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FROM THIS EPISODE

Two thirds of the US economy depends on consumer spending, and credit cards account for a big proportion of that. But with more and more people struggling to pay their bills, credit card companies are now making it harder. Is anyone looking out for consumers? Is there a need for reform? Also, AIG audaciously issues $165 million in bonus payments, and the Irish language, called Gaelic in the US, is one of thousands of endangered languages.

Credit Card Nation

Robert Manning

Producers:
Gary Scott
Andrea Brody
Christian Bordal

Making News AIG Audaciously Issues 165 Million Dollars in Bonus Payments 5 MIN, 59 SEC

Yesterday, Obama administration officials went on TV to deplore the revelation that $165 million in taxpayer dollars will be used for executive bonuses at the failed insurance giant AIG. Today, it was the President himself, who said AIG is in trouble due to “recklessness and greed.” Adam Nagourney is chief national political reporter for the New York Times.

Guests:
Adam Nagourney, New York Times

Reporter's Notebook Disappearing Languages 5 MIN, 6 SEC

As the world prepares for another St. Patrick's Day, the traditional Irish language is appearing on green T-shirts and being mangled in pubs. But Irish, or Gaelic, is one of thousands of endangered languages worldwide. When Ireland was founded in 1922, 250,000 spoke it fluently, but that's down to 30,000. Greg Anderson is Director of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages.

Guests:
Greg Anderson, Director, Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages

Main Topic The Credit Card Economy Comes Home to Roost 37 MIN, 45 SEC

Credit card companies made big money by extending balances and reducing interest rates to millions of US consumers. But times have changed. Now, when other businesses are desperate for customers, credit card companies are reducing credit lines, jacking up rates and even closing accounts. But, when their “best” customers charge a lot but pay back only a little, how do they decide who to get rid of and who to keep on the hook? What happens when an industry that extends “easy credit” in good times has to contract? Is anyone looking out for consumers? 

Guests:
Kelli Grant, Senior Consumer Reporter, SmartMoney.com
Robert Manning, Rochester Institute of Technology
Gail Hillebrand, Manager, Consumers Union's Financial Services Advocacy Campaign
Dan Ariely, Professor of Behavioral Economics, Duke University

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