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John Ydstie

Updated at 4:35 p.m. ET

After the huge sell-off Wednesday, U.S. stocks fell sharply again Thursday. At one point, the Dow was down nearly 700 points. By late afternoon, it had regained some ground but closed down 546 points or a little more than 2 percent.

Over the past two days, the Dow has lost 1,378 points. The S&P 500 was down 2 percent for the day. The Nasdaq lost 1.25 percent.

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Stocks plunged on Wall Street today. U.S. stocks saw their biggest sell-off in six months. The Dow fell 831 points, which is a 3 percent decline. Here to talk about exactly what happened is NPR's John Ydstie. Hey, John.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: Hi, Ailsa.

Does the neighborhood you grow up in determine how far you move up the economic ladder?

A new online data tool being made public Monday finds a strong correlation between where people are raised and their chances of achieving the American dream.

Harvard University economist Raj Chetty has been working with a team of researchers on this tool — the first of its kind because it marries U.S. Census Bureau data with data from the Internal Revenue Service. And the findings are changing how researchers think about economic mobility.

Updated at 5:40 p.m. ET

The United States and Mexico have reached an "understanding" on several critical trade issues following bilateral talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. They will now likely re-engage with Canada to reach a final deal on NAFTA, a primary goal of the Trump administration.

Speaking at the White House on Monday, President Trump said he wanted to change the NAFTA name to the U.S. Mexico Free Trade Agreement. He also reframed the negotiations as two bilateral trade deals.

U.S. whiskey distillers are fretting over the steep new tariffs they're facing around the world. They're being punished as U.S. trading partners retaliate against the Trump administration's tariffs on steel and aluminum. Now, the distillers fear that a long boom in U.S. whiskey exports could be coming to an end.

Kentucky bourbon has experienced a huge revival over the past decade — thanks in large part to U.S. trade initiatives that have opened up global markets, says Eric Gregory of the Kentucky Distillers' Association.

Updated at 2:21 p.m. ET

The Federal Reserve increased a key interest rate again Wednesday, which will trigger higher rates on credit cards, home equity lines and other kinds of borrowing.

U.S. economic growth slowed in the first three months of the year to a 2.3 percent annual rate, down from 2.9 percent at the end of last year.

One reason is that consumers didn't keep up with the blistering pace of spending at the beginning of the year, which means slower economic growth overall, analysts say. But, if recent trends are any indication, the economy will pick up steam soon.

Updated at 4:19 p.m. ET

Interest rates reached a milestone Tuesday and the stock market frowned.

Tuesday morning, for the first time in four years, the rate on the 10-year U.S. government note topped 3 percent. The bond market move contributed to a sharp sell-off in stocks, as investors wondered whether the long-running bull market might be at a pivot point.

President Trump's tariffs on imported steel aren't the first time the industry has gotten protection from the U.S. government. Not by a long shot. In fact, tariff protection for the industry — which politicians often say is a vital national interest — goes back to the very beginning of the republic.

In his book, Clashing Over Commerce: A History of U.S. Trade Policy, Dartmouth professor Douglas Irwin writes that protection for the metal producers began in the 1790s.

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The U.S. economy grew at a 2.9 percent annual rate in the final three months of 2017, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That's slightly faster than the previous 2.5 percent growth estimate, but slower than the 3.2 percent pace of the third quarter.

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Updated at 2:59 p.m. ET

The Federal Reserve announced a quarter-point increase in interest rates as expected Wednesday, the first rate move under its new chairman, Jerome Powell. The key fed funds rate was moved up to a target range of 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent.

Updated at 5:14 p.m. ET

President Trump promised steel and aluminum executives Thursday that he will levy tariffs on imports of their products in coming weeks. He said the imported steel will face tariffs of 25 percent, while aluminum will face tariffs of 10 percent.

"We're going to build our steel industry back and we're going to build our aluminum industry back," Trump told reporters.

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This is the third and final report in John Ydstie's series on Germany's manufacturing strength.

This is the second of three reports from NPR's John Ydstie on Germany's manufacturing strength.

Manufacturing accounts for nearly a quarter of Germany's economy. In the U.S., it's about half that. A key element of that success is Germany's apprenticeship training program.

This is the first of three reports from NPR's John Ydstie on Germany's manufacturing strength.

The United States needs to create more manufacturing jobs: That has been a constant refrain of President Trump and was one of the goals of the corporate tax cut recently passed by Congress and signed into law. The loss of manufacturing jobs has been a problem for many countries, especially the U.S. It played a big role in Trump's election.

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

For the third time this year and the fifth time since the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve has increased interest rates another quarter of a point.

The Federal Reserve is likely to raise interest rates at its December meeting, Jerome Powell, President Trump's pick to be Fed chairman, signaled Tuesday.

"I think the case for raising interest rates at our next meeting is coming together," Powell told the Senate Banking Committee at his confirmation hearing.

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Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen today announced that she will resign from the Federal Reserve Board once her successor, Jerome Powell, is sworn in.

Yellen is the first woman to serve as Fed chair. While her term as Fed chair ends in February, Yellen could have stayed on the board until 2024, serving out her 14-year term as a Fed governor. Instead she'll follow the practice of previous Fed leaders and leave the board once Powell becomes chairman.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, the first woman to hold that position, won't have the opportunity to serve four more years as leader of the nation's central bank. But she leaves the Fed's top post having largely achieved its mandate to engineer full employment while keeping inflation at a level that fosters growth.

A day before President Trump was expected to name their next leader, Federal Reserve policymakers decided to hold a key interest rate steady at between 1 percent and 1.25 percent. However, analysts are still looking for a rate increase at the central bank's next meeting, in mid-December.

President Trump says he is very close to making a decision about who will lead the Federal Reserve once Janet Yellen's term expires in February.

The Fed chair is often called the second-most-powerful person in Washington, after the president. By steering interest rate policy, the Fed chair affects economic growth, the pace of job creation and inflation.

President Trump made his view of the North American Free Trade Agreement very clear during the presidential election. He called NAFTA "the worst trade deal in ... the history of this country." And Trump blamed NAFTA for the loss of millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs.

His administration is in the midst of renegotiating the free trade deal with Canada and Mexico, and that is making many U.S. farmers and ranchers nervous.

The dollar is down nearly 10 percent since the beginning of the year. That's bad news if you're a tourist traveling to Europe, but great news if your U.S. company sells goods overseas.

The greenback's tumble against a basket of currencies reflects both positive and negative trends, analysts say.

The biggest factor in the dollar's decline is doubts among currency investors that the Trump administration will be able to put in place pro-growth policies, says Jens Nordvig, CEO of Exante Data, a financial advisory firm.

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