Chris Arnold

Americans owe more than ever before, with household debt hitting a record of nearly $13 trillion. And auto loans, home loans and credit card debt are all still on the rise, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

That has some economists saying the lessons of the bubble of borrowing in the run-up to the Great Recession have already been forgotten.

The Trump administration on Wednesday will start to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. And despite very tough talk about NAFTA during the campaign, it appears the administration has backed away from a major assault on the decades-old trade deal.

And that is a relief to businesses in all three countries.

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump clearly tapped into frustration about workers who had lost jobs in manufacturing. And he painted NAFTA as one of the central villains responsible for stealing Americans jobs.

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STACEY VANEK SMITH, HOST:

Every day, more than 10 Americans suffer amputations on what is by far the most dangerous woodworking tool: the table saw. Regulators in Washington, D.C., are moving closer to adopting a rule that would make new saws so much safer that they could prevent 99 percent of serious accidents.

Wells Fargo is back in the spotlight for another scandal. This time, for signing up 490,000 auto-loan customers for insurance they didn't need.

This comes less than a year after the bank generated a massive public outcry for opening millions of unwanted accounts for customers.

The CEO of Royal Dutch Shell this week said his company is making a striking shift in its thinking: It now expects oil prices to remain low forever. The global oil glut of recent years shows no sign of diminishing. Energy demand has leveled off. And if electric vehicles take off, oil prices could come under even more downward pressure.

Wells Fargo bank has struck a settlement to reimburse customers who were harmed when bank employees created unwanted accounts in their names. A federal judge has granted a preliminary approval for the settlement in the class action case.

Wells Fargo says compensation will depend on the financial harm customers suffered. Someone who paid an improper $35 dollar fee likely will receive less money than someone whose credit score was damaged and had to accept a home loan with a higher interest rate.

Home prices have finally clawed their way back to the peak of the housing bubble. That's on average nationally. The story is very different when you zoom in on different counties or cities in particular.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett fielded questions at the annual shareholders meeting for his company Berkshire Hathaway. He offered thoughts and insights on everything from Republicans voting to repeal Obamacare, to the Wells Fargo scandal, to how artificial intelligence and technology might reshape America. Here are some highlights:

Repealing Obamacare is "a huge tax cut for guys like me"

Senate Republicans voted Wednesday night to rescind an Obama-era policy that allows states to offer retirement savings plans to millions of workers.

Retiree and worker protection groups say the move will hurt employees at small businesses.

Many small businesses say they can't afford to set up retirement savings plans, such as 401(k) plans, for their workers. That's a big reason why so many Americans aren't saving, says Cristina Martin Firvida, the AARP's director of government affairs.

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Just days before President Trump is set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the administration has made a move that has some U.S.-China experts scratching their heads. The Commerce Department has quietly put a notice into the Federal Register stating that the U.S. will review a hot-button issue between the two superpowers.

The head of the president's National Trade Council this week offered a decidedly bleak and suspicious view of global trade. Peter Navarro says foreign companies buying up U.S. corporations are posing a threat to national security.

That might sound bad, but it's a fringe view that puts him at odds with the vast majority of economists.

The stock market's been charging higher lately. After the Dow Jones industrial average topped 20,000 for the first time in history in January, it kept surging to close above 21,000 earlier this week. So what's going on with the stock market and what does it mean for your retirement account?

Over the past two weeks, the Trump administration has taken steps to delay and perhaps scuttle a new rule designed to save American workers billions of dollars they currently pay in excessive fees in their retirement accounts.

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Friday was the day that many homebuyers across the country were to start saving on average $500 a year on their loans. A fee reduction was set to go into effect at the Federal Housing Administration, lowering the cost of nearly 1 million FHA loans per year.

But that's not going to happen, at least for now, because in his very first hours in office, President Trump issued an order suspending that fee cut.

In a meeting with business leaders, President Trump on Monday made an eyebrow-raising claim.

As part of an effort to make America more business-friendly, Trump said: "We think we can cut regulations by 75 percent. Maybe more, but by 75 percent."

Republicans do seem serious about some kind of regulatory reform. But even conservative economists say that number is not believable.

It has been said that the president likes to have an adversary. And at the meeting, Trump took aim at government regulations that stifle business.

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In the last days of the Obama administration, the federal government has reached multibillion-dollar settlements with Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse over their sale of toxic mortgage securities.

President-elect Donald Trump owes Deutsche Bank hundreds of millions of dollars in loans. So that deal removes a potential conflict of interest — where a Trump Justice Department would have been negotiating the settlement.

Billionaire Wilbur Ross Jr. is one of the wealthiest members of what's being called Donald Trump's "gilded cabinet." The parade of Wall Street and corporate elites is drawing sharp criticism from many on the left. But actually, Ross, who Trump has chosen as his secretary of commerce, is respected by organized labor. Those close to him say he is not a right-wing ideologue, and some who've known him over the years say he's the best possible pick that Democrats could hope for.

President-elect Donald Trump has pledged a $1 trillion infrastructure spending program to help jump-start an economy that he said during the campaign was in terrible shape.

Speaking on Capitol Hill Thursday, Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen warned lawmakers that as they consider such spending, they should keep an eye on the national debt. Yellen also said that while the economy needed a big boost with fiscal stimulus after the financial crisis, that's not the case now.

During the campaign, Donald Trump characterized himself as a champion of working-class voters who felt left behind and disconnected from more prosperous parts of the country. And Trump's historic upset victory last week was fueled by working-class voters in the Rust Belt and elsewhere who believed in this promise.

Elizabeth Warren and two other U.S. senators are demanding answers from Wells Fargo about reports of retribution by bank managers against would-be whistleblowers. This marks the latest development in the ongoing consumer banking scandal engulfing the banking giant.

In a letter to Wells Fargo's new CEO, Timothy Sloan, Warren, D-Mass., and Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., say the bank may have "misled regulators about the scope of the fraud."

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Much of the anger and anxiety in the 2016 election are fueled by the sense that economic opportunity is slipping away for many Americans. This week, as part of NPR's collaborative project with member stations, A Nation Engaged, we're asking the question: What can be done to create economic opportunity for more Americans?

When the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau looked into the Mississippi-based regional bank BancorpSouth, it didn't just review thousands of loan applications. It sent in undercover operatives — some white, some black — who pretended to be customers applying for loans.

"They had similar credit scores and similar background and situations," says CFPB Director Richard Cordray. "Our investigation had found that BancorpSouth had engaged in illegal redlining in Memphis, meaning refusing to lend into specific areas of the city."

With rising home prices and low interest rates, Americans are spending a record amount of money fixing up their kitchens, bathrooms and man-caves. And business would be booming more but there aren't enough carpenters and tradespeople to do all the work.

Nathaniel May survived the housing crash, but just barely. He's a general contractor who does home renovations in the Boston area. As recently as four years ago, he and his partner were feeling a little desperate.

Alvin Toffler, the author whose celebrated 1970 book Future Shock examined the danger and promise of the accelerating pace of change in society, died in his sleep Monday in Los Angeles. He was 87.

At the core of Toffler's vision was that society wasn't just changing, but changing faster than it ever had before. He popularized the notion of "information overload" and wondered whether human beings could psychologically handle being bombarded by so much information and by change itself.

Lionel Messi says it's over. He's retiring from Argentina's national team.

After losing three previous Copa America finals, Lionel Messi on Sunday night had another chance to win. Argentina and Chile were locked in a scoreless tie, and the match would be decided by penalty kicks. Messi bent down to adjust the ball and backed up to get a running start. The five-time FIFA Ballon d'Or winner licked his lip, gave the goalie a quick appraising glance, and sent a cannonball-like shot over the goal, missing for Argentina when it mattered most.

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