NPR Business

The Protojournalist
11:13 am
Sun June 16, 2013

World's Shortest Business Brief: The Smoffice

The World's Smallest Office competition is over. But will the Smoffice create jobs?

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Two-Way
3:51 pm
Sat June 15, 2013

Google's 'Looney' Internet Balloons Invade New Zealand

A Google balloon sails through the air with the Southern Alps in the background, in Tekapo, New Zealand, on Monday.
Jon Shenk AP

Google has launched — quite literally — a new idea to bring the Internet to some of the world's remotest places.

The tech giant's engineering hothouse, Google X, is testing the use of 12-mile-high helium balloons to get coverage in areas where it's impractical to put in conventional infrastructure.

Google said Saturday that it has 30 of the balloons, or "high-altitude platforms" (HAPS), flying over New Zealand as part of something called Project Loon. They will hover at about twice the altitude of a passenger jet.

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The Two-Way
11:25 am
Sat June 15, 2013

Facebook, Microsoft Reveal Requests For User Data

Facebook says it received 9,000 to 10,000 requests from government agencies during the last six months of 2012.
Lionel Bonaventure AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat June 15, 2013 2:08 pm

Facebook and Microsoft Corp. say the government has given them permission to reveal orders they've received to hand over user data, but that they are still prevented from giving anything other than very broad figures.

Facebook says it received 9,000 to 10,000 requests during the last six months of 2012, while Microsoft says it got 6,000 to 7,000 requests, affecting as many as 32,000 accounts.

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The Record
5:28 am
Sat June 15, 2013

Pandora Buys A Radio Station, Songwriters' Group Calls It A 'Stunt'

Blake Morgan's songs were played some 28,000 times over a 90-day period on Pandora, earning $1.62 in royalties.
Jim Herrington Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat June 15, 2013 4:40 pm

This week, the Internet radio broadcaster Pandora made what seems like a backward move — technologically speaking. Pandora purchased a local radio station in Rapid City, S.D. The company says it's aiming to get the more favorable royalty rates given to terrestrial broadcasters, but the move has songwriters and composers up in arms.

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It's All Politics
5:24 am
Sat June 15, 2013

How Rock 'N' Roll Can Explain The U.S. Economy

Bruce Springsteen performs during halftime of the Super Bowl in Tampa, Fla., in 2009. In music, and increasingly in other industries, a relative handful of top performers take more and more of the spoils, says White House chief economist Alan Krueger.
Mark J. Terrill AP

Originally published on Sat June 15, 2013 8:10 pm

White House economic adviser Alan Krueger took some ribbing from his boss this week. President Obama noted that Krueger will soon be leaving Washington to go back to his old job, teaching economics at Princeton.

"And now that Alan has some free time, he can return to another burning passion of his: 'Rockanomics,' the economics of rock and roll," the president said. "This is something that Alan actually cares about."

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Business
5:28 pm
Fri June 14, 2013

Housing Market Watchers Edgy As Mortgage Rates Keep Climbing

Home values have been rising in recent months, but mortgage rates have taken a rapid turn upward as well. Some investors are worried that the housing recovery may stall if mortgage rates jump too quickly.
Gene J. Puskar AP

Originally published on Fri June 14, 2013 6:12 pm

Mortgage rates have seen a relatively sharp rise this month. The average 30-year fixed-rate loan hit 4 percent earlier in June — a big jump from the record lows of recent years. Some investors are now concerned that the housing recovery could be stifled if rates continue to rise quickly.

The Federal Reserve has two main missions: to maximize employment and minimize inflation. Right now, there are few, if any, signs that prices for goods are spiking, and the job market is still crawling out of its long, deep slump.

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Planet Money
3:15 pm
Fri June 14, 2013

When People Make Their Own Banks

Harlem funeral directors Tamara Bullock and Patricia Hamilton are going to spend their next savings-club payout on a sky-diving trip (unless Bullock can get out of it).
Marianne McCune NPR

Originally published on Fri June 14, 2013 6:12 pm

Miguelo Rada doesn't seem like the kind of guy who'd have extra cash. He just spent 32 years in prison, he lives in a halfway house in West Harlem, and his current income comes only from public assistance.

He uses food stamps for food, wears hand-me-down clothes and buys almost nothing. He is also an unofficial bank.

"If somebody asks me, 'Can I borrow $20?' If I have it I'll say, 'Here!' " he says.

This kind of borrowing is one way people do what economists call "consumption smoothing" – basically making spending more regular, even when income is not.

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The Salt
1:24 pm
Fri June 14, 2013

Nudging Detroit: Program Doubles Food Stamp Bucks In Grocery Stores

A customer in the produce section at Metro Foodland, one of the Detroit grocery stores participating in a healthy food incentive program for people with SNAP benefits. The store will add a section of specially marked local produce as part of the program.
Courtesy of the Fair Food Network

Originally published on Fri June 14, 2013 2:35 pm

In recent years, programs that double the value of food stamp dollars spent at farmers markets have generated a lot of attention. The basic idea: Spend, say, $10 in food stamps and get an extra $10 credit for purchases at the market.

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Business
5:38 am
Fri June 14, 2013

Business News

Originally published on Fri June 14, 2013 6:59 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a man, a plan, a canal.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: Not Panama this time. This canal is in Nicaragua. Yesterday, the Nicaraguan congress granted a Chinese tycoon the exclusive right to develop a multi-billion dollar rival to the Panama Canal. The bill grants the investor 50 years of control over the potential shipping route - pending a study of its viability. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Business
5:38 am
Fri June 14, 2013

Bidding War Breaks Out For 2 Boston Parking Spaces

Originally published on Fri June 14, 2013 7:03 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And that brings us to our last word in business, which is luxury pavement.

In Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, real estate is expensive, and space is tight.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And so it was that a bidding war broke out there yesterday. According to the Boston Globe, the price for the item in question started at $42,000.

MONTAGNE: And was bid up to a final price $560,000 - which got the winners two parking spots on crumbling asphalt in an alleyway.

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