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.

Talk to economists about the government shutdown's impact on their forecasts and you'll hear this phrase again and again:

Flying blind.

For economists and investors, "at this moment, we are flying blind," said Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve and now president of Greenspan Associates LLC, a consulting firm.

Greenspan is not alone in feeling a little lost without the compass of government reports.

When you invite guests over, you probably straighten up the house to make a good impression.

This week, the nation's capital is welcoming guests from all over the world. Thousands of finance ministers, central bankers, scholars and industry leaders are in Washington, D.C., for the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Starting a new job is always tough. You want early success to prove you really were the right pick.

That's especially true if you happen to be the first woman to hold that job. Ever.

So when President Obama on Wednesday nominated Janet Yellen to lead the Federal Reserve, she might have had two reactions: 1) Yippee and 2) Uh-oh.

Imagine a poker table.

At one seat, China's President Xi Jinping studies his cards. At another, Russian President Vladimir Putin is stroking his chin. Asian leaders fill the other seats, each trying to win the pot, which is filled — not with poker chips — but with jobs.

That's the kind of high-stakes game that played out this week in Indonesia, where global leaders got together to discuss trade relations. Their gathering ended Tuesday, and exactly who won what is not yet clear.

But this much is known: President Obama was not at the table.

Thanks to the federal government's partial shutdown, the Bureau of Labor Statistics skipped its monthly Big Reveal at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

There was no September employment report.

Without access to the BLS numbers, data junkies were left to scrounge around for lesser reports. Maybe if they could suck in enough small hits of other statistics, they could feel that old familiar rush?

Nope. Nothing can replace that BLS high.

Stock investors and business journalists unite each month for one shared, suspenseful moment — the 8:30 a.m. release of the Labor Department's employment report.

The unveiling of the report — so rich with data on job creation, unemployment, wages and hours — can be counted upon to set off a tsunami of tweets. Economists jump in with instant analysis and politicians fire off press releases with reactions.

That market-moving report was due this Friday.

After weeks of wondering what would happen, Americans now know:

1. Congress missed the midnight funding deadline for the new fiscal year, triggering disruptions in government operations.

2. That will slow economic growth, at least in the short term.

But just how far the damage will go is far from clear. Economists say they can't refine their predictions because they have no idea how long the shutdown might last or how many federal workers may be furloughed.

Safe to say, Americans love small business. Or at least the Idea of Small Business.

President Obama once told owners: "What you share is an entrepreneurial spirit, a tireless work ethic and a simple hope for something better that lies at the heart of the American ideal. Businesses like yours are the engines of job growth in America."

If you are trying to buy a home, you just got good news: The Federal Reserve said Wednesday it is not going to try to drive up long-term interest rates just yet.

Stock investors are happy for you. They like cheap mortgages too because a robust housing market creates jobs. To celebrate, they bought more shares, sending the Dow Jones industrial average up 147.21 to an all-time high of 15,676.94.

When the global financial system started to collapse five years ago, leaders from the Treasury Department, Congress and the Federal Reserve jumped up and started running.

Like men on a burning wooden bridge, they raced along, making crazy-fast decisions. They seized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, bailed out big banks, saved automakers, slashed interest rates and funded a massive infrastructure-building project to stimulate growth.

But that was then.

Trucker Shortage Worsens As Energy Sector Booms

Sep 2, 2013

When goods arrive in Houston, they may come in containers stacked high on huge ships or strung out on long lines of rail cars. But to get to the customer, those goods need to be put on trucks and driven to their final destinations.

And now with the oil and gas sectors booming, the demand for truckers is soaring. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says oil delivered to refineries by trucks shot up 38 percent between 2011 and 2012.

After years of sticking close to home, more Americans are eager to shake off the recession's remnants and have a final summer adventure, according to experts who track travel.

"We've noticed that vacation plans increased quite a bit in August," compared with June, said Chris Christopher, an economist who focuses on consumer markets for IHS Global Insight, a forecasting firm.

Six years ago, the U.S. housing market plunged off a cliff. Now prices are bouncing back up — sharply in many markets.

That has some real estate analysts saying 2013 may mark the turning point — when pent-up demand will revive the housing sector and boost the broader economy.

The government's decision Tuesday to oppose the merger of US Airways and American Airlines stunned airline analysts, but many predicted the deal eventually will win go through.

"Given that other airline mergers were approved, this was a surprise," University of Richmond transportation economist George Hoffer said. Other major carriers already have been allowed to combine forces, so "it's illogical to oppose this merger. This move comes a day late and a dollar short," he said.

Employers added 162,000 workers in July, and the U.S. unemployment rate slipped to 7.4 percent, the lowest level since December 2008, the Labor Department said Friday.

But while the number of jobs did increase, the hiring pace was slower than in the spring, marking a setback for unemployed Americans who had hoped for a better summer.

As August begins, retailers are stepping up sales promotions to attract back-to-school shoppers. And several states are offering tax-free shopping to encourage purchases.

But most economists say this year's sales will be slower than last summer's because consumers have been coping with more expensive gasoline and higher payroll taxes.

The U.S. economy has been growing for four straight years — each under the leadership of President Obama.

But the pace of improvement has been disappointing to many, especially the nearly 12 million people still looking for work.

In the 1980s, a popular fast-food commercial touted chicken-breast sandwiches — and mocked chicken nuggets sold by competitors.

In the ad, a competitor's doofus clerk explains nuggets. "All the parts are crammed into one big part," he said. "And parts is parts."

Hey, baggage fees — happy fifth birthday!

Even if passengers aren't eager to celebrate, airlines are. The fees, born in 2008, helped financially desperate carriers stay aloft as the U.S. economy was spiraling down.

"That was a watershed year that scared the bejeezus out of the airline industry," said Mark Gerchick, an aviation consultant who has just released a book, Full Upright and Locked Position. Even as ticket sales were sliding, jet fuel prices were shooting to historic highs.

When an oil-laden train derailed last weekend, it turned into an inferno that killed dozens in Lac-Megantic, a small town in Quebec.

This week, the Canadian tragedy is morphing into something very different. It is becoming Exhibit A in the political case for building pipelines — as well as for opposing them.

How could the same tragedy prove opposite points? Listen in to the debate:

Americans will get the same ham slabs and bacon slices they have enjoyed for generations, even after Smithfield Foods becomes a Chinese subsidiary, Smithfield CEO Larry Pope told Congress on Wednesday.

"It will be the same old Smithfield, only better," Pope said at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing.

But several senators weren't buying the bacon-will-be-unbroken story once Hong Kong-based Shuanghui International Holdings owns Smithfield.

The next couple of days will bring fireworks, hot dogs — and a new unemployment report.

At least the first two will be fun.

As for Friday's job-market assessment, the Labor Department report likely will show little or no change in the 7.6 percent unemployment rate. "There is still a general weakness in the labor market," says Daniel North, economist with Euler Hermes, a credit insurance company.

Supplies of oil have been surging this year, and U.S. drivers, who have been switching to more fuel-efficient cars, are using less gasoline.

That would seem to be the right economic combination to push down prices at the pump, but gasoline prices have remained stubbornly high this summer.

Even some people in the industry are wondering whether the law of supply and demand somehow has been repealed.

If economists were cheerleaders, their favorite shout-out might be: "What do we want? Growth! When do we want it? Now!"

They won't actually shout those words, but they may be thinking them as global leaders meet this week for a G-8 summit. Economists are hoping that at the gathering in Northern Ireland, leaders of eight major economies will discuss expanding global trade and investment to spur job creation.

June is a nice month for treading water — if you happen to be in a swimming pool.

But if you are in the labor pool and trying to make your way toward a job, a stronger current in the right direction would be appreciated.

Unfortunately, the jobs report released Friday by the Labor Department showed that the economy continues to drift along at a languid pace.

Americans do love their bacon, but is that romance a national security issue?

Maybe.

This week, China's biggest pork producer announced plans to buy Virginia-based Smithfield Foods Inc. Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa wants a national security review by an interagency panel known as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., or CFIUS.

A century ago, when fiery steel mills were roaring to life in Youngstown, Ohio, builders were racing to put up homes, storefronts, barbershops and more.

Today, many of those buildings sit empty and rotting. With the mills mostly gone and the population down 60 percent from 1960, to just 67,000, the city needs millions of dollars to tear down roughly 4,000 vacant structures.

After a long bumpy ride that started five years ago, the domestic airline industry seems to be pulling up and smoothing out.

The number of passengers planning to fly this summer will tick up 1 percent from 2012, climbing back to the highest level since 2008, an industry group said Thursday.

The airlines' profit outlook is also brighter, as jet fuel prices have settled down a bit. Passenger complaints are quieting down, too.

Overtime or comp time? Which one suits you best?

Both you and your boss may agree it would be best for you to work a sixth day when a big project is due in March, and then take off for a long weekend in June. No big deal.

But under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, private employers must pay time and a half to workers who put in more than 40 hours on the job in any one week.

The U.S. Congress — a body not exactly known for its swift feet — raced Friday to complete legislation to help travelers avoid delays at airports.

The House voted 361-41 to approve legislation that the Senate passed without objection late Thursday. The bill gives the Federal Aviation Administration more spending flexibility to cut its budget while avoiding furloughs of air traffic controllers.

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