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.

First of a two-part report

What do Facebook, Groupon and biotech firm Human Genome Sciences have in common? They all rely on massive amounts of data to design their products. Terabytes and even zettabytes of information about consumers or about genetic sequences can be harnessed and crunched.

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The holiday shopping season started even earlier this year in hopes that consumers would spend more in these economic times. Macy's, Toy R Us, Target, all moved up their opening times - in some cases to Thanksgiving Day. Joining us now to talk about Black Friday is NPR correspondent Yuki Noguchi. You've been reporting the scenes in stores. What can you tell us about the volume of shopping?

By the time it opened at 9 p.m. Thursday night for Black Friday, the Toys R Us in New York City's Times Square had a line snaking around the corner from its entrance on 44th Street. It went on for two blocks.

Angela Jenkins was there with two of her girlfriends and no kids. "I left my boyfriend with all of our kids ... by himself," she says with a laugh.

"You gotta do what you gotta do," Jenkins says.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu appeared before a House oversight subcommittee Thursday to defend his agency's decision to lend $500 million in federal money to Solyndra, a company that made solar panels and is now bankrupt. The company is the subject of numerous federal investigations.

When Energy Secretary Steven Chu appears on Capitol Hill on Thursday to defend the Obama administration's solar energy subsidy program, he will face questions about the solar panel firm Solyndra, which went belly up this summer.

The Energy Department has drawn stiff criticism over a government loan guarantee program that lent the company half a billion dollars, but the government has a long history of subsidizing many forms of energy.

Analysts are predicting a fairly good year for retailers over the holiday season. Those sales are expected to increase 3 percent overall and go up 15 percent for online retailers. Plus, this is the first year tablets like the iPad may make an impact on the retail landscape.

The sudden bankruptcy of commodities trading firm MF Global has thrust a familiar name in to the spotlight: Jon Corzine. Previously, Corzine was governor of New Jersey, a U.S. senator and chairman and CEO of the investment firm Goldman Sachs. Corzine resigned last week as chairman and CEO of MF Global as investigators search for hundreds of millions of dollars missing from clients' accounts.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with Jon Corzine out of a job.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: The Wall Street veteran and former governor of New Jersey stepped down today from his latest high-powered job as chairman and CEO of the securities firm MF Global. That company filed for bankruptcy earlier this week.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

GUY RAZ, HOST:

And I'm Guy Raz. Investigators are poring over the books of MF Global today. They're trying to figure out what happened to several hundred million dollars. The investment firm, run by former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, filed for bankruptcy yesterday. It failed in large part because it made ill-timed multibillion dollar bets on European debt. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports on where all that missing money could have gone.

As details of the Greek debt deal passed by the European Union Wednesday are worked out, some businesses in the U.S. continue to grapple with the ripple effects of the prolonged debt crisis.

The EU hopes the debt deal will contain Europe's debt problems, and the problem countries will now start their work of implementing fiscal reforms — which has proved troublesome, especially in Greece.

Existing home sales and home prices declined last month, indicating the market remains in a slump. Now there's a proposal in Congress to try to change that. Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., introduced a bill Thursday that would grant U.S. tourist visas to foreign homebuyers paying with cash.

Herman Cain's simplified tax plan has vaulted him into the spotlight and has sent his poll numbers soaring. But do people actually know much about the Republican presidential candidate's 9-9-9 tax plan, and how it would affect them?

For months now, Europe's debt crisis has hung ominously over the U.S. markets and economy. But even as U.S. banks begin lessening their investments in Europe, it remains difficult to quantify the threat they face.

Long-term joblessness is one of the unfortunate legacies of the recession. Earlier this year, the Labor Department started tracking longer periods of unemployment. According to that data, there are now more than 2 million people who have been jobless for at least two years, and 700,000 of those have been looking for work for at least three years.

Joblessness can be particularly tough for those in middle age. The recession hit this age group hard, and they aren't getting rehired as quickly during the sluggish recovery.

Middle-aged workers face more financial demands than other age groups and are too young to retire, yet they also don't have as much time to work their way up again from the bottom rung like younger workers.

Networking For A New Job

Google critics accuse the company of playing favorites with its search results. Google executives have always denied this, but the accusations haven't gone away. Eric Schmidt, the company's chairman, was on Capitol Hill Wednesday to answer questions about the company's business practices.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt testifies before a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday. The panel is examining whether the Internet giant is stifling competition. The European Commission and the Federal Trade Commission have opened inquiries into Google's business practices.

A congressional hearing on Tuesday over a company called Solyndra became a politically charged referendum on the administration's effort to promote green energy.

Until recently, Solyndra made solar panels. It received more than half a billion dollars in government loan guarantees back in 2009. Now, the company is in bankruptcy and is being investigated by the FBI.

President Obama called on legislators on Thursday to pass his American Jobs Act, which proposes billions of dollars in new spending on infrastructure.

"Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us an economic superpower," Obama told a joint session of Congress.

It's difficult to say exactly how much additional infrastructure spending would take place if the president's plan is approved by Congress. But experts say examining how — and if — previous stimulus projects created jobs can help maximize results for this round.

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