Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

Toys R Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year, with more than $5 billion of debt on its books and plans to reorganize.

Two months later, the retailer did something that might seem a little strange. It asked a judge for permission to pay its executives $32 million in bonuses.

Personal bankruptcy is not a rich people problem

Apr 10, 2018

When we think of bankruptcy, we often think of celebrities who have gone broke, companies that failed and crooks who are trying to cheat the system. But as it turns out, bankruptcy is most common among middle-class Americans.

04/10/2018: How to make technology work for you

Apr 10, 2018

(Markets Edition) With Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg set to testify before Congress in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, we'll look at some of the steps Facebook has taken to increase transparency. Afterwards, we'll talk to Penny Pritzker with the Council on Foreign Relations, also secretary of commerce from 2013 to 2017, about whether the U.S. has failed people whose jobs have been replaced by automation.

How to make technology work for you, not against you

Apr 10, 2018

Technological innovation is very much a double-edged sword. It creates jobs and it destroys others. It raises wages and depresses them. It can make our lives easier, while also disrupting the lives of some workers. 

Each month, the National Federation of Independent Business asks its members questions about how easy it is to find and hire workers. And the latest responses indicate small business hiring is up, but that it’s also harder than ever for those employers to find people to fill the jobs they have available. So what options do small business owners have? Are they raising wages? And can they afford to raise prices on customers if they pay workers more?

(U.S. Edition) China has filed a World Trade Organization challenge over the Trump administration's steel and aluminium tariffs, essentially taking the U.S. to trade court. On the heels of this news, we'll discuss how the idea of "economic security" has become "national security" for Trump. Afterwards, we'll look at how small businesses are faring at finding new workers, and then we'll talk about how expectations in the workplace may play a role in the gender pay gap. 

How economic security is national security for Trump

Apr 10, 2018

When the Trump administration decided protecting the U.S. steel and aluminum industries from foreign competition was a matter of national security, its argument for new tariffs wasn't simply that the country needs those metals to make weapons or build critical infrastructure.

Where do NAFTA renegotiations stand?

Apr 10, 2018

With the potential for a trade war with China dominating headlines over the last few weeks, the news of another major trade negotiation can get lost in the news — NAFTA. Even before taking office, President Donald Trump made his intentions to renegotiate NAFTA very clear.

The Data Economy: Introduction

Apr 10, 2018

In the last few weeks, as revelations continue to churn out about Facebook’s data-sharing practices and how data analytics companies like Cambridge Analytics use targeted messaging to manipulate not just online shoppers, but voters, a lot of frogs have looked around all at once and noticed they’re in a pot of water that’s at a very healthy boil.

The Data Economy: how we gave up on privacy

Apr 10, 2018

In Europe and other countries, privacy is considered a human right. It’s written into some 150 constitutions all over the world, according to the Constitute Project.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … Just hours after Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to open his country’s auto and banking industries and reduce car-import tariffs, China took the first step in making a WTO complaint about U.S. steel and aluminium tariffs. Then, Russia’s currency is taking another plunge today after a sharp drop Monday. We’ll explain what’s spooked markets and what it means for the average citizen there. Afterward, a look at why Uber isn’t being welcomed with such open arms in Barcelona. 

04/10/2018: The deal we made with our data

Apr 10, 2018

Mark Zuckerberg will testify in front of Congress today. He’s expected to address the way Facebook protects information about its users. But the current Facebook scandal is really a story about data, and a data economy that’s out of control. Over the course of this week, Marketplace Tech will look at different aspects of the data economy to understand how we got here. Today’s focus: privacy. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke with Mark Surman, executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, about how sharing personal information in exchange for free services came to be.

What happens when a hospital sells its debt?

Apr 9, 2018

For the last few months Chicago residents Essie and Barbara Richardson have been dealing with an unwelcome addition to their daily routine: calls from a collection agency.

"They called at 1 o'clock [and now it's] 5 o'clock,” Barbara said after pausing an interview to answer the phone. “So they call throughout the day.”

Those calls are over unpaid medical bills 77-year-old Essie Richardson owes for a recent hospital stay stemming from problems related to her arthritis.

Turning the financial crisis into an opportunity

Apr 9, 2018

The 2008 financial crisis put many people out of a job, but some took it as an opportunity to redraw their career path.

Early this morning, at about 6 a.m. Eastern, the president did what he often does and tweeted.  It was a complaint about Chinese tariffs. China, he claimed, imposed tariffs of 25 percent on U.S. automakers, whereas the U.S. imposes tariffs of only 2.5 percent. "Does that sound like free or fair trade," he wrote. "No, it sounds like STUPID TRADE — going on for years!" Marketplace's Sabri Ben-Achour unpacks the reality behind that tweet.

04/09/2018: Would you pay for Facebook?

Apr 9, 2018

It's been a while since we've started this program by dissecting a presidential tweet. But with a whiff of trade war in the air, there's some good economic context to be had from that exercise today. At 6:03 in the morning, the president said, "When a car is sent to the United States from China, there is a Tariff to be paid of 2 1/2%. When a car is sent to China from the United States, there is a Tariff to be paid of 25%. Does that sound like free or fair trade.

The trade war is over (I lost)

Apr 9, 2018

At long last, someone has put me in charge.

We've been talking about President Trump's trade war stand-off with China for weeks. Now, finally, I'm sitting in front of the various levers that will determine how things shake out. I look over my options, make a couple adjustments and...

"I'm sorry to tell you, you did as badly as you possibly could have done," said Oliver Roeder. He's a senior writer at the data news website FiveThirtyEight, and he helped create the trade war simulation I just failed, spectacularly.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The combined effect of President Donald Trump's tax cuts and last month's budget-busting spending bill is sending the government's budget deficit toward the $1 trillion mark next year, according to a new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.

The CBO report says the twin tax and spending bills will push the budget deficit to $804 billion this year and just under $1 trillion for the upcoming budget year.

(Markets Edition) The Trump administration is proposing to cut nearly $130 billion over a decade to SNAP, the country's federal food stamp program. We'll look at what this could mean for brick-and-mortar stores that sell groceries. Afterwards, we'll explain why gas prices are higher during the summer, and then talk with Sheila Bair — former chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. — about an alternative to student debt that would have you paying a percentage of your income.

As tax day approaches, many Americans are rushing to tax preparers for paid help. The National Society of Accountants found in a survey last year that Americans paid tax preparers $176 on average to file federal and state returns. That’s without itemized deductions. But what programs are available for people with low incomes so that they can file for free?

Americans owe approximately $1.5 trillion in student debt. Is there anything that can be done to help alleviate the load? Former chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Sheila Bair joined David Brancaccio to talk about why she's advocating for student loan repayments to be tied to a person's income. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

(U.S. Edition) The U.S. has imposed new sanctions on Russian oligarchs and government officials, which has sent their country's markets tumbling. We'll take a brief look at some of the restrictions they're facing. Afterwards, we'll talk to Princeton sociologist and MacArthur genius grant winner Matthew Desmond about a new set of data he's just released, showing evictions around the country are comparable to foreclosures at the height of the financial crisis. Plus: With Tax Day coming up, we'll discuss some of the free-filing programs available for people with low incomes. 

Millions of Americans are evicted every year — and not just in big cities

Apr 9, 2018

An interview I did with Princeton sociologist and MacArthur genius grant winner Matthew Desmond a couple of years ago really stayed with me. He did a deep study of people getting kicked out of their apartments, and there was a story of a family who got evicted because ambulances came too many times for a child with asthma.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … A C-suite shakeup at Deutsche Bank is sending shares sharply higher this morning. We’ll tell you what a new chief executive means for the future of Germany’s biggest bank. Then, shipping and aviation weren’t part of the Paris climate agreement, but the world’s maritime leaders are meeting in London this week to try and hammer out new emissions rules. We talk to the world’s largest international shipping association about what they hope to see by the end of the week.

04/09/2018: Would you wear a smart jacket?

Apr 9, 2018

What do you think of when you hear the term "wearable technology?” Smart watches, fitness trackers and Bluetooth headsets? All good examples, but the term is expanding. Now it could mean a denim jacket from Levi's and Google that allows wearers to pair the clothing with a smartphone. That may sound harmless, but wearable tech can also be a risk to your security and privacy.

Would you wear a smart jacket?

Apr 9, 2018

What do you think of when you hear the term "wearable technology?” Smart watches, fitness trackers and Bluetooth headsets? All good examples, but the term is expanding. Now it could mean a denim jacket from Levi's and Google that allows wearers to pair the clothing with a smartphone. That may sound harmless, but wearable tech can also be a risk to your security and privacy.

New U.S. sanctions target prominent Russian figures

Apr 6, 2018

The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on 38 Russian individuals and entities today. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says they've played a key role in the Kremlin's "malicious cyber activities" and attempts to  "subvert" Western democracies. The sanctions take aim at seven Russian oligarchs, and 17 senior officials in the Russian government. But, who are they? And, why are they being targeted?

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

The March jobs report shows there were 103,000 jobs added in the month, though many economists expected something closer to an additional 175,000. And that very well may be because March was a tough month weather-wise, slowing down things like construction in parts of the country. But could we also be seeing something else going on? Are we at a point at this late stage in a very long economic recovery, with low unemployment, and fewer people looking for work, or available to do it, where adding 100,000 jobs is about as good as it gets?  

China has announced potential retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports, including pork, lots of fruit and wine. While a lot of U.S. wine is sold within the states, China is a fast growing market with a lot of potential. An additional 15 percent tariff on U.S. wine could hurt U.S. winemakers and mean steep competition from countries like New Zealand and Chile.

Two years ago, Quartz journalist David Yanofsky sued the federal government over access to data. This week, he won the case. This all started with a story on the number of Brazilians who visit Disney World every year. Yanofsky needed data on who was entering the United States, when, where and why. When he found the numbers, he was told he'd have to pay $173,775 for the documents.