NPR correspondent Chris Arnold is based in Boston. His reports are heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. He joined NPR in 1996 and was based in San Francisco before moving to Boston in 2001.
Most recently, Arnold has been reporting on the financial struggle millions of Americans are facing amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. As part of that, he's done investigative stories showing how mortgage companies have been misleading homeowners who've lost their jobs, demanding outrageous balloon payments if they skip mortgage payments and scaring them away from help that Congress wanted them to have under the CARES Act.
Arnold's reporting often focuses on consumer protection issues. His series of stories "The Trouble with TEACH Grants," that he reported with NPR's Cory Turner, exposed a debacle at the U.S. Department of Education through which public school teachers had grants unfairly converted into large student loan debts — some upwards of $20,000. As a result of the stories, members of Congress demanded reforms and the Education Department overhauled the program and is now giving thousands of teachers their grant money back and erasing their debts.
Arnold was honored with a 2017 George Foster Peabody Award for his coverage of the Wells Fargo banking scandal. His stories sparked a Senate inquiry into the bank's treatment of employees who tried to blow the whistle on the wrongdoing. Arnold also won the National Association of Consumer Advocates Award for Investigative Journalism for a series of stories he reported with ProPublica that exposed improper debt collection practices by non-profit hospitals who were suing thousands of their low-income patients.
In addition to reporting for NPR's main radio programs, Arnold has been hosting the personal finance episodes of NPR's Life Kit podcasts, which offer listeners actionable tips backed up by behavioral economics research on the best ways to save money, invest for the future and a range of other topics.
Arnold previously served as the lead reporter for the NPR series "Your Money and Your Life", which explored personal finance issues. As part of that, he reported on the problem of Wall Street firms charging excessive fees in retirement accounts — fees that siphon billions of dollars annually from Americans trying to save for the future. For this series, Arnold won the 2016 Gerald Loeb Award, which honors work that informs and protects the private investor and the general public.
Following the 2008 financial crisis and collapse of the housing market, Arnold reported on problems within the nation's largest banks that led to the banks improperly foreclosing on thousands of American homeowners. For this work, Arnold earned a 2011 Edward R. Murrow Award for the special series, "The Foreclosure Nightmare." He's also been honored with the Newspaper Guild's 2009 Heywood Broun Award for broadcast journalism. He was also a finalist for the Scripps Howard Foundation's National Journalism Award.
Arnold was chosen for a Nieman Journalism Fellowship at Harvard University during the 2012-2013 academic year. He joined a small group of other journalists from the U.S. and abroad and studied economics, leadership, and the future of journalism in the digital age. Arnold also teaches Radio Journalism as a Lecturer at Yale University and was named a Poynter Fellow by Yale in 2016.
Over his career at NPR, Arnold has covered a range of other subjects — from Katrina recovery in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, to immigrant workers in the fishing industry, to a new kind of table saw that won't cut your fingers off. He traveled to Turin, Italy, for NPR's coverage of the 2006 Winter Olympics. He has also followed the dramatic rise in the numbers of teenagers abusing the powerful and highly addictive painkiller Oxycontin.
In the days and months following the Sept. 11 attacks, Arnold reported from New York and contributed to the NPR coverage that won the Overseas Press Club and the George Foster Peabody Awards. He chronicled the recovery effort at Ground Zero, focusing on members of the Port Authority Police department as they struggled with the deaths of 37 officers — the greatest loss of any police department in U.S. history.
Prior to his move to Boston, Arnold traveled the country for NPR doing feature stories on entrepreneurship. His pieces covered technologists, farmers, and family business owners. He also reported on efforts to kindle entrepreneurship in economically disadvantaged areas ranging from inner-city Los Angeles to the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota.
Arnold has worked in public radio since 1993. Before joining NPR, he was a freelance reporter working out of San Francisco's NPR Member Station, KQED.
The fed raised interest rates again this week by 3/4 of a percent, and mortgage rates have seen their biggest jump in 40 years. Borrowing on credit cards, and car loans is also going up.
September's existing home sales dropped 24% from a year ago — to the lowest level in a decade. Prices fell too. Higher mortgage rates have thrown cold water on the once hot market.
Mortgage rates are up near 7%. That's adding nearly $1,000 a month to the mortgage payment for a typical house, sending home ownership beyond reach for more and more Americans.
The super-heated housing market is cooling off. Home prices have fallen about 6% since their peak in June. The pace of sales also fell for the 7th straight month.
Mortgage rates have seen their biggest rise in 40 years. But now, rates are jumping up and down as markets try to anticipate where the economy is headed.
Hundreds of towns and cities are short of housing. It's the biggest reason rents and home prices are so high. A new study out today looks at how to fix the problem.
Many Americans put down deposits of $20,000 or more with builders to put up new homes. But with mortgage rates rising, some can no longer afford the homes. And they could lose their deposits.
Higher mortgage rates are putting a damper on the housing market. Applications for a mortgage to purchase a home are down 21% from a year ago as fewer and fewer people can afford to buy.
Higher mortgage rates and home prices have pushed the monthly payment to buy the median-priced home in the U.S. up more than 50% since the start of last year. Many first-time buyers can't afford it.
Life Kit podcast tackles budgeting and explains how to keep budgeting from becoming a dreaded task. (This story originally aired on All Things Considered on Jan. 1, 2020)