In the European Union, unemployment rates in the region that uses the euro currency are at their highest ever, as a returned recession, falling income levels and persistent debt concerns trouble the region's economy, as its latest statistics show.
After nearly five years of economic crises, the European Union is also seeing more divergence between its member nations, particularly in the north, where economies have resilience, as opposed to the south, where unemployment rates are an average of more than 7 points higher.
A man enters a UBS bank in Hong Kong last month. The Swiss banking giant agreed in 2009 to identify the names of its U.S. account holders, part of a push by banking regulators to make it harder to hide income.
Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 5:43 am
Time was that a Swiss bank account was synonymous with confidentiality and keeping assets from prying eyes. No more.
Last week, Switzerland's oldest bank, Wegelin & Co., pleaded guilty in a New York court to helping Americans hide $1.2 billion from the Internal Revenue Service over a decade-long period. Wegelin's plea, and a $57.8 million fine, forced the bank to shut its doors. It follows a $780 million settlement with UBS in 2009 that forced the Swiss banking giant to identify the names of its U.S. account holders.
Some of the biggest banks in the country have agreed to pay more than $18 billion to settle allegations of wrongdoing in their mortgage lending. And in a separate settlement, 10 banks agreed to pay more than $8 billion to settle claims they made errors in foreclosing on people's homes.
Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 4:51 am
Federal officials along with investigators from Boeing are trying to determine what caused a fire to break out on a new 787 jet parked at the Boston airport Monday. The fire, in an auxiliary power unit, is just the latest in a string of electrical systems problems on Boeing's flagship airplane.
Samsung Electronics announced profits of more than $8 billion for the final quarter of 2012. Samsung's Japanese competitor Sony unveiled a water resistant smartphone at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
In Australia, McDonald's is nicknamed Macca. Executives of the burger chain are allowing some McDonald's restaurants there to change their signs to read "Macca's." But the change is only temporary, in honor of Australia Day later this month.
Kodak cameras and related products will be back in the marketplace this year, but they won't be made my Kodak. The photo pioneer stopped making digital cameras about a year ago. Now it is licensing its name to another camera maker.
The Shell oil drilling rig that ran aground off Alaska last week is now anchored in a quiet harbor so divers can assess the damage. Wildlife officials say they have seen no evidence of a spill from the vessel, which was carrying tanks of diesel fuel. But the accident does raise questions about Shell's plans to drill for oil in the remote and fragile ecosystem of the Arctic.
What's the coolest new gadget at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week? It's too soon to tell. But I have an early favorite for the title of oddest new gadget: the HAPIfork and HAPIspoon. They may sound like characters from a nursery rhyme, but this fork and spoon connect to the Internet and can monitor and record how you eat.
The HAPI utensils measure how long your meals last, how long you pause between each bite and how many mouthfuls of food you consume.
Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt (left) arrives at Pyongyang International Airport on Monday. There is speculation that Schmidt's presence in North Korea could have an upside for Google by positioning Schmidt as the company's global ambassador.
Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 4:39 pm
Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, has landed in North Korea. His trip there is a bit of a mystery.
Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, has been a vocal proponent of providing people around the world with Internet access and technology. North Korea doesn't even let its citizens access the open Internet, and its population is overwhelmingly poor — so it's not exactly a coveted audience for advertisers.
Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 3:52 pm
It's become an annual tradition: bidding up an outrageous price for a Pacific bluefin tuna during the first auction of the new year at Toyko's Tsukiji fish market.
And on Saturday, a bluefin tuna big enough to serve up about 10,000 pieces of sushi fetched a mind-boggling price: $1.76 million. That's about three times as much as last year's tuna and equates to about $3,600 per pound for the 489-pound fish.
Bank of America and Fannie Mae have agreed to settle legal issues stemming from the subprime mortgage crisis. The bank will pay Fannie Mae $3.6 billion in cash and will also spend $6.7 billion to repurchase certain mortgages sold to Fannie Mae.
Originally published on Mon January 14, 2013 3:59 pm
We don't hear much about bank liquidity, partly because it sounds so dull. It's much more fun to talk about prop trading (fear the London Whale!) or structured finance (synthetic CDOs are crazy!).
But if you're trying to figure out how safe banks are — and how willing they'll be to make loans to ordinary people — liquidity is at least as important as other, more-dramatic-sounding corners of finance.
So the new liquidity rules global banking regulators released yesterday are a big deal for the real economy.
Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 4:26 pm
Ten of the nation's major mortgage servicing companies, including household names such as Bank of America and Citibank, have agreed to pay $8.5 billion to resolve claims that they abused some homeowners when they foreclosed on mortgages during the recent housing crisis, the Federal Reserve and the Comptroller of the Currency announced late Monday morning.
Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 7:43 am
Bank of America announced this morning that it will pay the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) $3.6 billion in cash and will buy back $6.75 billion worth of mortgages to resolve claims related to mortgage-backed securities sold to Fannie Mae by the bank and Countrywide Financial Corp. (which BofA acquired in 2008.
Google chairman Eric Schmidt is visiting the Hermit Kingdom, where few people have ever been allowed to access Google, let alone the billions of web pages it can search for information. Schmidt is part of a delegation led by former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Last week's fiscal cliff deal not only raised payroll taxes for working Americans and hiked the income tax for the top 2 percent, it also extended tax breaks and preferences for a wide range of industries and special interests. We've been hearing about this for days, and NPR's Steve Henn has even more.
Now, today's last word in business is phygital. No, that's not a word describing how you feel about two hours into watching "The Hobbit." This movie's going on and feeling a little phygital. No, it's not a feeling. It's a concept that computer manufacturer Lenovo announced over the weekend at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Designers and sisters Kate (left) and Laura Mulleavy acknowledge the audience after the Rodarte fall 2012 collection show during Fashion Week last February in New York.
Credit Fox Searchlight, Niko Tavernise / AP
In this film publicity file image released by Fox Searchlight, Natalie Portman is shown in a scene from Black Swan. Fashionistas flipped over the film's forward-thinking ballet costumes by Rodarte, sisters Laura and Kate Mulleavy.
Protesters demonstrate outside a Starbucks coffee shop in London last month. Protests were held at Starbucks throughout the U.K. after it was revealed that the coffee chain had paid almost no corporate taxes for the last three years.
Credit Jacques Brinon / AP
French actor Gerard Depardieu arrived Saturday in Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin. Putin offered Depardieu citizenship after the actor said he was leaving France to protest a new tax rate of 75 percent on incomes of 1 million euros and higher.
Credit Andrew Medichini / AP
During his New Year's address last week, Pope Benedict XVI decried "unregulated financial capitalism" as a source of global conflict.
Originally published on Sun January 6, 2013 8:17 am
As 2013 begins with wealthy Americans in line for bigger tax bills, they're not alone. Tax fairness takes the spotlight worldwide this year, as cash-strapped governments look to impose more of the burden on well-heeled companies, individuals and institutions, and to catch and punish tax cheaters.
This week, as the U.S. Congress averted a plunge off the fiscal precipice, British Prime Minister David Cameron sent a letter to leaders of the Group of Eight countries that make up about half of the world's economic output.
Foreign buyers are pushing the prices of prime London real estate through the roof. Neighborhoods such as West London, Kensington and Chelsea are particularly popular.
The apartments at One Hyde Park have been mostly purchased by foreign-registered buyers, according to The Guardian. It said the prices ranged from 3 million to 136 million British pounds ($4.9 million to $221 million).
Few Western countries are as conservative about home ownership as Germany, where less than half the country's citizens own property.
German banks have tough lending rules. Would-be buyers are usually asked to provide hefty down payments to secure mortgages, meaning few Germans even think about buying a home until they are settled and financially secure.
But the European debt crisis appears to be changing the traditions around home ownership. The resulting surge in homebuying, some officials warn, is driving prices too high and threatens the nation's economy.
The latest figures show December was another month of steady, moderate job growth. But for many people still struggling with long-term unemployment, the situation hasn't actually changed much at all.
For Alecia Warthen, the last eight months have been painfully stagnant.
She was the first person in her family to finish college, after growing up in one of the roughest sections of Brooklyn. She had earned an accounting degree and worked as a bookkeeper for most of the last decade.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. The new last-minute tax deal cobbled together by Congress and the White House has produced at least one surprise winner, electric companies. That's because the two sides agreed not to increase the taxes that most people pay on dividends. NPR's Elizabeth Shogren explains why that is welcome news to the electricity business.
Now, evidence that size really doesn't matter - that is, size of audience. Al Gore sold the cable channel he started, Current TV, to al-Jazeera for $500 million. How many eyeballs does the Qatari-owned news channel get for that money? Well, here's some context. Here are some TV audience numbers. When NBC came in first among the broadcast networks for viewers last week, Neilson estimated they had 7.3 million viewers.
The first key to thinking about 3-D printers is this: Do not think printer. Think magic box that creates any object you can imagine.
In the box, razor-thin layers of powdered material (acrylic, nylon, silver, whatever) pile one on top of the other, and then, voila — you've got a shoe, or a cup, or a ring, or an iPhone case.
It's miraculous to see. Press a button, make anything you want. But just how important is 3-D printing? Unlike earlier big-deal technologies (like, say, the tractor) 3-D printing won't really replace what came before.