Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

A helpful guide to wonky tax terminology

Nov 16, 2017

We throw around a lot of numbers here at Marketplace, but also a lot of names, groups and terms. In our ongoing coverage of the GOP plan to overhaul the tax code, there’s a bunch of wonky terminology floating around. Here’s a short glossary of some names and terms to know, and we’ll be adding to it. Suggestions for additions welcome!


Lots of different groups have weighed in on the cost and impact of the various versions of the tax plans and bills. Here are some of the major players.

A $3.9 billion merger that would combine Tribune Media and Sinclair Broadcasting is waiting in the wings. Sinclair is already the nation’s biggest broadcaster with 193 television stations and if the rules change, they’ll add 42 more, including in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

(U.S. Edition) With the House GOP set to vote today on its plan for American taxes, we'll chat with someone who's been through a big tax overhaul before: Gene Steuerle, who heads the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. He joined us to talk about the basic principles most people can agree with when it comes to tax reform. Afterwards, we'll talk to Marketplace regular Allan Sloan about how Congress' tax plans might affect none other than President Donald Trump.


(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service ... There are some fresh warnings today about serious risks facing China's economy. A senior government official told a conference in Beijing the country's financial sector needs quick reform to avoid crisis. Afterwards, a new study says many of the effects of climate change are inevitable, even if the world radically cuts carbon dioxide emissions now. Then, we hear from a French winemaker about the hype and history of Beaujolais Nouveau Day.

Toronto is building a billion-dollar mini smart city

Nov 16, 2017

Not all tech is in Silicon Valley. Many cities around the world are trying to grow their own industries. Recently, the city of Toronto partnered with Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Alphabet, to build a billion-dollar mini smart city on its waterfront. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke with Mayor John Tory while he was in New York looking to increase tech investments. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Molly Wood: How local is the local tech economy doing?

11/16/2017: Smart cities are collecting your data

Nov 16, 2017

Smart-city technology is becoming more common, from Singapore to San Jose. The latest city to incorporate this technology into its infrastructure is Toronto. It recently partnered with Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs to redevelop a section of city waterfront. Lots of sensors will collect data on traffic, noise and temperature. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talked with Toronto Mayor John Tory about the city’s tech investments and how data collection will be regulated.

Last night Senate Republicans made some major changes to their mammoth tax bill, including some improvements for the middle class. But these credits and lower rates are temporary — they would sunset beginning in 2025, and tax cuts for corporations would be permanent. Plus, we talk about changes to the financial regulatory environment under the Trump administration, a potential merger between giants AT&T and Time Warner and play part two of our report on the health risks associated with fracking operations.

Songs of struggle, then and now

Nov 15, 2017

The musical bridges in this week's episode of Make Me Smart are examples of music that emerged from populist movements in the United States. "The Farmer is the Man" is a populist protest song from the late 19th century, when farmers protested low inflation and low crop prices. As professor Sheri Berman pointed out in the podcast, this led to the creation of the populist party.

The Cigna CEO on what happens when health care is politicized

Nov 15, 2017

Health insurance is a complicated business, but David Cordani, CEO of Cigna Health Insurance, says he's never seen a more complex time for the industry. Most of Cigna's business comes from employer-provided health insurance, but it also operates on a half-dozen health care exchanges in the United States, sells direct to seniors on Medicare Advantage and does a chunk of overseas business.

Head of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will step down

Nov 15, 2017

Richard Cordray announced today that he's leaving the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by the end of the month. President Donald Trump will get to appoint Cordray's successor, giving him yet another way to reshape U.S. financial regulation. We take a look at how the president is putting his stamp on these regulations. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Republican Orrin Hatch, unveiled the latest version of the Senate’s proposed tax overhaul last night. On the face of it, there’s a bit more in this bill for the middle class. The plan would expand the child tax credit and slightly lower some tax rates. But here’s the catch — those changes would be only temporary. Corporations, though, would get a permanent tax cut. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

David Cordani, CEO of Cigna Health Insurance, acknowledges it's a tumultuous time to be running a health insurance company. But "it's energizing because there's so much need and opportunity to drive change," he says. Most of Cigna's business is in the employer insurance market, but it does operate on a couple of state health care exchanges. Cordani talks to Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal about how our health care system needs to change, why he wants to keep Cigna in the exchanges and why he sees the company's attempts to help solve the opioid epidemic as a social responsibility. 

How the DOJ could approach the AT&T bid for Time Warner

Nov 15, 2017

Telecom giant AT&T’s $85 billion bid for Time Warner has, depending on who you ask, been held up by legitimate antitrust concerns, or by politics.  President Donald Trump has spoken out against the merger since his campaign days, and yesterday, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before the House Judiciary Committee, he ducked the question as to whether the White House has been in touch with the Department of Justice about the deal. But politics aside, there are potentially some legitimate antitrust issues at play here. 

It was a probably unintentionally revealing moment for White House economic adviser Gary Cohn.

Cohn was being interviewed at a Wall Street Journal CEO Conference yesterday. Obviously, the tax bill was top on the list of questions. At one point, WSJ Associate Editor John Bussey turned to the audience, most of whom were from the corner office, and asked them if a tax cut would make them invest more.

The link between fracking and health issues

Nov 15, 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency has allowed a series of chemicals with known health concerns to be used in oil and gas drilling known as fracking, according to documents obtained by Marketplace. 

In Pennsylvania, for instance, residents filed 9,000 complaints about drilling pollution and well problems from 2004 to 2016.

A huge breakthrough in modern fracking came in 1997, courtesy of a stubborn, tenacious Texan named George Mitchell. After 17 years of trial and error, he and his team stirred up a secret recipe of water, chemicals and sand, shot it down a well, and lots of natural gas came back up. Mitchell has since passed away but his colleague Kent Bowker remembers the moment they cracked the code.

The auction house Christie’s is putting the last Leonardo Da Vinci painting in private hands up for sale. It's an ethereal image of Jesus called "Salvator Mundi," translated as "Savior of the World." The 500-year-old painting, which had to be heavily restored, could sell tonight for more than $100 million.

But according to art critic and New York Times contributor Blake Gopnik, this particular painting may be a Leonardo "in theory" only.  

(Markets Edition) Senate Republicans are looking to repeal Obamacare's mandate that people have to sign up for health insurance. We'll look at how much money they could stand to save by slashing it, and whether healthier people will still buy insurance. Afterwards, we'll chat with Susan Schmidt, senior portfolio manager for Westwood Holdings Group, about why there's been a back-to-back decline in stocks. Then to cap off today's show, we'll discuss how Mexico has been coping after two devastating earthquakes in September.


Regional banks shed some oversight to shave costs

Nov 15, 2017

To boost profits, some banks are focusing on core banking businesses and escaping Fed oversight.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

(U.S. Edition) Republicans are looking for ways to pay for the tax cuts they're proposing. One of them: repealing the Obamacare mandate that individuals have to buy insurance. We'll do the math on how that would work. Afterwards, we'll discuss how medium-sized banks are downsizing to escape the Federal Reserve as one of their regulators, and then talk with art critic Blake Gopnik about a Leonardo da Vinci painting that could sell for more than $100 million tonight.

Where does Silicon Valley's bro culture start? VC

Nov 15, 2017

This week, venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, left that firm after allegations of inappropriate behavior and an internal investigation. The company said he left by mutual agreement; he has publicly denied any allegations against him and said on Twitter that he’ll pursue legal action against his accusers.

The two massive earthquakes that devastated Mexico in September left thousands of people homeless and drove up food costs in many of the affected areas. Even before the disaster, many Mexicans were already struggling with rising food and fuel costs. The Mexican peso hit an all-time low this year, in part because of trade threats from President Donald Trump. And now the earthquakes have made it even harder for low-income Mexicans to make ends meet.


Sean Crawford talks with the State Journal-Register Business Editor Tim Landis.

The Source Code: Ellen Pao

Nov 15, 2017

In 2012, venture capitalist Ellen Pao sued well-known firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers for gender discrimination. She lost. But the fallout inspired women in the tech industry to come forward with their own stories. Pao and Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke about the pervasive sexual harassment problem in venture capital, how that seeps into the very companies those firms fund and why it's going to take more than a few leaders stepping down to solve the problem. 

Listen to the whole unedited conversation here. 

11/15/2017: Ellen Pao and the bad apples of venture

Nov 15, 2017

This week, venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson of Draper Fisher Jurvetson left that firm following allegations of inappropriate behavior and an internal investigation. The company said he left by mutual agreement. Ellen Pao is a venture capitalist who sued another well-known firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, for gender discrimination in 2012. She lost the case, but it inspired other women to come forward. Marketplace Tech’s Molly Wood talked with Pao about how her public battle shined a light on venture capital’s culture.

Why discrimination in venture capital runs deep

Nov 15, 2017

This week, venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson left his own firm, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, amid allegations of inappropriate conduct that led to an internal investigation. The company said he left by mutual agreement.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … Ninety-three-year-old Robert Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years, but now South Africa's president has confirmed he is under house arrest. We chart the country's economic decline under Mugabe, and ask what his removal from power could mean for the country's future. Afterwards, figures out today from the U.N. show opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan is up 40 percent. We hear from Afghanistan about the thousands of young children addicted to the drug.

11/14/2017: Forget it Jake, it’s Washington

Nov 14, 2017

It’s a tax bill! It’s a healthcare bill! It’s a tax bill! It’s a healthcare bill? Just when we were beginning to fully grasp the Senate’s tax bill, Republicans throw in a repeal of the individual health care mandate. And, trade deficits: the president tweeted that he wants them erased — quickly — but why? Economists talk about ways to bring them down, and we have a report on the oil and gas industry, where one trade deficit could become a surplus. Plus, the bipartisan deal in the works to ease banking regulations, and the health risks of fracking.

The powerful hold of Silicon Valley's venture capital priesthood

Nov 14, 2017

Yesterday one of the most prominent venture capital firms in Silicon Valley had a name partner, Steve Jurvetson, resign amid a sexual harassment investigation. Silicon Valley doesn't exactly have a stellar reputation when it comes to gender issues, and it joins the list of industries under scrutiny in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke with Molly Wood, host of Marketplace Tech, about the importance of venture capital in the tech ecosystem and how that affects startups run by women.

The Senate tax bill has a health care throwback

Nov 14, 2017

Senate Republicans are working on a tax bill, and today Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul formally proposed an amendment that would get rid of the Affordable Care Act's individual health insurance mandate. Sarah Kliff is the senior policy correspondent at Vox and the host of the new podcast "The Impact." Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal called her up to do a little tax bill unpacking. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.