John Ydstie

President Obama says he will ask Congress to give wilderness status to protect more than 12 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The president announced his intention Sunday in a video, describing the area as a pristine habitat with abundant wildlife.

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One phrase from President Obama's State of the Union speech that quickly became a hashtag was middle-class economics. Here's how he defined it.

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If you've traveled outside the U.S. recently, or sent your U.S.-made products abroad, you've probably noticed that the dollar is getting stronger. The stronger dollar is the sign of a healthier U.S. economy, but its strength has the potential to erode growth.

There are a number of factors behind the dollar's rise, says economist Jens Nordvig, a currency expert at Nomura Securities. The main one is the health of the U.S. economy.

The economy was floored by the polar vortex early on in 2014 — plus, businesses and consumers were still a little dazed by a government shutdown and debt ceiling fight late in 2013.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, says it all produced an anxious start to the year. "Yeah, a lot of worry, particularly because we had misstepped a few other times during the recovery," he says. "We had these false dawns when we really thought the economy was going to kick into gear and then we kind of fell back into the morass."

This weekend, Will Falls decided to skip the local mall near Raleigh, N.C., and shop online instead.

"No standing in line, no finding a parking spot," he says. "Just get comfortable and go at it."

Millions of Americans did the same — Falls helped contribute to an 8.5 percent increase in online shopping Monday compared with 2013, according to data from IBM.

That growth stands in contrast to an 11 percent drop in sales reported by the National Retail Federation at brick-and-mortar stores over the Black Friday weekend compared with a year ago.

Don Benfield of Taylorsville, N.C., makes $11 an hour working for a mobile-home parts business, selling things like replacement doors and windows.

Benfield, 51, doesn't have health insurance.

"I haven't had health care insurance in years, simply because I haven't been able to afford it, especially with food prices, how they went up," he explains.

Benfield's employer does offer health insurance coverage, even though, with fewer than 50 employees, the business is not required to.

It's being challenged in the Supreme Court. Members of the new Republican Congress want to repeal it. But Obamacare will get a second chance on Saturday, when enrollment opens again in the government-sponsored health exchanges.

The Obama administration is expecting over 3 million new enrollees and almost 6 million return customers. And while the system faces some challenges, the government says it's up to the task.

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Six big banks will pay more than $4 billion to U.S. and European regulators for more bad behavior, this time rigging foreign currency markets. Among the charges? That currency traders at the banks collaborated in online chat rooms to cheat customers.

Oil prices fell again Tuesday, to just below $76 a barrel before recovering slightly — one day after Saudi Arabia cut prices for the crude it sells in the U.S. market.

During most of the last quarter-century, that would have been viewed as a very positive development for the U.S. economy. But oil production here has increased so quickly in the past several years, the continuing price drops pose a potential threat to U.S. oil producers.

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Exactly one year ago, the Obamacare insurance exchanges stumbled into existence. Consumers struggled to sign up for its online marketplace — and the Obama administration was pummeled. Eventually, HealthCare.gov's problems were mostly fixed, and two weeks ago, the administration announced 7.3 million people have bought insurance through it so far this year.

So, was the health exchanges' first year a success — or something less?

Ask President Obama, and he says you measure the Affordable Care Act's success this way:

NFL sponsors are not just advertisers; they're a select group of companies that together pay more than $1 billion a year to wrap their own brands in the NFL's aura.

The price of oil has been falling — a drop that you may already have noticed at the pump. Gasoline prices have dropped noticeably since June, and oil is now well below $100 a barrel.

That decline has happened even as conflicts have flared in or near oil-producing regions. Normally, oil prices are expected to spike higher amid turmoil — so why have they been trending lower?

The latest employment numbers indicate a slowdown in job growth, but many economists aren't buying it.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday that only 142,000 jobs were added in August. That's way below what analysts had expected. And many economists don't think it represents the true strength of the U.S. economy.

Economists from across the country voiced skepticism about the government's data.

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The most expensive stock on the New York Stock Exchange just got a little more expensive. A Class A share of Berkshire Hathaway is now worth more than $200,000.

On Thursday, shares closed up $3,500 at $202,850. The Omaha, Neb.-based company has a market value of more than $333 billion.

Berkshire Hathaway is the company created and run by Warren Buffett for nearly five decades now. The conglomerate owns more than 80 firms, including Geico Insurance, BNSF Railway and Dairy Queen.

Overall, climate change is predicted to hurt agriculture around the world. It could even threaten corn production in the Corn Belt.

But in North Dakota conditions are now better for raising corn, and that's a big benefit for farmers.

When I was growing up in Wolford, N.D., up near the Canadian border, wheat was king. It had been the dominant crop since the prairie was first plowed in the late 1800s. So it was kind of strange to go back this summer and find Larry Slaubaugh, a local farmer, filling his 18-wheeler with corn from a huge steel grain bin.

Climate change is creating all kinds of challenges and opportunities for business. One of the sectors that feels the effects most immediately is agriculture. Already, weather patterns are making it more challenging to raise corn — even in Iowa — in the middle of the Corn Belt.

Seth Watkins raises corn and cattle in southern Iowa, and he recalls the memorable weather from 2012.

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As Iraq has been torn apart by sectarian violence, the country's Kurdish population has moved towards independence with income from oil.

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Four years ago today, President Obama signed a massive overhaul of the nation's financial laws, The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The law was a response to the Wall Street bailouts and regulatory failings that sparked the financial crisis and caused the great recession. As NPR's John Ydstie reports, the anniversary is being marked by calls from some to repeal parts of the law.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

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When the Affordable Care Act was unveiled, business groups railed against the provision that requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance for their full-time workers.

The Obama administration responded by pushing back the deadline for the coverage, so it hasn't yet taken effect. Now support for this so-called employer mandate is eroding in some surprising quarters.

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