It looks like Congress has managed to avoid a government shutdown…for now.
This morning the House approved the Senate’s stopgap spending bill that keeps the government funded through September, and averts a possible government shutdown on March 27 (the day the current continuing resolution that’s essentially keeping the government’s lights on, expires.)
Congress will skip town for Easter recess and return in two weeks to resume the battle over passing a budget, a task that they haven’t managed to complete in more than four years. Expect more partisan warfare over taxes and entitlement reform. - See the vote here
HOUSE APPROVES PAUL RYAN’S BUDGET As expected, the House approved Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget on a partisan 221 to 207 vote this morning. Ryan’s budget ambitiously balances the budget in ten years by cutting $5 trillion future spending, including significant changes to Medicare for people 54 and younger, and keeping in tact the $600 billion in tax hikes as part of the fiscal cliff deal passed at the beginning of the year. Now Ryan’s budget heads to the Democratic-dominated upper chamber, where it will most certainly be dead on arrival. - Read more at The Hill
WHEN WALL STREET BANKERS TAKE GOV JOBS THEY GET A BONUS Big banking executives making the move to Washington might be cashing in thanks to special incentives from their former Wall Street employers. According to a new study by the Project for Government Oversight, banks including “JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, all have provisions that allow acceleration of payments owed to senior executives if they take government jobs.
“These companies seem to be giving a special deal to executives who become government officials,” the study said. “In exchange, the companies may end up with friends in high places who understand their business, sympathize with it, and can craft policies in its favor.”
Exhibit A: new Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, whose previous employer Citigroup gave him preferential financial treatment when he took a job in the Obama administration. “When Mr. Lew left Citigroup he held stock that he could not immediately cash worth as much as $500,000, according to a government filing,” The New York Times reports. - Read more at The New York Times
S&P APPROACHING RECORD The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index is nearing an all-time record, climbing 130 percent since the beginning of the Great Recession, adding $10 trillion to the value of American stocks.
Bloomberg reports, “unlike past bull markets, where a single industry dominated, all groups have improved in this rally as the U.S. economy recovers.” In the S&P 500’s weightings, none of the 10 industry measures represents more than 18 percent of the index. By contrast, technology companies made up 35 percent of the gauge in 2000, and financial stocks made up 22 percent in 2006. - Read more at Bloomberg
FED FOCUSES ON FLEXIBLE POLICY The Federal Reserve’s monetary policy is “all about flexibility right now,” The Fiscal Times’ Josh Boak writes. “The former Princeton University economist never ends his remarks with “Namaste,” or strolls through his neighborhood wearing see-through Lululemon pants. But in terms of supporting the economy, flexibility may be the virtue that Bernanke prizes the most.” - Read more at The Fiscal Times