Jim Zarroli | KBIA

Jim Zarroli

Jim Zarroli is an NPR correspondent based in New York. He covers economics and business news.

Over the years, he has reported on recessions and booms, crashes and rallies, and a long string of tax dodgers, insider traders, and Ponzi schemers. Most recently, he has focused on trade and the job market. He also worked as part of a team covering President Trump's business interests.

Before moving into his current role, Zarroli served as a New York-based general assignment reporter for NPR News. While in this position, he reported from the United Nations and was also involved in NPR's coverage of Hurricane Katrina, the London transit bombings, and the Fukushima earthquake.

Before joining NPR in 1996, Zarroli worked for the Pittsburgh Press and wrote for various print publications.

He lives in Manhattan, loves to read, and is a devoted (but not at all fast) runner.

Zarroli grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, in a family of six kids and graduated from Pennsylvania State University.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

President Trump's slash-and-burn rhetoric against China may have brought few lasting economic benefits so far, but it has succeeded in one fundamental way: No administration can now afford to play nice with the United States' biggest rival.

Trump made hostility toward China a centerpiece of his "America First" trade agenda, launching bitter attacks against Beijing's policies and setting off a trade war by slapping tariffs on two-thirds of Chinese imports.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Updated at 4:23 p.m. ET

Wall Street seemed to love the prospect of a "blue wave" just a few days ago. Now that Democrats appear less likely to get the landslide they hoped for, investors are happy about that as well.

Stock prices began climbing early in the week, when polls showed that Democrats could capture both the Senate and the White House, giving them complete control of Washington.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished 1.6% higher on Monday and then rose more than 2% before polls closed on Election Day.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Updated at 4:11 p.m. ET

Stocks fell sharply on Wednesday as a spike in coronavirus cases in the United States and Europe is raising the prospect of further lockdowns that could hurt the global economy.

At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 943 points, a decline of 3.4%, and is in negative territory for the month. The S&P 500 fell 3.5%, its third consecutive decline, and is down over 8% from its record high in early September.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Updated at 5 p.m. ET

Stocks on Monday posted their worst day since early September amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the United States and Europe and declining optimism about another U.S. pandemic relief bill.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day down 650 points, or 2.3%, posting its biggest decline since Sept. 3. The other major indexes were also down, though not as much.

Updated at 3:16 p.m. ET

The U.S. budget deficit soared to a record $3.1 trillion, following a massive surge in government spending aimed at containing the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.

The deficit for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 was more than triple that of fiscal 2019 and easily eclipsed the previous record of $1.4 trillion recorded in 2009.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Updated at 4:35 p.m. ET

Stocks finished sharply higher after President Trump said he's open to stand-alone bills to aid airlines and small businesses, a reversal from statements he made earlier.

Updated at 4:37 p.m. ET

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the pace of jobs growth is rising faster than many people expected, but it may take years before the economy has fully recovered.

On election night 2016, Gretchen Sisson was so sure Hillary Clinton would defeat Donald Trump that she and her husband invited 80 people to their San Francisco home for a party. They even had a giant sheet cake made that celebrated suffragists and the Equal Rights Amendment. On the side was written, "Madam President."

That's not how it turned out. Trump won in a stunning outcome, and no one could bear to eat. Afterward, Sisson and her family ended up eating the cake themselves for weeks. It was, she says now, a lesson in hubris.

When legendary investor Jack Bogle created the index fund in 1976, he saw it as a way to help ordinary Americans share in the riches of the entire U.S. stock market.

This year, index fund investors are making money all right. But it's come with some risks: Much of the gains are due to half a dozen ultra-hot technology stocks.

President Trump loves talking about the booming stock market. It's not so clear Wall Street loves him back.

For the first time in a decade, deep-pocketed donors from the halls of finance are giving more money to Democrats than Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a research group that tracks money in politics.

Stuck at home this spring, University of Nebraska student Alexander Kearns spent his empty hours buying and selling stocks online, learning as much as he could about investing.

"He sounded like a kid that was really, really excited to be studying something that he found interesting," says Bill Brewster, his cousin by marriage.

What no one knew was that Kearns had been trading options on a popular app called Robinhood, and at some point appears to have mistakenly concluded he had lost more than $730,000.

Already a Wall Street superstar, Tesla turned a profit for the fourth straight quarter, an important milestone that will make it eligible to join the S&P 500 stock index for the first time.

The economy is tanking across the country, with layoffs and bankruptcies as far as the eye can see. But the richest sliver of the country continues to do quite well, thank you.

The latest evidence came Wednesday morning as Goldman Sachs, the bluest of blue-chip banks, said it's raking in money on Wall Street.

While other banks are warning about rising loan losses during the recession, Goldman, which tends to serve a higher-end clientele, is sounding a pretty optimistic note.

Updated at 12:45 p.m. ET

The dramatic collapse of the U.S. economy from the coronavirus is pummeling America's largest banks, raising new concerns about how much growth is slowing.

They fume and rage and demand their rights. Sometimes they even get violent.

In the age of COVID-19, most people practice social distancing guidelines when they go into stores and restaurants, putting on masks and standing 6 feet behind other customers.

Still, there are the nightmare customers — those who refuse to comply.

"I've had a lot of conflict. I've had a lot of pushback from people," says Brenda Leek, owner of Curbside Eatery in La Mesa, Calif.

Updated at 4:07 p.m. ET

Stocks plunged Thursday amid reports of a second wave of coronavirus cases, as well as a warning from Fed officials that the economy may take longer than first thought to recover.

After the coronavirus lockdowns forced it to shut down its 345 U.S. theaters, Texas-based Cinemark in April decided to do what a lot of companies have done: borrow money by selling bonds.

It's counterintuitive.

At a time of roiling civil unrest and an unprecedented economic crisis, stock prices are chugging along quite nicely. In fact, they have rebounded sharply since the dark days of March.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which lost 37% of its value between Feb. 12 and March 23, has now regained more than two-thirds of the ground it lost. Same with the broader S&P 500 index.

Trevon Ellis spent years building up his north Minneapolis barbershop, the Fade Factory, luring customers with smart haircuts, snacks and friendly conversation.

It took just one terrible night to destroy it all.

"Inside is totally burned down," Ellis says. "Everything was burned to a crisp."

The recent wave of protests against police brutality has left a trail of chaos and destruction in many city neighborhoods, with countless businesses looted and damaged.

Marshall Gilmore finally got what he'd been waiting for this month when the state of Mississippi allowed him to offer table service again at his restaurant, the Harvest Grill in Meridian.

Still, many of his tables sit empty, even at limited capacity, and he makes most of his money offering curbside food pickup.

"People are just a little apprehensive about getting out in public. This was a once-in-a-lifetime scare that we all just went through. So everyone's a little scared," Gilmore says.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We have another damage report this morning. The government reported how many Americans filed for unemployment for the first time last week, a number that has been in the millions week after week. NPR's Jim Zarroli is covering this. Hi there, Jim.

Updated at 8:43 a.m. ET

Another 3.2 million people filed for unemployment for the first time last week, bringing the total number of jobs lost during the coronavirus crisis in the last seven weeks to at least 33.5 million.

Last week's number was down from the nearly 3.9 million initial claims filed the week ending April 25, and filings have fallen for five weeks in a row.

The claims numbers come one day before the release of the April jobs report, which is expected to show a staggering jump in unemployment to around 16%.

A few weeks ago, Tracy Delphia and her co-workers indulged themselves with talk about what it would be like to be furloughed.

They wondered: Wouldn't it be nice to enjoy a little downtime and go on unemployment? Or would it be preferable to keep your job?

Now that she has lost her job as a research analyst, Delphia is pretty sure she knows the answer: It's better to be working.

"The sense of worry about, 'Will I get to go back?' sort of overrides any enjoyment someone might have from sleeping in, in the morning, or whatever," she says.

Trish Pugh started an Ohio trucking company with her husband in 2015. Even for a small business, it's small — they had two drivers, counting her husband, until they let one go because of the coronavirus crisis.

And so her company applied for a loan under the first, $349 billion round of the Paycheck Protection Program, which the federal government had set up to rescue small businesses.

It didn't go well.

Updated Tuesday at 9:31 a.m. ET

Several large restaurant chains, an asset management firm and even the Los Angeles Lakers have returned money they received from the first $349 billion allotment in the Paycheck Protection Program.

The decision to give back the money comes amid complaints that many large companies are wrongly accessing a federal loan program intended to help small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.

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