Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … The United States is flexing its financial muscle to isolate Myanmar’s military after more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled since August, saying they were targeted by military operations. Next, after a 10-year surge in elephant poaching in Africa, killing for ivory is on the decline….but the gentle giants aren’t out of harm’s way just yet. Then, we’ll take you to Delhi where despite making 1,500 movies each year, theater companies struggle to make money.

A bunch of creatives have already dreamed about what the colonization of Mars would look like. Science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson believes the way we colonize Mars will be similar to how we govern Antarctica. Marketplace Tech’s Molly Wood talks to Robinson, who wrote the Mars trilogy, about his detailed vision for life on the red planet.

The Source Code: Kim Stanley Robinson

Oct 24, 2017

It’s hard to go a week without hearing from a tech entrepreneur about the colonization of Mars, and how it might work. And when we think about the economics of exploring outer space, certain models already exist, namely, those in science fiction. One of those models comes from the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. He believes that we'll colonize it in a way that is similar to how Antarctica is governed — chiefly because he said there's nothing valuable there.  

The $2 billion question: Spend on fighting fires or preventing them?

Oct 24, 2017

This year's fires have been particularly devastating to communities across the U.S.  According to the National Interagency Fire Center, nearly 9 million acres have burned this year, with fires currently burning in California, Arizona, Minnesota and Oregon. These fires will be some of the costliest in recent memory to fight as well. Marketplace host Adriene Hill talks with Philip Higuera, professor of fire ecology at the University of Montana, about whether those resources are being spent effectively and what we can expect in the future.  

The economics of colonizing Mars

Oct 24, 2017

As we get closer to life on Mars, we have to start thinking about what its economy would look like and how that might affect the rest of us here on Earth. There are plenty of creatives who have already been doing lots of brainstorming about this. Science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson is one. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talked with him about what colonizing the red planet might look like and how — or even if — that would be profitable. An edited transcript of their conversation follows.

Many Texans who were flooded out after Hurricane Harvey are getting back on their feet. But dealing with bureaucracy and the tough logistics of a post-disaster landscape can be an arduous process. It's certainly been frustrating for one family in northeast Houston. 

It's been a busy few days on the tax-and-budget front in Washington, D.C. Late last week, the Senate passed a budget resolution for fiscal year 2018 that allows for $1.5 trillion in tax cuts over the next 10 years. Republican leaders in the House want to vote on it this week. It's a blueprint for spending, taxes and revenue that uses "budget reconciliation,” which will let Senate Republicans pass a tax bill without any Democrats. Republicans want to pass their tax cuts before the holiday recess in December to notch a legislative win and get ahead of the midterm elections.

10/23/2017: Harassers' perfectly legal hiding spot

Oct 23, 2017

We explore how nondisclosure and nondisparagement agreements isolate victims and protect the reputations of alleged harassers and their companies. Plus, updates on Congress' frantic race toward tax reform, why corn is still king (hint: ethanol lobbyists have been doing their jobs) and the backbone of modern finance: collateralized loan obligation. As it nears its end, we recap one of the most destructive fire seasons in recent history — 9 million acres burned nationwide and $2 billion was spent on firefighting alone.

As wine growers assess the damage from the Northern California wildfires, marijuana farms are also counting their losses. But unlike other businesses, they have little reprieve.

“We’ve lost millions of dollars of product for sure,” said Ned Fussell, CEO of CannaCraft. “And we have no insurance.”

Even though California will begin issuing licenses for commercial cannabis starting in January, farmers like Fussell do not qualify for crop insurance, because growing marijuana is still against federal law.

In the wake of the financial crisis, we all learned a lot of fear-inducing acronyms, like CDOs – collateralized debt obligations – which helped trigger the housing meltdown. So news that volumes of a similar sounding investment - CLO or collateralized loan obligations - had hit $247 billion in first nine months of this year, according to the Wall Street Journal, may not be welcome to many. But while these are similarly structured to their infamous counterparts, CLOs are said to be less risky.  

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

How "60 Minutes" stays relevant after 50 years

Oct 23, 2017

Even as the media landscape has shifted dramatically over the decades, "60 Minutes" is still commanding attention and breaking news on Sunday nights. As the broadcast enters its 50th season, the show's executive producer, Jeff Fager, has a new book looking at the history of the show.

10/23/2017: Hasbro goes Hollywood

Oct 23, 2017

(Markets Edition) On today's show, we're recapping the latest 401(k) controversy. Reports said Republicans were thinking about reducing the annual contributions you can make to this retirement account, but Trump has refuted this on Twitter. Afterwards, we'll discuss Tesla's plans to build a factory in China and then check out Hasbro's plans to start its own movie studio. Plus: We visit Oxford to talk with residents who say they're feeling overwhelmed by the number of tourists visiting the region.


Toy giant Hasbro has partnered with Hollywood companies to produce films based on its brands like Transformers, G.I. Joe and Battleship. Now it wants to take that business in-house, and finance the movies itself. With toy retailers in trouble, including the recent bankruptcy filing of Toys R Us, movie profits look like a more attractive bet for the toy company.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

How confidentiality agreements keep sexual harassment hidden

Oct 23, 2017

Last week staff at the Weinstein Company issued a statement in which they called for all employees of that company to be let out of agreements they’d signed that forced them to keep misconduct under wraps.  These confidentiality agreements have been a key reason why stories about sexual harassment aren’t publicized. Whether you sign them when you join a company or after you’ve settled a harassment case, the effect is the same: the details don’t get out.

It can pay to have a checking account. But a new survey out this morning from Bankrate shows low-income consumers end up paying more in monthly bank fees than other customers. The survey found that consumers with annual household incomes under $30,000 pay an average of $31 in monthly fees compared to $9 for people in higher income brackets. Bankrate analyst Amanda Dixon points out more than a third of all financial institutions offer free checking options, and urges customers to shop around. On average, checking account holders stay with the same bank for 16 years.

(U.S. Edition) Amid the U.S. Senate's approval of a $4 trillion budget plan, House Speaker Paul Ryan says the GOP will add another tax bracket to its tax plan for the highest-income earners (upping the number to four). We'll look at why we're seeing an extra bracket, and then discuss other changes Republicans are thinking about making to their tax plan, including a huge reduction in the amount of money you can put in your 401(k). Afterwards, we'll talk about a new study from Bankrate that shows low-income consumers end up paying more money in monthly bank fees than other customers.

Too many tourists amid Oxford's dreaming spires?

Oct 23, 2017

This summer, there have been clear signs of a backlash against mass tourism in some of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations. The residents of  Venice, Majorca and Barcelona have been protesting against the impact of ever-increasing visitor numbers. Now we can add the U.K. city of Oxford to the list. 

City councilor and former Lord Mayor of Oxford, Mary Clarkson has described the ancient university town as a “tourist hell.”

New York City-based makeup artist T. Cooper is doing makeup for model Mickala Mcfarlane, who has chocolate brown skin, and she’s using a sort of putty-knife tool and palette to mix colors.

"Women that are of Afro-Latino, African-American, Afro-Caribbean, when I get Indian and Middle Eastern women … you know, the brown girls. Usually have to mix when I get the brown girls," said Cooper, who works in fashion and entertainment.

(Global edition) From the BBC World Service … Japan’s prime minister secured his coalition party’s parliamentary super majority in a snap election this weekend, but even as investors cheer the victory, can Shinzo Abe win the ongoing fight against deflation and mounting debt? Afterwards, the air quality in London regularly breaks legal air pollution limits. Now the city’s mayor is taking matters into his own hands with a new charge to drivers of the most polluting diesel vehicles.  Then, we’ll take you to South Korea where an international air show displaying U.S.

How social media brought political propaganda into the 21st century

Oct 23, 2017

We keep hearing about the Russian propaganda efforts that played out on Facebook, Google and Twitter during the 2016 presidential campaign. Facebook told us this month that it suspended two accounts that may have had ties to Russian operatives. The account Blacktivist built up more followers than the Black Lives Matter account did. And another one called Secured Borders called for a crackdown on illegal immigration.

10/23/2017: Political propaganda: then vs. now

Oct 23, 2017

Facebook told us this month that it suspended two accounts that may have had ties to Russian operatives. The account “Blacktivist” paid attention to issues in the black community, and accrued more followers than the official Black Lives Matters account did. Another one named “Secured Borders” called for a crackdown on illegal immigration.

10/20/2017: Macroeconomics' big mystery

Oct 20, 2017

Seeking answers on why inflation won't do what everyone expects it to, Kai Ryssdal interviews a former Fed governor. In the world of health care, we investigate why rates of uninsured Americans are up for the first time since 2014 and what type of emergency President Donald Trump will declare the opioid epidemic. Plus, we'll run through this week's steps forward (and backward) in NAFTA renegotiations, tax reform and Trump's impending appointment of the next Fed chair.

Wait times for Social Security benefit appeals leave people in limbo

Oct 20, 2017

Americans seeking Social Security disability benefits face massive administrative backlogs and long wait times. Over 1 million people are currently waiting on a decision for a disability hearing request. The average processing time for an appeal is 602 days, almost two years.

Joyce Otteng filed for disability benefits in 2014. Her lawyers cited severe osteoarthritis, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression as reasons she couldn't work and deserved benefits.

How a Salvadoran theater is giving women a second chance at life

Oct 20, 2017

It’s a Thursday evening at a theater in El Salvador's capital, San Salvador. As the performers of La Cachada Teatro prepare to take the stage, the audience is told to keep an open mind — and an open heart. 

"Welcome to Applebee's."

That's the first thing I hear. The words ring out, even before the large glass door closes behind me. A young hostess in a black shirt, with an earpiece on, eagerly flashes me a smile.

I approach.

And, as I would soon learn, that small, initial interaction is what this Applebee's hopes will keep it alive.

10/20/2017: Money, mouths and method acting

Oct 20, 2017

Do you put your money where your mouth is? That's the question we're digging into this week. As businesses embrace activism and causes, does it actually help? Or is promoting a cause just a way for a company to boost its reputation? Plus, a look at the money around actual mouths — and how Netflix could partially be to blame for the decline of suburban restaurant chains like TGI Fridays and Applebee's. Also, we speak with a former Social Security Administration commissioner about the Americans stuck on waiting lists for hearings to receive disability benefits.

Ana Swanson of the New York Times and Sudeep Reddy of Politico join us to discuss the week’s business and economic news. The Senate approved a budget deal on Thursday that is said to pave the way for tax reform. We break down what it means and what the next step is. Plus, the Trump administration has plenty of political hurdles to jump to get what it wants, so what’s the latest on NAFTA negotiations? Lastly, we discuss what’s at stake if President Donald Trump decides to replace Janet Yellen as head of the Federal Reserve.  

It's no secret why we're talking about sexual harassment and workplace relationships. Things people once whispered to each other are now in the public eye. In Hollywood, sure, but also across industries and offices. So if you do file a report about harassment, what are your rights?

We talked to Alison Green from Ask a Manager to discuss the various boundaries in work relationships. Below is a summary of her answers.  

Gallup is out with a new survey today. It shows a steady increase in the number of uninsured adults in the U.S. That’s in spite of a fairly healthy economy, and falling unemployment rate. So what’s going on?  

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Next week, President Donald Trump has said he plans to officially declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 91 Americans die from an opioid overdose every day. States were given nearly $500 million in additional funding for opioid addiction treatment earlier this year – so what would this new emergency declaration do?

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.