Marilyn Geewax

Marilyn Geewax is a senior editor, assigning and editing business radio stories. She also serves as the national economics correspondent for the NPR web site, and regularly discusses economic issues on NPR's mid-day show Here & Now.

Her work contributed to NPR's 2011 Edward R. Murrow Award for hard news for "The Foreclosure Nightmare." Geewax also worked on the foreclosure-crisis coverage that was recognized with a 2009 Heywood Broun Award.

Before joining NPR in 2008, Geewax served as the national economics correspondent for Cox Newspapers' Washington Bureau. Before that, she worked at Cox's flagship paper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, first as a business reporter and then as a columnist and editorial board member. She got her start as a business reporter for the Akron Beacon Journal.

Over the years, she has filed news stories from China, Japan, South Africa and Europe. Recently, she headed to Europe to participate in the RIAS German/American Journalist Exchange Program.

Geewax was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, where she studied economics and international relations. She earned a master's degree at Georgetown University, focusing on international economic affairs, and has a bachelor's degree from The Ohio State University.

She is a member of the National Press Club's Board of Governors and serves on the Global Economic Reporting Initiative Committee for the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

Like cheap gasoline?

Then you're in luck. Experts say gas prices very likely will keep falling. That's because a report released Wednesday showed a sharp increase in gasoline inventories.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said that last week, companies added another 10.6 million barrels of gasoline, creating the biggest surge in supply since 1993. That added to fears that supplies will far outstrip demand for a long time.

Oh, the irony.

Historically, when political tensions increased in the Middle East, the price of oil rose too. Buyers of oil worried that conflicts could interrupt drilling or interfere with oil-tanker access to waterways. In theory, when risks rise, so do prices.

But in recent days, even as tensions have been growing between two key oil producing nations — Iran and Saudi Arabia — oil prices have been falling. They slipped below $36 a barrel on Tuesday.


In late 2008, Americans were getting crushed by an avalanche of bad business news.

Financial systems were melting down, jobs disappearing, homeowners defaulting and auto companies heading for a cliff. With so many contenders, picking that year's five biggest stories was tough.

In contrast, 2015 looks almost placid. Unemployment steadily drifted down, wages tiptoed up, the real estate scene brightened and inflation stayed low. So nominees for the biggest stories of 2015 seem tame compared with the terrifying Great Recession years.

Every investor celebrating Christmas this week would love this gift: a really good crystal ball.

It'd be so helpful to look right through the orbuculum and glimpse the future prices of stocks, bonds and gold bars.

Unfortunately, no such ball exists. Our next best option is to turn to economic forecasters. And in general, the professionals see mostly good news for 2016.

For years, critics have been fulminating while watching lawmakers take little or no action on crucial spending and taxing matters.

This week, at least, the "do-nothing Congress" label won't stick.

On Thursday, the U.S. House approved a massive package of tax breaks worth $622 billion, voting 318-109. On Friday, the House will vote again, this time on a $1.1 trillion spending package.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced liftoff for short-term interest rates — a launch that may send many borrowing costs higher in 2016.

The 0.25-percentage-point increase — to a range of 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent — in the federal funds rate was small but important because it signals the beginning of the end of easy money; the Fed wants to get back to normal after years of fighting economic stagnation with supercheap loans.

Brace yourself: News outlets are about to hit you hard with coverage of the Federal Reserve's decision Wednesday on interest rates.

Millennials, gather 'round. This is a tale you might find hard to believe, but it's true:

A long, long time ago, there was such a thing as an interest rate hike. Really!

Yes, back before mankind had Twitter or iPads or even iPhones, your parents used to worry about interest-rate increases. And they had much to fear: between June 2004 and June 2006, Federal Reserve policymakers raised the federal funds rate 17 consecutive times.

Americans have long lived in a nation made up primarily of middle-class families, neither rich nor poor, but comfortable enough.

This year, that changed, according to the Pew Research Center.

No question, this was a traumatic, sad week because of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. It's not easy to turn to good news.

But putting grief aside for a moment, there were indeed positive developments for the country in recent days. With cheaper energy, more jobs and higher stock prices, most Americans have been seeing their financial situations improve. Here are some of this week's highlights:

When Congress completes a five-year transportation bill this week, it will mark the first time in a decade that Americans will be moving forward with a long-lasting plan.

Big infrastructure projects take years to complete, so it's vital to have enduring funding, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at a press briefing Wednesday. Since 2005, lawmakers have not passed a highway spending bill lasting more than two years.

The United States and 19 other countries on Monday promised to work toward doubling their spending over five years to support "clean energy" research.

At the same time, 28 private investors, including Microsoft's Bill Gates, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon's Jeff Bezos, pledged their own money to help build private businesses based on that public research.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., may not be running for president in 2016, but she was campaigning hard Wednesday to be an agenda-setting power broker.

At 9:30 a.m., she joined the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute to release the Women's Economic Agenda, a list of 12 proposals aimed at closing the gender wage gap. It covers issues such as raising the minimum wage, providing paid family leave and increasing access to child care.

Grocers know this: Cheap turkeys will get customers into the store.

So this Thanksgiving, despite an avian flu that killed 8 million turkeys, shoppers are having no trouble finding bargain birds priced lower than last year.

In fact, store managers have been slicing all sorts of holiday-related food prices this fall.

Some economic matters are stunningly complex. Take the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The trade deal's details cover more than 6,000 pages.

Others are simple, like the federal minimum wage. A bill to raise the $7.25 hourly wage covers a few paragraphs.

The congressional response is simple, too: Democrats are for it; Republicans against.

Let's say you are Janet Yellen.

As chair of the Federal Reserve, you must decide next month whether to hold down — or nudge up — interest rates. This huge decision could affect virtually all Americans who borrow money, which a lot of people do during the holidays.

So you, Janet, must be sure the U.S. economy is strong enough to handle higher borrowing costs in December.

And that's why you may have broken into your happy dance on Friday after the Labor Department said job growth surged last month.

New York's attorney general would like to know: Did Exxon Mobil lie to you about the risks of climate change and to investors about how those risks might reduce profits?

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman's office confirms that a New York Times story is correct in reporting that an investigation has been launched into Exxon Mobil. That story said Schneiderman issued a subpoena on Wednesday, seeking financial records, emails and other documents.

Going from young and broke to retired and comfortable is a long, tough road.

So the Obama administration on Wednesday rolled out a simple, no-risk retirement account to help people start that journey. It's called the myRA — or "my retirement account."

President Obama first outlined this program in his State of the Union address last year.

Since then, his administration has been working with a few dozen employers to test what works.

The nation's central bank is proposing rules to help ensure that if a big bank were to fail, the costs of a bailout would not fall on taxpayers.

The changes would mark "another important step in addressing the 'too big to fail' problem," Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Friday.

The rules would force some major banks to issue long-term bonds that — in an emergency — could provide a cushion of capital to cover losses, rather than leaving it to taxpayers.

About 55 miles east of Capitol Hill, one small business — International Green Structures — is trying to stretch beyond its base in Stevensville, Md., to go global.

IGS, which has about 50 factory workers, makes fiberboard out of compressed wheat. The panels, used to build durable housing, are both "green" and red-white-and-blue-American-made.

Most likely, Congress will — as it always does — find a last-minute way to dodge a debt-ceiling crisis.

It's easy to get bored with it all. Scores of times over recent decades, lawmakers have taken the country to the brink of financial catastrophe only to swerve away by voting to allow more debt.

In a desk drawer, I have baggage tags from Eastern, TWA, Braniff, PanAm, Continental, Northwest and more.

As a journalist, I covered each of those airlines as they disappeared from the skies.

On Saturday, I can add one more to my defunct-carrier collection: US Airways will fade into history when its last flight, leaving from San Francisco on Friday night, lands in Philadelphia, scheduled for 6:18 a.m. ET.

Ever since the Obama administration announced last week it had agreed to a massive trade deal, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, lawmakers have been saying they must review the agreement's specific language before passing judgment.

"Without having read it ... I'm going to reserve my time to read it," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told NPR when asked whether TPP would win support in Congress.

Even though President Obama has not yet released details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership announced Monday, supporters and opponents are making their voices heard — at full volume.

Business leaders and interest groups hope their impassioned pleas will sway Congress, which must vote on the proposed deal next year.

This is what the cheers sounded like:

If you were betting that the Federal Reserve would soon raise interest rates, you may have lost your money Friday when the Labor Department released its September employment report.

The hiring and wage data came in well below economists' expectations. Only 142,000 jobs were created, falling far short of consensus forecasts of about 200,000. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.1 percent, but the number of people in the labor force slid by 350,000 and hourly earnings dipped by a penny, to $25.09.

In recent days, we've seen these headlines:

  • Caterpillar is planning to cut up to 10,000 jobs.
  • After standing for 127 years as an industrial giant, Alcoa will be splitting into two smaller companies.
  • Glencore, a global mining giant, is seeing its stock price crumble amid insolvency rumors.

The three events may seem unrelated, but in fact, all are part of one big story: the commodities-price collapse.

Cheaper jet fuel prices are starting to translate into lower airfares, which may begin prompting infrequent fliers to plan holiday travel.

And cheaper technology may be turning drones into affordable Christmas presents. In fact, one FAA official says a million new flying robots may be under Christmas trees this year as a result of price drops.

Now let's add that up and consider what it could mean for the last week of December:

Inexperienced travelers will be crowding airport security lines. And a million inexperienced operators will be sending up drones.

Someday, White House event organizers will be able to tell their grandchildren about this week.

But for now, they just have to get through it — with loads of energy and grace.

Staffers spent the first half of the week preparing for a visit from Pope Francis, who pulled up in a little Fiat. Now they are switching their focus to that most formal of Washington events: a state dinner. This one will honor Chinese President Xi Jinping.


You have heard that word over and over — and over — in recent months.

On the campaign trail, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump often spits it out with disdain, as this Huffington Post video shows.

On Wall Street, traders use "China" as an excuse for recent market volatility and losses.

Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET

The Federal Reserve decided Thursday to leave interest rates unchanged at historically low levels, even though the U.S. economy has been gaining strength.

Borrowers and lenders all over the world had been closely watching for the announcement that came at the end of a two-day Fed meeting. Many had been thinking the U.S. central bank would pick this date to change course and start nudging up interest rates.