John Ydstie

After a two-day meeting in Washington, D.C., Federal Reserve policymakers say they'll keep their benchmark rate in a range between 1 percent and 1.25 percent for the time being.

Fed officials said "job gains have been solid" and the U.S. "labor market continues to strengthen" in the statement after a meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee.

The officials described economic activity as "rising moderately." They noted that unemployment rate has declined since the beginning of the year. The Fed is close to meeting its mandate to maximize employment.

If you've checked your retirement account lately or read the business headlines you probably know the stock market is riding high. The major U.S. stock indexes are in record territory. So what's lifting the market? Despite all the turmoil in Washington, is it still the Trump rally?

Since the U.S. election, the S&P 500 is up 16 percent and the Dow is up 18 percent, even though President Trump has yet to deliver on most of his pro-growth policies, including tax cuts and a big infrastructure plan.

A key part of President Trump's tax plan is to repatriate corporate profits held overseas back to the U.S. With the lure of lower corporate rates, the idea is that companies will free up overseas earnings and instead invest in jobs and equipment in the U.S. A similar scheme was tried during the administration of George W. Bush, but companies used most of the money on stock buybacks or to pay dividends to shareholders.

President Trump has proposed big tax cuts for businesses and individuals — breaks that could reduce federal revenue by trillions of dollars. Economists and tax specialists say that unless they're paid for, the tax cuts could explode budget deficits and the national debt.

The prospect has prominent Republicans and Republican members of Congress worried.

Federal Reserve officials left interest rates unchanged as they ended their policy-making meeting in Washington, D.C., today.

The Fed raised its benchmark rate by a quarter of a percentage point back in March, to a range of 0.75 percent to 1 percent, where it remains. In their post-meeting statement today, the central bank policymakers provided little guidance on when their next rate hike might come.

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President Trump met with executives of the Big Three U.S. automakers, the latest in a parade of business leaders to visit the White House in the first few of days of the Trump administration.

The president told the executives of General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler on Tuesday that he was going to make it easier for them to invest in the country.

"We're bringing manufacturing back to the United States, big league," Trump said. "We're reducing taxes very substantially and we're reducing unnecessary regulations."

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President-elect Donald Trump has picked his campaign finance chairman, Steve Mnuchin, to be his Treasury secretary. The Wall Street banker spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs, where he was a partner, and is now chief executive of Dune Capital Management, a privately owned hedge fund.

Mnuchin confirmed his selection Wednesday during a joint CNBC interview with billionaire investor Wilbur Ross Jr., who has been tapped for commerce secretary.

After campaigning with lots of populist and anti-Wall Street rhetoric, Donald Trump is seriously considering a veteran Wall Street financier, Steve Mnuchin, to be his Treasury secretary.

Mnuchin spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs, ultimately as a partner at the investment bank. More recently, he's headed a privately owned hedge fund, Dune Capital Management. Last April he became Trump's chief fundraiser, and he's now a member of the president-elect's transition team.

Donald Trump has proposed a very detailed tax plan — but his statements on the campaign trail don't always match what his proposal would really do.

For instance, at a rally in Scranton, Pa., Trump promised to "massively cut taxes for the middle class, the forgotten people, the forgotten men and women of this country, who built our country." During a town hall meeting on NBC's Today show, he said he believes in raising taxes on the wealthy.

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The government has released its last jobs report before Election Day. It shows the U.S. economy improved in October. As NPR's John Ydstie reports, it was strong wage growth that grabbed the spotlight.

Chair Janet Yellen and her colleagues at the Federal Reserve didn't surprise anyone when they announced Wednesday they were not raising their benchmark interest rate. Fed policymakers decided to keep the federal funds rate in a range between one-quarter and one-half percent. That's where it's been since last December when the Fed lifted the rate a quarter of a point from near zero — where it had been left for seven years as the central bank tried to support growth coming out of the Great Recession.

Productivity, a key measure of the economy's health, has been growing more slowly in recent years — and it has dropped for the past three quarters. Can Facebook and other social media distractions on the job be partly to blame?

Growth in the U.S. economy has been frustratingly slow during the recovery from the Great Recession. And it has fueled a lot of political discussion this year. One characteristic of that slow growth has some economists scratching their heads and others promoting grand theories to explain it.

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So you think that beer you brewed in your kitchen is ready for prime time, and you're thinking, "Maybe I should take the plunge and set up a little craft brewery."

You're not the only one with dreams infused with hops and malting barley. During the past couple of years, new breweries were being launched at the rate of three a day in the U.S.

New District Brewing is one of them. It just popped up in a cinder-block building in an Arlington, Va., light-industrial park.

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The U.S. government, today, announced a broad-reaching $14.7 billion settlement in the Vokswagen emissions cheating scandal. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy outlined the heart of the agreement during a news conference this morning.

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Most election prediction models that try to forecast who's going to win the presidency take into account some measure of how the economy is doing. That's because generally if it's going strong in the six months or so before the election, history suggests the party currently in the White House will win. If the economy stinks, the party not in the White House takes over.

But, what if the economy is just so-so like it is now?

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The outlook for global economic growth got downgraded yet again, this time by economists with the International Monetary Fund's economists. In January, they thought the global economy would grow 3.4 percent this year, but they ratcheted that down to 3.2 percent in the latest version of their World Economic Outlook.

U.S. growth for 2016 got trimmed by the same amount in the report released Tuesday, down to 2.4 percent.

So what's going on? Here are five key factors from the WEO.

The revelations in the Panama Papers have generated anger and disgust. Politicians and leaders in countries from Russia to Iceland to the oil-rich Gulf States are implicated.

The irony is that while the shady world of shell corporations and offshore accounts is still massive — costing governments hundreds of billions of dollars a year — the global community has made significant strides toward reining it in.

In the past, falling oil prices have given a boost to the world economy, but recent forecasts for global growth have been ratcheted down, even as oil prices sink lower and lower. Does that mean the link between lower oil prices and growth has weakened?

Jason Bordoff, head of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, says there are still good reasons to believe cheap oil should heat up the world economy.

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As the old saying goes, the stock market has predicted nine of the last five recessions. In other words, sharply falling stock markets are crying wolf about half the time.

Dyke Messinger, who runs a small manufacturing company in Salisbury, N.C., thinks stock investors have been overreacting during this sell-off.

"It is bizarre to me when we see what we believe is good core strength in the U.S. market," he says.

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