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.

JPMorgan Chase hosted its annual shareholder meeting in Tampa Tuesday, and it was the first chance for shareholders to weigh in on the banks problems. News the bank lost at least $2 billion in a botched trading strategy gave fresh fodder to critics who want banks to be more tightly regulated.

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.

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.

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And I'm Robert Siegel. Goldman Sachs is once again defending itself against allegations that the company makes money by putting its own interests ahead of clients. This time, the accusation comes from one of Goldman Sachs' own.

Greg Smith, a Goldman employee in London, resigned publicly today on the op ed page of the New York Times. He wrote that the bank's culture is toxic and its employees talk callously about ripping off clients.

Optimism is growing about the U.S. jobs market. Fewer people are applying for unemployment benefits, and hiring is up. The lion's share of new jobs are coming from small and medium-sized firms. But even if the economy comes roaring back, many small businesses aren't likely to hire with wild abandon.

"It's a huge commitment, when you're a very small firm, to add someone," says Kate O'Sullivan, director of content for CFO magazine. "And I think that the outlook is still not completely firm."

Doing More With Less

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.

You've heard of identity theft — someone using a person's credit information or a Social Security number for ill-gotten gains. Well, experts say similar crimes are also affecting businesses.

Business identity theft involves posing as a legitimate business in order to get access to credit lines or steal customers. Experts believe that the practice has become more prevalent in the past two years.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says it's looking to overhaul rules on overdraft fees. The new agency will be seeking data from banks about how they handle overdrawn accounts, and how they assess fees. The agency plans to use this information to help consumers limit their exposure to these costly charges.

The CFPB estimates that last year, banks made between $15 billion and $22 billion from overdraft fees.

For older Americans looking for work, finding a job can be a tremendous challenge. Someone 55 or older will typically take three months longer to find employment than the average job seeker.

And with more people of all ages looking for work in the slow economy, age discrimination complaints are on the rise — but becoming harder to win.

Employment law experts say that has a lot to do with one particular case: Gross v. FBL Financial Services Inc.

'Persona Non Grata'

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SIEGEL: Today, reinventing RIM. Research in Motion makes the once ubiquitous BlackBerry. In recent years, it's watched the iPhone and other devices take a huge bite out of its market share.

As NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, the Canadian company named a new CEO today and is hoping for a turnaround.

The dramatic Costa Concordia accident off the coast of Italy is calling attention to the regulation of the cruise line industry. Experts say there are plenty of rules, but enforcement can be spotty.

Some of the survivors of last week's disaster described the rescue effort as chaotic and disorganized. The crew had not yet conducted a required emergency drill during the cruise.

Vast new tracts of the Internet are up for sale as of Thursday. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, known as ICANN, is forging ahead with plans to sell new domain categories despite some vocal opposition from regulators and advertisers.

Forget .com or .org — for a registration fee of $185,000, applicants can register a new suffix like .music, or perhaps a brand like .NPR. If you think of the Internet as virtual land, new continents are now on the block.

Consumers who sign credit card agreements that feature an arbitration clause cannot dispute fees or charges in court, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday. The 8-to-1 decision drew immediate fire from consumer advocates.

To get a credit card, a consumer generally must sign a detailed agreement. In the fine print, almost always, is an arbitration clause that says that if consumers want to dispute fees, they must do so through arbitration, not in court.

The New Year is almost always happy for the weight-loss industry. When the holiday gorging ends, the resolutions to shed those extra pounds begin.

Weight Watchers North America president David Burwick says the first week of the year is the biggest week in what is typically his company's most profitable quarter.

"This is our Super Bowl," he says. "The first week of January is our Super Bowl for Weight Watchers."

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