Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

The power of a voice in transition

Aug 16, 2018

Whether it’s in politics, or a hit television show, or through writing, a record number of transgender Americans are making their voices heard right now. Thomas Page McBee is an author and a journalist who, in the midst of his writing career, transitioned at 30 years old. He'd had a couple of jobs and therefore gained the perspective of the androgynous co-worker and the male boss.

Steel tariffs add upward pressure to HVAC costs

Aug 16, 2018

Summer in Texas is hot. Real hot. And temperatures are rising even higher in recent years. That means if you don’t have air conditioning in June, July and August, it’s almost unbearable. Summer is also the worst time to replace a failing HVAC system because installation companies know they hold the upper hand and can charge a premium. But in today's climate, there are other things to consider. Some HVAC makers have increased prices in response to U.S. tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. 

Is it the economy, stupid?

Aug 16, 2018

Republicans are betting on the strong economy to sway voters in November’s elections, but will that work? This time around, maybe not. Also on today's show: A dispatch from Turkey, where Syrian refugees-turned-entrepreneurs are working to stay afloat in their new country. Plus, we talk with author and journalist Thomas Page McBee about navigating the power of voice as a trans man in the workplace. (08/16/18)

(Markets Edition) Retail goliath Walmart enjoyed rising profits into the early part of summer, and it also reported a 40 percent boost in its online sales. But it’s also reporting rising costs, and Marketplace’s Dan Gorenstein lets us know if that means the prices at Walmart are going to go up as well. Also, economist Diane Swonk lets us know if the possibly cresting housing market is a good thing, depending on where you live.

Prices may be headed up at Walmart and beyond

Aug 16, 2018

Retail giant Walmart is faced with the rising cost of raw materials, labor, trucking and the possibility of a trade war. All of that means consumers may soon see price hikes. If Walmart takes the leap, other retailers are likely to follow.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Facial scan technology makes debut in airports

Aug 16, 2018

The line to board one of British Airways’ evening flights to London from Orlando International Airport was long. Nearly 250 passengers — some retirees, business people and families who had visited amusement parks — inched toward what looked like a futuristic subway turnstile, following a gate attendant’s instructions to “step on the yellow footprint and just look directly at the camera for me."  

(U.S. Edition) China is sending a delegation to Washington later this month to see if there's a way both countries can move on from this battle of dueling tariffs. Marketplace's China correspondent Jennifer Pak joined us to shed more light on what this means. Also, it's the time of year when shipping picks up for holiday-themed goods, which then start filling up the border and ports. The aforementioned tariffs become a factor as well, as Mitchell Hartman reports. Then, we check in on Greece, which is approaching the day it leaves the bailout program it's been in for the last eight years.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … Politicians and corporations are continuing to point fingers about who is responsible for a bridge collapse this week in Italy. Now, the government is threatening to take over the nation’s motorways. Then, in a bid to increase levels of local homeownership in New Zealand, the country’s government has passed legislation restricting foreigners from buying residential property after the prime minister blamed foreign speculators for driving up home prices.

This summer, Marketplace Tech is exploring tech in movies. Today, we’re looking at the Bruce Willis classic “Armageddon,” which was the highest-grossing film of 1998. That was 20 years ago, and fans still love the movie today. Willis’ character, Harry Stamper, is a "deep core" oil driller sent into space to drill a hole and drop a bomb in an asteroid that is hurtling toward Earth. We meet Harry on an offshore oil rig, managing a surly crew, with oil flying everywhere.

This summer, Marketplace Tech is exploring tech in movies. Today, we’re looking at the Bruce Willis classic “Armageddon,” which was the highest-grossing film of 1998. Willis’ character, Harry Stamper, is a "deep core" oil driller sent into space to drill a hole and drop a bomb in an asteroid hurtling toward Earth. We meet Harry on an offshore oil rig, managing a surly crew, with oil flying everywhere. It's a depiction of oil-drilling life that has stuck with the public, but has very little to do with reality.

Russian officials were in Turkey on Tuesday, talking with the government there about possible solutions for Turkey’s currency crisis. Both countries are also facing U.S. sanctions, so one idea they floated: Stick to their own national currencies for trade and avoid using the dollar at all. On top of that, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov echoed statements from President Vladimir Putin that the United States is “abusing” its role as a global reserve currency. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

A guide to the corporate board

Aug 15, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is in some hot water with regulators. That tweet he tossed off last week — when he went public about possibly taking Tesla private and having the funding already lined up — unleashed a raft of lawsuits. And members of Tesla’s board of directors are reportedly lawyering up. What do they have to worry about? Just about everything Musk does that could hurt shareholders. It comes with the territory.  

Alton Lane CEO doesn't want shopping to feel like shopping

Aug 15, 2018

Today's retail landscape is full of companies trying to find a way to keep customers coming to brick-and-mortar stores, but Colin Hunter's company is going after customers who may not be all that interested in shopping in the first place. Hunter is the CEO and co-founder men's clothing retailer Alton Lane, which uses data, technology and the idea that clothes shopping isn't most men's idea of a good time in order to find an edge. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke to Hunter about his company. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation. 

What if we just do MAFTA and CAFTA instead?

Aug 15, 2018

It's been a year since the United States started NAFTA renegotiations with Canada and Mexico. Since then, Mexico has elected a new president and the U.S. has engaged in several controversial trade maneuvers. So are we any closer to signing a new deal? We'll catch you up. Also on today's show: We're hearing a lot from Elon Musk these days but what’s happening with Tesla and its board? Plus, another installment of our series Corner Office. This time we talk to Colin Hunter, co-founder and CEO of Alton Lane, about the future of men’s fashion retail.

Subscription box services may be the big apparel movement right now, but tech and data are allowing at least one company to go in a very different direction: custom tailoring. Colin Hunter is the CEO and co-founder of high-end men's fashion company Alton Lane, and his goal is to make that retail experience personal — like, really personal. His company uses body scanners to get your body measurements in a matter of seconds, which are then sent to fabric makers who construct garments to order (which, of course, is not cheap).

Monday, Aug. 20, is Bailout Exit Day for Greece. The country’s prime minister has described Greece’s exit from a long bailout program as a moment of liberation. “Greece is regaining its political and economic independence,” Alexis Tsipras said, as he predicted a rosy future for the eurozone’s most heavily-indebted member state.     

Not all his fellow citizens are so optimistic.

The way credit scores are calculated is changing

Aug 15, 2018

A report from the New York Federal Reserve this week finds that the big reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — have started excluding certain items that used to be considered negative dings on our credit.

(Markets Edition) The stock market experienced a down day today. In addition to drops in the Dow and S&P, Europe and Asia markets also fell. We talked with Susan Schmidt, senior portfolio manager at Westwood Holdings, who mentioned speculation that the downward trend in Asia might have been due to some unfortunate earnings reports. Also, the online job-finding company Indeed put together a list that outlines which cities have the ideal blend of higher pay and decent cost-of-living.

Where will your paycheck go the furthest?

Aug 15, 2018

Indeed.com has crunched the numbers on salary and cost of living in 185 metro areas and come up with a list of cities where your salary will go the furthest. The list also indicates where economic and job opportunities will likely be strongest going forward. The top cities are Duluth, Minnesota; Wilmington, North Carolina; Lubbock, Texas; and San Antonio, Texas. See which other towns made the grade.

Major department stores report their earnings this week, starting with Macy’s on Wednesday, followed by Nordstrom and J.C. Penney on Thursday. After a retail slump and slide over many quarters, Americans are coming back to shopping, and the numbers show stores are enjoying the trend.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

(U.S. Edition) The Turkish lira rebounded again today, but there's been no cooldown in the ongoing feud between Turkey and the U.S. About a week after the U.S. raised tariffs on Turkish metals, Turkey followed suit with a tariff hike of its own on many items from the U.S. It's the latest move in this economic tug-of-war between the two countries, and we speak to the BBC's Turkey correspondent to hear about next steps. Also, we got a reading on retail sales that should be up, and we talk to Marketplace's Erika Beras for more.

Are we witnessing the renaissance of retail stores?

Aug 15, 2018

Your shopping experience might now include flutes of champagne, meticulously designed décor, and "robot" hands spraying you with fragrances. 

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … A political and economic feud between the U.S. and Turkey escalated after Turkey doubled tariffs on American goods including passenger cars and alcohol. We’ll bring you the very latest details from Istanbul. Then, South Korea’s president said he’ll connect his roads and railways to North Korea by the end of the year – progress after the summit between the two nations earlier this year. Afterwards, Mongolia is rich in copper, coal, gold, and one pre-historic commodity that’s struggling to keep safe from smugglers.

Why a diverse workplace can reduce cases of harassment and bullying

Aug 15, 2018

Toxic workplaces and problematic bosses are, as we've explored in recent days, difficult and complicated problems for employer and employees alike. Some experts recommend you confront your harasser, even if he or she is the boss.

How much do you pay for internet service each month? The National Digital Inclusion Alliance found that lots of customers are paying about $60 a month for their internet packages. Some get super slow internet speeds, while others get super fast speeds. Marketplace Tech guest host Amy Choi talked to Angela Siefer, executive director of the NDIA, about these speed disparities and the impact. Siefer described what service might look like for a household paying full-service prices, but stuck with outdated internet infrastructure.

How much do you pay for internet service each month? And what do you get for that price? The National Digital Inclusion Alliance found that lots of customers are paying about $60 a month for their internet packages. And, some get super slow internet speeds, while others get super fast speeds. Internet service providers say they’re working to upgrade networks for everyone. Today on the show, NDIA executive director Angela Siefer talks with us about what it means for families paying full service prices for outdated internet service. (08/15/2018)

FBI warns of sophisticated attack on ATMs

Aug 14, 2018

The website Krebs on Security reports that on Friday, the FBI sent banks around the country an alert. It said cyber criminals were preparing to a launch a global fraud scheme known as an “ATM cashout.” Small- and medium-sized banks appear most vulnerable to these kind of ATM attacks.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

"Crazy Rich Asians" hits theaters Aug. 15 and is the first Hollywood studio film in 25 years to feature an all-Asian cast. It's based on the book by the same by Kevin Kwan and stars Constance Wu, Awkwafina, Henry Golding and Michelle Yeoh. In anticipation of the cultural significance of this moment, director Jon M. Chu felt that it was important to release it with a studio that could put it in theaters. He turned down a big offer from Nexflix and went with Warner Bros. instead.

Next Monday, Aug. 20, is a red-letter day for the European Union. It’s Bailout Exit Day for Greece. The eurozone’s most heavily indebted member state will formally leave the program of financial support set up initially in 2012 when the cash-strapped country found itself unable to borrow in the markets at reasonable rates of interest.

International investors were shunning Greek government bonds for fear the country would default.

Can Greece finally finance itself?

Aug 14, 2018

The Greek government is declaring the end of its financial crisis and will celebrate Bailout Exit Day on Aug. 20. But how do the Greek people really feel about their economy? We went to Greece to find out. Meanwhile, in America, banks have been warned by the FBI that ATM hacks are on rise. We tell you what you need to know. Also on today's show: Slavery is an ugly part of America’s business history, one often ignored. A new book, “Accounting for Slavery: Masters and Management,” examines this and the connections between slavery and capitalism.

Pages