The Week Ahead: Jan. 23-29, 2012

January 22, 2012 09:14 PM

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

State of Union Address | Debt limit hike | Securities legislation | Keystone XL pipeline| U.S. budget legislation

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

President Obama's State of the Union address, repeal of a part of the health care law, and possible action on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization measure will be the focus of Congress this week, as the Senate joins House members back for 2012 action.

The Senate will focus on President Obama's request for a $1.2 trillion increase in the nation's debt limit, and could vote on an agreement for a long-term extension of FAA. The House Jan. 18 passed a resolution (HJRes 98) rejecting the request, but that action may have little consequence as the Senate is expected to approve the raise, the third and final installment of the debt limit deal agreed from last August.

House members will consider the CLASS Act (HR 1173), and a bill (HR 3575) to change the current budgetary process. The budget measure, called the Legally Binding Budget Act of 2011, would change the budgetary process from a concurrent resolution to a joint resolution, a shift which would require the president's signature and give the measure the force of law. House GOP leadership also is scheduled to vote on the Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act of 2011. That bill, approved by the House Ways and Means Committee Jan. 18, aims to repeal the CLASS program, a piece of the administration's health care reform law that provided insurance for long-term care.

Both chambers will meet for a joint session of Congress Jan. 24 to receive the president's State of the Union speech. President Obama's speech is expected to lay several of his short- and long-term initiatives, including an extension of the payroll tax cut, job creation programs, and energy-related incentives. That speech is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. CT in the House chamber.

Obama's campaign on Jan. 21 released a video to frame the president's address, during which the president will ask the wealthy to pay their fair share. Obama said the speech in many ways would be a "bookend" to the speech he gave in Kansas last month, when he said this was a make-or-break moment for the middle class. In a Dec. 6 speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, Obama called on Congress to not only extend the payroll tax cut, but to pay for it though an increase in taxes on the wealthy and to fundamentally re-think the nation's tax system. The country now has a choice between two directions: one toward less opportunity and fairness, and one toward an economy that works for everyone, not just a wealthy few, Obama said in his video. "On Tuesday night, I'm going to talk about how we'll get there. I'm going to lay out a blueprint for an economy that's built to last," he said. This will include American manufacturing, with more good jobs and more products stamped "Made in America;" American energy, fueled by homegrown and alternative energy sources; and skills for workers, getting people the education and training they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow, Obama said. "And most importantly, a return to American values. A fairness for all, and responsibility from all. They're big ideas, because we've got to meet this moment. And this speech is going to be about how we do it," Obama said.

House members have another short week, with Democrats set to leave for Cambridge, Md. on Jan. 26 for a three-day issues conference to set their legislative priorities.

The House Agriculture Committee Wednesday will meet to markup six bills to amend securities regulations. The full committee will mark up the Business Mitigation and Price Stabilization Act of 2011 (HR 2682), which would allow certain non-financial entities that are counterparties in swap or security-based swap transactions to be exempted from current laws that require such entities to meet certain margin requirements; and a bill (HR 1840) which would improve consideration by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) of the costs and benefits of its regulations and orders. The other bills include a measure (HR2779) that would exempt inter-affiliate swaps from certain regulatory requirements in the Dodd-Frank Act; the Swap Execution Facility Clarification Act (HR 2586), to refine the definition of swap execution facility in the provisions regulating swap markets; the Small Business Credit Availability Act (HR 3336), to ensure the exclusion of small lenders from certain regulations of the Dodd-Frank Act; and the Protecting Main Street End-Users from Excessive Regulation Act (HR 3527), which would amend the Commodity Exchange Act to clarify the definition of swap dealer.

Other events on tap this week include hearings on the Keystone XL pipeline, the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and U.S. budget legislation.

Monday, Jan. 23
Many Asian markets are closed for the lunar New Year, including Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea. China's market remains closed all week (Chinese New Year begins – year of the dragon).
Ministers of the European Union meet to decide whether to impose an oil embargo on Iran.
outlines economic measures to European Union finance ministers.
GOP debate:
Republican presidential contenders debate.
The US Energy Information Administration releases its annual outlook.
Economic reports:
Selected Interest Rates (Federal Reserve).
USDA reports:
Export inspections (AMS) | Milk Production (NASS) | Chicken and Eggs (NASS) | North American Potatoes (NASS).

Tuesday, Jan. 24

State of Union Address: President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.
Japan: The Bank of Japan will consider lowering its estimate of growth in Fiscal 2011 and Fiscal 2012, Kyodo News reported, citing sources close to the matter.
IMF: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) releases its updated World Economic Outlook.
Hungary's prime minister meets with the European Commission president.
Europe: European Union finance ministers meet in Brussels to discuss the euro zone debt crisis, with a draft regulation on over-the-counter derivatives, central counterparties and trade repositories also on the agenda.
Budget process overhaul: Committee markup. House Budget Committee will mark up budget process overhaul legislation.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Subcommittee hearing. House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on TARP, Financial Services, and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs. Richard Cordray, President Obama's recess appointment to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will appear to answer questions on of how he plans to run the bureau and its functions.
Energy reports: Weekly National Petroleum Report (API).
Economic reports: ICSC-Goldman Store Sales | FOMC meeting begins.
USDA reports: Feed Grains Database (ERS) | Wheat Data (ERS).

Wednesday, Jan. 25
World Economic Forum
begins in Davos, Switzerland (until Jan. 29). Political, economic and media leaders from around the world will discuss the difficult economic outlook under the theme of "The Great Transformation: Shaping New Models."
North American Energy Access Act:
Subcommittee hearing. House Energy and Commerce — Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing titled "American Jobs Now: A Legislative Hearing on HR 3548, the North American Energy Access Act." The legislation would transfer permitting approval authority over the Keystone XL pipeline from the president to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Financial overhaul amendments:
Committee markup. House Agriculture Committee will mark up Title VII of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act [PL 111-203]. Title VII concerns regulation of derivatives and over the counter swaps markets, which are used to trade agricultural commodities.
Taxation of commodity investments:
Subcommittee briefing. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs — Subcommittee on Permanent Investigations briefing to preview the subcommittee's hearing titled "Taxation of Mutual Fund Commodity Investments."
USDA school nutrition standards:
News conference. USDA briefing to announce new nutrition standards for school lunches.
Energy reports:
Weekly Petroleum Status Report (EIA) | Weekly ethanol plant production (EIA).
Economic reports: Weekly mortgage applications (Labor Dept.) | FOMC Meeting Announcement.
USDA reports: Broiler Hatchery (NASS) | Cotton Ginnings (NASS) | Poultry Slaughter (NASS).

Thursday, Jan. 26
GOP debate: Republican presidential contenders debate in Jacksonville, Fla.
Taxation of commodity investments:
Subcommittee hearing. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs — Subcommittee on Permanent Investigations. Hearing on the taxation of mutual fund commodity investments. The session will focus on the issuance of in excess of 70 private letter rulings by the IRS allowing mutual funds to make unlimited indirect investments in commodities through controlled foreign subsidiaries or commodity-linked notes, despite longstanding statutory restrictions on mutual fund investments in commodities.
Transportation: Weekly Traffic of Major Railroads (Assn. Of American Railroads).
Outlook for US and global economy: Committee hearing. Senate Budget Committee.
Energy reports: Weekly US underground natural gas stocks (EIA).
Economic reports: Jobless Claims | Durable Goods Orders | New Home Sales | Leading Indicators.
USDA reports: Export Sales (FAS) | Grain Transportation Report (AMS) | Vegetables – Annual (NASS) | Citrus: World Markets and Trade (FAS) | Capacity of Refrigerated Warehouses (NASS).

Friday, Jan. 27
Economic reports:
GDP | Consumer Sentiment.
USDA reports:
Dairy Products Prices (NASS) | Catfish Production (NASS) | Cattle (NASS) | Peanut Prices (NASS) | Peanut Stocks and Processing (NASS) | Sheep and Goats (NASS).

Saturday Jan. 28
Iran: A high-level team from the United Nations' atomic-energy agency visits Iran.

Sunday, Jan. 29
An EU summit is held in Brussels.
Egyptians go to the polls to elect the upper house of parliament.


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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