The Week Ahead: Sept. 3-8, 2013

September 3, 2013 12:19 AM

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Obama's big surprise on Syria | Employment situation

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President Obama's decision to seek congressional authorization force against Syria could impact a host of other issues when lawmakers return Sept. 9, including debate on a separate food stamp funding bill in the House, and the announcement of House farm bill conferees.

President Barack Obama surprisingly announced Saturday that he has decided the US should take military action against Syria after the use of chemical weapons there, but said he will seek Congress' authorization to do so. He is not calling Congress back early from the August recess; he will wait until they return on Sept. 9. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the House would take a vote on the matter the week of Sept. 9. The Senate debate over Syria will begin today with Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel appearing before the Foreign Relations Committee. Obama said he had made the decision that military action was justified by US intelligence showing the use of chemical weapons. He also said he had the authority under his executive powers to launch an attack, but argued seeking the approval of Capitol Hill was a better route. "I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress," Obama said in the Rose Garden. "The country will be stronger if we take this course and our actions will be more effective," Obama said.

Kerry on Syria: 'We are not going to lose this vote'. A day after President Barack Obama announced he would seek congressional authorization to strike Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry refused to consider defeat. Asked by This Week host George Stephanopoulos if the president could lose the vote in Congress, Kerry responded: "I don’t contemplate that, George." Asked whether the president would move ahead with military action if Congress didn’t authorize the mission, Kerry answered: "George, we are not going to lose this vote."

Kerry: Tests indicate sarin used in Syria. Secretary of State John Kerry says blood and hair samples from an alleged chemical weapons attack last month in a Damascus suburb have tested positive for the nerve agent sarin. The White House has blamed the attack on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime. Kerry says the samples for the tests came "independently," through "an appropriate chain of custody."

On Monday, President Obama got tentative support from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has been pushing for even broader military action and arming the rebels. McCain said Congressional rejection of military action would be "catastrophic" and would undermine the credibility of the president and the United States.

Both House and Senate leaders have indicated they will hold votes on an authorization during the week of Sept. 9, the first week lawmakers are back from their long summer recess. The initial reading is that President Obama faces more hurdles in the House than he does in the Senate to win support for a limited, punitive military assault against the Syrian regime, but a Senate victory is far from assured. The White House on Sunday continued to make its case for a military strike against Syria; on Capitol Hill, some lawmakers and staff received a classified briefing on Syria’s use of chemical weapons against rebels and civilians. The attack led to more than 1,000 deaths, including hundreds of children. "A rejection, a vote against that resolution by Congress, I think would be catastrophic because it would undermine the credibility of the United States and the president," Sen. McCain said outside the White House. He added that it would be difficult for Obama to decide to use force without receiving the blessing of Congress. "If we lost a vote in the Congress dealing with the chemical weapons being used in Syria, what effect would that have on Iran?" asked Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Obama has already sent a draft resolution to Congress. Normally, that resolution would be dealt with by the foreign affairs panels. But at least in the Senate, the resolution could go directly to the Senate floor. But two Senate committees — Foreign Relations and Armed Services — are scheduled to return early from the congressional recess to begin their debate over an administration draft of an authorization measure today. "The Administration’s Syria policy has been incoherent, and there are many unanswered questions, so I welcome the President’s decision to seek congressional authorization for any use of military force and look forward to a vigorous debate on this critical issue.," California Republican Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Saturday in a written statement.

The big focus economic-wise will come Friday via the August Employment report. That will be the key for the holiday-shortened week. Today brings the PMI manufacturing index, the ISM manufacturing index and Construction Spending. Wednesday will see the government deliver international trade data and the Fed will issue the Beige Book, the snapshot of economic conditions in the 12 Federal Reserve banks issued two weeks ahead of the FOMC meeting. Lots of data hits the markets on Thursday, with the private jobs data from ADP, weekly jobless claims, Productivity and Costs, Factory Orders and the ISM non-manufacturing index. Several Fed officials are also on tap and their views on the prospects for starting the tapering of the Fed’s asset purchases could be market factors. And as we saw ahead of the holiday, the Syrian situation remains one that crude oil in particular will monitor.

For agriculture, the Monday holiday shifts some of the regular data from USDA – Crop Progress arrives today and Weekly Export Sales will be released on Friday. Also due out from USDA are updates on food security and ag trade, with both of those coming in on Wednesday. Weather and precip will be key once again. Crop condition ratings in today report are expected to decline given the hot and dry conditions that prevailed leading up to the holiday weekend.

Tuesday, Sept. 3
President Obama meets with congressional leaders from both chambers, and chairs and ranking members from national-security committees -- Senate Armed Services, Senate Foreign Relations, Senate Intelligence, House Foreign Affairs, House Intelligence and House Armed Services regarding the coming debate and vote on getting congressional authorization for force against Syria.
Economic reports: Selected Interest Rates (Federal Reserve)
USDA reports: Export inspections (AMS) | Crop Progress (NASS)

Wednesday, Sept. 4
President Obama visits Sweden.
Syria: French Parliament expected to hold an emergency debate on Syria. Last Friday President François Hollande pledged support for US-led action against the regime in Damascus.
Bank of England begins two-day monetary policy meeting; economists see no policy change. And, Bank of Canada makes announcement on interest rates. The central bank is expected to hold interest rates steady and keep a mild tightening bias in place.
Federal Reserve: San Francisco Fed President John Williams speaks on economy and monetary policy, in Portland, Ore. Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota also speaks.
Economic reports: ICSC-Goldman Store Sales | Motor Vehicle Sales | MBA Purchase Applications | International Trade | Beige Book
USDA reports: Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin (WAOB) | Household Food Security in the US (ERS) | Broiler Hatchery (NASS) | Dairy Products (NASS) | Latest US Agricultural Trade Data (ERS)


Thursday, Sept. 5
G20 leaders meet at a summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. President Obama has already canceled a meeting with Russia President Vladimir Putin.
European Central Bank policy meeting. A Reuters survey showed the central bank is expected to keep both its main refinancing and deposit rates – now at 0.5 percent and zero respectively – on hold until at least 2015.
Federal Reserve: Kocherlakota pf the Minneapolis Fed and Williams of the SF Fed speak.
Energy reports: Weekly US underground natural gas stocks (EIA) | Weekly Petroleum Status Report (EIA) | Weekly ethanol plant production (EIA).
Economic reports: Jobless Claims (Labor Dept.) | ADP Employment Report | Productivity and Costs | Factory Orders | ISM Non-Mfg Index
USDA reports: Livestock and Meat Trade Data (ERS) | National Dairy Products Sales Report (AMS) | Announcement of Class & Component Prices (AMS) | US Agricultural Trade Data Update (ERS)


Friday, Sept. 6
Federal Reserve: Kansas City Federal Reserve President Esther George, a hawk, speaks on the economy at a meeting of business leaders in Omaha.
Energy: China's President Xi Jinping visits Kazakhstan to hold talks with President Nursultan Nazarbayev and will launch the Beineu-Bozoi-Shymkent gas pipeline (to September 8).
Economic reports: Employment
USDA reports: Export Sales (FAS) | Peanut Prices (NASS) | Vegetables (NASS) | Quick Stats Database Cash Rents-County (NASS)



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






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