Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

We're about a decade into an oil and gas revolution known shorthand as fracking. It relies on shooting high-pressure water mixed with chemicals down into layers of rock to crack the stone and release oil and gas. Pretty much since the fracking boom began, people who live near these wells have worried about chemicals getting into their water and making them sick.

A bipartisan group of senators has agreed to take a big step in loosening up some of the bank regulations that were put in place after the 2008 financial crisis under the Dodd-Frank law. They're backing a deal that would exempt small and regional banks from regulations and testing meant to ensure that financial institutions can survive certain economic shocks.   Is this a good idea? And who are the winners and losers?

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One front where the U.S. is closing its trade deficit: oil and gas. The International Energy Agency’s new World Energy Outlook forecasts astounding growth in U.S. shale oil production, a growth rate that rivals that of Saudi Arabia at its fastest. The agency said the U.S. will eventually sell more oil than it buys, and while that’s big energy news, it’s not enough to fuel the entire economy.

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What would happen if we reduced trade deficits quickly?

Nov 14, 2017

Fresh from his trip to Asia, President Donald Trump today tweeted that things must change when it comes to trade. "The United States has to be treated fairly and in a reciprocal fashion. The massive trade deficits must go down quickly!" he wrote. Now, most economists disagree with the president on whether the current U.S. trade deficits are the problem he says they are. But if the president could reduce America's trade deficit quickly, what would happen?

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41: Do you hear the people sing?

Nov 14, 2017

As we continue to ask the question of whether free-market capitalism is working for enough people, we found ourselves with another question — what happens when it doesn't? Political and economic disruption follows. New leaders emerge. Movements emerge again, like populism. 

(Markets Edition) With the House and Senate continuing to work out the details of their tax plans, we'll take a look at what their proposed cuts would mean in a tight labor market like this.

Fifteen billion dollars a year. That’s about how much historically black colleges and universities contribute to the U.S. economy each year, according to a new study released today by the United Negro College Fund and conducted by the University of Georgia. As Marketplace’s Reema Khrais reports, it’s part of a bigger strategy to highlight the relevance of HBCUs today.

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At the United Nations climate talks in Germany, White House officials are talking about plans to make fossil fuels cleaner or more efficient, and to expand nuclear power, as approaches to reducing emissions. While the rest of the world may be more into discussing renewable energy, the focus of the current U.S. delegation would reduce carbon as well, as fossil fuels and nuclear are expected to remain a big part of the global energy mix.

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(U.S. Edition) A group of senators has announced that they're rolling back regulation on small and regional banks, along with credit unions. We'll go over some of the changes they plan to make, which include easing some Dodd-Frank requirements. Afterwards, we'll examine a new report that shows historically black colleges and universities are contributing $15 billion a year to the economy, and then we'll cap off today's show by looking at a nursing shortage that's forcing hospitals to close beds. One big reason: existing nurses aren't going into education.

International climate talks continue this week in Bonn, Germany. But the actual host nation for the United Nation annual conference is Fiji, and it's the first time an island nation facing dire impacts of climate change has held the symbolic leadership role.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service…Venezuela owes investors $150 billion and one credit agency now say the country is in selective default. Afterwards we hear how Greenpeace activists are taking the Norwegian government to court today to stop Arctic oil drilling.  Then we look at how investors are reacting to the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.

Nursing shortages are forcing hospitals to close beds, hire temporary nurses at great expense to fill the gap and possibly provide less than optimal care to patients. The problem is not just that people aren’t going into nursing, but also that existing nurses aren’t going into education.

In the tech world, the word “unicorn” refers to a startup company that investors value at more than $1 billion. Unicorns include companies like Uber, Airbnb and Pinterest. But a group of women founders said venture capitalists are too focused on the exponential growth that unicorns provide. They’re pushing back, and have come up with a new term, “zebras,” which they call companies that are both profitable and good for society. Marketplace’s Amy Scott talks with Mara Zepeda, one of the founders of the Zebra Movement.

With the rise of online banking, branches are looking for innovative ways to attract people. One bank in Berlin added a cafe and co-working space, as well as a kids’ corner and a space for gallery exhibitions. Plus, travel insurance is on the rise. And we have reports on dividend cuts at General Electric, the ongoing tax cuts saga and President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Another spin of the revolving door between industry and Washington

Nov 13, 2017

President Donald Trump has nominated Alex Azar as the next secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. If Azar is confirmed by the Senate, it’ll be a return trip for him. He was deputy secretary of HHS under the George W. Bush administration. Then he took a break, to work as a top executive at the drug maker Eli Lilly.

Would you eat lunch at the bank of the future?

Nov 13, 2017

Karsten Kammholz is taking a lunch break at a unique Deutsche Bank branch in Berlin.

“I don’t come here to do some banking, I just go here sometimes to eat my lunch,” he said. Kammholz confirms that, like in the United States, eating lunch at a bank branch is not normal in Germany. “One colleague said once, 'Come on, let’s go to the Deutsche Bank and eat something,'” he said. “I was looking at him like, 'OK, what?'”

Tariffs for solar power hardware move forward

Nov 13, 2017

The International Trade Commission is delivering its report to the White House on how much to tax imported solar panels and other solar power hardware. It’s the type of tariff President Donald Trump has requested, to help put “America First,” but it will have a major impact on the broader solar industry, from installation to power purchase agreements.

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General Electric announced today that all is maybe not well inside the multinational conglomerate empire. CEO John Flannery said the next couple years will be less profitable than previously thought and that, among other changes, he company will cut its annual dividend in half. That may sound scary if you're holding some GE stock, or if your investment strategy is based on getting reliable chunks of income from dividends, but there’s more to it.

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Nervous Americans are shelling out for travel insurance

Nov 13, 2017

Traditionally, Americans haven’t been big on buying travel insurance. When we travel within the United States, we may assume we’re covered for health needs, thanks to our health insurance, and maybe a credit card membership will take care of a canceled flight or lost bags.

But we may be changing our thinking. The US Travel Insurance Association said Americans spent almost $3 billion on insurance in 2016, up 19 percent from two years earlier.

With sexual harassment allegations dominating the headlines over the last few weeks, companies across the nation are revisiting their workplace training. In addition to reassuring employees that complaints of this nature will be taken seriously, some human resource offices have sent reminders about their sexual harassment policies and even requested that employees retake their training.

In her new book, "The Secret Lives of Color," Kassia St. Clair chronicles the origin stories of a rainbow of colors, dyes and shades. In this occasional series, we'll highlight some of the hues featured in her book and the unusual stories behind them. Today, she tells the story of mauve and how it began not as the dusky shade of purple we know now but as something much more vivid and bright. 

Trying to follow the competing GOP tax bills? We're confused, too.

Nov 13, 2017

As congressional Republicans keep grinding away on their tax bill, the question is: which tax bill? The full House is planning to vote on its bill this week. The Senate Finance Committee started work on its bill today, and President Donald Trump tweeted several suggestions, including a provision to repeal the Obamacare individual mandate. There's a lot going on, and keeping things straight is no easy task.

So Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal called Richard Rubin, who covers tax policy for the Wall Street Journal, to talk about the many forces tugging at the GOP tax plan.

A trio of proposed tariffs echo America's protectionist past

Nov 13, 2017

“I want tariffs. And I want someone to bring me some tariffs.”

That’s what President Donald Trump reportedly told top aides in a meeting this summer. It just so happens a trio of formal trade complaints by U.S. manufacturers may deliver exactly the sort of tariffs the president has been hankering for.

(Markets Edition) Both the House and Senate have released their proposed bills to overhaul America's tax system, and it turns out the markets are kind of disappointed in these plans. Julia Coronado, the founder of MacroPolicy Perspectives, stopped by to tell us why the response is lukewarm. Afterwards, we'll look at the possibility that the U.S. will impose tariffs on solar panels imported from other countries, and then discuss how France is using drones to catch dangerous drivers.

Businesses founded by women and people of color aren't just likely to have a diverse pool of employees — they might also be able to fill a gap in the market. Take Mayvenn, an e-commerce platform that allows hairstylists to sell hair extensions directly to their clients. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talked to its CEO, Diishan Imira, about the very lucrative market for hair products and how exactly his service works.

France is using drones to catch dangerous drivers

Nov 13, 2017

On a quiet road next to the busy Bordeaux beltway, a huddle of policemen watch as a drone climbs into the sky to fix its glass eye on the main road. On the ground, police captain Pascal Gensous scrutinizes the images it sends down to the monitor.

"The drone is very useful because we can see dangerous drivers on the roads without being seen by them," he said.

Police in the Bordeaux area of Southwest France are pioneering the use of drones to catch drivers violating traffic laws. They started in summer and have already issued hundreds of fines thanks to the spy in the sky.

(U.S. Edition) Carbon emissions are up 2 percent this year, heading to a record high, according to a report from the Global Carbon Project. We'll look at some of the reasons for this increase, and where the U.S. stands on climate change. Afterwards, we'll chat with Bill Gates about his efforts to help find a cure for Alzheimer's disease. The Microsoft founder and philanthropist is investing $50 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund.

Through his foundation, Bill Gates has focused on reducing global poverty, finding cures for infectious diseases, and promoting education and sustainable energy. Now Gates is getting into an area that's new for him: Alzheimer's disease. Today, the philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft announced he is investing $50 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund to accelerate research and progress in tackling the disease, which affects more than five million Americans. The investment is a personal one, not part of the foundation's work.

11/13/2017: Uber unlocks a massive investment

Nov 13, 2017

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service ... Uber is one step closer to an investment of as much as $10 billion. Then, new data unveiled today says world carbon emissions haven't peaked as hoped. We get the latest from UN climate talks in Bonn and find out how a U.S. delegation on "clean coal" is causing a stir at the event. Afterwards, we hear the Australian debate around immigration and the economy.

A startup that's capitalizing on the untapped hair extensions market

Nov 13, 2017

It's an obvious solution to tech's diversity problem: invest venture capital into businesses founded by women and people of color. They're not only likely to hire a more diverse pool of employees, but they may also start businesses that have been left out of the market.

Diishan Imira is the co-founder and CEO of Mayvenn, an e-commerce platform that allows hairstylists to sell hair extensions directly to their clients.

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