Marilyn Geewax

Marilyn Geewax is the senior business editor for NPR's National Desk. Besides assigning and editing business stories, Geewax regularly discusses economic issues on Weekend Edition Sunday.

Geewax was previously the national economics correspondent for Cox Newspapers' Washington Bureau. Before coming to Washington in 1999, she worked for the Cox flagship paper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, first as a business reporter and then as a columnist and editorial board member. She has also reported for the Akron Beacon Journal.

In 2004, Geewax earned a master's degree at Georgetown University, where she focused on international economic affairs. During 1994-1995, she studied economics and international relations at Harvard as a Nieman Fellow. She was also a Davenport Fellow at the University of Missouri, and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from The Ohio State University.

From 2001 to 2006, Geewax taught a business journalism class as an adjunct professor at George Washington University.

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1:37pm

Mon July 28, 2014
The Two-Way

It May Be Summer, But For Economists, This Week Feels Like Christmas

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 4:31 pm

Chiang Ying-ying AP

This week is summer's sweet spot — the peak time for pool parties, fresh-picked berries and cool drinks. But for economists, it may feel more like Christmas — so much to unwrap!

Each day will bring new decisions and reports that could have a big impact on the nation's economy. So economists, investors and workers will have plenty to ponder. Here's what's happening this week:

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3:33pm

Thu July 24, 2014
Business

4 Theories About Why Wal-Mart Changed Its U.S. Chief

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 4:23 pm

Bill Simon, head of Wal-Mart's U.S. division, is leaving the retail giant after being passed over for the company's top post.
Rick Wilking Reuters/Landov

Bill Simon, head of Wal-Mart's U.S. division, is leaving the retail giant, the company said Thursday.

Any major shake-up at Wal-Mart is closely watched because the company is so important — it tops the Fortune 500 list with annual sales approaching a half-trillion dollars. So lots of people are speculating about what Simon's departure really means. Here are some theories:

The Simplest Explanation

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4:39pm

Tue July 22, 2014
Economy

Inflation Came In Low Again, But Are There Bubbles?

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testifies before the Senate Banking Committee on July 15. She said the Fed is likely to keep interest rates low "for a considerable period" since inflation remains so tame.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Want to borrow money for a car or a home this fall?

Oddly enough, the interest rates available months from now for big-ticket items may be determined by the prices you pay today for everyday consumer goods. When store prices are rising rapidly, policymakers start pushing interest rates higher, too.

But for the moment, at least, inflation appears mild enough to keep interest rates low for a long while.

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5:36pm

Thu July 17, 2014
Economy

Latest Wrinkle In The Jobs Debate: Blame The Boomers

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 1:46 pm

Participation in the workforce has dropped significantly since 2007, and economists say more than half of the dropouts may never return.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Since late 2007, the U.S. labor force has shrunk significantly, raising questions about where former workers have gone and why.

Now the White House Council of Economic Advisers says it has found answers and has compiled them into a detailed research report released Thursday.

As it turns out, most of the missing workers have been hiding in plain sight: They are retiring baby boomers.

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11:10am

Tue July 15, 2014
Business

Citigroup Settlement Offers Former Homeowners 'Cold Comfort'

The Citigroup Center is viewed in midtown Manhattan. Critics say the U.S. settlement with the banking giant will do nothing for those hurt most by the foreclosure crisis: people who lost their homes.
Timothy A. Clary AFP/Getty Images

Should you be watching your mailbox for a check from Citigroup?

The banking giant says it will pay out $2.5 billion to provide "consumer relief" to help settle charges brought against it by the U.S. Justice Department. The government said Monday that "defects" in Citi's mortgage securities had fueled the financial crisis that triggered the Great Recession.

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7:02am

Fri July 11, 2014
Business

Economists Say Inflation Is Tame; Consumers Aren't Buying It

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 9:15 am

Meat is displayed in a case at a grocery store in Miami. The index of retail prices for meats, poultry, fish and eggs was up 7.7 percent from a year ago — more than triple the overall inflation rate.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Economists regularly issue reports calling inflation tame or mild, or some other word that suggests consumers shouldn't be feeling much pain.

One example: "Inflation has been tame and this is providing households with some relief" from economic stress, according to an assessment done this week by PNC Financial Services.

But if you happen to be buying gasoline or groceries, you may not be feeling relieved — at all.

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4:03pm

Thu July 3, 2014
Economy

Hiring Looks Good Now, But Wage Growth Lags

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 5:12 pm

A Gap employee works at a store in San Francisco. The company plans to raise its minimum wage in phases to $10 an hour by next year.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

The unemployment report released Thursday by the Labor Department offered great news for job seekers: Hiring boomed in June.

That good news helped send stock prices to record levels, with the Dow Jones industrial average crossing the 17,000 mark for the first time to close at 17,068.26, up 92.02.

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6:23pm

Mon June 30, 2014
Business

How Many Companies Will Be Touched By Court's Contraception Ruling?

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 6:46 pm

The Supreme Court said protecting the free-exercise rights of owners of corporations, such as Hobby Lobby Stores, protects religious liberty.
Ed Andrieski AP

When the Supreme Court ruled Monday that "closely held" corporations don't have to pay for workers' contraception, you may have assumed the decision applied only to family-owned businesses.

Wrong. An estimated 9 out of 10 businesses are "closely held."

However, some benefits experts question just how many of those companies would want to assert religious views.

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1:51pm

Fri June 27, 2014
The Two-Way

U.K. Loses Big Vote On The Future Of Europe — Now What?

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 2:30 pm

On the sidelines of the EU summit in Brussels, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said the choice of Jean-Claude Juncker to head the European Commission marks "a bad day for Europe."
John Thys AFP/Getty Images

The European Union made history Friday by bringing three of Russia's neighbors — Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova — under its economic tent.

The eastward expansion of trade agreements will push European influence deep into a region that Russia would like to dominate. In light of recent Russian aggression in Ukraine, that's a big deal.

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7:03am

Thu June 26, 2014
Europe

In Flanders Fields, Europeans Still Learning How To Get Along

British Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a speech next to German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a technology Trade fair March 10 in Hanover, Germany.
Nigel Treblin Getty Images

On Thursday, European leaders are gathering in Belgium to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I — the bloodbath that ended millions of European lives.

And killed 116,516 U.S. troops. And laid the groundwork for World War II.

The centenary ceremony in Ypres, Belgium, provides a good reminder that whenever relations among European nations break bad, the rest of us need to pay attention.

It's time to listen up again.

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5:46am

Sat June 7, 2014
Economy

Job Outlook Brightens For Graduates, Though Problems Linger

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 3:07 pm

Kaitlin Foran, a senior at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, meets with a prospective employer at a job fair at National Harbor in Maryland.
T.J. Kirkpatrick Getty Images

Congratulations Class of 2014! You are entering a labor market that offers a record number of paychecks.

On Friday, the Labor Department said the U.S. economy now has 138.5 million jobs, slightly more than the previous high set in early 2008 — just as the Great Recession was tightening its grip.

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6:34pm

Thu June 5, 2014
Economy

Is Pushing Interest Rates To Less Than Zero A Crazy Idea?

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 7:17 pm

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi speaks at a news conference Thursday in Frankfurt after the ECB said it was cutting rates.
Arne Dedert AFP/Getty Images

By now, you may have heard that on Thursday, the European Central Bank shifted to a negative interest-rate policy for deposits.

That news may have prompted two thoughts: 1) Isn't that crazy? 2) Who cares what happens in Europe?

These questions have answers. But first, some background:

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1:22pm

Sat May 31, 2014
Business

Regulators And Airlines Fight Over Fares, Fees And Fairness

The government wants airlines to be more up front with passengers about the total cost of tickets.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

This week, the Department of Transportation hit Southwest Airlines with a $200,000 fine for touting a fare that did not exist. The carrier had said in a TV ad that customers in Atlanta could fly to New York, Chicago or Los Angeles for just $59. But the bargain fare turned out to be too good to be true.

Southwest, which paid a fine for a similar problem last year, says the ad was a mistake. The airline pulled it as soon as the error was discovered.

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4:28pm

Thu May 29, 2014
Economy

The Economy Takes A Dip, But Analysts Look For It To Snap Back

Originally published on Thu May 29, 2014 4:58 pm

Auto sales rebounded in March and consumer spending remains strong, signs that the economy won't stay down for long, analysts say.
Jonathan Ernst Reuters/Landov

The Commerce Department on Thursday said the U.S. economy shriveled during the icy winter, contracting at a 1 percent pace.

So does that news leave you feeling chilled with disappointment, or revved up for a summer rebound?

How consumers and business owners answer may determine the direction of jobs and economic growth for the back half of 2014.

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5:29am

Sun May 25, 2014
Business

It's Geithner Vs. Warren In Battle Of The Bailout

In a war of words between Timothy Geithner and Elizabeth Warren over the bank bailout, who's the victor?
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

The financial crisis of 2008 caused such an enormous upheaval that future historians will long be asking: Who caused it? Who fixed it? Could it have turned out better?

Recently, two key players looked back: Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wrote Stress Test, Reflections on Financial Crisis, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote A Fighting Chance.

The two reached opposite conclusions. Geithner believes the bank bailout proved its worth. Warren remains outraged that wealthy bankers have not been jailed.

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5:28pm

Fri May 23, 2014
The Two-Way

Economist Piketty's Work Doesn't Add Up, 'Financial Times' Says

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 6:16 pm

French economist and academic Thomas Piketty, in his book-lined office at the French School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, in Paris, earlier this month.
Charles Platiau Reuters/Landov

French economist Thomas Piketty became a publishing superstar this year by putting two and two together and concluding that the rich are getting richer.

His best-seller, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, uses mountains of data to calculate Western wealth over the past two centuries. He says the historical statistics, drawn from many sources, show unrestrained capitalism inevitably leads to immense income inequality.

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3:59pm

Thu May 15, 2014
Business

Housing Is Perking Up, But Realtors Worry About Young Buyers

Originally published on Mon May 19, 2014 5:25 pm

iStockphoto

The U.S. housing market is strengthening after a tough winter, according to economists at a Realtors convention in Washington.

But even as the short-term outlook brightens, they remain worried about a long-term problem with "missing" young buyers.

"There really are serious issues in the first-time-buyer market," Eric Belsky, managing director of Harvard's Joint Center of Housing Studies, told the National Association of Realtors on Thursday.

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3:16pm

Wed May 14, 2014
It's All Politics

Bill Clinton Says His Wife's Brain Is Just Fine, Thank You

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 4:50 pm

Former President Bill Clinton answers questions Wednesday from Gwen Ifill of PBS NewsHour at the 2014 Fiscal Summit organized by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation in Washington.
AP

Bill Clinton says he was "dumbfounded" by Republican strategist Karl Rove's recent comments about Hillary Clinton's brain. But the former president was hardly left speechless.

"First they say she was faking her concussion; now they say she's auditioning for a part on The Walking Dead," Clinton said on Wednesday when asked about Rove's remark that Hillary may have suffered "brain damage" from a fall in 2012.

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5:40am

Sun May 11, 2014
Business

On Income Inequality: A French Economist Vs. An American Capitalist

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 9:11 am

iStockphoto

Picture a cozy cafe. At a small table, an economics professor from Paris is chatting with a wealthy businessman from New York.

As they sip coffee, they discuss economic history, and often nod and agree.

Then, as they stand to leave, each states a conclusion drawn from their conversation. But what they say is exactly, completely opposite.

One says economic history proves governments must impose very heavy taxes to break up concentrations of wealth. The other says governments should cut taxes to encourage wealthy people to pursue even bigger profits.

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1:51pm

Fri April 25, 2014
Business

Gasoline Prices Rise As U.S. Refineries Send More Fuel Overseas

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 2:28 pm

With so much fuel headed elsewhere, the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is now $3.69, compared with $3.53 a month ago, according to AAA.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

The weather is warming and vacation season approaching.

And, just as predictably, the price of gasoline is rising. It does that every spring as refineries switch to more expensive summer blends.

But this year, the seasonal price bump is getting an extra bounce. Gasoline is costing consumers about 5 percent more than last year at this time, even though oil supplies are abundant. Why?

Experts say U.S. retail prices are nudging higher in large part because Gulf Coast refineries are sending more gasoline to other countries.

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6:40am

Fri April 18, 2014
Business

Obama Wants To Sell Exports To Asia, But Critics Aren't Buying

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 2:00 pm

Members of Japan's farmers association protest against the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks at a rally in Tokyo in March 2013.
Yoshikazu Tsuno AFP/Getty Images

Next week, President Obama is going to Asia, where he'll talk up a proposed deal to increase U.S. trade with that region.

If he succeeds, he could open up huge new markets for U.S. farmers and manufacturers, strengthen U.S. influence in Asia and set a path to greater prosperity.

At least, that's what the White House says.

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10:20am

Sun April 13, 2014
Economy

Frustrated With Congress, IMF Heads Leave D.C. With Budding Idea

Originally published on Sun April 13, 2014 10:41 am

The U.S., the IMF's most powerful member, has refused to sign off on reforms. On Saturday, global leaders suggested the IMF would turn to other options if Congress doesn't act by year's end.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

As far as looks go, Washington turned in a dazzling performance as host city for this past week's meetings at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Cherry blossoms peaked, tulips popped, and the air carried the sweet scent of hyacinths.

But politics-wise, Washington let down its global guests. They came begging Congress to approve a package of IMF reforms, but are leaving Sunday with nothing.

"We are all very disappointed by the ongoing failure to bring these reforms to conclusion," Australia's Treasurer Joe Hockey told reporters.

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5:38pm

Thu April 10, 2014
The Two-Way

German Fears About U.S. Spying Could Hurt Trade Deal

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 10:52 am

A carnival truck caricatures President Obama and the NSA spying scandal during a parade through Frankfurt, Germany, last month.
Frank Rumpenhorst EPA/Landov

Most Americans and Germans agree: More trade between the United States and the European Union would be a good idea.

But when you get down to details of a possible trade pact, suspicions pop up, according to a new poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in association with Germany's Bertelsmann Foundation.

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11:49am

Thu April 10, 2014
Economy

Wonk Week In Washington: When Briefings Are Better Than Blossoms

Originally published on Thu April 10, 2014 1:58 pm

Pedestrians walk by the International Monetary Fund headquarters in Washington, D.C., site of the IMF/World Bank spring meetings.
Shawn Thew EPA/Landov

Let the senior-citizen tourists stare at the fluffy pink cherry blossoms.

Let the Midwestern seventh-graders tilt their heads back and gaze gape-mouthed at the Washington Monument.

Sure, this is a lovely week for them to be in Washington, D.C. It's April. It's gorgeous.

But no one is happier to be here this week than the wonks. And no, not the I-read-a-good-article-in-The-Economist wonk wannabes.

This week is for the true, serious wonks who just can't get enough of lecture halls, hearing rooms and soggy hors d'oeuvres.

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6:09pm

Wed April 9, 2014
The Two-Way

Turmoil in Ukraine Clouds The Region's Economic Outlook

When Americans envision the European economy, they may think of modern factories churning out sleek German cars and chocolatiers perfecting Belgian truffles.

That developed part of Europe is perking up. The International Monetary Fund said this week that, coming out of a crushing recession, Eurozone growth should be around 1.2 percent - sluggish but steady this year.

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6:06pm

Tue April 8, 2014
The Two-Way

21st Century Energy Outlook: Quite Similar To The Last Two Centuries

Originally published on Tue April 8, 2014 9:09 pm

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy sponsored the event.

But the speaker, Anthony Alexander, the chief executive of FirstEnergy Corp., offered a vigorous defense of that 20th century invention — nuclear power. And he was even more adamant about the value of the 19th century's key energy source — coal.

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5:00pm

Fri April 4, 2014
Business

Expecting A Spring Thaw, Shops And Restaurants Warm To Hiring

Originally published on Fri April 4, 2014 5:37 pm

Employment and wages are increasing, along with hopes for more consumer spending, analysts say.
Matt Rourke AP

As winter loosens its grip, employers are taking on more help.

Hotels, bars and restaurants added 33,000 workers, while retailers tacked on 21,000 jobs in March, the Labor Department said Friday. Economists say those increases suggest employers are growing more confident that Americans will be spending more this year.

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6:31pm

Thu March 27, 2014
The Changing Lives Of Women

Women And Wealth: Local To Global Money Lessons

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 7:39 pm

Our Women and Wealth series will involve you, too. We're asking women to share their best lessons about earning, saving, investing or using money. The above quote comes from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. You can see more from her, and other influential women, and add your two cents at our Tumblr, She Works Her Money.
NPR

When it comes to money, women rule. Literally.

Think about it: A woman holds the top job at the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Social Security Administration.

At the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde is the managing director.

These women run large, complex organizations that decide how money is invested, budgeted, saved and spent. They shape the rules that govern the global economy.

But over on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley, men still do more risk-taking.

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12:09am

Mon March 24, 2014
Business

After Winter's Chill, Economists Predict A Warming Trend

A cold, snowy winter in most of the country hurt economic growth, but forecasters see conditions improving for the rest of the year.
iStockphoto.com

Somewhere under all of that melting snow, there's a warming economy.

"Adverse weather conditions" have hurt economic growth so far this year, but things are headed in the right direction now, according to a forecast released Monday by the National Association for Business Economics.

"Conditions in a variety of areas — including labor, consumer and housing markets — are expected to improve over the next two years, while inflation remains tame," Jack Kleinhenz, NABE president and chief economist for the National Retail Federation, said in a statement.

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3:59am

Mon March 17, 2014
Education

Paying For College: No Easy Answers For Many Families

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 6:32 pm

iStockphoto

The math is clear: College pays off.

Among Americans ages 25 to 32, college graduates earned $17,500 more than high school graduates in 2012 — the largest pay differential ever, according to Pew Research. When it comes to earnings, "the picture is consistently bleaker for less-educated workers," the Pew study concluded.

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