Jim Zarroli

Jim Zarroli is a business reporter for NPR News, based at NPR's New York bureau.

He covers economics and business news including fiscal policy, the Federal Reserve, the job market and taxes

Over the years, he's reported on recessions and booms, crashes and rallies, and a long string of tax dodgers, insider traders and Ponzi schemers. He's been heavily involved in the coverage of the European debt crisis and the bank bailouts in the United States.

Prior to moving into his current role, Zarroli served as a New York-based general assignment reporter for NPR News. While in this position he covered the United Nations during the first Gulf War. Zarroli added to NPR's coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the London transit bombings and the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Before joining the NPR in 1996, Zarroli worked for the Pittsburgh Press and wrote for various print publications.

Zarroli graduated from Pennsylvania State University.

These days, many conservatives argue that slashing the nation's debt should be lawmakers' top priority as they try to revive the U.S. economy. Adding too much debt has eroded consumer confidence, they say, and paying it down would help jump-start growth.

But economists say the relationship between government debt and the weak economy isn't so clear.

Addressing the deficit has become a central focus of economic policy in Washington, and politicians like House Speaker John Boehner often talk about the deficit and unemployment in the same breath.

In the United States the recession officially ended two years ago, but in much of the country housing prices are still falling, jobs are hard to come by and growth remains weak.

A low growth rate is much more than just a number. Economists say that over time weak growth can have an insidious effect on a country's prospects and options in ways not everyone appreciates.

This was supposed to be the year the U.S. economy finally gained traction. Instead, it looks more and more like it's stuck in the mud, says former Federal Reserve member Alan Blinder.

Washington may be preoccupied with the debate over whether to raise the debt ceiling and the consequences of a default, but so far at least, the nation's financial markets seem to be taking the prospect in stride.

Although politicians from President Obama on down have been predicting for weeks that a debt default would wreak havoc on the global economy, interest rates on U.S. government debt remain near historic lows.

The 10-year Treasury bill, often seen as a barometer of investor sentiment toward the bond market, hovered around 3 percent on Friday.

Since last fall, the Federal Reserve has been providing support for the economy through a program known as QE2, short for Quantitative Easing, Round Two. That program is coming to an end, and there are concerns about whether the economy is strong enough to get along without it. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

A lot of companies try to instill loyalty in their employees. But it's safe to say few of them took it as far as IBM.

For years IBM employees had to learn company songs. Journalist Kevin Maney, who was commissioned by IBM to co-author Making the World Work Better, a history of the company, says it was part of the effort to build a corporate culture. That was something IBM founder Thomas Watson Sr. took very seriously.

This week the White House has been lobbying Congress to raise the $14.3 trillion federal debt ceiling. Doing so would give the government the legal authority to borrow billions of dollars to pay its bills.

Although refusing to raise the ceiling would be an almost unprecedented move, some conservatives argue it's the only way to get federal spending under control.

The Treasury Department says that if the limit isn't raised by Aug. 2, the government will run out of money to operate.

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