Reuters Investigates

Insight and investigations from our expert reporters

An economic giant’s Achilles heel

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A year ago, Nick Carey went on a road trip around America for a project called “Route to Recovery” that took him to places hit hardest by the recession. Nick went to Saginaw, Michigan, this time for a follow-up special report on the manufacturing sector and structural unemployment: “Is America the sick man of the globe?”

One of the characters he met was Olen Ham, a retired GM worker and UAW member who is among the last of those who took part in the historic “Sitdown Strike” in 1936 that he says helped create America’s middle class. You can hear from Olen in this video:

Manufacturing has borne the brunt of the lay-offs in recent years, as this graphic shows:

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Here’s another graph that shows how unemployment and manufacturing are closely linked.

Appraisal hell

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USA-HOUSING/APPRAISALSSenior personal finance correspondent Linda Stern has been delving into the housing market for a special report on home appraisals — “What’s a home worth? Pick a number, any number

It turns out a lot of people are in home appraisal hell.

The reasons for this new form of real estate limbo include new and proposed federal rules governing appraisals along with changes in the way appraisals are conducted. Plus, the uncertain housing market is creating price instability. The end result? Borrowers are missing out on low interest rates. And lenders are leery of the appraisals they get.

How Mendax made WikiLeaks a sensation

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WIKILEAKS-ASSANGE/ARREST By Mark Hosenball

On Tuesday, Julian Assange, the controversial Australian-born founder and frontman of the WikiLeaks website is scheduled to appear in a London courtroom for the latest hearing on a request by Swedish authorities that he be extradited to Sweden for questioning in a sexual misconduct investigation.

Assange has denied any wrongdoing in Sweden, and some of his supporters have dropped dark hints that the Swedish investigation could be part of some sinister conspiracy by the CIA or other WikiLeaks enemies to shut down both Assange and the website, which has lately roiled the world of international diplomacy by disclosing a cache of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

China’s rebalancing act puts consumer to the fore

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consumerWal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, now has 189 stories in China, according to its website. Soon it will have many more.  The U.S. chain has announced plans to open a series of “compact hypermarkets”, using a bare-bones model developed in Latin America, the Financial Times said.

Wal-Mart stores are a bit different than the one’s you might find in, say, Little Rock Arkansas. They sell live toads and turtles for one thing, The Economist reported. But they also sell the appliances, gadgets, and housewares that Wal-Mart stores merchandise everywhere.

WikiLeaks: What really happened in Sweden

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WIKILEAKS-ASSANGE/Some supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange see a conspiracy behind Swedish prosecutors’ efforts to question him there on sexual misconduct charges. The prosecutors deny their move is political.

Mark Hosenball’s special report “Fear of STDs sparked case against WikiLeaks boss” tells the story of what happened in August when Assange was visiting Sweden.

The robosigning story goes on

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Shares Lender Processing Services Inc fell as much as 9.8 percent at one point on Monday after Scot Paltrow’s special report said the company, which helps banks manage mortgage foreclosure documentation, faces more serious legal troubles than it previously disclosed. The stock closed 5.77 percent down for the day.

Read the full report, “Legal woes mount for a foreclosure kingpin,” in multimedia PDF format here.

Waiter, there’s a bug in my orange juice

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When former  beauty queen Anita Bryant chirped more than four decades ago: “A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine,” she wasn’t talking about green oranges or genetically altered ones, but that was then.

Now, an insect-borne bacterial disease known as “greening” threatens the very survival of Florida’s $9 billion citrus industry. Calvin Arnold, a scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, believes genetic engineering holds the only hope for a cure.

The ETF war is hotting up

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BOSTON – A battle royal is shaping up in the world of exchange-traded funds. After years of trailing in the race to attract new money from ETF investors, fund giant Vanguard is poised to take the top spot from iShares this year. But the big winners will be investors who are seeing fees plummet.

Aaron Pressman looks at the winners and losers in his special report “What did you do in the ETF war, daddy?”

BP – Tough to price in the consequences

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Two graphs tell an apparently conflicting story: analysts forecast a steady recovery in BP’s dividends, but its valuation remains weak. Tom Bergin’s close look at the potential costs facing BP as a result of its Gulf of Mexico oil spill helps explain the latter, but less so the former.

dividendsrange  pricebook

Weird weather and the Amazon

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As scientists from around the world gather in Cancun for the latest U.N. conference on climate change, Stuart Grudgings reports from Caapiranga, in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, for his special report “Weird weather leaves Amazon thirsty.

This year’s drought in the Amazon was the kind of thing experts call a ”once in a century” event. Unfortunately, it was the second one in five years.