Can A Small Town Survive Without Its Bank?

Mar 29, 2012

Alburgh, Vt., is a town with unusual geography: It's on a peninsula that borders Quebec and is surrounded by Lake Champlain. Even though the town is small and isolated, its residents have always had somewhere to do their banking.

But in January, the People's United Bank branch on Main Street announced it was closing its doors. When Irene Clarke heard the news, she decided to do something about it.

I met Zenaide Muneton in the offices of the Pavillion Agency in New York, which specializes in hiring house staff for some of the richest folks in the country. Muneton says she knows how to make everything fun for kids, even homework, and that's why she is one of the better paid nannies at the agency. I asked her what that means.

"It means over $150,000 a year," Muneton said.

Housing prices are still declining, but many analysts see some signs for optimism in the housing market. The mild spring has brought buyers out earlier than usual, and real estate agents are busy.

Doug Azarian is one of them. One of his clients recently signed a deal on a $1.5 million house in Cape Cod, Mass. — a contemporary waterfront property with three bedrooms.

"The buyers came in, and they loved it from the minute they walked in the door," Azarian says.

Don’t let the profit margin fool you: dollar stores are one of the fastest growing niche retail markets.  Just this week, the national chain Family Dollar reported much higher than predicted second quarter earnings, with a profit of more than one hundred and thirty six million dollars. I guess all those dollars add up…

But in some communities, dollar stores aren’t welcome additions.  Vermont public radio reporter Steve Zind covered the recent battle over a proposed dollar store in Chester, Vermont, and joins us now to tell us about it.

100 Jobs To Return To NH From China

Mar 27, 2012

A New England-based manufacturer is moving some of its operations from China to New Hampshire–and bringing 100 new jobs with it.  Watts Water Technologies is building up its facilities in Franklin.  As

On Saturday Cash Mobs will take to the streets in hundreds of cities and towns to celebrate National Cash Mob Day: an occasion for shoppers to meet at a designated time and place, then disperse with at least $20 to spend in  local, independent stores.  Allison Grappone is organizing Concord’s cash mob day this Saturday.

Only 7 percent of plastic waste in the United States is recycled each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. A startup company in Niagara Falls says it can increase that amount and reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil at the same time.

It all starts with a machine known as the Plastic-Eating Monster. Thousands of pounds of shredded milk jugs, water bottles and grocery bags tumble into a large tank, where they're melted together and vaporized. This waste comes from landfills and dumps from all over the United States.

The stock market hit some major milestones this week: The Standard & Poor's 500 index reached its highest level in more than three years, the Dow Jones industrial average settled in above 13,000 — up about 24 percent since early October — and the Nasdaq rose to its highest level in 11 years. Still, the Federal Reserve has been warning not to get too excited about where the economy is headed next.

David Kotok, chairman and chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisors, says there are a bunch of reason for stocks to be rising.

Why are some nations rich and others poor? In a new book called Why Nations Fail, a pair of economists argue that a lot comes down to politics.

To research the book, the authors scoured the world for populations and geographic areas that are identical in all respects save one: they're on different sides of a border.

Part of a series

As 2011 was winding down, consumer spirits were starting to rise. Now the momentum has carried into the new year, with polls showing consumer sentiment continuing to improve.

Economists say that negative factors, such as falling home values or rising meat prices, are nowhere near as important as the growth in jobs.

Part of a series

Detroit automakers are creating thousands of new jobs amid a sales boom. And as they expand, their suppliers are racing to keep up, adding tens of thousands of new jobs.

At Bridgewater Interiors in Warren, Mich., for example, the pace is intense. Hundreds of union employees scurry to fill a growing list of orders. The factory floor is packed with stacks of foam cushions, seat covers and headrests.

Part of a series

During the worst of the Great Recession, U.S. factory jobs were disappearing at a furious pace. As 2007 began, about 14 million Americans were working in manufacturing.

Three years and one frightful recession later, only 11.5 million were.

But since 2010, employment has been ticking back up, with companies adding about 400,000 jobs.

Part of a series

Economists say many industries are looking up this year. But perhaps none has a better outlook than the energy sector.

New drilling technologies and rising fuel prices have generated a boom in drilling — and lots of high-paying jobs for people with the skills to work in the oil patch. On some college campuses, companies are so eager to find petroleum engineers that they are offering jobs to students even before they have graduated.

Meet Willow Tufano, age 14: Lady Gaga fan, animal lover, landlord.

In 2005, when Willow was 7, the housing market was booming. Home prices in some Florida neighborhoods nearly doubled from one month to the next. Her family moved into a big house; her mom became a real estate agent.

But as Willow moved from childhood to adolescence, the market turned, and the neighborhood emptied out. "Everyone is getting foreclosed on here," she says.

Photo by Charles McCain via Flickr Creative Commons

Remember the so-called Man-cession? That was the gloomy prophesy made early in the global economic downturn when construction, manufacturing, and other male-dominated industries collapsed. Some, including Hanna Rosin speaking on this program, projected a sign of sea change in America’s gender inequality. A 2010 study showing unmarried, childless, urban female workers earning more than their male counterparts reinforced the possibility that women could dominate in the new economy. 

Stock prices rebounded somewhat Wednesday, one day after their biggest sell-off of the year. What caused prices to plunge Tuesday was an all-too-familiar problem: the Greek debt crisis.

European officials have cobbled together a deal to keep Greece from defaulting, and investors all over the world who hold Greek bonds are weighing their options. They're worried about what could happen if they reject the deal.

The agricultural port city of Stockton, Calif., has made national and international news in recent years — for all the wrong reasons. In a new record, the city recently marked its 56th homicide in one year. And the BBC recently reported that a greater proportion of Stockton residents face the loss of their homes to foreclosure or repossession than anywhere else in America. If that's not enough, it ranked No.

Photo by Wouter Kiel, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

The average American vehicle spends a whopping 95% of its life parked.  And yet, for all of the engineers and urban planners who study how humans and cars interact on the road, one man stands out as an authority how our lives, towns and experiences are affected once those cars stop.

Spain's austerity measures have begun to spark clashes, and a high school in Valencia — Spain's most indebted province — has become a flash point for nationwide rallies.

Last month, police arrested 25 demonstrators there, where cellphones captured video of heavy-handed beatings and parents were shocked to see their children on TV, pinned down by police.

The skirmish was a possible sign of what's to come as the conservative government pushes through more spending cuts and people settle into a period of sacrifice in hopes of economic recovery.

We explore the economic philosophy of John Maynard Keynes. His ideas of government spending “priming the pump” during bad times have  been applied by American leaders from FDR to Obama. But Keynsian  theory continue to spark fierce debate – some feel it’s still the best way out of a slump – but others believe this distorts the free-market and that these ideas have run their course.


Despite some green shoots in the economy, the housing sector remains weak. With 11 million Americans still underwater on their mortgages, some housing experts believe it's time for more dramatic solutions.

The idea of reducing the principal on the loans of underwater homeowners used to be a fringe concept, embraced by a few outliers. Today, many policymakers believe principal reduction is necessary to keep some troubled homeowners afloat.

But so far, the nation's biggest mortgage holders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, haven't embraced the idea.

Record Low Interest Rates Raise Inflation Concerns

Feb 29, 2012

The goal of the Federal Reserve's low interest rate policy is to juice the economic recovery. The low rates should make it easier for people to borrow money, which they'll hopefully spend; the increased demand for goods and services is then supposed to translate into more hiring.

That's what the Fed is banking on. It hopes low interest rates will help with its mandate of achieving maximum employment, but it also has another mandate: to keep prices stable.

"In many cases, those two conflict," says economist Joe Gagnon of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Portugal is burdened with such big debts that some are calling it "the next Greece." Unemployment is soaring, and the debt continues to rise, despite draconian austerity measures.

But Portugal has something Greece doesn't have: former colonies, rich in natural resources and in need of labor, both skilled and unskilled. And in a type of role reversal, some Portuguese are now traveling to those places in hopes of improving their lives.

Antonio Valerio, who is studying pharmaceutical science at a university, is among those who see no future in Portugal.

In a down economy, most folks are happy to find a crumpled five in a pair of old jeans, or turn in their saved quarters for a dinner out.  Not David Wolman David is a contributing editor at Wired Magazine, and author of the new book, The End of Money, which explores the notion that everyone might benefit from a cash-free world. 


We talk to the author of a new book who says that Americans spend too much, save too little and borrow excessively and that we might look to countries in Europe and East Asia, where governments encourage thrift and saving rates are much higher.  We’ll examine the financial habits of people on three continents over two centuries and what we might learn from it. 


  • Sheldon Garon - Professor of History at Princeton University and author of “Beyond Our Means: Why America Spends While the World Saves”

How State Budget Cuts Affect Your Property Taxes

Feb 14, 2012

A new report finds that Granite State communities are leaning more and more heavily on property taxes. Examining data from 2007–2010, the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies found:

Many say upward mobility isn't what it used to be in America, especially for those at the bottom of the economic ladder, and that the U. S. has become a less mobile society than other advanced nations. Still, skeptics point out that the country has grown wealthier overall, leading to higher incomes for new generations, even if they don’t move up in the class system. 


Flikr Creative Commons / Sean Dreilinger

A report shows that home foreclosures spiked at the end of last year, up 35% from November.

Jane Law of New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority says foreclosures have been declining since their peak in 2010, and December’s jump might be an anomaly.

Law says, "The biggest factor is just mortgage companies are kind of clearing out some inventory before the end of the year, which is the end of their tax year usually" 

After years of speculation on a "jobless recovery," finally, things could be looking up–at least for the moment. This week, the Bureau of Labor statistics reported some serious gains on the national jobs front for January, with the creation of 243,000 jobs.

One of the key consequences of the economic collapse a few years ago was the passage of a massive piece of legislation called the "Dodd-Frank Act." The bill was co-sponsored by (now-retired) Democratic Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut and (soon-to-be-retired) Democratic Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank.