Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

For small companies, doing business in Europe may not be worth the cost

May 17, 2018

Europe’s new data regulations apply to companies large and small, but do tech’s little fish have a big disadvantage? The General Data Protection Regulation has already taken effect and will start being enforced later this month. Some big companies have added staff and software to comply, but smaller businesses may not have the cash to keep up. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke with Jessica Lee, partner with the law firm Loeb & Loeb, about just how much businesses are spending on compliance. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation. 

Europe’s new data regulations apply to companies large and small, but do tech’s little fish have a big disadvantage? The General Data Protection Regulation has already taken effect and will start being enforced later this month. Some big companies have added staff and software to comply, but smaller businesses may not have the cash to keep up. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke with Jessica Lee, partner with the law firm Loeb & Loeb, about just how much businesses are spending on compliance. (05/17/2018)

After years of struggling through the brick-and-mortar apocalypse, Macy’s posted numbers today that blew past expectations. Sales for the first few months of the  year were up almost 4 percent over the same time last year. And the retailer improved its outlook for the year ahead by a pretty big margin. Investors were surprised, to say the least. And so was Macy’s.   

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Tomorrow is supposed to be the final deadline  — per House Speaker Paul Ryan — for trade negotiators to agree to a revised North American Free Trade Agreement. That is if they want this Congress to vote on NAFTA before the end of the year. There's been some push back there — others counting calendar days differently and saying there's a bit more time still. But amidst this deadline pressure, there's also been talk that the countries narrow their focus and try to tackle fewer issues.

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It’s primary season, with voting in Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon and Pennsylvania on Tuesday and dozens more elections in the coming week to determine who will land on the ballot for November’s midterm elections. 

Ali Ashkanani started studying English in elementary school in Kuwait, more than 6,000 miles away from where he now lives in Philadelphia.

He said he realized quickly that the English pronunciation he learned in Kuwait wasn't going to cut it, if he was going to pursues a degree in industrial engineering in the United States.

Take the common phrase — “bottle of water.”

The obligation of capitalism

May 16, 2018

Ken Langone is an investment banker and entrepreneur who's worked on many deals in his lifetime, but is perhaps best known for co-founding The Home Depot. Most recently, he's offered a strong defense of capitalism in his new book, "I Love Capitalism! An American Story." He talked to Kai Ryssdal about why he wrote this book now and how he thinks capitalism should work. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

"I Love Capitalism!"

May 16, 2018

That's the name of Ken Langone's new book. He co-founded The Home Depot, and he's been around this economy for a while. We'll unpack that premise, but first we'll talk NAFTA renegotiations. Tomorrow's supposed to be the deadline, but it appears that deadline is malleable as the talks narrow in focus. Plus: the latest from a whole slew of earnings reports, including a big surprise from Macy's. (05/16/2018)

Lower airfares are making it easier to book travel to destinations across the Atlantic, especially to Europe, this summer. Competition between low-cost and traditional carriers are helping to bring prices down. But how long will this last?

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A note about Marketplace Weekend

May 16, 2018

To our loyal listeners,

(Markets Edition) The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note is still hovering above 3 percent. We'll talk with Susan Schmidt, senior portfolio manager at Westwood Holdings Group, about what this means for the U.S. economy, and whether China is holding too much of our debt. Afterwards, we'll chat with Boston College finance professor Richard McGowan about the legalization of sports gambling and its consequences for fantasy sports. (05/16/2018)

 

Macy’s: Rewards for all, no card needed

May 16, 2018

Struggling to keep the customers coming to stores, Macy’s is expanding special deals by offering rewards and discounts to all shoppers, not just its credit card holders.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

This week, the Seattle City Council unanimously voted in what’s commonly known as a “headcount tax.” Businesses that bring in more than $20 million in annual revenue will have to pay a $275 tax for each of their full-time employees. It’s a lower fee than what many were hoping for, but there are still plenty of concerns.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

A caution about workplace friendships

May 16, 2018

(U.S. Edition) Kellogg is the latest U.S. company to pull out of Venezuela amid soaring inflation and dwindling access to raw materials. We'll take a  look at how the country's president, Nicholas Maduro, is reacting to the news. Afterwards, we'll discuss Seattle's decision to approve a "headcount tax," which would require businesses that bring in more than $20 million in revenue a year to pay $275 for each full-time employee. Plus: We dive into some of the downsides workplace friendships with Nancy Rothbard, co-author of a new paper called "Friends Without Benefits." (05/16/2018)

What's the downside of making friends at work?

May 16, 2018

Workplace friendships could have negative effects for a company, especially in the age of social media, according to a study published in The Academy of Management Review.

There’s a lot of talk about robots and automation taking over industries and putting people out of work. And that distinct possibility isn’t lost on folks working in the oil fields of West Texas, where technology advances are the key to maximizing efficiency and weathering the storm when oil prices inevitably fall.

In a mobile trailer next to a 100-foot oil rig in the heart of the Permian Basin oil patch, between Midland and Odessa, Texas, Pablo Talamantez pointed to a bright, blinking computer screen on his desk.

Netflix loses EU court fight over German film tax

May 16, 2018

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service...Netflix has lost an EU court fight to overturn German film tax rules. With European content quotas for steaming services in the pipeline and Netflix frozen out of Cannes, is the tide now turning against America’s tech giants? Then, the government in Venezuela has seized a plant owned by the US-based cereal producer, Kellogg's, after it said it was pulling out of the country because of the economic crisis. And, Zimbabwe is preparing for national elections.

The current wave of automation is sometimes described as the fourth industrial revolution. And almost every industry is affected, including oil and gas. Almost 40 percent of oil and gas workers are in Texas. With the price of crude oil at $70 a barrel, there’s a boom — but not in hiring. Job numbers haven’t gone up as much as some observers expected. Automation is partly to blame, but the industry is bringing in other technologies to stay ahead of the game as well.

63: Take your data and go home

May 15, 2018

What would a Hippocratic oath look like for the people we trust with our data? That's one of the questions NYU professor Laura Norén asks in her course "Ethics for Data Science." Consumers should be pushing for more empowered, informed consent, she says, because right now they have two choices: blindly agree to give up your data to [insert social media or digital platform here] or quit altogether. We'll start there, and somehow end up at trans-humanism — it's sci-fi stuff, but it's where the privacy conversation wants to go, if you let it.

Just about everyone agrees drugs are too expensive

May 15, 2018

So what are they actually doing about it? Today on the show, we'll do the numbers. The 100 most-common brand-name pharmaceuticals got 232 percent more expensive in the past decade. State lawmakers have filed more than 150 bills this year to rein in costs, something 80 percent of people surveyed by Kaiser agree we need. Some drug companies are starting to feel the squeeze from their own shareholders, too. We'll talk about it. But first: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has more than doubled workplace investigations over last year. Audits and arrests are up, too.

A story about steel ... and also, pizza

May 15, 2018

Andris Lagsdin is the inventor of the Baking Steel and the author of "Baking with Steel: The Revolutionary New Approach to Perfect Pizza, Bread, and More." He studied culinary arts, worked in restaurants and eventually came home to work in his family's steel business. Then he figured out how to combine the two. 

The U.S. bond market swoons

May 15, 2018

(Markets Edition) Interest rates moved sharply higher this morning (Tuesday, May 15, 2018) after a solid retail sales report. What does this mean for consumers? Then, we’ll hear a Michigan manufacturing CEO’s thoughts on tariffs ahead of the office of the United States Trade Representative's hearing on the topic. And, emergency rooms are often the first places people end up during a mental health crisis, but hospital officials say many ERs aren’t equipped to help.

 

Sears explores what assets it might sell

May 15, 2018

Sears has formed a special committee to explore selling off more parts of the struggling business. What assets still have value? The Kenmore appliance brand, for one, and Sears Home Services, a home improvement business. But the company has already sold off many assets, so its value is dwindling. One interesting wrinkle: A hedge fund operated by Sears CEO Eddie Lampert is a potential buyer. The company’s board of directors has formed an independent committee to see if there are any other interested buyers out there.

Emergency rooms are often the first places people end up during a mental health crisis. But many ERs aren’t really equipped to help. After they check in, patients can end up staying in emergency rooms for days just waiting for in-patient psychiatric treatment elsewhere. As emergency rooms see a growing number of behavioral health patients, hospital officials say resources are strained.

A version of this story ran on WABE. 

With all the talk of immigration reform, one of the president’s immigration proposals has gotten less attention lately: Trump and many republicans want to eliminate a law that lets naturalized U.S. citizens sponsor their parents and siblings for permanent residency in the United States. The White House says the rule doesn’t make sense for a “modern economy.” But how exactly does family-based immigration affect the economy? 

(U.S. Edition) For three days starting today (Tuesday, May 15, 2018), the office of the United States Trade Representative will hear sharply diverging views from American businesses about $50 billion worth of China tariffs. We hear from the CEO of a Michigan manufacturer, Lucerne International, who says tariffs could cripple the company's supply chain. Then, we check in on Germany's economic growth over the last three months (it's not what analysts expected).

Reddit's CTO on shedding its "dystopian Craigslist" vibe

May 15, 2018

Reddit is rolling out its biggest redesign in a decade. The site has a reputation for being very text heavy and sometimes hosting conversations that can get kind of rough. The redesign comes at the heels of a long effort to clean up those conversations and attract a broader audience. The site’s traffic has more than doubled in the past couple of years, but some loyal users aren’t fans of the redesign.

Will Reddit's new makeover make it more accessible?

May 15, 2018

Reddit is rolling out its biggest redesign in a decade. The site has a reputation for being very text heavy and sometimes hosting conversations that can get kind of rough. The redesign comes at the heels of a long effort to clean up those conversations and attract a broader audience. The site’s traffic has more than doubled in the past couple of years, but some loyal users aren’t fans of the redesign. For our podcast for Tuesday, May 15, 2018, Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke with Chris Slowe, Reddit’s chief technical officer and founding engineer, about the redesign. 

Erdogan sends Turkish lira to fresh low

May 15, 2018

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service for Tuesday, May 15, 2018: Turkey’s ailing lira has hit a fresh low against the U.S. dollar. President Erdogan issued a direct challenge to the central bank’s independence. But why does the country’s premier believe higher interest rates are “the mother of all evil?" Then, European ministers are meeting to try to salvage the Iranian nuclear deal. We take a look at the economic and political tools the EU can deploy to circumvent US secondary sanctions.

Earlier today, the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that acted as a ban on commercial sports betting in all but four states. To be clear, this ruling doesn’t all of a sudden make it legal  to get some action on tonight’s Warriors-Rockets game, but it could pave the way for legalized gambling in a number of states. That could eventually yield a revenue bump.

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