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Political Economy: September 12, 2010 - September 18, 2010

GM share sale won't be micromanaged by Treasury, department says

When the U.S. Treasury begins selling off its stake in General Motors, it will not seek to allocate shares to specific buyers, but officials expect that no single investor or group of investors will receive "a disproportionate share," the department said.

By Peter Whoriskey  | September 17, 2010; 5:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Auto industry, U.S. Treasury  
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Roubini, Zandi: Mortgage defaults as economic therapy

Mark Zandi, chief economist and co-founder of Moody's Economy.com, and President Obama at a fiscal responsibility summit in 2009. (Photo Credit: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post) By Howard Schneider Top economists Nouriel Roubini and Mark Zandi took the stage at...

By Howard Schneider  | September 17, 2010; 4:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  International Monetary Fund  
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Elizabeth Warren appointed White House 'consumer czar'

President Obama announced the appointment Friday of Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren to be an assistant to the president and oversee the creation of a new consumer financial protection bureau. Speaking at the Rose Garden, Obama called Warren "one of the country's fiercest advocates for the middle class" and said she will "oversee all aspects of the bureau's creation" and "play a pivotal role" in picking her successor. Outgoing chairman of the Senate banking committee, Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), had threatened to "defund" the agency if Warren were appoint to head it on an interim basis and bypass Senate confirmation. On Friday, he praised her as a "strong, qualified, and terrific watchdog" and urged President Obama to appoint a new head quickly. Darrell Issa (R-Calif), the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the Financial Services Committee, sent a letter to White House Counsel Robert Bauer raising questions surrounding the "unusual arrangement" of her appointment.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 17, 2010; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (98)
Categories:  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, U.S. Treasury  
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More about Elizabeth Warren by Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren was appointed by the White House to serve in special advisory role for consumer agency, sidestepping confirmation. President Obama will tap Warren to oversee a new consumer financial protection bureau while avoiding a potentially vicious Senate confirmation fight.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 17, 2010; 1:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Morning briefing: China gives green light to Taiwanese banks on mainland

China's Banking Regulatory Commission gave approval to four banks from Taiwan to set up branches on the mainland, a few days after a landmark trade agreement that will bring the two economies closer took effect. The president of Japanese electronics maker Sharp said the Japanese government should do more to stem the yen's rise to protect exporters. Gold prices climbed to another record high on Friday.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 17, 2010; 8:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  *Morning briefing  
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The understaffed Fed: What it really means

By Neil Irwin Since Don Kohn retired from the Federal Reserve Board of Governors on Sept. 1, the central bank has been severely understaffed in its executive ranks. (Only four of seven governor slots are currently filled; there are two...

By Neil Irwin  | September 17, 2010; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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Economic agenda: Friday, Sept. 17, 2010

Consumer Price Index for August released. Consumer sentiment for September released.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 17, 2010; 5:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  *Economic agenda  
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Senate approves small business aid

The Senate on Thursday passed a long-stalled bill aimed at providing the nation's small businesses easier access to credit, the latest effort to create jobs and boost the struggling economy. The 61-38 vote came just after noon, with two Republicans joining the Democratic majority to give President Obama a legislative victory he has been pursuing for months.

By Brady Dennis  | September 16, 2010; 3:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (48)
Categories:  Congress, Small business  
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Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman breaks campaign financing records with $119 million contribution

Whitman's personal contribution of $119 million to her campaign to be governor of California surpassed past a previous record set by another business executive: news mogul Michael Bloomberg. He spent spent $109 million last year in his campaign to win his third term as New York mayor last year.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 16, 2010; 1:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
 
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Data Digest: Mortgage rates remain at record lows

Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed loans averaged 4.37 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending Sept. 16, up slightly from 4.35 percent last week. The average for 15-year-fixed loans fell to another record low of 3.82 percent from 3.83 percent last week, according to Fannie Mae.

By Washington Post editors  | September 16, 2010; 11:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Housing  
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Speed Read: Geithner sharpens criticism of China

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner signaled in prepared testimony that the administration will take a tougher stance on China's economic policies.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 16, 2010; 10:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  China, U.S. Treasury  
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Data Digest: U.S. consumer purchases of imports lifts current account deficit

The current account trade deficit grew to $123.3 billion in the second quarter--a 12.9 percent increase from the first quarter. This is the fourth quarter of increases and the highest amount since late 2008, the commerce department said.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 16, 2010; 10:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Data Digest  
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Data Digest: China's holdings of U.S. Treasuries up slightly

China, the largest holder of U.S. Treasury debt, increased its holdings in July for the first time in two month for a total of $846.7 billion. That is an increase of 0.4 percent from June, following declines of 2.7 percent from May to June and 3.6 percent from April to May.

By Washington Post editors  | September 16, 2010; 9:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Data Digest  
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Data Digest: Jobless claims fall unexpectedly in encouraging sign

Initial claims for unemployment insurance dropped by 3,000 to 450,000 in the week ending Sept. 11. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected a slight rise to 459,000. The number of continuing claims fell by 84,000 to 4.49 million in the week ending Sept. 4. Economists had forecast they would drop to 4.46 million.

By Washington Post editors  | September 16, 2010; 9:18 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  *Data Digest  
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Data Digest: Wholesale costs inch up for second month

Producer Price Index The numbers: The index increased 0.4 percent in August for the second month. It was the biggest jump in five months. The median forecast according to a Bloomberg survey was for a 0.3 percent rise. Quick take:...

By Washington Post editors  | September 16, 2010; 9:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Data Digest, U.S. Economy  
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Morning briefing: U.S., China spar over currency again

China rejected U.S. pressure regarding its currency controls in response to complaints by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in testimony prepared for two congressional hearings Thursday. The Obama administration appears to be taking a harder stance against China ahead of midterm elections. The European Union agreed to ratify a free trade agreement with South Korea, its first such deal with an Asian partner. The Swiss central bank kept borrowing costs at almost zero in an effort to reign back the surging franc which is hurting its export-led recovery. India hiked a key interest rates more than expected.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 16, 2010; 8:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Morning briefing  
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Economic agenda: Thursday, Sept. 16, 2010

At 8:30 a.m. -- Labor Department releases initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending the prior Saturday. At 8:30 a.m. -- Producer Price Index for August released. At 8:30 a.m. -- U.S. current account deficit for 2Q released...

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 16, 2010; 5:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Economic agenda  
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Dueling trade stats: Chamber of Commerce vs. Trade Watch

Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch released a study it said proved that the Free Trade Agreements the U.S. has signed with 17 nations have done little to help the country's trade position. U.S. exports to those country's, the group contends, have grown slower than exports to non-FTA countries, and the U.S. stills runs a trade deficit with them. The Chamber of Commerce quickly fired back.The business group's took aim at the methodology of the report, and left the two in a typically arcane dispute over how to account for goods brought into the U.S. and then re-exported.

By Howard Schneider  | September 15, 2010; 4:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Trade  
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Industrial growth slowed in August

(Photo Credit: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg) By Neil Irwin The pace of growth in the industrial sector slowed in August, according to new data -- the latest sign of a recovery that is decelerating. Industrial production rose 0.2 percent last month,...

By Anne Bartlett  | September 15, 2010; 9:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Auto industry, Federal Reserve, U.S. Economy  
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Morning briefing: WTO ruling expected in Boeing dispute, U.K. unemployment claims rose unexpectedly

1. Japan intervened in the currency market for the first time in six years, buying dollars to stop the surge of the yen, which is at a 15-year-high. The World Trade Organization is expected to issue a preliminary ruling regarding the dispute between the European Union and the United States over multi-billion dollar U.S. government support for Boeing. The European Commission published draft rules on trading of derivatives and short-selling, saying these financial vehicles operate in "Wild West territory." The annual inflation rate in the 16-country euro zone dipped in August, the European Union's Eurostat statistics agency said Wednesday. Unemployment claims in the U.K. rose unexpectedly in August for the first time since January, data from the Office of National Statistics showed Wednesday. The unemployment rate fell by 0.1 percent to 7.8 percent in the three months until July.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 15, 2010; 8:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Morning briefing  
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Economic agenda: Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010

Import prices for August released. Industrial production for August released. House Ways and Means Committee holds hearing on China's exchange rate policy. Witnesses include C. Fred Bergsten, Ph.D., Director, Peterson Institute for International Economics, and Leo W. Gerard, international President of the United Steelworkers.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 15, 2010; 5:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Economic agenda  
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Small business aid bill clears key Senate hurdle

Senate Democrats snagged two GOP votes Tuesday to end debate on a bill aimed at jumpstarting the struggling economy and creating jobs by giving small businesses easier access to credit.

By Brady Dennis  | September 14, 2010; 2:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
Categories:  Congress, Small business  
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Data Digest: Retail sales stronger than expected

U.S. retail and food services sales for August were $363.7 billion, an increase of 0.4 percent from the previous month and 3.6 percent more than August 2009. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected a rise of 0.3 percent in the July to August numbers.

By Washington Post editors  | September 14, 2010; 10:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Data Digest, Retail  
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Retail sales jump the most in five months

Retail sales in August experienced the biggest jump in five months, in an encouraging sign that the economy is slowly regaining its footing. The Commerce Department reported that purchases were up 0.4 percent from July to August as consumers returned to department stories, clothing boutiques, sporting good outlets and a wide range of other shops. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected a rise of 0.3 percent.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 14, 2010; 9:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Retail, U.S. Economy  
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Morning briefing: Europe's strong recovery slowing

Europe's strong recovery appears to be slowing, according to economic data released Tuesday. Industrial production unexpectedly stagnated in July and German investor confidence fell sharply. The U.K.'s Consumer Prices Index remained at 3.1 percent for the sixth month as prices for bread and clothes grew more sharply than expected. The dollar fell to a new 15-year-low against the yen. The U.S. dollar also fell to a fresh low against the Chinese yuan in the third day of trading as Congress prepares hearings on Beijing's foreign exchange policies.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 14, 2010; 8:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Morning briefing  
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Economic agenda: Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2010

At 7:30 a.m. -- National Federation of Independent Businesses survey At 8:30 a.m. -- Retail sales for August released by Commerce Department. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect a small jump of 0.3 percent from July. At 10 a.m. -- Business...

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 14, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Economic agenda  
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Elizabeth Warren's latest buzz: Maybe 'interim director' of consumer bureau

Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren set the political blogosphere abuzz once again Monday, this time with speculation that the White House might appoint her as an "interim director" of the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, in order to avoid a messy Senate confirmation battle.

By Brady Dennis  | September 13, 2010; 8:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  
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Geithner pushes Obama's economic agenda with Hispanic Caucus

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner addresses the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in Washington. (Photo Credit: Charles Dharapak) By Brady Dennis Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner Monday continued the Obama administration's push for more measures aimed at stimulating the economy, even...

By Brady Dennis  | September 13, 2010; 11:03 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  *Economic agenda, U.S. Economy  
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Morning briefing: Mixed reaction to new banking rules

1. Global markets rose Monday on the news that regulators had agreed on new rules to help strengthen banks and avoid another financial crisis. The European Commission welcomed the capital strengthening rules and said they will increase stability. But the...

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 13, 2010; 8:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Morning briefing  
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Week ahead: retail, industrial sector and inflation

This week look for numbers on retail sales, manufacturing and wholesale inflation

By Neil Irwin  | September 13, 2010; 6:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Economic agenda  
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