Marilyn Geewax

Marilyn Geewax is a senior editor, assigning and editing business radio stories. She also serves as the national economics correspondent for the NPR web site, and regularly discusses economic issues on Tell Me More and Here & Now.

Her work contributed to NPR's 2011 Edward R. Murrow Award for hard news for "The Foreclosure Nightmare." Geewax also worked on the foreclosure-crisis coverage that was recognized with a 2009 Heywood Broun Award.

Before to joining NPR in 2008, Geewax served as the national economics correspondent for Cox Newspapers' Washington Bureau. Before that, she worked at Cox's flagship paper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, first as a business reporter and then as a columnist and editorial board member. She got her start as a reporter for the Akron Beacon Journal.

Over the years, she has filed business news stories from China, Japan, South Africa and Europe.

Geewax was a 1994-95 Nieman Fellow at Harvard, where she studied economics and international relations. She earned a master's degree at Georgetown University, focusing on international economic affairs, and has a bachelor's degree in journalism from The Ohio State University.

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The Two-Way
4:22 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Or Maybe They're Just Throwing Darts

Lana Turner, center, is an interested listener as actress Ava Gardner leans over her to chat with Fernando Lamas, who is famous for saying, "It's better to look good, than feel good."
AP

Originally published on Thu March 22, 2012 5:14 pm

Why do economists keep getting it wrong?

For months, the job market's strength has been exceeding economists' predictions. It happened again today: the Labor Department's weekly report on first-time jobless claims came in at just 348,000 — the lowest level in four years.

Most economists had predicted about 355,000 people had applied for unemployment benefits in the week ended March 17. So why do they keep missing the mark?

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Looking Up: Pockets of Economic Strength
4:23 am
Sun March 11, 2012

Signs Of Recovery Emerge After A Long Downturn

While parts of the U.S. economy struggle, other sectors are seeing growth. Here, job seekers talk with recruiters at a career fair in Manhattan last month.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 12, 2012 8:08 am

Millions of Americans are still searching for jobs or facing home foreclosures. For them, the Great Recession drags on into its fifth year.

But for others, the U.S. economy is looking up.

Companies in certain sectors are buying equipment again and hiring workers. These pockets of strength — found in energy, technology, manufacturing, autos, agriculture and elsewhere — are helping invigorate the broader economy.

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The Two-Way
12:40 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Will Fed Chairman Bernanke Be Right This Time?

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke during his congressional testimony today.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

No one ever said economic forecasting was easy:

On the last day of February 2007, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress that "the fundamentals are very strong" for the U.S. economy.

And about those problems starting to show up in the housing market? "We don't see it as being a broad financial concern or a major factor in assessing the course of the economy," he said back then.

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The Two-Way
2:33 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Airline Trade Group: The Business Of Flying Is Tough

Originally published on Tue February 28, 2012 3:02 pm

For airlines, it ain't easy making a buck. In fact, even a penny is out of reach.

Airlines for America, a trade association for major U.S. carriers, says the industry earned less than half a penny in profits for every $1 of revenue generated during 2011.

The poor financial performance wasn't a fluke. Over the past decade, airlines have lost a collective $50 billion.

On Tuesday, the trade group said something has got to change. Association CEO Nicholas Calio sat down with journalists to explain a new industry push for a "National Airline Policy."

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Your Money
6:49 am
Mon February 27, 2012

Warm Winter Is Helping Consumers Cope

A woman takes in the sunshine while reading in Central Park on Feb. 1 in New York City, where temperatures topped 60 degrees.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 27, 2012 12:14 pm

The rapidly rising price of gasoline has not stalled the economic recovery — at least not yet. And one reason for that may be found in fields of daffodils.

This year's unusually warm winter has held down heating costs, helping consumers spend less on their monthly utility bills.

"Weather plays a big role" in determining what's left in your checking account as winter wraps up, said Jonathan Cogan, a spokesman for the Energy Information Administration.

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Economy
5:11 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Does The Strengthening Economy Still Need Congress?

Employment has been rising in recent months, but most economists say Congress should keep trying to boost consumer spending.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Fri February 17, 2012 10:25 am

Congress on Friday approved legislation to continue a payroll tax holiday and extend benefits for the long-term unemployed.

The goal is to make sure Americans have enough spending money to keep the recovery from faltering. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation.

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The Two-Way
3:29 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Robert Rubin: Economic Future Is Most 'Uncertain' He's Ever Seen

Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin says the U.S. economic outlook is the most "uncertain" he has seen in his lifetime.

Given that he was born during the Great Depression (1938), and lived through the Cold War, the 1970s' inflation, a brutal 1980-82 recession and the recent global financial crisis, that may be saying a lot.

Rubin, who was President Clinton's Treasury secretary, is now co-chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations. He spoke Wednesday in Washington, D.C., at a conference called "American Competitiveness: What Works," sponsored by General Electric.

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Economy
11:53 am
Fri February 3, 2012

Have Economists Got It Wrong About The U.S.?

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke pauses during a hearing before the House Budget Committee on Feb. 28, 2007.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 9:23 am

Five years ago, a subprime mortgage firestorm was melting down the U.S. economy, but most analysts didn't see it happening.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, testifying before Congress in February 2007, said the housing sector "is a concern, but at this point we don't see it as being a broad financial concern or a major factor in assessing the course of the economy."

If he and the vast majority of economists were blind to the economic and financial calamity taking shape then, could they also be missing the start of a huge economic boom now?

A boom? Really?

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The Two-Way
12:12 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Keystone Pipeline's Connection To Payroll Taxes? It's Up For Debate

Originally published on Wed January 25, 2012 1:36 pm

The Keystone XL pipeline is supposed to connect Canada to Texas. But does it also have to connect to a payroll tax holiday?

White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, speaking today on NPR's Tell Me More, said no link should be made because the oil pipeline is not "germane" to legislation involving a tax holiday.

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Business
10:32 am
Tue January 24, 2012

Davos: A Super Bowl For Smart, Rich People

A guard stands next to a logo of the World Economic Forum at the Congress Center in the Swiss resort of Davos.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

When winter reaches its dreariest depths each year, Americans cheer themselves by planning Super Bowl parties. They want to reconnect with friends, eat, drink and share observations about who is likely to win — or lose.

But if you are very smart or very rich or even better, both — then you break up the mid-winter blahs by going to Davos.

That's the Swiss town where the financially, intellectually and politically powerful convene each year to reconnect with friends, eat, drink and share observations about winning and losing.

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Business
5:28 am
Thu January 19, 2012

So, Um, What Is A Private Equity Firm?

Before entering politics in the 1990s, Romney co-founded Bain Capital, one of the nation's largest and most profitable private equity funds.
David L. Ryan Boston Globe via Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 19, 2012 1:57 pm

In the run-up to Saturday's GOP presidential primary in South Carolina, candidates have clashed over the role of Bain Capital — a firm that either creates or kills jobs, depending upon whom you believe.

Front-runner Mitt Romney sees the bright side. Before entering politics in the 1990s, he co-founded Boston-based Bain Capital, one of the nation's largest and most profitable private equity funds. He has said he created 100,000 jobs while at Bain.

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It's All Politics
11:00 am
Thu January 12, 2012

U.S. Chamber President Criticizes GOP's 'Intramural' Battle Over Bain

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue at a press conference Thursday in Washington.
Brendan Smialowski Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 12, 2012 12:57 pm

The "Battle Over Bain" has become a hot topic at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a key player in politics.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue says he is "disappointed" that some GOP presidential candidates are attacking front-runner and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for his work at Bain Capital in the 1990s.

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Business
1:38 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

The Optimists' Turn: EU's Crisis May Not Be So Bad

A woman checks stock indexes of a bank in Milan. Some analysts say the turmoil in Europe may actually help the U.S. economy.
Luca Bruno AP

Originally published on Tue January 10, 2012 2:25 pm

Europe's debt crisis is a huge threat to the U.S. economy. Or is it?

For many months, economists have been warning that Europe's debt troubles could spiral into a massive recession that drags down U.S. growth.

But some analysts say those fears may be wildly exaggerated. The U.S. economy has been "decoupling" from Europe for some time, and wouldn't be significantly harmed by any recession taking shape over there, they argue.

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Crisis In The Housing Market
8:46 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Can Construction Help Build The Recovery?

A construction worker walks on the roof of a newly built home in Westport, Conn. The construction sector, which has been battered by the depressed housing sector, added 17,000 jobs in December.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 6, 2012 9:05 am

Of all the good news in the December unemployment report, perhaps the most encouraging sign for the 2012 labor market was the increase in construction jobs. That sector has lost more than 2 million jobs as the housing market imploded 5 years ago, but increases in construction hiring and spending could be cautious signs of a turnaround, analysts say.

Overall, employers created 200,000 jobs last month, sending the U.S. unemployment rate down to 8.5 percent, the Labor Department said Friday.

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Business
3:41 am
Sun January 1, 2012

2012: A Better Year, Unless Europe's Debt Blows It Up

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses journalists at EU headquarters in Brussels in December. It's possible that European leaders will come up with ways to manage the region's debt crisis in the new year, but the worst case scenarios are dire.
John Thys AFP/Getty Images

Last New Year's Day, most economic forecasters were predicting a good year ahead. But 2011 turned out to be another disappointment for stock investors and home sellers, and a discouraging time for job seekers.

Now, as 2012 begins, economists are hoping their crystal balls are working a bit better. Most are seeing a brighter picture.

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Economy
8:46 am
Thu December 22, 2011

What's The Economic Impact If The Tax Break Dies?

Mary Polocy (left) stands in line to enter a career fair in Independence, Ohio, in November. Congress has yet to agree on a measure that would extend unemployment benefits.
Tony Dejak AP

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 1:28 pm

Most political analysts say that Congress and President Obama will eventually agree to extend the payroll tax cut into 2012 – even if it takes another month of arguing.

But what if Congress really can't get it done?

Economists are fairly unanimous in saying growth would be slowed — at least in the short term — if Congress were to fail to pass legislation to extend the tax holiday and include two other proposals to: 1) continue federal help for the long-term unemployed and 2) block a 27 percent Medicare pay cut for doctors.

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Business
10:02 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Investors Endure Another Disappointing Year

For Americans saving for retirement, 2011 was another lackluster year, filled with lots of risks but few rewards.

Savers who tried to avoid risks by putting money into federally insured savings accounts earned almost no interest. The money just sat there, even as inflation ate away at its value, with consumer prices rising nearly 3.5 percent this year.

And for those who invested in a broad array of U.S. stocks, the results were — at best — mixed.

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Still No Job: Over A Year Without Enough Work
10:01 pm
Sun December 11, 2011

The Impacts Of Long-Term Unemployment

Originally published on Mon December 12, 2011 12:55 pm

  • Hear Marilyn Geewax On 'Tell Me More'

The country has been trying to recover from the Great Recession for three years. But the U.S. job market remains weak, leaving roughly 5 million workers unemployed for a year or more.

The Kaiser Family Foundation teamed with NPR to conduct a survey, seeking to describe the experiences of those long-term unemployed workers. Here are some highlights of the survey findings.

The long-term unemployed tended to be low-wage workers.

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The Two-Way
3:49 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

'Dr. Doom' Fears Another Financial Crisis Is Coming

Nouriel Roubini.
Tony Ashby. AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 7, 2011 5:16 pm

The economist known as "Dr. Doom" for his 2008 recession prediction says the world may be headed for another financial crisis.

New York University professor Nouriel Roubini said Wednesday that Europe's debt troubles are so profound that the continent is falling into a "recession that will get worse and worse."

And a deep recession likely will lead to another financial panic that could spread around the world — an outcome that will be " very painful," he said.

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Business
4:42 am
Tue December 6, 2011

Why Americans Spend Too Much

  • Hear Princeton Professor Sheldon Garon
  • Hear NPR's Marilyn Geewax's Interview With Professor Sheldon Garon

The 2008 financial crisis made it clear: Americans save too little, spend too much and borrow excessively, says Princeton professor Sheldon Garon. In Western Europe and East Asia, governments aggressively encourage people to save through special savings institutions and savings campaigns.

Garon has just released a new book, Beyond Our Means: Why America Spends While the World Saves. He discussed his findings with NPR:

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Economy
6:26 am
Sun December 4, 2011

How Europe's Troubles Could Become Ours Too

Daniel Kryger, left, works with fellow traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. If the European Union can't agree on a plan, its debt crisis could lead to the kind of financial chaos that economists say surely would hurt the United States.
Richard Drew AP

Originally published on Sun December 4, 2011 1:04 pm

This week, European leaders will huddle in intense meetings, trying to work out a comprehensive plan to solve crushing debt problems.

Higher stakes are hard to imagine.

If all goes well at a summit in Brussels, the political leaders will make an announcement Friday, spelling out their long-term commitment to a plan to loosen a choking tangle of debt troubles. If they can't agree on a plan, the EU debt crisis could lead to the kind of financial chaos that economists say surely would hurt the United States.

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Economy
11:23 am
Mon November 28, 2011

Black Friday Sales Suggest A Strong Cyber Monday

Workers process orders at an Amazon.com fulfillment center n Swansea, Wales, as they prepare for their busiest time of the year.
Matt Cardy Getty Images

Shoppers stormed retail stores this past weekend, and now on Cyber Monday, many are clicking their way to more purchases.

"I am definitely a price-based shopper," said Sarah Kelly, a 28-year-old Washington, D.C., resident who bought a KitchenAid mixer Monday morning as a holiday gift. She also bought shoes, clothes and other presents after waking early to search for online coupons and shipping offers. "I only purchase if the shipping is free," she said.

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Europe
10:45 am
Fri October 21, 2011

Hamilton's Lesson For Europe: Pay Your Debt

Because of Alexander Hamilton's insistence that the United States pay off its debt, investors came to see the nation as a stable place to do business, biographer Ron Chernow says.

Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

This weekend, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet in Brussels with other European Union leaders. Their goal: to settle on a plan to pay the debts of struggling member nations.

Their meeting might go better if Alexander Hamilton's ghost could get a seat at the table.

Hamilton, one of the United States' Founding Fathers, was the fiscal genius who insisted that paying off debts of this union's member states would lead to economic greatness.

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Economy
4:07 am
Sun October 16, 2011

Wagering On Food Prices A Losing Bet For Hungry

For speculators, food is a commodity to trade, not eat.

Scott Olson Getty Images

Speculators in the agricultural commodities markets are forcing grocery prices to rise too quickly and erratically, according to some top economists marking World Food Day on Sunday.

"Excessive financial speculation is contributing to increasing volatility and record food prices, exacerbating global hunger and poverty," wrote 461 economists, from more than 40 countries, in an open letter.

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Economy
11:53 am
Fri October 7, 2011

Thought The Economy Was Tanking? Not So Fast

The construction sector added 26,000 jobs in September, reversing a drop a month earlier.

Tom Pennington Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 9, 2011 5:06 am

A few weeks ago, dismal economic reports seemed to be pointing to one conclusion: The economy was slipping into another recession. Investors fled the stock market, pundits predicted doom and political leaders pointed fingers, trying to fix blame for a faltering economy.

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Economy
10:05 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Debt Crises Not A Damper For Some U.S. Businesses

Despite concerns about Congress and the European debt crisis, most U.S business owners remain optimistic and expect growth to continue this year, the heads of both General Electric and FedEx said Thursday.

"There's still a lot of growth," GE CEO Jeff Immelt told about 600 executives attending a conference on middle-sized businesses. "It's a long, slow recovery...but it is getting better."

FedEx CEO Fred Smith agreed, saying that shipments of goods continue to reflect a growing economy. "We don't see a contraction," Smith said. "Just slow growth; steady as she goes."

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Politics
1:09 am
Sun October 2, 2011

Federal Budget Uncertainty Weighs On Economy

Welcome to Fiscal Year 2012...such as it is.

On each Sept. 30, the nation wraps up its old budget, and on Oct. 1, it starts a fresh spending cycle. Or at least, that's what is supposed to happen.

But once again, Oct. 1 has come and gone, and the country still has no formal budget in place. Instead, Congress last week approved a stopgap funding bill to keep the government operating temporarily, just as it has done time and again since the 1970s.

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Politics
11:24 pm
Sat October 1, 2011

A Guide To The U.S. Budget Battles

Originally published on Sun October 2, 2011 8:28 am

This year, the annual budget fight has become especially muddled. That's because Congress and the White House are actually engaged in three different, but related, budget debates that are going on simultaneously.

Ultimately, the three battles involve just one question: How much money should government take in and spend? But the separate tracks involve different time horizons, and each problem has to be resolved in a different way.

Here is a fresh look at the three ongoing budget battles:

1. The Fiscal 2012 Budget

Background:

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Economy
3:29 am
Sun September 25, 2011

Three Years After The Market Crash, A 'New Normal'

Three years ago this month, chaos ruled in financial markets.

Huge financial companies, such as Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and AIG were stumbling, and government officials were scrambling to prevent a global financial meltdown. They threw together bailouts and pushed weak companies to merge with stronger ones.

The central bankers, Treasury officials and lawmakers eventually did manage to reassure investors enough to restore order in the financial system. However, the aftershocks of the crisis are still being felt today.

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Politics
3:09 pm
Mon September 19, 2011

Tax Winners And Losers Under Obama's Deficit Plan

Specialists on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange watch President Obama's televised speech on debt reduction Monday. Obama wants to require investment fund managers to pay at least the same percentage in taxes as middle-income Americans.
Richard Drew AP

Originally published on Mon September 19, 2011 7:20 pm

If enacted, President Obama's deficit-reduction plan would increase tax revenues by about $1.5 trillion over the coming decade. The wealthiest taxpayers could see significantly higher taxes, but the vast majority of Americans would pay less, at least through 2012.

These are some of the groups that could see higher tax bills starting in 2013:

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