John Ydstie

John Ydstie has covered the economy, Wall Street and the federal budget for NPR for two decades. In recent years NPR has broadened his responsibilities, making use of his reporting and interviewing skills to cover major stories like the aftermath of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. His current focus is reporting on the global financial crisis. Ydstie is also a regular guest host on the NPR news programs Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Talk of the Nation.

During 1991 and 1992 Ydstie was NPR's bureau chief in London. He traveled throughout Europe covering, among other things, the breakup of the Soviet Union and attempts to move Europe toward closer political and economic union. He accompanied U.S. businessmen exploring investment opportunities in Russia as the Soviet Union was crumbling. He was on the scene in The Netherlands when European leaders approved the Maastricht Treaty, which created the European Union.

In August 1990, Ydstie traveled to Saudi Arabia for NPR as a member of the Pentagon press pool sent to cover the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. During the early stages of the crisis, Ydstie was the only American radio reporter in the country.

Ydstie has been with NPR since 1979. For two years, he was an associate producer responsible for Midwest coverage. In 1982 he became senior editor on NPR's Washington Desk, overseeing coverage of the federal government, American politics and economics. In 1984, Ydstie joined Morning Edition as the show's senior editor, and later was promoted to the position of executive producer. In 1988, he became NPR's economics correspondent.

During his tenure with NPR, Ydstie has won numerous awards. He was a member of the NPR team that received the George Foster Peabody for its coverage of 9/11. Ydstie's reporting from Saudi Arabia helped NPR win the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award in 1991 for coverage of the Gulf War. Prior to joining NPR, Ydstie was a reporter and producer at Minnesota Public Radio. While there, he was awarded the Clarion Award for his report "Vietnam Experience and America Today."

A graduate of Concordia College, in Moorhead, MN, Ydstie earned a bachelor of arts degree, summa cum laude, with a major in English literature and a minor in speech communications.

Ydstie was born in Minneapolis, and grew up in rural North Dakota.

The price of oil has been falling — a drop that you may already have noticed at the pump. Gasoline prices have dropped noticeably since June, and oil is now well below $100 a barrel.

That decline has happened even as conflicts have flared in or near oil-producing regions. Normally, oil prices are expected to spike higher amid turmoil — so why have they been trending lower?

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Health care costs have been rising, but not rising as quickly as they used to. We just learned that the cost of employer-sponsored health insurance rose just 3 percent this year, fitting that trend.

Here's NPR's John Ydstie.

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

The most expensive stock on the New York Stock Exchange just got a little more expensive. A Class A share of Berkshire Hathaway is now worth more than $200,000.

On Thursday, shares closed up $3,500 at $202,850. The Omaha, Neb.-based company has a market value of more than $333 billion.

Berkshire Hathaway is the company created and run by Warren Buffett for nearly five decades now. The conglomerate owns more than 80 firms, including Geico Insurance, BNSF Railway and Dairy Queen.

Overall, climate change is predicted to hurt agriculture around the world. It could even threaten corn production in the Corn Belt.

But in North Dakota conditions are now better for raising corn, and that's a big benefit for farmers.

When I was growing up in Wolford, N.D., up near the Canadian border, wheat was king. It had been the dominant crop since the prairie was first plowed in the late 1800s. So it was kind of strange to go back this summer and find Larry Slaubaugh, a local farmer, filling his 18-wheeler with corn from a huge steel grain bin.

Climate change is creating all kinds of challenges and opportunities for business. One of the sectors that feels the effects most immediately is agriculture. Already, weather patterns are making it more challenging to raise corn — even in Iowa — in the middle of the Corn Belt.

Seth Watkins raises corn and cattle in southern Iowa, and he recalls the memorable weather from 2012.

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The Export-Import Bank is an 80-year-old Washington institution whose mission is to help U.S. companies sell products abroad. Now the bank is being threatened with extinction. Tea Party Republicans argue that the bank's really just providing corporate welfare. NPR's John Ydstie has more.

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And from food to fuel, corn is a major pillar of the U.S. economy. It's the country's biggest crop. One-third of all U.S. cropland is dedicated to corn. A new study says climate change and unsustainable irrigation practices are a long-term threat to U.S. corn production. The study calls on farmers, governments and businesses to cooperate to head off those negative effects. NPR's John Ydstie has more.

The Labor Department released its monthly employment report on Friday. The economy added 217,000 jobs in May, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.3 percent.

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The economy nearly stalled out here in the U.S. in the beginning of the year, according to the government. That slowdown was blamed largely on winter storms that clobbered much of the country last winter. Recent data suggests the economy has warmed up. There's hope that will be confirmed this morning when the monthly job numbers for April are released. NPR's John Ydstie reports.

The economy slowed sharply in the first quarter, with data released Wednesday showing that growth was barely positive. Federal Reserve policymakers wrapped up a meeting Wednesday with a statement saying the economy had actually picked up a bit in recent weeks. They voted unanimously to continue winding down their stimulus program.

The Labor Department said U.S. employers added 192,000 jobs in March, which is seen as a sign that the economy is rebounding. The unemployment rate remained steady at 6.7 percent.

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block in Dallas.

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And I'm Robert Siegel in Washington, where President Obama cheered the Affordable Care Act today.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Despite several lost weeks out of the gate because of problems with the website, 7.1 million Americans have now signed up for private insurance plans through these marketplaces.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

The Affordable Care Act — which many see creating challenges for businesses — could benefit a particular group of business people: entrepreneurs.

Joshua Simonson was reluctant to give up his job at a Portland, Ore., area grocery store, New Seasons Market, which he says had provided excellent health care for him and his family. He had a pre-existing condition that has prevented him from getting insurance in the private market, but one key development helped convince him to quit and start a farm.

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It was pretty clear that the recent bout of winter weather that many of us have seen was going to have an effect on job growth in February. The question was how much. And it turns out less than expected. That's the message from the government's monthly employment report that's out today. It found that U.S. employers added 175,000 jobs to their payrolls last month. As NPR's John Ydstie reports, it's more than expected.

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The recent bout of winter weather that many of us have felt has hit the U.S. economy. Winter storms cooled job growth in February. The only question is by how much. Economists, investors and job seekers are looking to today's employment report from the government for an answer. NPR's John Ydstie says their predictions have been dampened by the weather too.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: John Sylvia is the top economist for Wells Fargo. His forecast for job growth in February has been pounded down by the weather.

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On a Friday, this is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

The Affordable Care Act will change the way millions of Americans think about their jobs. That's essentially what the Congressional Budget Office has said in its assessment of the law's effect on the economy. They think the law will give some people the option to retire early and others the flexibility to work less.

As NPR's John Ydstie reports, this is already happening.

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The cost of health care in this country seems to be coming under control. Health care spending, while still on the rise, has increased at historically levels the last few years, which makes you wonder: Why aren't we feeling it?

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I'm Renee Montagne. And this morning brought another surprisingly weak jobs report. The government says the U.S. economy added just 113,000 jobs in January. That follows just 75,000 jobs in December. Those numbers are way below the average monthly job creation for most of 2013 and it has lots of people worried the economy may be losing steam. NPR's John Ydstie joins us again to talk about it. Good morning.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: Hi, Renee.

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On a Friday this is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

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And I'm Renee Montagne. There's lots of anticipation about the government's monthly jobs report that will be released later this morning. Last month's job creation numbers were very disappointing - just 74,000 jobs added to the payroll - far below the recent monthly averages. NPR's John Ydstie joined us to talk about job creation and what it's telling us about the economy. Good morning.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: Hi, Renee.

The Congressional Budget Office earlier this week said this year's deficit is likely to be about one-third the size it was in 2009, when the Great Recession bottomed out. A recovering economy is the main reason for the deficit's improvement, but moderating health care costs have also contributed.

Harvard economist and health policy specialist David Cutler says getting the federal government's finances under control is all about health care.

A new front has opened in the political battle over the Affordable Care Act, with Tuesday's release of the Congressional Budget Office's annual budget and economic outlook. The economists updated an earlier estimate about how many workers would leave the workforce because they no longer needed a job to have health care coverage — revising upward from 800,000 people to over 2 million people. Republicans pounced on the higher number, and President Obama now finds himself playing defense.

Ben Bernanke hands over the reins at the Federal Reserve to Janet Yellen on Friday. The Fed's vice chairwoman will be the first female ever to lead the nation's central bank. It's a position many view as the second most powerful in the country.

The world of central banking is largely a man's world. But Yellen has been undeterred by such barriers since she was in high school in Brooklyn. Charlie Saydah, a former classmate, says she was probably the smartest kid in the class. Yellen was "clearly smart, and she was smart among a lot of smart kids," he says.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will preside over his last Fed policy-making meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Saturday morning, the first woman ever to lead the nation's central bank, Janet Yellen, will take over.

There's no doubt that during his two terms as chairman, Bernanke faced a challenge unlike any Fed chairman since the Great Depression: a global financial crisis that threatened to become financial Armageddon and followed by a deep recession.

Bernanke talked about how he survived it all during an appearance at the Brookings Institution recently.

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And let's keep talking about international trade here. The American aluminum giant Alcoa and one of its subsidiaries will pay $384 million in fines to the United States government for engaging in corrupt practices overseas.

The payment is part of a settlement in a bribery case involving the royal family of Bahrain.

NPR's John Ydstie reports.

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We have been hearing for, well, what feels like forever about skyrocketing health care costs. It's at the center of debates in Washington and state capitals. And many people feel the impact on their wallets and pocketbooks. But here's this reality: Spending on health care, while still going up, appears to be rising more slowly. 2012 was the fourth straight year of modest growth.

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Many economists and investors think there's a good chance that at the end of their two-day meeting that begins Tuesday, Federal Reserve policymakers will announce that they'll begin reducing their $85 billion monthly stimulus, their third round of quantitative easing, or QE3.

The analysts think recent economic data, like a drop in the unemployment rate to 7 percent and a budget deal in Washington, have brightened the outlook for the economy enough that the Fed can pull back.

This week the Fed's influential Open Market Committee meets to discuss some unfinished business. With Chairman Ben Bernanke getting ready to turn things over to Janet Yellen, Fed policymakers must decide whether it's time to start winding down the "quantitative easing" program put in place years ago to protect the recovery.

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