Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

(U.S. Edition) Point72 Asset — the investment firm of billionaire Steven Cohen — is facing a lawsuit alleging sex discrimination. On today's show, we'll look at the claims and discuss how Wall Street banks have ways of keeping issues like these quiet. Afterwards, we'll look at the possibility that Unilever — one of the world's biggest advertising spenders — will pull its ads from sites like Google and Facebook, citing racism and sexism.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … After a marathon session, South Africa’s ruling ANC party decided to recall President Jacob Zuma, giving him 48 hours to respond or else launch a parliamentary vote of no confidence. Then, Iraqi officials estimate the country needs about $88 billion to rebuild after it was seized by the Islamic State in 2014. We’ll take you to a donor conference taking place in Kuwait and explain where the money is likely to come from and how it could be spent.

What do you do to unwind after a long, hard day at work? Some of us like to veg out on the couch, drink a glass of wine, or — in the case of some of the world's top business leaders — practice meditation. Specifically, transcendental meditation.

Transcendental meditation is a technique that involves closing your eyes, 20 minutes twice a day, so that you can "experience a field of calm deep within."

Why facial recognition software has trouble recognizing people of color

Feb 13, 2018

Facial recognition software has made huge advancements in accuracy, but it has a long way to go — specifically when it comes to recognizing people of color. Commercially available software can tell the gender of a person using a photograph. But according to researcher Joy Buolamwini, of the MIT Media Lab, that software is correct 99 percent of the time when it’s looking at a white male and less than half as accurate when looking at a darker-skinned female. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke with Buolamwini about her research and the human biases that creep into machine learning.

Facial recognition software has made huge advancements in accuracy, but it has a long way to go — specifically when it comes to recognizing people of color. Commercially available software can tell the gender of a person using a photograph. According to researcher Joy Buolamwini, of the MIT Media Lab, that software is correct 99 percent of the time when it’s looking at a white male but is less than half as accurate when looking at a darker-skinned female. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke with Buolamwini about her research and the human biases that creep into machine learning. 

The darkest building on the planet is at the Olympics

Feb 12, 2018

Among the skating rinks, the bobsled tracks and the ski slopes of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang stands something completely different — what's being called the darkest building on the planet. It's a pavilion sponsored by Hyundai painted with a high-tech new color that its maker says is the world's darkest man-made substance.  

On infrastructure, Donald Trump has a math problem

Feb 12, 2018

Today, the White House outlined a $1.5 trillion plan to deal with our nation’s infrastructure problems — everything from waterways to highways to commercial space infrastructure. But the federal government plans to provide just $200 billion of that $1.5 trillion. Where would the rest come from? Mostly from state and local governments, who already feel burdened by federal policy.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

With her MBA in hand, Jessica Saturley-Hall knew she wanted to start her own business, and she got hooked on the concept of compost. She knew that food scraps produce significantly more methane, a greenhouse gas, when tossed in a landfill, rather than breaking down on their own. So she wondered, what if you could somehow reward people for separating their food waste from their trash?

At first, she thought about the idea of somehow paying people for their compost. She ran a host of financial models, looked at it every which way, but couldn’t come up with a solution.

The fiscal year 2019 budget the White House released today isn't what you might call an "operative" piece of fiscal policy. Congress hammered out a two-year spending plan just last week, after all. But the budget is still worth a read for some of the assumptions the Trump administration's making — like a decade of economic growth at 3 percent or more. We'll start the show by unpacking that and the White House's new infrastructure plan, and the math issues therein.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Monday launched what he calls a “big week” for his infrastructure plan, which envisions $1.5 trillion in spending over a decade to rebuild roads and highways. The plan would fulfill a key campaign goal but rely heavily on state and local government budgets to become a reality.

The president was meeting with eight governors and several state and local officials at the White House later in the day to drum up support.

In just about every occupation, women earn less than men. For every dollar that a man makes, his female colleague earns about 80 cents, according  to the U.S. Department of Labor. On top of that, white, non-Hispanic and Asian women outearn Black and Hispanic women. In fact, the U.S. ranks at No. 49 in countries making the most progress toward equal pay.

(Markets Edition) President Trump is releasing his 2019 budget proposal today, which will call for $4 trillion in spending. We'll take a look at where the White House is allocating some of this money. Afterwards, we'll talk to economist Julia Coronado from MacroPolicy Perspectives about this week's upcoming temperature reading on inflation, and then discuss  China's social credit system, which punishes people who engage in behavior deemed "anti-social."

The budget plan passed in the wee hours of the night on Friday not only put a quick end to the second shutdown of 2018 but also temporarily breathed life into several expired tax deductions. Under the plan many of these tax breaks were only extended retroactively for 2017. As such, their future remains uncertain.

(U.S. Edition) Now that Congress has struck a budget deal and passed a tax bill, President Trump is moving on to infrastructure. We'll look at where the White House plans to get the money for its projects and why it'll be tough. Afterwards, we'll discuss the billions that this flu season could cost in lost productivity, and then talk to five people named Jerome Powell about their thoughts on the economy.

Flu season could cost employers billions of dollars

Feb 12, 2018

Since flu season began in October, roughly 30 of Dan Turner’s 140 employees have called in sick. His response to them?   

“Rest, get lots of fluids, and did you remember to get your flu shot?” said Turner, president of IT consulting firm, TCG. “Hopefully they did because we actually paid for them to get the flu shots.”

President Trump to outline infrastructure plan

Feb 12, 2018

Budget deal … done. Tax plan … done. Now to infrastructure reform. President Donald Trump is set to release his plan for how to update the nation’s roads, bridges and water systems today. If this all sounds familiar, it’s because the White House has been promising the plan was coming “soon” since Trump came to office. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … Australia’s biggest banks, among the world’s most profitable, are being accused of exploiting customers and corporate fraud. We’ll explain what a landmark inquiry is looking into. Then, the latest developments after a World War II-era bomb discovered in the River Thames brought London’s City Airport – frequented by European business travelers – to a standstill this morning. Afterward, how migration and the rise of the far right have become big issues for Italians heading to the polls for national elections next month.  

Bitcoin is a hassle ... but maybe not for long

Feb 12, 2018

Buying and selling with cryptocurrencies is hard. Every time you make a transaction, it's recorded in the blockchain, a digital ledger. That takes up a lot of resources, such as hard drive space. But a new technology called the Lightning Network could offer a way to speed up the process. It's a huge change in how cryptocurrencies could work. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke about it with Timothy Lee, a reporter at the tech news site Ars Technica. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Here's what five people named Jerome Powell think about the economy

Feb 12, 2018

Formal economic data suggest the U.S. economy is heating up to the point that policymakers might want to tap on the brakes a few times this year by raising interest rates.

Buying and selling things with cryptocurrencies is hard. Every time you make any transaction, it's recorded in the blockchain, a digital ledger. That takes up a ton of resources, such as hard drive space. But a new technology called the Lightning Network could offer a way to speed up the process. It's a huge change in how cryptocurrencies could work. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke about it with Timothy Lee, a reporter at the tech news site Ars Technica.   

How the video game industry outsources labor

Feb 9, 2018

As the price of making video games shoots up, companies have tightened their belts on one of their biggest costs: people. To cut overhead, companies have started using workers abroad for different art elements of a given game. Separate companies can be responsible for each part of a given game, from gun design to clothing to architecture to props.

All that advice about taking a deep breath, focusing on the long term and not obsessing about the balance in your retirement accounts as the markets take a wild ride sounds a lot better when you’re not headed toward retirement soon.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

We've all been there … someone takes your lunch from the work fridge, uses all the printer paper and doesn't replace it, talks on the phone so loudly that noise canceling headphones don't stand a chance. Even in the most peaceful of offices, there are bound to be co-workers who get on your last nerve. So, how do you cope before you lose your mind? Alison Green from Ask a Manager joins Marketplace Weekend every month to guide us through life at work.

 

Hey, wait. My hamburger just got more expensive.

Feb 9, 2018

The plunge in the stock market this week has been widely ascribed to fears that inflation is coming. But for large parts of the American economy — namely, business — inflation is already here. From car companies to restaurant groups, American companies are paying higher prices for raw materials and ingredients. The Labor Department’s Producer Price Index showed 2.6 percent inflation for producers — business — last year. When will those higher prices for business become higher prices for the rest of us?

As Amazon expands its logistics operations, it’s inching closer to developing a service that competes with FedEx and UPS. Shares of both package carriers fell today after news of Amazon’s new Shipping with Amazon service was reported in the Wall Street Journal. The company is piloting that service in Los Angeles, delivering some goods sold by third-party vendors on the e-commerce platform. But is it still a long way from replacing its delivery partners?

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Whether or not a song is a hit will soon depend more heavily on where people listen to it.

Billboard has announced  that plays on paid streaming platforms will get more weight in their Hot 100 ranking, than plays on free platforms. It’s a small change that holds immense impact for the future of pop music and record companies’ promotion strategies, as the music industry grapples with an increasingly digital future. 

There are 22 massive docks at the Port of Long Beach where ships pull up to load and unload cargo. At all but one of those docks, most of the work is still done by people. The Long Beach Container Terminal, which opened in April 2016, is an exception. Here, self-driving vehicles and automated cranes do most of the work. It requires two-thirds fewer workers than traditional terminals. And that frightens the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which controls all the jobs at the docks.

02/09/2018: We made it.

Feb 9, 2018

What a week, right? Huge market swings, a correction and, oh yeah, a baby government shutdown. Is this the new normal? That's what we're sorting through in the conversation that kicks off today's show. Now let's be clear: We're in a correction, there's no reason to get all jittery and do something crazy with your retirement savings. That said, it's understandable that people's calculations have changed in the decade since the financial crisis. Plus, revisiting "Dan and Dave," perhaps the most famous Olympic ad campaign of all time.

Dan and Dave, and the most famous Olympic ad campaign of all time

Feb 9, 2018

Twenty-five years and several Olympics ago, two decathletes became the focus of nationwide attention when they were featured in a dueling ad campaign for Reebok. The ads pitted Dan O'Brien and Dave Johnson, the first and second best decathletes in the country, against each other in the lead-up to the Olympic Summer Games in Barcelona. But $30 million later, things went awry. 

Why having a work spouse is good for you

Feb 9, 2018

In their quest for more engaged workers, companies spent years innovating the way we work. They have tried office improvements like standing desks and open-plan offices, free lunch once a week or bagel Fridays. Some companies even bring in puppies. And while those things might work for some people, what really seems to make people care about their job is having a friend at work — specifically, one who is a work spouse.

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