Uri Berliner

As Senior Business Editor at NPR, Uri Berliner edits and reports on economics, technology and finance. He provides analysis, context and clarity to breaking news and complex issues.

Berliner helped to build Planet Money, one of the most popular podcasts in the country.

Berliner's work at NPR has been recognized with a Peabody Award, a Loeb Award, Edward R. Murrow Award, a Society of Professional Journalists New America Award, and has been twice honored by the RTDNA. He was the recipient of a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University. A New Yorker, he was educated at Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University.

Berliner joined NPR after more than a decade as a print newspaper reporter in California where he covered scams, gangs, military issues, and the border. As a newspaper reporter, his feature writing and investigative reporting earned numerous awards. He started his journalism career at the East Hampton (N.Y) Star.

There's a saying going around these days: The future of work is now — put into overdrive by the pandemic that suddenly transformed millions into virtual workers. But the coronavirus has also accelerated a major shift to freelancing that's severing ties between companies and employees.

Two million Americans have started freelancing in the past 12 months, according to a new study from Upwork, a freelance job platform. And that has increased the proportion of the workforce that performs freelance work to 36%.

It was supposed to be a great year for Golden Daka. He would be the first member of his family to graduate from college. He had a big commencement speech planned for his graduation from Morehouse College, where he was a valedictorian.

"I wanted to give that huge speech onstage with my family, friends and loved ones there, who made it very possible for me to go to Morehouse," says Daka.

But in March, campus emptied and classes went online. And then the moment he'd been waiting for — commencement — was postponed.

Trends often start in New York. The latest: quitting the city and moving to the suburbs.

If not quite an exodus, the pandemic has sent enough New Yorkers to the exits to shake up the area's housing market. Longtime real estate agent Susan Horowitz says she has never seen anything like it. She describes the frantic, hypercompetitive bidding in the suburb of Montclair, N.J., as a "blood sport."

"We are seeing 20 offers on houses. We are seeing things going 30% over the asking price. It's kind of insane," Horowitz says.

Indefinite. Or even permanent. These are words companies are using about their employees working from home.

It's three months into a huge, unplanned social experiment that suddenly transported the white-collar workplace from cubicles and offices to kitchens and spare bedrooms. And many employers now say the benefits of remote work outweigh the drawbacks.

In normal times, hotels promote their star chefs or their swanky design upgrades. But priorities have changed. In the age of the coronavirus, the news from Hilton is a partnership — with Lysol.

As hotel guests begin to return, the standard expectation of hygiene has been elevated to "where it's cleanliness almost with a double exclamation point after it," says Phil Cordell, Hilton's global head of brand development.

Cubicle culture has gone dark. Open floor plans stand empty.

Offices around the world are shut during the pandemic, making work from home the new normal for millions of white-collar employees.

In the United States, remote work is still being encouraged under guidelines outlined by the federal government.

But in webinars and conference calls, business leaders and management strategists are discussing what steps must be taken to bring workers back to America's offices.

The U.S. economy has been staggered and shocked by the coronavirus pandemic. A stock market meltdown was followed by a more seismic event — waves of business shutdowns, putting millions of jobs at risk.

The United States is heading into a very sharp downturn in the next three months. That much seems certain.

What is unique this time is that we as a country are willing it to happen.

Collectively — intentionally — we are putting much of the economy on lockdown. The priorities are clear: save lives and keep hospitals and emergency rooms from being overwhelmed. For now, that means America is an economic ghost town.

The stunning, rapid plunge in stock prices over the spreading coronavirus pandemic has understandably captured headlines for days.

But there's a parallel story that has received much less attention: the health of the underlying financial plumbing that allows banks and markets to operate smoothly.

That system, according to analysts, is now under strain.

Updated at 5:06 PM ET

President Trump on Friday announced what he calls "Phase 1" of a larger trade deal with China.

As part of the deal, a tariff increase planned for next Tuesday will not be imposed. The U.S. was scheduled to raise tariffs on about $250 billion worth of goods on Oct. 15 from 25% to 30%.

The specifics of the deal are still being hammered out, and they haven't been signed yet. President Trump said he hopes that will happen in the next month or so. The leaders of the U.S. and China are expected to meet in November.

Doing business in China comes with major strings attached. This week it became evident that a few provocative words can cause those strings to tighten.

Updated at 6:56 p.m. ET

Stocks plunged Wednesday on deepening worries over a slowdown in the global economy.

The Dow closed down 800 points, or about 3%. Investors have been whipsawed in recent days by mixed signals emerging from the Trump administration about tariffs and the escalating trade war with China.

The jitters were exacerbated amid worrisome economic data from two big countries. Germany posted negative growth in the latest quarter, and China's growth in industrial output fell to a 17-year low.

It was the most highly anticipated college basketball game of the season: Duke was facing archrival North Carolina, with the spectacular talents of Duke's freshman sensation Zion Williamson on display.

Former President Barack Obama was there. Tickets for the game were reselling for more than $3,000 — Super Bowl prices. Duke's exuberant student section, known as the Cameron Crazies, was extra hyped.

The monkey's fur is worn away. It's nearly a century old. A well-loved toy, it is barely 4 inches tall. It was packed away for long voyages, on an escape from Nazi Germany, to Sweden and America. And now, it's the key to a discovery that transformed my family.

The monkey belonged to my father, Gert Berliner, who as a boy in Berlin in the 1930s rode his bicycle around the city. Clipped to the handlebars was the toy monkey.

"I liked him," recalls my dad, who is now 94. "He was like a good luck piece."

"Night of the Broken Glass"

In recent months, I've learned that my life is bound together with two families who took enormous risks to save my father and my grandparents from the Nazis.

What I have discovered about the rescuers is both wondrous and bleak. One family, the Furstenbergs, has thrived; another, the Mynareks, is gone, seemingly without a trace.

President Trump threatened to impose tariffs on every product imported from China, dialing up the pressure in the growing trade dispute between the world's two economic superpowers.

In an interview with CNBC broadcast this morning, Trump said, "We're down a tremendous amount," referring to the trade imbalance between the U.S. and China. "I'm ready to go to 500."

If a shopper clicks "buy" for a product that costs $1,000 or more, it's twice as likely to be a man than a woman. That's one of the results revealed in a new NPR/Marist poll about online shopping.

Russia and Saudi Arabia have been longtime adversaries over geopolitics and military operations in the Middle East. Now, they've formed a surprising bond that is reshaping global oil markets.

As two of the world's largest oil producers, they have engineered significant production cuts to mop up an oil glut that had been keeping energy prices low for years. The unexpected alliance is one of the reasons motorists in the U.S. have seen prices at the pump climb 18 percent over the past year.

A new NPR/Marist poll finds that 1 in 5 jobs in America is held by a worker under contract. Within a decade, contractors and freelancers could make up half of the American workforce. In a weeklong series, NPR explores many aspects of this change.

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This year, the price of the digital currency bitcoin has gone up more than 1,200 percent. A single bitcoin is now worth more than $13,000.

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NPR's Uri Berliner is here with us now to talk about it. Hey, Uri.

Wells Fargo just can't get past its fake account scandal.

On Thursday, the bank acknowledged it had created more bogus customer accounts than previously estimated. An outside review discovered that 1.4 million more potentially unauthorized accounts were opened between January 2009 and September 2016.

That brings the total to 3.5 million potentially fake accounts — two-thirds more than the 2.1 million the bank had previously acknowledged.

The massive flooding in the Houston area has brought much of the city's commercial life to a halt. For those venturing out it can be hard to find a place to eat. The Houston Chronicle posted a list of bars and restaurants that are open in the aftermath of Harvey. It's not a big list. There are some cafes and diners serving up meals, but most of the locations are McDonald's or Waffle House restaurants.

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Donald Trump won the backing of the National Rifle Association and many gun owners by opposing limits to the Second Amendment's right to bear arms. But since his election and in the early months of his presidency, Trump has not been good for the gun business.

Shares of publicly traded firearms companies have fallen. The pro-gun president nicking the fortunes of the industry he vowed to protect may seem illogical on its face.

The Dow Jones industrial average cruised past another milestone Wednesday — the 20,000 level, further evidence of the long bull market that has lifted share prices since the depths of the financial crisis.

The index closed at a record 20,068. Since the November elections, the Dow and the broader S&P 500 are up 9.5 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively.