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.

Newtown, Conn., is a white-collar community an hour and a half northeast of New York City. It's the kind of place where crime is rare and the biggest thing that happens each year is the Labor Day parade.

Now the peace and quiet has been shattered, and residents are trying to make sense of what's happened.

Hours after the shootings that left so many people dead, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church opened its doors for a prayer vigil. People filed through the streets and past houses decorated with Christmas lights.

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And I'm Audie Cornish. It is the biggest penalty ever paid by a bank to the U.S. government. HSBC, a British company, will hand over $1.9 billion to settle a money laundering case. The Justice Department says HSBC violated the bank secrecy act and the trading with the enemy act by doing business with the likes of Iran.

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The nation's unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent in November, that's the lowest it's been in four years. The Labor Department's latest jobs report released this morning showed employers added more jobs than expected.

But as NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, economists warn these new numbers aren't what they appear to be.

Tax increases are only a part of what lies ahead if Congress can't come to an agreement to avert the fiscal cliff by the new year. Massive spending cuts will also kick in — and those cuts will be felt throughout the economy.

The current stalemate got under way two years ago when Congress, locked in a bitter partisan battle over whether to extend the George W. Bush-era tax cuts, passed what was known as the Budget Control Act of 2011.

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Well, now, a bit of economic brightness from the private sector. If the initial numbers are any indication that this will be a pretty good holiday season for retailers. Shoppers were very busy over the Thanksgiving weekend. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

Ever since Hurricane Sandy ripped through the New Jersey coast, some of the hardest-hit towns have been closed altogether. Authorities say gas leaks and unstable buildings have made them too risky to visit.

This week, residents were allowed to enter Seaside Heights for a few hours each day to get a firsthand look at the damage. Many are struggling with whether to rebuild their homes.

Weighing The Cost

Hurricane Sandy left a long trail of destruction across the New Jersey shoreline. And it did a lot more than just flood houses.

In towns like Seaside Heights and Belmar, Sandy wiped out the boardwalks that line the beach. In places like these, boardwalks served as the commercial center knitting the towns together, and residents are wondering where to go from here.

Until two weeks ago, the boardwalk was the place to hang out in Belmar, N.J. Ann Summer was walking along the water with her husband this weekend.

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The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, also held a press conference yesterday, and gave a warning that Sandy could end up costing his state $33 billion in economic damage, which could worsen the state's already-perilous fiscal situation.

NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: Cuomo said the initial estimates are that the storm will cost the region $50 billion in lost economic activity and infrastructure damage. And he said two-thirds of that will be borne by New York.

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Much of the worst damage from Superstorm Sandy happened in New York's less touristy outer boroughs.

Some neighborhoods have been changed forever by the storm. Staten Island saw half of the city's fatalities. On Friday, residents sorted through waterlogged belongings and tried to figure out next steps.

Rosemarie Caruso lives a block from the water on the eastern shore of Staten Island. She says there have been hurricanes before and all they brought was a little flooding. She figured she could ride out Sandy.

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Hurricane Sandy made landfall in southern New Jersey and left a path of destruction all the way up the state. Just across the river from New York in Bergen County, water flowed over the top of a levee along the Hackensack River, and then it poured into the town of Moonachie.

NPR's Jim Zarroli went there today.

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Former Goldman Sachs board member Rajat Gupta has been sentenced to two years in prison for insider trading. He's also been fined $5 million. Gupta was accused of passing on information illegally to hedge fund executive Raj Rajaratnam, who is already in prison.

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And I'm Audie Cornish. Now, some business news. This past Friday and again today, the Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 200 points. The drop occurred after several big U.S. companies turned in disappointing results. NPR's Jim Zarroli explains.

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Two Americans, Alvin Roth and Lloyd Shapley, have won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economics. Their research on market design has found many practical applications. It's at the heart of the system used to match medical school graduates with residency programs and is even used in the market that matches human organ donors and recipients.

Over the past decade, Chinese companies have become major players in the global telecommunications market. This week the House Intelligence Committee issued a report that could interrupt that growth. The committee warned American companies not to do business with two of China's main telecom manufacturers, saying they posed a security threat.

Huawei Technologies is the miracle story of the Chinese high-tech industry, says telecommunications consultant Roger Entner.

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Nicole Kotovos was searching for a way to start a new life when the idea struck her: She would go to her ancestral homeland of Greece and open an American-style bakery cafe. She would bring the cupcake fad to Athens.

What she didn't figure on was the historic downturn in the Greek economy.

The former New York TV producer arrived in 2008, just as the country's debt-mired economy was falling into a deep recession it still hasn't emerged from.

When the economic crisis erupted in Greece and the bottom fell out of the domestic wine market, the Kir-Yianni vineyard outside picturesque Naoussa decided to adapt. Like other wineries in Greece, it has increasingly tapped the export market, successfully marketing and selling wine in Europe, the United States and even China.

"If you ask me, this crisis has been good for us," says Stellios Boutaris, the son of the company's founder. "It's going to make us stronger."

Greece is in the fifth year of a painful recession, and it doesn't look like it's going to end anytime soon. One big problem the country faces is a shortage of strong companies that know how to compete on the world market. And nowhere is this more painfully apparent than in the challenges faced by the country's olive oil business.

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NPR's business news starts with a boost for the euro.

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INSKEEP: Opponents of the European currency have been dealt a big setback in the Netherlands. The center-right Liberal Party, which favors remaining in the eurozone, won the most seats in yesterday's parliamentary elections.

NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel. And we begin this hour with a bold move in Europe. The head of the European Central Bank today unveiled a plan that he said will help contain the continent's grinding debt crisis. Mario Draghi announced the ECB will step up its purchases of government bonds. The point is to bring down interest rates in Spain, Italy and other heavily indebted countries.

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When the European Central Bank holds its monthly meeting today, investors around the world will be watching nervously to see what the bank's head, Mario Draghi, says about interest rates. Draghi was recently quoted as saying he would do whatever it takes to keep Europe's debt crisis from growing out of control, and that could go beyond just cutting borrowing rates.

As NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, any European Central Bank plan to use its resources to prop up Europe's weaker economies will face strong opposition from the Germans.

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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says he favors keeping all of the Bush-era tax cuts and then adding some more. To pay for these cuts, he would reduce or eliminate some of the tax deductions that many Americans have come to rely on. But his proposals are already facing a lot of resistance.

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A British bank has agreed to settle charges that it illegally laundered Iranian money. The settlement with Standard Chartered was announced by New York banking regulators, who'd brought the charges just a week ago. The bank still is under investigation by the federal government. NPR's Jim Zarroli has more.

Ten years ago, Andres Cortez, a chauffeur in Los Angeles, might have been part of the hordes of people dabbling in day trading or haunting the online stock forums. He might have been bragging to his friends about the money he made in tech stocks, or learning how to margin trade at a night school.

Instead, he keeps his distance from stocks.

As he stands by his car and waits for a passenger downtown, Cortez says he has a little money he's put aside and is keeping it in a savings account, where it earns virtually nothing.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has acknowledged that he had money in a Swiss bank account until 2010. Romney says he wasn't trying to hide the money, since he reported the account to the government.

Even so, he closed the account at a time when the federal government was in the middle of a major crackdown on offshore tax havens — a crackdown that has made it harder for Americans to hide their money overseas.

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The Federal Reserve took no new action to stimulate the economy on Wednesday but signaled it stands ready to act if hiring and the overall economic outlook does not improve. Since the Fed did not move, many analysts expect it will announce a new round of so-called quantitative easing at its next meeting in September.

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