Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

02/07/2018: The VIX — an instrument of mayhem?

Feb 7, 2018

(Markets Edition) Who's to blame for all of this recent financial turbulence? Some are pointing fingers at the VIX Index, which measures volatility. We'll look at some of the frustration directed toward it. Afterwards, we'll discuss the success of Tesla's ambitious Falcon Heavy launch, and some of the competition Elon Musk will have to face.

(U.S. Edition) With the market fluctuations we've been seeing this past week, does this bode badly for business decisions like hiring? While no one really knows, many analysts agree that economic fundamentals haven't really been driving this volatility. We'll break down some of the underlying causes. Afterwards, we'll discuss why traders are actually fans of all these swings, and then look at why safe-haven currencies might not be the safe haven they used to be for investors at a time like this. 

The last few days have seen big swings in the global stock markets. During such volatile times, investors often shift their assets to what are called safe-haven currencies, traditionally the Japanese yen or Swiss franc. Why does that happen, and is now a good moment for safe havens?

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … Four months after elections, Germany’s two biggest political parties have finally made a deal to form a coalition government. What will it mean for long time Chancellor Angela Merkel? Then, there are calmer waters in the global stock market after a turbulent few days – but will more volatility resurface later this year as central banks continue to move to more normal monetary policy? Afterwards, Stockholm, Sweden, is poised to implement a ban on racist or sexist advertising in public spaces.

Is Apple still the one to beat when it comes to smart devices?

Feb 7, 2018

Apple makes bundles of money, and it's sitting on a country's worth of cash. But iPhone growth is slowing, and Apple’s new smart speaker is late to the scene. It made us wonder: Is Apple still really good at creating products? Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke about it with Julie Ask, principal analyst at Forrester Research. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.

In the future, what will make us choose one product over another? It probably won’t be things like screen size or brightness. It’ll be more subtle attributes, like which phone is “smarter” than another. Apple is a company that's known for making great products, but will those devices continue to be the best five years from now? Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks about it with Forrester analyst Julie Ask. 

Operating a small business, especially in a niche industry, can go either really well or not.

Today’s trading was the very definition of volatility

Feb 6, 2018

Look at a chart of the Standard & Poor's 500 index today: It’s like a mountain range in Mordor — jagged movements, all up and down. Today, the Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 560 points at the open before rebounding more than 900 point in less than a half hour. There were swings of several hundred points over the course of the next couple of hours. And, of course, the Dow closed up 2.33 percent. This is what we would call a very volatile day in the market. 

Here’s why bond yields are rising

Feb 6, 2018

When investors pull their money out of stocks and need some place to put it, they often turn to the bond market. U.S. Treasuries are considered essentially risk-free. So investors can park their cash, earn some interest and know their money will be kept safe and sound. As investors moved money from stocks to bonds during the past couple of days, we briefly saw bond yields drop. Remember, yields are measure of the return investors get on money invested in bonds. But that dip aside, bond yields have been steadily rising in the last few months. Here’s why and what that means.

Behind all this market volatility, there’s another storm brewing

Feb 6, 2018

We are now two days away from another potential government shutdown and there's no budget deal in sight. The government pushed through a temporary funding bill last month to end a three-day shutdown. Senate Democrats dropped their objections to the bill in exchange for Republican leaders agreeing to discuss immigration and other contentious issues, but the funding was only slated to last through Thursday.

The Dow dive computers might have caused

Feb 6, 2018

Go ahead and pull up the chart of yesterday’s Dow Jones Industrial Average. The scariest-looking bit is the deep valley that starts just after 3 p.m. That’s when the index hit its lowest point of the day before quickly bouncing back some; it makes almost a perfect "U" on the chart. Speculation is that this dip was caused by machine trading — algorithms.

02/06/2018: Let's talk about market volatility

Feb 6, 2018

How are we doing today? Everyone feeling a little better? With clearer eyes and some of yesterday's dive recovered, let's take a closer look at what's going on in the stock market. We'll talk about algorithmic trading, bonds and the international market. Plus, don't forget there's a whole other storm brewing: We're two days from another potential government shutdown.

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks rallied Tuesday as a late surge helped them regain almost half their losses from the day before, when they had their biggest plunge in 6 ½ years. That came at the end of a day of heavy trading and huge swings for the market.

Major indexes in Asia and Europe took steep losses and U.S. markets started sharply lower, only to repeatedly change direction. After its 1,175-point nosedive Monday, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 567 points right after trading began. After numerous turns higher and lower, it wound up with a gain, coincidentally, of 567.

51: Remember when a Columbia River boat pilot made us smart about shoes?

Feb 6, 2018

The Columbia River Bar is one of the most dangerous places in the world for ships of all sizes. That's where the Columbia River Bar Pilots come in. These specially trained experts pilot cargo and passenger ships of all sizes across the bar into the river that separates Oregon from Washington. Capt. Deborah Dempsey was the first woman to become a pilot with the organization, and she tells us why tying your shoes can keep you from falling "in the drink," and what happened the one time she didn't.

Unless you work alone, you spend more time with colleagues than your own family.

What does this mean? Well, there are the upsides; enjoying witty banter that breaks up the day, having an ally to compare notes about the boss with or being able to share a high-five for a job well done.

Stocks repeatedly sink and recover as wild ride continues

Feb 6, 2018

Update, 4 p.m. eastern:

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed sharply higher on Wall Street after another turbulent day of steep ups and downs.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 567 points, or 2.3 percent, recouping nearly half of the 1,175-point plunge it took the day before.

The index of 30 big-name U.S. companies ended up at 24,912.

On its way there, the Dow took several harrowing turns during the day, opening with a plunge of 567 points — coincidentally, the exact same amount it wound up gaining at the closing bell.

Why some people are relieved the markets are dipping

Feb 6, 2018

The Dow Jones started to rebound this morning after plunging almost 1,200 points on Monday, a sharp reversal from the 26,000 milestone it hit almost a month ago. 

General Motors reports fourth-quarter earnings before the market opens today. Analysts are expecting an earnings increase for the big carmaker, which retook the lead from Tesla in market valuation last year. GM stock rallied 20 percent in 2017 as the company unveiled bold plans for driverless taxis.

Click the above audio player to hear the full story.

02/06/2018: Volatile markets around the world

Feb 6, 2018

(Markets Edition) Stock market volatility has been extreme this morning, with the Dow seeing a rebound that followed a dip at the open of trading. And with global stock market indicators also down, we'll talk to market experts about the causes of this and why we shouldn't worry. Plus: A look at General Motors' push to enter the driverless car market.

Ireland's PR strategy

Feb 6, 2018

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Here are some need-to-know numbers for your day. 


(U.S. Edition) The Dow dropped almost 1,200 points yesterday in a record plunge. But no need to panic yet. We'll look at what may have triggered the sell-off.  Afterwards, we'll talk to Marketplace economics correspondent Chris Farrell about why some people are actually relieved that the market took that huge plunge, and then we'll discuss how markets in Asia are faring, following volatility in the U.S.

(Global Edition) As losses in global stock markets continue in Asia and Europe, we explain why many investors are calling the downdraft a “healthy pause.”  Then, Chile has been given the largest donation of private land to any government in the South American region, which will be used to create five new national parks. But will it help the government’s determination to promote tourism?

When hackers broke into the credit reporting agency Equifax last year, they stole the Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers of over 140 million people. There was speculation that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would crack down on credit agencies and require better data handling. But this week, we found out that while there still might be consequences over the Equifax breach, they won't come from the CFPB. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks about it with Patrick Rucker, who had the exclusive for Reuters.

Trump on infrastructure: Did he keep his promises?

Feb 5, 2018

Credit: Carrie Barber, Paul Brent, Jana Kasperkevic, Sarah Moughty, Olga Oksman, Brian Ronaghan, Arjuna Soriano, Donna Tam.

Jerome Powell was sworn in as the new chairman of the Federal Reserve today. But it's his predecessor, Janet Yellen, who's making waves in the markets. Last Friday, in one of her last actions as Fed chair, Yellen slapped an unprecedented penalty on Wells Fargo. The bank can no longer grow larger until it makes governance reforms that satisfy the Fed, and it also agreed to replace four of its board members. What does this say about financial regulation under the Trump administration? We ask Renae Merle, who reports on white collar crime and Wall Street for the Washington Post.

Let's not panic about the Dow just yet

Feb 5, 2018

The Dow Jones industrial average was off nearly 1,200 points on Monday, which is a record. But you've got to keep this in perspective by looking at the percentage of drop. It was a 4.6 percent drop, which is still big, but it’s not even in the Top 20 of all time.

Building an agricultural empire in a land of drought

Feb 5, 2018

If you've ever had Wonderful Pistachios, POM Wonderful pomegranate juice or Halo mandarin oranges, you've had produce grown on one of the largest farms in the world.

The Wonderful Company is located in California's Central Valley where droughts hit frequently, but that hasn't stopped the company from harvesting record crops. 

What happened to the Dow today?

Feb 5, 2018

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 4.6 percent today and had its largest same-day drop, in terms of points, in history. At one point, it was down nearly 1,600 points. That might give you a knot in the pit of your stomach since we aren’t used to seeing moves like that. So what does it mean? Marketplace host Amy Scott asks correspondent Sabri Ben-Achor to break it down.

What's going on?

02/05/2018: Take a deep breath

Feb 5, 2018

It's the Dow's biggest single-day point drop on record. We're starting off today's show with some context: What we know, what we don't and how serious to take it. Then: If you've ever had Wonderful Pistachios, POM pomegranate juice or Halo mandarin oranges, you're familiar with The Wonderful Company, which operates one of the largest farms in the world. Despite record droughts in California, it actually increased yields. Plus: Economic theory says the Eagles' first Super Bowl win last night was more valuable than what would have been the Patriots' sixth. We'll talk about why.

NEW YORK (AP) — The Dow Jones industrial average plunged more than 1,100 points Monday as stocks took their worst loss in six and a half years. Two days of steep losses have erased the market’s gains from the start of this year and ended a period of record-setting calm for stocks.

Banks fared the worst as bond yields and interest rates nosedived. Health care, technology and industrial companies all took outsize losses and energy companies sank with oil prices.