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.

Today's announcement that Vikram Pandit had abruptly resigned as chief executive of banking giant Citigroup has left competitors, analysts and media pundits stunned and sputtering.

"This comes as a huge surprise," William George, a Goldman Sachs board member, said in an interview on CNBC.

As this election year began, political pundits insisted the No. 1 issue would be the economy. They expected the candidates to offer voters detailed plans for encouraging job growth.

Now, with the election just three weeks away, many Americans are still scratching their heads, wondering what exactly President Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney would do to improve the economy.

When Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep Paul Ryan face off during their only debate, tens of millions of Americans will tune in to hear them defend their running mates' records.

And that audience Thursday night also will hear lots of budget-related buzzwords, with meanings that may not be entirely clear. Those words are shorthand for policies that could have huge impacts on taxpayers and the annual $1 trillion budget deficit.

Brushing up on terms of the debate can help voters better understand what's really being said on the stage at Centre College in Kentucky.

JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, wearing a dark suit possibly made of sackcloth, didn't hold back when discussing the derivative trades that led to massive losses for his company.

"We made a stupid error," he said before a lunchtime audience at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington on Wednesday. "We screwed up."

Then he got more specific: "I should have caught it ... I didn't."

The company estimates it lost $5.8 billion, thanks to a London-based trader, nicknamed the "London whale," who took large, risky positions in credit derivatives.

With a new report showing the nation's unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent last month, the Obama administration got good news Friday: Jobs are indeed growing. But, as Republicans noted, the pace remains well below the level needed to provide paychecks for the 12.1 million people seeking them.

The truth is, each party could find evidence to support either a positive or negative spin on the labor market, which is recovering — yet weak.

In their first debate Wednesday night, the two presidential candidates will explain their plans for fixing the U.S. economy.

Good luck.

The problems are complicated and long-standing, so the solutions may not be easy to spell out in the two minutes allowed for each answer under the debate rules.

But President Obama, the Democratic incumbent, and former Gov. Mitt Romney, his Republican challenger, will try, and about 60 million people are expected to tune in. This first debate will focus on domestic issues, with the economy topping the list of homefront problems.

Unless Congress passes legislation in a lame-duck session, taxes will be higher by a half-trillion dollars next year, costing the average household nearly $3,500 a year, according to a just-released report by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

After studying details of the tax changes now set to take effect for 2013, the researchers were struck by "how big the tax increase is," said Eric Toder, one of those researchers. "It's a huge, huge number."

In January, NPR and ProPublica reported on a potential conflict of interest at Freddie Mac, a mortgage giant sponsored by the federal government. The stories noted that even as Freddie Mac was writing rules making it harder for homeowners to refinance their mortgages, it also was stepping up investments in securities that gain when homeowners remain stuck in high-rate loans.

As this presidential election year was kicking off, strategists were saying the focus would be on the economy. But now — even as absentee ballots are being filled in — the candidates are still dodging details about how to improve growth.

"President Obama doesn't have a plan," says Kevin Hassett, an economic adviser to Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

Jeffrey Liebman, an economic adviser to President Obama, says Romney has revealed no plan other than "going back to the failed policies of the past decade."

Members of Congress are about to flee Capitol Hill, and they'll be gone until Nov. 13, one week after Election Day.

As they shift to full-time campaigning, lawmakers are leaving behind many questions about the "fiscal cliff," a massive cluster of automatic spending cuts and tax-break expirations that come together around year's end.

As the political conventions wrap up, talking points concerning the economy may seem locked into place: Growth is continuing, but at a slow pace.

Don't be fooled.

There's still plenty of time for big surprises, and Thursday provided a stunning example. Stock prices shot to highs not seen in years.

As a tropical storm was gathering strength last week, fears were growing that the fierce winds might knock out Gulf Coast refineries, send gasoline prices soaring and seriously damage the U.S. economy.

But when Hurricane Isaac slammed into the Gulf Coast on Tuesday, it was only a Category 1 hurricane, far weaker than Katrina, the monster storm that hit seven years ago.

With Election Day drawing closer, each presidential candidate is pushing harder to make the case that he would be a better leader for the economy.

And voters are listening to the pitches. A recent Washington Post-ABC poll showed that nearly 3 in 4 Americans say the candidate's approach to the economy will be a "major factor" in deciding between President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney.

In late August of 2008, just as delegates were coming together for their political-party conventions, the U.S. economy was falling apart. Home sales were shutting down, employers were slashing payrolls, and financial institutions were lurching toward chaos.

Subsequent weeks saw political leaders and regulators fighting through one gut-wrenching day after another, trying to avert a complete collapse of global markets. On Sept. 24, Republican presidential candidate John McCain temporarily suspended his campaign to help Congress develop financial bailout plans.

After months of sitting on their wallets, Americans went shopping in July. The uptick reported Tuesday is boosting economists' hopes for a reasonably strong back-to-school season. And retailers are looking for clues about how the holiday shopping season will turn out later in the year.

"This is a good report," Chris Christopher, an economist with IHS Global Insight, a forecasting firm, wrote in an assessment of the latest report. "It indicates that consumers came back after hunkering down" during the year's first half when sales were "dismal."

The Commerce Department's latest report confirms that economic growth was as lousy this spring as you suspected it was.

Now the question is: Can anyone do anything to make it better in the year's second half?

A fierce drought has been scorching crops this summer, but it's still too soon to know exactly how much of a hole it will burn in your wallet.

For weeks, Democrats have been trying to call voters' attention to the financial dealings of Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Supporters of President Obama, the Democratic Party's candidate, have been suggesting that Romney has exploited tax shelters and offshore accounts to build and protect his wealth in ways that average taxpayers would never be able to do.

They are demanding Romney release many years of tax returns.

Could it be that American Airlines CEO Tom Horton is resisting the warm embrace of US Airways CEO Doug Parker over a little thing like money?

During a National Press Club luncheon Wednesday, Parker didn't exactly shoot down suggestions that American's leadership has been stalling on a merger of the two carriers because of the potential for personal gain.

Asked whether Horton is focused on the payday he would get if American were to remain independent a while longer, Parker hesitated. For more than 8 seconds, his answer was: "Um. The. Uh. Let's see."

High-profile experts are staging two separate Washington press conferences Tuesday to demand action on public-debt problems. One group is targeting state budget crises; the other, the federal budget mess.

If the ancient Greek philosopher Plato were still alive, he might hold a third press conference to declare: "It's hopeless. I told you so. Democracy will always degenerate into chaos because people will vote for their immediate self interests, not the long-term good."

The long economic downturn that began in late 2007 came to be known at the Great Recession –- the worst period since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Even though both events were momentous enough to earn the word "great" as a modifier, they really are not comparable, according to recent research by economist Mark Vaughan, a fellow at the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy at Washington University in St. Louis.

When Moody's downgraded the credit ratings of most major U.S. banks on Thursday, you'd have thought Friday would be a tough day for bank stocks.

But bank stocks ticked up — largely because investors were relieved. They had feared the downgrades would be worse. The Dow Jones industrial average was recovering from Thursday's 250-point drop, the second-worst of the year.

The Federal Reserve — the nation's central bank — will end its two-day meeting on Wednesday by offering its assessment of the economy, and then declaring its latest plan for making things better.

Investors all over the world will be waiting to hear just how weak — or not — the Fed thinks the U.S. economy is. And they will be watching to see whether the bankers plan to continue trying to stimulate growth by extending two controversial programs, one known as Operation Twist, and the other as quantitative easing.

The economy has so much going for it: low inflation, low interest rates, affordable homes, falling gasoline prices and 27 straight months of job growth. Good times, no?


The economy is slowing, but not because of current conditions. The slowdown reflects the fear of what may be coming next. Economists say employers and investors are paralyzed by the uncertainty surrounding three huge problems: one in the United States, another in Europe and the third in China.

A Federal Reserve study showing that Americans lost wealth in the Great Recession turned up another, perhaps more surprising, result: Credit card debt fell sharply.

"The percentage of families using credit cards for borrowing dropped over the period; the median balance on their accounts fell 16.1 percent" between 2007 and 2010, the report concluded.