John Ydstie

John Ydstie has covered the economy, Wall Street and the federal budget for NPR for two decades. In recent years NPR has broadened his responsibilities, making use of his reporting and interviewing skills to cover major stories like the aftermath of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. His current focus is reporting on the global financial crisis. Ydstie is also a regular guest host on the NPR news programs Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Talk of the Nation.

During 1991 and 1992 Ydstie was NPR's bureau chief in London. He traveled throughout Europe covering, among other things, the breakup of the Soviet Union and attempts to move Europe toward closer political and economic union. He accompanied U.S. businessmen exploring investment opportunities in Russia as the Soviet Union was crumbling. He was on the scene in The Netherlands when European leaders approved the Maastricht Treaty, which created the European Union.

In August 1990, Ydstie traveled to Saudi Arabia for NPR as a member of the Pentagon press pool sent to cover the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. During the early stages of the crisis, Ydstie was the only American radio reporter in the country.

Ydstie has been with NPR since 1979. For two years, he was an associate producer responsible for Midwest coverage. In 1982 he became senior editor on NPR's Washington Desk, overseeing coverage of the federal government, American politics and economics. In 1984, Ydstie joined Morning Edition as the show's senior editor, and later was promoted to the position of executive producer. In 1988, he became NPR's economics correspondent.

During his tenure with NPR, Ydstie has won numerous awards. He was a member of the NPR team that received the George Foster Peabody for its coverage of 9/11. Ydstie's reporting from Saudi Arabia helped NPR win the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award in 1991 for coverage of the Gulf War. Prior to joining NPR, Ydstie was a reporter and producer at Minnesota Public Radio. While there, he was awarded the Clarion Award for his report "Vietnam Experience and America Today."

A graduate of Concordia College, in Moorhead, MN, Ydstie earned a bachelor of arts degree, summa cum laude, with a major in English literature and a minor in speech communications.

Ydstie was born in Minneapolis, and grew up in rural North Dakota.



Fri January 31, 2014

After Overcoming Early Obstacles, Yellen Assumes Fed's Top Job

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 7:51 pm

Janet Yellen smiles as President Obama announces her nomination for Federal Reserve chairwoman on Oct. 9.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Ben Bernanke hands over the reins at the Federal Reserve to Janet Yellen on Friday. The Fed's vice chairwoman will be the first female ever to lead the nation's central bank. It's a position many view as the second most powerful in the country.

The world of central banking is largely a man's world. But Yellen has been undeterred by such barriers since she was in high school in Brooklyn. Charlie Saydah, a former classmate, says she was probably the smartest kid in the class. Yellen was "clearly smart, and she was smart among a lot of smart kids," he says.

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Wed January 29, 2014

A Fond Farewell To Fed Chairman Ben

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 11:00 am



Ben Bernanke steps down this week as chairman of the Federal Reserve. The new chair, Janet Yellen, will take over on Saturday. After a two-day meeting, the message today from Fed policymakers was simple: Stay the course. The Fed released a statement saying it will continue dialing-back its stimulus.

NPR's John Ydstie has more on that decision and Bernanke's legacy.

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Mon January 27, 2014

Bernanke's Fed Legacy: A Tenure Full Of Tough Decisions

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 7:25 am

Outgoing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke about the Federal Reserve's first and next century on Thursday at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will preside over his last Fed policy-making meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Saturday morning, the first woman ever to lead the nation's central bank, Janet Yellen, will take over.

There's no doubt that during his two terms as chairman, Bernanke faced a challenge unlike any Fed chairman since the Great Depression: a global financial crisis that threatened to become financial Armageddon and followed by a deep recession.

Bernanke talked about how he survived it all during an appearance at the Brookings Institution recently.

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Tue December 17, 2013
Number Of The Year

Year In Numbers: The Federal Reserve's $85 Billion Question

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:30 am

On Tuesday, Federal Reserve policymakers begin a two-day meeting where many analysts expect they will announce a reduction in the central bank's $85 billion monthly stimulus.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Many economists and investors think there's a good chance that at the end of their two-day meeting that begins Tuesday, Federal Reserve policymakers will announce that they'll begin reducing their $85 billion monthly stimulus, their third round of quantitative easing, or QE3.

The analysts think recent economic data, like a drop in the unemployment rate to 7 percent and a budget deal in Washington, have brightened the outlook for the economy enough that the Fed can pull back.

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Wed December 11, 2013
Health Care

What's At Stake For States That Reject Medicaid Expansion

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 10:10 am

The Affordable Care Act has produced a surge in the number of people signing up for Medicaid. The ACA offers billions of federal dollars to states to expand Medicaid coverage for the poor. But only 25 states have accepted the federal government's offer, and those that haven't could face economic and budget losses.


Tue November 26, 2013

The Stock Market Loves The Fed For Now, But Can It Last?

The Dow Jones industrial average closed above 16,000 for the first time last week.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Major stock indexes have shot to record highs in the U.S. this year, gaining more than 20 percent, and yet economic growth remains at disappointing levels. A lot of analysts believe the stimulus efforts by the Federal Reserve are behind the stock boom and a possible bubble.

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Thu November 14, 2013

Senate Panel To Hear From Fed Chief Nominee Janet Yellen

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 6:53 am

The first woman to be nominated to head the Federal Reserve takes the witness chair on Capitol Hill Thursday morning for her confirmation hearing. Janet Yellen's challenge will be to reassure her Democratic supporters that she's focused on job creation, while convincing at least a few Republicans that she'll keep inflation in check.


Mon October 7, 2013

In A Debt Crisis, U.S. May Have To Decide Payment Priorities

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 12:02 pm

House Republicans have proposed directing the Treasury Department to pay bondholders first if there is not enough money available to pay all the nation's debts.
Carolyn Kaster AP

The government is just 10 days away from defaulting on its debt. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said that by Oct. 17, the department will likely have less money on hand than it needs to pay all its bills.

"The reality is that if we run out of cash to pay our bills, there is no option that permits us to pay all of our bills on time, which means that a failure of Congress to act would for the first time put us in a place where we're defaulting on our obligations as a government," Lew said on NBC's Meet The Press on Sunday.

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Fri September 27, 2013
NPR Story

Is The Fed Chair Succession Too Politicized?

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 5:17 pm



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel. There was once a time when naming a new Federal Reserve chairman was a non-event. Well, not this time. The competition between supporters for former Treasury secretary Larry Summers and the current vice chairman of the Fed, Janet Yellen has been a highly public affair.

As NPR's John Ydstie reports, there's concern that the high profile discussion could politicize the Fed succession in a way that could ultimately hurt the economy.

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Thu August 22, 2013

Is Government's Renewed Push On Mortgage Fraud Too Late?

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 5:42 pm

Foreclosures increased dramatically as a result of risky subprime loans during the 2000s.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

"Remain aggressive." That's the message Attorney General Eric Holder says he has given to prosecutors around the country about pursuing wrongdoing by financial institutions — particularly, wrongdoing related to the financial crisis of 2008.

But as the five-year anniversary of the crisis approaches, the record of prosecutions against high-level Wall Street executives has been dismal.

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Mon August 19, 2013

3 Years Later, There's Still Work Left To Be Done On Dodd-Frank

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 6:58 pm



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

Today, President Obama called all of the country's top financial regulators to the White House to get a progress report on implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act. That's the set of reforms that were passed following the financial crisis. With the fifth anniversary of the financial meltdown nearing, the president wants to communicate a sense of urgency about following through on the reforms.

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Wed July 24, 2013

Full-Time Vs. Part-Time Workers: Restaurants Weigh Obamacare

Originally published on Wed July 24, 2013 7:21 pm

The California Tortilla chain is one company still deciding how to react to the new health care requirements for business, set to take effect next year.
John Ydstie NPR

Many businesses that don't offer health insurance to all their employees breathed a sigh of relief earlier this month when they learned they'd have an extra year to comply with the new health care law or face stiff penalties.

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Wed July 17, 2013

Bernanke Gives Economic Road Map With Uncertain Timeline

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 7:11 pm



You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

One month ago, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke introduced the idea of winding down the Fed's massive stimulus programs. On that announcement, the markets tanked. Today, Bernanke said pretty much the same thing. But this time, the markets yawned.

As NPR's John Ydstie explains, the Fed chairman appears to have finally found the formula to ease Wall Street's concerns.

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Fri July 12, 2013

Boeing Takes Another Hit With Fire On Plagued 787 Dreamliner

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 6:19 pm



An Ethiopian Airlines jet caught fire on the ground today at London's Heathrow Airport. It was a Boeing 787, also known as the Dreamliner, which has more than its share of troubles. The 787 has had serious problems with its lithium-ion batteries. In January, one overheated and another caught fire. The whole 787 fleet was grounded for more than three months after that.

Here's NPR's John Ydstie with more on what happened today.

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Thu July 11, 2013

Senators Express Concerns About Smithfield Foods Merger

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 4:52 pm



It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.


And I'm David Greene. Good morning. Pork was on the menu on Capitol Hill yesterday, but not the kind Congress produces. Lawmakers on the Senate Agriculture Committee were focused on the takeover of Smithfield Foods by a big Chinese company.

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Wed July 10, 2013
NPR Story

Lawmakers Express Concern About U.S.-Chinese Pork Deal

Originally published on Wed July 10, 2013 5:58 pm



You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

Members of the Senate Agriculture Committee had a lot of questions today about the takeover of Smithfield Foods. That's because a Chinese company has offered to buy America's largest pork processor. Both Democratic and Republican senators have expressed concerns about the $4.7 billion deal and its potential effects on U.S. food safety and security.

NPR's John Ydstie has been following the testimony today and joins us now. Hi, John.


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Wed July 3, 2013
Shots - Health News

One Man's Quest To Make Medical Technology Affordable To All

Originally published on Wed July 3, 2013 2:47 pm

Patients sit with their eyes bandaged at an Aravind Eye Care clinic in Madurai, India after cataract surgeries. Aravind performs more than 300,000 cataract surgeries annually.
Reinhard Krause Reuters/Landov

David Green is a man on a mission to drive down the cost of medical devices and health services.

His tactic: Use market forces and slightly tweaked business strategies to make health care accessible to even the poorest people. And he's had some amazing success.

I caught up with Green (no relation to NPR's David Greene) at a company he is launching in Chicago that's taking on the high cost of hearing aids. He's demonstrating how to program his company's new hearing device on a cellphone.

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Tue July 2, 2013
Shots - Health News

To Make Hearing Aids Affordable, Firm Turns On Bluetooth

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 10:38 am

Sound World Solution's hearing device lets a user customize its settings using a Bluetooth connection and a smartphone.
Courtesy of Sound World Solutions

As many as 300 million people around the world need hearing aids. The vast majority of the 7 million people who get them annually are in the U.S. and Europe.

One big reason is cost. On average, a set of hearing aids rings up a tab of about $4,000. Most insurance policies don't cover them.

A company called Sound World Solutions is trying to do something about the limited reach of hearing aids by creating a high-quality hearing device that costs less than a tenth the normal price.

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Thu June 20, 2013

Fed Warns Stimulus Package Will Be Ratcheted Down

Originally published on Thu June 20, 2013 7:07 am



Those Chinese figures helped Asian markets to take a big tumble today, as did yesterday's comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. He said the Fed will likely begin slowing down its economic stimulus later this year. The Fed's massive bond buying program - which is a major part of that stimulus - is seen as a big reason behind recent rallies in the financial market.

NPR's John Ydstie has more.

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Thu May 23, 2013

When Will Fed Officials Ease Off The Accelerator?

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 12:54 pm



NPR's business news starts with some of the shine off the stock market.


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Tue May 21, 2013

CEO Cook To Defend Apple Before Senate Committee Hearing

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 11:13 am

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an introduction of the iPhone 5 in San Francisco on Sept. 12. The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations says Apple is paying billions of dollars less than it should in taxes each year, taking advantage of technicalities in U.S. and Irish tax laws.
Eric Risberg AP

Giant technology firm Apple is paying billions of dollars less than it should in U.S. taxes each year, according to a report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. In a hearing Tuesday in Washington, D.C., Apple CEO Tim Cook will defend the company.

The subcommittee's report says Apple avoids the tax payments mainly by shifting profits to three subsidiary companies in Ireland. The investigation found Apple is taking advantage of technicalities in U.S. and Irish tax laws to avoid paying any tax on a huge portion of its profits.

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Thu May 16, 2013

Yen's Drop In Value Could Fuel Curency War

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 5:16 am



Japan's economy is finally getting a lift. The stock market is soaring there. Companies like Toyota and Sony are seeing a surge in profits. And today, Japan's government reported the economy grew a three-and-a-half percent annual rate in the first three months of the year, a significant improvement.

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Thu May 2, 2013

Housing Recovery Lifts Other Sectors, Too

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 6:00 pm

Chevy trucks line the lot of a dealer in Murrysville, Pa. Sales were up by double digits at Chrysler, General Motors and Ford last month.
Gene J. Puskar AP

The government's employment report for April comes out Friday. It's an important measure of the economy's health and the advance signals have been mixed. One report this week showed layoffs falling to a five-year low, but another suggests disappointing jobs creation.

At least one sector is providing some positive news for the job market: housing.

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Thu April 25, 2013

Regulators Warn Banks On Direct-Deposit Loans

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 8:16 pm

Regulators are warning some of the nation's largest banks to stop offering loans that are hard to distinguish from those given out by storefront payday lenders.
CX Matiash AP

Consumer advocates call them "debt" traps. The banks that offer them call them direct-deposit advances and describe them as available funds for short-term emergencies.

But the cash advances have many of the negative characteristics of payday loans. And on Thursday, U.S. bank regulators took a step toward protecting consumers from the risks they pose. The regulators proposed standards for "deposit-advance products."

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Thu April 11, 2013

Japan's Big Stimulus Move Shocks Globe's Market Watchers

Passersby watch share prices spike in Tokyo on April 4, the day Japan's central bank announced a massive purchase of government bonds. The bank hopes the scale of the effort will boost Japan's slow-moving economy.
Yoshikazu Tsuno AFP/Getty Images

Currency traders were stunned last week by aggressive action from Japan's central bank. The Bank of Japan embarked on a bond-buying program that, by one measure, is twice the size of the extraordinary moves by Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve in the United States. The BOJ's move is an effort to shock the Japanese economy out of more than a decade of sluggish growth and deflation.

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Fri March 29, 2013

Cyprus' Crisis Frames Eurozone As 'Work In Progress'

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 11:14 am

Banks in Cyprus reopened to customers for the first time in nearly two weeks Thursday, albeit with strict restrictions.
Petros Giannakouris AP

On the second day since Cyprus reopened its banks, depositors continue to face restrictions on getting at their money. ATM withdrawals are limited to 300 euros a day, and there are limits on how much cash travelers can take abroad.

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Tue March 19, 2013

Odd Political Bedfellows Agree: Banks Still Too Big To Fail

Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 7:51 pm

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., questions Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke during a Senate hearing last month. Senators from both ends of the political spectrum argue that financial reforms are insufficient to protect taxpayers from potential risks posed by large banks.
Gary Cameron Reuters/Landov

Amid Washington's dysfunction, one issue has united some liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans: a common concern that "too big to fail" is alive and well.

Despite the Dodd-Frank financial reforms, these lawmakers believe the nation's largest banks still pose a threat to the economy and that the government will step in to bail them out if they get in trouble.

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Wed March 6, 2013

Time For The Fed To Take Away The Punch Bowl?

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 11:49 am

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before the Senate Banking Committee in Washington last month. Some analysts wonder if he and other policymakers have kept interest rates too low for too long.
Carolyn Kaster AP

The stock market's long climb from its recession bottom has some people concerned it may be a bubble about to burst — a bubble artificially pumped up by the Federal Reserve's easy-money policy. That's led to calls — even from within the Fed — for an end to the central bank's extraordinary efforts to keep interest rates low.

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Thu February 14, 2013

Lew Expected To Be Confirmed As Treasury Secretary

Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 3:05 am



Jack Lew, President Obama's pick for Treasury secretary, appears headed toward confirmation by the full Senate. He fared well during his confirmation hearing at the Senate Finance Committee yesterday.

But as NPR's John Ydstie reports, Lew did get some pointed questions from Republicans about his brief career in the private sector as an executive of Citigroup.

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Sat January 12, 2013

What Would Obama Do (If There's No Debt Ceiling Deal)?

Originally published on Sat January 12, 2013 12:08 pm



This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

You might've chuckled a bit this week, if you heard about the trillion-dollar platinum coin plan, to perhaps address Washington, D.C.'s debt ceiling stalemate. But it will certainly be no laughing matter if the U.S. Congress refuses to raise the borrowing limit, and the U.S. government defaults on its debt. Global financial markets would likely plummet.

NPR's John Ydstie reports on some of the options the president has if he and Congress cannot reach an agreement.

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