Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

Companies have less leeway in missteps on race

Jan 9, 2018

An H&M ad with a black boy in a hoodie that said “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” has been called out as racially insensitive and has led to calls of a boycott. It’s just the latest in a series of similar missteps from companies like Dove, Pepsi and Nivea that consumers are less willing to tolerate.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Driverless cars have a hard time in snow, too

Jan 9, 2018

Lots of driverless cars are growing up in California, a place known for its sunny weather. It's still hard for cars to see in snow and rain, and as they grow up, autonomous cars will need to function in all kinds of weather on the road. 

In just the last two years or so, automakers have started expanding the range of places where they're testing their vehicles, from sunny California to more snowy climates. 

It’s hard for humans to drive in bad weather, and it’s hard for self-driving cars to drive in it, too.  Many of the cars started their lives in sunny California and haven't experienced much of the world. So automakers are sending them out into more snowy climes. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks about it with Chris Gerdes, director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford.  

(Global edition) From the BBC World Service… Talks between North and South Korea for the first time in two years — could it usher in a new era in trade for the two countries? Then, Singapore is one of the world’s biggest oil-refining hubs and police there say they’ve arrested 17 men after a major fuel theft at Royal Dutch Shell’s biggest crude refinery. We’ll explain. Afterward, could President Trump’s State of the Union usher in an aggressive crackdown on trade? We explore why January is decision time for the U.S. in the global-trade picture. 

Trump speaks to farmers, highlighting taxes and trade

Jan 8, 2018

President Donald Trump promoted his administration’s accomplishments for rural America in a speech before the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention in Nashville, Tennesse on Monday.

“You embody the values of hard work, grit, self-reliance and sheer determination we need to — did you ever hear this expression? — make America great again,” Trump told the crowd, returning to his campaign slogan. Rural Americans voted overwhelmingly for Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

The blackout in Puerto Rico is hurting hospitals

Jan 8, 2018

Puerto Rico still hasn't recovered from Hurricane Maria. Along with the enormous human impact, the island's infrastructure is in disrepair. The Associated Press reports that over 40 percent of the island's power customers continue to live without electricity. Now the effects are being felt in the wider American economy. A big chunk of the IV bags hospitals use to administer fluids and drugs to patients are manufactured in Puerto Rico. That's lead to a shortage on the mainland just in time for flu season.

01/08/2018: The farm economy in the Trump era

Jan 8, 2018

President Donald Trump was in Nashville, Tennessee, today, giving the keynote address at the annual convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation. We're starting today's show with everything you need to know about the ag economy in 2018, and what farmers are looking for from the president. Then: It's been 110 days since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. More than 40 percent of the island is still without power, and that's starting to have ripple effects throughout the wider American economy. Plus, Los Angeles' new strategy for dealing with overdue library books.

At school, sixth-grader Jonatan Morales gets in trouble for possibly the best reason.

“I get in trouble for reading,” he said with a chuckle. “During class, I’m supposed to pay attention to the teacher, but I just have my head down, reading.”

Which books consume his time? “Good books, not bad books,” he said. Jonatan checks out those good books – lots of comics – from the East Los Angeles Library and sometimes holds on to them for a little too long.

This is what corporate boards actually do

Jan 8, 2018

If one of your New Year's resolutions was to learn more about how the economy works, you might consider asking: "What exactly do corporate boards do anyhow?" It's a subject that Jena McGregor, who covers leadership issues for the Washington Post, is well versed in. What follows is an edited transcription of her conversation with Kai Ryssdal.

The full interview is available on the Corner Office podcast

If you've ever considered leaving your job — maybe for a better opportunity, maybe just out of frustration — you're not alone. For Ask a Manager's Alison Green, it's a topic that comes up all the time ... how to leave your current job without burning any bridges.  We're looking for stories and questions about quitting. Have you left your position? Wanted to? Wondered what the best way would be? If you're the boss, what's it like when someone quits?

We're nearing the one-year mark of the Trump administration. With policies that are starkly different from the previous eight years under President Barack Obama, how are young people feeling about the future of the country?

What the loss of a mill means to a town

Jan 8, 2018

The papermaking past of Camas, Washington, is entrenched in the town’s DNA. Nowhere is that more apparent than when you walk into the high school auditorium, where the varsity basketball team is playing its season opener. This is the home of the Papermakers. The name alludes to the 134-year old paper mill that at its peak was the second largest in the world, employing nearly 3,000 people. The company Georgia-Pacific recently announced it will begin to shut down most of its production, a sign that the landmark on the Columbia River may soon disappear.

(Markets Edition) Following the recent release of the December jobs report, we'll talk to economist Diane Swonk about what's in store this year. Unemployment might drop even further and wages could (finally) start accelerating. Afterwards, we'll look at how two big Apple investors have called on the company to address the issue of "smartphone addiction." Finally, we'll discuss how big data might be able to improve cyclist safety.

Raizy Reider was standing in the middle of what used to be her garage, surrounded by racks and racks of clothes when her son popped his head in to announce her first client. The clock had just struck 2:30 pm. It was time for the pop-up holiday shopping event, which Reider organized, to begin.

“There is someone! I see legs!” Reider said as the garage door rattled open. “It’s going to be super crowded. I am so excited.”

Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to hold its confirmation hearing for Alex Azar to run the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Azar is widely expected to win Senate approval, despite some misgivings over the rise of drug prices while he served as a top executive at drugmaker Eli Lilly. However, it appears Azar will break from previous HHS Secretary Tom Price in one key way.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Congress faces another deadline to pass government funding on Jan. 19. That’s when the latest of three stop-gap funding measures expires. For years, Congress has relied on what are called continuing resolutions to prevent government shutdowns when the parties can’t agree on full appropriations bills, and fiscal year 2018 is no different.

Could big data unlock safer commutes for cyclists?

Jan 8, 2018

“Excuse us, there’s a lot of us,” said Rick Turnbill as he and a dozen other cyclists weave through cars and pedestrians in downtown San Antonio.

“Who else can ride around the Alamo on their weekly ride?” asked Turnbill.

While he loves this route, Turnbill said the city needs more bike infrastructure to protect cyclists from motorists. Cities across the country are struggling to keep roads safe for bikes as cycling becomes more and more popular for commuting and recreation.

(U.S. Edition) Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) last month to keep the government funded, but it'll come at a cost. On today's show, we'll look at how CRs can be a headache for some agencies. Afterwards, we'll discuss how Alex Azar — the next head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services —  differs from his predecessor, Tom Price. Plus: we talk to University of Chicago professor Cathy Cohen about the attitudes that millennials have toward the direction our country is heading in. (Hint: They're not exactly pleased.)

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … French President Emmanuel Macron kicks off a tour of China, with the goal of getting the nation to open up more on trade. Afterwards, an Iranian oil tanker burned in the East China Sea after colliding with a Chinese freight ship over the weekend. We’ll discuss whether that could give the U.S. new reasons to push for a fresh round of sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation. Then, we’ll tell you why there’s unrest in Sudan as hundreds protest the rising price of bread.  

The hottest electric car market in the world right now is China. Chinese consumers bought more than double the number of electric cars as the U.S. did in 2016. The Chinese government has said it wants 11 percent of all cars sold there to be electric by 2020. How could this change the global electric vehicle market? Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks about this with Marketplace's China correspondent, Jennifer Pak.

Nela Richardson of Redfin and Sheelah Kolhatkar of The New Yorker join us to talk about this week’s economic and business news. According to the last jobs report of 2017, the unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent, signaling that there has been steady economic growth and job creation. Amid the booming stock market however, wages have stagnated, growing only about 2 percent.

Lots of natural resources — diamonds, oil, iron ore — are buried in countries with histories of corruption. That includes places where bureaucrats have, say, demanded bribes in exchange for oil contracts. The mining and drilling sector is the most corrupt in the world, according to a study by the intergovernmental Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Why you'll be seeing so much black on the red carpet

Jan 5, 2018

There's going to a lot of black on display at the Golden Globes this weekend. Many celebrities are expected to wear black to the red carpet in solidarity with victims of sexual harassment and abuse. Many will also be passing on the money they would get for wearing designer jewelry and clothing to support the Time's Up initiative. The initiative was started by more than 300 prominent female actors, writers and entertainment executives, and includes a legal defense fund for victims of sexual misconduct.

Pity the tax bills of America’s multinationals

Jan 5, 2018

During the next few weeks we'll be hearing from some of the world's largest companies about big, one-time write-downs against their financial results. Many are expected to warn that their profits will be hurt by the huge bills they have to pay to the IRS. It's part of the new tax law. But those write-downs are but small setbacks on the way to big windfalls.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

The start of a new year brings with it resolutions to eat better, get more exercise and think more about personal well-being. Before you sign yourself up for a year of yoga, there are some health basics to keep in mind.  As part of Marketplace Weekend's look into the industry of wellness, Dr. Jehni Robinson from the the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine shares five things you need to know about keeping yourself fit and healthy as 2018 gets under way.

To hear Dr. Robinson's tips, click on the audio player above.


During the next few weeks you'll be hearing from from some of the world's largest companies about big, one-time write-downs against their financial results. Think multinationals like Microsoft, Alphabet and Johnson & Johnson. Many are expected to warn that their profits will be hurt by the huge bills they have to pay under the new tax law. But those write-downs are just small setbacks on the way to big windfalls. We'll explain. Then: everything you need to know about the rotisserie chicken boom (you're living in it) and this weekend's Golden Globes.

The unexpected challenges of living in a food desert

Jan 5, 2018

You've probably heard the term food desert to describe a neighborhood where residents have little or no access to fresh and healthy food. Food deserts hit low-income communities hard, leaving their residents with few options and sometimes long distances to travel in search of healthy food.

Your grocer really wants you to have chicken tonight

Jan 5, 2018

Grocery stores would really love it if you had chicken for dinner tonight. Specifically rotisserie chicken. The cooked birds have become a grocery store staple over the last 20 years, and stores are increasingly relying on them to stay in the black. Marketplace host Amy Scott spoke with Annie Gasparro of The Wall Street Journal about the value of rotisserie chickens and the ways stores entice shoppers to buy them.

Can dynamic pricing work for yoga studios?

Jan 5, 2018

If you're booking a flight or a hotel, even buying tickets to a sporting event, odds are you're dealing with dynamic pricing. Businesses use dynamic pricing to fill seats (or beds), offering discounts at key times during a booking process to incentivize a purchase.

When it comes to insurance money, mental health is not treated equal

Jan 5, 2018

Had trouble finding a therapist who takes insurance? You’re not alone.

How about inpatient therapy for bipolar disorder or PTSD? Or a clinic for substance use disorder? Using insurance at any of these places can be a challenge.