Podcast del mes anterior:
You’re going to listen to a report on the American economy. Before you
listen, read the following questions.
1. Which country has the second largest economy?
2. When does Barak Obama become president?
3. Who declared a "fiscal emergency" last Monday?
4. What does Wayne Jeffries do for a living? What’s his job?
5. How much did the Jeffries family used to spend on Christmas presents
A lot of people have thought for months that the United States is in a
recession. But the economy is not officially in a recession until a
private research organization says it is. Guess what? Last Monday the
National Bureau of Economic Research announced that the United States
has been in a recession for the past year.
Economists on the Business Cycle Dating Committee met by conference call
on Friday, November twenty-eighth. They decided that economic activity
reached a high point in December of two thousand seven. It peaked after
eight years of expansion.
The United States was last in a recession from March to November of two
thousand one. Some economists say the current recession could last into
two thousand ten.
The United States has the world's largest economy. Japan has the second
largest. It, too, is in a recession, officially announced on November
seventeenth. That was four days after Germany confirmed a recession in
its economy, the largest in Europe.
One way to measure an economy is by the value of goods and services
produced within a country -- its gross domestic product. The latest
estimate shows that America's G.D.P. fell by half a percent between July
and September. It also shrank at the end of last year.
But in between it grew. Recessions are commonly defined as at least six
months in a row of decrease in G.D.P. The committee does not use this
definition. Instead it uses a number of different reports to identify a
The economic crisis began with the collapse of property values, the
bursting of the housing bubble in the United States. Investments built
on high-risk mortgage loans became "toxic." No one wanted to trust banks
that owned them. Credit markets froze. Governments around the world have
had to intervene aggressively to support their financial systems.
Barack Obama has to wait until January twentieth to become president.
But he has already moved faster than most newly elected presidents to
name his economic team. He wants to get an early start on an economic
recovery plan big enough to contain the recession. His goal is to save
or create two and a half million jobs by January of two thousand eleven.
He wants Congress to have legislation ready for him to sign into law
soon after he takes office.
Last Tuesday President-elect Obama met with the nation's governors in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He said he wants their help in designing his
economic recovery plan.
State and local governments are collecting less tax money as a result of
falling property values, rising unemployment and other problems. Most of
the fifty states are required to balance their budgets. Most are now
facing deficits. So that means they have to cut services or raise taxes,
Last Monday, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a "fiscal emergency"
in California. He acted under a constitutional amendment passed by state
voters in two thousand four. It requires California to balance its
The declaration lets the governor call a special meeting of the
legislature to pass measures within forty-five days to deal with the
budget crisis. He wants a combination of spending cuts and tax increases
in the nation's most populous state.
Early estimates show that over the next eighteen months, California's
budget deficit could reach twenty-eight billion dollars. That is more
than double the current shortfall.
Governor Schwarzenegger warned that without quick action, California
could be out of money in February.
Motorists are happy at the drop in fuel prices. But economically
speaking, there is not much else to be happy about.
Stock prices climb one day, then fall the next. Investments and
retirement savings have shrunk. The economic downturn has millions of
people worried about keeping their jobs and their homes.
Americans have cut back on spending, and not just for things like travel
and entertainment, or new cars. Some are limiting medical and dental
care to only the services they need most. They may be saving money, but
also taking a risk.
One family trying to save money is the Jeffries of Carbondale, Colorado.
Sarah Jeffries and her husband, Wayne, have two children: a son, age
five, and a daughter, age two.
Wayne Jeffries is a manager for a construction company. Sarah says other
builders in the area are letting workers go because of weak demand. She
says her husband's company has projects through the middle of next year.
But no one knows what will happen after that.
Fear of losing a job is a big reason why people are looking to save
money. Sarah Jeffries says she buys things only when the price has been
reduced. She gets all the children’ s clothes from used clothing stores.
She says the family does not eat at restaurants as much as they used to.
Sarah also says she looks for money-saving coupons to use at the grocery
store because of high food prices. And she makes an extra effort not to
waste any food. One or two times a week the Jeffries have what they call
That is, the kids call it picnic night. To the parents, it provides a
way to use foods left over from meals earlier in the week. But Sarah
serves the leftovers on plates on a blanket on the floor, and says the
children love it.
Saving money is also a goal this holiday season at the Jeffries’ house.
Sarah says the family used to spend about one thousand five hundred
dollars on Christmas gifts and decorations each year. But this year, she
says they will spend between seven and eight hundred dollars.
One way they are cutting back is by reducing the number of gifts they
buy. Sarah and Wayne generally exchange Christmas gifts with each other
and with her parents and brother who live in the area. This year, the
adults have all decided not to buy each other gifts. Instead, they are
each putting fifty dollars toward a Nintendo Wii video-game system that
they plan to share.
Americans are better known for spending money than for saving it. But
now, some are trying to save by reducing the debt they owe on credit
cards. Others are trying to avoid taking on new debt. Still others have
had their credit limits reduced as a result of the financial crisis.
The Coinstar company reports that almost one-fourth of Americans say
they are paying for purchases with cash more often than they did a year
ago. Using cash, they say, helps them manage their money better and
reduce credit card debt.
Did you answer the questions? Listen and check.
1. Which country has the second largest economy? Japan
2. When does Barak Obama become president? January 20th
3. Who declared a "fiscal emergency" last Monday? Governor Arnold
4. What does Wayne Jeffries do for a living? What’s his job? He’s a
manager for a construction company
5. How much did the Jeffries family used to spend on Christmas presents
and decorations? about one thousand five hundred dollars
When we talk about the economy and finance, it’s common to use language
that describes trends. We talk about things rising and falling. Prices
going up and down etc. Listen and repeat the following expressions from
Listen: economic activity reached a high point
Repeat: a high point - reached a high point - economic activity -
economic activity reached a high point - economic activity reached a
Listen: It peaked after eight years (to peak means alcanzar su punto más
alto, llegar al máximo. The peak of a mountain is the cumbre or pico)
Repeat: eight years - after eight years - peaked after eight years - It
peaked after eight years - It peaked after eight years
Listen: It shrank at the end of last year (to shrink means to get
smaller. Encogerse for clothes o reducirse in this context. Shrink is an
irregular verb. Shrink – shrank - shrunk. Repeat: Shrink – shrank -
Repeat: last year - at the end of last year - It shrank at the end of
last year - It shrank at the end of last year
Listen: falling property values
Repeat: property values - falling property values - falling property
Listen: rising unemployment
Repeat: rising unemployment - rising unemployment
Listen: America's G.D.P. fell by half a percent
Repeat: half a percent – percent - half a - half a percent - fell by
half a percent - America's G.D.P. - America's G.D.P. - America's G.D.P.
fell by half a percent - America's G.D.P. fell by half a percent
Listen: in between it grew (grew is the past of grow, another irregular
verb. Grow – grew – grown. Repeat: Grow – grew – grown.
Repeat: it grew - in between it grew - in between it grew
Listen: the collapse of property values
Repeat: property values - the collapse of property values - the collapse
of property values – share prices - the collapse of share prices
Listen: Credit markets froze (to freeze = conelar)
Repeat: Credit markets froze - Credit markets froze – interest rates
froze – share prices froze
Listen: they have to cut services or raise taxes
Repeat: raise taxes - cut services or raise taxes - cut services or
raise taxes - they have to cut services or raise taxes - they have to
cut services or raise taxes
Listen: the drop in fuel prices.
Repeat: fuel prices - the drop in fuel prices - the drop in fuel prices.
Listen: Stock prices climb one day, then fall the next
Repeat: Stock prices climb one day, then fall the next - Stock prices
climb one day, then fall the next - Stock prices climb one day, then
fall the next
Listen: retirement savings have shrunk
Repeat: have shrunk - savings have shrunk - retirement savings have
shrunk - retirement savings have shrunk
Listen: Americans have cut back on spending
Repeat: spending - cut back on spending - Americans have cut back on
spending - Americans have cut back on spending
Listen: the price has been reduced
Repeat: reduced - has been reduced - has been reduced - the price has
been reduced - the price has been reduced
Listen: they are cutting back
Repeat: cutting back - they are cutting back - they are cutting back
This months podcast was taken from Voice of America at voanews.com