Chris Arnold

NPR correspondent Chris Arnold is based in Boston. His reports are heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. He joined NPR in 1996, and was based in San Francisco before moving to Boston in 2001.

Arnold is currently covering the collapse of the housing market. He's reported on how a breakdown in lending standards has led to the highest foreclosure rate in the United States in more than 50 years. For his series on the sub-prime lender Ameriquest, he interviewed former employees from around the country who described widespread fraud at the company's offices. With more than a million people now facing foreclosure, Arnold continues to cover the ongoing crisis and the efforts to resolve it. For this work, Arnold won the Newspaper Guild's 2009 Heywood Broun Award for broadcast journalism. He has also been honored by the Scripps Howard Foundation as a finalist for their National Journalism Award, and he won an Excellence in Financial Journalism Award from N.Y. State's society for CPA's.

Arnold has covered a range of other subjects and stories for NPR – from Katrina recovery in New Orleans and the gulf coast, to immigrant workers in the fishing industry, to a new kind of table saw that won't cut your fingers off. He traveled to Turin, Italy, for NPR's coverage of the 2006 Winter Olympics. He has also followed the dramatic rise in the numbers of teenagers abusing the powerful and highly addictive painkiller Oxycontin – more than 1 out of 20 high school seniors report using the drug.

In the days and months following Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Arnold reported from New York and contributed to the NPR coverage that won the Overseas Press Club and the George Foster Peabody Awards. He chronicled the recovery effort at Ground Zero, focusing on members of the Port Authority Police department, as they struggled with the deaths of 37 officers - the greatest loss of any police department in U.S. history. Arnold followed the lives of those who lived and worked around ground zero - from bond-traders and Chinatown garment sewers to small business owners - as they sought to put their lives back together again.

Prior to his move to Boston, Arnold traveled the country for NPR doing feature stories on entrepreneurship. His pieces covered technologists, farmers, and family business owners. He also reported on efforts to kindle entrepreneurship in economically disadvantaged areas ranging from inner-city Los Angeles to the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota.

Arnold has worked in public radio since 1993. Before joining NPR, he was a freelance reporter working out of San Francisco's NPR Member station, KQED.

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5:07am

Wed July 1, 2015
Economy

Historic Vote May Determine Whether Greece Remains In The Eurozone

Originally published on Wed July 1, 2015 2:03 pm

Pensioners holding their queue numbers try to enter a bank in Athens. The government ordered about 1,000 bank branches around the country to reopen Wednesday to help desperate pensioners without ATM cards cash up to $134 from their retirement checks.
Daniel Ochoa de Olza AP

At the end of World War II with the continent in ruins, Winston Churchill famously proclaimed, "We must build a United States of Europe." He believed such a union would bring an end to centuries of European wars.

For 70 years Europe has been engaged in a political and economic quest to make that happen. But many in Greece, such as Athens cabdriver Jordan Repanidis, feel this historic reshaping of the Western world has a stranglehold on their country.

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5:02pm

Wed June 17, 2015
Economy

Federal Reserve Delays Hike Of Low Interest Rates

Originally published on Thu June 18, 2015 2:30 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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4:30am

Thu June 11, 2015
Economy

America's Next Economic Boom Could Be Lying Underground

Originally published on Thu June 11, 2015 2:42 pm

Pump jacks and wells work in an oil field on the Monterey Shale formation in California. Economist Michael Porter says that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a "game changer" for the U.S. economy.
David McNew Getty Images

There's a serious problem in the American economy: Big corporations are doing well, but real household income for average Americans has been falling over the past decade — down 9 percent, according to census data.

"That's not good for America," says Harvard economist Michael Porter. "That's not good for America's standard of living. That's not good for our ultimate vitality as a nation."

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5:28pm

Wed May 6, 2015
Energy

Oil Prices Are Rising Again, But Will They Keep Going Up?

Originally published on Wed May 6, 2015 7:55 pm

Oil pump jacks in Williston, N.D., in December. Oil prices have been on the rise, but some analysts say the global economic slowdown, fracking and the rise of alternative energy will mean less demand and lower prices.
Eric Gay AP

Oil prices hit a new high for the year Wednesday — closing at just under $61 a barrel. They've been rallying for a month, but nobody's predicting $4-per-gallon gasoline anytime soon. And some analysts say weak demand will send oil prices down again.

The recent rise follows an historic drop in prices, which were as low as about $45 a barrel less than two months ago.

So to understand what's going on now, let's look at what sent prices tumbling in the first place

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4:10pm

Thu April 23, 2015
The Two-Way

15 Years After The Dot-Com Bust, A Nasdaq Record

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 7:03 pm

As the Nasdaq closes above the record set 15 years ago, stock analysts are debating whether the market is approaching another bubble.
Bryan Thomas Getty Images

When it closed at 5,056.06 on Thursday, the Nasdaq Composite Index hit a new high — surpassing the old record close of 5,048.62, reached March 10, 2000, during the dot-com craze.

That also makes it 15 years since that infamous tech bubble burst, sending the index down more than 75 percent by the time it hit bottom.

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5:07am

Tue April 21, 2015
Your Money

Will New Retirement Rules Protect Americans From Wall Street?

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 6:19 pm

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez says proposed rules for financial advisers are meant to protect consumers.
Nick Ut AP

Saving enough money to retire can be tough. But it's next to impossible if a financial adviser is steering the client into bad investments — and getting big commissions in return. And according to the Obama administration, that's exactly what too many advisers have been doing.

Millions of Americans trying to save for retirement have ended up with investments where high fees cripple their returns over time. U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez says much of that is due to bad advice.

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4:35pm

Wed April 8, 2015
Health Care

With Discounts For Healthy Behavior, John Hancock Courts Privacy Concerns

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 9:37 am

John Hancock announced a new program promising discounts for policyholders who wear a fitness tracker, exercise more and go to the doctor. The life insurance company says that if people live longer healthier lives, everybody wins. But privacy advocates worry about all the electronic monitoring.

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6:25pm

Fri April 3, 2015
Business

While Pay Holds Steady For Most, Low-Wage Workers Get A Boost

Originally published on Mon April 6, 2015 12:03 pm

McDonald's announced this week that it will pay workers in its company-owned stores $1 more per hour than the local minimum wage. Wal-Mart, Target and the parent company of Marshalls and TJ Maxx have also promised to boost wages for their lowest-paid workers this year.
Lucy Nicholson Reuters/Landov

The vast majority of U.S. workers haven't seen any real wage gains since the recession. But that's starting to change, at least for low-income workers.

This week, fast-food giant McDonald's announced it will pay workers $1 more than the local minimum wage.

It joins some of the nation's other largest employers, including Wal-Mart, Target and TJX, the parent company of Marshalls and TJ Maxx. All say they will be boosting pay to at least $9 per hour this year, and some will go to $10 next year.

For Wal-Mart alone, that's a pay raise for half a million Americans.

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3:42am

Mon March 30, 2015
U.S.

With So Much Oil Flowing, U.S. May Be Reaching Storage Limits

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 11:16 am

Cushing, Okla., is a major oil storage site. Amid record oil production, some analysts worry the U.S. will run out of places to put it all.
Daniel Acker Bloomberg via Getty Images

Never before has the U.S. had so much oil spurting up out of the ground and sloshing into storage tanks around the country. There's so much oil that the U.S. now rivals Saudi Arabia as the world's largest producer.

But there has been some concern that the U.S. will run out of places to put it all. Some analysts speculate that could spark another dramatic crash in oil prices.

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4:08am

Fri February 27, 2015
Business

White House Move To Protect Nest Eggs Sparks Hopes And Fears

Originally published on Thu May 14, 2015 12:58 pm

President Obama remarks on his proposal to tighten consumer protections for people saving for retirement as Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Labor Secretary Tom Perez listen, at AARP on Monday.
Getty Images

The Obama administration is creating new protections for Americans saving and investing for retirement, but industry groups say the new rules could hurt the very people the president says he wants to help.

If you're building a retirement nest egg, big fees are the dangerous predators looking to feast on it. The White House says too many financial advisers get hidden kickbacks or sales incentives to steer responsible Americans toward bad retirement investments with low returns and high fees.

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6:17am

Mon February 23, 2015
Business

White House Moves To Protect Investors From Bad Retirement Advice

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 5:51 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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4:07pm

Tue February 17, 2015
Your Money

Despite Recovery, Many Find Home Loans Still Hard To Get

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 7:08 pm

A realty sign hangs in front of a home for sale in Orlando, Fla. Housing advocates say banks, stung by the housing crisis and its fallout, remain reluctant to lend.
John Raoux AP

It's been seven years since the housing crash. The housing market and the economy are both recovering. But housing advocates say you still have to have a near perfect credit score to get a loan from a major bank.

At first look, it seems like the trouble in the housing market has quieted down. There are fewer foreclosures. Home prices have stabilized and risen. But, as any parent with young kids will tell you, when things get too quiet that can be a bad sign.

Mike Calhoun, the president of the Center for Responsible Lending, says that's basically what's going on here.

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5:09am

Thu February 12, 2015
Around the Nation

Record Snow Cripples Boston's Subway System

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 9:09 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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5:47pm

Mon February 2, 2015
New Boom

Economists Say Millennials Should Consider Careers In Trades

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 11:39 am

Jeffy Docteur is one of the students in the NStar electrician apprenticeship program outside Boston. He says he's interested in working on switching systems that keep power flowing through the electrical grid.
Chris Arnold NPR

This story is part of the New Boom series on millennials in America.

As the economy continues to recover, economists are seeing stark differences between people with high school and college degrees. The unemployment rate is nearly twice as high for Americans with a high school diploma as for those with a four-year college degree or more.

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3:34am

Thu January 22, 2015
Business

Senator 'Astounded' That Nonprofit Hospitals Sue Poorest Patients

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 2:11 pm

Heartland Regional Medical Center in St. Joseph, Mo., is changing its name to Mosaic Life Care. It was the focus of an NPR and ProPublica investigation into its billing practices.
Steve Hebert for ProPublica

NPR and ProPublica have been reporting about nonprofit hospitals that seize the wages of lower-income and working-class patients. Now, Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says hospitals could be breaking the law by suing these patients and docking their pay. And he wants some answers.

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3:32am

Tue January 13, 2015
Your Money

Consumer Agency Launches Tool To Help You Find A Cheaper Mortgage

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 3:41 pm

A sign announces that a Los Angeles house is for sale in November.
Richard Vogel AP

Many Americans love a good deal, shopping around to save $10 or $20 on a pair of pants or winter coats for the kids — but when finding mortgages, nearly half don't even call around to different banks. Three-fourths only fill out an application with one lender.

Richard Cordray, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, says there may be a few reasons consumers aren't comparison shopping for loans.

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10:33am

Sat January 10, 2015
Economy

Employment Is Up. Paychecks, Not So Much

Originally published on Sat January 10, 2015 11:31 am

A protester demonstrates for higher wages for fast food workers in Jackson, Miss., in December. Employers are hiring more people, but overall, the wages they're paying remain flat.
Rogelio V. Solis AP

The U.S. economy saw the strongest job growth last year since 1999, according to statistics released Friday by the Department of Labor. The country gained another 252,000 jobs in December.

That's the good news — but this jobs report also dashed some hopes for fatter paychecks. Employers are hiring more people, but overall, the wages they're paying remain flat.

A month ago, it seemed wages were starting to pick up — but those November numbers were revised lower. In December, wages actually fell slightly.

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5:03am

Fri December 19, 2014
Your Money

When Nonprofit Hospitals Sue Their Poorest Patients

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 10:13 am

Keith Herie is swamped in debt from medical issues he and his wife encountered starting about a decade ago. Heartland hospital is seizing 10 percent of his paycheck and 25 percent of his wife's wages, and has placed a lien on their home.
Steve Hebert for ProPublica

On the eastern edge of St. Joseph, Mo., lies the small city's only hospital, a landmark of modern brick and glass buildings. Everyone in town knows Heartland Regional Medical Center — many residents gave birth to their children here. Many rush here when they get hurt or sick.

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6:21pm

Fri December 12, 2014
Economy

Mortgage Giants Ease Down Payments For First-Time Homebuyers

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 8:05 pm

A new directive from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will allow first-time homebuyers to put down as little as 3 percent.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

A federal directive will go into effect Saturday making it easier for some Americans to come up with a down payment to buy a house.

The vast majority of home loans are guaranteed by the government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The regulator in charge of Fannie and Freddie will allow first-time homebuyers to put down as little as 3 percent.

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6:32pm

Tue November 25, 2014
The Salt

For More Local Turkeys To Hit Holiday Tables, You Need An Abattoir

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 11:22 am

The turkeys at Kate Stillman's farm don't have to be loaded on a trailer and driven hundreds of miles this year. They now meet their ends on the same farm where they lived their lives.
Chris Arnold NPR

It's a busy time of year for turkey farmers around the country. And these days, with the growth of the local food movement, small family farms are struggling to keep up with all the orders for birds. So, we went to find out what one New England farmer is doing to get her gobblers from the field to the table. Enter the "abattoir."

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3:33am

Tue November 18, 2014
Business

Firm Accused Of Illegal Practices That Push Families Into Foreclosure

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 8:13 pm

Gary Klein is one of the lead attorneys representing homeowners in the case against Ocwen Financial.
Chris Arnold NPR

The fallout from the housing crisis isn't over.

According to Moody's Analytics, there were 700,000 foreclosures last year. And some of those people probably didn't need to lose their homes. Even now, more than six years after the housing crash, lawyers for homeowners say mortgage companies are still making mistakes and foreclosing on homes when they shouldn't be.

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5:18pm

Fri October 3, 2014
Business

New 15-Year Mortgage May Open Homeownership Door For More Buyers

Originally published on Sat October 4, 2014 12:56 pm

Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America CEO Bruce Marks is offering the first batch of these "wealth building home loans" to homebuyers through his nonprofit organization.
Damian Dovarganes AP

The 30-year mortgage is the foundation of the real estate market largely because it makes housing more affordable. But the truth is, it's a lousy loan for building actual ownership or equity in your home during the first 5 or 7 years, which caused big trouble when housing crashed.

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5:39pm

Fri September 26, 2014
The Two-Way

The 'Bond King' Leaves His $2 Trillion Kingdom

Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 6:24 pm

Bill Gross
AP

Heavy drama played out this week — and not just on Shonda Rhimes' TV shows.

The bond-investing world was roiled by news that Bill Gross — the man known as "The Bond King" — has abruptly left the huge investment firm he founded in 1971. The departure left a lot of people scratching their heads on Wall Street.

"The natural question is: What's going on at PIMCO?" said David Kotok, chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisors. "There's all kinds of speculation" about why Gross left.

"And the answer is, it's speculation — and so we don't know," Kotok said.

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3:44am

Tue August 26, 2014
Your Money

Many Homeowners Still Qualify For Mortgage Relief

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 11:47 am

Mel Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, says many homeowners who could qualify to refinance their mortgages under HARP are suspicious.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

The financial crisis pushed millions of Americans from their homes. And housing advocates complain that the government did more to prop up big banks on Wall Street than it did to help average people on Main Street.

But many of those people on Main Street could still qualify for a government program to help them save money by refinancing their mortgages.

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5:45pm

Thu August 14, 2014
Planet Money

Should We Kill The $100 Bill?

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 3:02 pm

Noel Celis AFP/Getty Images

Of all the U.S. currency in the world, nearly 80 percent is in $100 bills. That's about a trillion dollars.

Some people want to get rid of the bill altogether. Ken Rogoff, an economist at Harvard University, says the $100 bill helps criminals:

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4:14pm

Fri August 1, 2014
Business

Some Public Pension Funds Making Big Bets On Hedge Funds

Originally published on Thu August 7, 2014 2:28 pm

iStockphoto

Public pension funds have been doing something new in recent years — investing in hedge funds.

Hedge funds are often secretive investment firms led by supposedly supersmart fund managers. Though, sometimes they implode spectacularly — think Long-Term Capital Management. Another prominent firm, Galleon Group, recently got shut down for rampant insider trading.

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4:09pm

Thu July 3, 2014
Economy

In June Jobs Numbers, Signs For Optimism

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 6:26 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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12:31pm

Sun June 29, 2014
Economy

Housing Market Fake-Outs Stump Economists

Originally published on Sun June 29, 2014 3:13 pm

Homebuilding remains slumped at levels not seen since WWII.
Mike Groll AP

Many homebuyers have been throwing down cold hard cash for their entire house purchase in recent years. Some are baby-boomers who sold a bigger house and are downsizing. Some are investors. Others are from outside the U.S.

"Top of the list in terms of cash sales in the first quarter was Florida, with 64 percent of all sales going to cash buyers, followed by New York, 59 percent; Alabama, 56 percent," says Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, which did a study on cash purchases.

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4:37pm

Wed June 18, 2014
Economy

Sluggish Housing Market A Product Of Millions Of 'Missing Households'

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 7:08 pm

NPR Census Bureau

A year ago, the housing market looked like it was finally recovering. Sales and prices were picking up. But then home sales fizzled. Currently, they are down about 7 percent from last spring.

A big part of why housing remains so stunted is that there are more than 2 million "missing households" in the U.S. That's how economists describe the fact that fewer people are striking out on their own to find places to live.

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5:37pm

Thu May 15, 2014
Economy

Missing In The Housing Recovery: New Houses

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 8:18 pm

De Desharnais of Ashwood Development in New Hampshire says homebuilding activity for her company has slowed sharply since the housing crash. But she's hopeful that business will pick up.
Chris Arnold NPR

More than five years after the crash, homebuilding is stuck at half its normal level. That's a big drag on the economy. And things aren't looking much better: A report out Thursday shows homebuilder confidence is at its lowest level in a year.

This severe slump in single-family home construction has been going on across the country. We haven't seen anything close to this kind of a long-term construction slump since World War II.

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