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Many would agree that the key to economic growth, in the U.S. and elsewhere, has long been productivity — how many widgets produced per hour worked.

Many would also agree that the U.S. is suffering from a downturn in productivity. But Neil Irwin, senior economics correspondent for The New York Times, thinks it may be time to rethink the supposed productivity “slump.”

Jimmy Choo has been among the biggest names in high-end shoes for decades, but the company put itself up for sale in April. Today, fashion house Michael Kors announced it’ll buy the British footwear brand for $1.2 billion. Kors has been struggling recently and announced in May it’s closing more than 100 stores. Can this acquisition help turn things around?

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A scientist worries about a climate "hostile to science and the truth"

Jul 25, 2017

My Economy tells the story of the new economic normal through the eyes of people trying to make it, because we know the only numbers that really matter are the ones in your economy.

For today's installment of our ongoing series, we hear from Geoff Reeves, a space scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Commodity trading — often a big money maker for banks and hedge funds — has been subdued in recent months, leading to significant drops in revenue. Goldman Sachs recently said its commodity trading unit had the worst quarter on record, and other banks are in a similar situation. The reasons behind the slump? Lack of volatility and weak oil prices seem to be two of the main culprits.

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Big business puts some pressure on big banks

Jul 25, 2017

The Federal Reserve probably will not announce a rate hike on the second day of its Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Wednesday. But there's a decent chance it will again by year's end. And since the Fed started raising rates 18 months ago, we've seen the federal funds rate rise a full 1 percent. This is the benchmark interest rate for the economy. When it goes up, so do other rates. And yet, in our bank accounts, nada. Big banks have barely changed the rate they pay, with one big exception: corporate deposits. 

When Giovana Xavier looked at the lineup of writers who would attend FLIP 2016, the International Literary Festival of Paraty, she held her breath. Not one black woman author was invited.

“I felt overlooked, left behind; I felt anger and pain. I wondered how could I turn those feelings into something creative, something beautiful, how could we evolve? That's what history is all about,” said Xavier, a university professor at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro who is behind the Intelectuais Negras group, a nonprofit that relies on the "commitment of black women activists."

Luxury fashion brand Michael Kors says it has reached a nearly $1.2 billion deal to acquire footwear and accessories brand Jimmy Choo.

The boards of both companies have approved the deal, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Michael Kors is "trying to shore up declining demand for expensive handbags," NPR's Yuki Noguchi tells our Newscast unit. Here is more from Yuki:

As the country starts to get back into its most popular professional team sport, there is a reminder of how dangerous football can be.

An updated study published Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association on football players and the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy reveals a striking result among NFL players.

South Korea is one of the world's richest nations, a modern place with trends changing as fast as its Internet speeds. But when it comes to some social issues, the country has been slow to change — especially for gays and lesbians.

While there are shows of support — this month, a record 85,000 people turned up at Seoul's annual pride festival, for example — recent events indicate South Korea's institutions and political class are only reluctantly tolerating sexual minorities.

Farmers struggle with low commodity prices

Jul 25, 2017

Tom Giessel is a fourth generation farmer near the city of Larned, Kansas, who considers his commodities to be his currency.

Giessel had a fine crop this year, thanks to the good weather in central Kansas. After his landlord took a cut, Giessel made $240 dollars an acre. But, he figures that one acre can’t buy even one bag of seed corn, his second crop this summer, because it costs $300.

“I used 500 acres of my total wheat crop just to buy that corn,” he said, “let alone any fertilizer, herbicide, machinery, my time.”