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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NPR Story
2:00 am
Thu March 15, 2012

When A Normal Job Resignation Won't Do

When Greg Smith quit his job at Goldman Sachs, he slammed his former employer in a blistering newspaper essay. People don't often quit with such a public display of vitriol. But when they do, it certainly gets attention.

NPR Story
2:00 am
Wed March 14, 2012

Fed Waits For Economic Growth To Pick Up

Originally published on Wed March 14, 2012 6:17 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On a Wednesday, it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

Here's the good economic news: Employers have been hiring more quickly than the experts predicted.

INSKEEP: The bad economic news is that experts still are not sure why employers are hiring so quickly. While the U.S. economy is growing, economists are not sure it is growing quickly enough to justify the many jobs created in recent months.

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Economy
4:01 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

How Many U.S. Jobs Does Apple Really Create?

Apple's store in New York City's Grand Central station employs about 315 people.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 6, 2012 5:19 pm

Apple has about 47,000 workers in the U.S. That's not a huge amount for such a profitable and influential company. Now the tech giant is saying it has actually created about 10 times that many jobs indirectly.

Some economists are skeptical of the claim. And the move comes as Apple is facing increased criticism and scrutiny over labor practices at factories it outsources to in China.

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Business
2:00 am
Fri February 10, 2012

Bank Settlement Could Temporarily Spur More Foreclosures

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 6:02 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

News of the foreclosure settlement spread in Washington, just as the Senate Banking Committee was holding a hearing on the housing market.

NPR's Chris Arnold reports.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Details were still emerging as the hearing began. And senators wanted to know would this deal do anything meaningful to help homeowners and the housing market.

SENATOR ROBERT MENENDEZ: Do you think the $25 billion state/federal foreclosure settlement is a good deal? Do you think that that's the right amount?

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Crisis In The Housing Market
10:01 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Potential Conflicts At Freddie Mac Draw Scrutiny

In December, Freddie Mac CEO Charles Haldeman (from left), FHFA acting Director Edward DeMarco and Fannie Mae CEO Michael Williams testified on Capitol Hill about the Federal Housing Finance Agency's performance.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

A federal Inspector General's office confirmed Wednesday it is looking into Freddie Mac investments that act as bets against homeowners being able to refinance.

In addition, U.S. senators are expected to probe Freddie Mac's investment practices at a hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

Freddie Mac, based in northern Virginia, is the taxpayer-owned mortgage giant whose public mission is to make homeownership more affordable for Americans.

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The Two-Way
1:50 pm
Fri February 3, 2012

Senator Demands Answers from Freddie Mac's Regulator

Originally published on Fri February 3, 2012 2:19 pm

Sen. Robert Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, sent a list of questions about Freddie Mac's controversial trades to the mortgage giant's regulator, highlighting how much remains unknown even after a flurry of statements from the regulator.

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Your Money
3:01 am
Mon January 30, 2012

Freddie Mac Betting Against Struggling Homeowners

One of Freddie Mac's restrictions blocks people who have a short sale in their past from refinancing for two to four years following the short sale.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 7:53 am

Freddie Mac, a taxpayer-owned mortgage company, is supposed to make homeownership easier. One thing that makes owning a home more affordable is getting a cheaper mortgage.

But Freddie Mac has invested billions of dollars betting that U.S. homeowners won't be able to refinance their mortgages at today's lower rates, according to an investigation by NPR and ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom.

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Business
2:00 am
Tue January 17, 2012

Businesses Show More Confidence In The Economy

Originally published on Tue January 17, 2012 3:23 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Small business owners say they're getting more optimistic about the economy, and about their own prospects. That's according to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, an influential business group. And this is among several recent reports suggesting the economy is continuing to improve.

NPR's Chris Arnold has more.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Small businesses are getting more confident. And that's a good sign, says John Silvia, the chief economist at Wells Fargo.

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Around the Nation
2:00 am
Thu December 29, 2011

2012 Could See New Regs For Table Saws

Every year, thousands of Americans suffer severe injuries using the saws. But after a series of reports by NPR, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has started crafting new safety rules for table saws.

Crisis In The Housing Market
10:11 am
Tue December 27, 2011

Housing Market Stays Mired In Low Home Price Spin

According to the Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Home Price Index released Tuesday, home prices were down 3.4 percent this year as of October — around a 35 percent drop from their peak.
Scott Olson Getty Images

This month, consumer confidence jumped to its highest level since April, a sign that the U.S. economy is starting to mend. But the housing market isn't going along yet with this cheerier mood: Home prices were down 3.4 percent for the year as of October, according to a new report released Tuesday.

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Still No Job: Over A Year Without Enough Work
2:44 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Changes In The Economy Leave Workers Scrambling

A counselor (right) talks with a man about training programs at a nonprofit training and job placement center in Menlo Park, Calif. Seventy percent of the long-term unemployed and underemployed would like the government to offer more job training services, an NPR/Kaiser Family Foundation poll found.
Paul Sakuma AP

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 5:34 pm

If you're unemployed, it can be painfully clear when you don't have the right skills to land a good job.

With unemployment at 8.6 percent, upwards of 13 million Americans are without a job and looking for work. A recent NPR/Kaiser Family Foundation poll surveyed hundreds of long-term unemployed and underemployed people, asking whether they thought they had the skills required to find a job.

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Mitt Romney
10:01 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

As Governor, Romney Balanced Budget By Hiking Fees

When it comes to taxes, the field of Republican presidential candidates is unified: Keep them low and certainly don't raise them.

In both his runs for the White House, Mitt Romney has hewed to this Republican line. But whether he cut or actually raised taxes as governor of Massachusetts is a subject for debate.

All politicians like to talk about cutting taxes. But at the state level during tough economic times, many end up cutting spending while raising taxes because they have to balance their budgets.

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Economy
2:00 am
Tue November 22, 2011

Homeowners May Qualify For Foreclosure Review

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning.

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Politics
2:00 am
Tue October 25, 2011

Refinancing A Focus Of Obama's Economic Plan

Speaking in Las Vegas on Monday, President Obama announced a plan for homeowners to refinance mortgages at low interest rates, if they met certain conditions.

Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 25, 2011 10:59 am

President Obama's home refinancing plan seeks to let a million or more American homeowners save money on their mortgages, even if those loans are underwater. But the plan announced Monday is not a new idea: A pair of economists at Columbia University — Chris Mayer and Glenn Hubbard — have been proposing a similar measure for years.

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Crisis In The Housing Market
3:00 am
Mon October 24, 2011

Housing Crisis A Hot Topic For Presidential Hopefuls

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, businessman Herman Cain, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann participate in a Republican presidential debate last week in Las Vegas.

Ethan Miller Getty Images

Originally published on Mon October 24, 2011 5:03 pm

Home prices across the U.S. have dropped 30 percent from their peaks, a downturn that has sapped trillions of dollars in wealth from Americans. Not surprisingly, it's a hot topic for presidential candidates this campaign season. But so far, new ideas about how to fix the crisis have been scarce.

On Monday, President Obama is visiting Nevada, where he's expected to announce his administration's latest proposals on housing. The state is at the epicenter of the downturn, with the latest reports showing home prices and sales numbers continuing to slip.

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Economy
10:01 pm
Wed October 19, 2011

Frustration Over Jobs Unites 'Occupiers' In Boston

Occupy Boston protesters congregate across the street from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Chris Arnold NPR

The U.S. hasn't had unemployment this high for this long since the Great Depression. That's weighing heavily on a lot of Americans and seems to be a key part of the frustration and anger that's being directed at Wall Street and the big banks. For many people, it's not so much about high finance as it is about a weekly paycheck.

"I'm unemployed, and I'm down here because I'm unemployed," says Bob Norkus, a protester in downtown Boston.

Walking around, it doesn't take long to figure out that many people here have the same problem.

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Crisis In The Housing Market
10:01 pm
Sun October 16, 2011

Housing Market Stuck Despite Low Prices, Rates

A bank-owned sign is seen in front of a foreclosed home in Miami. Florida was among the hardest hit states in the real estate collapse.

Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Mon October 17, 2011 8:32 am

Three years ago, the real estate market was simple — simply terrible, that is. In virtually every part of the country, foreclosures were shooting up and prices were plunging. Today, the real estate picture is more nuanced. Foreclosures are still rising, but prices are stabilizing in some markets, making home-buying look more attractive.

If you had talked to some good economists just before the housing bubble burst, they would have told you it didn't make sense to buy a house.

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Economy
12:16 pm
Thu October 13, 2011

A Labor Mismatch Means Trucking Jobs Go Unfilled

A truck stop near Hesperia, Calif. To address a shortage of truck drivers resulting from a mismatch of skills in the labor market, some trucking companies have started free driving schools with the promise of a job upon completion.

David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 13, 2011 8:25 pm

The job market is barely treading water. The Labor Department reported Thursday that 404,000 more people filed for unemployment benefits last week, a number that's essentially unchanged from the week before.

Overall, there are 14 million people looking for work in the U.S., but at the same time there are still job openings around the country.

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Striving For A Safer Table Saw
11:03 am
Thu September 22, 2011

Regulators Consider Safety Brakes For Table Saws

Federal regulators are moving closer to implementing new safety standards for table saws. Every year, several thousand Americans cut off their fingers using the tools.

Engineers at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a federal agency tasked with ensuring safety standards on a range of consumer products, say almost all of those injuries could be prevented with a better safety brake system.

Currently, such a brake is only available on one brand of table saw, called SawStop, but the vast majority of saws sold today don't have the safety brake.

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Economy
10:01 pm
Wed September 14, 2011

Mortgage Savings: Leaders Seek Refinancing Options

In his jobs speech last week, President Obama also took time to say he wants to help more Americans save money on their mortgages.

"To help responsible homeowners, we're going to work with federal housing agencies to help more people refinance their mortgages at interest rates that are now near 4 percent," he said to applause from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

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Business
3:32 pm
Mon September 12, 2011

Bank Of America Tries To Right Acquisition Wrongs

A worker sweeps in front of a Bank of America branch in Chicago. On Monday, the bank announced plans to lay off 30,000 employees, or about 10 percent of its staff, over the next few years.
Scott Olson Getty Images

The nation's largest bank said Monday that it will cut 30,000 jobs over the next few years. Bank of America has been plagued by losses after buying the home lender Countrywide, and many investors have lost faith in the bank, driving its stock down 50 percent this year.

Meanwhile, Bank of America has been selling off parts of its business to raise more capital.

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Reflecting On Sept. 11, 2001
10:01 pm
Thu September 8, 2011

Port Authority Cops: Recovering From Sept. 11

Retired Port Authority Police officers Brian Patrick Tierney (left) and Kevin Devlin visited the World Trade Center site this week. Both men say it's been a struggle to adjust to normal life after losing friends and searching for remains at Ground Zero.
Chris Arnold NPR

Originally published on Fri September 9, 2011 6:01 am

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, inflicted the single greatest loss of life ever suffered by a police department in U.S. history. The department wasn't the New York Police — it was the less well-known Port Authority Police Department. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey polices the bridges and tunnels around New York, and it also was in charge of security at the Twin Towers. It's a small, tight-knit department, and it lost 37 officers that day.

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Business
3:00 am
Mon September 5, 2011

Wiffle Ball: Born And Still Made In The USA

The Wiffle Ball headquarters in Shelton, Conn. Every Wiffle Ball is made in the U.S.
Chris Arnold NPR

The long Labor Day weekend is a time for backyard barbecues, catching up with friends and family, and for some, a game of Wiffle Ball.

Over the years, the Wiffle Ball has wound its way into the fabric of America. Those who don't even like baseball very much have taken a swing at that white plastic ball with the oval slots around one side.

There is something about the Wiffle Ball that's kind of irresistible — toy stores and even some hardware stores across the country sell them. And for consumers looking for a ways to spend more time outside, they're pretty cheap.

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Hurricane Irene Hits East Coast
11:54 am
Mon August 29, 2011

East Coast Starts To Add Up Irene's Economic Blow

Irene destroyed much of the two-mile boardwalk in Spring Lake, N.J.
Michael Loccisano Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:28 am

The day after Irene, cleanup efforts continue and the damage estimates are starting to come in. Overall, it appears to have caused much less damage than forecasters expected.

But it's still early to make exact pronouncements about how much damage this storm caused or may still cause.

Swollen rivers in upstate New York and New England continue to threaten dams. And on Monday, President Obama said that the cleanup in many areas will be tough.

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Crisis In The Housing Market
10:01 pm
Sun August 14, 2011

Low Rates Alone Not Seen Reviving Housing Market

The turmoil in the financial markets has been pushing mortgage rates lower. Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages have now fallen to about 4.3 percent, which is very close to the lowest level on record.

But many Americans can't qualify for those low rates, and analysts say these historic interest rates aren't likely to do much to help the housing market.

That is, unless the government intervenes.

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Economy
10:01 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

What's Spooking Investors?

Economists and financial executives gathered for a retreat in Grand Lake Stream, Maine, last weekend. The annual event coincided with mayhem in the stock market and the downgrade of U.S. Treasuries.
Chris Arnold NPR

While Wall Street experiences the biggest stock sell-off in years, some very successful investors don't appear to be concerned. They're out buying stocks while everybody else panics.

Top executives are also downplaying the perceived crisis.

"We don't run the business based on what happens in the market in a day," Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, said Wednesday on CNBC. Bank stocks like his have been getting hammered in recent days.

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Economy
4:34 am
Mon August 8, 2011

Economists Cast Opinions During Fishing Trip

Turmoil in the financial markets has coincided with an annual fishing trip for economists and top executives deep in the woods of Maine near the Canadian border. While the economists were together, Standard and Poor's took the unprecedented step of downgrading the U.S. government's credit rating.

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