John Ydstie

John Ydstie has covered the economy, Wall Street and the federal budget for NPR for two decades. In recent years NPR has broadened his responsibilities, making use of his reporting and interviewing skills to cover major stories like the aftermath of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. His current focus is reporting on the global financial crisis. Ydstie is also a regular guest host on the NPR news programs Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Talk of the Nation.

During 1991 and 1992 Ydstie was NPR's bureau chief in London. He traveled throughout Europe covering, among other things, the breakup of the Soviet Union and attempts to move Europe toward closer political and economic union. He accompanied U.S. businessmen exploring investment opportunities in Russia as the Soviet Union was crumbling. He was on the scene in The Netherlands when European leaders approved the Maastricht Treaty, which created the European Union.

In August 1990, Ydstie traveled to Saudi Arabia for NPR as a member of the Pentagon press pool sent to cover the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. During the early stages of the crisis, Ydstie was the only American radio reporter in the country.

Ydstie has been with NPR since 1979. For two years, he was an associate producer responsible for Midwest coverage. In 1982 he became senior editor on NPR's Washington Desk, overseeing coverage of the federal government, American politics and economics. In 1984, Ydstie joined Morning Edition as the show's senior editor, and later was promoted to the position of executive producer. In 1988, he became NPR's economics correspondent.

During his tenure with NPR, Ydstie has won numerous awards. He was a member of the NPR team that received the George Foster Peabody for its coverage of 9/11. Ydstie's reporting from Saudi Arabia helped NPR win the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award in 1991 for coverage of the Gulf War. Prior to joining NPR, Ydstie was a reporter and producer at Minnesota Public Radio. While there, he was awarded the Clarion Award for his report "Vietnam Experience and America Today."

A graduate of Concordia College, in Moorhead, MN, Ydstie earned a bachelor of arts degree, summa cum laude, with a major in English literature and a minor in speech communications.

Ydstie was born in Minneapolis, and grew up in rural North Dakota.

This weekend, Will Falls decided to skip the local mall near Raleigh, N.C., and shop online instead.

"No standing in line, no finding a parking spot," he says. "Just get comfortable and go at it."

Millions of Americans did the same — Falls helped contribute to an 8.5 percent increase in online shopping Monday compared with 2013, according to data from IBM.

That growth stands in contrast to an 11 percent drop in sales reported by the National Retail Federation at brick-and-mortar stores over the Black Friday weekend compared with a year ago.

Don Benfield of Taylorsville, N.C., makes $11 an hour working for a mobile-home parts business, selling things like replacement doors and windows.

Benfield, 51, doesn't have health insurance.

"I haven't had health care insurance in years, simply because I haven't been able to afford it, especially with food prices, how they went up," he explains.

Benfield's employer does offer health insurance coverage, even though, with fewer than 50 employees, the business is not required to.

It's being challenged in the Supreme Court. Members of the new Republican Congress want to repeal it. But Obamacare will get a second chance on Saturday, when enrollment opens again in the government-sponsored health exchanges.

The Obama administration is expecting over 3 million new enrollees and almost 6 million return customers. And while the system faces some challenges, the government says it's up to the task.

Oil prices fell again Tuesday, to just below $76 a barrel before recovering slightly — one day after Saudi Arabia cut prices for the crude it sells in the U.S. market.

During most of the last quarter-century, that would have been viewed as a very positive development for the U.S. economy. But oil production here has increased so quickly in the past several years, the continuing price drops pose a potential threat to U.S. oil producers.

The latest employment numbers indicate a slowdown in job growth, but many economists aren't buying it.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday that only 142,000 jobs were added in August. That's way below what analysts had expected. And many economists don't think it represents the true strength of the U.S. economy.

Economists from across the country voiced skepticism about the government's data.

Overall, climate change is predicted to hurt agriculture around the world. It could even threaten corn production in the Corn Belt.

But in North Dakota conditions are now better for raising corn, and that's a big benefit for farmers.

When I was growing up in Wolford, N.D., up near the Canadian border, wheat was king. It had been the dominant crop since the prairie was first plowed in the late 1800s. So it was kind of strange to go back this summer and find Larry Slaubaugh, a local farmer, filling his 18-wheeler with corn from a huge steel grain bin.

Income inequality is a big problem, many economists agree. But they also say some level of inequality is necessary for capitalism to work.

Inequality in the U.S. has risen to levels not seen since the 1920s. The top 1 percent pocket more than 20 percent of the nation's income, and the 400 richest people in the country own more wealth than everyone in the bottom 50 percent.

University of Chicago economist Gary Becker died Saturday at the age of 83. He won the Nobel Prize in 1992 for broadening the horizons of economics, using economic analysis to explore social issues like crime, racial discrimination and drug addiction.

Becker was a giant in the field of economics, and his pioneering application of economic theory to social questions extended to the marriage market. In an NPR interview on the day he was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics, Becker explained:

The Affordable Care Act — which many see creating challenges for businesses — could benefit a particular group of business people: entrepreneurs.

Joshua Simonson was reluctant to give up his job at a Portland, Ore., area grocery store, New Seasons Market, which he says had provided excellent health care for him and his family. He had a pre-existing condition that has prevented him from getting insurance in the private market, but one key development helped convince him to quit and start a farm.

Ben Bernanke hands over the reins at the Federal Reserve to Janet Yellen on Friday. The Fed's vice chairwoman will be the first female ever to lead the nation's central bank. It's a position many view as the second most powerful in the country.

The world of central banking is largely a man's world. But Yellen has been undeterred by such barriers since she was in high school in Brooklyn. Charlie Saydah, a former classmate, says she was probably the smartest kid in the class. Yellen was "clearly smart, and she was smart among a lot of smart kids," he says.

As part of Solve This, NPR's series on major issues facing the country, we're examining the presidential candidate's approach to boosting employment. After looking at President Obama's strategy, it's time to examine the plan of GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

Paul Ryan has a reputation as a deficit hawk. Mitt Romney's running mate has proposed budgets that cut non-defense spending significantly, and advocated controlling Medicare costs by making it a voucher program. But critics argue there's a lot in the Wisconsin congressman's record that undermines his deficit-hawk reputation.

When Ryan gave the GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union address last year, he restated his commitment to debt and deficit reduction.

The price of gasoline keeps rising for Americans, but it's not because of rising demand from consumers.

Since the first Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, the U.S. has struggled to quench a growing appetite for oil and gasoline. Now, that trend is changing.

"When you look at the U.S. oil market, you see that there's actually no growth," says Daniel Yergin, chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates.

He says gasoline demand peaked in 2007 and has fallen each year since, even though the economy has begun to recover.