Chicago is stepping up to be a trading hub for crypto

By Jinman Li
Medill Reports

Chicago is becoming a honeypot for cryptocurrency and will attract more and more crypto companies in the future, panelists said Tuesday at a luncheon panel hosted by the Executives’ Club of Chicago.

The birth of stock futures trading in the last century in Chicago demonstrated the city’s innovative spirit, said Sunil Cutinho, the president of CME Clearing. Compared with other metropolitans such as New York and San Francisco, Chicago focuses more on markets and has a unique ecosystem as a financial center, he added.

The different players in the ecosystem such as exchanges, financial institutions and technology companies are entering the cryptocurrency space, forming a concentration of upgrading power in Chicago, said Peter Johnson, vice president at Jump Capital, a Chicago-based venture capital firm.

Johnson said that Kraken, a bitcoin exchange based in San Francisco, is going to open its largest office in Chicago in 12 to 18 months.

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Chicago residents grapple with saving and spending

By Minghe Hu
Medill Reports

As a father of eight children, George Grea works hard at two jobs to pay off debts, his mortgage and to save money. Troubled by spending more than he should with his credit cards, the 47-year-old parent got rid of all of them and decided to build up his credit score slowly, he said.

Going shopping made him feel good and credit cards made expensive products seem affordable to him, so he couldn’t stop himself from overspending on things he didn’t need, Grea said. ​ Continue reading

Relation between money and happiness contingent on an individual’s situation

By Jinman Li
Medill Reports

Whether money can buy happiness varies among individuals, contingent on their backgrounds and situations and how much money the person earns.

A 2017 study from Purdue University using data from the Gallup World Poll, which surveyed more than 1.7 million people from 164 countries, found that earning between $60,000 and $75,000 a year is ideal for what lead author Andrew Jebb called “emotional well-being” in a press release. The finding aligns with a 2010 research from Princeton University, which found that people’s level of happiness rises with their annual income when it is below $75,000, but the correlation does not exist beyond that point.

Nancy Ladd, a financial advisor at Trinity Financial Advisors LLC, said although money is not the driving force of people’s happiness, it does come into play, especially when it is below a certain amount, which, according to the research, is earning $75,000 a year.

“That’s really a minimum point where people basically start to feel that they can keep their head above the water,” Ladd said.
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International Rugby Coming to Chicago

By Nick Mantas
Medill Reports

At a news conference inside Soldier Field it was announced The Rugby Weekend will be held in Chicago once again.
The last time Chicago hosted the event in 2016  sell-out crowds packed the Chicago Bears stadium to see their beloved country-men and women play rugby.

Team members from Italy, New Zealand, Ireland, and the United States all attended Tuesday’s announcement and answered questions on their anticipation of the event.

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People may not inherit parents’ money DNA, experts say

By Roxanne (Yanchun) Liu
Medill Reports

Lori Schwartz’s father, a 74-year-old doctor, only goes to restaurants for dinner where he can use coupons. Raised in a poor family, her father watches how much he spends all the time despite the good paychecks he now earns, embarrassing his daughter.

“I hate it,” she said. “His cheapness is not attractive. I never want to be like that.”

Several adults interviewed for this story said they are comfortable spending more money on themselves than their thrifty parents do, but they are still influenced by their parents’ money habits. These children cherry-pick their parents’ financial behaviors, adopting those that fit with their current economic situation and their expectations of future financial means, said Jean Marie Dillon, a certified financial planner at Freedom Financial Counseling, LLC.
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Tesla’s share price gets a bump from Model 3 production but the run may not continue

By Roxanne (Yanchun) Liu
Medill Reports

Shares of luxury electric-car manufacturer Tesla Inc. (TSLA) jumped the week after the company reported scaled-up production of its Model 3 sedan in the first quarter, but concerns about product quality and heightened competition have led to Wall Street’s skepticism about Tesla’s long-term stock price.

The Palo Alto, California-based auto maker said on April 3 it produced 2,020 Model 3 cars, its first mass-production affordable electric vehicle, in the seven days ending April 2, slightly missing its 2,500-unit weekly target announced in February. Tesla built 793 Model 3 vehicles in the last seven working days of the fourth quarter, according to a company press release published on Jan. 3

Tesla’s stock reached a 52-week low of $244.59 on April 2, the day before the company’s production announcement. It hit a 52-week high of $389.61 on Sept. 18. Shares closed at $294.08 on April 27.

Some investors doubt whether the Model 3 production increase represented the true-color of Tesla’s capacity in the long run.
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Boeing is strong despite drop in stock price

By Minghe Hu
Medill Reports

Wall Street expects the stock performance of Boeing Co. will overcome the turbulence of trade war with China because of strong market demand, although its stock price shows that investors have concerns.

The Chicago-based airplane behemoth is one of the largest commercial aircraft makers and defense contractors in the world. Its products include the narrow-body 737 family, the wide-body 787 family and KC-46 and Apache military aircraft.

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Mixed outlooks are revealed for Northern Trust’s future stock performance

By Jinman li
Medill Reports

Analysts and shareholders have mixed outlooks for Northern Trust Corp.’s stock price in the next 12 to 24 months, with changes in interest rate and the potential to expand just some of the challenges the financial services company faces.

Although just one of the 21 analysts polled by Bloomberg has a sell rating on Northern Trust’s stock, seven analysts rate it as a buy and 13 rate it a hold, with an average 52-week price target at $111.55. The stock closed at $107.04 on Tuesday. Its 52-week low was on May 17 at $85.41, and its 52-week high was on March 12 at $110.81.

“They’re close to being undervalued, but just not quite there yet,” said Jeffery Harte, an analyst at Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP who has a hold rating on the stock. “It’s a pretty good company with really good growth prospects, but it also has a much higher valuation P/E multiple than its peers, so it is priced appropriately.”

The trailing 12-month price-to-earnings ratio for Northern Trust, which measures its share price relative to its per-share earnings, is 20.96, compared with the financial sector average of 19.60, according to data compiled by Reuters.

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Annual blessing of the Bodega Bay fishing fleet marks a shorter and uncertain salmon season

By Rebecca Fanning
Bodega Bay, Calif.

The Karen Jeanne rocks and sways as Dick Ogg steers out of Bodega Harbor, past the rocky breakwall where surf-casting fishermen wave from their perches.

Behind him, an array of boats fall into line, each decorated with signs and flags, their decks full of fishermen, families and friends. To some this route is a familiar morning commute, the first turn on a many-miles journey in pursuit of albacore tuna, salmon, Dungeness crab or sablefish, depending on the season. To commercial fishermen the harbor marks the safe haven after a dangerous journey. For others, today offers a rare boating adventure – a chance to picnic, take photos and crack open a beer before noon.


But today is about more than just socializing. It’s day two of the 45th annual Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival and time for the annual Blessing of the Fleet, a centuries-old tradition which began in predominantly Catholic, Mediterranean fishing communities. According to tradition, a priest or pastor blesses the community’s fishing boats to ensure a bountiful harvest and safe return to the harbor.

Family and friends on board Ogg’s boat the Karen Jeanne. (Rebecca Fanning/Medill)

Dick Ogg’s slender build, kind expression and his smooth, tanned skin makes him appear younger than his 65 years. He estimates that he has attended the blessing for more than 25 years, though he’s lived in Sonoma County for much longer, moving here with his family when he was 7. The retired electrician once used fishing as a way to supplement his income, but now he’s taken to the water full-time.

“I’m always reminded of guys I’ve known who aren’t around anymore. Things happen out at sea.” – Dick Ogg

Ogg tells the story of a friend who was run over in a shipping lane, and another who passed away out at sea. But death is only one kind of tragedy that strikes the area’s fishermen.

In Bodega Bay, the blessing tradition began nearly 60 years ago and marked the start of a once-fruitful salmon season. But as regulators scramble to protect declining salmon populations, the season has become shorter and shorter. The California Fish and Wildlife announced earlier this month that commercial salmon fishing in this area would open late – not until July 26 –  and would run for barely two months. The late start cuts the commercial season in half, and with it the chance to make a living.

“The salmon fishery has been diminished to the point that there’s not enough money to make it through the season,” Ogg says, adding that Dungeness crab is the only fishery remaining that provides close to enough money to support working fishermen in the bay. And even then the owners of boats often can’t afford full-time employees when crab season slows.

“I have some bills that aren’t going away,” says one of the crew members on Ogg’s boat.  He tells me about his fear of a less-than-lucrative salmon season and his plan to seek summer work in Alaska’s more fruitful Bristol Bay or as a tuna fisherman in his native Atlantic waters off the east coast.

He says he’s not planning to wait to find out how the salmon yield. He’s already contacted several commercial fishing vessels in hopes of hopping aboard.

For now Pacific salmon join red abalone and Pacific halibut on the list of closed California fisheries. This year marks the first-ever closure for recreational red abalone, though the commercial fishery has been closed since 1996 and other abalone species placed on endangered species lists.


Right now, Ogg is fishing for black cod, a sustainable white fish often called sablefish, considered a best choice or good alternative by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s seafood watch. But black cod quotas are limited, and the real money still comes from Dungeness crab, a declining industry.

As the boat turns the bend, dense waves crash against Bird Rock, a local landmark named for the persistent birds that land on its surface, their white waste leaving a kind of organic graffiti on the gray stone. The skies are a brilliant blue, but dark clouds linger at their edges, a reminder of the dangers that lurk in open oceans.

Out on the water the harbormaster radio announces the start of the ceremony. The priest leans over a woven flower wreath and the prayers begin.

On board the Karen Jeanne, the crew goes silent, necks craned as all listen to the Lord’s Prayer, reminders of fishermen past and a few references to Jesus and his admiration for fishermen.

Ogg steers the boat closer to the action. “I could use all the blessing I can get,” he says.

As storm clouds cover the sun and boats speed back to the safety of the harbor, the priest blesses each boat, scattering holy water from a gold chalice into the salty air. Before he’s fully docked, raindrops speckle Ogg’s glasses and guests duck into the cabin, reminded of the uncertainty of nature and life on the water.

Photo at top: Fisherman Dick Ogg steers his boat the Karen Jeanne to the Blessing of the Fleet ceremony on Bodega Bay. (Rebecca Fanning/Medill)

Go solo or find a partner: When a startup needs a co-founder

By DeForest Mapp
Medill Reports

Today’s startup inventor often brings revelation to fruition by returning home from a fulltime job to start a second life. The inventor may catch a few hours sleep, push forward on design in pajamas until 4 a.m., get a little more sleep, show up for work and do it all over again.

For an entrepreneur in the tech space, this is living the life, according to an article from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ Career Outlook. But every founder goes through a series of life-changing steps needed to build a successful startup. While some steps revolve around people and establishing culture, the startup is equally hinged upon a good idea that solves a problem.

“Before you build something that nobody gives a shit about, why don’t [you] go back, make sure that we really understand the problem that we’re solving, that you’ve got a customer that cares enough to pay you for it,” said Billy Banks, associate program director of the Garage at Northwestern University. “If you don’t have that, you haven’t nailed the problem, yet.”

Founders who have spent countless hours designing the look, feel and tone of an experience, app or invention cannot believe what they have. That said, the next crucial steps include building a team, finding resources and hopefully scaling the business. According to an article on TechCrunch, there’s at least one way a founder can streamline that process – bring on a co-founder. The new partner may lack  business acumen but could work to pick up the skills or fill a gap as the tech whiz.

Paige Edmiston encourages healthcare startups to apply to MATTER, a non-profit and no-equity collaborative based in Chicago.

“We offer workshops in business [for our founders],” said Paige Edmiston, marketing manager of MATTER. “It’s really hard… there’s so much complexity [in a startup] that very few people know everything they need to know.”

Bringing equity to a startup, without diluting it, should come with a price, according to another TechCrunch  article. Skill sets such as programming, designing and JavaScript all seem easy enough – that is until a non-technical founder actually starts spending time in those environments. They will quickly learn they’re better off hiring someone else.

“The best way to hide your imperfections is to keep it simple,” said Scott Kitun, CEO of Technori. “It is much better to go into a little bit of debt… to hire the right person that does the job exceptionally well and faster and more efficiently than you, as a founder, spending your time doing something you’re not great at.”

Finding this kind of coveted type of talent might be easier if the founder lived somewhere near the Mission District in San Francisco, for example. It might be nice if a Bumble app existed just for technical and non-technical founders, allowing users to swipe left and right until a match is found. But until someone recognizes this as a problem, The Meetup app will do just fine.

“If you’re young, and you want to be in tech, your best bet is probably to go to SF because you can get a bunch of roommates, eat [obscenity] food and you can make it work in San Fran,” said Banks.

While twenty-something software developers in the Bay Area play the field and hold out for as much money as possible, the eager startup founder might consider relocating to Chicago, another hub for successful startups such as Groupon.

” [This] is why [you have] companies like Google and Facebook hiring more people here,” said Banks. “That’s why you have Amazon considering Chicago as a place to put their [headquarters], too.”

But even if the founder brings the startup to Chicago and finds it more affordable, he or she may face a potential dilemma. If the startup does not find a chief technology officer, it will more than likely not receive any rounds of capital from potential investors until this team member and a product is in place.

“You really have to have the business-model figured out of who’s going to pay for [the product],” said Edmiston. “Not only [having] a promising product and business model [is essential], but [we] also have [to have] confidence in the vision of the founder and the early-leadership-team.”

After months of searching and courting the right technical co-founder, the founder offers a candidate a partnership role, all contingent on his or her ability to deliver on a minimum viable product (MVP). And in exchange, the new startup is now defined by the efforts of two co-founders, partners in a new dream company.

The candidate accepts, thanks the founder and immediately begins assisting in building their future. But now the senior co-founder may start to anticipate how angel investors, venture capitalists and private equity firms receive the new team and idea-in-development.

“As you go into these meetings, you’re going to hear no a lot,” said Banks. The word no is “just an opportunity to ask a follow-up question and understand what the no is, so that when you get the next meeting, you’re starting to figure out how to overcome objections.”

The Startup Cycle and the Investment Stages: (DeForest Mapp/MEDILL)
Photo at top: A startup founder seeks a co-founder. (DeForest Mapp/MEDILL)