Illinois Economy

Business and economic news

Historian Caitlin Rosenthal extensively researched the morally reprehensible business of slavery for her new book, "Accounting for Slavery: Masters and Management." In the book, she lays out the case that slaveholding “planters” employed accounting and management techniques that are still in use by businesses today

Slavery in the United States was a business. A morally reprehensible — and very profitable business. Much of the research around the business history of slavery focuses on the horrors of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the business interests that fueled it. The common narrative is that today's modern management techniques were developed in the factories in England and the industrialized North of the United States, not the plantations of the Caribbean and the American South.

According to a new book by historian Caitlin Rosenthal, that narrative is wrong.

There was a time when the chugging of fax machines was heard in every office. No longer since e-mail and instant messaging services took over our lives. Even so, many of those big, industrial scanner/printer/copiers in offices also have built in fax machines. And a new study says those machines can be very easily hacked. 

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

The dam finally burst last week as many of the internet's largest platforms, like Facebook, YouTube and Apple Podcasts, banned conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. His site, InfoWars, has gained legitimacy from President Donald Trump in recent years, even as it spews hate speech and tars Sandy Hook victims as government-employed "crisis actors." Notably, Twitter didn't join other Silicon Valley titans in banning Jones. We talked with St.

The Turkish lira found some footing Tuesday morning, with its downward slide stopping for the time being. Still, the currency is down nearly 40 percent this month, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who sees Turkey as under economic attack, has declared that the country will boycott American electronic goods, singling out iPhones as an example.

(Markets Edition) The Turkish lira actually stopped falling for a change, actually rising about 5 percent today. But, plenty of damage still remains as it's still lost a third of its value in the past month. Businesses and Turkish citizens are still reeling from the drop, and the country's economic model is under scrutiny. We talk to a global economist from Wells Fargo Securities to get a clearer picture. Then, we'll get an update on American debt when the Federal Reserve Bank of New York releases calculations for the spring to early summer quarter.

In the days before streaming video and mail-order movies, the blue and orange sign proclaiming a Blockbuster video was the draw for millions of Americans settling into their living rooms for weekend movies. But competition and technology have now rendered the once giant chain to just one U.S. store in Bend, Oregon. And its manager says they plan to stay open, even as the others have closed.

Click the above audio player to hear the full story.

Scammers are targeting retirement savings. Here's how to fight them.

Aug 14, 2018

As we age, one of the things that sometimes gets lost in the mix is how we've handled our money. Did we save enough? What will our retirement be like? And if that's not enough, now add another worrisome element to the mix: retirement scammers. Con artists of all types are finding ways to sap the savings of aging retirees. Here to talk to us about what the government, the financial industry, and you can do about it is senior economics correspondent Chris Farrell. 

U.S. economic growth surged in the second quarter to 4.1 percent on an annualized basis. But that’s decidedly out of sync with the overall slow economic growth we’ve seen year after year since the Great Recession.

(U.S. Edition) The Turkish lira's precipitous drop has stopped, but that didn't stop the Turkish president from declaring that his country will boycott American smartphones. It's meant to be a message to the U.S., but no one's sure how this boycott is going to actually be enforced. Also, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco has calculated that the financial crisis of a decade ago cost people tens of thousands of dollars right out of their pocket.

The "creator" economy is made up of platforms, social media, and marketing dollars. But the people driving that economy, of course, are those who upload and share their music, comedy, photographs, and videos. Some of those creators can make a living at it, but most of them don't.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service…Turkey’s currency is seeing a pop higher today as the country’s president calls for a boycott on U.S. electronic goods – further straining economic relations with America. We’ll explore what that means for the ongoing financial problems in Turkey. Then, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro said fuel prices in his country will rise to international levels, ending the government’s policy of gas subsidies – but what do higher prices mean for people who are already suffering from sky-high inflation and a troubled economic picture?

The “creator” economy is made up of companies that host platforms, of social media, of marketing dollars, and of course, the talent uploading and sharing their music, comedy, photographs, and videos. Some of those creators make a living, but most of them don't. Gaby Dunn knows first-hand the emotional rollercoaster of the creator economy; of never being sure if her videos or other work will pay off by the time rent is due. And that's despite being a proven online success.

It’s been a rough day for Monsanto, the maker of the weedkiller Roundup. On Friday a jury awarded a California groundskeeper $289.2 million, concluding that exposure to Roundup caused his cancer. On Monday stock in Bayer, the company that acquired Monsanto earlier this year, tumbled 10 percent.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. 

Turkey’s new debt problem

Aug 13, 2018

Turkey’s currency fell to a new record low today. Year to date it’s lost almost half its value, leading some investors and lenders inside and outside of Turkey to lose confidence in the Turkish economy. 

Fax me, beep me, if you wanna reach me

Aug 13, 2018

Fax machines, once the height of telecommunications tech, have mostly gone the way of the beeper. Some offices still fax occasionally, via those big industrial copiers, which new research shows are very vulnerable to hacking. We'll talk through today's cybersecurity and yesterday's tech, but first: What you need to know about Zimbabwe's election and Turkey's currency crisis. Plus: A new book explores what it's like growing up in a company town when the company is the U.S. government.

What growing up in a company town is like when the company is the U.S. government

Aug 13, 2018

President Donald Trump signed a defense spending bill today called the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act, authorizing $717 billion worth of Pentagon spending for the coming fiscal year. Keeping the country and its military at war and prepared for war means a lot of jobs for a lot of people. For Karen Piper's family, building America's weapons of war was the family business. Her parents were weapons developers at the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station in the Mojave Desert.

Zimbabwe’s presidential elections in July were supposed to be a chance for the southern African nation to show the world that it’s moved beyond the authoritarianism and economic isolationism that marked former President Robert Mugabe’s rule.

That hope faded when six people were killed in post-election protests. Officially, ruling-party candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa won a razor-thin majority. But his top challenger, Nelson Chamisa, is contesting the results in court. That’s delayed the inauguration that had been scheduled for Sunday.

Georgia experiments with food stamp work training program

Aug 13, 2018

At a body shop in Atlanta, Leigh Anne Hatfield just finished taking apart the front of an SUV.

“This is a brand new Toyota Highlander. Got smacked in the front,” she said. Hatfield  said she loves her job here at the body shop. It’s her first job since she become a certified welder. A few month ago she was so poor, she had to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP or food stamps.

The economic crisis in Turkey deepened this morning, despite moves by central bank officials in Ankara to calm the flight from the currency. The Turkish lira has lost 39 percent of its value since the beginning of the month. And there’s a reason why the lira’s downfall makes investors nervous — analysts are looking to see if other economies might be feeling the pressure too.

President Donald Trump heads to upstate New York on Monday to sign one of the largest military budgets in the nation’s history. The $716 billion John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act  pours money into pay, training and equipment maintenance, among other things. But some point out it adds to the fast-rising federal deficit and ask whether this level of military spending can be sustained. 

(Markets Edition) The fall of the Turkish lira continues. The currency dropped another 7 percent today, bringing its total fall of value to about 40 percent for the month. This led the Turkish president to denounce those he called economic “traitors,” and we have an economist to talk to us about what happens next. Also, President Trump is expected to sign a $716 billion defense authorization bill, which will add thousands of personnel and even more debt to the federal budget.

Last month , LA took on predatory and high-pressure sales goals at major banks by tightening its responsible banking ordinance. Now, if a bank wants the city's $17 million taxpayer-funded contracts, it must be transparent about sales goal tactics and employee compensation, and it can’t retaliate against whistleblowers who report suspected illegal bank activity.

(U.S. Edition) Turkey’s economic crisis is even worse, with the lira having lost 39 percent of its value since the start of the month. An economics correspondent from the BBC  lets us know about other solutions that are being explored. Also, with heat waves putting pressure on power grids, we remember one of history’s biggest blackouts: In 2003,  a tussle between a power line and tree in Ohio eventually left about 50 million people in the Northeast powerless. Marketplace's Jed Kim takes a look at the reliability of the grid today.

(Global Edition) From the BBC World Service … Turkey’s central bank announced measures early this morning aimed at alleviating pressure on its embattled currency, the lira, which has fallen more than 40 percent so far this year. But are the country’s efforts enough to reassure international investors? Then, many of the world’s mining companies call South Africa home – in Peru, environmental regulations for medium and large-size companies have been relaxed in order to attract more investment, but not everyone is happy about this.

In the past few months there has been a lot of debate over guns that can be made with a 3D printer, which would make it easier for people to get a gun. But there's also a push happening in the tech startup world that is focused on making guns safer. "Smart gun" technology has been around since the 1970s. While the tech has evolved over time, the idea behind it has stayed the same: that only the rightful, registered user of the gun can operate it.

The idea behind "smart guns" is that only the registered owners of firearms are able to unlock and use them. The idea goes back to the 1970s, to a design that used a magnetic ring system that owners could match to their guns. The idea has evolved to use digital innovations. But even though the concept has been around a long time, smart guns still aren't on the market.

In the red vs. blue political struggle, which areas are seeing more job growth?

Aug 13, 2018

Many red-county voters who backed Donald Trump in the presidential race did so with the expectation that his leadership would lead to more jobs in their areas. However, a new analysis from the Associated Press has found that most (58.5 percent) of the job gains we've seen this year have been happening in counties that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Josh Boak, an economics writer for the Associated Press, helped put the report together.

Our power grid, then and now

Aug 13, 2018

It all started with a tree and a power line in Ohio. Within hours, electricity was out for some 50 million people across eight states in the Northeast and parts of Canada. It's been 15-years since the 2003 blackout, one of the largest in history, which shut down trains, traffic lights, ATMs, refrigerators and everything else with a plug. So, how's our power grid doing today? Well, things have changed.

For one, there's efficiency. 

Clara Malave, 50, works in the hot and loud laundry room at one of the bayfront hotels in Erie, Pennsylvania, loading linens into massive industrial washers and dryers. At $8.80 an hour, it's grueling work. But it is work, and she’s grateful for it. Like most of the other workers here, she’s a part-timer whose hours change constantly. She only knows a week out what her schedule will be. She keeps a carefully balanced checkbook and a list of her impending expenses.