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.

If Congress were to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it would help the economy, though not by all that much, the U.S. International Trade Commission said Wednesday.

By 2032, TPP would be increasing real GDP by nearly $43 billion annually, and supporting an additional 128,000 full time jobs.

"TPP would have positive effects, albeit small as a percentage of the overall size of the U.S. economy," the ITC concluded.

Apparently, Americans are tired of taking "staycations."

During the Great Recession, when layoffs and foreclosures were hitting hard, millions of people stayed home for summer vacation. Air travel fell off dramatically.

Studies have been showing for years that this country's middle class is shrinking.

Now, the nonpartisan Pew Research Center has added another dimension to the story: Its examination of government data shows the problem is not confined to the Rust Belt or Appalachia.

In fact, the middle is shrinking from coast to coast.

The pace of job creation slowed substantially last month, the Labor Department said Friday.

Employers added 160,000 employees in April, downshifting from the monthly average of 192,000 workers so far this year. That was a disappointment for many job seekers.

But the country does have one group enjoying lots of opportunities: newly minted college graduates. In fact, economists say this might be the best time to be graduating in a decade.

The Department of Transportation on Wednesday announced the recall of an additional 35 million to 40 million faulty air bag inflators made by Japan's Takata Corp., an auto-parts supplier.

Already, 28.8 million Takata inflators have been recalled. In all, this massive action will add up to the largest safety recall in U.S. history.

One of the economic legacies President Obama hopes to leave behind is an expansion of U.S. exports.

To do that, he wants to complete one trade deal with European countries, and another with Pacific Rim nations.

But well into his final year in office, Obama is facing stiff headwinds on trade.

The European deal, called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, made news on Monday...but probably not the way the White House would have preferred.

International trade disputes used to be relatively simple.

One country would build up an industry to create jobs, and then dump excess products in another country at below-cost prices. Competitors facing unrealistically cheap imports would file "anti-dumping" complaints to seek government-backed protections.

Planning to squeeze cash out of your house this spring to do some remodeling?

You can relax a little. Interest rates on home equity loans, credit cards and car loans are likely to stay low for a while longer.

That's because the Federal Reserve Board's policymakers ended their meeting Wednesday without raising the benchmark short-term interest rate. If the benchmark had risen, then your borrowing costs probably would have been pointing higher too.

But you should be OK for now.

In this year's election cycle, international trade has emerged as a top campaign issue.

So journalists with NPR and several public-radio member stations set out this week to examine trade matters as part of our special election-year series: A Nation Engaged.

China has gotten very good at making steel. And making it and making it and making it.

In fact, that "excess" production is causing such a crisis for the global steel industry that the United States is joining an international push to try to cut the glut.

This week, NPR and some member stations will be talking about trade on the campaign trail and in communities around the country.

In this presidential election cycle, many Americans are casting votes based on their feelings about past trade deals, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, and proposed deals, especially the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

To understand the economy, you have to do a lot of measuring. What's bigger? What's growing? What's unequal?

On national Equal Pay Day, women and economists take a hard look at incomes. And their measurements show that after decades of the equal-rights battles, men still get bigger paychecks — sometimes for the same work.

For workers who want a raise, this was an encouraging week, with minimum-wage legislation gaining momentum and employers paying more across the board.

In fact, the Service Employees International Union labeled this "a historic week." Here's what happened on the wage front in recent days:

Since the civil rights era of the 1960s, Atlanta civic leaders have touted the slogan, "The City Too Busy to Hate."

Their message: We're focused on creating jobs and wealth, not resisting desegregation.

Turns out, many businesses liked that attitude. Atlanta held on to its longtime giants, such as Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, and become home to many more corporations, including UPS, Home Depot and Mercedes-Benz USA.

Very few companies make "supercars" that can rocket you from zero to 60 mph in a blink and then propel you to nearly 200 mph.

Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Bugatti — and of course, Honda.

Honda?

This is the time of year when millions of travelers are making summer vacation plans. Analysts expected record numbers to book flights to international destinations.

Their outlook was so optimistic because global passenger traffic had shot up 7.1 percent in January, compared with last year, according to the International Air Transport Association. "The record load factor is a result of strong demand for our product," Tony Tyler, CEO of the trade group, said in a statement earlier this month.

Federal Reserve policymakers said Wednesday that the U.S. economy is chugging along at a decent pace with an improving job market.

Still, they fear risks from "global economic and financial developments."

So given that balance of good news and growing risks, the Federal Open Market Committee decided to take no action on the target range for the federal funds rate at the close of its two-day meeting.

As a Youngstown native, I have come to expect this.

Every presidential election year, candidates flock to Youngstown, Ohio, to use my hometown as a political backdrop.

It's a great place to talk about job losses. Steel mills used to line the Mahoning River for miles, churning out tens of thousands of jobs. Those jobs drove the city's population from 33,000 in 1890 to 170,000 in 1930. My grandparents came from Poland and Hungary to join in that boom.

In the mid-20th century, Youngstown became known for its union jobs and high levels of home ownership.

Over the past month, millions of YouTube viewers have watched what happens when a U.S. manufacturer announces a move to Mexico.

Click on the unsteady cellphone video, shot at a factory that makes air conditioning, heating and related equipment in Indianapolis, and you will see workers listening to a man in a suit.

He's telling them that their paychecks are headed to Mexico.

"I want to be clear, this is strictly a business decision," the man says.

If you don't hang out with lawmakers, economists and journalists in Washington, you probably think Democrats and Republicans disagree on economic policy.

They don't.

In Washington, there's actually a broad consensus about economic growth. These ideas have held sway for decades:

  • Globalization is inevitable
  • Technology boosts productivity
  • Immigration brings in fresh talent
  • Trade deals spur growth

Record numbers of airline passengers will soon be taking off for spring break, expecting to find fun.

But first, they'll have to get through the Transportation Security Administration screening at the airport. Definitely no fun there.

Both the TSA and Airlines For America (A4A), an industry trade group, say travelers should brace for long waits in epic lines. "It's a very serious concern," A4A Senior Vice President Sharon Pinkerton said on a conference call with journalists Wednesday.

Many Americans tell pollsters and politicians that they're angry. Why?

At least part of the answer might be tucked inside the February jobs report, released Friday by the Labor Department. Consider this:

If you've stopped for gas lately, you've probably noticed a price jump.

A week ago, the national average for a gallon of regular gas was around $1.70. Now it's about $1.80, according to GasBuddy.com, which tracks prices.

So rising gas prices must reflect shrinking oil supplies, right?

Nope.

If you have been watching the presidential debates, you may be very worried.

The other day, GOP candidate Ben Carson said the U.S. is "heading off the abyss of destruction." And on the Democratic side, Sen. Bernie Sanders said Americans "are worried to death about the future of their kids."

As winter starts to wind down, you may be stepping up your plans for a spring-break trip.

But have you checked airfares lately?

If you haven't looked since Christmas, you may be in for a surprise: Many fares are up. In fact, the largest U.S. carriers have nudged rates higher three times in recent weeks.

Farecompare.com, a fare tracking website, says airlines are charging $22 more for round-trip flights this year. Most of the hikes are hitting smaller cities and less competitive markets.

These things we know for sure:

  • The sun rises in the East.
  • The Earth is round.
  • Wal-Mart sales increase every year.

Oops. We'll need to scratch that last one.

On Wednesday, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported that that for the fiscal year ended in January, annual revenues totaled $482.1 billion — down 0.7 percent from the previous year's $485.7 billion.

For the oil industry, this is what passes for good news:

Iran said Wednesday that it would be great if other countries would limit their oil production to boost prices.

As for itself, Iran will continue to ramp up oil production.

That may not sound like much reason for celebration, but Iran's expression of support for multi-nation plan to restrain oil output was enough to give the energy market a boost. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude oil gained $1.62, or 5.6%, to settle at $30.66 a barrel.

Millions of Americans have been freezing in record-low temperatures this month.

Now many are mapping out road trips, preparing to head south soon for Easter and spring breaks. And with gas prices averaging just about $1.70 a gallon nationwide, they are looking forward to affordable travel.

But on the other side of the world, oil producers are trying to engineer a different kind of freeze — one that could heat up gas prices again.

"Full employment" is a phrase economists use to explain how the job market recovers from a recession. We'll be hearing this phrase a lot as the Labor Department releases the latest jobs data on Friday. It's expected to show that employers added even more workers in January.

But the phrase doesn't tell the full story for millions of Americans either still out of work or who are looking for something better than part-time work.

What is full employment and what does it mean?

If you are getting spooked by plunging stock prices, you may be trying to figure out where the economy is heading.

Here's one new sign that better days are coming:

In the latest survey of business economists, most — 58 percent — say their companies plan to raise workers' wages this winter. That's the most upbeat wage outlook since mid-2014, according to the quarterly survey done by the National Association for Business Economics.

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