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.

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The Two-Way
4:16 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

15 Years After The Dot-Com Bust, A Nasdaq Record

As the Nasdaq closes above the record set 15 years ago, stock analysts are debating whether the market is approaching another bubble.
Bryan Thomas Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 7:03 pm

When it closed at 5,056.06 on Thursday, the Nasdaq Composite Index hit a new high — surpassing the old record close of 5,048.62, reached March 10, 2000, during the dot-com craze.

That also makes it 15 years since that infamous tech bubble burst, sending the index down more than 75 percent by the time it hit bottom.

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Your Money
5:07 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Will New Retirement Rules Protect Americans From Wall Street?

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez says proposed rules for financial advisers are meant to protect consumers.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 3:16 pm

Saving enough money to retire can be tough. But it's next to impossible if a financial adviser is steering the client into bad investments — and getting big commissions in return. And according to the Obama administration, that's exactly what too many advisers have been doing.

Millions of Americans trying to save for retirement have ended up with investments where high fees cripple their returns over time. U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez says much of that is due to bad advice.

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Health Care
4:35 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

With Discounts For Healthy Behavior, John Hancock Courts Privacy Concerns

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 9:37 am

John Hancock announced a new program promising discounts for policyholders who wear a fitness tracker, exercise more and go to the doctor. The life insurance company says that if people live longer healthier lives, everybody wins. But privacy advocates worry about all the electronic monitoring.

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Business
6:25 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

While Pay Holds Steady For Most, Low-Wage Workers Get A Boost

McDonald's announced this week that it will pay workers in its company-owned stores $1 more per hour than the local minimum wage. Wal-Mart, Target and the parent company of Marshalls and TJ Maxx have also promised to boost wages for their lowest-paid workers this year.
Lucy Nicholson Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon April 6, 2015 12:03 pm

The vast majority of U.S. workers haven't seen any real wage gains since the recession. But that's starting to change, at least for low-income workers.

This week, fast-food giant McDonald's announced it will pay workers $1 more than the local minimum wage.

It joins some of the nation's other largest employers, including Wal-Mart, Target and TJX, the parent company of Marshalls and TJ Maxx. All say they will be boosting pay to at least $9 per hour this year, and some will go to $10 next year.

For Wal-Mart alone, that's a pay raise for half a million Americans.

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U.S.
3:42 am
Mon March 30, 2015

With So Much Oil Flowing, U.S. May Be Reaching Storage Limits

Cushing, Okla., is a major oil storage site. Amid record oil production, some analysts worry the U.S. will run out of places to put it all.
Daniel Acker Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 11:16 am

Never before has the U.S. had so much oil spurting up out of the ground and sloshing into storage tanks around the country. There's so much oil that the U.S. now rivals Saudi Arabia as the world's largest producer.

But there has been some concern that the U.S. will run out of places to put it all. Some analysts speculate that could spark another dramatic crash in oil prices.

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Business
4:08 am
Fri February 27, 2015

White House Move To Protect Nest Eggs Sparks Hopes And Fears

President Obama remarks on his proposal to tighten consumer protections for people saving for retirement as Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Labor Secretary Tom Perez listen, at AARP on Monday.
Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 5:12 pm

The Obama administration is creating new protections for Americans saving and investing for retirement, but industry groups say the new rules could hurt the very people the president says he wants to help.

If you're building a retirement nest egg, big fees are the dangerous predators looking to feast on it. The White House says too many financial advisers get hidden kickbacks or sales incentives to steer responsible Americans toward bad retirement investments with low returns and high fees.

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Business
6:17 am
Mon February 23, 2015

White House Moves To Protect Investors From Bad Retirement Advice

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 5:51 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Economics
4:07 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

Despite Recovery, Many Find Home Loans Still Hard To Get

A realty sign hangs in front of a home for sale in Orlando, Fla. Housing advocates say banks, stung by the housing crisis and its fallout, remain reluctant to lend.
John Raoux AP

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 7:08 pm

It's been seven years since the housing crash. The housing market and the economy are both recovering. But housing advocates say you still have to have a near perfect credit score to get a loan from a major bank.

At first look, it seems like the trouble in the housing market has quieted down. There are fewer foreclosures. Home prices have stabilized and risen. But, as any parent with young kids will tell you, when things get too quiet that can be a bad sign.

Mike Calhoun, the president of the Center for Responsible Lending, says that's basically what's going on here.

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Around the Nation
5:09 am
Thu February 12, 2015

Record Snow Cripples Boston's Subway System

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 9:09 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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New Boom
5:47 pm
Mon February 2, 2015

Economists Say Millennials Should Consider Careers In Trades

Jeffy Docteur is one of the students in the NStar electrician apprenticeship program outside Boston. He says he's interested in working on switching systems that keep power flowing through the electrical grid.
Chris Arnold NPR

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 11:39 am

This story is part of the New Boom series on millennials in America.

As the economy continues to recover, economists are seeing stark differences between people with high school and college degrees. The unemployment rate is nearly twice as high for Americans with a high school diploma as for those with a four-year college degree or more.

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Business
3:34 am
Thu January 22, 2015

Senator 'Astounded' That Nonprofit Hospitals Sue Poorest Patients

Heartland Regional Medical Center in St. Joseph, Mo., is changing its name to Mosaic Life Care. It was the focus of an NPR and ProPublica investigation into its billing practices.
Steve Hebert for ProPublica

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 2:11 pm

NPR and ProPublica have been reporting about nonprofit hospitals that seize the wages of lower-income and working-class patients. Now, Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says hospitals could be breaking the law by suing these patients and docking their pay. And he wants some answers.

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Your Money
3:32 am
Tue January 13, 2015

Consumer Agency Launches Tool To Help You Find A Cheaper Mortgage

A sign announces that a Los Angeles house is for sale in November.
Richard Vogel AP

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 3:41 pm

Many Americans love a good deal, shopping around to save $10 or $20 on a pair of pants or winter coats for the kids — but when finding mortgages, nearly half don't even call around to different banks. Three-fourths only fill out an application with one lender.

Richard Cordray, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, says there may be a few reasons consumers aren't comparison shopping for loans.

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Economy
10:33 am
Sat January 10, 2015

Employment Is Up. Paychecks, Not So Much

A protester demonstrates for higher wages for fast food workers in Jackson, Miss., in December. Employers are hiring more people, but overall, the wages they're paying remain flat.
Rogelio V. Solis AP

Originally published on Sat January 10, 2015 11:31 am

The U.S. economy saw the strongest job growth last year since 1999, according to statistics released Friday by the Department of Labor. The country gained another 252,000 jobs in December.

That's the good news — but this jobs report also dashed some hopes for fatter paychecks. Employers are hiring more people, but overall, the wages they're paying remain flat.

A month ago, it seemed wages were starting to pick up — but those November numbers were revised lower. In December, wages actually fell slightly.

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Your Money
5:03 am
Fri December 19, 2014

When Nonprofit Hospitals Sue Their Poorest Patients

Keith Herie is swamped in debt from medical issues he and his wife encountered starting about a decade ago. Heartland hospital is seizing 10 percent of his paycheck and 25 percent of his wife's wages, and has placed a lien on their home.
Steve Hebert for ProPublica

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 10:13 am

On the eastern edge of St. Joseph, Mo., lies the small city's only hospital, a landmark of modern brick and glass buildings. Everyone in town knows Heartland Regional Medical Center — many residents gave birth to their children here. Many rush here when they get hurt or sick.

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Economy
6:21 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Mortgage Giants Ease Down Payments For First-Time Homebuyers

A new directive from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will allow first-time homebuyers to put down as little as 3 percent.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 8:05 pm

A federal directive will go into effect Saturday making it easier for some Americans to come up with a down payment to buy a house.

The vast majority of home loans are guaranteed by the government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The regulator in charge of Fannie and Freddie will allow first-time homebuyers to put down as little as 3 percent.

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