Financial 411: Giving to Japan

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The on-going nuclear crisis in Japan continued to push markets down in the U.S. Stocks opened lower and then dropped even further. At the end of the day, the Dow Jones lost 242 points to close at 11,613. 

It wasn't just Japan, though, that worried Wall Street. Wholesale prices jumped in February by the most in nearly two years. Higher energy costs and the steepest rise in food prices in 36 years were to blame. Vegetable prices soared nearly 50 percent. Meat and dairy prices were up as well. As for energy, prices rose for the fifth month in a row.

New Home Construction Declines Nationwide

Home construction dropped last month to its lowest level in nearly two years. Builders broke ground on 23 percent fewer homes in February than in January. They also slashed requests for permits to start new projects to a five-decade low. From coast to coast, the entire country saw a decline in home construction. The Northeast saw a nearly 40 percent drop last month.  
A Look at Donations to Japan

As Japan continues its clean up efforts after last week's disaster, American individuals and corporations have donated more than $47 million to relief efforts, according to the Chronicle on Philanthropy, which also reports that the rate of donations is actually slower compared to the responses after natural disasters like the earthquake in Haiti and Hurricane Katrina.

Several of the big recipients include the American Red Cross, with $34 million, and Save the Children, with $3.7 million.

But there's a rather contrarian idea being floated by some commentators about giving to the relief efforts. WNYC's Business Editor Charlie Herman talks with Slate's Annie Lowrey, who recently wrote a story entitled, "Japan Doesn't Need Your Money."