Economy

Economy
5:00 am
Mon March 19, 2012

Startup Converts Plastic To Oil, And Finds A Niche

JBI CEO John Bordynuik holds a jar of No. 6 fuel oil, derived from discarded plastic like that seen on a conveyor belt at his plant.
Daniel Robison WNED

Originally published on Mon March 19, 2012 9:58 am

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.

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Economy
4:51 pm
Fri March 16, 2012

The Market's Finally Looking Up: Will It Last?

Trader Peter Tuchman reacts on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on March 13. That same day, the Dow Jones industrial average had its highest close since 2007.
Richard Drew AP

Originally published on Fri March 16, 2012 11:03 pm

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.

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Planet Money
1:06 pm
Fri March 16, 2012

Why Are Some Countries Rich And Others Poor?

Haiti's brown landscape contrasts sharply with the rich forests of its neighbor Haiti-Dominican Republic Border, South Of Dajabon, Dominican Republic.
National Geographic/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 19, 2012 5:37 pm

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.

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Looking Up: Pockets Of Economic Strength
4:34 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Optimism Rising Along With The Number Of New Jobs

Economists say job growth plays a big role in how consumers are feeling about the U.S. economy.
Robert Galbraith Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed March 14, 2012 10:10 pm

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.

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Looking Up: Pockets Of Economic Strength
12:01 am
Wed March 14, 2012

Auto Parts Suppliers Hiring As Fast As They Can

Workers build cars on the assembly line at the Ford Motor Co.'s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., in December. As auto sales boom, parts suppliers are having a tough time finding the labor they need to catch up, having lost workers during the recession.
Bill Pugliano Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 14, 2012 8:17 am

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.

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Looking Up: Pockets Of Economic Strength
4:18 pm
Tue March 13, 2012

Factories 'Reshore' Some Work From Overseas

AGCO employees work on the assembly line in the company's newly expanded Jackson, Minn., manufacturing plant. The expansion brought the facility's staff from 850 to 1,050 workers and allows the plant to make tractors that were previously made in France.
Jackson Forderer for Minnesota Public Radio

Originally published on Thu March 15, 2012 1:44 pm

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.

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Looking Up: Pockets of Economic Strength
12:01 am
Mon March 12, 2012

Jobs Abound In Energy Industry's New Boom Time

Oil workers on a drilling rig owned by Chesapeake Energy in Ohio. Students are flocking to the energy field.
Gus Chan The Plain Dealer/Landov

Originally published on Wed November 28, 2012 5:47 pm

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.

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Planet Money
1:11 pm
Fri March 9, 2012

This 14-Year-Old Girl Just Bought A House In Florida

Willow Tufano, landlord.
Chana Joffe-Walt NPR

Originally published on Mon March 12, 2012 10:46 am

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.

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Word of Mouth - Segment
11:09 am
Thu March 8, 2012

Did Women Really Win the Recession?

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. 

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Europe
5:37 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

Uncertainty Looms As Greek Debt Deadline Nears

People walk past the Bank of Greece headquarters in Athens. Greece toughened its stance to push creditors to accept a debt swap and take heavy losses, just one day before the Thursday deadline for completion of the deal to avert default.
Louisa Gouliamaki AFP/Getty Images

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.

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Music News
2:33 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

A Struggling City Finds Inspiration In Classical Music

An abandoned home sits behind a padlocked gate in Stockton, Calif., in 2008.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 11, 2012 9:09 am

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.

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Word of Mouth - Segment
1:06 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

The Real Cost of Free Curb Space

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.

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Europe
3:52 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Students, Police Clash As Spain Reaches Boiling Point

Police restrain a student protesting against education cuts during a rally in Valencia, in eastern Spain, on Feb. 20. Spaniards are beginning to feel the effects of $20 billion in austerity measures, and discontent is growing.
Juan Carlos Cardenas EPA/Landov

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.

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The Exchange
9:03 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Raising Keynes (Rebroadcast)

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.

Guests

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Crisis In The Housing Market
5:40 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Fannie, Freddie Won't Write Down Mortgage Principal

Many experts say reducing mortgage principal can help troubled homeowners stay in their homes. But two of the nation's largest mortgage holders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have not signed on to the idea.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

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.

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