Chris Arnold

NPR correspondent Chris Arnold is based in Boston. His reports are heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. He joined NPR in 1996, and was based in San Francisco before moving to Boston in 2001.

In recent years, Arnold has spent much of his time reporting on the financial crisis, its aftermath, and the U.S. economy's ongoing recovery. He has focused on the housing bubble and its collapse. And he's reported on problems within the nation's largest banks that have led to the banks improperly foreclosing on thousands of American homeowners. For this work, Arnold earned a 2011 Edward R. Murrow Award for the special series, The Foreclosure Nightmare. He's also been honored with the Newspaper Guild's 2009 Heywood Broun Award for broadcast journalism. He was chosen by the Scripps Howard Foundation as a finalist for their National Journalism Award, and he won an Excellence in Financial Journalism Award from N.Y. State's society for CPA's.

Arnold is also reporting on the now government-owned mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In a series of stories in partnership with ProPublica, Arnold exposed investments at Freddie Mac that raised serious concerns about a conflict of interest between Fannie and Freddie's massive investment portfolios, and their mission to make home ownership more affordable. The stories generated widespread attention, and led to calls for an investigation by members of Congress.

Arnold was recently honored with a Nieman Journalism Fellowship at Harvard University during the 2012-2013 academic year. He joined a small group of other journalists from the U.S. and abroad and studied, among other things, economics and the future of home ownership in America.

Prior to that, Arnold covered a range of other subjects for NPR – from Katrina recovery in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, to immigrant workers in the fishing industry, to a new kind of table saw that won't cut your fingers off. He traveled to Turin, Italy, for NPR's coverage of the 2006 Winter Olympics. He has also followed the dramatic rise in the numbers of teenagers abusing the powerful and highly addictive painkiller Oxycontin – more than 1 out of 20 high school seniors report using the drug.

In the days and months following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Arnold reported from New York and contributed to the NPR coverage that won the Overseas Press Club and the George Foster Peabody Awards. He chronicled the recovery effort at Ground Zero, focusing on members of the Port Authority Police department, as they struggled with the deaths of 37 officers - the greatest loss of any police department in U.S. history.

Prior to his move to Boston, Arnold traveled the country for NPR doing feature stories on entrepreneurship. His pieces covered technologists, farmers, and family business owners. He also reported on efforts to kindle entrepreneurship in economically disadvantaged areas ranging from inner-city Los Angeles to the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota.

Arnold has worked in public radio since 1993. Before joining NPR, he was a freelance reporter working out of San Francisco's NPR Member Station, KQED.

Pages

Shots - Health News
2:20 am
Wed November 27, 2013

To Changing Landscape, Add Private Health Care Exchanges

www.delightimages.com iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 10:30 am

We've been reporting a lot lately on the troubled rollout of President Obama's signature health care law. But at the same time, there are rumblings of a major shift in the way companies offer private health insurance to workers.

It involves what are called "private health care exchanges." These are similar to — but completely separate from — the public exchanges you've heard so much about.

Some experts say this new approach soon could change how millions of Americans receive their health care.

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:57 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Can Young People Get Obamacare For $50 A Month? Sometimes

President Barack Obama speaks in Boston about the Affordable Care Act. Obama and his supporters have often said the health care law would allow half of single Americans under 35 to get insurance for less than $50 a month.
Stephan Savoia AP

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 1:56 pm

For Obamacare to succeed, it's crucial for young people to sign up.

Healthy young Americans need to pay into the insurance system to help cover the costs for older, sicker people.

So the White House is reaching out. Its website sent emails to subscribers with a big, orange graphic that says half of young people can get coverage for $50 a month or less.

Read more
The State Of The American Small Business
2:57 am
Thu October 31, 2013

What Happens When The Pace Of Startups Slows Down

Is this coffee shop going to grow to be the next Starbucks?
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 11:45 am

Since the financial crisis hit five years ago, there aren't as many Americans starting new businesses. In uncertain economic times, it's harder for entrepreneurs and investors to take the risk.

And if you look back over the past 25 years, it turns out the overall trend is toward fewer new businesses getting started, too — and that's not good at all when the country needs more jobs.

The Next Google

Read more
Business
4:03 am
Mon October 21, 2013

What To Know About The Tentative JPMorgan Deal

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 2:37 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. The Justice Department is on the verge of a $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase. That would make it the biggest government fine involving a single company. It involves the allegedly improper sale of mortgage securities that led to the financial crisis of 2008. NPR's Chris Arnold has been following this and he joins us now. Good morning.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

Read more
Business
5:44 am
Sat October 19, 2013

Business Leaders Decry The Economic Cost Of Uncertainty

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 11:08 am

Running a company is like driving a car. You need to be able to see what's coming down the road. The dysfunction in Washington has created a fog, and when driving in the fog, you have to slow down.

That's basically what's happening at thousands of companies around the country.

Bob Mosey, chairman of the National Tooling and Machining Association, bemoans the "uncertainty of not being able to plan for the future."

Read more
Economy
3:27 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Economists Say Fiscal Fits And Starts Hurt U.S. Growth

Traders at the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday. Stocks surged on Wall Street after Senate leaders reached a deal that would avoid a U.S. default and reopen the government after 16 days of being partially shut down.
Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 6:45 pm

On Wednesday, the stock market cheered the debt ceiling deal in Congress. The Dow gained 206 points and all the major indexes closed higher.

Investors of course have been watching the showdown in Washington very closely, since a default could have been a global financial disaster. At the same time, economists are trying to figure out how much the jitters and uncertainty over all this has been hurting the economy.

Read more
Economy
4:34 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Census Report Paints Troubling Economic Picture On Incomes

Raisa Ruiz (right) and her niece Mary Badels wait in line at the Manna Food Center, Gaithersburg, Md., on Sept. 13.
Chloe Coleman NPR

For the first year since the recession, median household incomes did not decline in 2012. But it's hardly a reassuring picture. Incomes were flat despite the economic recovery and big gains in the stock market. That's a troubling aspect about today's labor market. It's four years since the official end of the recession and many households are worse off than when it started.

Read more
Business
2:38 am
Fri September 6, 2013

Rates Come Down On Jumbo Mortgage Loans

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri September 6, 2013 11:40 am

There is something new and different for home mortgages: Jumbo loans are being made at lower interest rates than traditional home loans. That's kind of like a first class airplane ticket being cheaper than riding in coach.

At first this seems crazy. For as long as anybody can remember, homeowners have had to pay a premium to get jumbo loans. That's because they're not guaranteed by the federal government. If they're not guaranteed, they're riskier, so they cost more in interest payments.

Read more
Business
1:41 am
Thu August 22, 2013

As Housing Recovers, Lots Of Boats Rise In U.S. Economy

A worker at the Cataumet Sawmill in Falmouth, Mass., where the improved housing outlook has led to more hours for employees.
Chris Arnold NPR

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 11:02 am

In just the past week we've seen a bunch of signs that the housing recovery is gaining steam. Data out Wednesday showed that existing-home sales rose to their highest level in nearly four years, while prices were up 14 percent from a year ago.

Retailers Home Depot and Lowe's both reported strong earnings growth and attributed that to the housing rebound.

And most important for the economy, homebuilders are hiring more workers and building more houses.

Read more
Law
6:25 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

DOJ Sues Bank Of America Over Mortgage-Backed Securities

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. The Justice Department is bringing civil charges against one of the nation's largest banks. The government alleges Bank of America made false statements about the quality of $850 million worth of home loans. Those loans were then sold to investors. NPR's Chris Arnold reports.

Read more
Law
4:56 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

After Five Years, Why So Few Charges In Financial Crisis?

Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, testifies before Congress about the program in 2010. Barofsky now says of the financial crisis: "The folks responsible for this incredibly painful economic damage that struck our economy have gone free."
Harry Hamburg AP

Originally published on Mon July 29, 2013 11:01 am

In the latest in a string of insider trading cases, federal prosecutors this week indicted SAC Capital, one of the most prominent and profitable hedge funds in the world.

But when it comes to the 2008 financial crisis that sent the economy into a tailspin, criminal prosecutions have been few and far between.

Read more
Business
11:18 am
Thu July 25, 2013

Government Charges SAC In Insider Trading Case

Federal prosecutors have filed criminal charges against one of the most famous and successful hedge funds in the world. The government alleges that SAC Capital Advisors is criminally responsible for insider trading that went on at the firm.

Politics
4:07 am
Thu July 18, 2013

Congress Takes Renewed Aim At Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 6:45 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

For the first time since the housing crash, lawmakers are getting serious about dismantling the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They were rescued with $190 million bailout. Two prominent senators - a Democrat and a Republican - have a bill that's attracting some bipartisan support. A separate Republican bill is being introduced in the House today and a third may soon come from Democrats. NPR's Chris Arnold reports.

Read more
The Two-Way
12:52 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Bernanke's Comments Lift Stocks To Record Highs

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 4:29 pm

Stocks surged Thursday after the chief of the Federal Reserve sent signals that the central bank wasn't in a hurry to stop helping the economy. When the markets closed, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index was at a record high. Other U.S. indexes were also up, including the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which rose nearly 170 points to a record 15,460.92.

Update at 5 p.m. ET: We've updated some figures in this post to reflect the markets' closing.

Read more
Economy
4:50 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

Jobs Keep Growing. How Soon Should The Fed Stop Helping?

Many economists are encouraged by the latest jobs report because the stronger growth doesn't appear to be just a one-month blip.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 11:37 am

The latest employment report is encouraging to many economists because the stronger job growth doesn't appear to be just a one-month blip. But some worry that it's so strong the Federal Reserve may pull back efforts to boost the economy.

The Labor Department's newest data released Friday shows the U.S. added 195,000 jobs in June. The prior two months were also revised upward — above 190,000 for both April and May.

That's three months of more-robust job growth.

Read more
Around the Nation
12:57 pm
Sat April 20, 2013

In Boston, Lockdown Became Time To Spend With Friends

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Read more
Your Money
5:12 am
Sat September 1, 2012

Saving For Retirement? Here's A Tip

Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 4:05 pm

Anyone with a 401(k) retirement plan has been painfully aware of the gyrations in the stock market in recent years. The market has come back up lately, but the economy is still in low gear, so many analysts aren't too bullish in the short term. Also, treasuries and CDs are offering tiny returns.

So what's the average American trying to save for retirement to do? Answers are percolating at an annual economics retreat in Maine.

Read more
Business
5:21 am
Sun August 19, 2012

She's No Man; She's A Lobsterman

Lobsterman Genevieve Kurilec holds a lobster caught while fishing along Deer Isle, Maine. Kurilec says more women are beginning to captain their own lobster boats.
Chris Arnold NPR

Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 4:46 pm

In New England, more women are breaking through the glass gangway. That's the ramp you use to walk down onto a dock to hop onboard your own fishing boat. For generations lobstermen in Maine have been predominantly, well, men — but that's starting to change.

At a small gas dock in a rock-lined cove on Deer Isle, Maine, there's a new captain fueling up. Genevieve Kurilec, 29, wears a tank-top, orange fishing overalls and lobster buoy earrings.

Read more
Economy
3:12 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

New Terms Set For Frannie And Freddie

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 5:03 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The Treasury Department today changed the terms of its bailout agreement with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As NPR's Chris Arnold reports, those terms were proving hopeless for the companies to keep up with.

Read more
American Dreams: Then And Now
2:28 am
Thu August 16, 2012

Persuading Banks To Give Homeowners A Break

Sara Millan (left) thanks Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America CEO Bruce Marks after NACA was able to reduce her family's mortgage during an event in Los Angeles in September 2010.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Originally published on Tue August 21, 2012 3:53 pm

Over the past four years, Bruce Marks has been on a traveling road show to help people avoid foreclosure. His nonprofit, the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, has held more than 80 events in cities around the country. So far, Marks says, NACA has helped 202,000 people get their payments lowered so they can afford to keep their homes.

Read more
Around the Nation
4:51 am
Sun August 12, 2012

Maine Lobstermen Give Farming Sea Scallops A Try

As lobster prices plunge, scallops offer fishermen an alternative to make money.
Levi Bridges for NPR

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 12:57 pm

If you don't love scallops, you probably just haven't had one that's cooked properly. That is, pan fried with some garlic and butter and herbs. They are very tasty.

In Maine, scientists and fishermen are learning how to farm, instead of catching, these tasty sea critters. That could be good for business and the environment.

Out on the water off Stonington, Maine, Marsden Brewer is motoring his lobster boat through the crowded fishing harbor. Today, just about all the boats here are lobster boats. But 30 years ago, he says, it was a different story.

Read more
Economy
6:32 am
Sat August 4, 2012

Economists Cautiously Applaud Jobs Report

Originally published on Sun August 5, 2012 10:43 am

Transcript

SUSAN STAMBERG, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Susan Stamberg in for Scott Simon. In an encouraging sign for the U.S. economy, the Labor Department told us yesterday that the country gained 163,000 jobs in July. That was better than expected but not all signs are pointing up. In a separate government survey, the unemployment rate increased slightly to 8.3 percent. NPR's Chris Arnold is at a gathering of economists in northern Maine. He sent this report.

Read more
The Two-Way
4:20 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Fannie, Freddie Regulator Holds Firm Against Mortgage Write-Downs

Many experts say reducing mortgage principal can help troubled homeowners avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. But the regulator who oversees two of the nation's largest mortgage holders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has rejected the idea.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 11:16 am

A federal regulator is blocking the government-owned mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from reducing the principal that homeowners owe on their mortgages in order to avoid foreclosures.

Tuesday's decision came from Edward DeMarco, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Read more
Crisis In The Housing Market
2:00 am
Wed June 27, 2012

Morale Takes A Hit At Beleaguered Fannie, Freddie

Created by the federal government during the Great Depression, Fannie Mae became a Washington powerhouse: a highly profitable, private company, protected by the government and boasting huge lobbying clout. But today, Fannie Mae has essentially become a ward of the state.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Wed June 27, 2012 5:47 pm

The collapse of the housing market has led to plenty of finger-pointing in Washington. Two easy targets are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

These government-backed mortgage giants had to be rescued by taxpayers and now owe the government $188 billion. Still, Fannie and Freddie, which currently make the vast majority of home loans possible, are crucial to supporting the housing market right now.

Read more
Crisis In The Housing Market
3:30 am
Thu June 14, 2012

Will Credit Be The Spoiler In Housing Recovery?

The housing market is finally showing signs of a comeback, according to an annual study from Harvard. But, though mortgage interest rates are at record lows, banks are often too cautious to lend.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Thu June 14, 2012 10:04 am

Amid all the economic uncertainty over the credit crisis in Europe and slow job growth in the U.S., one sector may be looking up. The U.S. housing market is finally showing more signs of recovery, according to a report being released Thursday by Harvard University.

Harvard comes out with this study once a year, and this time around, it's painting a much brighter picture.

Read more

Pages