Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

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.

An immigrant's role in the American economy

Apr 6, 2018

This week, President Donald Trump announced he wanted to send National Guard troops to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border. This announcement was made in the midst of a national conversation regarding immigration, legal and otherwise, which includes a push to change immigration laws and reduce the number of legal immigrants in the country. Marketplace Weekend’s Lizzie O’Leary sat down with reporter Mitchell Hartman to dig into the impact of immigration on the workforce and the overall American economy.

Click the audio player above to hear the full interview. 

russellstreet / Flickr- CC BY-SA 2.0

Illinois needs more money to cover its deteriorating transportation systems, but the federal government’s new infrastructure plan doesn’t offer much. 

The evolution of the race to the cosmos

Apr 6, 2018

In his book "The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos," Christian Davenport explores the new narrative surrounding the modern-day space race: wealthy individuals from private companies competing against one another in order to reach the stars. In the excerpt below, read about the team at Blue Origin's headquarters in Seattle and the readily changing space industry. 

Teachers still haven't recovered financially from the recession

Apr 6, 2018

In recent weeks, teachers have been protesting, staging walkouts and marches in Kentucky, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Arizona. Teachers are upset about working conditions, pay and benefits, which in some cases have been stagnant or worsening for years. 

If you haven't filed your taxes yet, that deadline is April 17. The process can be stressful and confusing, especially if you're itemizing. But how much would you pay to avoid that? Youssef Benzarti, an assistant professor of economics at UCLA, studied our tax system and says people are willing to give up the equivalent of 20 hours — or 2.5 days — of their salary. He found that many taxpayers actually give up that much in tax savings in order to make the whole process shorter and easier.

Netflix eyes a billboard company

Apr 6, 2018

Netflix is said to be making an offer on an outdoor advertising company with signs in all the right places, if you are a Hollywood insider.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

The "Titanic" of Wall Street: The Citigroup merger 20 years later

Apr 6, 2018

Twenty years ago this week, Citicorp — a commercial bank, and Travelers Group — a financial services company, merged to create Citigroup Inc. It became the largest bank in the world, and according to Mike Mayo, one of Wall Street's best-known bank analysts, it also set the stage for the financial crisis that happened 10 years later. 

Pork, soybeans, fruit, small aircrafts, wine. These are just a few of the 106 American products that might be subject to future tariffs, the Chinese government warned on Wednesday. As for when the 25 percent tariffs would take effect, China said that depends on President Donald Trump and his threat to place similar tariffs on Chinese goods entering the U.S.

The suggested tariffs are just that: suggestions — or threats, if you will. However, they are already having an impact on the U.S. economy by creating a lot of uncertainty for various industries.

(Markets Edition) The March jobs report is officially out, revealing that the economy added a little over 100,000 jobs. That's much lower than what forecasters were expecting, so what gives? We'll have to look back at the February jobs report to give us some clues, and an important one has to do with the weather. Afterwards, we'll talk to Nicholas Lardy, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, about what the ongoing U.S.-China trade battle means for the American economy. 

Cardi B teaches us how she makes money move

Apr 6, 2018

Cardi B released her debut album, “Invasion of Privacy” today and it's already certified gold.

“She's the first female artist to have five songs on the top ten at the same time on the Billboard chart,” said Charlie Coffeen, a musician who teaches hip hop history at Columbia College Chicago. “She’s a household name in a matter of five months.

A deal within reach on NAFTA?

Apr 6, 2018

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is taking the lead in the latest round of talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement, scheduled for today. President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of NAFTA, unless it’s renegotiated. That’s easier said than done, though and there are still a number of stumbling blocks.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

This story was updated at 7:49 a.m. CT. 

U.S. employers added a modest 103,000 jobs in March after several months of bigger gains, though the government's overall jobs report suggests that the labor market remains healthy.

The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate remained 4.1 percent, a 17-year low, for a sixth straight month. Average hourly pay ticked up, climbing 2.7 percent compared with a year earlier.