Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

Chegg CEO on shifting the company from textbooks to digital

Sep 5, 2018

When Dan Rosensweig took over as CEO of Chegg back in 2010, the company was mainly known for textbook rentals. The Chegg of today looks a little different. The company went public in 2013 and transitioned into subscription-based tools likes bibliography services, AI paper editors and tutors. We sat down with Rosensweig to talk about what it was like to lead the company through that transition and where a company like Chegg fits into the education landscape of today. 

Facebook and Twitter executives pledged on Wednesday to better protect their social media platforms in the 2018 elections and beyond, and told Congress of aggressive efforts to root out foreign intrusions aimed at sowing divisions in American democracy.

Facebook’s No. 2 executive, Sheryl Sandberg, and Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, testified before the Senate intelligence committee, but there was an empty chair for Google’s parent Alphabet, which refused to send its top executive.

Nobody likes thinking about a financial crisis

Sep 5, 2018

We continue our conversation with Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari, and instead of looking back at the financial crisis 10 years ago, we look forward to potential economic what-if scenarios. Kashkari thinks uncertainty in emerging markets could spark a new crisis, so we'll take a closer look at the plunge of currencies abroad. Also, a look back to FEMA’s response to Hurricane Maria. According to a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, FEMA wasn’t ready to handle the disaster. We talk about why that was the case. Plus, how much do you spend in a week?

The Fed targets 2 percent inflation for the U.S. economy, working carefully to try to keep it from rising above that level. Right now, inflation is tracking near that target, but it wasn't always like that.

More Syrian refugees live in Turkey than in any other country. Since the conflict broke out in 2011, more than 3.5 million Syrians have found refuge in their neighboring country. Most Syrians live in large Turkish cities, like Istanbul and Gaziantep, making up nearly 5 percent of the country’s overall population. We asked Syrians who’ve had to rebuild their lives in Turkey: Where did you think you’d be at this point in your life, and where are you now?

Mahmoud Jarkis

What happens when we're transparent about what we make and spend

Sep 5, 2018

What does financial advice specifically for women look like? Refinery29's Work & Money Editor Lindsey Stanberry says they launched their Money Diaries series after seeing that women wanted to share their personal stories and that the website's audience couldn't get enough of them.

(Markets Edition) Players of the market are working their way around the news that America sent away more than it brought in during July. The trade deficit has widened to its largest gap in five months, and there's possibly more to it than trade. The chief global strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds told us more. Also, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is heading to Pakistan on Wednesday to meet with its new prime minister, but also to urge the country to do more to counter extremists. This comes after the U.S. denied an aid package to Pakistan.

One amusement park tries the smaller is better approach

Sep 5, 2018

Giant theme parks often compete for visitors with ever bigger attractions and wilder rides. But in California, one amusement company thinks smaller is better. Two Bit Circus is trying to reinvent old-fashioned carnivals by opening a so-called "micro-amusement park." The 50,000 square foot park can fit up to 700 visitors. It's a gamble in a time when many traditional circuses and family fun centers are struggling or closing. Two Bit is betting its mash-up of classic carnival fun, new tech, and interactivity will appeal to today's consumers. 

On Tuesday, Amazon became the second U.S. company, after Apple, to reach $1 trillion in market value. But the company also made another big move in a market halfway around the world: India. Amazon is now offering its website and app in Hindi for Indian consumers, in addition to English.

Congress is set to vote on a bill that would require student borrowers to receive annual financial counseling. That means online or in-person sessions for any student with a federal loan or a Pell Grant. The proposed law is aimed at improving financial literacy at a time when student debt is topping $1.4 trillion, and default rates keep growing.

(U.S. Edition) Canadian and U.S. officials sat down Wednesday to talk trade and perhaps find solutions to their many – many – differences with a potential NAFTA overhaul looming. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau isn't giving ground on some key issues. Also, with student debt piling up to $1.4 trillion, Congress is preparing to vote on a bill that requires student borrowers to get financial counseling every year. The counseling can happen online or in-person. Then, we take a look at the form the global economy has taken 10 years since the financial crisis.

The global economy a decade after the financial crisis

Sep 5, 2018

It's been more than 10 years since the global financial crisis, and the global economy is in a much different place than it was then. But other risk factors may be on the horizon. Host David Brancaccio spoke with Susan Lund from the McKinsey Global Institute on the issue. She and her colleagues recently published a report called "A Decade After the Global Financial Crisis: What Has (and Hasn’t) Changed?"

Below are excerpts from their conversation.

Banks are "struggling to find profitable new business models.”

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … After a meeting with the International Monetary Fund, Argentina is waiting for a decision on an advance loan of $50 billion. We hear how locals in Buenos Aires are dealing with economic hardship. Then, it’s been dubbed the scallop war – feuding French and British fisherman will hold talks in London to try and calm frayed nerves over rules governing scallop fishing in the English channel.

Ephemeral marketing is a big trend in social media advertising. You may know it as “stories.” Snapchat started the idea with short video or picture updates that disappear after 24 hours. Instagram copied the feature successfully, and this summer announced it had 400 million daily users on Instagram Stories. Over a million brands are creating Instagram Stories, and according to numbers Facebook released back in May, agencies are investing about 8 percent of their digital marketing budgets in the form.

Ephemeral marketing is a big trend in social media advertising. That's just another term for social media “stories,” the short video or picture updates that disappear after 24 hours. Snapchat started the form, which Instagram copied successfully (this summer the company announced it had 400 million daily users on Instagram Stories). Over a million brands are now creating Instagram Stories, and Facebook said back in May that agencies are investing about 8 percent of their digital marketing budgets in the format.

The battle for small e-investors

Sep 4, 2018

Trading stocks isn’t what it used to be. It’s a whole lot cheaper, especially for small investors who use E-Trade, Charles Schwab and Betterment. They’ve all been slashing fees and restrictions in a battle for our business. But this week, JPMorgan Chase big footed them all, with an app that lets its 60 million customers trade for free.

80: Google is rigged, just not in the way Trump thinks

Sep 4, 2018

As top executives from Twitter and Facebook (and maybe Google?) get ready testify for Congress on fake account and election interference, tweets from President Trump have steered the conversation to questions of anti-conservative bias on these companies' platforms. One of the President's particular claims - that search results are skewed against right-wing content - doesn't pass muster, says mathematician Cathy O’Neil.

The biggest bailout in history, 10 years later

Sep 4, 2018

Neel Kashkari runs the Minneapolis Fed now, but 10 years ago he was in charge of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, also known as the bank bailout. We talked with Kashkari about how TARP architects put a pricetag on the bailout, how his life changed after the crisis and what Congress would do if another one hit. Then, why Nike chose Colin Kaepernick as the new face of Nike's "Just Do It" campaign. Plus, what you need to know about political ads on Facebook.

Japan and the United States have a long history of not only economic competition, but also cultural exchange. In the U.S., for instance, sushi and anime are popular. And the Japanese long ago adopted baseball and jazz. If that’s old news to you, here’s one America-to-Japan export that might surprise you: U.S. convenience stores.

This story is about one of those stores: an iconic Ohio chain that went extinct there decades ago, only to become one of the most ubiquitous convenience store brands in Japan.

Throughout 2018, Marketplace is marking the 10th anniversary of the financial crisis, from the impact of the Great Recession on our personal lives to how key decisions were made to recalibrate the U.S. economy. Earlier this year, Marketplace's Kai Ryssdal sat down with former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke along with former Treasury secretaries Henry Paulson and Tim Geithner to talk about the financial crisis from their unique viewpoints. 

Amazon has become the second publicly traded company to be worth $1 trillion, hot on the heels of iPhone maker Apple.

Amazon has revolutionized how people shop online and is the world’s dominant internet retailer. In two decades the company expanded far beyond its bookseller beginnings, combining its world-spanning retail operation with less flashy but very profitable advertising and cloud computing businesses.

The company’s blowout success has made its founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, No. 1 on Forbes’ billionaires list this year.

Fuel prices are on the rise, and that’s a problem for budget airlines that need fuel  prices to stay low so they can keep ticket prices competitive. Fuel can account for up to 25 percent of airline operating costs, so it’s a big expense, but one that’s easier for the larger airlines to absorb. Smaller regional airlines are already dealing with other issues — pilot shortages, aircraft availability — and rising fuel costs are adding to their bottom line woes.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

(Markets Edition) August was a solid month for U.S. stocks, but September has been historically rough. On Tuesday, the Dow came down 100 points. Is September to blame? Also, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau just lost its watchdog for student loans, Seth Frotman. He said the U.S. wasn't doing enough to protect the more than 40 million Americans dealing with student debt. He leaves at a time where scam artists are targeting that debt-ridden group.

Second to only the holiday season in retail sales, back-to-school spending in the U.S. is expected to reach $82.8 billion this year for K to 12 schools and colleges combined, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. Back-to-college spending takes the cake at $55.3 billion, while back-to-school for K to 12 is $27.5 billion. 

So, think you could do your job in less than eight hours a day? Nearly half of employees surveyed by the Kronos Workforce Institute said they could do their job fine in just five hours — if they could do it uninterrupted. And about 40 percent of respondents in the United States want a four-day workweek — as long as they don’t lose any pay to get it.

(U.S. Edition) Social media companies will be participating in hearings on Wednesday to testify about foreign influence – specifically the version U.S. officials believe happened in the time leading up to the 2016 elections. Also, there's more trade news, this time with the U.S. offering Europe an offer around U.S. beef imports. There's history behind a quota meant to aid the U.S. cattle industry after European limits were found to violate trade rules.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … As the U.S. and China continue to ratchet up their trade war, China is fostering better relations in Africa. We hear from one of Kenya’s richest men and best-known entrepreneurs about what the investment from the world’s second-largest economy has meant for business in Kenya. Then, after new austerity measures were unveiled in Argentina on Monday, the country’s finance minister heads to Washington to try and secure an early release of a multi-billion dollar loan from the IMF.

Facebook, Twitter and Google have been invited to Capitol Hill tomorrow to testify in hearings about possible bias on their platforms. The companies have all been pledging to do better in recent months. But there's no escaping that their platforms have been used to undermine democracy, incite violence and spread hate speech, among other ills. Jane McGonigal is a game developer and researcher at the Institute for the Future.

Facebook, Twitter and Google have been invited to Capitol Hill to testify Wednesday in hearings about possible bias on their platforms. The companies have all been pledging to do better in recent months. But their platforms have been used, in some cases, to undermine democracy, incite violence and spread hate speech, among other ills. Jane McGonigal is a game developer and researcher at the Institute for the Future.