During the housing bust, taxpayers were forced to bail out mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But thanks to the real estate recovery, Fannie Mae could end up paying tens of billions of dollars back to the Treasury this summer.
That's just one of the factors behind a better bottom line for the federal government. This week, the Treasury Department announced it will pay down some of its debt for the first time in six years.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm John Donvan, in Washington. Neal Conan is away. A lawyer shortage, really? Well, yes, depending on where you live, and rural America is in some places apparently suffering a lawyer shortage right now, just as it has long been coping with a doctor shortage. Small town life is not selling with certain professions, and in distinct ways communities can be truly undermined by the absence of, say, doctors and lawyers and architects and so on.
Good morning. I'm David Greene. If you're like me you remember some great birthdays at Chuck E. Cheese. The mascot at the pizza joint, an oversized rodent, gave the best birthday hugs. But these days Chuck E. is just not himself. It looks like he's been on a major diet. The restaurant chain has had a few tough years.
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GREENE: "Downton Abbey," it's our last word in business today. The hit PBS program is expanding into the world of merchandise.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
CNBC reports the costume drama, set in Edwardian England, will soon launch a line of fashion, furniture, wallpaper and beauty products. The show's popularity has already created a boost in sales for items from the era, like gloves, fur capes and old-fashioned sherry.
NPR's business news starts with a scramble for Apple bonds.
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MONTAGNE: Apple, yesterday, sold $17 billion worth of bonds - which is a new industry record. Apple issued the bonds to take advantage of low interest rates as it prepares to make a payout of $100 billion to shareholders by 2015. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
A factory collapse in Bangladesh last week killed more than 400 people, mostly garment workers. Hundreds more are still missing, making it one of the largest manufacturing disasters in history. It's just the latest horrific accident in the garment industry despite more than a decade of auditing aimed at improving working conditions.
In September 2012, a fire at the Ali Enterprises factory in Pakistan killed nearly 300 workers. Six weeks later, in November, a fire in the Tazreen factory in Bangladesh killed 112 people. Then, last week, there was the Rana Plaza collapse.
Proof of Martha Stewart's ongoing commercial appeal has been on display in a New York courtroom. Yesterday, an appeals court decided that department store J.C. Penney can continue selling a new line of housewares designed by Stewart. But the ruling keeps Macy's from having the exclusive rights to the brand.
NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.
SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: There is one reason why both J.C. Penney and Macy's want Martha Stewart.
MARSHAL COHEN: She's had a history of having success.`
With all of the controversy over entitlement reform, there's one thing both sides can agree on: Social Security alone does not provide enough money for a comfortable retirement. For these workers, the Obama administration is proposing automatically enrolling workers in IRAs through their employers.
California adopted a version of this last year. Democratic state Sen. Kevin de Leon sponsored the bill to automatically enroll workers in an individual retirement account. The inspiration, he says, was his Aunt Francisca, who's 74.
Look at photographs from the Bangladesh garment factory collapse, and you can see clothing in the rubble destined for a store called Joe Fresh, one of the many retailers using supercheap fashions made overseas to keep shoppers buying often.
But in the aftermath of the tragedy, would customers pay more if they knew the clothes were made by workers treated fairly and safely?
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who sparked plenty of discussion about work-life balance when she prohibited telecommuting this past winter, took a step in the opposite direction, Tuesday: Mayer expanded Yahoo's parental leave policy.
Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 3:04 pm
For Jason Collins, coming out just might prove a winning career strategy.
Before this week, the NBA center seemed like just another second-tier professional athlete, slouching toward retirement while still in his 30s. But all that changed overnight when Collins acknowledged he was gay in an interview with Sports Illustrated magazine published Monday.
The Salinas Valley in Northern California grows about 80 percent of the country's lettuce, and it takes a lot of people to pick and pack it. In a field owned by Duda Farm Fresh Foods, a dozen lechugueros, or lettuce pickers, are bent at the waist, cutting heads of iceberg lettuce. They work frantically to stay in front of a line of 12 more packers, who seal them with tape and toss them onto a conveyor belt.