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Actress Cloris Leachman portrayed women of wit and sass over a seven-decade career. She won an Oscar and nine Emmys, and her career was relentlessly inventive. The actress died Wednesday in Encinitas, Calif., of natural causes, according to her press representative, Monique Moss. She was 94.

Boeing is trying to close the books on a dismal year. The aircraft manufacturer Wednesday reported that the company lost close to $12 billion in 2020, a record loss, as the pandemic depressed demand for new airplanes and the company continued to reel from its 737 Max debacle.

Calling it "a year like no other," Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun started a conference call on the company's 2020 financial results by stating an obvious but painful truth.

"2020 was a historically challenging year for our world, for our industry (and) for our business," Calhoun said.

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Boeing is closing the books on a dismal year. The aircraft manufacturer lost a record $12 billion in 2020, and the company is now looking to recover from both the pandemic and its 737 Max debacle. NPR's David Schaper reports.

In the nine months leading up to her due date, Kayla Kjelshus and her husband, Mikkel, meticulously planned for their daughter's arrival.

Their long to-do list included mapping out their family's health insurance plan and registering for baby gear and supplies. They even nailed down child care ahead of her birth.

"We put a deposit down to hold a spot at a local day care following our first ultrasound," says Kayla Kjelshus, of Olathe, Kan.

The resurgence in the pandemic likely dealt a major blow to the U.S. economy in the last three months of the year, though it is not expected to have delivered a knockout punch.

Most economists expect fourth-quarter gross domestic product data on Thursday will show a significant slowdown compared to the July to September quarter, when the economy staged a sharp recovery from the early days of the pandemic.

The Biden administration says the federal government needs to do a better job of acknowledging the ways that communities of color are blocked from fair and equal access to housing.

"Today the average Black family has just one-tenth the wealth of the average white family, while the gap between white and Black in home ownership is now larger than it was in 1960," Susan Rice, head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said in a news briefing Tuesday.

A crew of private astronauts will pay around $55 million each to spend about eight days at the International Space Station next January in what would be a new step for joint private-public space missions. Axiom Space, a Houston company, says the trip will be led by former NASA astronaut and space station commander Michael López-Alegría.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

In an effort to slow the nation's contribution to climate change, President Biden has signed an executive order to begin halting oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters.

The much-anticipated move is one of several executive actions the president took on Wednesday to address the worsening climate crisis and the broader decline of the natural world, but it won't come without pushback.

Europe's aviation authority has given an all-clear for Boeing's beleaguered 737 Max plane, with modifications, to return to service. This effectively lifts the nearly two-year ban on the aircraft in the European Union following a pair of plane crashes that killed 346 people.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency said a modified version of the 737 Max will be allowed fly once again, after several upgrades to its software, electrical system, operational manuals and training of flight crews.

EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky called it "a significant milestone."

One way to understand the capricious nature of life at Voice of America and its federal parent agency over the last seven months would have been to witness two men standing across a foosball table from each other, twisting knobs and shouting in the empty cubicles of the Spanish-language service.

Every day last summer, a senior agency adviser, Dan Hanlon, and an aide spent hours playing in offices abandoned for the pandemic. Their new CEO, Michael Pack, had sidelined them almost immediately after his arrival in June, telling others they were disloyal and untrustworthy.

Consumer watchdog groups are applauding President Biden's pick of Gary Gensler to run the Securities and Exchange Commission. They say that there is much to do to protect everyday Americans who invest their retirement or other savings in the market and that Gensler has proved he can get that done.

But progressives were a lot more skeptical about Gensler back in 2009 when he was first chosen to be a top financial regulator. That's because, in some ways, Gensler is the ultimate Wall Street insider.

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Looking now to another part of the world to Iraq. The economy there relies on government salaries, but its government relies on oil revenues, which have been falling. NPR's Alice Fordham reports.

The U.S. hotel industry suffered its worst year on record in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic severely crimped business travel and Americans gave up on vacations to stay at home.

Hotels hit all-time lows in occupancy and in revenue per available room last year, according to data provider STR.

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