The Week Ahead: Jan. 28-Feb. 3, 2013

January 27, 2013 10:41 PM

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Harkin, Chambliss to retire | Employment report | Hurricane Sandy aid | Sec. of State nomination vote

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

The Senate will be in session this week, but the House is out on what is called a "district work period" – members return Feb. 4.

Senate leaders have slated votes on the Hurricane Sandy disaster relief bill (HR 152) and at least one of President Obama's Cabinet nominees.

The Senate will begin work on a $50.5 billion emergency aid package for the victims Hurricane Sandy which devastated the Northeast coast last October. The House passed the Sandy bill on Jan. 15 by a 241-180 vote.

The Senate will consider the nomination of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who is President Obama's choice for secretary of State to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Massachusetts Democrat testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Jan. 24 regarding his nomination. Kerry has been a member of that panel for nearly the entire time he has been in the Senate, and has served as chairman for the last four years. The full committee is expected to unanimously approve Kerry during a Jan. 29 morning business meeting. Kerry will easily be approved by the full Senate later that day.

If an agreement can be reached, debate on legislation (HR 325) to temporarily increase the nation's debt limit could begin in the Senate as early as Tuesday. The House-passed legislation, sponsored by House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), would suspend the limit on federal borrowing until May 19. The bill also contains a provision requiring both chambers to pass a budget resolution by April 15. If this condition is not met, the pay of lawmakers in either chamber that fails to pass a budget resolution would be withheld until one is adopted. The bill passed the House on Jan. 23 by a 285-144 vote.

The budget provision, referred to by Republicans as "no budget, no pay," was aimed at getting the Senate to pass a separate budget resolution, which it has not done since April 2009. Democrats say the Budget Control Act of 2011 (Pub. L. No. 112-25), which set limits to discretionary spending for fiscal years 2012 and 2013, make a separate budget resolution unneeded.

Two veteran senators announced they would not seek reelection in 2014 -- Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.).

Harkin, 73, told the Associated Press in an interview that age was a factor in his decision not to run for another term. "It's just time to step aside," Harkin said, as he would be 81 by the end of his sixth term. Harkin is the second Senate Democrat to opt to retire rather than run for another term, following Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).

Chambliss also said Friday that he would retire in 2014. In a statement, Chambliss denied that his decision had anything to do with the likelihood that he would draw a challenger from the right in 2014. Instead, he insisted that the partisan gridlock in Congress, particularly surrounding fiscal issues, was the reason for his retirement. Chambliss has been a key member of the bipartisan "gang of six," which sought to forge a bipartisan solution to the nation’s debt and deficit problems. "Lest anyone think this decision is about a primary challenge, I have no doubt that had I decided to be a candidate, I would have won re-election," Chambliss said. He continued, "This is about frustration, both at a lack of leadership from the White House and at the dearth of meaningful action from Congress, especially on issues that are the foundation of our nation’s economic health. The debt ceiling debacle of 2011 and the recent fiscal-cliff vote showed Congress at its worst and, sadly, I don’t see the legislative gridlock and partisan posturing improving anytime soon. For our nation to be strong, for our country to prosper, we cannot continue to play politics with the American economy."

Comments: It will be interesting to see if USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, or his wife, Christie, who was defeated in a bid for a House seat in 2012, will seek to replace Harkin. However, 1st District US Rep. Bruce Braley of Waterloo is the favored Democratic candidate, Democrats have said. Meanwhile, Republicans await word from two House members, Reps. Steve King and Tom Latham, on whether they will pursue the open seat.

On the economic report front, January comes to a close but the economic data flow picks up steam with Monday bringing updates on Durable Goods orders, Pending Home Sales and the Dallas Fed manufacturing index. Tuesday marks the start of the first Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting of 2013 along with release of the S&P Case-Shiller home price index and Consumer Confidence data. The FOMC meeting wrap up will be a key focus Wednesday afternoon, with the private-sector reading on jobs from ADP and an update on US GDP. Thursday brings the weekly Jobless Claims data, along with Personal Income, EmploymentCost Index and the Chicago Fed update on manufacturing. But Friday, the first day of February, brings the key Employment report along with the PMI and ISM manufacturing releases with construction spending rounding out the week’s economic data. Otherwise, financial markets will keep a watch on earnings data and any new developments out of Europe or China that might alter the outlook for the US and global economy.

For agriculture, the data flow is not huge but has the Weekly Export Sales and Ag Prices reports on Thursday with the twice-yearly Cattle inventory report on Friday.

This week's Washington-related agenda: The agenda for congressional committees features hearings on future health care needs and pensions savings; Senate Environment on investing in US ports; Senate Armed Services on Chuck Hagel for defense secretary.

Monday, Jan. 28
Congress: Senate is in this week; House is out.
Asia: A conference jointly organized by the IMF and Japan International Co-operation Agency in Bangkok, Thailand, is attended by central bank, finance ministry officials and academics from the Asia-Pacific region to consider: "Economic Transformation and Inclusive Growth in Frontier Economies."
Economic reports: Selected Interest Rates (Federal Reserve) | Durable Goods Orders | Pending Home Sales Index | Dallas Fed Mfg Survey
USDA reports:
Export inspections (AMS) | Catfish Production (NASS)

Tuesday, Jan. 29
Immigration reform: President Obama, in a speech in Las Vegas, Nevada, to unveil portions of immigration reform proposal.
Energy reports: Weekly National Petroleum Report (API).
Economic reports: S&P Case-Shiller HPI | Consumer Confidence | ICSC-Goldman Store Sales
USDA reports: Peanut Stocks and Processing (NASS) | Vegetables - Ann. (NASS) | Livestock and Meat Domestic Data (ERS)

Wednesday, Jan. 30

Energy reports: Weekly Petroleum Status Report (EIA) | Weekly ethanol plant production (EIA).
Economic reports: ICI weekly money market mutual fund data | MBA Purchase Applications | Weekly Mortgage Rates (Freddie Mac) | ADP Employment Report | GDP | FOMC Meeting Announcement
USDA reports: Announcement of Class and Component Prices (AMS) | National Dairy Products Sales Report (AMS) | Broiler Hatchery (NASS) | Monthly Milk Cost of Production (ERS)

Thursday, Jan. 31

The initial public offering for Zoetis, the animal-health unit that is being carved out of Pfizer.
Foreign policy: Outgoing US secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks about American leadership, at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Secretary of Defense nomination: Full committee confirmation hearing. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of Defense.
Energy reports: Weekly US underground natural gas stocks (EIA).
Economic reports: Jobless Claims (Labor Dept) | Personal Income and Outlays | Chicago PMI | Employment Cost Index
Transportation: Grain Transportation Report (AMS).
USDA reports: US Export Sales (FAS) | Egg Products (NASS) | Agricultural Prices (NASS)

Friday, Feb. 1

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) meets on rules and regulations affecting small and emerging companies.
Economic reports: Employment | PMI Mfg Index | Consumer Sentiment | ISM Mfg Index | Construction Spending
USDA reports: Sheep and Goats (NASS) | Cattle (NASS) | Peanut Prices (NASS)


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






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