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Political Economy: February 13, 2011 - February 19, 2011

New consumer protection bureau headquarters to be across from White House

The Treasury Department announced on Friday that the headquarters of the soon-to-be-live Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be just across from the White House complex, at 1700 G Street, NW (in the building currently occupied by the Office of Thrift...

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | February 18, 2011; 3:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  
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What's on Bernanke's mind? A 'word cloud' analysis of the Fed chairman's recent speeches

Ben S. Bernanke is known for being cautious with his words. Unlike his predecessor Alan Greenspan--whose positive statements and insinuation of pessimism about interest rates or the economy regularly moved markets--Bernanke's public remarks have often been harder to read. In 2010, Bernanke gave 26 speeches and each event was scrutinized by everyone from Wall Street CEOs to pensioners for any indication of a change in policy. Here's a graphical representation of what was on Bernanke's mind at a particular time. These "word clouds" for the Fed chair's five most recent public appearances give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in his speeches.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | February 18, 2011; 10:52 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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Economic agenda: Friday, Feb. 18, 2011

At 8 a.m. -- Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke speaks at G-20 conference in Paris about global imbalances and financial stability. Bernanke is expected to be critical of China's currency policies....

By Washington Post editors  | February 18, 2011; 6:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Economic agenda  | Tags:  Bernanke  
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U.S. regulators preparing to sanction banks for foreclosure violations

U.S. regulators are preparing to sanction some of the 14 largest, federally regulated banks for "critical deficiencies and shortcomings" in foreclosure procedures, Acting Comptroller of the Currency John Walsh testified on Thursday. In remarks before the Senate Banking Committee, Walsh said that a multi-agency task force had concluded its examination of the banks and found violations of state and local foreclosures laws, regulations and rules.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | February 17, 2011; 11:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Congress, Housing  
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Explore projected spending in Obama's budget

Interest payments on the national debt are projected to quadruple over the next decade, surpassing spending on Medicaid, Medicare and domestic programs. Explore the government's projected spending through this interactive chart:

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | February 17, 2011; 10:13 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (50)
Categories:  Budget and fiscal policy, White House  
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Economic agenda: Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011

At 8:30 a.m. -- The Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims. At 8:30 a.m. -- The Labor Department releases consumer-price index for January. At 10 a.m. -- The Conference Board releases leading economic indicators for January. At 10 a.m. --...

By Washington Post editors  | February 17, 2011; 6:29 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Economic agenda  | Tags:  Bair, Bernanke, Gensler, Schapiro  
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Fed raises projection on economic growth to 3.9% in 2011

Federal Reserve policymakers expect the U.S. economy to grow as much as 3.9% this year, slightly higher than earlier projections, according to minutes of the central bank's last policy meeting.

By Jia Lynn Yang  | February 16, 2011; 2:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (78)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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Economic agenda: Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011

At 8:30 a.m. -- The Labor Department releases producer-price index for January. At 8:30 a.m. -- The Commerce Department releases housing starts for January. At 9:15 a.m. -- The Federal Reserve releases industrial production for January. At 10 a.m. --...

By Washington Post editors  | February 16, 2011; 6:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Economic agenda  | Tags:  Fed, Federal Reserve, Geithner, Lew  
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Warren slams opponents of new consumer bureau for trying to 'chip away at its independence'

White House advisor Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday accused critics of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for "trying to chip away at its independence" by subjecting it entirely to Congressional appropriations. "Politicizing the funding of bank supervision would be a dangerous precedent," Warren, a Harvard professor who is charged with setting up the new agency, said in prepared remarks to be delivered this afternoon to members o the Consumers Union. Warren said that the CFPB, which was set up to make sure things like credit agreements and other financial products are regulated in a way that protects consumers, would effectively be deprived of the funds it needs to keep large banks in check.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | February 15, 2011; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, White House  
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How has the recession affected your spending and saving habits?

In the wake of the recession, data shows that consumers are becoming more frugal....

By Sarah Halzack  | February 15, 2011; 12:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
 
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Retail sales inch up in January

Consumer trades crept up in January, continuing the momentum of the past seven months, the U.S. Commerce Department said Tuesday. Retail and food service sales for last month penciled in at $381.6 billion, an increase of 0.3 percent from the prior month, and 7.8 percent higher than January 2010. Without gasoline and auto, total retail and food sales increased 0.2 percent in January. Officials revised total sales for November to December 2010 from 0.6 percent to 0.5 percent.

By Danielle Douglas | Capital Business  | February 15, 2011; 12:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Retail  
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World Bank report: Jump in global food prices pushes millions into poverty

Rising food prices pushed millions of people into extreme poverty last year and are reaching "dangerous levels" in some countries, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said on Tuesday as he released new data showing the cost of grain and other staples is now near its historic high. A bank index of food costs rose 15 percent over the last four months and is now just three percent below the level reached in 2008, a historic high that eased during the economic downturn. Wheat prices have been among the fastest moving, doubling between June and January as Russia restricted exports, Australia's crop was damaged by flooding and the size of China's upcoming winter crop has been cast into doubt due to an ongoing drought.

By Howard Schneider  | February 15, 2011; 12:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Food prices, International Economics  
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Congress begins debate on regulation of financial 'WMDs'

As part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law meant to prevent future crises, Congress last year demanded a new system of regulation for the financial instruments known as derivatives. Now a battle is brewing over the details of that regulatory regime. Tuesday, a House committee operating under the new Republican majority is examining how regulators are writing rules that could determine the safety, efficiency and cost of derivatives. The House Financial Services Committee is giving businesses a forum to air complaints that the emerging rules may be too confining.

By David S. Hilzenrath  | February 15, 2011; 9:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Congress  
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Economic agenda: Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011

At 8:30 a.m. -- The Commerce Department releases retail sales for January. At 10 a.m. -- The Commerce Department releases business inventories for December. At 10 a.m. -- The National Association of Home Builders releases its home builders' confidence survey...

By Washington Post editors  | February 15, 2011; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  *Economic agenda  | Tags:  budget, food prices  
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Carlyle Group Names Chief Financial Officer

Adena T. Friedman, chief financial officer at NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc., has been named the new chief financial officer of the Carlyle Group, Carlyle announced Monday.

By Thomas Heath  | February 14, 2011; 4:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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China overtakes Japan as world's No. 2 economy

In a historic shift of economic powers, China has leapfrogged over Japan to become the world's second-largest economy. Japan's government made it official Monday when it said that its economy shrank at a 1.1 percent annual rate for the last three months 2010. China's GDP, meanwhile, surged 9.8 percent. That made Japan's full-year GDP $5.47 trillion as compared to the $5.88 trillion China reported. Both economies remain significantly smaller than that the world's largest economy--the United States.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | February 14, 2011; 1:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  International Economics  
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