A big reason for the slow recovery has been that the nation's battered banks haven't been able or willing to lend. There are signs that's changing and that bank lending is helping to support stronger growth.
Paul Kasriel, chief economist at Northern Trust, a Chicago-based bank, say his reading of Federal Reserve data has convinced him that banks have finally taken the baton from the Fed and are now making credit more available.
"We've seen a sharp increase in business loans on the books of banks," he says.
In Florida, members of Congress and the state legislature are scrambling to decide what districts they'll run for in this year's election. The legislature recently released maps that redraw the districts. It's a once-in-a-decade process every state goes through to reflect population changes since the last census. Because of its growth, Florida is gaining two seats, but there is bipartisan unhappiness with the maps. And NPR's Greg Allen reports that the battle over how they were drawn may ultimately be decided by the courts.
When Brian O. Selznick wrote The Invention of Hugo Cabaret — a graphic novel about an orphan in 1930s Paris — he imagined the secret spaces of a Paris train station. For inspiration, he visited Grand Central Terminal in New York City. But the scenes in the book — hidden tunnels, secret rooms, the giant clock tower — were all drawn from Selznick's imagination and later turned into the movie Hugo by Martin Scorcese, which is nominated for 12 Academy Awards.
The eurozone crisis has focused attention on debt-burdened Greece spiraling into decline. Meanwhile, Portugal is seen as the international creditors' poster-child for obediently slashing spending and welfare benefits.
Nevertheless, the Portuguese national debt continues to grow, and the country is mired in recession and soaring unemployment.
The Portuguese national character has long been identified with Fado music. Raquel Freire, an activist with the local Occupy movement, says the melancholy style helps explain decades of resignation.
Photojournalist Danfung Dennis has captured the brutalities of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for major publications, including The New York Times, Time magazine, The Guardian and The Washington Post.
Inspired by these experiences, Dennis embedded with the U.S. Marines Echo Company in Afghanistan and created the documentary Hell And Back Again.
Stories about life on Native American reservations often focus on the hardships — alcoholism, drugs, violence and poverty. In Rez Life: An Indian's Journey Through Reservation Life, Ojibwe writer David Treuer strives to capture stories about the beauty of life on Indian reservations.
And now, The Opinion Page. Does freedom of speech include the right to lie? After he boasted about his Medal of Honor, Xavier Alvarez became one of the first people convicted under the Stolen Valor Act, a law that makes it a crime to falsely claim military decorations. The case goes before the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. A team of U.N. inspectors has arrived in Tehran, and a few days ago, the Iranian government sent a letter that proposed a new round of talks with the U.S. and five other big powers.
But conditions are so tense right now that some believe the failure of either effort might trigger an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, and no one knows what might happen after that.
An image captured on Feb. 20, 1962, by NASA shows astronaut John Glenn during his space flight in the Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft, weightless and traveling at 17,500 mph. The image was made by an automatic sequence motion picture camera.
The Two-Way is formally off-duty for the Presidents' Day holiday. But not only does the news not take a holiday — often, holidays are the news. Here's a quick roundup of some of today's important and most-discussed stories:
Syria is reinforcing its military in what seems to be a bid to control Homs. (AP)