A big reason for the slow recovery has been that the nation's battered banks haven't been able or willing to lend. There are signs that's changing and that bank lending is helping to support stronger growth.
Paul Kasriel, chief economist at Northern Trust, a Chicago-based bank, say his reading of Federal Reserve data has convinced him that banks have finally taken the baton from the Fed and are now making credit more available.
"We've seen a sharp increase in business loans on the books of banks," he says.
In Florida, members of Congress and the state legislature are scrambling to decide what districts they'll run for in this year's election. The legislature recently released maps that redraw the districts. It's a once-in-a-decade process every state goes through to reflect population changes since the last census. Because of its growth, Florida is gaining two seats, but there is bipartisan unhappiness with the maps. And NPR's Greg Allen reports that the battle over how they were drawn may ultimately be decided by the courts.
Bernie Madoff's investment scandal inspired financial analyst Christina Alger to write a novel based on the personal and financial turmoil created by the collapse. It's called The Darlings, and Alan Cheuse — writing professor at George Mason University — has a review.
Host Audie Cornish talks with writer and director Barak Goodman about his latest project, Clinton, part of the American Experience: Presidents series. The first of two installments airs Monday night on PBS.
When Brian O. Selznick wrote The Invention of Hugo Cabaret — a graphic novel about an orphan in 1930s Paris — he imagined the secret spaces of a Paris train station. For inspiration, he visited Grand Central Terminal in New York City. But the scenes in the book — hidden tunnels, secret rooms, the giant clock tower — were all drawn from Selznick's imagination and later turned into the movie Hugo by Martin Scorcese, which is nominated for 12 Academy Awards.
The eurozone crisis has focused attention on debt-burdened Greece spiraling into decline. Meanwhile, Portugal is seen as the international creditors' poster-child for obediently slashing spending and welfare benefits.
Nevertheless, the Portuguese national debt continues to grow, and the country is mired in recession and soaring unemployment.
The Portuguese national character has long been identified with Fado music. Raquel Freire, an activist with the local Occupy movement, says the melancholy style helps explain decades of resignation.
The Two-Way is formally off-duty for the Presidents' Day holiday. But not only does the news not take a holiday — often, holidays are the news. Here's a quick roundup of some of today's important and most-discussed stories:
Syria is reinforcing its military in what seems to be a bid to control Homs. (AP)
Major League Baseball's spring training has begun, as catchers and pitchers have made their way to Florida and Arizona to prepare for the 2012 season. Games in the Grapefruit League and Cactus League won't begin until early March, when all players will report to camp.