Jim Zarroli

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The dramatic swings we've been seeing in the markets since late last week kept going today. Here's what was happening early this morning before U.S. markets opened.

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Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET

The stock market finished the day sharply higher, but only after another session of wild price swings.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 24,912.77, an increase of 567 points, or 2.3 percent. But it began the day down sharply, with triple-digit losses.

Other major U.S. stock indexes also rebounded Tuesday, with the S&P 500 finishing up 46 points, or 1.7 percent, and the Nasdaq up 148 points, or 2.1 percent.

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Stock prices took a beating yesterday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 666 points, losing 2-and-a-half percent of its value. Bond prices have fallen at their worst levels in four years. As NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, rising interest rates have thrown a scare into the market.

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A new NPR/Marist poll finds that 1 in 5 jobs in America is held by a worker under contract. Within a decade, contractors and freelancers could make up half of the American workforce. In a weeklong series, NPR explores many aspects of this change.

For Tom Hansen and his family, the past few weeks have been a time of feast or famine.

The Dow Jones industrial average finished above 25,000 for the first time, as the long rally in stock prices showed no signs of letting up.

A strong report about hiring from payroll processor ADP helped push stocks higher. Financial stocks did especially well, and an increase in oil prices has benefited the energy sector.

The Dow finished the day at 25,075, a gain of 0.61 percent. Both the Nasdaq composite index and the Standard and Poor's 500 index also finished at record highs.

Kari Pinto and her husband recently retired, and now they hope to trade Iowa — and its harsh winters — for a state with a milder climate.

But the tax bill President Trump signed into law last month has complicated their search for a new home.

"Now we just have another wrinkle in trying to determine where to go, and how much it's going to cost us," she says.

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When the year comes to a close this Sunday night, we'll have the stock market to thank for a good bit of good news in 2017. The Dow Jones has risen by more than 25 percent this year, and the other major indexes saw huge gains as well. NPR's Jim Zarroli explains why.

A little-remarked-upon provision changing the way inflation is calculated is among the big changes contained in the tax overhaul signed by President Trump last week.

The new method, using the so-called "chained" consumer price index to determine when to adjust tax brackets and eligibility for deductions, is expected to push more Americans into higher tax brackets more quickly. In the past, the tax code used the traditional CPI measure issued by the Labor Department each month.

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Gaming The Tax Code

Dec 9, 2017

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The House and Senate have approved bills that would overhaul the nation's tax code and spent this week trying to patch those bills together. The legislation promises to be enormously complicated. Some tax experts say it presents huge opportunities to game the tax system. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

Republicans in Congress are on the verge of fulfilling their longtime dream of eliminating the federal estate tax, and they could do it in a way that is even more generous to heirs than previous repeal efforts.

Bills passed by the Senate and the House recently would reduce or scrap the taxes heirs now pay on estates larger than $5.5 million. And the bills would do so without repealing the so-called "stepped-up basis" provision.

Republicans say the tax-cutting overhaul being debated in Congress will jump-start the U.S. economy, leading to a lot more investment and hiring by companies.

But some economists say the tax plans — which would sharply cut corporate and business taxes and eliminate numerous deductions for individuals — come at precisely the wrong time. Lower taxes could also be undercut by Federal Reserve policymakers, who are gradually raising interest rates, they say.

Republicans lawmakers are considering a federal budget "trigger" that would raise taxes if proposed tax cuts don't deliver the economic growth they have promised.

But the proposal is generating a lot of pushback from critics, especially conservatives.

The so-called trigger mechanism would be a legislative provision to rescind corporate tax cuts by as much as $350 billion if revenue targets are not met, Bloomberg News reports.

Marilyn Mollenedo spent years working at a series of administrative jobs. So when her husband landed a well-paying position in San Francisco, she figured it would finally enable them to put aside more money for retirement.

Instead, her husband's salary, coupled with a generous pension from an earlier government position, thrust them into a costly new tax category, where they had to pay the alternative minimum tax.

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President Trump's business interests are in the news today. Trump's company says it's cutting ties with the Trump SoHo. That's a condo hotel in New York that's struggled for years to find customers. NPR's Jim Zarroli has the story.

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Good-government types may look askance, but Donald Trump now has a new place to cash in on his White House role.

The Trump Organization recently started a website, TrumpStore.com, to sell Trump-branded merchandise such as T-shirts, baseball caps and coin banks.

It's not to be confused with Trump's other website, DonaldJTrump.com. That site sells a lot of the same kind of merchandise, but its profits flow to Trump's presidential campaign.

Republicans in Congress say cutting corporate taxes would improve the balance sheet for U.S. businesses, giving them more money to spend on jobs and investment.

But how does anyone know that's what will happen?

It's the question at the heart of the debate taking place on Capitol Hill right now about whether to lower corporate taxes, and by how much.

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President Trump has called it "ridiculous," a "horrible law" that made it difficult for U.S. companies to compete overseas.

But the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars businesses from paying bribes to overseas officials, remains a key part of U.S. efforts to combat global corruption.

Now one study is showing the Trump administration's use of the law may be declining, even as administration officials say they're committed to enforcing it.

In December 2006, workers broke cold ground in lower Manhattan, preparing the way for a glass-clad, towering hotel, to be called Trump SoHo.

Updated at 5:22 p.m. ET

Wealthy donor Robert Mercer, whose money helped elect President Trump, is stepping down from the giant hedge fund he co-heads and is selling his stake in the conservative website Breitbart News to his daughters.

In a letter sent Thursday to his investors at Renaissance Technologies LLC, Mercer, 71, defended his brand of libertarian politics, but also expressed regret for his support of controversial former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos.

Shortly after World War II, a young Buffalo company — Speed Motor Express — began transporting commercial freight around western New York.

As it weathered the ups and downs of the local economy over the decades, the company slowly expanded its fleet of trucks.

Then in 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, expanded trade among the United States, Canada and Mexico. Buffalo faces Canada along the Niagara River.

If only because of its venue, the office of New York district attorney has long been among the highest-profile prosecutorial jobs in the country. The men who have served in it, legal legends such as Thomas Dewey, Frank Hogan and Robert Morgenthau, have often held the job for years, gaining enormous stature and political capital along the way.

Until recently, it seemed the current DA, 63-year-old Cyrus Vance Jr., might enjoy the same long tenure.

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What happened to the job market? After many, many months of growth, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded some backsliding in September. The economy lost 33,000 jobs. NPR's Jim Zarroli joins us now. Jim, what went wrong?

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