October 6, 2022

Mystery Solved: ‘Dateline’ Finds Path From TV to Podcast Stardom

Of course, true crime and podcasts go hand in hand. The Hulu comedy “Only Murders in the Building” is explicitly a parody of the ubiquitousness of the genre. And there are plenty of other podcasts on the charts that center on bloody mysteries, with titles like “Morbid,” “Crime Junkie” and “My Favorite Murder.”

Still, the “Dateline” podcasts are helping the genre reach a new audience. The median age of viewers of the Friday night edition of “Dateline” is 63, according to Nielsen. On Spotify, the median age of a “Dateline” podcast listener is 41, according to data from Chartable, which was supplied by NBC News.

The network declined to disclose revenue figures for the podcasts, but they appear to be helping the company’s bottom line. The “Dateline” series command an advertising rate on a par with the podcast version of the popular public radio show “Fresh Air,” according to Standard Media Index, which collects advertising data.

It has been quite a turn of events for a 30-year-old television show.

The show, which premiered in 1992 with Stone Phillips and Jane Pauley as co-anchors, began as a traditional TV newsmagazine — with three to five segments that typically included interviews, features and investigations.

In the 1990s, during network television’s newsmagazine craze, “Dateline” could occupy as much as five hours of NBC’s prime-time schedule each week. Over the past 20 years, the show has remained a mainstay of the NBC schedule, filling in gaps whenever called upon in addition to holding its usual Friday night slot.

“Those of us within the hallways of NBC News have always understood the value of ‘Dateline,’” said Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC News. “Historically, to many regimes past, whenever a fall entertainment lineup would start to wobble, we would always get the call to fill those open slots with additional ‘Dateline’ hours on the broadcast network.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/02/business/media/dateline-podcast-true-crime.html

August PCE Inflation Data Shows Prices Are Stubbornly High

The data underlined the challenging path the Fed faces as it tries to guide the U.S. economy toward slower inflation. Both the economy and price pressures have retained momentum, even as central bankers raise interest rates to try to cool demand. As a result, the Fed has become steadily more aggressive in its efforts to constrain spending and temper inflation, and it is likely to keep raising rates and keep them elevated for a while.

“Inflation is very high in the United States and abroad, and the risk of additional inflationary shocks cannot be ruled out,” Lael Brainard, the Fed’s vice chair, said in a speech on Friday. She later added that policymakers were “committed to avoiding pulling back prematurely.”

The Fed has lifted interest rates five times this year, including three unusually large three-quarter-point increases, and Ms. Brainard reiterated that it would need to restrict the economy for some time to make sure inflation was back under control. But she also emphasized that future rate increases would depend on incoming data, suggesting that the Fed will keep an eye on the economy as it slows down and calibrate its moves accordingly.

Economists remain hopeful that healing supply chains, a slowing housing market, cooling consumer demand and a moderating labor market will combine to pull inflation lower in the months ahead. Spending on goods fell in August for the second month in a row, which should ease pressure on factories and shipping routes, and overall spending may slow further as consumers draw down the extra savings they built up earlier in the pandemic.

But Russia’s war in Ukraine poses a constant risk to the global supply of food and oil, and some industries, including automobiles, remain severely disrupted. Rents and other service costs have been rising sharply, and labor shortages spanning many industries have pushed wages up, which could feed through to higher prices.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/30/business/economy/inflation-fed.html

Hurricane Ian Brings Wind, Rain and TikTok Followers

Despite living in an evacuation zone, Alecsander Haake did not leave his home in the St. Petersburg area in advance of Hurricane Ian. “My mom had work the day before they announced the evacuation — it was a bit too late,” Mr. Haake, 16, said by phone. “There’s a lot of traffic on I-4, so we just hunkered down.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Haake, who is a high school student, posted a TikTok video of a computer screen showing Ian’s predicted path across Florida. “Yo, yo, I live right there, on my mouse,” Mr. Haake says in the video, moving his cursor over the western coast of the state. “Give me a thousand followers, I’ll go live during the hurricane, bro.” If this goal was met, Mr. Haake claimed, he would run outside in the nude during the hurricane.

He got what he asked for — and then some. When he posted that video on Tuesday, Mr. Haake estimated he had about 150 followers. (On the app, a user must have at least 1,000 to use the livestreaming feature.) By Thursday, he had amassed a little over 25,000. “Obviously I wasn’t going to do that,” Mr. Haake said, referring to going outside naked. “I was not going to do that. That was a joke.”

He did ultimately go live on TikTok, fully clothed, just as Ian touched down around him. “It was just breaking in,” he said. “There was a bunch of wind coming through, and rain. I was just standing outside by my garage.” He streamed on TikTok Live for nearly four hours. He said that at one point, as many as 20,000 people had been watching him. Viewers could see the trees in Mr. Haake’s neighborhood blowing dramatically sideways. “Everyone like this, so it gets tons of viewers,” Mr. Haake said during the broadcast. “Can you guys hear when the wind swirls like that? The whistling? That’s kind of scary.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/30/style/hurricane-ian-tiktok-livestream.html

Did You Sell an Old Desk Online? You May Receive a Tax Form.

The change is not meant to apply to people who are receiving payments as gifts or as reimbursements from friends after splitting the cost of a restaurant meal, said Erin Collins, the national taxpayer advocate, who heads an agency within the I.R.S. that assists taxpayers. But some people could mistakenly receive forms anyway — say, if they get payments mislabeled as business transactions rather than “friends and family” payments, she said.

“The change is going to cause confusion,” Ms. Collins said.

Mr. Walters of Blucora said he might be among taxpayers receiving a 1099-K. He likes to attend concerts, he said, but sometimes his plans change. “If I can’t make it to the concert,” he said, he sells the tickets on StubHub, which is among the online marketplaces that have alerted users to the new rules.

Here are some questions and answers about the new 1099-K rules:

If you use payment apps, Ms. Collins said, remind those sending you personal payments to designate transactions as such, and make a note of what the payment was for. Venmo and its parent, PayPal, allow users to designate transactions as personal or for purchases. Payments are tagged “friends and family” by default when money is sent between two consumer accounts, the company says, but users can choose the “goods and services” button when making a purchase. Only payments sent with the toggle on are tagged as goods and services for the recipient.

Cash App says on its website that users with standard, personal accounts won’t receive the forms and that only users with business accounts will have transactions reported to the I.R.S.

Sellers should gather receipts or other documents that show the original cost of items they have sold, Mr. Walters said. TaxAct has teamed up with eBay to help users understand the new requirements.

If you do get a 1099-K in January, don’t ignore it, said Tom O’Saben, director of tax content and government relations at the National Association of Tax Professionals. If you think it’s in error, you can request a correction, though that takes time and may delay you in filing a return.

If the amount isn’t taxable, you generally don’t have to report it on your return, accountants say. But make sure you have records to prove that, Mr. O’Saben said, because you may get a letter from the I.R.S. asking for documentation.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/30/your-money/online-marketplaces-1099-k.html

U.S. Economy Weaker Than Thought in Year’s First Half, by One Measure

Taken together, the two measures suggest economic growth was at best anemic in the first half of the year. At worst, the economy had been shrinking for two consecutive quarters, a common, though unofficial, definition of a recession. An average of the two measures, which some economists consider more reliable than either individual figure, shows that output shrank slightly in the first half of the year.

The conflicting signals sent by the two measures of output in recent quarters had been something of an economic mystery because, in theory, the two indicators should be identical. G.D.P. measures the value of all the goods and services produced and sold in the country; the lesser-known gross domestic income measures all the money earned by individuals, businesses and other organizations. Because one person’s spending is someone else’s income, the two figures should add up to the same amount.

In practice, the two measures rarely align perfectly because they are derived from different data sources. Recently, however, they diverged sharply, which government statisticians attributed in part to the big shifts in economic activity caused by the pandemic, as well as difficulty accounting for the huge aid programs enacted to combat it. Before the latest revisions, government data showed gross domestic income as $773 billion larger than gross domestic product in the second quarter of this year, a gap of nearly 4 percent.

The updated data released Thursday helped narrow the gap to 1.3 percent. Gross domestic income was revised downward both last year and this year, mostly because workers’ earnings grew less than previously believed. Gross domestic product was revised upward in 2020 and 2021, mostly because of stronger consumer spending, especially on services, as well as increased exports.

Those upward revisions to G.D.P. years mean that the recovery, taken as a whole, looks stronger than earlier figures suggested. They indicate that G.D.P. returned to its prepandemic growth path at the end of last year, a remarkably rapid recovery from the deep pandemic recession.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/29/business/economy/economy-gross-domestic-product.html

Confused by the New Mortgage Gimmicks? Here’s a Guide.

More people are turning to adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, which start out with a lower, fixed rate for a set period — say, five or 10 years — and then adjust to a variable rate. That makes them riskier, but it appears to be a risk more people are willing to take. As of Sept. 9, nearly 11 percent of mortgage locks — that is, when applicants lock in a particular rate — were for ARMs, up from 2.5 percent a year earlier, according to Black Knight, a data firm that tracks the mortgage market.

The average rate on a five-year ARM was 5.3 percent (with a fee of 0.4 percent of the mortgage amount), or more than a full percentage point below the average rate of 6.7 percent on a 30-year fixed loan (with 0.9 points) for the week ending Sept. 29, according to Freddie Mac. On a $400,000 loan, that’s $360 in monthly savings.

A longer fixed period is a safer bet, giving borrowers more time to accommodate their life plans before the loan resets at the higher, variable rate. It also means that rates could fall enough that it would make sense for a buyer to refinance to a fixed-rate loan.

Interest-only loans work just as they sound. Borrowers pay only interest for a set period, usually up to 10 years, resulting in a lower monthly payment. After that, the payments jump because they include both interest and principal, just as a typical mortgage does, except over a shorter remaining term. But, because these are typically structured as adjustable-rate mortgages, the rate is fixed during the interest-only period and variable thereafter.

Such loans become especially dangerous when they are used to buy a home that would otherwise be out of reach for a buyer, which is exactly what happened during the run-up to the financial crisis. Borrowers piled into these and other risky loans, and when the housing market plunged, many people were left holding mortgages worth more than their properties, and with payments that they could no longer afford.

Now, these loans are largely used by more affluent homeowners to manage their cash flow, giving them the flexibility to pay down principal when they receive cash from a bonus or a commission, for example.

It is challenging to make apples-to-apples comparisons when shopping for a mortgage given the points and fees charged in addition to the underlying rate, but there are a few ways to make it easier. If you want to get quotes from three lenders, you’ll need to clear enough time to make the inquiries on the same day. If you spread them out over several days, rates may change.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/29/your-money/mortgage-guide-home-buying.html

Britain’s Gamble on Tax Cuts has Economists Warning of Past Mistakes

Ms. Truss has been cheered on by conservative champions of supply-side economics in the United States, including many of the chief backers of Mr. Trump’s tax cuts. Stephen Moore, who served as an outside economic adviser to the former president, praised Ms. Truss for her willingness “to challenge the reigning orthodoxy by sharply cutting taxes to boost growth,” calling the package “a gutsy and sound policy decision.”

“By far the most important change is the reduction in the top income tax rate from 45 percent to 40 percent,” Mr. Moore wrote. “This will bring jobs, capital and businesses back to the U.K.”

A host of critics, though, have lined up to denounce the tax package, warning it will provoke economic war with the Bank of England and risk a damaging combination of economic contraction and soaring prices, which could in turn hurt the global recovery.

The impact of previous tax cuts, including those signed into law by Mr. Trump in 2017, provides fodder for those critiques.

Much as Ms. Truss has proposed to do, Mr. Trump reduced tax rates for income earners across the spectrum, including those in the highest bracket. He also cut a variety of business tax rates — a contrast with the British plan, which cancels a planned increase in corporate taxes. Mr. Trump said his full package of cuts would jump-start economic activity by encouraging businesses to invest, hire and raise wages.

Yet initial evidence, which includes studies from I.M.F. economists, suggests Mr. Trump’s cuts did not deliver the steep gains in investment and productivity that conservatives had promised. If such gains came to pass in Britain, they could help counter inflation there.

Instead, the cuts increased consumer spending, an outcome that helped temporarily expand growth in the United States, the I.M.F. found, but which could be dangerous in a high-inflation environment.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/29/us/politics/tax-cuts-uk.html

Pete Souza’s Obama Book Cuts Obama Out of the Picture

For the Obama aides closing up shop, those final months between Election Day and the inauguration were filled with tears and apprehension. On his last foreign trip as president, Obama privately mused to Ben Rhodes, his deputy national security adviser, that Trump’s victory made him question whether he truly understood the country that elected him as its first Black president. “What if we were wrong?” Obama asked Rhodes during a stop in Peru, according to a recollection Rhodes included in his book “After the Fall.” “Maybe we pushed too far. Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe,” he elaborated. “Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early.”

Trump, a real estate baron with no political experience and scant understanding of or respect for American traditions and laws, was sui generis in the country’s modern history. And Obama, a constitutional lawyer by training, was nervous about the upheaval.

“President Obama thought it was the best thing for the country to get him there as soon as possible,” Souza said of arranging a visit for the president-elect. “And Trump came two days after the election,” scoping out his new digs and, it later emerged, hearing the pressing concerns on Obama’s mind.

On Inauguration Day, Souza fielded frantic calls from his counterpart in the new White House, Shealah Craighead, in an anecdote that underscores the seat-of-the-pants nature of the Trump takeover.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/28/us/politics/pete-souza-obama-book.html

Bill Plante, CBS News’s Man at the White House, Dies at 84

Mr. Plante had a cleareyed view of what it meant to be a White House correspondent.

“It was always interesting — never fail — and in many ways the same every time,” he said in 2016 on CBSNews.com, after he announced his retirement. “They’re different people, but they make the same mistakes; they get into the same kind of jams. And you say, ‘Hey, I’ve seen this before.’”

His exasperation with presidents who did not answer pertinent questions — or who avoided questions entirely — sometime led him to shout his questions. When Karl Rove, President George W. Bush’s senior political adviser, stepped down in 2007, more than nine months after Democrats took control of both houses of Congress in the midterm elections, Mr. Rove and Mr. Bush announced the departure jointly but did not take questions from the media.

“If he’s so smart,” Mr. Plante yelled, “why did you lose Congress?” Mr. Bush didn’t respond.

Shouting questions was a necessary part of the press corps’s job, even if that behavior appeared rude, Mr. Plante told the streaming service CBSN; if reporters did not, he said, “we’d be walking away from our First Amendment role — and then we really would be the shills we’re so often accused of being.”

One of Mr. Plante’s most disquieting moments as a White House correspondent occurred in late October 1983, when he learned that the United States was about to invade the Caribbean island of Grenada. Before going on the air with his exclusive, he asked Larry Speakes, President Reagan’s acting press secretary at the time, to confirm his information.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/28/business/media/bill-plante-dead.html

Why the British Pound Continues to Sink

Over the centuries, British leaders have often gone to extraordinary lengths to protect the pound’s value, viewing its strength as a sign of the country’s economic power and influence. King Henry I issued a decree in 1125 ordering that those who produced substandard currency “lose their right hand and be castrated.”

In the 1960s, the Labour government under Harold Wilson so resisted devaluing the pound — then set at a fixed rate of $2.80, high enough to be holding back the British economy — that he ordered cabinet papers discussing the idea to be burned. In 1967, the government finally cut its value by 14 percent to $2.40.

Other economic crises thrashed the pound. In the 1970s, when oil prices skyrocketed and Britain’s inflation rate topped 25 percent, the government was compelled to ask the International Monetary Fund for a $3.9 billion loan. In the mid-1980s, when high U.S. interest rates and a Reagan administration spending spree jacked up the dollar’s value, the pound fell to a then record low.

The pound’s dominance has been waning since the end of World War II. Today, the global economy is experiencing a particularly tumultuous time as it recovers from the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, supply chain breakdowns, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an energy shortage and soaring inflation.

As Richard Portes, an economics professor at London Business School, said, currency exchanges have enormous swings over time. The euro was worth 82 cents in its early days, he recalled, and people referred to it as a “toilet paper” currency. But by 2008, its value had doubled to $1.60.

What might cause the pound to revive is not clear.

The Truss government’s economic program has forcefully accelerated the pound’s slide — the latest in a series of what many economists consider egregious economic missteps that peaked with Brexit.

Much depends on the Truss government.

“The plunge in the pound is the result of policy choices, not some historical inevitability” said Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. “Whether this is a new, grim era or just an unfortunate interlude depends on whether they reverse course or are kicked out at the next election.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/28/business/economy/uk-pound-history.html