Big Banks Receive Leaked FOMC Minutes Reports that a Federal Reserve staff member accidentally leaked the minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee’ last month has touched off an uproar over Fed security and put the staffer in the spotlight. The minutes slipped out ahead of their scheduled release, giving at least 15 major financial companies including Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase access to potentially market-moving information. FOMC minutes include the committee’s discussions about monetary policy and its economic outlook.
The staffer was identified today as Brian Gross, a congressional liaison for the Fed. The leak raises questions about the central bank’s internal security.
“It comes at a bad time for the Fed, they are viewed as being too close to a lot of these big financial institutions,” Simon Johnson, an economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told Bloomberg. “It looks bad; it looks like this is some sort of information edge these people are getting.” - Read more at Bloomberg
GOP BLASTS WALDEN ON CHAINED CPI National Republican Campaign Committee Chair Greg Walden, R-Ore., created a stir on Capitol Hill Wednesday when he criticized President Obama’s budget proposal for including chained CPI, telling CNN that Obama was "trying to balance this budget on the backs of seniors.” This, of course, came as quite a shock to many GOP lawmakers, since the Republican leadership supports chained CPI, a less generous cost of living formula than the one currently used by the Department of Labor that would save $130 billion over the next 10 years. - Read more at Politico
FIVE FISCAL SECRETS HIDDEN IN OBAMA’S BUDGET - The Fiscal Times’ Eric Pianin and Josh Boak dug through the summary tables, listened to lawmakers and lobbyists vent, and found five critical—but easily overlooked—takeaways. - See them here
FOUR IN TEN AMERICANS FEEL SEQUESTER IMPACT A new CNN poll shows that four in 10 Americans are feeling the impact of the $85 billion sequester cuts that took effect March 1. And, as expected, lower income and rural Americans were more likely to experience the effects from sequestration. That’s because many of the programs that low-income people depend upon, such as Headstart and housing subsidies were hit hard by the cuts. “More than half of Americans who make less than $50,000 a year say that the forced spending cuts have affected their personal finances, compared to only about a third of those with higher incomes,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland told The Washington Post. “Rural Americans are also more likely to report that those cuts have affected them personally than people who live in cities and suburbs.” - See the poll here
DEFENSE BUDGET IGNORES SEQUESTER While unveiling the Defense Department’s requested budget Wednesday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the DOD and the White House designed its budget to cut defense spending by $100 billion in the next decade, as opposed to the $500 billion mandated by law. “He said these savings would be accomplished by reducing redundancies, eliminating 50,000 civilian workers, reducing healthcare and retirement costs, and slowing salary growth,” The Fiscal Times’ David Francis writes. “The problem with the spending plan – which is larger than this year’s $524 billion budget and does not include an unspecified amount of conditional war spending - is it probably won’t happen. It assumes that Republicans and Democrats are capable of achieving a grand bargain. But the rhetoric from both sides yesterday makes that idea close to impossible.” - Read more at The Fiscal Times
PRESIDENT MEETS WITH BIG BANKS President Obama meets with members of the Financial Services Forum at the White House this morning. Guests will include Bank of America's Brian Moynihan and JPMorganChase's Jamie Dimon, among others, to discuss the economy and fiscal issues.