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Topic: The Economy in America

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Economic News and Analysis


Student Loan Sinkhole?
How massive student loan debts are sinking American dreams and causing a national economic headache.
Homes for the Homeless?
What to do with foreclosed houses—How about letting homeless families move in? An innovative idea that's also illegal.
Wall Street Reform and You
How Obama's proposal to reform Wall Street might affect your finances.
Green Jobs: Hope or Hype?
Will "green jobs" revitalize the American economy?
Help for the Homeowners?
Is there a solution to the foreclosure mess that's destroying communities?
Taxing the Poor
Are taxes being levied fairly when it comes to the rich and the poor?

» More NOW shows on the economy

NPR: Planet Money

Planet Money: Entrepreneurship Is On The Rise Despite Pandemic
The coronavirus has been responsible for massive business closures, but figures show Americans are still starting businesses at the fastest rate in more than a decade.

Experts Hope Pent-Up Demand Will Revive Pandemic-Hit Industries
After WWI and the flu epidemic, pent-up demand led to crowds of fans wanting to see baseball games. Now people wonder if pent-up demand will do something similar for industries hard hit by COVID-19.

There's More To Being An Elite Athlete Than Discipline And Practice
According to a new book, there are many invisible factors that help lead an athlete to become a champion. These include: having older siblings and growing up in a mid-sized town.

The Online NewsHour: The Exchange

Economy – PBS NewsHour Online NewsHour: Making Sense
Economics Correspondent Paul Solman's new site aims to explain business, finance and economics "as entertainingly as possible."

Some of the facts, opinions, and advice offered at websites linked through this page come from third parties not affiliated with NOW, PBS, or local stations, which do not guarantee, and bear no responsibility for, their accuracy or reliability.

Personal Finance

hand writing check Nightly Business Report: Money File

Nightly Business Report: Get Your Finances Ready for Retirement

Finance 101

dollar on stock market graph Feeling lost in the middle of economic jargon? Below are some useful websites that explain the financial crisis in a way we all can understand.

Financial Terms Glossary
NPR's "Planet Money" list of all the economic and financial terms none of us wanted to understand until the past year.

Marketplace Whiteboard
Videos that break down the technical business and economic terms used in financial news coverage.

From the Gov.

The White House Financial
Information on the administration's financial stability, housing, and economic recovery programs.
See how, when and where the stimulus money (and your hard-earned tax dollars) is being spent.

Your Call

What are your hopes, fears and expectations for the economy in 2010?
Viewer comments are now closed

Commenter: mc
It is true that nothing major has changed in the American Economy. The Financial Institutions, such as banks are doing it again, exploiting the most the vulnerable. Foreclosures are on the rise and it will go up further. American Banks still make use of the call centers, exploiting innnocent and helpless clients with their accounts, debiting charges here and there. This is outrageous.We hear that some banks are charging even for cashing a simple check issued by their own account-holders. Banks are forcing people to open accounts. Otherwise, they would charge them for cashing their checks. This is the most ridiculous things ever happened to banks.

The way banks are run today is only adding more fuel to the fire, exploiting the vulnerable. The banks got $30 Billion from the taxpayers but they have tightened the credit, which is the shame. Banks are not willing to help even the genuine American taxpayers looking for simple loans at a reasonable rate of interest.

The Senate Banking Committee should do something worthwhile to correct the failing and exploiting banking institutions. If they don't correct this problem sooner, American Taxpayers will end up in debts and have more and more problems. Americans are already suffering. Many of them are not gainfully employed. In a tough times like this, banks should come forward and give them assistance for a reasonable rate. Jobs are not being created and hospitals are not functioning well as planned. Educational institutions are also closing. Teachers are being laid off or given notice.

Is this the sorry state of American Economy? Is this how the Americans live in this country?

No one plans to fail, we fail to plan.

Commenter: Ric
"The national debt is now approximately $40,000 for every American citizen, or $113,000 for each tax payer." March 2010 (ICMJ Vol 79 #7)
Hey, Americans wake-up we can not afford this foolishness any longer. NO government creates value or worth of it's currency. That is done by stability of national GDP, and ours is failing fast. Our government can affect short term dollar value by printing to much money or reducing prime rates at the federal reserve. We need to get America working again. Problem is NO government program actually creates any real jobs. Government only regulates the ecconomic environment for job growth to be created by private sector employers. (That's where our GDP actually comes from.)
Wake-up America, we borrowed $28,000,000,000 and gave it to GM to prevent bankruptcy. 5 months later they went bankrupt anyway. Stupid is as stupid does. We did the same with Chrysler. Repeat: Stupid is as stupid does.
AIG gave $68,000,000,000 of our borrowed TARP money to banks in Germany; after the German Chancellor stated she would not bail-out German banks because financial markets need to adjust unaided by government capital influence. Billions more of our taxpayer borrowed TARP money has now funneled into Greece. If Germany and EU leaders can see the obvious economic disaster ahead caused by borrowed money bailouts, why are we so arrogant in the USA as to waste borrowed money in this way?
Repeat: Stupid is as stupid does.
God Bless America, and help our leaders mature.

Commenter: RAF
President Obama wants to "freeze discretionary spending on non-security-related programs and government agencies". Excellent idea, he can start by stop spending his "discretionary stimulus" program money, and "discrstionary TARP" program money. That money doesn't really exist anyway, it's all borrowed and adds greatly to US taxpayer deficit. My 4 month old grandchild better start looking for work now to repay his fair-share of our discretionary national debt.
What happens when USA gets upside down between our GDP growth and US deficit liability? China won't bail us out again, and our bond value is dropping fast. Remember gold prices aren't actually going up. Our US Dollar value is really going down. The UN and 5 major international markets are working on a plan to drop the US Dollar as their currency of international trade. When that finally occurs our economy can tank, and it might. What nation would borrow money to send the USA some foreign aid? None!
Buckle your seatbelts folks, if we don't stop all this wild discretionary spending now, we will surely fall off that cliff. It's only about two steps in front of us. It's time to stop making emotion based decisions in Congress and use some pragmatic reasoning for a change.

Commenter: Bruce Cuttler
I hope some stimulus money reaches a budding entrepreneur that repairs communicators at a reasonable price. I urgently need to beam up, especially after hearing of the negation of campaign limits.

Free speech, as a Constitutional right, should not be applied to corporations. The legal definition of a person should be a single human being. The privileges afforded corporations by being deemed a "person" were for certain economic protections. Historically this was a worthy effort so that unlimited liability didn't wipe out a company. This reasoning, I'm confident, wasn't meant to give an artificial "person" other rights. A corporation, as a "person", cannot vote. Nor can it throw itself out of a high floor of a building in despair to commit suicide.

The right of citizens to petition the government should be just that: A petition. Let GM, AIG, and so forth, go about obtaining signatures on a paper (or even electronic, for that matter) petition for whatever, and the try to present it to an elected representative, preferably one who hasn't already been corrupted.

I feel that there is an answer to this problem: Elected officials should receive "bonus"-level pay, that no money may be used by any corporate entity to in any way obtain favored access, or buy influence.

If members of Congress were all paid, let's say $25-$50 *million* a year, then they wouldn't need to curry the favor of entities that can give them money (regardless of the subterfuges used to cover this fact). And, when push comes to show, the cost to the taxpayer I'm confident would be less than the costs of the greed and malfeasance of those who pervert the democratic (ha ha!) process. Corporations are not one of the "people." We, the real "people", and not a legal construct, but flesh and blood.

Our experiment in democracy is failing. The fact that the r-e-a-l information about the assassination of President Kennedy will not be divulged until at least the generation alive at that time has died was the first indication of something gone wrong.

The dilemma, as I see it, is how did Earth ever join the Federation of Planets? How did we get as far as building interplanetary space ships? "2001: A Space Odyssey" might have been a reality if we didn't waste money through corruption, stupid wars, and other fiascos.

So: How can I possibly have a (preferably working) communicator) to request beaming up? It's a conundrum worthy of Dr. Who, H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, and Mr. Peabody's Way-Back machine.

"Pogo" was not only right, but way ahead of his time.

Commenter: Christine
Hope: President Obama and his administration will heed those who voted Obama into office. Obama will make his mark and truly become a strong leader. He will aggressively push for strong legislation regarding bank regulation. He will vocalize our hopes. He will become the strong, progressive leader whom we voted into office in 2008.
Fear: Democrats in congress will continue to cow to fear. They will not follow the lead of Marcy Kaptur and Bernie Sanders, who truly represent average Americans, who aggressively defend and promote the rights of we, the people, whose life, liberty and pursuit of happiness have been choked by the greed of the oligarchy in this country: Big business executives, big banks and the politicians who bow to them for fear of losing their next elections.
Expectation: I am cautiously optomistic that perhaps the MA election of republican Scott Brown to the US Senate has taught the democratic politicians a few lessons: Don't be complacent, taking your grassroots support for granted; BE DEMOCRATS - Stop pretending; Get out of bed with bank and insurance lobbyists; LISTEN to the people who elected you; STOP thinking about your own interests - that is not what we hired you to do; Pay the people you represent the due we deserve: Regulate the banks so that they stop regulating us and relegating us to lives of insecurity, situations that prevent us from living life, enjoying liberty and pursuing happiness.
Live the Declaration of Independence and pledge your sacred honor to each other and to us.

Commenter: Edward Scanlin (edscan)
My hopes are for a return to the sanity of the "Fifties".
My fears are that we are overcome with fear.
My expectations are that we will revive the
"Fourth Estate" It is necessary,you know,
to keep the Fascists from overthrowing our government.
We must curb their greed. We must drive the
"Moneychangers" from the "Temple" again

Commenter: Mo Cameron
For 2010 the first wave of 250 banks will fail prompting a taxpayer infusion of cash into the FDIC to prop up the banks. Prolonged high unemployment in 2010 will lead to credit card defaults and a wave of personal bankruptcies that will be exacerbated by the changes to the bankruptcy laws in Oct 2005. As interest rates begin to move up by the end of Q3 the prime mortgage Alt-A & ARM resets will set off another mortgage default crisis that will be every bit as large as the 2008 sub-prime mortgage crisis. By Nov 2010 mid-term elections unemployment will be in the 9¼ to 9½% range and an anti-incumbency movement will change Congress in a profound way. While Wall Street will hold its own, Main Street will continue to suffer until mid-decade eliminating much more wealth as many will be under water in their home mortgages. Then the commercial real estate default and commercial martgage crisis hits.
As the Treasury finds itself with a near-insolvency crisis it will not be able to raise enough money from foreign lenders compelling massive spending cuts especially entitlement programs while drastically raising taxes. Soon Congress and the people will realize that the past surpluses of Social Security has been spent each year as general revenue necessitating a 25% cut in benefits because the government cannot raise the money by increase borrowings. This economic malaise will last well into this decade because of America's insatiable addiction to foreign crude oil and its structural $400 billion trade deficit.
The next crisis will be the States and local governments requirements of a federal government bailout which will not happen because Uncle Sam is broke. Everyone's debt got us into this mess and more debt is not the answer.

Commenter: Janet Hudgins
It seems to me that nothing much has changed, that financial institutions are at it again, nothing has been put in place to control them and stop them from exploiting the most vulnerable. So I'm not optimistic that the work force will come back into its own again any time soon.

Commenter: Star
Foreclosures will be double the number in 2009, unless something is done with the banks. They are pouring gasoline on that fire with credit tightening, and more highly leveraged investments. Jobs are not being created, the population is growing, and hospitals are closing. I think a lot more Americans are going to suffer this year.

Commenter: Michael Villacres
It will slowly recover from this recession. America will begin to see the unemployment rate go down point by point in the middle to the end of the year. And finally, the saddest part is that the American people will NOT demand that our government hold the banks and the rest of the financial industry accountable and make the financial world more understandable for the average non-401K hard working American who thinks that a Hedge fund is Wall Street for Eco-green investment but doesn't understand that the banks have a major influence, from before and still now on their government. History repeating itself.

Commenter: Jeff
I've been out of work for more than a year, my younger sister just two years ago started a retail business and she's struggling, my older sister is a science teacher in another state and she is going to lose funding next year.

The only thing keeping us afloat is income from land in a trust. We are very, very lucky.