NPR News

Banks count their blessings in recovery

1 hour ago

Three big banks posted their quarterly results Friday. And they were good. When you hear that profits at a bank like JPMorgan Chase were up almost 25 percent, you have to wonder: Why? Well, one reason is banks are making a lot more from you and me.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

For the first time since the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010, premiums are going down for most policies sold in the federally run exchanges. 

One reason 2019 premiums will be 1.5 percent lower? It has to do with how high they were in 2018. They increased by an average of 36.9 percent for 2018, said Larry Levitt, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

"These premium decreases are really about returning excess profits," he said. 

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Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

When mortgages hit the roof

4 hours ago

It’s become more expensive to borrow money for a house or condo.

The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has climbed to 4.9 percent — the highest rate in seven years, according to data from Freddie Mac. However, over the past several decades, rates below 5 percent haven’t been the norm. They started dipping below that figure in the late 2000s, eventually bottoming out at 3.31 percent in November 2012. 

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Here come the consultants

5 hours ago

With an avalanche of tariffs to navigate, companies are facing a lot of uncertainty over how to plan ahead. Meanwhile, business is booming for trade consultants. We'll talk about it, but first: mortgage rates have hit a seven-year high, and Obamacare prices are dropping for the first time. What's going on? Plus, how nonprofits fund raise after scandal.

Trade consultants get a boost from tariff tensions

5 hours ago

The tit-for-tat tariff war between China and the United States has been bad news for lots of importers in this country. In the last few months, the Trump administration has published three lists of products made in China that now carry 10 percent tariffs, and that could go up to 25 percent on January 1. Companies are struggling with whether to pass that cost onto customers, swallow it or do something else. And there are options out there if you know whom to ask. Trade consultants have seen their business rise lately along with importers' woes. 

The rollout plan for the new TV series The Romanoffs is unusual for Amazon — just as the drama series itself is an unusual experiment for the show's creator, Matthew Weiner.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "TINGLER")

Updated at 2:20 p.m. ET

At least 11 people have died from Hurricane Michael, which slammed into Florida's Panhandle with 155-mph winds on Wednesday. The storm hacked a trail of catastrophic destruction in Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia before finally heading back out over water.

Five deaths were reported in Virginia, in addition to four in Florida, one in Georgia and one in North Carolina.

They claim to help you sleep, make your hair grow, speed weight loss, improve your sex life and ward off the nasty cold going around the office. Though it's often impossible to tell if dietary supplements work, consumers generally feel certain they can't hurt.

But they can.

Princess Eugenie of York, granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, walked down the aisle Friday to wed Jack Brooksbank.

The rate of cesarean sections around the world is increasing at an "alarming" rate, reported an international team of doctors and scientists on Thursday.

Since 1990, C-sections have more than tripled from about 6 percent of all births to 21 percent, three studies report in The Lancet. And there are no "signs of slowing down," the researchers write in a commentary about the studies.

A Republican congressman who should have waltzed to re-election is now in the fight of his career. Duncan Hunter, who has represented an inland Southern California district for a decade, was indicted in August on charges of using a quarter of a million dollars in campaign funds for personal expenses.

(Markets Edition) The volatile nature of the markets, especially this week, can take a mental toll on anyone paying attention. It hasn’t been this active since February, so we talked to market pro Barry Ritholtz, founder of Ritholtz Wealth Management, about it. Then, despite all the news of trade tensions between China and the U.S., China actually has a trade surplus with the U.S. Nancy Marshall Genzer has more.

Mortgage rates hit highest level in 7+ years

10 hours ago

It’s getting more expensive to get a mortgage. Data out this week from Freddie Mac shows the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 4.9 percent. That’s the highest it’s been in seven years. What does that mean for prospective home buyers? 

 

(U.S. Edition) The Dow’s roughly 1400-point drop this week seemed to have a ripple effect across the global markets as well, but now things appear to have settled down as of Friday morning. We talk to Barry Ritholtz of Ritholtz Wealth Management on how to deal with this kind of activity day-to-day. Then we check in with columnist and ProPublica editor Allan Sloan about the role of interest rates in the ongoing tale of President Trump and his blaming of the Federal Reserve for the market issues this week.

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., who has been accused of covering up sexual abuse scandals during his tenure as the bishop of Pittsburgh.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … Businesses are turning away from Saudi Arabia after reports a dissident journalist was killed by the country’s security forces. Then, we hear from Paul Romer, who won this year’s Nobel Memorial Prize in economic sciences for his research into how innovation can be used to protect the environment. Afterwards, Netflix and Amazon are battling in India to increase viewers. But competition from Indian production houses is complicating efforts.

In just the last week, Facebook and Google have announced new smart speakers with video screens. And Amazon is bent on putting Alexa in everything. On the one hand, people seem to want these doohickeys. Research firm Canalys says global smart speaker sales grew 187 percent in the second quarter of this year. On the other hand, an always-on, always-connected listening device in the home really freaks out some folks. We dig into this in Quality Assurance, the segment where we take a deeper look at a big tech story.

For immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, it can be difficult to get a valid identification card. Now there's one very old organization trying to make it easier: the Catholic Church.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore announced Wednesday that its parishioners will now be able to get an ID card that shows name, address and data of birth, accompanied by the parish logo. While the cards clearly state they aren't government-issued IDs, the city of Baltimore and its police department say they will recognize the cards as an official form of identification.

The remains of Matthew Shepard, whose death became an important symbol in the fight against homophobia — and whose name is on a key U.S. hate-crime law — will be interred at Washington National Cathedral later this month.

Shepard's parents say they're "proud and relieved to have a final resting place for Matthew's ashes."

A Boston-based online auction house began accepting bids Thursday on a rare lunar meteorite at $50,000. But the firm estimates it could go for $500,000 or more when bidding closes on Oct. 18, according to the item's posting.

There are a few reasons why this meteorite might command such a large price.

First, at about 12 pounds, the lunar rock is very large.

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