Jim Zarroli

Jim Zarroli is a business reporter for NPR News, based at NPR's New York bureau.

He covers economics and business news including fiscal policy, the Federal Reserve, the job market and taxes

Over the years, he's reported on recessions and booms, crashes and rallies, and a long string of tax dodgers, insider traders and Ponzi schemers. He's been heavily involved in the coverage of the European debt crisis and the bank bailouts in the United States.

Prior to moving into his current role, Zarroli served as a New York-based general assignment reporter for NPR News. While in this position he covered the United Nations during the first Gulf War. Zarroli added to NPR's coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the London transit bombings and the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

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

Zarroli graduated from Pennsylvania State University.

Ever since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were taken over by the government in 2008, questions have swirled over who was responsible for their collapse. Friday, the Securities and Exchange Commission weighed in, filing fraud charges against former Fannie Mae CEO Daniel Mudd, former Freddie Mac CEO Richard Syron and four other former executives.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

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And I'm Lynn Neary. European officials are moving ahead today with a new package of economic reforms. That's after a long night of talks in Brussels. The effort to address the unyielding debt crisis has threatened European unity and one important country, the United Kingdom, has refused to sign off on the reforms. More on that in a moment, but first we hear about the new rules from NPR's Jim Zarroli.

France and Germany are trying to persuade other European countries to sign onto a package of reforms aimed at shoring up the embattled euro. They're hoping to win agreement in time for Friday's big summit of European leaders in Brussels. A failure to reach agreement could send the wrong signal to the financial markets, which are already deeply worried about Europe's fiscal problems.

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In New York, yesterday, a federal judge rejected a settlement of a fraud case involving Citigroup. The Securities and Exchange Commission, which brought charges against the bank, had agreed to the $285 million deal. But Judge Jed Rakoff said he didn't believe the settlement was in the public interest. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

As the European debt crisis drags on, one question being asked is what will happen to Italy. The new government of Prime Minister Mario Monti is struggling to convince the financial markets that the country has a plan to pay its debts. Among other things, Monti says he will do something about Italy's long tradition of tax evasion, which is considered somewhat of a national sport.

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The pharmaceutical company Merck has agreed to pay nearly a billion dollars to settle charges that it illegally marketed its painkiller, Vioxx. The drug was taken off the market in 2004 after questions were raised about its safety. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

Enrico Frare isn't a well known name in Italian business. The 36-year-old runs E-group, a small clothing company in the commercial region around Treviso that makes winter sportswear.

But last month, Frare did something that attracted a lot of attention. He bought a full-page ad in Milan's main newspaper appearing in what might politely be called his birthday suit. The caption read: "Every day in Italy an entrepreneur risks losing his shirt."

With every day that passes, the troubles in Europe seem to grow bigger, and leaders are still at odds over how to contain the crisis. On Wednesday, just about every country in Europe saw borrowing costs rise.

For a long time the crisis was limited to small peripheral countries like Ireland and Greece, but no longer. Now, countries like Italy, Austria and the Netherlands have seen their borrowing costs rise as well.

Over the next few weeks, European leaders have a big task ahead of them. They have to begin fleshing out that big bailout plan unveiled to so much fanfare in Brussels this week. The plan represents the most comprehensive effort so far to resolve Europe's grinding debt problems, which have done so much damage to the world's financial markets this year, but some issues may require a global effort to solve.

Convicted insider trader Raj Rajaratnam was sentenced to 11 years in prison Thursday. Rajaratnam was a founder of the Galleon Group hedge fund.

The Labor Department announced last week that the U.S. economy grew by just 103,000 jobs in September. A number like that isn't even enough to keep up with population growth. The fact that the report was widely greeted as positive news suggests just how low expectations have sunk this year.

Since January, the U.S. economy has been hit by a series of external shocks that brought a modest recovery nearly to a halt. The slowdown, however, may have been under way even before the shocks took place.

Last weekend, pizza magnate Herman Cain did something that surprised the political world: He came in first in a Florida GOP presidential straw poll.

One way Cain has attracted the attention of Republican voters is with what he calls his 9-9-9 plan. It's a cleverly marketed idea for changing the nation's tax code.

No company suffered on Sept. 11 as much as the bond broker Cantor Fitzgerald, which lost 658 people. One of the few employees to survive that day was Lauren Manning, who was in the lobby of the World Trade Center's North Tower when the first plane hit.

Manning had been rushing to an elevator and was instantly engulfed in flames that came into the lobby, leaving her with burns on more than 80 percent of her body.

Warren Buffett came to the rescue of Bank of America, the giant financial services company that faces a range of legal and financial problems. Buffett said Thursday he would invest $5 billion in the company and could buy more shares down the road. Buffett's decision to buy into Bank of America sent its share price higher, though the company still has to contend with big challenges.

Some market analysts are pointing to high-frequency and computer-driven trading as the source of increased volatility in the markets. They say it's time to restore the uptick rule, which was eliminated just a couple of years ago.

Google's plans to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion might seem like a lot of money, but the Web giant can easily afford it. At the end of last year, Google was sitting on nearly $35 billion in cash.

And it's not alone. The U.S. economy may be slowing to a crawl, but a lot of individual companies are richer than ever. They're being cautious about how they spend their cash, though.

"Companies are generating and maintaining more cash than they have aggregate uses for," says Rick Lane, a senior vice president at Moody's.

The turmoil on Wall Street threatens to wreak financial havoc on a lot of people and institutions — including the country's 1.2 million nonprofits. Charities of all sizes are only beginning to recover from the recession. Now many are wondering how they'll survive another market plunge.

Camp Henry on Manhattan's Lower East Side is run by the venerable Henry Street Settlement, which provides a range of social services for low-income New Yorkers. Executive Director David Garza says after the 2008 financial crisis, corporate donations to the agency fell off.

The Federal Reserve has issued one of its gloomiest pronouncements about the economy in a long time: It says it sees little prospect that growth will rebound much anytime soon, and that it's ready to keep interest rates low for the next two years.

The recent downturn leaves Fed officials without any of its obvious ways of fixing the economy, and analysts say it may need to try steps it hasn't taken before.

Joe Gagnon spent part of his career as a Fed economist, and Tuesday he saw something he thought he'd never see at the central bank.

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