Jim Zarroli | KERA News

Jim Zarroli

Jim Zarroli is a business reporter for NPR News, based at NPR's New York bureau.

He covers economics and business news including fiscal policy, the Federal Reserve, the job market and taxes

Over the years, he's reported on recessions and booms, crashes and rallies, and a long string of tax dodgers, insider traders and Ponzi schemers. He's been heavily involved in the coverage of the European debt crisis and the bank bailouts in the United States.

Prior to moving into his current role, Zarroli served as a New York-based general assignment reporter for NPR News. While in this position he covered the United Nations during the first Gulf War. Zarroli added to NPR's coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the London transit bombings and the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Before joining the NPR in 1996, Zarroli worked for the Pittsburgh Press and wrote for various print publications.

Zarroli graduated from Pennsylvania State University.

Massachusetts-based American Superconductor seemed to be riding high in early 2011, reaping strong sales and even praise from the White House for successfully cracking the Asian import markets.

Then, one day that April, employees were called to a meeting where they heard some very disturbing news.

Their largest customer, Beijing-based Sinovel, which provided three-quarters of the company's revenue, had refused to accept a shipment of electronic components for its wind turbines — and wouldn't pay millions of dollars it owed for them. The reasons it gave were ambiguous.

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Tech stocks were a growth engine for the market when the economy was tepid, but recently they've been sputtering and their troubles are helping drag the entire market lower.

Some of the biggest names in technology have been swooning.

Like a lot of Americans, President Trump sees the U.S. trade deficit as an urgent problem — a symbol of U.S. economic decline.

"Any way you look at it, it is the largest deficit of any country in the history of our world. It's out of control," Trump said earlier this month when he announced proposed tariffs on Chinese imports.

Most economists, of various political leanings, are a lot less worried about the trade gap, which totaled $568 billion last year.

For all his harsh rhetoric about unfair trade practices by China, President Trump stopped short of taking any punitive actions against Beijing during his first year in office.

But that may be about to change.

When President Trump announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports this month, he said protecting the two industries was vital for national security.

"We want to build our ships. We want to build our planes. We want to build our military equipment with steel, with aluminum from our country," he said at a March 8 White House news conference.

In other words, the U.S. military should be as self-sufficient as possible, and not rely on other countries to supply the essential materials it needs for defense.

When President Trump announced plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports last week, he made clear he views a healthy steel industry as vital to the economic and military success of the United States.

But the industry is under threat from steelmakers in competing countries, especially China, which has emerged as by far the largest and most powerful producer on earth.

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As the Trump administration sees it, U.S. steel and aluminum industries are in crisis, rapidly losing ground to foreign competitors and hemorrhaging jobs along the way.

But proposed import tariffs and quotas have other manufacturers worried that they'll become less competitive in the global marketplace.

How the administration responds to the problem is something Mark Vaughn is watching very closely.

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Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET

The stock market finished the day sharply higher, but only after another session of wild price swings.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 24,912.77, an increase of 567 points, or 2.3 percent. But it began the day down sharply, with triple-digit losses.

Other major U.S. stock indexes also rebounded Tuesday, with the S&P 500 finishing up 46 points, or 1.7 percent, and the Nasdaq up 148 points, or 2.1 percent.

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A new NPR/Marist poll finds that 1 in 5 jobs in America is held by a worker under contract. Within a decade, contractors and freelancers could make up half of the American workforce. In a weeklong series, NPR explores many aspects of this change.

For Tom Hansen and his family, the past few weeks have been a time of feast or famine.

The Dow Jones industrial average finished above 25,000 for the first time, as the long rally in stock prices showed no signs of letting up.

A strong report about hiring from payroll processor ADP helped push stocks higher. Financial stocks did especially well, and an increase in oil prices has benefited the energy sector.

The Dow finished the day at 25,075, a gain of 0.61 percent. Both the Nasdaq composite index and the Standard and Poor's 500 index also finished at record highs.

Kari Pinto and her husband recently retired, and now they hope to trade Iowa — and its harsh winters — for a state with a milder climate.

But the tax bill President Trump signed into law last month has complicated their search for a new home.

"Now we just have another wrinkle in trying to determine where to go, and how much it's going to cost us," she says.

A little-remarked-upon provision changing the way inflation is calculated is among the big changes contained in the tax overhaul signed by President Trump last week.

The new method, using the so-called "chained" consumer price index to determine when to adjust tax brackets and eligibility for deductions, is expected to push more Americans into higher tax brackets more quickly. In the past, the tax code used the traditional CPI measure issued by the Labor Department each month.

Republicans in Congress are on the verge of fulfilling their longtime dream of eliminating the federal estate tax, and they could do it in a way that is even more generous to heirs than previous repeal efforts.

Bills passed by the Senate and the House recently would reduce or scrap the taxes heirs now pay on estates larger than $5.5 million. And the bills would do so without repealing the so-called "stepped-up basis" provision.

Republicans say the tax-cutting overhaul being debated in Congress will jump-start the U.S. economy, leading to a lot more investment and hiring by companies.

But some economists say the tax plans — which would sharply cut corporate and business taxes and eliminate numerous deductions for individuals — come at precisely the wrong time. Lower taxes could also be undercut by Federal Reserve policymakers, who are gradually raising interest rates, they say.

Republicans lawmakers are considering a federal budget "trigger" that would raise taxes if proposed tax cuts don't deliver the economic growth they have promised.

But the proposal is generating a lot of pushback from critics, especially conservatives.

The so-called trigger mechanism would be a legislative provision to rescind corporate tax cuts by as much as $350 billion if revenue targets are not met, Bloomberg News reports.

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Good-government types may look askance, but Donald Trump now has a new place to cash in on his White House role.

The Trump Organization recently started a website, TrumpStore.com, to sell Trump-branded merchandise such as T-shirts, baseball caps and coin banks.

It's not to be confused with Trump's other website, DonaldJTrump.com. That site sells a lot of the same kind of merchandise, but its profits flow to Trump's presidential campaign.

Republicans in Congress say cutting corporate taxes would improve the balance sheet for U.S. businesses, giving them more money to spend on jobs and investment.

But how does anyone know that's what will happen?

It's the question at the heart of the debate taking place on Capitol Hill right now about whether to lower corporate taxes, and by how much.

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President Trump has called it "ridiculous," a "horrible law" that made it difficult for U.S. companies to compete overseas.

But the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars businesses from paying bribes to overseas officials, remains a key part of U.S. efforts to combat global corruption.

Now one study is showing the Trump administration's use of the law may be declining, even as administration officials say they're committed to enforcing it.

In December 2006, workers broke cold ground in lower Manhattan, preparing the way for a glass-clad, towering hotel, to be called Trump SoHo.

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Updated at 5:22 p.m. ET

Wealthy donor Robert Mercer, whose money helped elect President Trump, is stepping down from the giant hedge fund he co-heads and is selling his stake in the conservative website Breitbart News to his daughters.

In a letter sent Thursday to his investors at Renaissance Technologies LLC, Mercer, 71, defended his brand of libertarian politics, but also expressed regret for his support of controversial former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos.

Shortly after World War II, a young Buffalo company — Speed Motor Express — began transporting commercial freight around western New York.

As it weathered the ups and downs of the local economy over the decades, the company slowly expanded its fleet of trucks.

Then in 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, expanded trade among the United States, Canada and Mexico. Buffalo faces Canada along the Niagara River.

If only because of its venue, the office of New York district attorney has long been among the highest-profile prosecutorial jobs in the country. The men who have served in it, legal legends such as Thomas Dewey, Frank Hogan and Robert Morgenthau, have often held the job for years, gaining enormous stature and political capital along the way.

Until recently, it seemed the current DA, 63-year-old Cyrus Vance Jr., might enjoy the same long tenure.

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