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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1:03pm

Thu September 22, 2011
Striving For A Safer Table Saw

Regulators Consider Safety Brakes For Table Saws

Federal regulators are moving closer to implementing new safety standards for table saws. Every year, several thousand Americans cut off their fingers using the tools.

Engineers at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a federal agency tasked with ensuring safety standards on a range of consumer products, say almost all of those injuries could be prevented with a better safety brake system.

Currently, such a brake is only available on one brand of table saw, called SawStop, but the vast majority of saws sold today don't have the safety brake.

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12:01am

Thu September 15, 2011
Economy

Mortgage Savings: Leaders Seek Refinancing Options

In his jobs speech last week, President Obama also took time to say he wants to help more Americans save money on their mortgages.

"To help responsible homeowners, we're going to work with federal housing agencies to help more people refinance their mortgages at interest rates that are now near 4 percent," he said to applause from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

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5:32pm

Mon September 12, 2011
Business

Bank Of America Tries To Right Acquisition Wrongs

A worker sweeps in front of a Bank of America branch in Chicago. On Monday, the bank announced plans to lay off 30,000 employees, or about 10 percent of its staff, over the next few years.
Scott Olson Getty Images

The nation's largest bank said Monday that it will cut 30,000 jobs over the next few years. Bank of America has been plagued by losses after buying the home lender Countrywide, and many investors have lost faith in the bank, driving its stock down 50 percent this year.

Meanwhile, Bank of America has been selling off parts of its business to raise more capital.

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12:01am

Fri September 9, 2011
Reflecting On Sept. 11, 2001

Port Authority Cops: Recovering From Sept. 11

Originally published on Fri September 9, 2011 8:01 am

Retired Port Authority Police officers Brian Patrick Tierney (left) and Kevin Devlin visited the World Trade Center site this week. Both men say it's been a struggle to adjust to normal life after losing friends and searching for remains at Ground Zero.
Chris Arnold NPR

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, inflicted the single greatest loss of life ever suffered by a police department in U.S. history. The department wasn't the New York Police — it was the less well-known Port Authority Police Department. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey polices the bridges and tunnels around New York, and it also was in charge of security at the Twin Towers. It's a small, tight-knit department, and it lost 37 officers that day.

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5:00am

Mon September 5, 2011
Business

Wiffle Ball: Born And Still Made In The USA

The Wiffle Ball headquarters in Shelton, Conn. Every Wiffle Ball is made in the U.S.
Chris Arnold NPR

The long Labor Day weekend is a time for backyard barbecues, catching up with friends and family, and for some, a game of Wiffle Ball.

Over the years, the Wiffle Ball has wound its way into the fabric of America. Those who don't even like baseball very much have taken a swing at that white plastic ball with the oval slots around one side.

There is something about the Wiffle Ball that's kind of irresistible — toy stores and even some hardware stores across the country sell them. And for consumers looking for a ways to spend more time outside, they're pretty cheap.

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1:54pm

Mon August 29, 2011
Hurricane Irene Hits East Coast

East Coast Starts To Add Up Irene's Economic Blow

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:28 am

Irene destroyed much of the two-mile boardwalk in Spring Lake, N.J.
Michael Loccisano Getty Images

The day after Irene, cleanup efforts continue and the damage estimates are starting to come in. Overall, it appears to have caused much less damage than forecasters expected.

But it's still early to make exact pronouncements about how much damage this storm caused or may still cause.

Swollen rivers in upstate New York and New England continue to threaten dams. And on Monday, President Obama said that the cleanup in many areas will be tough.

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12:01am

Mon August 15, 2011
Crisis In The Housing Market

Low Rates Alone Not Seen Reviving Housing Market

The turmoil in the financial markets has been pushing mortgage rates lower. Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages have now fallen to about 4.3 percent, which is very close to the lowest level on record.

But many Americans can't qualify for those low rates, and analysts say these historic interest rates aren't likely to do much to help the housing market.

That is, unless the government intervenes.

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12:01am

Thu August 11, 2011
Economy

What's Spooking Investors?

Economists and financial executives gathered for a retreat in Grand Lake Stream, Maine, last weekend. The annual event coincided with mayhem in the stock market and the downgrade of U.S. Treasuries.
Chris Arnold NPR

While Wall Street experiences the biggest stock sell-off in years, some very successful investors don't appear to be concerned. They're out buying stocks while everybody else panics.

Top executives are also downplaying the perceived crisis.

"We don't run the business based on what happens in the market in a day," Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, said Wednesday on CNBC. Bank stocks like his have been getting hammered in recent days.

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6:34am

Mon August 8, 2011
Economy

Economists Share Thoughts On Credit Downgrade

Turmoil in the financial markets has coincided with an annual fishing trip for economists and top executives deep in the woods of Maine near the Canadian border. While the economists were together, Standard and Poor's took the unprecedented step of downgrading the U.S. government's credit rating.

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8:00am

Sun July 31, 2011
Business

Markets Teeter As Tuesday's Debt Deadline Nears

Originally published on Sun July 31, 2011 10:40 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, host: We'll be updating the story today, as negotiations continue on a deal to raise the debt ceiling. But as the debt ceiling drama drags on, stocks just saw their biggest one-week decline in more than a year. But as NPR's Chris Arnold reports, analysts caution anyone worried about their retirement savings should not panic.

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4:59am

Thu July 28, 2011
Your Money

The Debt Standoff And Your 401(k)

iStockphoto.com

The stock market has been sliding lower all week as the debt-ceiling standoff in Washington continues. The Dow Jones industrial average fell nearly 200 points, or 1.6 percent, on Wednesday.

Most analysts still predict that a compromise will be reached before the government defaults on its debts. But many Americans saw what happened to their retirement savings and stock portfolios in the financial crisis just three years ago. And some are getting nervous about their 401(k)s.

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4:59am

Thu July 21, 2011
Economy

Debt's Impact Could Be Worse If Interest Rates Rise

Originally published on Fri July 22, 2011 12:01 am

For all the attention lately on the ballooning size of the national debt, short-term interest rates are so low that the government, at least at the moment, can borrow that money almost for free.

"Right now, with money as cheap as it is, the deficit is not a drag at all," said Albert "Pete" Kyle, a finance professor at the University of Maryland. "But if you look at what's coming in the future, the potential drag that you see in the future is a really big problem."

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5:40pm

Wed July 20, 2011
Crisis In The Housing Market

Debt Drama Could Be Another Blow To Housing

Patrick Fortin, owner of Century 21 Commonwealth, which has 500 real estate agents in the Boston area, says the uncertainty over the debt ceiling is hurting the housing market since it's making people nervous about the economy.
Chris Arnold NPR

Members of Congress appear closer to reaching a deal in the ongoing drama over raising the nation's debt ceiling. The economic stakes are high, and top investors and executives at major companies have been putting increasing pressure on lawmakers to strike a deal.

Take the housing market for example: Industry insiders there worry that if the political theatrics continue much longer, that could spook investors, drive up interest rates, push down home prices and hurt the economy.

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12:01am

Fri June 24, 2011
Crisis In The Housing Market

Foreclosed Homes Wait In 'Shadows' To Go On Sale

The housing market is still languishing this summer, leading some economists to believe prices won't begin to recover until 2014. Even Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernake says the market may be worse than most people thought.

This is due in large part to something economists call the shadow inventory — or the number of houses that will soon be up for sale.

On any given day in just about every city in the country, auctioneers are standing on the front steps of homes selling off foreclosed properties. Often no buyers even show up, and the bank takes the house.

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4:00am

Tue June 21, 2011
Law

Supreme Court Blocks Climate Change Lawsuit

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a global warming lawsuit brought by Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Iowa and California against five big power companies. The case is being called the court's most important environmental ruling in years.

7:46am

Sat June 18, 2011
Reporter's Notebook

If Table Saws Can Be Safer, Why Aren't They?

This week some of the nation's biggest power tool companies sent their executives to Washington. They came to argue against tougher safety mandates for so-called table saws — the saws with large open spinning blades. NPR's Chris Arnold has this Reporter's Notebook.

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12:01am

Wed June 8, 2011
Crisis In The Housing Market

For Many, It's Still A Good Time To Buy A Home

"For Sale" and "For Rent" signs are seen on the front of townhomes in Centreville, Va.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

Home prices around the country have fallen into a double dip. After declining around 30 percent from their peak, they started to rise a bit last summer with the help of a federal tax credit.

But with that stimulus gone, prices are now sliding again to new lows. And while some pundits say a lease makes more sense than a mortgage, other economists insist it's a great time to buy.

'American Dream' Under Fire

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12:01am

Tue May 31, 2011
Technology

Robot Gladiators Prepare Kids for Manufacturing Jobs

A student works on her robot gladiator.
Courtesy of National Tooling and Machining Association

Robot battles have drawn kids into novels, TV shows, and movies for decades. Now companies are using robot wars to attract a new generation of employees to high-tech manufacturing.

On a Saturday morning in Indianapolis, 100 high school students from around the country gather in an airplane hangar to enter their creations in an epic war.

"Three, two, one, let 'er rip!" says local business owner Steve Overton, who is serving as announcer.

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8:00am

Sat May 28, 2011
Business

Can Low Rates Spark A Hot Housing Summer?

In recent days, home mortgage interest rates have ticked up very slightly but are still quite low, well below 5 percent. This spring's low rates have helped boost mortgage applications, both for refinancing and purchases. NPR's Chris Arnold reports on the outlook for the housing sector this summer, and the industry's one bright spot: cheap mortgages.

12:01am

Thu May 19, 2011
Money Counts: Young Adults And Financial Literacy

Hard Financial Lessons Learned In College

Sydney Keyser at home in Deerfield, N.H. Her mother has struggled to avoid foreclosure.
Chris Arnold NPR

Part of a series on young people and financial literacy

About 14 million Americans are unemployed and looking for work, and millions more are facing foreclosure. Some have kids in college, and those struggling families must make tough choices about whether to borrow money to pay for school.

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4:00am

Tue May 3, 2011
Osama Bin Laden Killed

Bin Laden's Death Reminds Port Authority Of Sept. 11

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

Other reactions from among the first responders to the World Trade Center. On 9/11, members of the Port Authority Police Department rushed to help rescue thousands of people. Port Authority was in charge of the towers. Thirty-seven Port Authority officers were killed that day, the largest loss of any police department in the nation's history. Back then, NPR's Chris Arnold reported on the department and he returned yesterday following the news of Osama bin Laden's death.

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5:10am

Wed April 13, 2011
Economy

Rising Gas Prices Force Consumers To Make Choices

In some parts of the country, gasoline prices have hit $4.00 a gallon. The U.S. Energy Department estimates gas prices nationally will average $3.86 per gallon through the summer.

That's a big increase — up nearly 40 percent compared to last year. So what does that mean for the economy?

Higher gas prices are not going unnoticed at Stan Hatoff's discount gas station in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

"It's not good for the people, this is very bad," says customer Omery Velagoshti, who was filling up his tank.

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12:01am

Mon April 11, 2011
Economy

One Woman's Foreclosure Fight: Is Victory In Sight?

If anyone is a poster child for people who should not be facing foreclosure, it's Debra Dahlmer.

Dahlmer, who is retired and legally blind, has never missed a mortgage payment on her home. She lives in Gloucester, Mass., in a modest house with her 80-year-old mother and several small, well-fed dogs.

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