Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service ... Eurozone growth figures were released today, showing a mixed bag. But what about Europe's problem child Greece? The author of "Greekonomics" explains why things are looking up. Afterwards, President Trump heads to Asia on Friday. Ahead of his visit to the region, Taiwan announced today it would increase its military budget. We look at why the country is spending more on military might to woo President Trump. Then, New Zealand announced it would ban foreigners from buying property.

Can technology make the census more accurate?

Oct 31, 2017

Every 10 years, the government tries to count up everyone living in the U.S. The next census is in 2020. The goal is to get an idea of the American population through data about things like race, how many people live in a household and their ages. The federal government uses these numbers to allocate $600 billion in funding, local politicians use them to determine what a community needs, and businesses use them to decide what to invest in and where to operate.

The next census is coming up in 2020, when the government will set out to count every single person living in the U.S. It’s a system that helps determine how federal money gets spent and who and where businesses are investing. But some populations are harder to count than others, even as the Census Bureau moves more of their data collection online. The Center for Urban Research at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York created an interactive map highlighting those populations.

10/30/2017: Prosecutors love a paper trail…

Oct 30, 2017

...and paying taxes on things (or not paying taxes on things) always leaves one. That’s probably why special counsel Robert Mueller is starting with indictments of former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort and his business associate, Rick Gates, on charges including funneling money through overseas shell companies. And lucky for us, tax evasion and money laundering are the kind of things we talk about every day.

It's sign up season for the Affordable Care Act. Open enrollment starts on Wednesday. Government numbers out today show that almost half of the population live in places where they can only choose from three or fewer insurers. Not much competition, so you’d expect premiums to be high. But in other places, there’s seven, eight or even 10 insurers in the market, and premiums have still gone up considerably. Why exactly? Seems this year insurers aren’t necessarily looking at each other to set premium prices.  

The decision about the new Federal Reserve chair is coming soon

Oct 30, 2017

President Donald Trump is expected to announce a new Federal Reserve chair this Thursday. Jerome "Jay" Powell, a member of the Federal Reserve's board, is seen by many as the leading candidate for the job. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal talked to Victoria Guida from Politico about the incumbent chair, Janet Yellen, her record and her possible successor. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation. 

Robert Mueller’s special counsel was tasked with “a full and thorough investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election,” including any links or coordination between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.  And yet, the indictments announced today against former campaign chair Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates don’t seem to have much to do with that at all. In fact, they’re mostly financial crimes.

The National Association of Home Builders opposes the Republican tax bill

Oct 30, 2017

The big debate over the Republican tax bill is looming. According to Republican leaders in the House, the tax bill will be released Wednesday. Once it's out things are going to get interesting because we'll learn whose interests are on the line, who is for and who is against. But some opinions are already being voiced. The National Association of Home Builders has said it will "actively oppose" this bill. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke with Jerry Howard, the group's CEO, about the NAHB's thoughts on the tax bill. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation. 

How much money is there in the world?

Oct 30, 2017

This is just one of the stories from our "I've Always Wondered" series, where we tackle all of your questions about the world of business, no matter how big or small. Ever wondered if recycling is worth it? Or how store brands stack up against name brands? What do you wonder?

Why accountants can't wait for the new tax bill

Oct 30, 2017

Last year, when Hollywood released a big-budget thriller starring Ben Affleck as an accountant turned ruthless killer, Kim Dula was all over it.

"I actually watched it twice," she said. First she watched with her husband, then she made her kids watch it. "And I said, 'See — your mom really isn't just a dorky CPA.'"

Uber, United Airlines, Chick-fil-A, American Airlines. These companies and many, many more have been scrutinized and criticized by consumers and consumer advocates, boycotted or reprimanded for various misdeeds or sociopolitical disagreements.

In the age of the internet, a viral Twitter complaint, a news report or a well placed critique from a notable voice can land a business in hot water, scrambling to figure out a way not to let bad press hurt it's bottom line. Sometimes that means a public apology, other times a sale, or an attempt to ride out negative publicity.

(Markets Edition) On today's show, we'll discuss the state of the housing sector and the new frontrunner for the Fed chair: Jerome Powell, a current member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. How do the markets feel about this candidate? Pretty good, given that he's likely to follow Janet Yellen's policies. Afterwards, we'll hear from Mark Surman, executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, about taking our agency back from big tech companies. And finally, we'll look at Mattel's decision to dive into the quinceañera industry by creating its own quinceañera Barbie.

When Susan Fowler found herself on the receiving end of inappropriate chats from her male manager, she documented the exchange and reported him to the company’s human resource department. Fowler, who was at the time an engineer at Uber, thought they would handle the situation. Instead, she was told to either find another team or remain in her current position and risk getting a negative performance review from that manager later on.

Why is the internet so sick?

Oct 30, 2017

This week Facebook, Google and Twitter are set to appear in front of Congress. All three companies have admitted Russian entities bought ads on their sites in an effort to skew the U.S. presidential vote. That's just one symptom among many that has led the Mozilla Foundation to warn that the internet has become dangerously sick. The foundation is currently soliciting feedback on the first version of its annual Internet Health Report, which looks at things like the web’s openness, inclusivity and safety.

Expat tax burden could shift

Oct 30, 2017

Americans overseas pay income taxes both in the U.S. and in the countries where they work. Now lawmakers could lighten the burden for individuals. As the tax overhaul is drafted in Washington, a range of complaints about expat taxes will be considered. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

10/30/2017: The great fish escape

Oct 30, 2017

(U.S. Edition) We may get details on the House bill to overhaul taxes as soon as Wednesday. One big component of this measure: how U.S. corporations are taxed on overseas earnings. We'll take a look at how America's tax system differs from most other countries, which have a territorial system in place. Afterwards, we'll discuss how a cut in Obamacare ad dollars may lead to lower enrollment, and then cap off today's show by checking out Washington state's fishing woes.

With Obamacare ad dollars slashed, expect lower enrollment

Oct 30, 2017

Want to know what happens when you cut ad spending for Obamacare? Just ask Kentucky. When the Affordable Care Act health insurance exchanges first went online, Kentucky had a Democratic governor. But a year later, Kentucky elected a Republican governor, who quickly slashed the ad budget.

Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, studied how the drop in advertising affected the Kentucky exchange. There were “450,000 fewer page views per week on the website,” she said.

The Hope Island fish farm floats in a sheltered bay off Washington state’s Puget Sound. Giant rectangular nets hold thousands of fish, though it’s difficult to see them till they jump.

“This site’s very brackish water,” said Tom Glaspie, the site manager. “Sometimes it's hard to see the fish inside here.”

Washington state is home to one of the biggest farmed salmon industries in the country. But, since the escape of at least 150,000 Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound this August, fish farm opponents have renewed their calls for putting an end to aquaculture in state waters.

10/30/2017: What's making the internet sick?

Oct 30, 2017

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service ... Europe's largest bank, HSBC, posted quarterly profits that were up five-fold from the same time last year. What's behind the rise? Afterwards, as Google, Facebook and Twitter head to Congress this week, the Mozilla Foundation warns that the internet is becoming increasingly "unhealthy." Executive Director Mark Surman gives an overview of this very sick patient. Then, Macedonia’s capital Skopje has undergone an estimated $600 million architectural transformation to attract foreign visitors.

Companies are required to file equal employment opportunity reports with the government. But few make that information public. Reporters at Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX looked into how diversity stacks up in Silicon Valley. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talked with reporter Will Evans about why hard data on diversity in tech remains a bit of a mystery.

What will the GOP tax plan look like?

Oct 27, 2017

David Gura of Bloomberg and Sheelah Kolhatkar of The New Yorker join us to discuss the week’s business and economic news. Despite economists' predictions of the GDP falling, there was economic growth of 3 percent last quarter — we breakdown exactly this means. We also discuss the hurdles the GOP tax plan will have to jump before it's unveiled Wednesday. Plus, we touch on President Donald Trump’s upcoming Fed chair appointment.  

Hey! Hands off my deduction

Oct 27, 2017

The GOP is expected to unveil its long-awaited tax plan on November 1, and then the real battle will begin over how it will be paid for. And nearly every deduction is on the line. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Oil companies make do with breaking even

Oct 27, 2017

A few years ago, oil prices were hitting record highs. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate went for $107 dollars in the summer of 2014. Then, there was a fracking boom in the U.S., a worldwide oil supply glut and prices collapsed. Many oil producers went out of business. But oil prices are now picking up. Prices are hovering around $50 dollars a barrel and oil companies are adjusting to the new normal.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Is Amazon finally poised for a complete retail takeover?

Oct 27, 2017

CVS is reportedly offering $66 billion to buy health insurer Aetna, and there's a lot at play here. But one reason behind the bid may be concern that Amazon is eyeing the prescription drug market. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Amazon has approval to be a wholesale drug distributor in at least 12 states. Earlier this year, Amazon jumped into the grocery market, buying up Whole Foods. It also wants to drop packages inside your house.

Reining in federal regulation has been on lawmakers minds for decades. President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress are just the latest to promise economic growth through deregulation.

But how did we become a regulatory state in the first place? On this season of "The Uncertain Hour," we traced it back to Ruth Desmond, a D.C.-area homemaker turned powerful consumer activist. By the 1970s she was the so-called Peanut Butter Grandma, the Terror of Washington who "spit in the corporate eye."

Republicans in Congress are moving toward a tax overhaul. On Thursday, the House approved a budget resolution that opens the door for a tax bill. There are a number of areas of focus, including corporate tax rates and retirement accounts. Congress has suggested capping the 401(k) annual contribution limit to just $2,400. With that in mind, this week's 5 Things You Need to Know looks at 401(k)s. Laura Adams, a personal finance expert and host of "The Money Girl Podcast," provides her advice below:

On this episode, we discuss the Affordable Care Act, get the lowdown on 401(k) plans and go inside the world of mature beauty tutorials on YouTube. Plus, stories on fashion subscription services and the unregulated business of donating a body to science. Weezer takes the Marketplace Quiz. 

There's a type of retail that blends e-commerce with old-school, mail-order services: subscription boxes. 

At this point, there's not much you can't subscribe to — a box of meals. Collectibles. Snack foods. And, of course, apparel from services like Stitch Fix, which recently filed to go public.

It's one of the first subscription box companies to do so. Stitch Fix works simply: You fill out an online style profile, a human stylist looks it over and sends you several outfits the company hopes you'll love. 

CVS-Aetna merger would help the drugstore take on Amazon

Oct 27, 2017

CVS is in talks to buy Aetna, the health insurance company, for more than $66 billion, according to multiple reports. Combined, that company would be one of the largest health care companies in the country, with about $240 billion in yearly revenue. 

YouTube beauty videos for people over 35 are a huge hit

Oct 27, 2017

Angela Wright is 59 and lives in Dallas, Texas. Whenever she’s curious about how a skin care product will work on her skin, she knows who to consult: Angie “Hot and Flashy” Schmitt,  a 55-year-old YouTuber who demos and reviews beauty products.

Wright found Schmitt's videos on YouTube about six months ago.

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