Crain’s Headlines: Investors Weigh Effects of Climate Change

Investors in municipal bonds are increasingly weighing the effects of climate change in their calculations, and a new report out Tuesday from Moody’s Investor Service indicates Illinois bonds are not going to benefit from the new math.

What with the state’s mounting pension woes, billions of dollars in unpaid bills and a shrinking population, Wall Street already has plenty of reasons to be concerned about Illinois’ credit quality. But Moody’s forecasts that Western Illinois and Missouri are two areas that are expected to experience the greatest rise in extreme temperatures by the year 2040, and that will have an impact on the risk-worthiness of Illinois bonds.

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“Heat stress will contribute to a greater frequency and severity of extreme climate events like heat waves, droughts or wildfires,” Moody’s projects. “And many local governments will face new costs related to those events.”

In other local business news:

United Airlines is betting that easier upgrades will appeal to elite flyers.

The Chicago-based carrier said Tuesday that new changes to its mileage loyalty program are designed to alleviate “pain points” identified by frequent flyers.

United is converting the current MileagePlus program to a bank of points, dubbed PlusPoints, that can be used to apply for upgrades. Travelers who reach United’s top platinum and 1K elite levels attain the perks.

The changes will roll out starting Dec. 4.

And finally, the Chicago-based restaurant concept factory Lettuce Entertain You is expanding its presence in an emerging new facet of the industry – namely, virtual restaurants.

Basically, it’s a restaurant minus a restaurant – in essence, a commercial kitchen that will produce and deliver restaurant-quality food, without the expense of a dining room and wait staff.

On Tuesday, Lettuce announced it’s partnering with Chicago-based delivery service Grubhub and the gourmet magazine Bon Appetit. The virtual restaurant produce meals based on recipes curated from the magazine. The menu will be available at lunch and dinnertimes for residents of Lincoln Park, Lakeview and River North. Grubhub will handle deliveries.

Crain’s Headlines is a joint production between WTTW and Crain’s Chicago Business. It airs every Monday through Thursday on the WTTW News program “Chicago Tonight.” 

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