The Week Ahead: Oct. 3-7, 2011

October 3, 2011 01:16 AM

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Stop-gap spending bill | EPA regs | China currency bill | U.S. economy | Ben Bernanke | Ag labor

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

Congress returns from a short break, with the House slated to vote on another stopgap funding measure (HR 2608) through Nov. 18, and legislation dealing with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), while the Senate will consider legislation dealing with China's currency, the yuan.

The House will vote on a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government for the first six weeks of Fiscal Year 2012, which began Oct. 1. The last-passed CR runs through Oct. 4. The Senate-passed CR would fund the federal government through Nov. 18 at a rate of $1.043 trillion, the same funding level included in an earlier House-passed CR. The bill includes $2.65 billion in funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), but senators did not include any supplemental FY 2011 appropriations for FEMA.

After completing action on the CR, the House will consider a pair of bills that would delay the EPA from implementing revised air pollution standards – the EPA Regulatory Relief Act (HR 2250) and the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011 (HR 2681), both of which the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved. The legislation would delay the implementation of stricter air pollution standards for boilers, incinerators, and cement manufacturing equipment for 15 months. The bills also would give companies at least five years to comply with the new regulations, compared with the two-year compliance window allowed under the Clean Air Act.

The Senate will debate the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011 (S 1619), a bill designed to prevent China from manipulating its currency, the yuan.

On the trade policy front, some news is likely ahead this coming week regarding the long-pending Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, but as with so many other topics in Washington, the matter is laced with politics on both sides of the issue.

This week's Washington-related agenda: Congressional hearings this week include sessions on tax reform, the federal budget, economic policy, job creation, including a hearing on the agricultural labor crisis, commodities market speculation, and a U.S. Trade Representative's Office hearing on China's compliance with WTO commitments. The highlight will be a hearing Tuesday morning when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will testify before the Joint Economic Committee on the economic outlook. Meanwhile, the Consumer Federation of America holds its National Food Policy Conference.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will before a pair of congressional committees Thursday. Geithner will first deliver the Financial Stability Oversight Council's annual report before the Senate Banking Committee in the morning, and in the afternoon, Geithner will deliver the report to the House Financial Services Committee.

Economic data early in the week like Construction Spending (Monday) and Factory Orders (Tuesday) will be overshadowed by the Employment data due on Friday morning. That report will be a tone-setting release for U.S. stock and financial markets.

Monday, Oct. 3

Food policy conference: Consumer Federation of America holds their National Food Policy Conference. Through Oct. 4.
Economic reports:
Selected Interest Rates (Federal Reserve) | Motor Vehicle Sales | ISM Mfg. Index | Construction Spending.
USDA reports:
Export inspections (AMS) | Dairy Products (NASS) | Commodity Costs and Returns Data (ERS) | Crop Progress (NASS).

Tuesday, Oct. 4

Economic outlook: Hearing. Joint Economic Committee. Witness: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Agricultural labor crisis: Subcommittee hearing. Senate Judiciary — Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security.
Effective congressional budgeting strategies: Hearing. Senate Budget Committee. Panel witnesses include G. William Hoagland, former staff director, Senate Budget Committee, and Eric Ueland, former chief of staff for former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).
Shale gas production report: Hearing. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Importance of Taiwan: Hearing. House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Federal Reserve transparency: Subcommittee hearing. House Financial Services — Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology hearing titled "Audit the Fed: Dodd-Frank, QE3 and Fed Transparency."
Balanced budget agreement: Hearing. House Judiciary Committee.
Economic reports: ICSC-Goldman Store Sales | S&P Case-Shiller HPI | Consumer Confidence | State Street Investor Confidence Index | FOMC Minutes. Factory Orders.
USDA reports: Vegetables (NASS).

Wednesday, Oct. 5

EU-Brazil energy summit: Officials of the European Union and Brazil meet in Brussels to discuss energy cooperation.
China's compliance with WTO commitments: Hearing. Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
Federal budget review:
Subcommittee hearing. House Energy and Commerce — Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations,
Implications of budget deficit:
Subcommittee hearing. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs — Subcommittee on Economic Policy.
Capital formation and job creation legislation:
Subcommittee hearing. House Financial Services — Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises.
Energy reports:
Weekly Petroleum Status Report (EIA) | Weekly ethanol plant production (EIA).
Economic reports: Weekly mortgage applications (Labor Dept.) | ADP Employment Report | ISM Non-Mfg. Index.
USDA reports: Broiler Hatchery (NASS).

Thursday, Oct. 6

European Central Bank: The ECB holds a policy meeting, with speculation as to whether or not the bankers will lay the foundation for an interest rate cut.
Benefits for the long-term unemployed: Subcommittee hearing. House Ways and Means — Subcommittee on Human Resources.
Commodities market speculation: Subcommittee hearing. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs — Subcommittee on Permanent Investigations. The session will focus on speculation in the commodities markets and implementation of provisions on speculative position limits for futures, options and swap contracts.
Response to housing finance crisis: Subcommittee hearing. House Financial Services — Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity.
Regulatory impact of health care law: Subcommittee hearing. House Oversight and Government Reform — Subcommittee on Health Care, District of Columbia, Census and the National Archives.
Financial Stability Oversight Council annual report: Two hearings. One by the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and the other by the House Financial Services Committee.
Tax overhaul options: Hearing. Senate Finance Committee.
Transportation: Weekly Traffic of Major Railroads (Assn. Of American Railroads).
Energy reports: Weekly U.S. underground natural gas stocks (EIA).
Economic reports: Jobless Claims (Labor Dept.) | Weekly Mortgage Rates (Freddie Mac) | ICI weekly money market mutual fund data.
USDA reports: Export Sales (FAS) | Grain Transportation Report (AMS).

Friday, Oct. 7

Proposed Keystone XL project: Department of State business meeting.
Federal Reserve: Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart speaks on the economy at Emory University.
Economic reports: Employment | Wholesale Trade | Consumer Credit.
USDA reports: Dairy Products Prices (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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