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.

In recent years, Arnold has spent much of his time reporting on the financial crisis, its aftermath, and the U.S. economy's ongoing recovery. He has focused on the housing bubble and its collapse. And he's reported on problems within the nation's largest banks that have led to the banks improperly foreclosing on thousands of American homeowners. For this work, Arnold earned a 2011 Edward R. Murrow Award for the special series, The Foreclosure Nightmare. He's also been honored with the Newspaper Guild's 2009 Heywood Broun Award for broadcast journalism. He was chosen 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 is also reporting on the now government-owned mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In a series of stories in partnership with ProPublica, Arnold exposed investments at Freddie Mac that raised serious concerns about a conflict of interest between Fannie and Freddie's massive investment portfolios, and their mission to make home ownership more affordable. The stories generated widespread attention, and led to calls for an investigation by members of Congress.

Arnold was recently honored with a Nieman Journalism Fellowship at Harvard University during the 2012-2013 academic year. He joined a small group of other journalists from the U.S. and abroad and studied, among other things, economics and the future of home ownership in America.

Prior to that, Arnold covered a range of other subjects 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 the 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.

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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Europe
2:34 am
Wed April 23, 2014

Putin's Chess Moves In Ukraine: Brilliant Tactics, But Bad Strategy?

Protesters play chess in Independence Square in Kiev last winter. Some would say that Russian President Putin is playing geopolitical chess when it comes to Ukraine.
Dmitry Lovetsky AP

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 8:06 am

The game of chess is a national pastime in Russia. And you might say that Vladimir Putin is playing a high-stakes game of geopolitical chess when it comes to Ukraine.

Western leaders are plotting how to counter Putin's latest moves with economic sanctions. So to get some insight into what might come next, we talked to an economist who knows Russia — who is also extremely good at chess.

Putin Playing From A Weak Position

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Your Money
1:42 am
Mon April 21, 2014

How Do Companies Boost 401(k) Enrollment? Make It Automatic

iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 12:15 pm

More Americans are saving for retirement through their employers' 401(k) programs. That's because in recent years they've been given a strong nudge — more companies are automatically enrolling workers in retirement savings programs.

Some firms are also automatically increasing the amount employees contribute. That's just as important, experts say.

And all of this makes a big difference: Without it, millions of Americans don't save at all.

Making Time For Retirement Planning

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Economy
2:30 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Onlookers Show No Worry Over Market's Week In Tumult

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 6:13 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. Volatile, that's the kind of week the stock market had. Investors sold off high-flying technology and biotech stocks. Weak bank earnings also added to the sour mix. The NASDAQ is down 8 percent from its peak this year. The S&P 500, it's off 4 percent. But as NPR's Chris Arnold reports, the sell-off hasn't triggered alarm and indicators for the broader economy are mostly positive.

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Rethinking Retirement: The Changing Work Landscape
4:05 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

One More Speed Bump For Your Retirement Fund: Basic Human Impulse

We hate losing twice as much as we love winning, behavioral researchers say. And that gets us into trouble with financial decisions.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu April 3, 2014 5:34 pm

Saving for retirement is a challenge facing most Americans. Research shows the challenge is made harder by our basic human impulses. We know we should be saving. But we don't. We consistently make bad financial decisions.

One thing that leads us astray is what behavioral economists call "loss aversion." In other words, we hate losing. And that gets in the way of us winning — if winning is making smart financial decisions.

How A Smashed Car Is Like A Smashed Nest Egg

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Parallels
3:38 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

How Russia's Annexation Of Crimea Could Hurt Its Economy

A street vendor in Simferopol, Crimea, sells eggs with the dual currency price tags in Russian rubles and Ukrainian hryvnias. Russia's annexation of Crimea mean it will now have to prop up the peninsula's weak economy.
Dmitry Serebryakov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 9:05 am

Russian President Vladimir Putin's swift move to annex Crimea is seen as a sign of strength by many Russians, and it has boosted Putin's popularity at home. But when it comes to Russia's economy, many analysts think Russia's prospects are looking weaker.

In recent days, we've seen Russians rallying in the streets, waving flags and celebrating Putin's move to reclaim Crimea as part of Russia.

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Economy
3:24 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Severe Weather Socks The Economy, But Full Impact Is Unclear

It's too cold to eat out.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 4:31 pm

The economy often absorbs the impact of snowstorms, such as this week's storm, without much trouble, but this winter the weather is doing more damage than usual.

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Around the Nation
2:35 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Grounded And Confounded, Airlines Wait For Storms To Pass

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 5:58 pm

The snow and ice storms sweeping the East Coast have been felt not only on the ground but in the air, as well. Airlines are cancelling thousands of flights, and both the companies and their passengers have had to deal with the fallout.

Economy
7:43 am
Sat February 8, 2014

January Job Growth Disappoints, But Unemployment Drops

Originally published on Sat February 8, 2014 10:05 am

The U.S. added just 113,000 jobs in January, instead of the 180,000 analysts had predicted. Despite the anemic gains, the unemployment rate inched down to 6.6 percent, the lowest level since October 2008.

Economy
4:04 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Trouble In Emerging Markets Causes Stocks To Take A Tumble

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 5:29 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Stock prices soared in the past year, but this was a rough week and prices really tumbled today. The Dow lost 318 points, the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ both fell 2.1 percent. This was part of a global sell-off, as investors focus on the growing financial turmoil in the developing world. NPR's Chris Arnold is following this and he joins me now. Chris, the year started off looking like the global economy was more stable. We didn't have a financial crisis unfolding somewhere. So what's going on now?

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The Salt
3:54 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Small-Batch Distilleries Ride The Craft Liquor Wave

Evan Parker built the interior space of the distillery himself in a small warehouse near the coast. Parker and his business partner, Mat Perry, have desks overlooking their 400-gallon copper kettle and still.
Chris Arnold NPR

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 6:01 pm

Wherever you live, you're probably not too far from a local microbrewery making beer. Now, the latest trend is the spread of what you might call "micro-boozeries." Craft liquor distilleries are springing up around the country like little wellheads spouting gin, whiskey and rum.

Turkey Shore Distilleries in Ipswich, Mass., is one of them.

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Economy
3:15 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Obama Unveils New Plans To Encourage Manufacturing Jobs

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 5:44 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. President Obama has been talking a lot lately about income inequality. Today, he visited a factory in North Carolina and announced new steps that he said would create more good-paying, middle class jobs. He plans to do that by boosting American manufacturing and at the center of that plan is a big idea: a new, federally-funded innovation institute.

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Economy
4:18 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

For The Unemployed, Ideas To Help Bridge The Gap To Work

Job seekers line up to talk to recruiters during a job fair held in Atlanta in May.
John Amis AP

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 6:01 pm

When members of Congress return to work next week, at the top of the "to-do" list is whether to renew emergency unemployment benefits. An extension of the benefits expired at the end of 2013, which means 1.3 million out-of-work Americans are no longer getting unemployment checks.

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Business
3:28 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Cars Are Next Frontier For Sharing Services

Kevin Petrovic, 19, and his business partner, who's also 19, raised about $6 million from venture capitalists in Silicon Valley to launch FlightCar. The company is trying to make its mark with car-sharing for travelers.
Chris Arnold NPR

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 7:57 am

Following the popularity of companies like Airbnb, which rent out a client's house or apartment to people visiting the area, more companies are trying the idea with cars. Companies like Uber help find someone to drive you around like a taxi. Another will let you rent out your car like a Zipcar while you're at work.

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Economy
2:36 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Manufacturing 2.0: Old Industry Creating New High-Tech Jobs

Unlike the smoky, eardrum-damaging factories of yesterday, today's manufacturing is going high-tech. That can mean more robots and automated machines than workers. But companies like Machine Inc. in Stoughton, Mass., are still growing and hiring.
Chris Arnold NPR

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 4:07 pm

As the U.S. economy continues to recover, it has been getting some help from an unexpected place. After decades of massive job losses, manufacturing firms have been steadily creating jobs — many of them well-paying. One particularly bright spot is a new generation of high-tech manufacturers.

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Economy
7:01 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Mel Watt: A New Captain For America's Housing Market

Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., listens as President Obama announces his nomination to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Watt was nominated in May, but Republicans blocked his confirmation until this week.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 10:19 am

Seven months after his was nominated, the U.S. Senate this week confirmed former Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., to head the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant companies that control much of the mortgage market.

The vote occurred after Democrats changed the rules on filibusters — now the Senate can confirm presidential nominees with a simple majority.

For people who watch the U.S. housing market, Watt's confirmation is a very big deal that could mean easier credit.

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The Two-Way
11:28 am
Fri November 29, 2013

Photos: Comet ISON May Have Survived Its Blistering Encounter

A view from NASA shows the Comet ISON streaming toward the sun (right) then emerging from the other side, dimmed.
ESA/NASA/SOHO/Jhelioviewer

Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 2:29 pm

The Comet ISON appears to have survived after disappearing and being thought dead. New NASA photos show the comet emerging from behind the sun smaller and dimmer, but still throwing a big light trail.

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Shots - Health News
1:20 am
Wed November 27, 2013

To Changing Landscape, Add Private Health Care Exchanges

www.delightimages.com iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 9:30 am

We've been reporting a lot lately on the troubled rollout of President Obama's signature health care law. But at the same time, there are rumblings of a major shift in the way companies offer private health insurance to workers.

It involves what are called "private health care exchanges." These are similar to — but completely separate from — the public exchanges you've heard so much about.

Some experts say this new approach soon could change how millions of Americans receive their health care.

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Business
2:32 am
Wed November 20, 2013

DOJ Signals JPMorgan Deal Could Be Model For Other Cases

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 5:34 am

The Justice Department on Tuesday announced a landmark $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase. That's the largest settlement the federal government has ever made with a single company. It's three times the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill settlement.

Shots - Health News
1:57 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Can Young People Get Obamacare For $50 A Month? Sometimes

President Barack Obama speaks in Boston about the Affordable Care Act. Obama and his supporters have often said the health care law would allow half of single Americans under 35 to get insurance for less than $50 a month.
Stephan Savoia AP

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 12:56 pm

For Obamacare to succeed, it's crucial for young people to sign up.

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The State Of The American Small Business
1:57 am
Thu October 31, 2013

What Happens When The Pace Of Startups Slows Down

Is this coffee shop going to grow to be the next Starbucks?
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 10:45 am

Since the financial crisis hit five years ago, there aren't as many Americans starting new businesses. In uncertain economic times, it's harder for entrepreneurs and investors to take the risk.

And if you look back over the past 25 years, it turns out the overall trend is toward fewer new businesses getting started, too — and that's not good at all when the country needs more jobs.

The Next Google

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Business
3:03 am
Mon October 21, 2013

What To Know About The Tentative JPMorgan Deal

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 1:37 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. The Justice Department is on the verge of a $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase. That would make it the biggest government fine involving a single company. It involves the allegedly improper sale of mortgage securities that led to the financial crisis of 2008. NPR's Chris Arnold has been following this and he joins us now. Good morning.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

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Business
4:44 am
Sat October 19, 2013

Business Leaders Decry The Economic Cost Of Uncertainty

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 10:08 am

Running a company is like driving a car. You need to be able to see what's coming down the road. The dysfunction in Washington has created a fog, and when driving in the fog, you have to slow down.

That's basically what's happening at thousands of companies around the country.

Bob Mosey, chairman of the National Tooling and Machining Association, bemoans the "uncertainty of not being able to plan for the future."

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Economy
5:08 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Economists Say Fiscal Fits And Starts Hurt U.S. Growth

Traders at the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday. Stocks surged on Wall Street after Senate leaders reached a deal that would avoid a U.S. default and reopen the government after 16 days of being partially shut down.
Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 5:45 pm

On Wednesday, the stock market cheered the debt ceiling deal in Congress. The Dow gained 206 points and all the major indexes closed higher.

Investors of course have been watching the showdown in Washington very closely, since a default could have been a global financial disaster. At the same time, economists are trying to figure out how much the jitters and uncertainty over all this has been hurting the economy.

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Economy
3:18 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Census Report Paints Troubling Economic Picture On Incomes

Raisa Ruiz (right) and her niece Mary Badels wait in line at the Manna Food Center, Gaithersburg, Md., on Sept. 13.
Chloe Coleman NPR

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 3:34 pm

For the first year since the recession, median household incomes did not decline in 2012. But it's hardly a reassuring picture. Incomes were flat despite the economic recovery and big gains in the stock market. That's a troubling aspect about today's labor market. It's four years since the official end of the recession and many households are worse off than when it started.

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Business
1:38 am
Fri September 6, 2013

Rates Come Down On Jumbo Mortgage Loans

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri September 6, 2013 10:40 am

There is something new and different for home mortgages: Jumbo loans are being made at lower interest rates than traditional home loans. That's kind of like a first class airplane ticket being cheaper than riding in coach.

At first this seems crazy. For as long as anybody can remember, homeowners have had to pay a premium to get jumbo loans. That's because they're not guaranteed by the federal government. If they're not guaranteed, they're riskier, so they cost more in interest payments.

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Business
12:41 am
Thu August 22, 2013

As Housing Recovers, Lots Of Boats Rise In U.S. Economy

A worker at the Cataumet Sawmill in Falmouth, Mass., where the improved housing outlook has led to more hours for employees.
Chris Arnold NPR

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 10:02 am

In just the past week we've seen a bunch of signs that the housing recovery is gaining steam. Data out Wednesday showed that existing-home sales rose to their highest level in nearly four years, while prices were up 14 percent from a year ago.

Retailers Home Depot and Lowe's both reported strong earnings growth and attributed that to the housing rebound.

And most important for the economy, homebuilders are hiring more workers and building more houses.

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Law
5:25 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

DOJ Sues Bank Of America Over Mortgage-Backed Securities

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. The Justice Department is bringing civil charges against one of the nation's largest banks. The government alleges Bank of America made false statements about the quality of $850 million worth of home loans. Those loans were then sold to investors. NPR's Chris Arnold reports.

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Law
3:56 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

After Five Years, Why So Few Charges In Financial Crisis?

Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, testifies before Congress about the program in 2010. Barofsky now says of the financial crisis: "The folks responsible for this incredibly painful economic damage that struck our economy have gone free."
Harry Hamburg AP

Originally published on Mon July 29, 2013 10:01 am

In the latest in a string of insider trading cases, federal prosecutors this week indicted SAC Capital, one of the most prominent and profitable hedge funds in the world.

But when it comes to the 2008 financial crisis that sent the economy into a tailspin, criminal prosecutions have been few and far between.

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Business
10:18 am
Thu July 25, 2013

Government Charges SAC In Insider Trading Case

Federal prosecutors have filed criminal charges against one of the most famous and successful hedge funds in the world. The government alleges that SAC Capital Advisors is criminally responsible for insider trading that went on at the firm.

Business
3:12 am
Fri July 19, 2013

Federal Judge Green Lights Suit Against Private Equity Firms

Originally published on Fri July 19, 2013 4:00 am

The investor lawsuit claims the companies, including Blackstone, Carlyle and Bain Capital, colluded to drive down prices on hundreds of billions of dollars in takeovers.

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