Correspondent, Washington
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Feb 27, 2015

Conservative economist to lead research at U.S. Congress

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republicans lawmakers on Friday appointed a former White House economist with a conservative pedigree to head Congress’s traditionally nonpartisan research body for budget policy.

Keith Hall, who served as chief economist on former President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, will take the reins at the Congressional Budget Office in April.

Feb 26, 2015

White House sees China as trump card in trade debate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration is confident lawmakers will warm up to a proposed Pacific free trade deal on the grounds that it is a chance for America to dictate the rules of Asian trade rather than China, a top official said on Thursday.

“It’s a choice between us writing it and, frankly, China writing it, which I think is very compelling to many members of Congress,” said Bruce Andrews, Deputy Secretary of Commerce.

Feb 26, 2015

U.S. lawmakers battle over currency in trade deals

WASHINGTON, Feb 25 (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers are drafting
battle plans to punish foreign rivals accused of currency
manipulation but a growing chorus of critics argue the battle is
already won and warn the push may derail a massive trade pact.

A bipartisan bill introduced this month and proposals from
other lawmakers seek to stop trading partners such as China and
Japan from manipulating exchange rates to make their goods
cheaper for overseas buyers.

Feb 20, 2015

Fannie Mae’s derivatives losses to curb U.S. Treasury payment

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) will make its smallest payment to taxpayers in more than four years after large derivatives losses crimped its fourth-quarter profit, the government-controlled mortgage financier said on Friday.

Fannie Mae said a drop in long-term interest rates sharply reduced the value of the derivatives contracts it uses as hedges in financial markets, adding that low capital buffers are raising the risk it could need taxpayer money in the future.

Feb 11, 2015
Feb 6, 2015

For blue-collar America wage gains are slim even as employment surges

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – America has added more than a million jobs in the space of three months but wages, especially for blue-collar workers, are showing few signs of gains.

The Federal Reserve is following wage increases as well as employment numbers as it weighs whether to raise interest rates this year, and strong job creation data released on Friday shifted Wall Street bets on the timing of a hike to September from October.

Feb 5, 2015
Feb 5, 2015

IRS rehired hundreds of former workers with behavior problems – audit

WASHINGTON, Feb 5 (Reuters) – Poor screening led the IRS to
rehire hundreds of former employees with records of bad behavior
including falsifying forms and unauthorized access to taxpayer
information, an internal government watchdog found.

Auditors found the Internal Revenue Service between 2010 and
2013 gave jobs to 323 former employees who had displayed
unsavory conduct during prior stints at the agency, according to
the U.S. Treasury’s Inspector General for Tax Administration on

Feb 5, 2015
Feb 5, 2015

For blue-collar America, staffing firms see meager wage gains

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – America’s vast staffing industry knows it’s time to jack up wages when it becomes difficult to find enough workers. That isn’t happening yet for many blue-collar jobs, indicating there’s still slack in the labor force, top firms say.

While 2014 was the strongest year of job gains in the recovery from the 2007-09 recession, rising output is not yet translating into substantial wage gains for the workers Kelly Services (KELYA.O: Quote, Profile, Research), one of the country’s largest providers of temporary employees, sends to light assembly plants and distribution centers.