economy

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For all the political turmoil at home and in places like Germany, the UK, Zimbabwe, and the Middle East, the economic news - at many levels - has been generally positive in 2017.  Economies, in both developed and developing countries, have expanded in the past 11 months.

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The work of the United Nations is honored at this time each year with United Nations week. Despite a speech by President Donald Trump to the UN General Assembly last month, the place of the United States in the global political sphere is tenuous. Foreign aid and the State Department have been in the cross-hairs when it comes to cuts to the federal budget.

One of the buzzwords, when it comes to the economy, is “uncertainty.” Politicians blame slow economic growth on uncertainty over future tax rates or incoming revenue. Businesses decide to hold off on hiring because of uncertainty.

All of that leads to a lot of uncertainty for people in middle and lower classes of wage earners - uncertainty over paying the rent, buying food, affording college.

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There was a lot promised to the residents of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 2013. China-based tech company Foxconn "sent a jolt through the state capital" when it's CEO announced that a $30 million facility would be built to bring tech jobs to the area. The plans never materialized.

So what does this have to do with southeastern Wisconsin? 

This month, in a visit to Waukesha County Technical College, President Donald Trump alluded to potential negotiations that could lead to a tech plant in Wisconsin run by the very same company.

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Foreign policy and trade agreements have taken center stage in the Trump administration, but it remains unclear how the President’s rhetoric will translate to action.

In one of his first executive orders after the inauguration, Donald Trump withdrew the United States from negotiations over the TPP - also known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The proposed trade agreement was used by both Democrats and Republicans during the campaign, as a proxy for the pitfalls of globalization.

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As the stock markets opened today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was running at just over 19,885.  If things go especially well today, it could very well finish over the 20,000 mark for the first time in history. 

This may seem monumental, but award-winning Washington Post financial columnist and Marketplace Morning Report contributor Allan Sloan says not to get too excited.

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President-elect Donald Trump has upended many typical Washington conventions during the campaign and more recently, in his transition period. From international relations to science and environmental policy, predicting exactly what the Trump Presidency will look like is a challenging task.

Master Lock

Wisconsin-based company Master Lock attracted national headlines and a presidential visit a few years ago when it announced that it was bringing jobs back from overseas to its Milwaukee manufacturing plant.

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Political analysts around the world are trying to make sense of three ongoing phenomena: the success of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the adamancy of Bernie Sanders and his supporters, and the Brexit vote in the UK.

There are obviously some key differences between these issues, but writer and Milwaukee native Sandy Tolan thinks there is one major factor at work in nearly all the stories of voter dissatisfaction around the world.  That factor, he says, is globalization. 

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Income inequality is on the rise, both nationally and locally. While Wisconsin’s income gap is lower than the national average,  recent changes in tax laws may only deepen the growing divide.

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In 2015, more than 190 world leaders signed onto the United Nations' list of Sustainable Development Goals. They address global inequality and promote more sustainable societies over the next fifteen years. The goals are universal – they’re designed to apply not just to the developing world, but to communities like ours, as well.

UW-Milwaukee is using these goals as a jumping-off point for its latest live lecture series.

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Last year ended on a positive note for Milwaukee’s real estate sector. The Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors reported the area had its strongest December for home sales since 2004.  It was the eleventh straight month home sales increased here.

At the same time, the latest numbers show some cautionary signs – especially for people trying to afford their first home.  Lawrence Yun is the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, and he adds some context to the discussion.

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Tuition and other college costs have risen astronomically and grants and other forms of non-debt aid haven’t kept pace. It’s not uncommon for students across the country today to graduate with crushing balances owed to the federal government and to private lenders – the latter often at high interest rates.

Wisconsin hasn’t escaped the trend. According to Bruce Murphy, editor at Urban Milwaukee, the percentage of debt incurred by Wisconsin’s students rose sharply in the past decade – faster than all but 6 other states.

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Oscar Mayer on Wednesday announced that it will close its plant in Madison in 2017 leaving around 1,000 people unemployed. 

The news followed an announcement by Joy Global that it plans to lay off more than 100 people in the Milwaukee area starting this month, and reports of Wisconsin based Quad Graphics closing plants elsewhere in the country.

WUWM's LaToya Dennis caught up with Marquette University economics professor Abdur Chowdhury to find out what’s going on.

(vincent desjardins) / Flickr

The headlines have suggested that the third quarter of the fiscal year was not a bright one for Milwaukee's Harley-Davidson.

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