Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

63: Take your data and go home

May 15, 2018

What would a Hippocratic oath look like for the people we trust with our data? That's one of the questions NYU professor Laura Norén asks in her course "Ethics for Data Science." Consumers should be pushing for more empowered, informed consent, she says, because right now they have two choices: blindly agree to give up your data to [insert social media or digital platform here] or quit altogether. We'll start there, and somehow end up at trans-humanism — it's sci-fi stuff, but it's where the privacy conversation wants to go, if you let it.

Just about everyone agrees drugs are too expensive

May 15, 2018

So what are they actually doing about it? Today on the show, we'll do the numbers. The 100 most-common brand-name pharmaceuticals got 232 percent more expensive in the past decade. State lawmakers have filed more than 150 bills this year to rein in costs, something 80 percent of people surveyed by Kaiser agree we need. Some drug companies are starting to feel the squeeze from their own shareholders, too. We'll talk about it. But first: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has more than doubled workplace investigations over last year. Audits and arrests are up, too.

A story about steel ... and also, pizza

May 15, 2018

Andris Lagsdin is the inventor of the Baking Steel and the author of "Baking with Steel: The Revolutionary New Approach to Perfect Pizza, Bread, and More." He studied culinary arts, worked in restaurants and eventually came home to work in his family's steel business. Then he figured out how to combine the two. 

The U.S. bond market swoons

May 15, 2018

(Markets Edition) Interest rates moved sharply higher this morning (Tuesday, May 15, 2018) after a solid retail sales report. What does this mean for consumers? Then, we’ll hear a Michigan manufacturing CEO’s thoughts on tariffs ahead of the office of the United States Trade Representative's hearing on the topic. And, emergency rooms are often the first places people end up during a mental health crisis, but hospital officials say many ERs aren’t equipped to help.

 

Sears explores what assets it might sell

May 15, 2018

Sears has formed a special committee to explore selling off more parts of the struggling business. What assets still have value? The Kenmore appliance brand, for one, and Sears Home Services, a home improvement business. But the company has already sold off many assets, so its value is dwindling. One interesting wrinkle: A hedge fund operated by Sears CEO Eddie Lampert is a potential buyer. The company’s board of directors has formed an independent committee to see if there are any other interested buyers out there.

Emergency rooms are often the first places people end up during a mental health crisis. But many ERs aren’t really equipped to help. After they check in, patients can end up staying in emergency rooms for days just waiting for in-patient psychiatric treatment elsewhere. As emergency rooms see a growing number of behavioral health patients, hospital officials say resources are strained.

A version of this story ran on WABE. 

With all the talk of immigration reform, one of the president’s immigration proposals has gotten less attention lately: Trump and many republicans want to eliminate a law that lets naturalized U.S. citizens sponsor their parents and siblings for permanent residency in the United States. The White House says the rule doesn’t make sense for a “modern economy.” But how exactly does family-based immigration affect the economy? 

(U.S. Edition) For three days starting today (Tuesday, May 15, 2018), the office of the United States Trade Representative will hear sharply diverging views from American businesses about $50 billion worth of China tariffs. We hear from the CEO of a Michigan manufacturer, Lucerne International, who says tariffs could cripple the company's supply chain. Then, we check in on Germany's economic growth over the last three months (it's not what analysts expected).

Reddit's CTO on shedding its "dystopian Craigslist" vibe

May 15, 2018

Reddit is rolling out its biggest redesign in a decade. The site has a reputation for being very text heavy and sometimes hosting conversations that can get kind of rough. The redesign comes at the heels of a long effort to clean up those conversations and attract a broader audience. The site’s traffic has more than doubled in the past couple of years, but some loyal users aren’t fans of the redesign.

Will Reddit's new makeover make it more accessible?

May 15, 2018

Reddit is rolling out its biggest redesign in a decade. The site has a reputation for being very text heavy and sometimes hosting conversations that can get kind of rough. The redesign comes at the heels of a long effort to clean up those conversations and attract a broader audience. The site’s traffic has more than doubled in the past couple of years, but some loyal users aren’t fans of the redesign. For our podcast for Tuesday, May 15, 2018, Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke with Chris Slowe, Reddit’s chief technical officer and founding engineer, about the redesign. 

Erdogan sends Turkish lira to fresh low

May 15, 2018

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service for Tuesday, May 15, 2018: Turkey’s ailing lira has hit a fresh low against the U.S. dollar. President Erdogan issued a direct challenge to the central bank’s independence. But why does the country’s premier believe higher interest rates are “the mother of all evil?" Then, European ministers are meeting to try to salvage the Iranian nuclear deal. We take a look at the economic and political tools the EU can deploy to circumvent US secondary sanctions.

Earlier today, the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that acted as a ban on commercial sports betting in all but four states. To be clear, this ruling doesn’t all of a sudden make it legal  to get some action on tonight’s Warriors-Rockets game, but it could pave the way for legalized gambling in a number of states. That could eventually yield a revenue bump.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Every weekday afternoon, about 30 members of the Opioid Shortage Working Group at Mass General Hospital crowd into a nondescript conference room. They come from every department — from the hospital’s head office, to nursing, to surgery, to anesthesiology — and every day they're ready to hear bad news. But, at a recent meeting, pharmacy director John Marshall also had a little good news to share.

Trump’s ZTE turnabout

May 14, 2018

The Chinese electronics manufacturer ZTE Corp. was on the brink of collapse after the U.S. government punished it last month for breaking American sanctions against Iran and North Korea. But in a sudden Twitter twist President Donald Trump says he's now working to save ZTE. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Welcome to ~*~the future~*~

May 14, 2018

It's not all it's cracked up to be. A Tesla Model S rear-ended a firetruck at a red light last night. The car was doing 60, and witnesses say it didn't break. The driver broke his ankle, and now investigators are wondering if the car's autopilot system was active at the time. The self-driving mode has been involved in two fatal crashes, and there are a lot of questions about whether drivers can be expected to take over when self-driving tech is essentially still in the testing phase.

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump changed his stance toward Chinese smartphone company, ZTE Corp. Last week, the telecommunications company halted all major operations following an order by the U.S. Department of Commerce banning business between ZTE and American companies. U.S.

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down a federal law that bars gambling on football, basketball, baseball and other sports in most states, giving states the go-ahead to legalize betting on sports.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. The 1992 law barred state-authorized sports gambling with some exceptions. It made Nevada the only state where a person could wager on the results of a single game.

05/14/2018: Trump's dramatic U-turn on trade

May 14, 2018

(Markets Edition) Trump has plans to ease up on his seven-year ban of ZTE, a Chinese telecommunications company. We'll look at how international trade experts are reacting to the news. Afterwards, we'll discuss a study that shows a majority of people don't know the interest rates on their credit cards, and then explore why there are lower airfares to destinations across the Atlantic.

The 2020 census count is two years away but local officials are already planning how to get everyone counted. Census data is used for determining congressional seats and for distributing billions of dollars in federal funds annually. For many reasons, urban communities and communities of color can be harder to count. And for Latinos, a new issue could further depress turnout: a proposed question about immigration status. 

05/14/2018: Making sure everyone gets counted

May 14, 2018

(U.S. Edition) President Trump has tweeted that he wants to reverse a U.S. ban on products made by ZTE, a Chinese-based telecommunications equipment maker. We'll discuss whether this tweet signals a softening of trade relations with China. Afterwards, we'll discuss how Southern California is trying to improve Census counts, which can overlook people of color and people in urban areas. 

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … After two months of protracted negotiations, two anti-establishment parties in Italy are close to forming a government. With both promising to rip-up reforms and splash the cash, will their policies hurt or hinder the eurozone’s third largest economy? Professor Enrico Colombatto at Turin University analyzes what's next. Then, oil giants Royal Dutch Shell and Eni are in court today over corruption charges relating to a $1.1 billion Nigerian oil deal. Barnaby Pace at Global Witness has been following the case.

The pros and cons of the Rooney Rule

May 14, 2018

Update (4:45 p.m. EDT):  Today, Amazon's board adopted a new policy regarding board member nominations.  The new policy requires, according to a spokesperson, that "the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee include a slate of diverse candidates, including women and minorities, for all director openings. This policy formalizes a practice already in place.”  You can read the full text of the policy here.

Later this month, Amazon shareholders will vote on whether the company should implement the Rooney Rule when appointing new members to its board of directors. The Rooney Rule stems from an NFL policy that requires at least one minority candidate be interviewed for certain management positions. However, Amazon’s current board of directors is recommending that shareholders vote against the proposal, saying it wouldn’t be an effective use of resources.

The swamp and the draining thereof

May 11, 2018

We wrap up the week’s news with Catherine Rampell from the Washington Post and Don Lee for the Los Angeles Times. This week, news of Michael Cohen consulting for AT&T broke, so we discuss the ethics involved. And in trade, House Speaker Paul Ryan set May 17 as a deadline to submit a NAFTA deal to Congress, so we talk about what may come. Later, we discuss the labor market and JOLTS — the Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey — and what it means for unemployment in the nation.

Many sticking points and little time in NAFTA negotiations

May 11, 2018

May 17. Next Thursday. That's the deadline House Speaker Paul Ryan has set for negotiators to notify Congress that they've reached an agreement on a revised version of the North American Free Trade Agreement if they want to get it through Congress by the end of the year. A May deadline for a December vote may seem aggressive, but the timeline goes something like this: The president has to notify Congress 90 days before he signs a trade agreement, and the full text of the agreement has to be made public a month later. There's other time built in for review and analysis.

On a rainy day in February, the Boca Chica area is fogged in. Terry Heaton stands on a raised porch in his backyard. He squints into the light rain.  

“You can’t see it now, but we have a beautiful view of Port Isabel. We see deer up here, a lot of coyotes. I mean, yeah, it’s, like, right there, like, boom,” he said, pointing toward the coast.

Heaton lives in Boca Chica Village, an isolated 45-minute drive from the border city of Brownsville.

President Donald Trump on Friday took the wraps off his long-awaited plan for cutting drug prices. In a speech, the president announced measures to increase competition and pricing transparency as ways to drive down costs, which have been spiraling. He did not put forward any plan to use the huge buying power of the federal government's Medicare program to directly negotiate lower prices for seniors. That's something candidate Trump pledged to do. Americans are seeking relief from ever-rising prescription costs. Will Trump's plan accomplish that?

Navigating technology in the public sector

May 11, 2018

Millions of Americans interact with the government and its programs through technology. Recently, Propel, a startup that lets Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients track their spending on their phones has come into conflict with Conduent, the private government contractor hired to administer web services related to the program. How are emerging digital technologies and capitalistic competition affecting the way Americans utilize these services?

Looking for a home away from home leads many people to Airbnb. Yet new research in San Francisco found that Asian and Hispanic hosts tend to charge less for their rentals than their white counterparts. For more on this, Lizzie O'Leary spoke with study author Venoo Kakar, an assistant professor of economics at San Francisco State University. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

5 things you need to know about sports betting

May 11, 2018

This spring, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide if states can legalize sports betting. The court heard arguments late last year on a case called Christie v. NCAA — named for the then-governor of New Jersey — that could invalidate the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a 1992 law that bans sports betting in most states (Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana are exempt). New Jersey is arguing that the federal government is overstepping its bounds and that states should be allowed to make their own sports betting laws.

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