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.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Senate lawmakers, this week, are announcing a bipartisan plan to overhaul the nation's mortgage market. The stock prices of the government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac plunged on the news.

NPR's Chris Arnold has our report.

After rising sharply in 2013, home prices in many areas are leveling off. An interesting and worrisome development for most Americans because their home is often their most valuable asset.

The economy often absorbs the impact of snowstorms, such as this week's storm, without much trouble, but this winter the weather is doing more damage than usual.

The snow and ice storms sweeping the East Coast have been felt not only on the ground but in the air, as well. Airlines are cancelling thousands of flights, and both the companies and their passengers have had to deal with the fallout.

The U.S. added just 113,000 jobs in January, instead of the 180,000 analysts had predicted. Despite the anemic gains, the unemployment rate inched down to 6.6 percent, the lowest level since October 2008.

A new report from the MIT Center for Real Estate forecasts home prices in 60 U.S. cities. Whether housing prices are going up or down depends on where you live.

Wherever you live, you're probably not too far from a local microbrewery making beer. Now, the latest trend is the spread of what you might call "micro-boozeries." Craft liquor distilleries are springing up around the country like little wellheads spouting gin, whiskey and rum.

Turkey Shore Distilleries in Ipswich, Mass., is one of them.

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Yesterday's jobs report came as something of a surprise after several months of positive economic news. Employers added just 74,000 jobs. Economists had been expecting businesses to generate nearly three times that many. A few people were heartened by the fact that the unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent, the lowest since October 2008. As NPR's Chris Arnold reports, the numbers reflect that many of the long-term unemployed have simply given up looking for work.

When members of Congress return to work next week, at the top of the "to-do" list is whether to renew emergency unemployment benefits. An extension of the benefits expired at the end of 2013, which means 1.3 million out-of-work Americans are no longer getting unemployment checks.

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And before the ball dropped in Times Square last night, new numbers came out on the housing market, and they showed the past year saw the biggest gains in home prices since 2006.

NPR's Chris Arnold reports.

Following the popularity of companies like Airbnb, which rent out a client's house or apartment to people visiting the area, more companies are trying the idea with cars. Companies like Uber help find someone to drive you around like a taxi. Another will let you rent out your car like a Zipcar while you're at work.

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

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The Comet ISON appears to have survived after disappearing and being thought dead. New NASA photos show the comet emerging from behind the sun smaller and dimmer, but still throwing a big light trail.

We've been reporting a lot lately on the troubled rollout of President Obama's signature health care law. But at the same time, there are rumblings of a major shift in the way companies offer private health insurance to workers.

It involves what are called "private health care exchanges." These are similar to — but completely separate from — the public exchanges you've heard so much about.

Some experts say this new approach soon could change how millions of Americans receive their health care.

The Justice Department on Tuesday announced a landmark $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase. That's the largest settlement the federal government has ever made with a single company. It's three times the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill settlement.

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For Obamacare to succeed, it's crucial for young people to sign up.

Healthy young Americans need to pay into the insurance system to help cover the costs for older, sicker people.

So the White House is reaching out. Its website sent emails to subscribers with a big, orange graphic that says half of young people can get coverage for $50 a month or less.

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Let's talk about the latest employment numbers and what they mean. The economy, we're told by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, gained 148,000 jobs in September. The unemployment rate fell slightly to 7.2 percent. We're getting these numbers a couple of weeks late because of the government shutdown. NPR's Chris Arnold has been following the economy and the shutdown. He's on the line. Hi, Chris.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. The Justice Department is on the verge of a $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase. That would make it the biggest government fine involving a single company. It involves the allegedly improper sale of mortgage securities that led to the financial crisis of 2008. NPR's Chris Arnold has been following this and he joins us now. Good morning.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

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Today, Walgreens became the latest major U.S. company to announce that it is shifting employee health benefits to a new so-called private exchange system. 160,000 workers at the drug store chain will now shop for their health care at an online marketplace. As NPR's Chris Arnold reports, the hope is such systems will hold down rising costs.

For the first year since the recession, median household incomes did not decline in 2012. But it's hardly a reassuring picture. Incomes were flat despite the economic recovery and big gains in the stock market. That's a troubling aspect about today's labor market. It's four years since the official end of the recession and many households are worse off than when it started.

There is something new and different for home mortgages: Jumbo loans are being made at lower interest rates than traditional home loans. That's kind of like a first class airplane ticket being cheaper than riding in coach.

At first this seems crazy. For as long as anybody can remember, homeowners have had to pay a premium to get jumbo loans. That's because they're not guaranteed by the federal government. If they're not guaranteed, they're riskier, so they cost more in interest payments.

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Protesters took to the streets in more than 50 cities today, calling for better wages for fast food workers. Like the Occupy Wall Street movement, these demonstrations target income inequality and promote workers' rights. But today's demonstrators also have one very clearly stated goal. Their demand: $15 an hour wages for workers at, say, McDonald's and Burger King.

In just the past week we've seen a bunch of signs that the housing recovery is gaining steam. Data out Wednesday showed that existing-home sales rose to their highest level in nearly four years, while prices were up 14 percent from a year ago.

Retailers Home Depot and Lowe's both reported strong earnings growth and attributed that to the housing rebound.

And most important for the economy, homebuilders are hiring more workers and building more houses.

On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported the Justice Department is investigating the bank over improper energy trading. That follows the news that the anti-bribery unit of the Security and Exchange Commission is looking into whether JPMorgan hired the children of Chinese officials to help win business.

In Boston, a billionaire entrepreneur is buying the Boston Globe. John Henry is currently the owner of the Red Sox baseball team. He says he isn't interest in trying to influence the news — including the baseball coverage.

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And I'm Melissa Block. The Justice Department is bringing civil charges against one of the nation's largest banks. The government alleges Bank of America made false statements about the quality of $850 million worth of home loans. Those loans were then sold to investors. NPR's Chris Arnold reports.

Federal prosecutors have filed criminal charges against one of the most famous and successful hedge funds in the world. The government alleges that SAC Capital Advisors is criminally responsible for insider trading that went on at the firm.

The investor lawsuit claims the companies, including Blackstone, Carlyle and Bain Capital, colluded to drive down prices on hundreds of billions of dollars in takeovers.

Stocks surged Thursday after the chief of the Federal Reserve sent signals that the central bank wasn't in a hurry to stop helping the economy. When the markets closed, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index was at a record high. Other U.S. indexes were also up, including the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which rose nearly 170 points to a record 15,460.92.

Update at 5 p.m. ET: We've updated some figures in this post to reflect the markets' closing.

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