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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4:07pm

Tue February 17, 2015
Your Money

Despite Recovery, Many Find Home Loans Still Hard To Get

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

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

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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5:09am

Thu February 12, 2015
Around the Nation

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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6:19pm

Mon February 2, 2015
New Boom

Economists Say Millennials Should Consider Careers In Trades

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

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

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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3:34am

Thu January 22, 2015
Business

Senator 'Astounded' That Nonprofit Hospitals Sue Poorest Patients

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

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

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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3:32am

Tue January 13, 2015
Your Money

Consumer Agency Launches Tool To Help You Find A Cheaper Mortgage

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

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

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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10:33am

Sat January 10, 2015
Economy

Employment Is Up. Paychecks, Not So Much

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

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

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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5:03am

Fri December 19, 2014
Your Money

When Nonprofit Hospitals Sue Their Poorest Patients

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

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

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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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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