Update on Economic, Energy and Policy Issues

December 29, 2008 06:00 PM

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

TOPICS: Economic stimulus plan warning from GOP * Mexico meat trade * U.S. population * Oil price

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

Republicans warn against bloated stimulus package. With news reports that the coming economic stimulus package could reach $1 trillion, Republicans are warning against an excessive spending measure. The Associated Press reported congressional Republicans said "they would work with Democrats to craft a plan to stimulate the economy, but only if GOP ideas are considered." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, "We need the right mix of tax relief and other measures to grow the economy." The Hill reported McConnell "said any stimulus should meet a simple test: 'Will the yet-unwritten, reportedly trillion-dollar spending bill really create jobs and grow the economy -- or will it simply create more government spending, more bureaucrats and deeper deficits?'" However, The Hill added, "It could be difficult for McConnell to slow down a stimulus bill in the Senate."

Emanuel sets date for departing House. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) will officially step down from his congressional seat on Friday; he will be President-elect Barack Obama's chief of staff. The Chicago Tribune's James Oliphant reported Emanuel "will formally resign his House seat Friday" and on Monday "sent a letter to embattled" Gov. Rod Blagojevich "saying he would leave his congressional seat at the end of the week. Blagojevich held the seat before he was elected governor in 2002."

Census Bureau projects U.S. population of 305.5 million on New Year's Day. The U.S. Census Bureau projected the Jan. 1, 2009, total U.S. population will be 305,529,237 -- up 2,743,429, or 0.9 percent, from New Year's Day 2008. In January 2009, one birth is expected to occur every eight seconds in the U.S. States and one death every 12 seconds.

Other facts and figures. Net international migration is expected to add one person every 36 seconds to the U.S. population in January 2009, resulting in an increase in the total U.S. population of one person every 14 seconds.

Mexico lifts meat-import ban on some U.S. plants. As expected on Monday, Mexico has lifted meat-import restrictions on at least 19 U.S. slaughterhouses, after earlier banning their shipments, according to USDA via an e-mail to Bloomberg News. Five other plants will probably be recertified after the USDA sends plans to Mexico for resuming imports, according to the statement from Laura Reiser, a spokeswoman from USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). (Reuters reported the ban had been lifted on 21 of the 30 plants in question.)

Background: Last week, Mexico banned purchases of pork, beef and poultry from about 30 U.S. plants because of failure to meet import standards. “The issues triggering the action by Mexico were not of food-safety concern, but regarding quality or technical issues,” Reiser said in the statement. She declined to comment to Bloomberg News on which plants had been recertified or when meat shipments would resume. Mexico is the biggest importer of U.S. beef this year and the third-largest buyer of U.S. pork, according to USDA data (second if Hong Kong and China imports are separated).

Oil predicted to rebound as record drop spurs OPEC cuts. Oil futures may rebound from their worst year to average $60 per barrel next year as OPEC makes record production cuts to counter the deepest economic slump since World War II. The forecast is the median of 33 analysts compiled by Bloomberg. Analysts expect oil prices to rise through the year to $70 per barrel in the fourth quarter as demand improves and OPEC production curbs announced this month take hold. The U.S. economy may return to growth in the second half of 2009, reviving consumption in the world’s largest energy user.

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


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