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.

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Business
1:23 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Economists: Congress Gets A Hat Tip (Barely) For Its Efforts

The Capitol's dome and Christmas tree are illuminated on Dec. 11 as Congress worked to pass a $1.1 trillion U.S. government-wide spending bill and avoid a government shutdown.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 10:59 pm

As the latest Congress draws to a close, economists are looking back — and seeing little.

Lawmakers passed no measures addressing tax reform, trade, immigration or even the minimum wage.

But judged by the very low standards of recent years, the 113th Congress did manage to win at least light applause from economists who are watching as the curtain goes down.

Sure, Congress allowed a disruptive government shutdown in 2013 — but it avoided repeating that drama in 2014.

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Economy
5:06 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Some Liberals And Tea Partiers Unite To Oppose Trade Deals

Protesters of varied stripes and political affiliations gathered outside the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative where negotiators from 12 nations were meeting to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
James Clark NPR

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 6:15 pm

When it comes to environmental regulations, taxes and the minimum wage, business groups generally object to President Obama's positions, while liberals support him.

But one issue blurs the usual political lines: trade.

Just last week, Obama told the Business Roundtable he would push to complete massive trade deals with both Asian and European nations. "If we can get that done, that's good for American businesses," he said.

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Business
3:38 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

2014: The Year When The Job Market Finally Turned The Corner

A construction worker clears wood from a platform that spans the Penn Station railroad tracks in New York City on Nov. 18. Construction jobs rose by 20,000 according to the November jobs report.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 4:23 pm

As 2014 winds down, you might want to save that calendar hanging next to the fridge.

Maybe even frame it.

After so many years of misery for the middle class, 2014 is now looking like the one that finally brought relief. The November jobs report, released Friday by the Labor Department, had blowout numbers showing a surge in job creation, an upturn in work hours and a meaningful boost in wages.

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Business
1:01 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

The Economics Of Thanksgiving 2014

Originally published on Thu November 27, 2014 1:39 pm

Thanksgiving is remembered for feasts, family gatherings and ... awkward conversations.

You know what I'm talking about. You're back with relatives you haven't seen in years, and the conversation takes a frightening turn toward politics, religion or, worse, your love life.

You need help. You have to switch to a newsy but neutral topic. Here's a handy list of conversation changers you can use at any time.

Just start each sentence with, "Hey, did you know that ... " and here are the safe categories:

The Road

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Economy
5:01 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

As U.S. Leads Growth, It Wants Others To Step Up

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says the global economy is relying too heavily on just the United States for growth.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 6:41 pm

The global economy rolls along more smoothly when it's not riding a unicycle. It needs additional wheels for momentum and stability.

That is, in effect, what Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is telling leaders of other advanced nations.

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Business
7:03 am
Tue November 11, 2014

Politics And A Food Fight Are Stalling A Major U.S.-Asia Trade Deal

A Malaysian flag sits on a table among other flags during a news conference at the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement talks in July 2012 in San Diego. Nearly two and a half years later, the deal remains incomplete.
Gregory Bull AP

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 10:30 am

Earlier this year, some trade supporters had predicted this week's APEC summit would bring a breakthrough on a comprehensive trade deal.

They had hoped that when the 21 global leaders met at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, Obama would be able to use a smaller side meeting to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal involving the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as eight Asian and Latin American countries.

But the deal wasn't reached, and there's no telling when it will be.

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The Two-Way
5:31 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Jet Fuel Is Down, But Not Enough For A Thanksgiving Fare War

A plane takes off over a departure board at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta last November. Airlines say they expect an uptick in Thanksgiving travel this year.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 9:29 am

Airlines are paying less for jet fuel these days. But don't expect that price drop to translate into Thanksgiving travel bargains for you.

Rather than cut fares, airlines are turning fuel savings into cash for acquiring aircraft, upgrading software, rewarding workers and attracting long-term investors, according to John Heimlich, chief economist for Airlines For America, A4A, a trade group.

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Business
12:37 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

Thumbs Up For Higher Minimum Wages, And For Marijuana Industry

Fast-food workers and activists demonstrate outside a Chicago McDonald's in July in favor of a higher minimum wage. Illinois voters on Tuesday called on the state Legislature to approve a $10 minimum wage.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 3:44 pm

Besides electing lawmakers Tuesday, voters settled ballot initiatives affecting everything from soda-pop taxes to fracking to marijuana sales.

The outcomes varied, but there was one economic issue that united voters. Overwhelmingly, they approved raises for minimum-wage workers.

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Your Money
5:21 am
Sat November 1, 2014

5 Reasons Why Your Financial Outlook Just Got Better

Gas prices below $3 per gallon add up to big savings for consumers.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 6:49 pm

Look at your paycheck.

Chances are good you won't see much more there than you did in the summer of 2008 — just before the financial crisis hit. Average private-sector earnings are $24.53 an hour now, unchanged from 2008, after adjusting for inflation.

So most likely, you haven't felt yourself moving up for years.

Now, that may be changing.

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Economy
10:52 am
Thu October 23, 2014

You're Enjoying Low Gas Prices, But Is It Really A Good Sign?

Macy Gould shared this photo from Lexington, Ky., where the gas prices are under $3.
Macy Gould Instagram

Originally published on Thu October 23, 2014 2:40 pm

All around the country, gasoline prices have been falling for weeks, down to an average of about $3 a gallon. Those lower prices are helping restrain inflation across the board.

On Wednesday, the Labor Department said its consumer price index barely inched up 0.1 percent last month. Over the past 12 months, the CPI has risen by 1.7 percent, roughly half of its historical average rate of increase.

That sounds great for consumers.

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Business
5:53 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Halloween-Thanksgiving-Hanukkah-Christmas-New-Year Buying Begins

Candice Nelson fits her daughter Arya Kubesh with a Halloween hat at a store at Galleria Mall in Edina, Minn. Retailers are hoping Halloween will give them a good bounce into the peak spending time of the year.
Elizabeth Flores MCT/Landov

Originally published on Thu October 23, 2014 8:58 am

At any big-box store, you can find the annual holiday mash-up now on garish display: Halloween costumes are stacked next to the decorative turkey napkins and pre-lit Christmas trees.

It's time to celebrate the Halloween-Thanksgiving-Hanukkah-Christmas-New-Year season!

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Business
9:27 am
Fri October 17, 2014

Predictions Of 'Peak Oil' Production Prove Slippery

Workers drill for oil in the Bakken shale formation outside Watford City, N.D., an area experiencing an oil boom.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Sat October 18, 2014 12:52 pm

The dustiest portion of my home library includes the 1980s books — about how Japan's economy would dominate the world.

And then there are the 1990s books — about how the Y2K computer glitch would end the modern era.

Go up one more shelf for the late 2000s books — about oil "peaking." The authors claimed global oil production was reaching a peak and would soon decline, causing economic chaos.

The titles include Peak Oil and the Second Great Depression, Peak Oil Survival and When Oil Peaked.

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The Two-Way
2:42 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

World Bank Says Ebola Could Inflict Enormous Economic Losses

A market area sat empty last month in Freetown, Sierra Leone, as the country's government enforced a three-day lockdown in an attempt to halt the spread of the Ebola virus.
Michael Duff AP

Originally published on Thu October 9, 2014 6:43 am

West Africa is a poor region, struggling to improve its economic growth.

It had been succeeding. Last year, Sierra Leone and Liberia ranked second and sixth among countries with the highest growth in gross domestic product in the world.

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The Two-Way
5:51 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Disease, War And Terrorism Are Dimming Economic Prospects, Especially In Africa

Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 10:34 am

In a world already weighed down by too much debt, new troubles are bubbling up. The Ebola virus, terrorist attacks and war are undermining many countries, which means "downside risks have increased" for the global economy.

That gloomy assessment was released Tuesday by the International Monetary Fund. Its forecast for this year's average global growth slid to 3.3 percent, down 0.4 percentage point from April.

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American Made: The New Manufacturing Landscape
7:06 am
Fri October 3, 2014

U.S. Manufacturing: A Remembrance And A Look Ahead

A worker cuts slabs of steel at a mill in Cleveland in 2004.
Ron Schwane AP

Originally published on Fri October 3, 2014 11:28 am

If it weren't for American manufacturing, I wouldn't be here today.

Literally.

A century ago, my grandfather moved from Poland to Youngstown, Ohio, to work in a steel mill. At the time, Ohio factories were cranking out steel slabs, tires and cars — building a mountain of wealth that the next generation could climb. And the generation after that.

But what will happen in the 21st century? Is the path that led to higher ground blocked now?

The answer is complicated.

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Remembrances
2:48 pm
Sat September 27, 2014

Why Youngstown, Ohio, Loved 'Jimbo' Traficant

Former U.S. Rep. James Traficant, seen here during a House Ethics Committee hearing in 2002, served seven years in prison on federal bribery and racketeering charges. Traficant died on Saturday. He was 73.
Joe Marquette AP

Originally published on Sat September 27, 2014 3:08 pm

On national holidays, I hang a beautiful American flag in my front yard. It's a keepsake flag that, at the request of a congressman, flew over the Capitol.

It was sent to me by Jim Traficant, the Ohio Democrat who spent 17 years representing my hometown in Congress. He spent seven more years in prison after being convicted in 2002 of bribery and racketeering. He was one of only four congressmen in history to be expelled from Washington.

That flag helps me understand why Traficant remained popular with so many people in Youngstown. It helps me appreciate rogue politicians.

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Business
4:22 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Move To Curb U.S. Corporate Tax Dodges Could Delay Reform

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has announced rules aimed at discouraging U.S. companies from moving their headquarters overseas to cut their tax bills.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 5:48 pm

The Obama administration's effort to curb corporate inversions — the strategy of moving company headquarters overseas to dodge U.S. taxes — drew boos from business on Tuesday, and cheers from consumer and labor groups.

No surprise there. But the Treasury Department's rule tweaks to discourage tax-avoidance deals also united everyone on one point: The country needs comprehensive tax-reform legislation.

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The Two-Way
6:26 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Federal Reserve To Markets: Nothing To See Here; Move Along

"There are still too many people who want jobs but cannot find them," Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 7:23 pm

The Federal Reserve's policymakers just eyeballed the economy and saw nothing new.

On Wednesday, they announced that wage and price hikes remain low, and that growth continues at a moderate pace. That means interest rates can stay superlow for a "considerable time," while the Fed's bond-buying program can wrap up next month, as expected.

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Parallels
10:37 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Like It Or Not, Scotland's Drama May Hit Your Wallet

The Saltire, the flag of Scotland, flies near the Union Jack in Gretna in Scotland. Some economists say Thursday's vote on Scotland's independence could have wide-ranging economic impacts.
Andy Buchanan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 4:37 pm

Does news of Scotland's independence vote make your eyelids feel heavy?

Americans may feel a yawn coming on when told of a political squabble playing out in a distant land less populated than metro Atlanta.

But economists say this Thursday's vote is no snoozer. You may wake up to find its outcome has triggered another global financial upheaval.

To understand the risks to your economic health, let's first review a couple of basics:

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Economy
9:21 am
Mon September 1, 2014

It Might Sound Stupid, But Maybe It Isn't The Economy This Time

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange last week in New York City.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 1, 2014 6:44 pm

As they always do on Labor Day, political candidates will begin their campaign sprint to Election Day.

And for years, they have been running on simple advice: "It's the economy, stupid." But this time around the track, they may discover that many Americans want to hear about other issues as well.

Wait. What?

The economy is not the No. 1 issue?

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Business
1:17 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

To Fight Inflation, Forget The Barbecue And Just Go For A Drive

Take that scenic drive, because gasoline prices have fallen this summer.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 2:17 pm

If you're on a tight budget, here's a plan for enjoying late summer:

1) Take the family for a sightseeing drive.

2) When you get home, have a beer.

Don't do this:

1) Invite neighbors over for grilled steaks.

2) Make milkshakes for the kids.

Such budget-savvy conclusions can be drawn from the inflation report released Tuesday by the Labor Department.

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The Two-Way
1:59 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

Shazam! Now You Look Like A Better Borrower

Fair Isaac Corp. says its FICO credit-score calculations will no longer include information about bills that have been paid off or settled with a collection agency.
Courtney Keating iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri August 8, 2014 5:47 pm

Credit scores can have a huge impact on your life, largely determining your ability to get a home mortgage, a car loan or credit cards.

Soon, tens of millions of Americans will find their three-digit credit scores levitating upward — and without having to pay any new bills.

What's the magic?

It's a simple trick: Fair Isaac Corp. said Thursday that it is changing its widely used FICO credit-score calculations. The company plans to lighten up on consumers, making it easier for millions of borrowers to look better on paper.

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Parallels
5:53 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

Obama Says U.S. Exports Have Room To Run In Africa

President Obama speaks Tuesday at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum in Washington, D.C. "I want Africans buying more American products," he said.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 7:02 pm

President Obama, speaking at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit on Tuesday, spotlighted $14 billion in new investments in Africa by U.S. companies involved in construction, technology and finance.

"The United States is determined to be a partner in Africa's success," Obama said. "I want Africans buying more American products. I want Americans buying more African products."

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Parallels
4:14 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

Africa: The Richest Region For Young Workers And Consumers

NPR

Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 9:14 am

Africa does not have the wealth that has piled up on the North American and European continents over many centuries.

But it does have something richer regions now lack: lots of young people.

While other continents have aging populations, Africa is giving birth to a new generation of consumers and workers. Sub-Saharan Africa is the youngest region in the world, with 43 percent of its population under age 15.

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Economy
11:52 am
Fri August 1, 2014

As Labor Market Advances, Millions Are Stuck In Part-Time Jobs

People attend a hiring fair for veterans in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., July 16. About 7.5 million people in the U.S. are working less than 40 hours per week even though they want full-time jobs.
Alan Diaz AP

Originally published on Fri August 1, 2014 4:18 pm

Treading water in July is really fun — if you happen to be in a swimming pool.

But if you find yourself stuck in the part-time labor pool, drifting is disappointing.

On Friday, the Labor Department reported that while employers hired 209,000 workers in July, the growth rate was not strong enough to push part-timers forward.

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Economy
6:02 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Job Worries Linger, But The Economy Is Looking Good

Assembly-line workers at the Chrysler plant in Sterling Heights, Mich. The economy is getting good marks in the latest data, but some worries about the job market continue.
Paul Sancya AP

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 6:28 pm

Five years after the Great Recession ended, where are we with this recovery?

On Wednesday, the Commerce Department and the Federal Reserve both answered by saying, in effect:

We're in a sweet spot — growing at a decent rate with good reason for optimism.

Or as the Fed blandly put it, "economic activity will expand at a moderate pace."

President Obama, speaking on the economy in Kansas City, Mo., was more effusive.

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The Two-Way
2:43 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Chances Are Pretty Good That's A Bill Collector Calling

According to the Urban Institute report, the typical adult in trouble with bill collectors has a median debt of $1,350.
DNY59 iStockphoto

In about one-third of U.S. households, the sound of a phone or doorbell ringing may trigger a desire to duck.

That's because roughly 77 million adults with a credit file have at least one debt in the collection process, according to a study released by the Urban Institute, a research group. A credit file includes all of the raw data that a credit bureau can use to rank a borrower's creditworthiness.

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The Two-Way
1:37 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

It May Be Summer, But For Economists, This Week Feels Like Christmas

Chiang Ying-ying AP

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 4:31 pm

This week is summer's sweet spot — the peak time for pool parties, fresh-picked berries and cool drinks. But for economists, it may feel more like Christmas — so much to unwrap!

Each day will bring new decisions and reports that could have a big impact on the nation's economy. So economists, investors and workers will have plenty to ponder. Here's what's happening this week:

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Business
3:33 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

4 Theories About Why Wal-Mart Changed Its U.S. Chief

Bill Simon, head of Wal-Mart's U.S. division, is leaving the retail giant after being passed over for the company's top post.
Rick Wilking Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 4:23 pm

Bill Simon, head of Wal-Mart's U.S. division, is leaving the retail giant, the company said Thursday.

Any major shake-up at Wal-Mart is closely watched because the company is so important — it tops the Fortune 500 list with annual sales approaching a half-trillion dollars. So lots of people are speculating about what Simon's departure really means. Here are some theories:

The Simplest Explanation

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Economy
4:39 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Inflation Came In Low Again, But Are There Bubbles?

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testifies before the Senate Banking Committee on July 15. She said the Fed is likely to keep interest rates low "for a considerable period" since inflation remains so tame.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Want to borrow money for a car or a home this fall?

Oddly enough, the interest rates available months from now for big-ticket items may be determined by the prices you pay today for everyday consumer goods. When store prices are rising rapidly, policymakers start pushing interest rates higher, too.

But for the moment, at least, inflation appears mild enough to keep interest rates low for a long while.

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