Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

Why low unemployment might not lead to higher inflation

4 hours ago

Our ideas about the relationship between the unemployment rate and inflation may be all wrong. 

The latest jobs report revealed that the unemployment rate is at 4.1 percent for a fourth straight month — the lowest level since 2000. But that means that the economy may be heating up, which also means that the Federal Reserve may want to put the brakes on that by raising interest rates.

(Markets Edition) The group at the Federal Reserve that makes key decisions about interest rates is getting ready to release minutes from its latest meeting. We'll talk with Susan Schmidt — senior vice president at Westwood Holdings Group — about some of the factors that may influence them. Next, we'll look at how Texas funds its higher education system, and then discuss the harsh conditions that builders have to face in the winter.

Texas legislature taking on college costs

6 hours ago

A panel of Texas lawmakers meets Wednesday to take a look at how the state funds higher education each year. Legislatures across the country — who all face rising costs of higher ed and are trying to contain tuition hikes — will be watching for portable solutions that might work in other states.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

For people who work indoors, snow, ice, and subfreezing temperatures are often nothing more than an inconvenience. But for construction companies and their employees, harsh winter weather can be something more — a financial and physical hazard.

Cities across the country — from large urban areas like Chicago to smaller ones like Cleveland — are in the midst of a multiyear building boom, with developers racing to meet pent-up demand for housing and office space. And with billions of dollars in play and deadlines to meet, the work rarely stops even when the weather turns ice cold.

02/21/2018: Parkland, Florida students mobilize

8 hours ago

(U.S. Edition) A group of survivors from the Parkland, Florida mass shooting last week are lobbying for gun control laws, and they're getting a lot of financial support. We'll take a look at some of the steps they've taken to mobilize, along with some of the donors who are supporting the cause. Afterwards, we'll examine the criteria Texas uses to fund its colleges and universities, and then we'll talk to Marketplace regular Allan Sloan about why he thinks there was that big drop in markets earlier this month. 

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … The world’s biggest mining companies are seeing a boost to their bottom lines thanks to rising global commodity prices. We’ll tell you how the battery revolution is helping shape the overall market. Then, India is opening up its coal industry, allowing foreign companies to bid for coal mines in the country. But will more investment from some of the world’s biggest companies translate into better quality of life for residents there? Afterward, a conversation about whether growing use of artificial intelligence presents a looming danger. 

Good luck watching the Winter Games in 4K

9 hours ago

Watching the Winter Olympics on your phone is great and all, but if you’ve spent a pretty penny on an ultra-high-definition TV, an iPhone probably won’t cut it. How, then, does one watch the winter games in glorious 4K? Well, it’s complicated. NBC is delivering 4K video of some events the day after they air, but that video is difficult to access even with the right TV and set top box.

Watching the Olympics on your phone is great and all, but if you’ve spent a pretty penny on an ultra-high-definition TV, an iPhone probably won’t cut it. How, then, does one watch the winter games in glorious 4K? Well, it’s complicated. NBC is delivering 4K video of some events the day after they air, but that video is difficult to access even with the right TV and set-top box. Sam Machkovech wrote about this problem for Ars Technica. He spoke with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood about the Olympic 4K rigmarole.  

Should credit card companies tackle gun sales?

21 hours ago

Andrew Ross Sorkin had an interesting column in the New York Times yesterday — a business and economic take on how to make mass shootings less common. PayPal and Square, Sorkin pointed out, decided years ago not to let people use their services to buy guns. What about Mastercard and Visa, he wondered. Or the big banks that issue credit cards? Why can't — or won't — they do the same?

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

The turf war over taxes

21 hours ago

New polling shows that public sentiment is growing more favorable toward the recent tax law. Maybe chalk that up to the little extra money many people are seeing in their paychecks as a result of new tax brackets. But in Washington, D.C., there's still a fight going on about the new tax code — specifically, how to interpret it. It's between the IRS, a bureau of the Treasury Department, and the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Can Elon Musk deliver on Tesla's Model 3s?

23 hours ago

There are a handful of electric cars that are all somewhat in the same price range: the Chevy Bolt ($36k), the Nissan LEAF ($30k) and Tesla's Model 3, Elon Musk's flagship electric vehicle, priced at around $35,000. But in a classic tale of highly popular, very rare consumer goods, the Tesla Model 3 has got to be the most famous.

52: Rahm Remixed

23 hours ago

Rahm Emanuel likes to talk. The two-term mayor of Chicago and former White House chief of staff to President Barack Obama spoke with us at length about everything from populism to immigration. He told us that Chicago is a "welcoming" city, not a sanctuary city. He's got a special chair. And he's got some sharp words for "Mr. Moody's Doom and Gloom," otherwise known as Kai Ryssdal. Plus, Emanuel takes the longest pause ever to answer our Make Me Smart Question. 

Satisfied with Trump in rural Pennsylvania

Feb 20, 2018

President Trump pledged sweeping political and economic changes during the campaign. We have no idea if Trump can deliver on those promises, but we can explore what it’s going to take for him to try. It’s all in our series The Big Promise.

02/20/2018: Gaze into the future with us

Feb 20, 2018

It's not often we take you deep into the underbelly of the American bond market, but today's your lucky day. The federal government kicked off a big couple of days in the Treasury market this morning. It sold almost $180 billion worth of short-term bonds, and in all there will be just over a quarter trillion dollars in new government debt by the end of the week, four billion more than the government raised in the same offering last month. That's where we're starting today, with a glimpse into the economic future. Then: PayPal and Square banned gun sales from their services years ago.

Every morning, hundreds of uniformed workers file into the employee entrance of the “most magical place on Earth” — Walt Disney World, where they are responsible for keeping the resort’s lavishly themed rooms clean and guests happy. This was Wilna Destin’s routine at Disney before being hired by the hospitality workers' union, Unite Here Local 737. She stands in the employee parking lot entrance one morning, eyeing a group of housekeepers.

“Good morning, do you sign this already?” she points to a clipboard.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says his government will begin pre-selling a cryptocurrency today, called the "petro." It’s backed by the cash-strapped country’s oil reserves. Maduro is hoping to circumvent U.S.-led sanctions, attract investment and bring the country back from the brink of full-blown default. There’s significant skepticism about this strategy.

Click the audio player above for the full story.

02/20/2018: The black market for food carts

Feb 20, 2018

(Markets Edition) Bond yields on the 10-year Treasury note are at their highest level in four years. On today's show, we'll look at whether their rise will continue. Afterwards, we'll talk about Venezuela's decision to pre-sell a cryptocurrency known as the "petro," which is backed by the country's oil reserves. Plus: We dive into the illegal black market for food carts in New York City. The number of legal street food permits issued by the city has barely increased since the '80s. 

What are apps like Venmo doing with your money?

Feb 20, 2018

This is just one of the stories from our "I've Always Wondered" series, where we tackle all of your questions about the world of business, no matter how big or small. Ever wondered if recycling is worth it? Or how store brands stack up against name brands? What do you wonder?

The privately held owner of Safeway, Vons and other grocery brands is plunging deeper into the pharmacy business with a deal to buy Rite Aid, the nation's third-largest drugstore chain.

Albertsons Companies is offering either a share of its stock and $1.83 in cash or slightly more than a share for every 10 shares of Rite Aid. A deal value was not disclosed in a statement released Tuesday by the companies.

Shares of Rite Aid, which have shed more than half their value over the past year, jumped 40 cents, or 18.8 percent, in premarket trading after the deal was announced.

Selling food on the streets of New York City might seem like an easy way to make money, but it’s an almost impossible gig to land — legally. The number of legal street food vending permits issued in the city has barely increased since the 1980s.

02/20/2018: Splurging during Chinese New Year

Feb 20, 2018

(U.S. Edition) The grocery chain Albertsons is planning to buy part of Rite Aid in a $24 billion deal. On today's show, we'll look at the tough supermarket landscape that big chains have to face these days. Afterwards, we'll discuss Walmart's venture into new apparel brands so that it can compete with Amazon, and then find out what some people in China are planning to splurge on this Chinese New Year.

For many, Chinese New Year is a time to splurge

Feb 20, 2018

Chinese people are known as big savers, but the lunar new year, also known as the spring festival, is the one time of year when even farmers must splurge. Think of it as a combination of Thanksgiving and Christmas. The festival began on Friday and ends on Wednesday. Last year, Chinese people spent $122 billion during the weeklong holiday, and they’re expected to spend even more this year. What are Chinese people buying? Marketplace caught up with people at Shanghai’s Hongqiao Railway Station before they rushed back to their hometowns.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … The World Bank says pensions will consume Brazil’s entire federal budget by 2030 …but the country today shelved a vote on reform. What does it mean for a nation recovering from financial crisis, and will October elections bring light at the end of the tunnel? Then, a new cryptocurrency launches today, this time backed by Venezuelan oil. We’ll explain who’s investing — and who’s not. Afterward, to Spain where a key business witness will give evidence today in ongoing Spanish corruption investigations.

In the tech world, we talk a lot about the applications for virtual reality, when you’re immersed in a totally different world.  But there may be more business applications for AUGMENTED  reality, where you add something to the scene around you.  Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks about it with Tim Merel, managing director of the tech consulting firm Digi-Capital.

IRS launches online tax calculator for 2018

Feb 19, 2018

The Internal Revenue Service is trying to help tax filers prepare for next year. In the light of the recent tax overhaul, it’s launching its new withholding calculator that will help people check if they are having too much or too little held back from their paychecks for taxes.

 Click the audio player above for the full story. 

Black Panther soundtrack soars

Feb 19, 2018

A typical movie soundtrack captures the essence of what people see on screen. It propels moviegoers to become music consumers eager to feel the moments of a film after its release. But "Black Panther: The Album" is not typical.

Can Facebook regulate itself?

Feb 19, 2018

When Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian companies and people on Friday for criminal interference in U.S. elections, the indictment singled out Facebook as a particularly powerful way to manipulate U.S. citizens with fake pages, posts and highly targeted ad campaigns. Facebook says it's hiring more people to address security and that it will do things like send postcards to verify that potential ad buyers live in the United States.

02/19/18: Life after a mass shooting

Feb 19, 2018

A couple of weeks ago on this show, we told you about some of the funding and resources available for mass shooting victims to help with their short-term recovery. Today, we consider what life and work is like five, or even ten years after surviving a high-profile shooting. Two survivors of a mass shooting describe long term recovery. Also on today's show, we continue with our project called "Divided Decade," as we hear stories of how people's lives changed since the financial crisis ten years ago.

(Markets Edition) The U.S. Commerce Department has outlined a series of steep tariffs on steel and aluminum from some foreign countries, and China is not happy. We'll look at why the Trump administration is pushing for these tariffs and how China might retaliate if they go into effect. Plus: With the markets' wild swings a couple weeks ago, we look at the attitudes young investors have toward stocks. 

Even dogs need to have experience to get a job

Feb 19, 2018

After a year and a half of basic coursework, six months of professional training, and a final exam, Patch — a Labrador-golden retriever mix — was ready to become an assistance dog for Annette Ramirez.

Ramirez, a 53-year-old resident from Manhattan Beach, California, is a quadruple amputee who lost her limbs due to a medical mishap that occurred when she was undergoing a hysterectomy back in 2012.

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