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.

Most recently, Arnold has been reporting on financial challenges facing millions of working and middle class Americans as the economy continues to recover from the worst recession in generations. He won the National Association of Consumer Advocates award for Investigative Journalism for a series of stories he reported with ProPublica that exposed improper debt collection practices by non-profit hospitals who were suing thousands of their low-income patients.

Arnold is now serving as the lead reporter and editor for the ongoing NPR series "Your Money and Your Life", which explores personal finance issues. As part of that, he's reporting on the problem of Wall Street firms charging excessive fees in retirement accounts: fees that siphon billions of dollars annually from Americans trying to save for the future. For this series, Arnold won the 2016 Gerald Loeb Award which honors work that informs and protects the private investor and the general public. UCLA calls the award the most prestigious in financial journalism.

Following the 2008 financial crisis and collapse of the housing market, Arnold reported on problems within the nation's largest banks that 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. And he was a finalist for the Scripps Howard Foundation's National Journalism Award.

Arnold was chosen for 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 economics, leadership, and the future of journalism in the digital age. Arnold also teaches Radio Journalism as a Lecturer at Yale University. And he was named a Poynter Fellow by Yale in 2016.

Over his career at NPR, Arnold has covered a range of other subjects – 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.

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.

Poland's justice minister said Tuesday that he will appeal a lower court decision not to extradite filmmaker Roman Polanski to the country's Supreme Court, calling it a "serious breach" of an extradition agreement between the U.S. and Poland.

As if an $81-million-dollar bank heist wasn't spectacular enough, it now appears that the crime may mark the first time one country has used malicious code to steal money from another country.

Verizon and two labor unions representing some 40,000 workers have reached a tentative agreement to end a strike that has lasted more than six weeks.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez announced the deal today in a statement, saying, "The parties have reached an agreement in principle on a four-year contract, resolving the open issues in the ongoing labor dispute between Verizon's workers, unions, and management."

Nearly two dozen athletes from six countries and in five sports who competed in the 2012 London Olympics have tested positive for banned substances after doping samples were rechecked.

In the wake of a spectacular $81 million heist involving Bangladesh's central bank, the top official for the messaging system used to move billions of dollars every day throughout the global banking system says he's going on the offensive against cybercriminals.

Gottfried Leibbrandt, chief executive of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), announced the plan today in Brussels.

French authorities launched a surprise search of Google's offices in Paris early Tuesday morning as part of an inquiry into the tech company's tax dealings in France.

Prosecutors said in a statement that the raid, which also involved 25 computer experts, is part of an investigation launched in June 2015 into possible tax evasion and money laundering.

A federal appeals court Monday ruled in favor of Bank of America, reversing a lower court ruling. The decision is a blow to the federal government, which had won the case at trial. Bank of America had been ordered to pay a $1.27 billion penalty for alleged violations by its Countrywide unit.

The case got attention in 2012 because it appeared to pull back the curtain on some of the widespread wrongdoing in the mortgage industry that led to the worst financial crisis in generations.

Pharmaceutical giant Bayer has launched a $62 billion bid for seed seller Monsanto in what some news reports say would be the largest-ever German takeover of a foreign company.

Bayer's all-cash offer is 37 percent higher than Monsanto's stock price before news broke about the possible deal.

"This transaction represents a compelling opportunity for Monsanto's shareholders," Bayer CEO Werner Baumann told reporters on a conference call Monday.

Even car racing fans may be surprised to learn that in the 1920s a poem would grace the pages of the race-day program. But then, what better way to get the juices flowing, amid the exhaust, screaming engines and checkered flags, than a few lines of verse?

In case by now you didn't know it,

the Indy 500 has brought back its poet.

A city in India has recorded the highest temperature in the country's history — 51 degrees Celsius, or 123.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

Murari Lal Thanvi told the BBC it was so hot in the city of Phalodi on Friday that his cellphone stopped working. "I was able to switch my mobile phone on after putting a wet cloth on it for about 20-25 minutes."

Riot police in Paris used water cannons and tear gas to disperse protesters who had hurled rocks and other objects at officers. Truckers blocked roadways and railroad workers joined the strikes.

A couple of indicators just out suggest the U.S. economy might be getting ready to shift into a higher gear.

  • Overall industrial output rose at twice the rate most economists had predicted — with the strongest monthly gain in more than a year.
  • The U.S. Federal Reserve said manufacturing and factory output rose as well. That's a positive sign because economic trouble abroad has put a damper on demand for U.S. manufactured goods.

Starting today, small companies can raise up to $1 million from ordinary investors through what are called "crowdfunding portals." These portals are different from sites like Kickstarter. As one of the portal sites SeedInvest explains on its website:

"Kickstarter promises rewards for successful projects in the form of anything that is not monetary, whereas equity crowdfunding, as its name suggests, promises a financial slice of the pie when it comes to startup and small-business investment."

Colombian national police seized some 8 tons of cocaine along the country's border with Panama over the weekend. Officials say the drugs were discovered in an underground chamber beneath a banana plantation.

Authorities in Colombia say they believe the drugs belong to a crime gang that U.S. officials are targeting — the Clan Usuga gang. The U.S. has offered a $5 million reward for the capture of the gang's leader, Dario Antonio Usuga David.

Many credit card and loan agreements these days have in the small type what's called a "mandatory arbitration clause." Most people don't even know what that means. But by signing, customers agree not to sue the financial firm in a class action lawsuit. Instead, they agree to work out any problem with an arbitrator hired by the bank.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Investing for retirement doesn't have to be hard. You read up on how to put together a diverse mix of low-cost index funds, bonds, etc. Then keep setting aside all you can into that retirement account. Easy.

But when you actually retire and start spending that money, that's like going from playing checkers to playing chess. It can get a lot harder.

This week, NPR and some member stations will be talking about trade on the campaign trail and in communities around the country.

Economists for decades have agreed that more open international trade is good for the U.S. economy. But recent research finds that while that's still true, when it comes to China, the downside for American workers has been much more painful than the experts predicted.

And that's playing out on the presidential campaign trail in a big way.

'Disastrous' Trade Agreements?

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

After more than a year of study, the White House on Wednesday finalized tougher requirements for retirement investment advisers.

The changes are intended to help Americans build bigger nest eggs while reducing fees and sales commissions they pay to advisers — keeping more money in workers retirement accounts instead of advisers pockets.

Critics say the changes will create burdensome legal requirements that could squeeze out brokers who earn commissions from working with small investors.

Happy times are here again at the gas pump. The price of oil keeps falling, and Americans are filling their tanks for less than $2 a gallon. The government says cheaper gasoline put an extra $100 billion into drivers' wallets last year alone.

That seems like it would be good for the economy. Turns out, it might not be.

"Is it possible that lower oil prices could actually hurt the U.S. economy?" asks Vipin Arora, an economist with the U.S. Energy Information Administration. "I think the answer could be yes."

As Iran prepares to pump even more oil into an already glutted market, that oversupply isn't just making gas cheaper for your car — it's also causing jet fuel prices to go down sharply. And that's now pushing airfares down, too.

Want to launder $20 million in illicit drug money? Buy a fancy penthouse in Miami with cash. It turns out, secretively purchasing luxury real estate is a popular way for the world's super-criminals to clean their dirty money.

"You can spend a lot of money to buy a house, and then you can sell that house a year later," says Heather Lowe, a lawyer with Global Financial Integrity. "And all of a sudden, all of that money is completely clean money." Her group tracks the transfer of illicit money out of developing countries.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A couple of years ago, University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack did an online video chat with personal finance writer Helaine Olen. The topic was how regular people get steered into bad investments by financial advisers.

The Federal Reserve is expected to start raising interest rates later this week, and anyone who's ever bought a house — or thought about it — knows that if mortgage rates rise by much that will make it tougher to afford a home.

Homebuilders are watching the interest rate decision closely too. That's because this 100-year flood of a housing crash has been especially tough on them.

De Desharnais, a homebuilder in Nashua, N.H., says she's one of the lucky ones — her company survived the crash. But it didn't come without pain.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan's recently announced $45 billion philanthropic pledge will be given away not through a nonprofit foundation but instead through a for-profit company the couple is creating.

Each year Americans pay billions of dollars in fees when they roll over their retirement accounts — and those fees can be hard to see.

Elizabeth Merry, 49, a marketing manager at a technology company, has saved up $150,000 in a 401(k) there. At the end of the year, though, she's leaving her job, and so she was thinking about rolling over that money into an IRA with the help of her financial adviser with Ameriprise Financial. She pays him $1,000 a year to manage her money.

Many Americans feel they can't save any money for the future. Yet if an employer automatically enrolls workers in a 401(k) plan and matches some of their contributions, 90 percent of people stick with it and save and invest for retirement.

Now, what if your employer doesn't do that for you? What can you do? People in NPR's new Your Money and Your Life Facebook group wanted to know.

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