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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6:21pm

Fri December 12, 2014
Economy

Mortgage Giants Ease Down Payments For First-Time Homebuyers

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

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

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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6:32pm

Tue November 25, 2014
The Salt

For More Local Turkeys To Hit Holiday Tables, You Need An Abattoir

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 11:22 am

The turkeys at Kate Stillman's farm don't have to be loaded on a trailer and driven hundreds of miles this year. They now meet their ends on the same farm where they lived their lives.
Chris Arnold NPR

It's a busy time of year for turkey farmers around the country. And these days, with the growth of the local food movement, small family farms are struggling to keep up with all the orders for birds. So, we went to find out what one New England farmer is doing to get her gobblers from the field to the table. Enter the "abattoir."

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3:33am

Tue November 18, 2014
Business

Firm Accused Of Illegal Practices That Push Families Into Foreclosure

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 8:13 pm

Gary Klein is one of the lead attorneys representing homeowners in the case against Ocwen Financial.
Chris Arnold NPR

The fallout from the housing crisis isn't over.

According to Moody's Analytics, there were 700,000 foreclosures last year. And some of those people probably didn't need to lose their homes. Even now, more than six years after the housing crash, lawyers for homeowners say mortgage companies are still making mistakes and foreclosing on homes when they shouldn't be.

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5:18pm

Fri October 3, 2014
Business

New 15-Year Mortgage May Open Homeownership Door For More Buyers

Originally published on Sat October 4, 2014 12:56 pm

Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America CEO Bruce Marks is offering the first batch of these "wealth building home loans" to homebuyers through his nonprofit organization.
Damian Dovarganes AP

The 30-year mortgage is the foundation of the real estate market largely because it makes housing more affordable. But the truth is, it's a lousy loan for building actual ownership or equity in your home during the first 5 or 7 years, which caused big trouble when housing crashed.

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5:39pm

Fri September 26, 2014
The Two-Way

The 'Bond King' Leaves His $2 Trillion Kingdom

Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 6:24 pm

Bill Gross
AP

Heavy drama played out this week — and not just on Shonda Rhimes' TV shows.

The bond-investing world was roiled by news that Bill Gross — the man known as "The Bond King" — has abruptly left the huge investment firm he founded in 1971. The departure left a lot of people scratching their heads on Wall Street.

"The natural question is: What's going on at PIMCO?" said David Kotok, chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisors. "There's all kinds of speculation" about why Gross left.

"And the answer is, it's speculation — and so we don't know," Kotok said.

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3:44am

Tue August 26, 2014
Your Money

Many Homeowners Still Qualify For Mortgage Relief

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 11:47 am

Mel Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, says many homeowners who could qualify to refinance their mortgages under HARP are suspicious.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

The financial crisis pushed millions of Americans from their homes. And housing advocates complain that the government did more to prop up big banks on Wall Street than it did to help average people on Main Street.

But many of those people on Main Street could still qualify for a government program to help them save money by refinancing their mortgages.

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5:58pm

Thu August 14, 2014
Planet Money

Should We Kill The $100 Bill?

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 3:02 pm

Noel Celis AFP/Getty Images

Of all the U.S. currency in the world, nearly 80 percent is in $100 bills. That's about a trillion dollars.

Some people want to get rid of the bill altogether. Ken Rogoff, an economist at Harvard University, says the $100 bill helps criminals:

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4:14pm

Fri August 1, 2014
Business

Some Public Pension Funds Making Big Bets On Hedge Funds

Originally published on Thu August 7, 2014 2:28 pm

iStockphoto

Public pension funds have been doing something new in recent years — investing in hedge funds.

Hedge funds are often secretive investment firms led by supposedly supersmart fund managers. Though, sometimes they implode spectacularly — think Long-Term Capital Management. Another prominent firm, Galleon Group, recently got shut down for rampant insider trading.

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4:09pm

Thu July 3, 2014
Economy

In June Jobs Numbers, Signs For Optimism

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 6:26 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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12:31pm

Sun June 29, 2014
Economy

Housing Market Fake-Outs Stump Economists

Originally published on Sun June 29, 2014 3:13 pm

Homebuilding remains slumped at levels not seen since WWII.
Mike Groll AP

Many homebuyers have been throwing down cold hard cash for their entire house purchase in recent years. Some are baby-boomers who sold a bigger house and are downsizing. Some are investors. Others are from outside the U.S.

"Top of the list in terms of cash sales in the first quarter was Florida, with 64 percent of all sales going to cash buyers, followed by New York, 59 percent; Alabama, 56 percent," says Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, which did a study on cash purchases.

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4:37pm

Wed June 18, 2014
Economy

Sluggish Housing Market A Product Of Millions Of 'Missing Households'

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 7:08 pm

NPR Census Bureau

A year ago, the housing market looked like it was finally recovering. Sales and prices were picking up. But then home sales fizzled. Currently, they are down about 7 percent from last spring.

A big part of why housing remains so stunted is that there are more than 2 million "missing households" in the U.S. That's how economists describe the fact that fewer people are striking out on their own to find places to live.

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5:37pm

Thu May 15, 2014
Economy

Missing In The Housing Recovery: New Houses

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 8:18 pm

De Desharnais of Ashwood Development in New Hampshire says homebuilding activity for her company has slowed sharply since the housing crash. But she's hopeful that business will pick up.
Chris Arnold NPR

More than five years after the crash, homebuilding is stuck at half its normal level. That's a big drag on the economy. And things aren't looking much better: A report out Thursday shows homebuilder confidence is at its lowest level in a year.

This severe slump in single-family home construction has been going on across the country. We haven't seen anything close to this kind of a long-term construction slump since World War II.

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4:05pm

Tue May 13, 2014
Business

Housing Regulator Has Big Plans In Store For Two Mortgage Titans

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 7:26 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

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3:41am

Fri May 2, 2014
All Tech Considered

Amid The Device Hype, This Startup Is Taking Wearables To Heart

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 11:38 am

Steve Jungmann, vice president at the tech startup Quanttus, holds up an early prototype of the biometric sensors the company will use on its wearable products. The current version is much smaller.
Chris Arnold NPR

There's been a lot of talk about wearable devices being the next big thing in the technology world. It's easy for the hype to get ahead of the products, but there's actually some serious innovation going on.

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5:23am

Wed April 23, 2014
Europe

Putin's Chess Moves In Ukraine: Brilliant Tactics, But Bad Strategy?

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 10:06 am

Protesters play chess in Independence Square in Kiev last winter. Some would say that Russian President Putin is playing geopolitical chess when it comes to Ukraine.
Dmitry Lovetsky AP

The game of chess is a national pastime in Russia. And you might say that Vladimir Putin is playing a high-stakes game of geopolitical chess when it comes to Ukraine.

Western leaders are plotting how to counter Putin's latest moves with economic sanctions. So to get some insight into what might come next, we talked to an economist who knows Russia — who is also extremely good at chess.

Putin Playing From A Weak Position

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