Yuki Noguchi

Yuki Noguchi is a correspondent on the Business Desk based out of NPR's headquarters in Washington D.C. Since joining NPR in 2008, she's covered business and economic news, and has a special interest in workplace issues — everything from abusive working environments, to the idiosyncratic cubicle culture. In recent years she has covered the housing market meltdown, unemployment during the Great Recession, and covered the aftermath of the tsunami in Japan in 2011. As in her personal life, however, her coverage interests are wide-ranging, and have included things like entomophagy and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Prior to joining NPR, Yuki started her career as a reporter for The Washington Post. She reported on stories mostly about business and technology, and later became an editor.

Yuki grew up with a younger brother speaking her parents' native Japanese at home. She has a degree in history from Yale.

For-sale homes in California are sparse, even in areas with high foreclosure rates. It has led to buyers like Jennifer Bryant, who is willing to throw money at just about anyone willing to sell her a house.

Since February, Bryant has made 35 offers on homes in Riverside, only to be elbowed out by other bids. With few houses available and many bidders chasing these properties, she feels she has, at most, an hour to consider each house.

The rest of the economy may not be doing great, but airlines are expecting a banner year. Profitability is up and fuel prices are declining, but that's not necessarily great news for consumers.

When Robert Herbst, a former pilot and industry consultant for many years, says the skies are blue, it sounds pretty convincing. And from Herbst's projections, this may be a historic year for the airline industry.

Unemployment figures for May come out Friday. While the numbers will show how many jobs have been added or lost, they won't tell us much about the quality of positions filled or illustrate what economists already know: that the middle of the job market is hollowing out.

Teenagers in Washington, D.C., face tough odds getting a job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly half of those looking for work can't find it — the highest rate in the country.

Sasha Bruce Youthwork, an organization that works with troubled teens in the district, is trying to address that problem by training young people in the construction trades.

The group has enlisted an army of volunteers and a handful of trainees for what it calls a "blitz build" — an effort to rebuild a gutted house in a single day.

Beyond Meat, a new company based in Maryland, has come up with an alternative to chicken meat that it claims is a dead ringer for the real thing. And unlike other meat alternatives on the market, this one aims to be cheap as well as tasty.

JPMorgan Chase faced more critics Tuesday, this time from some of its own shareholders at its annual meeting in Tampa, Fla. This comes after the bank disclosed it lost at least $2 billion last week in a bungled trading strategy.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into the surprise loss, and the Justice Department has now reportedly opened a preliminary probe.

JPMorgan executives let shareholders do some venting at Tuesday's meeting.

The Postal Service announced Thursday that it lost more than $3 billion during the first three months of the year. Post office officials are pushing Congress to give it more authority to cut some of its burgeoning costs.

It's been more than six months since government regulators and banks first extended an offer to 4.3 million homeowners facing foreclosure: to review, at no cost, the foreclosure process to check for any possible errors or misrepresentations.

Homeowners stand to collect compensation of as much as $100,000 if errors are found. But thus far, only a tiny percentage of those eligible have signed up.

'Not Enough Folks Have Signed Up'

Mortgage Update

May 8, 2012

Bank of America is offering about 200,000 homeowners a chance to wipe out a big chunk of their mortgage debt. The offers are part of the settlement Bank of America and other major banks reached with state and federal regulators earlier this year, and it's one of the biggest principal forgiveness opportunities so far.

The Labor Department issued its monthly employment report on Friday and the news wasn't good. Payrolls did increase with 115,000 positions but that was less than the month before and far less than what most economists were expecting.

Earlier this month, a judge approved a settlement between five major banks and nearly all of the state attorneys general. The banks admitted to taking shortcuts — or "robo-signing" documents — as they pushed through some foreclosures.

Most of the $25 billion settlement is supposed to go toward reducing mortgage payments for some troubled homeowners. But lots of other programs have promised to help struggling homeowners in the past, and results have been disappointing.

Housing prices are still declining, but many analysts see some signs for optimism in the housing market. The mild spring has brought buyers out earlier than usual, and real estate agents are busy.

Doug Azarian is one of them. One of his clients recently signed a deal on a $1.5 million house in Cape Cod, Mass. — a contemporary waterfront property with three bedrooms.

"The buyers came in, and they loved it from the minute they walked in the door," Azarian says.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court hears its second day of testimony about the Affordable Care Act. At issue is a central tenet of that law: whether it's legal to require individuals to purchase health care.

But apart from the legal debate, there are questions about the economics of the mandate. Some — like Peggy Bodner of Portland, Ore. — worry it may be difficult to find the money to pay for health insurance, even with government subsidies.

Real estate is about location, location, location. And foreclosure is no different. Depending on the state, it can take an average of three months or three years to process a foreclosure. And the disparity in how states deal with foreclosures is getting bigger.

The fate of thousands of troubled homeowners in Central Florida rests in the hands of Lee Haworth, foreclosure administrative judge for Florida's 12th Judicial Circuit. "We were hit pretty hard," Haworth says.

Despite some green shoots in the economy, the housing sector remains weak. With 11 million Americans still underwater on their mortgages, some housing experts believe it's time for more dramatic solutions.

The idea of reducing the principal on the loans of underwater homeowners used to be a fringe concept, embraced by a few outliers. Today, many policymakers believe principal reduction is necessary to keep some troubled homeowners afloat.

But so far, the nation's biggest mortgage holders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, haven't embraced the idea.

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