Jim Zarroli

Jim Zarroli is a business reporter for NPR News, based at NPR's New York bureau.

He covers economics and business news including fiscal policy, the Federal Reserve, the job market and taxes

Over the years, he's reported on recessions and booms, crashes and rallies, and a long string of tax dodgers, insider traders and Ponzi schemers. He's been heavily involved in the coverage of the European debt crisis and the bank bailouts in the United States.

Prior to moving into his current role, Zarroli served as a New York-based general assignment reporter for NPR News. While in this position he covered the United Nations during the first Gulf War. Zarroli added to NPR's coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the London transit bombings and the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Before joining the NPR in 1996, Zarroli worked for the Pittsburgh Press and wrote for various print publications.

Zarroli graduated from Pennsylvania State University.

Last week, President Barack Obama announced that religious groups won't have to pay for contraceptive services themselves. Instead, the cost would be borne by their insurance companies.

That compromise has raised a whole new set of questions on its own, though.

As the U.S. economy struggled to get back on its feet over the past few years, a lot of states found themselves contending with big budget deficits. They responded by firing workers, raising taxes and cutting spending. Now the fiscal picture for a lot of states is brightening a bit — but many still face enormous challenges.

The end could soon be near for Kodak, and the iconic film manufacturer may have itself to blame.

Kodak, based in Rochester, N.Y., could be headed into bankruptcy over the next few weeks. The company has seen its profits plunge in recent years, largely because of the popularity of digital cameras.

Kodak is trying to move into new product lines like inkjet printers, but in the meantime it's attempting to raise cash by selling off some of the patents it's developed over the years.

2011 was a year of crisis and revolution, and that took a big toll on the world's financial markets. In the United States, stocks lurched along for much of the year, losing and gaining ground over and over again.

Stock prices are ending the year just about where they were at the beginning, and anyone who invested in anything but the bluest of blue chip stocks probably didn't make much money. And yet, the flat trend lines masked a huge amount of volatility, says Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of Harris Private Bank.

The debt crisis in Europe got under way in small, heavily indebted countries like Greece and Ireland, but these days it's also being felt in the wealthy heartland.

The Dutch government says the country probably slipped into a recession at the end of this year, and like other countries, it's having to consider budget cuts.

Ever since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were taken over by the government in 2008, questions have swirled over who was responsible for their collapse. Friday, the Securities and Exchange Commission weighed in, filing fraud charges against former Fannie Mae CEO Daniel Mudd, former Freddie Mac CEO Richard Syron and four other former executives.

France and Germany are trying to persuade other European countries to sign onto a package of reforms aimed at shoring up the embattled euro. They're hoping to win agreement in time for Friday's big summit of European leaders in Brussels. A failure to reach agreement could send the wrong signal to the financial markets, which are already deeply worried about Europe's fiscal problems.

As the European debt crisis drags on, one question being asked is what will happen to Italy. The new government of Prime Minister Mario Monti is struggling to convince the financial markets that the country has a plan to pay its debts. Among other things, Monti says he will do something about Italy's long tradition of tax evasion, which is considered somewhat of a national sport.

Enrico Frare isn't a well known name in Italian business. The 36-year-old runs E-group, a small clothing company in the commercial region around Treviso that makes winter sportswear.

But last month, Frare did something that attracted a lot of attention. He bought a full-page ad in Milan's main newspaper appearing in what might politely be called his birthday suit. The caption read: "Every day in Italy an entrepreneur risks losing his shirt."

With every day that passes, the troubles in Europe seem to grow bigger, and leaders are still at odds over how to contain the crisis. On Wednesday, just about every country in Europe saw borrowing costs rise.

For a long time the crisis was limited to small peripheral countries like Ireland and Greece, but no longer. Now, countries like Italy, Austria and the Netherlands have seen their borrowing costs rise as well.

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