Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service… Uber’s China rival, Didi raised more than $4 billion in its latest funding round – which may give the ride-hailing company the cash injection it needs to more aggressively expand in overseas markets. Then, months after Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy protection in the U.S., its U.K. company is teetering on the brink of collapse. We’ll explain how a rescue plan seal of approval from the state-backed Pension Protection Fund could save stores and thousands of jobs.

Bringing artificial intelligence to the factory floor

Dec 21, 2017

Andrew Ng thinks a lot about getting machines ... to think for us.

He was the founder of the artificial intelligence research project Google Brain. And his latest company is called Landing.AI. The startup has partnered with the electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn, as well as other companies in Japan, Taiwan, and mainland China to bring more AI into the manufacturing space.

Andrew Ng was the founder of the artificial intelligence research project Google Brain., and his latest company is called Landing.AI. The startup has partnered with the electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn, as well as other companies in Japan, Taiwan and mainland China to bring more AI to the factory floor. He spoke about the future of AI in manufacturing with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood.  

12/20/17: Sexual harassment outside the spotlight

Dec 20, 2017

In an effort to report on the sexual harassment blue-collar workers, specifically women of color, face in the workplace, Susan Chira of the New York Times wrote about what went on at Ford plants in Chicago, even after the company said it had dealt with the problem. And today a major legal action gets underway against oil giants Shell and Itay’s Eni. The two are accused of involvement in a corruption scandal in Nigeria. Plus, you probably share your Netflix passwords with a few people, right? Well, the practice may be on the way out as companies aim to crack down on password sharing.

Cable TV providers have been struggling for a while now to hold onto customers as more and more of them gravitate toward the likes of Hulu and Netflix. To keep the industry growing, it needs all the subscribers it can get … which is why some companies are now looking to crack down on the sharing of logins and passwords — you know that whole phenomenon that allows millions to access content for free. The CEO of Charter Communications recently said he wants to lead an industry-wide effort to clamp down on the practice.  

While some industries may be going through a watershed moment of zero tolerance for sexual harassment, other workplaces may be much slower to change.

How The Home Depot became an e-commerce giant

Dec 20, 2017

In the age of Amazon, The Home Depot (yes, it's The Home Depot) has managed to become one of the largest e-commerce companies in the U.S.  CEO Craig Menear tells Kai Ryssdal how a company known as the go-to place for remodeling your bathroom is transitioning to digital, and how growth doesn't always mean opening new brick-and-mortar stores. We also hear how, when your company operates in more than 220 retail categories, you end up with a lot of competitors. 

In Italy a judge declared that two multinational oil giants — and executives — will go on trial for a major bribery case involving Nigeria. At its core, it alleges Shell and the Italian oil giant Eni paid more than a billion dollars for oil-drilling rights that were actually bribes.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Why the bond market is trading on the tax bill

Dec 20, 2017

Today, Republicans celebrated the passage of their tax bill. Some predicted that the stock market would soar on the news. But it’s the bond market that has had the most interesting reaction to the bill’s passage. Here’s why. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Inside an introductory physics class at the University of Maine at Machias, freshman Phillip Parent smiles as he tinkers with tiny metal weights.

Last year, Parent had his sights set on the engineering program at Maine's flagship university, almost 100 miles away in Orono. Parent got in, but with a catch: The school told him that its engineering program had already filled up.

The new tax plan could mean growth but if not, "then there's a problem"

Dec 20, 2017

In record time, Congress has passed the first major tax reform bill since 1986. So now what? In this Marketplace series, we talk to business owners, economists and families about how they see their futures under the new tax system, while answering listener questions along the way. You can find those stories and more of our tax coverage here.

A question for the tax plan: How will it help me?

Dec 20, 2017

In record time, Congress has passed the first major tax reform bill since 1986. So now what? In this Marketplace series, we talk to business owners, economists and families about how they see their futures under the new tax system, while answering listener questions along the way. You can find those stories and more of our tax coverage here.

The Home Depot may be an e-commerce model for the retail industry

Dec 20, 2017

The National Association of Realtors reported the number of existing home sales spiked last month, growing at the fastest rate in more than 10 years. Acknowledging that, yes, the NAR has a vested interest in this number being high, it's potentially good news for home improvement companies like The Home Depot.

It’s a done deal: Congress wraps up massive tax package

Dec 20, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Republicans delivered an epic overhaul of U.S. tax laws to President Donald Trump on Wednesday, bringing generous tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans while providing smaller cuts for middle- and low-income families.

In a re-vote due to a last-minute hiccup, the House passed the massive $1.5 trillion tax package that affects everyone’s taxes but is dominated by breaks for business and higher earners. Democrats call the legislation a boon to the rich that leaves middle-class and working Americans behind.

(Markets Edition) The passage of the GOP tax bill will be the biggest overhaul of the American tax system in three decades. So how are economists evaluating the package as a whole? Our senior economics contributor Chris Farrell fills us in. Afterwards, we'll chat with Susan Schmidt, senior portfolio manager at Westwood Holdings Group, about what the tax package will mean for capital expenditures and hiring. Plus: How Washington, D.C. is taking a sweeping step to lower the chances of inappropriate behavior in the workplace. 

 

As prominent men across media, entertainment and politics face a flood sexual harassment allegations, Washington, D.C., is committing to addressing the problem. No, not Congress, but the District of Columbia. Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser signed an order mandating that all 30,000 city employees complete sexual harassment training by February.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

The Republican $1.5 trillion tax bill has been delayed because of procedural challenges from the Democrats. But when it does finally go through, one of the big winners will be banks. That’s because most of their business is here in the U.S., so they often pay higher taxes than other industries. A corporate tax rate cut could bring a huge windfall.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Marketplace's David Brancaccio spoke to Kathleen Reardon, professor emerita at USC's Marshall School of Business, about sexual harassment and her work developing a spectrum of sexual misconduct at work

 

12/20/2017: Tackling sexism in the workplace

Dec 20, 2017

(U.S. Edition) After a procedural snafu, House Republicans will have to vote on the $1.5 trillion tax bill again. But Senate Republicans are already celebrating after their vote. On today's show, we'll discuss what this new tax system will mean for big banks. Afterwards, we'll look at how a business article from almost a quarter century ago can inform workplace culture.

12/20/17: Uber means transport, not tech, in Europe

Dec 20, 2017

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service… The gig economy is booming, but how will it be regulated? A big decision from a top European court on whether Uber is considered a tech or taxi company could have wider implications for other sharing start-ups. Then, Brazil’s finance minister will try to convince credit ratings firms not to downgrade his country’s debt rating. We’ll talk to an economist in Sao Paulo about what that means for the country’s economic future. Afterwards, how Swedish vacation time is getting shorter and shorter thanks to technological intervention. 

BRUSSELS (AP) — Ride-hailing service Uber suffered a new blow Wednesday as the European Union’s top court ruled that it should be regulated like a taxi company and not a technology service, a decision that could change the way it functions across many countries in the continent.

Uber, which is wrapping up a particularly punishing year, sought to play down the ruling Wednesday by the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice. The company insisted it will try to keep expanding in Europe anyway.

Should we think about sexual harassment as a spectrum?

Dec 20, 2017

The other day my wife's aunt sent us an article she uncovered in some old family files. It was a copy of an old Harvard Business Review piece about sexism at work. My mother-in-law, Diana, had sent it years ago to my wife's aunt and written "must read" at the top. The pages are full of yellow highlighter. Diana passed away nine years ago, and the way I read it, it is almost as if my mother-in-law is commenting on current events.

The FDA wants more medical devices in your pocket

Dec 20, 2017

For the first time, last month, the Food and Drug Administration approved an Apple Watch accessory to be used as a medical device in the United States. The device is the AliveCor KardiaBand EKG reader, which lets consumers get a heart rhythm reading from a wristband. 

Under its new commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, the Food and Drug Administration is collaborating more with companies that make consumer tech that could also become health tech.  Think of an Apple Watch that could also tell if your heart rate is dangerously high. So the FDA is working directly with companies like Apple, Fitbit and Samsung to streamline the process for approving health and medical software. Gottlieb is a physician, but he was also a venture capitalist before he took over the FDA in May. He spoke with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood about his plans for the agency.

The economy as seen from Trump's Twitter feed

Dec 19, 2017

The president of the United States is famously fond of his Twitter account. He’s tweeted more than 2,300 times since his inauguration, and hundreds of those tweets are about the economy.

So how's the lawyer/food blogger economy looking?

Dec 19, 2017

My Economy tells the story of the new economic normal through the eyes of people trying to make it, because we know the only numbers that really matter are the ones in your economy.

Today’s installment features Ben Passer, a lawyer and sometimes food blogger from St. Paul, Minnesota: 

The corporate tax cuts included in the Republican tax bill — including a statutory corporate tax rate reduction to 21 percent from 35 percent, lower rates for pass-through businesses, elimination of the corporate alternative minimum tax and a tax holiday for repatriated profits — would deliver a windfall to many American companies. Those that are publicly traded will likely pass much of their increased after-tax revenue on to shareholders in the form of dividend distributions and share buybacks. That could likely boost stock prices overall.

Melody Groundflyer lives in a rented box truck in the Silver Lake Neighborhood of Los Angeles.

“It’s kind of exciting,” she said. “I mean, I don’t plan on doing it forever, but for now it’s kind of exciting and fun.”

There’s a solar panel on the roof, she has a camping stove, a cooler, and a camping toilet. When it gets hot, she puts dry ice in a bucket with an upside down fan.

“I have a gym membership and I shower after I work out every day,” she said.

China’s announcement of its carbon market is long-awaited. It was promised for 2017, and the nation has delivered just under the wire. While it will only cover the power sector for now, it’s still set to be the largest carbon-pollution trading market in the world. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

After taxes, what’s next for the GOP?

Dec 19, 2017

Forget the tax overhaul. That's old news. Republicans are already looking ahead to their next goal: cutting Medicare, Medicaid and other programs like food stamps. They're calling it "entitlement reform."

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

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