Chris Arnold

NPR correspondent Chris Arnold is based in Boston. His reports are heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. He joined NPR in 1996, and was based in San Francisco before moving to Boston in 2001.

In recent years, Arnold has spent much of his time reporting on the financial crisis, its aftermath, and the U.S. economy's ongoing recovery. He has focused on the housing bubble and its collapse. And he's reported on problems within the nation's largest banks that have led to the banks improperly foreclosing on thousands of American homeowners. For this work, Arnold earned a 2011 Edward R. Murrow Award for the special series, The Foreclosure Nightmare. He's also been honored with the Newspaper Guild's 2009 Heywood Broun Award for broadcast journalism. He was chosen by the Scripps Howard Foundation as a finalist for their National Journalism Award, and he won an Excellence in Financial Journalism Award from N.Y. State's society for CPA's.

Arnold is also reporting on the now government-owned mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In a series of stories in partnership with ProPublica, Arnold exposed investments at Freddie Mac that raised serious concerns about a conflict of interest between Fannie and Freddie's massive investment portfolios, and their mission to make home ownership more affordable. The stories generated widespread attention, and led to calls for an investigation by members of Congress.

Arnold was recently honored with a Nieman Journalism Fellowship at Harvard University during the 2012-2013 academic year. He joined a small group of other journalists from the U.S. and abroad and studied, among other things, economics and the future of home ownership in America.

Prior to that, Arnold covered a range of other subjects for NPR – from Katrina recovery in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, to immigrant workers in the fishing industry, to a new kind of table saw that won't cut your fingers off. He traveled to Turin, Italy, for NPR's coverage of the 2006 Winter Olympics. He has also followed the dramatic rise in the numbers of teenagers abusing the powerful and highly addictive painkiller Oxycontin – more than 1 out of 20 high school seniors report using the drug.

In the days and months following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Arnold reported from New York and contributed to the NPR coverage that won the Overseas Press Club and the George Foster Peabody Awards. He chronicled the recovery effort at Ground Zero, focusing on members of the Port Authority Police department, as they struggled with the deaths of 37 officers - the greatest loss of any police department in U.S. history.

Prior to his move to Boston, Arnold traveled the country for NPR doing feature stories on entrepreneurship. His pieces covered technologists, farmers, and family business owners. He also reported on efforts to kindle entrepreneurship in economically disadvantaged areas ranging from inner-city Los Angeles to the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota.

Arnold has worked in public radio since 1993. Before joining NPR, he was a freelance reporter working out of San Francisco's NPR Member Station, KQED.

Pages

Your Money
5:03 am
Fri December 19, 2014

When Nonprofit Hospitals Sue Their Poorest Patients

Keith Herie is swamped in debt from medical issues he and his wife encountered starting about a decade ago. Heartland hospital is seizing 10 percent of his paycheck and 25 percent of his wife's wages, and has placed a lien on their home.
Steve Hebert for ProPublica

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 10:32 am

On the eastern edge of St. Joseph, Mo., lies the small city's only hospital, a landmark of modern brick and glass buildings. Everyone in town knows Heartland Regional Medical Center — many residents gave birth to their children here. Many rush here when they get hurt or sick.

Read more
Economy
6:21 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Mortgage Giants Ease Down Payments For First-Time Homebuyers

A new directive from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will allow first-time homebuyers to put down as little as 3 percent.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 8:05 pm

A federal directive will go into effect Saturday making it easier for some Americans to come up with a down payment to buy a house.

The vast majority of home loans are guaranteed by the government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The regulator in charge of Fannie and Freddie will allow first-time homebuyers to put down as little as 3 percent.

Read more
The Salt
6:32 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

For More Local Turkeys To Hit Holiday Tables, You Need An Abattoir

The turkeys at Kate Stillman's farm don't have to be loaded on a trailer and driven hundreds of miles this year. They now meet their ends on the same farm where they lived their lives.
Chris Arnold NPR

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 11:22 am

It's a busy time of year for turkey farmers around the country. And these days, with the growth of the local food movement, small family farms are struggling to keep up with all the orders for birds. So, we went to find out what one New England farmer is doing to get her gobblers from the field to the table. Enter the "abattoir."

Read more
Business
6:25 am
Fri October 17, 2014

Sustained Lower Gas Prices Could Drive Economic Growth

Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 8:53 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's talk next about the economic effects of oil prices. We've been reporting this week on oil prices that seem to drop measurably day by day. Eventually, that translates to cheaper gas. We asked NPR's Chris Arnold just how much that matters.

Read more
Energy
4:05 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

U.S. Gas Prices Continue To Slide Downward

Originally published on Fri October 10, 2014 6:43 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

If you are driving anywhere this three-day weekend, you may do a little happy dance at the gas station, or at least you'll take notice gas prices are falling. And that's happening because oil prices have been falling. NPR's Chris Arnold tells us why.

Read more
Business
5:14 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

New 15-Year Mortgage May Open Homeownership Door For More Buyers

Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America CEO Bruce Marks is offering the first batch of these "wealth building home loans" to homebuyers through his nonprofit organization.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Originally published on Sat October 4, 2014 12:56 pm

The 30-year mortgage is the foundation of the real estate market largely because it makes housing more affordable. But the truth is, it's a lousy loan for building actual ownership or equity in your home during the first 5 or 7 years, which caused big trouble when housing crashed.

Read more
The Two-Way
6:03 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

The 'Bond King' Leaves His $2 Trillion Kingdom

Bill Gross
AP

Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 6:24 pm

Heavy drama played out this week — and not just on Shonda Rhimes' TV shows.

The bond-investing world was roiled by news that Bill Gross — the man known as "The Bond King" — has abruptly left the huge investment firm he founded in 1971. The departure left a lot of people scratching their heads on Wall Street.

"The natural question is: What's going on at PIMCO?" said David Kotok, chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisors. "There's all kinds of speculation" about why Gross left.

"And the answer is, it's speculation — and so we don't know," Kotok said.

Read more
Around the Nation
4:12 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Calpers Pulls Public Employee Pensions Out Of Hedge Funds

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 5:33 pm

California's public employee pension is divesting its entire $4 billion stake in hedge funds. Calpers says the investment proved to be too complex and not worth the expenses. Many public pensions turned to hedge funds in hopes of boosting returns and gaining protection from market crashes, but most have lagged behind market indexes in recent years.

Read more
Planet Money
5:05 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Should We Kill The $100 Bill?

Noel Celis AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 3:02 pm

Of all the U.S. currency in the world, nearly 80 percent is in $100 bills. That's about a trillion dollars.

Some people want to get rid of the bill altogether. Ken Rogoff, an economist at Harvard University, says the $100 bill helps criminals:

Read more
Business
4:14 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

Some Public Pension Funds Making Big Bets On Hedge Funds

iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu August 7, 2014 2:28 pm

Public pension funds have been doing something new in recent years — investing in hedge funds.

Hedge funds are often secretive investment firms led by supposedly supersmart fund managers. Though, sometimes they implode spectacularly — think Long-Term Capital Management. Another prominent firm, Galleon Group, recently got shut down for rampant insider trading.

Read more
Business
5:05 am
Wed July 2, 2014

T-Mobile Accused Of Billing Customers With Bogus Fees

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 2:04 pm

The Federal Trade Commission says the illegal charges were for premium services customers didn't order. T-Mobile says the suit is unfounded, and that it stopped billing for the services last year.

Business
5:08 am
Fri June 6, 2014

SEC To Focus Oversight On High-Speed Trading

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 11:09 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

NPR's Business News starts with a modest crackdown on high-speed trading. The Securities and Exchange Commission is taking new steps to regulate high-speed trading on Wall Street though it's not as if the head of the SEC is that worried as NPR's Chris Arnold reports.

Read more
Business
5:31 am
Tue June 3, 2014

GOP Demonizes Once Favored Cap-And-Trade Policy

The Homer City Generating Station in Homer City, Pa. Republicans say the Environmental Protection Agency will kill jobs and raise electricity prices with new carbon emissions limits.
Keith Srakocic AP

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 6:04 pm

Republicans say the Environmental Protection Agency will kill jobs and raise electricity prices with new carbon emissions limits. But their tactics in fighting the proposed rules are targeting a policy that their own party championed during GOP presidencies.

Republicans are touting a letter signed by 41 GOP senators asking President Obama to withdraw what they call his "cap-and-trade rule."

Read more
Economy
5:12 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Foreclosure Overhaul Comes Too Slowly For Many Homeowners

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 11:43 am

The biggest U.S. banks are still foreclosing on homeowners who qualify for new loans, according to a coalition of non-profits. That's despite settlements aimed at preventing unnecessary foreclosures.

Economy
5:29 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Missing In The Housing Recovery: New Houses

De Desharnais of Ashwood Development in New Hampshire says homebuilding activity for her company has slowed sharply since the housing crash. But she's hopeful that business will pick up.
Chris Arnold NPR

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 8:18 pm

More than five years after the crash, homebuilding is stuck at half its normal level. That's a big drag on the economy. And things aren't looking much better: A report out Thursday shows homebuilder confidence is at its lowest level in a year.

This severe slump in single-family home construction has been going on across the country. We haven't seen anything close to this kind of a long-term construction slump since World War II.

Read more

Pages