John Ydstie

John Ydstie has covered the economy, Wall Street and the federal budget for NPR for two decades. In recent years NPR has broadened his responsibilities, making use of his reporting and interviewing skills to cover major stories like the aftermath of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. His current focus is reporting on the global financial crisis. Ydstie is also a regular guest host on the NPR news programs Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Talk of the Nation.

During 1991 and 1992 Ydstie was NPR's bureau chief in London. He traveled throughout Europe covering, among other things, the breakup of the Soviet Union and attempts to move Europe toward closer political and economic union. He accompanied U.S. businessmen exploring investment opportunities in Russia as the Soviet Union was crumbling. He was on the scene in The Netherlands when European leaders approved the Maastricht Treaty, which created the European Union.

In August 1990, Ydstie traveled to Saudi Arabia for NPR as a member of the Pentagon press pool sent to cover the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. During the early stages of the crisis, Ydstie was the only American radio reporter in the country.

Ydstie has been with NPR since 1979. For two years, he was an associate producer responsible for Midwest coverage. In 1982 he became senior editor on NPR's Washington Desk, overseeing coverage of the federal government, American politics and economics. In 1984, Ydstie joined Morning Edition as the show's senior editor, and later was promoted to the position of executive producer. In 1988, he became NPR's economics correspondent.

During his tenure with NPR, Ydstie has won numerous awards. He was a member of the NPR team that received the George Foster Peabody for its coverage of 9/11. Ydstie's reporting from Saudi Arabia helped NPR win the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award in 1991 for coverage of the Gulf War. Prior to joining NPR, Ydstie was a reporter and producer at Minnesota Public Radio. While there, he was awarded the Clarion Award for his report "Vietnam Experience and America Today."

A graduate of Concordia College, in Moorhead, MN, Ydstie earned a bachelor of arts degree, summa cum laude, with a major in English literature and a minor in speech communications.

Ydstie was born in Minneapolis, and grew up in rural North Dakota.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Jack Lew, President Obama's pick for Treasury secretary, appears headed toward confirmation by the full Senate. He fared well during his confirmation hearing at the Senate Finance Committee yesterday.

But as NPR's John Ydstie reports, Lew did get some pointed questions from Republicans about his brief career in the private sector as an executive of Citigroup.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

You might've chuckled a bit this week, if you heard about the trillion-dollar platinum coin plan, to perhaps address Washington, D.C.'s debt ceiling stalemate. But it will certainly be no laughing matter if the U.S. Congress refuses to raise the borrowing limit, and the U.S. government defaults on its debt. Global financial markets would likely plummet.

NPR's John Ydstie reports on some of the options the president has if he and Congress cannot reach an agreement.

Outgoing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has had a bruising four years. He took office when the U.S. economy was plunging into the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Nominating Jack Lew as Geithner's successor Thursday, President Obama praised his departing Treasury secretary for helping to get the economy back on track.

Businesses complained that the uncertainty surrounding the "fiscal cliff" froze their decisions about hiring and expanding, which hurt the economy. Washington has now managed half a deal, which settles tax issues, at least for the time being. But has that removed enough uncertainty to boost some business hiring and investment?

The U.S. economy was a bit of a disappointment in 2012. During the early months of the year, job creation was surprisingly strong, but by the end of the year, uncertainty about the election and the "fiscal cliff" slowed the economy's forward motion. So will 2013 look any better?

Mark Zandi of Moody's Analytics says that while Washington likely will steer us away from the fiscal cliff at the last minute, some elements of the deal will be a drag on the economy early in 2013.

The Federal Reserve continued to keep its foot on the accelerator in 2012, using unusual tactics to try to boost economic growth. But there's disagreement among economists about whether the Fed's policies were effective or whether the risks to the economy outweighed the rewards.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Turns out that Superstorm Sandy didn't do as much damage as many expected, to the nation's unemployment predicament. At least, that's what the government's monthly data on the jobs market told us yesterday. As NPR's John Ydstie reports, analysts and businesses are already looking past that report, to the dangers to jobs posed by the fiscal cliff.

The Republican plan to avert the "fiscal cliff" that the White House rejected Monday includes at least one element that's likely to produce controversy: a proposal that would, among other things, affect the cost of living adjustment for Social Security.

As negotiations continue in Washington over a plan to avoid the fiscal cliff — that combination of tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled for Jan. 1 — one big sticking point is whether to raise tax rates for high-income Americans.

Congress and the White House constructed the cliff last year, thinking it would force them to focus on solving the deficit problem. But they're still battling over what approach makes the most sense.

"No substantive progress has been made." That's what House Speaker John Boehner had to say Thursday about efforts to avoid automatic spending cuts and tax increases at year's end.

The administration's lead negotiator, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, met with congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle Thursday, looking for an agreement on the hazard Congress and the White House created last year to focus their minds on deficit reduction.

The White House and Congress continue to work on a deal that avoids the fiscal cliff and cuts deficits in the long run. One of the biggest hurdles is President Obama's proposal to raise tax rates for the wealthy.

Republicans think a better course would be to raise revenue by closing loopholes and limiting deductions for high-income people. The question is, could that method raise enough money.

A second term means some new Cabinet appointments for President Obama, including at the Treasury. After four pretty grueling years, Secretary Timothy Geithner has made it clear he will be leaving Washington.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said last week that Geithner would be staying on through the inauguration. He's also expected to be a "key participant" in "fiscal cliff" negotiations.

Now that the election is over, Washington is transfixed by the fiscal cliff, the automatic tax increases and spending cuts due to take effect Jan. 1 if nothing is done.

The sudden shock could seriously damage the economy.

But some Democrats and policy analysts are suggesting that going over the fiscal cliff could help break the political logjam.

With the election over, attention in Washington has turned to the nation's debt and deficit challenges — most immediately the looming fiscal cliff. That's the $600 billion worth of expiring tax breaks and automatic spending cuts set to start taking effect Jan. 1.

The president and Congress agreed to those automatic measures to force themselves to find a more palatable compromise to rein in deficits. On Wednesday, there was an attempt to jump-start that process.

As part of Solve This, NPR's series on major issues facing the country, we're examining the presidential candidate's approach to boosting employment. After looking at President Obama's strategy, it's time to examine the plan of GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

In the next two installments of Solve This, NPR's series on the major issues facing the country, we'll examine each presidential candidate's approach to boosting employment. First, President Obama's strategy, then Mitt Romney's.

Job creation is the centerpiece of President Obama's campaign speeches.

The world's central banks are pumping cash into their economies, pushing down interest rates in hopes the ready cash and lower rates will boost borrowing and economic activity. Everyone agrees the action is dramatic and unprecedented, but there's disagreement over whether they will do more harm than good.

Economists know very well the trillions of dollars being added by the central banks to the global economy can be risky.

"These are risks about long-term rises in inflation, housing bubbles potentially building up," says Jacob Kirkegaard of the Peterson Institute.

Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde says recent actions by the European Central Bank mark a positive turning point in Europe's financial crisis. But she warned that uncertainty elsewhere will continue to slow the pace of the global recovery.

Back in July, the IMF was forecasting world growth of just under 4 percent for next year. The group's economists will issue a new forecast in a couple of weeks. Lagarde said the new projection still foresees a gradual recovery, but it will shave a few tenths of a percent off global growth.

Federal Reserve policymakers are meeting in Washington, trying to decide whether — and exactly how — to boost the sluggish economy. Many analysts are expecting the Fed to take action, but they're also beginning to question whether another stimulus program will have any effect.

Paul Ryan has a reputation as a deficit hawk. Mitt Romney's running mate has proposed budgets that cut non-defense spending significantly, and advocated controlling Medicare costs by making it a voucher program. But critics argue there's a lot in the Wisconsin congressman's record that undermines his deficit-hawk reputation.

When Ryan gave the GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union address last year, he restated his commitment to debt and deficit reduction.

Mitt Romney's new running mate has authored some provocative policy proposals to cut budget deficits and overhaul Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. But Rep. Paul Ryan has also been an advocate for a different course for the central banking system of the United States, the Federal Reserve.

For the past 35 years, the Fed has had a dual mandate from Congress: to set interest rates at levels that will both foster maximum employment and keep prices stable. Put another way, the Fed's goals are to get unemployment as low as possible while keeping inflation in check.

President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have been trading attacks over the issue of American jobs being moved overseas.

The president has pounded Romney for the investments made by his former firm Bain Capital in the 1990s. Not to be outdone, the Romney campaign has suggested most of the money from the president's stimulus program went to create jobs overseas.

As the financial crisis began to unfold in 2007, the New York Federal Reserve learned that some banks might have intentionally underestimated the rates they expected to pay for loans from other banks.

Documents the New York Fed released Friday, in response to a request from Congress, show that the banking regulator began to be concerned about the accuracy of LIBOR — or the London Interbank Offered Rate — late in 2007.

The euro touched a two-year low against the dollar Tuesday, as concerns about the eurozone debt crisis continued.

Despite a recession across much of the eurozone and even predictions of the currency's demise, however, the euro has held up relatively well during this crisis.

Over the last 13 year, it has taken on average $1.21 to buy a euro. Now, even in this midst of this crisis, it's worth virtually the same ($1.22).

In order to salvage its common currency, Europe is working toward a tighter fiscal union. That will require a tradeoff — sovereignty for economic stability. Over the next two days European Union leaders will try to come to an agreement to boost growth.

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