Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

Shell companies have a bad rap. Not only are they often associated with storing cash abroad to avoid taxes but they have also been used to hide people’s ties to all kinds of transactions and investments. It is no surprise then that setting up a shell company, while not exactly illegal, is often controversial.

Congress has a serious problem with sexual harassment and assault, according to California Rep. Jackie Speier. She said that's in part because members and staff aren't required to undergo sexual harassment training — something commonplace in corporate America. 

11/09/2017: The mad scientists at Wendy's

Nov 9, 2017

(Markets Edition) The Senate is expected to unveil its tax plan today, which is reported to have significant changes from the House's version. Diane Swonk, CEO of DS Economics, stopped by to walk us through some of these potential differences, which may include the speed or rate at which corporate taxes are cut. Afterwards, we'll look at how Wendy's is trying to attract more customers by turning one of its oldest restaurants into a "laboratory."

The holiday season is approaching, and there are reports that department stores, including Kohl’s, Macy’s and Nordstrom are ordering less inventory. After a year of declining sales and foot traffic, these retailers don’t want piles of unsold stock eating into their profits. But are they risking empty shelves and disappointed shoppers?

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

The debate over drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has returned to Washington, this time tied to the fast-moving tax bill on Capitol Hill. Bill supporters hope that opening up the arctic to more federal drilling leases could generate $1 billion in federal revenue. But some market projections put the amount at far less than that.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

(U.S. Edition) President Trump is returning from China with $250 billion in deals in tow, including one between the country and Boeing. But not everyone's impressed. On today's show, we'll look at some of the reasons American companies are worrying that these deals do little to address their key issues. Afterwards, we'll talk to Vicki Magley, professor of psychology at U Connecticut, about conducting effective sexual harassment training in the workplace. 

Wendy's turned an old restaurant into a test lab

Nov 9, 2017

Picture the inside of a fast food restaurant. Big menu board, plastic booths, those brown trays, sticky with ketchup from the last customer … the kind of place you get in and get out.

The Wendy’s in Columbus, Ohio’s, Clintonville neighborhood takes a different approach. Rajeev Sabharwal, an executive at Wendy’s, is standing on the restaurant’s outdoor patio, underneath a string of twinkle lights.

"We've got the heat lamps over here, we've got some real nice, comfortable couch seating sitting out here, so something like you'd see in your backyard," Sabharwal said. 

Is the era of bank secrecy over?

Nov 9, 2017

Switzerland, Luxembourg, Panama and now Paradise. The leak of tax documents purporting to show the ways that individuals and multinational corporations avoid taxes seems to be an almost annual occurrence. So will anything change?

11/09/2017: Why isn't there a global tax system?

Nov 9, 2017

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service ...Three weeks — that's how long Britain has to figure out what it's paying the EU in its divorce settlement. How likely is it that negotiators will be able to make that deadline? Then, we talked about the arrests of 11 Saudi princes in a wide-ranging operation by the new crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Today, we get the perspective from young Saudis in Riyadh - six out of 10 people in Saudi Arabia are below the age of 30.

11/09/2017: The dollar value of a character

Nov 9, 2017

As of this week, Twitter is doubling its character limit to 280 characters for nearly all users. The rationale: New users might find it easier to start tweeting and might stick around. Japanese, Korean and Chinese-language tweets will keep the original 140. As Twitter explained it, these are denser languages, requiring fewer characters to express what might take much longer in English, French and Spanish. But will it get more people using the service? We ask Michael Pachter, managing director of equity research for Wedbush Securities.

The GOP tax plan just got more expensive

Nov 8, 2017


The Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday the Republican tax  plan would add $1.7 trillion to the deficit over 10 years.  That's more than the $1.4 trillion the GOP had originally estimated,  and more than the budget resolution clearing the way for a revamp of the tax code allows. 

And the water flowing into the tub is from deficits. Deficits like the $1.7 trillion in 10 years that the new tax bill is expected to add, according to the Congressional Budget Office. How long until the tub overflows? We explore that metaphor and other ways to think about our debt situation. And a week into the open enrollment period for Obamacare, we talk about how the change in administrations has affected people signing up for health care. Plus, can Snapchat's popularity among teens translate into share price?

Why would the Murdochs want to sell part of 21st Century Fox?

Nov 8, 2017

There have been reports this week that the Murdoch family is talking with Disney about selling the entertainment division of 21st Century Fox. It would be a big deal for Disney, and it would also mean a big change for Fox.

Tough talks lurk behind Trump's first-class reception in China

Nov 8, 2017

President Donald Trump is in China on the third stop of his Asian tour, meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Along with the American president came a slew of American business executives, hoping to carve out a piece of the Chinese market. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal talks with Marketplace China correspondent Jennifer Pak about what Trump's visit means for both countries. 


Chinese messaging giant Tencent has bought up about 12 percent of Snap, parent company of the disappearing messaging app Snapchat. Snap has struggled since its big IPO in March, and its shares have lost half their value, leading to the inevitable speculation that it might be ripe for an acquisition. But what is it about Snap that's actually valuable? 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Nearly 5 million Americans turn 26 this year. For some that means getting booted off of their parents’ insurance and buying polices under the Affordable Care Act.

Elections, it's been said, have consequences, and last night's local contests were no exception. The Republican losses come at an awkward time in the politics of the American economy — specifically, the tax overhaul plan the GOP's trying to get through Congress. And even more specifically, in light of the results last night, making the math work.

Six years ago, Wilbur Ross thought investing in ships would create valuable financial assets. Today, they've become risky political liabilities.

One shipping company is in a partnership with Russia, and another that the U.S. Commerce secretary partially owned is tied to China's largest sovereign wealth fund. His chief of staff served on both boards. Now U.S. senators are calling for an investigation, and ethics experts demand he divest to prevent his policy decisions from being influenced by his business interests.

(Markets Edition) In the year since President Trump was elected, the Dow has risen 28.5 percent — the largest post-election yearly rise since 1945. While Trump has credited himself with this growth, Susan Schmidt — senior vice president and portfolio manager at Westwood Holdings Group — joined us to explain why it's difficult to determine the direct cause. Afterwards, we'll look at the IRS' commissioner's decision to step down, and why this comes at a critical time. Plus: We talk about what the aftermath of Brexit means for businesses.


Maybe you’ve seen the ads? A somber voice ticks off the debts a young woman piled up while she attended college. 

“Why did she borrow $42,000 for tuition?” the voice says, over images of the woman moving into her dorm and studying in the library. “Why did she borrow $19,400 for room and board?”

"She did it to work for you," the announcer tells potential employers, “and now you can do something for her.”

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is reportedly stepping down as soon as tomorrow. His departure comes at a critical time — the IRS is underfunded and understaffed, just as Congress is gearing up to pass a massive tax overhaul.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

The date when Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union is now less than 17 months away. But the talks about the terms of the United Kingdom’s departure are bogged down and hopes of a new free-trade deal with the EU are receding.

Some business leaders are getting nervous, among them Michael Bloomberg, the former New York Mayor and media mogul. Bloomberg opened his new, $1 billion European headquarters in London recently and, while there, he told the Brits what he thought of their decision to leave the European Union.

(U.S. Edition) Another day, another potential tax plan. The House GOP recently released its proposed bill to overhaul America's tax system, and now there's word the Senate may release a proposal soon. We'll look at reports that say that the Senate may delay changes to corporate taxes so that they wouldn't phase in until 2019. Afterwards, we'll take a brief step back and discuss some issues the U.S. auto industry is taking with this House tax proposal. It would eliminate a tax credit of up to $7,500 to get people to buy electric cars.

11/08/2017: Can India really go cashless?

Nov 8, 2017

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service ... President Trump arrives in China today after saying that the world needs to cut off all trade ties with North Korea. What will China's leader Xi Jinping think of Trump's tough trade stance? Then, more revelations from the leak of tax documents known as the "Paradise Papers." This time, it's the southern African country of Angola that's in the cross-hairs.

Is the Amazon Key a sign of our lock-less future?

Nov 8, 2017

Amazon started shipping its new Amazon Key today. It's a smart lock with a camera and mobile app that gives delivery people access to your home to leave packages inside. The technology, available to Prime members in 37 U.S. cities, is supposed to help cut back on package theft. 

Today, Amazon started shipping its Amazon Key, a smart lock and camera device that lets delivery workers leave packages inside your home. Smart locks aren't a brand-new invention, but this made us wonder: Will we someday abandon physical keys altogether? Marketplace's Amy Scott talked with Jason Williams of Assa Abloy, a security company with brands including Yale and Emtek, about the future of keyless technology.

The theory of trickle-down economics has been used to sell tax cuts for the wealthy in the past. But does it really hold water? And rates of homeownership have been increasing despite rising prices in the real estate market. We look into where this seemingly new money is coming from. Plus, Brexit blues continue with dire financial predictions, Disney's flexing on theaters with tough contract terms and journalists who criticize them, and Ellevest CEO Sallie Krawcheck talks about the Harvey Weinsteins of Wall Street.

Disney's "Star Wars" terms are a financial burden for small theaters

Nov 7, 2017

If you're a theater looking to screen "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" this December, you might find things a little tougher than usual. Disney, which owns the studio behind "Star Wars," is requiring theater owners to fork over a hefty portion of ticket sales along with other stipulations that make showing the film a financial burden on many small theaters.

Does trickle-down economics make any sense?

Nov 7, 2017

The House version of the tax bill is currently in markup in the House Ways and Means Committee. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate could release its version on Friday. And even as we’re getting into the nitty-gritty on this thing – pulling apart provisions one as the time and examining them, the tax plan is also raising big, basic economic questions, like will tax cuts spur economic growth in a way that benefits all Americans? Simple idea, different answers on either side of the economic aisle. 

What it will take to end sexism on Wall Street

Nov 7, 2017

We last spoke with Sally Krawcheck back in February about her book, which is part memoir, part how to succeed as a woman in corporate America. Krawcheck is one of the most experienced women in finance, and she left Wall Street after the financial crisis and went on to found Ellevest, a digital investment platform for women.