National / International News

The hardest-working woman in monetary policy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-02-18 09:12

Using the Fed Chair's official calendar, The Wall Street Journal tallied up exactly how much time Janet Yellen spent in meetings last year and with whom.

It's kind of daunting.

Starting on the day she was sworn in, February 3, 2014, Yellen had more than 950 meetings--sometimes as many as 11 in a day.

There's all kinds of fascinating stuff in there. For example, on December 2 last year she met with Jamie Dimon, the CEO of the biggest bank in the country, JP Morgan Chase, from 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM in the afternoon.

Take a look.


Searching for the economy's new normal

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-02-18 09:11

The first quarter of 2015 is not starting out with a bang. Several new economic indicators came out this week, which, taken individually are not overly noteworthy, but if you bundle them all up, they begin to indicate that tales of the resurgent U.S. economy might be slightly over-exaggerated.  

Industrial production rose just 0.2 percent in January, slightly less than expected. Housing starts also fell 2 percent in January, and add to the mix the tanking price of oil which dragged producer prices down to a five-year low.

So is the overall trend of positive economic forecasts still on track, or starting to stumble? Well, half the country is still buried under snow to think about spending all that extra gas money we’re carrying around.

“You know, it really is an issue of where you lose and where you win,” says Diane Swonk, Chief Economist at Mesirow Financial. “There's no way to recoup the wages lost in some areas where you just couldn't get to work because of the weather, or stores couldn't open or had to close.”

Swonk points out that cold weather may be slowing home building. An ongoing strike by longshoremen on the West Coast is also holding things up.

"Suppliers, retailers, a lot of people who can't get the goods they need to distribute them, all of this disrupts and displaces economic activity," says Swonk.

Producer prices are falling, which means it’s cheaper for manufacturers to make things, which if continued over the long-term, can actually restrict economic activity — but at this point, that remains a pretty big "if."

"In fact, the decline in producer prices is actually hiding a good thing, it’s driven by declining oil prices,” points out University of Michigan Economist Justin Wolfers. Overall, he says he’s still bullish on the U.S. economy.

"The most reliable data we have shows that firms have been hiring and hiring pretty rapidly. So, I think there is probably at least as many people worried that the economy is growing too fast, as those that think we're on the cusp of a downturn any time soon," says Wolfers.

Other indicators, such as unemployment, continue to trend in a positive direction. A big problem for economists and policymakers going forward is just trying to establish what a “normal” data looks like in the post-recession economy.  

“I mean I definitely think we shouldn't panic about the old normal not being the same as the new normal, that doesn't mean it’s a bad normal,” says Diane Lim with the Committee for Economic Development.

What Lim is saying is the Great Recession changed household behavior, around things housing and spending, and we might just have to wait a little while yet to say precisely how.

"It’s a tricky thing to conduct policy around, but a lot of it is not in policymakers control. A lot of it will be, 'Let's wait and see where the economy seems to settle after the recovery is through.’"

Obama Names Joseph Clancy As Secret Service Director

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 09:07

Four months after he was brought back to an agency that was struggling to cope with a series of embarrassing missteps, Joseph Clancy was named the permanent director of the Secret Service Wednesday.

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Boy, 16, charged after terror raid

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-18 09:03
A 16-year-old boy arrested by counter-terrorism police in Greater Manchester is charged with trying to buy a biological toxin.

Afroman arrested for punching fan

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:57
US rapper and musician Afroman is arrested after video footage showed him punching a female fan on stage during a concert in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Netanyahus' Spending Habits Get Scrutiny In Growing Scandal

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:49

Topics such as recycling payments and garden furniture are now in Israel's political sphere, after a review found spending such as an average monthly cleaning bill of over $20,000 for two homes.

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Apology for S Africa 'cockroach' slur

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:47
South Africa's parliamentary Speaker Baleka Mbete apologises for calling firebrand opposition MP Julius Malema a "cockroach."

'Hamilton-Rosberg lessons learned'

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:46
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the team have learned lessons about the rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

German heavy smoker gets court boost

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:40
A top German court overturns a ruling that gave a landlady authority to evict a pensioner whose heavy smoking had annoyed her.

Debate: Are America's Best Days Behind It?

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:35

Is America in decline, or an unparalleled leader on the world stage? In the 100th debate from Intelligence Squared U.S., two teams face off over the motion, "Declinists Be Damned: Bet On America."

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Italy seeks swift action on Libya

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:34
Italy urges swift action at the UN to tackle the Libyan conflict, highlighting the risk that warring militias may side with Islamic State militants.

No Tory triumphalism over economy

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:29
Economic recovery must be good news for the Tory election campaign, right? Not necessarily, writes Ben Wright.

VIDEO: Prince Charles inside 'super sewer'

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:28
Prince Charles visits a sewer in East London to mark the 150th birthday of the city's underground water system.

Van Gaal warned over referee comment

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:26
Man Utd boss Louis van Gaal is warned about his future conduct for comments after last month's goalless draw with Cambridge.

TV star sued by injured plumber

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:19
A trainee plumber is suing an actor from the hit series Shameless over brain damage and partial blindness suffered in a row over a mobile phone.

Salty, Sweet, Sour. Is It Time To Make Fat The Sixth Taste?

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:19

Fat has a lot in common with the five basic tastes: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami. But while people easily recognize the texture of fat, scientists say they can't quite perceive the taste.

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Radical HIV vaccine ploy raises hope

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:14
In a radical new approach to HIV vaccination, DNA in monkeys is transformed and seems to give total protection against the virus, US scientists say.

Disabled children 'left in pain'

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:10
A survey of paediatricians suggests waiting-time guidelines to assess and diagnose disabled children are being breached.

Teen is shot in legs by masked gang

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:10
A west Belfast teenager speaks of his horror at being shot in the legs by a masked gang in the bedroom of his home.

Kinnock: Mansion tax 'cost of lunch'

BBC - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:05
Labour's planned mansion tax would cost the wealthy no more than an expensive lunch, says former leader Lord Kinnock in defence of the policy.