad news like this, maybe that's good news for the broader economy."  

Discount stores tend to do well during a downturn, when once higher-income consumers “trade down” for cheaper options, the argument goes, so perhaps the fact that discount stores are showing signs of struggle means those customers are trading back up, in response to a recovering economy.  

And it is true that Family Dollar has thrived during many economic shocks.  In fact, there’s a chart Family Dollar management recently trotted out at a retail industry conference that highlights this phenomenon -- a timeline of shocks to the American economy, events like the 9/11 terror attacks and the housing meltdown. After each of these events, you see a  steep incline on the graph, denoting earnings increases for Family Dollar. 

Family Dollar

But just because Family Dollar is floundering now doesn’t mean the larger economy is thriving. Higher-income customers may be leaving family dollar now that their economic fortunes seem to be brightening in the economic recovery.  But the story is complicated by the fact that low-income households still face high unemployment rates, and less money to spend in the wake of recent cuts to government assistance programs like food stamps and unemployment insurance.

Family Dollar

Marketplace for Thursday April 10, 2014by Krissy ClarkPodcast Title What Family Dollar says about the economyStory Type News StorySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Even A Very Weak Signal From The Brain Might Help Paraplegics

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 10:09

By electrically stimulating the lower spine in men with paraplegia, researchers were able to get them to initiate movement. The big challenge is how to achieve coordinated motor control.

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Don't mess with French workers' 35 hour work week

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-10 09:57

From France, home of the 35 hour work week, this item: French tech sector employees  have just struck a new collective bargaining agreement, under the terms of which they are guaranteed that after-hours emails -- as in the kind we all check on our phones while at a soccer game -- will not impinge on that aforesaid 35 hour week.

Workers now have the unimpeded right to unplug at quitting time.

To this story, one can only say, zut alors, sacre bleu and 'How do I get me some of that action'?

How Bad Is Brazil's Crime? Watch This Mugging On Live TV

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 09:49

A television network was conducting a live interview with a woman about Rio's rampant street crime when a robber brazenly ripped a gold chain from the woman's neck.

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What A Ban On Taxi Apps In Shanghai Says About China's Economy

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 09:42

The smartphone apps let people summon cabs and negotiate prices directly with drivers. Officials say they benefit the young and the rich. But they're also a free-market challenge to state control.

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Justice: Albuquerque Police Show 'Pattern Of Excessive Force'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 09:12

After a nearly 18-month investigation, the Justice Department has concluded that the city's police department uses deadly force more often than is necessary, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

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Is Everything More Delicious When You Eat With Your Hands?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 08:30

An Indian-American reporter recalls the deep shame he felt as a kid eating Indian food with his hands. But his daughter reminds him of the true joy of hand-eating, and he decides to try it in public.

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'Gospel Of Jesus's Wife' Papyrus Not A Forgery, Harvard Says

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 08:25

The tiny fragment, written in Egyptian Coptic, contains a purported reference by Jesus to his wife. New evidence dates it to between the sixth and ninth centuries.

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Stephen Colbert Will Take Over 'Late Show'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 08:24

The Comedy Central star will sit behind the desk after David Letterman retires next year, CBS announced Thursday.

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Wonk Week In Washington: When Briefings Are Better Than Blossoms

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 07:41

Let the tourists stare at the cherry blossoms. This week, with its World Bank and IMF meetings, is for the true, serious wonks who just can't get enough of lecture halls and soggy hors d'oeuvres.

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'Will I Survive, Or Will I Die?' Stabbing Survivor Wondered

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 07:29

Brett Hurt was one of the first students stabbed Wednesday at a high school near Pittsburgh. He credits a friend for saving his life and hopes his attacker will "forgive himself."

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PODCAST: From bailout to IPO

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-10 07:16

Ally Financial is trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, under the ticker symbol ALLY. The company, you might remember, had to be bailed out by the government in 2008, as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program or TARP, to the tune of $17.2 billion. The stock sale puts the government a step closer to sloughing off what remains of the financial crisis bailouts.

With Ukraine refusing to pay its gas bills to Russia's Gazprom and Europe looking for alternative energy sources, Russia -- it seems -- is on the outs. But now Putin is turning his attention eastward, towards China, and may be finding a friend. Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to discuss Russia's balancing act and why the country might try to disrupt Ukraine's upcoming elections.

Teenagers are now spending as much, if not more, on food as on clothing, according to Piper Jaffray’s semi-annual report on teen spending, out this week. And teenager's new favorite place to spend money? Starbucks.



Mon Dieu! No More Work Email At Home For Some French Workers

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 06:56

Under new rules, about 1 million tech workers and consultants will be required to switch off their work phones outside office hours.

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New Ping In Search For Flight 370 Boosts Hopes Of Finding Jet

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 06:53

Angus Houston, the coordinator of the search off Australia's west coast, says he's "now optimistic" that the aircraft, or what's left of it, will be found.

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The Story Flips: Burger King Says It Isn't Moving Into Crimea

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 05:24

A Russian franchisee had said the fast-food empire was looking to extend its rule into the disputed territory. Now, the company says stories about those comments were overdone.

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Weekly Jobless Claims Drop To Near 7-Year Low

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 04:48

There were 300,000 applications filed last week. That's the fewest since May 2007. Economists say the data are another sign that the labor market is gaining some strength.

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