The Week Ahead: July 15-21, 2013

09:19AM Jul 15, 2013
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via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Bernanke appears twice before Congress this week

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Highlights of this week in Congress include two separate appearances before congressional hearings by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and a Senate focus on possible use of the so-called “nuclear option” for rules changes on some of President Obama nominations. Topics for hearings include climate change, US trade policy, CFTC reauthorization and health care reform delayed implementation issues.

Key Senate action will come early in the week on possible use of a threatened “nuclear option.” Senate cloture votes are scheduled on seven executive branch nominations. If the GOP denies cloture, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has threatened to exercise the so-called “nuclear option” by changing filibuster rules. There is a joint Democratic-Republican Senate caucus meeting Monday evening to see if an agreement can be reached on moving some nominations. A verdict on the nuclear option, which would allow approval by a simple majority, could come as early as Tuesday, as the Senate considers a procedural vote on the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If Republicans move to block Cordray's confirmation, Reid said he is prepared to go "nuclear." Reid has filed cloture on seven nominations, including those of Thomas Perez as Labor secretary; Gina McCarthy as head of the Environmental Protection Agency; three National Labor Relations Board nominees; and the president's appointee to head the Export-Import Bank. Appearing Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Reid said "the changes we are making are very, very minimal," describing the rules change as not applying to judicial nominations."What we're doing is saying 'look American people, shouldn't President Obama have somebody working for him that he wants?'" Reid said. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appearing later on the same program, said, "It's breaking the rules of the Senate in order to change the rules of the Senate."

On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden is expected to preside over the swearing-in of Edward Markey (D-Mass.) to the Senate. He won the seat in late June.

The Senate also may deal with student loan rates. The rates doubled to over 6 percent July 1 after the Senate failed to reach an agreement before the July 4 recess. Senators had pledged to move quickly on the issue when they returned July 8, but so far no compromise has been reached.

The House plans to take up two bills that would delay health insurance requirements in the health care law for both individuals (HR 2668) and employers (HR 2667). The administration already announced it would delay the requirement for businesses to purchase health insurance for their employees. The House also could consider an education bill (HR 5) and Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations for the Defense Department (HR. 2397) by week's end.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will give the Federal Reserve Board's monetary policy report, including his outlook for the US and world economy when he appears before congressional committees this week. Bernanke will appear Wednesday morning before the House Financial Services Committee to present the Fed's Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress. Bernanke returns to Capitol Hill Thursday morning to testify before the Senate Banking Committee.

Newly installed US Trade Representative Michael Froman will make his first appearance before the House Ways and Means Committee Thursday morning when he testifies on President Obama's trade policy agenda.

Nomination. The Senate Finance Committee will hold a Thursday afternoon hearing on the nomination of F. Scott Kieff to be a member of the US International Trade Commission.

Reauthorization of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is the topic of a Wednesday afternoon hearing before the Senate Ag Committee. Witnesses from the commodity, securities, and agricultural industries will testify.

Financial markets will get some key economic updates in the week ahead, with Monday bringing Retail Sales, the Empire State Manufacturing Index and Business Inventories data. On Tuesday, Consumer Price Index data comes out along with Industrial Production and the Housing Market Index with Housing Starts data on Wednesday. Also that day, as previously noted, markets will get another chance to react to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke as he delivers the first of two days of testimony on monetary policy, starting on the House side and trekking to the Senate the next day. The Fed’s Beige Book will also be released Wednesday. On Thursday, there will be jobless claims data and the Philadelphia Fed survey for markets to digest. Beyond that, oil markets will keep a watchful eye on the Mideast and Egypt in particular with economic data out of China to open the week a potential key market factor.

For agriculture, the focus will return to weather and the weekly update via the Crop Progress report. USDA will update the livestock, dairy and poultry outlook on Wednesday with demand news key on Thursday via the Weekly Export Sales report. Friday’s USDA data releases include monthly Cattle on Feed and the twice yearly Cattle Inventory report. Given China’s interest in corn and wheat, any new sales talk will catch market attention as well.

Monday, July 15
China economic reports: China issues quarterly GDP, monthly retail sales, and industrial production.
Markets in Japan are closed.
All-Senate meeting: Joint conference. US Senate will meet for an all-Senate joint conference meeting.
Farm bill: Teleconference. Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) media conference call to discuss the outlook for the farm bill.
Conservation policy: Conference. National Association of Conservation Districts holds its 2013 Legislative Conference.
Economic reports: Selected Interest Rates (Federal Reserve) | Empire State Mfg Survey | Retail Sales | Business Inventories
USDA reports: Export inspections (AMS) | Turkey Hatchery (NASS) | Cotton & Wool Outlook (ERS) | Oil Crops Outlook (ERS) | Rice Outlook (ERS) | Wheat Outlook (ERS) | Feed Grains Outlook (ERS) Crop Progress (NASS)

Tuesday, July 16
Federal Reserve: Kansas City Fed President Esther George speaks in K.C. about "Economic Conditions and Agriculture"; San Francisco's John Williams participates in discussion, "A Defense of Moderation in Monetary Policy," in Vancouver.
Domestic oil production, refining and distribution market: Committee hearing. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the impact of changes in domestic oil production, refining and distribution on price of US gasoline and fuel. Also on Wed., July 17.
Energy and Commerce panel bills: Markup. House Energy and Commerce Committee will mark up pending legislation.
Economic reports: ICSC-Goldman Store Sales | Consumer Price Index | Industrial Production | Housing Market Index
USDA reports: Meat Price Spreads (ERS) Dairy: World Markets & Trade (FAS) | Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin (WAOB) | Bioenergy Data (ERS)

Wednesday, July 17

Federal Reserve: Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke gives his semiannual testimony on monetary policy before the House Financial Services Committee. Also, the Fed issues its beige-book survey of regional economic conditions.
Bank of Canada's Stephen Poloz presides over his first meeting and is expected to hold rates steady.
Delay of employer mandate: Subcommittee hearing. House Ways and Means — Subcommittee on Health Subcommittee will hold a series of hearings on the delay of the employer mandate and employer information reporting requirements under the Affordable Care Act.
Freight planning and coordinating: Subcommittee panel discussion. House Transportation and Infrastructure — Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation roundtable discussion titled "Effectively Coordinating Freight Planning Activities."
Border security oversight: Subcommittee oversight hearing. House Oversight and Government Reform — Subcommittee on National Security.
CFTC reauthorization: Committee hearing. Senate Ag Committee hearing on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) reauthorization.
Small business tax issues: Committee hearing. Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee hearing on small business tax issues including the impact of tax laws on entrepreneurs and startups.

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) | Housing Starts | Beige Book (Fed)
USDA reports: Broiler Hatchery (NASS) | National Dairy Products Sales Report (AMS) | Announcement of Advanced Prices and Pricing Factors (AMS) | Livestock, Dairy & Poultry Outlook (ERS) | Sugar & Sweeteners Outlook (ERS) | Noncitrus Fruits & Nuts – Annual (NASS) | Feed Grains Database (ERS)

Thursday, July 18
Federal Reserve: Fed chairman Bernanke reprises his Humphrey-Hawkins testimony, this time before the Senate Banking Committee.
US trade policy: Committee hearing. House Ways and Means Committee. Witness: Michael Froman, US Trade Representative.
Investment in energy technology: Committee hearing. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing titled "Clean Energy Financing: Spurring Investment in America's Clean Energy Technology.”
Climate change: Committee hearing. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Impact of climate action plan on small business: Subcommittee hearing. House Small Business — Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade.
Dodd-Frank and community banking: Subcommittee hearing. House Oversight and Government Reform — Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs.
Implementation delays related to the 2010 health care overhaul law: Subcommittee hearing. House Energy and Commerce — Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing on the 2010 health care overhaul law and delays in its implementation.
Impact of carbon estimates: Subcommittee hearing. House Oversight and Government Reform — Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care and Entitlements hearing titled "Examining the Obama Administration's Social Cost of Carbon Estimates."
ITC nomination: Confirmation hearing. Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing to consider F. Scott Kieff to be a member, International Trade Commission (ITC).
Energy reports: Weekly US underground natural gas stocks (EIA).
Economic reports: Jobless Claims (Labor Dept) | Phila. Fed Survey | Leading Indicators
Transportation: Grain Transportation Report (AMS).
USDA reports: US Export Sales (FAS)

Friday, July 19

G20 finance ministers, central bank governors begin meetings in Moscow.
USDA reports: Peanut Prices (NASS) | Milk Production (NASS) | Catfish Production (NASS) | Cattle (NASS)

Sunday, July 21
Japan holds parliamentary elections.

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