Correspondent, Washington
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May 23, 2015

Senate votes to grant Obama fast-track power on trade deals

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama scored a major victory on Friday when the U.S. Senate voted to give him “fast-track” powers that would help wrap up negotiations on a 12-nation Pacific Rim trade deal central to projecting American influence in Asia.

Attention now turns to the House of Representatives, where opposition is deeper to granting the president power to negotiate trade deals that can be approved or rejected by Congress but not amended.

May 22, 2015

U.S. Senate closer to approving fast-track trade bill

WASHINGTON, May 22 (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Friday was
poised to approve the “fast-track” authority that President
Barack Obama says he needs to complete a 12-nation Pacific Rim
trade deal central to projecting American influence in Asia.

The Republican-controlled Senate narrowly rejected a push by
some lawmakers to include rules to punish currency manipulators,
a measure the Obama administration worked to defeat.
An alternative amendment, one that opponents
said lacks enforcement, was approved.

May 22, 2015

U.S. Senate aims to pass fast-track trade bill Friday

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Friday was poised to approve the “fast-track” authority that President Barack Obama says he needs to complete a 12-nation Pacific Rim trade deal central to projecting American influence in Asia.

The Republican-controlled Senate still must decide several amendments, including a contentious one on currency manipulation that the Obama administration has been working to defeat. An alternative amendment, one that opponents say lacks enforcement, also will be weighed by the chamber.

May 14, 2015

ECB’s Draghi says will not stop short in money printing

WASHINGTON, May 14 (Reuters) – The European Central Bank
will not stop short in rolling out its trillion-euro-plus money
printing scheme, its president said on Thursday, playing down
fears that quantitative easing could blow price bubbles.

Mario Draghi’s clear commitment, delivered in a speech at
the International Monetary Fund in Washington, shows there is
little prospect of paring back the fledgling programme that was
launched despite the reservations of euro zone paymaster
Germany.

May 11, 2015

Fed said to have debt ceiling plan involving market interventions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve drew together extensive plans for handling a U.S. debt default that included scheduling deferred payments and lending cash to investors, according to a top lawmaker who cited Fed documents.

In a June 2014 letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew which was seen by Reuters, Texas Republican Representative Jeb Hensarling said his staff reviewed Fed documents detailing the U.S. central bank’s contingency plans if America stiffed its creditors.

May 8, 2015

Strong U.S. dollar pressures jobs at exporters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The sharp rise in the U.S. dollar’s value is hitting American exporters and forcing layoffs at makers of everything from steel to machinery, taking the shine off stronger job creation across the broader economy.

Exports make up about an eighth of America’s economic output and helped power the initial economic recovery from the 2007-09 recession.

May 6, 2015

U.S. Treasury eyes larger cash buffer against “emerging threats”

WASHINGTON, May 6 (Reuters) – The U.S. government said on
Wednesday it will start keeping more cash on hand for when it
can’t tap debt markets, a measure that could help it pay bills
during a natural disaster, a cyber attack or even a crisis over
the nation’s debt ceiling.

In its announcement, the U.S. Treasury also said it would
start raising the level of short-term debt on the market to meet
demand for Treasury bills, which has been pumped up by rules
enacted since the 2007-2009 financial crisis requiring firms to
hold more cash-like securities.

May 4, 2015

U.S. Treasury scraps plans for debt paydown to boost cash balance

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Treasury scrapped plans to pay down debt between April and June because it now considers it prudent for the government to hold a bigger cash buffer, an official at the department said on Monday.

The official, who spoke to journalists in a briefing but was not authorized to be named, said the policy decision followed the advice of an advisory committee that recommended keeping more cash on hand in order to weather unforeseen disruptions to market functioning.

Apr 29, 2015

Riot-hit Baltimore, an American city divided by income and opportunity

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In the 1950′s Baltimore was the sixth largest city in the United States with a peak population of nearly 950,000. Now the riot-hit metropolis ranks 26th on that measure and scores as one of the less equal American cities when measured by income and educational achievement.

    Despite an economic recovery in the majority black East Coast city since the financial crisis, the gap between the haves and the have-nots is wide in a population that now numbers about 620,000.In Baltimore, a household in the top 5 percent of income earners received $12.30 for each dollar earned by those in the bottom 20 percent in 2013, according to a 2014 analysis by Alan Berube and Natalie Holmes of the Brookings Institution, based on census data. By comparison, across the whole of the U.S., the top take in $9.30 for every dollar earned at the bottom. 

Apr 21, 2015

U.S. Treasury warns Congress: Currency push for trade deals will fail

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Treasury on Tuesday warned lawmakers against insisting on sanctions against currency cheating in trade deals and said Pacific trading partners made clear they oppose such rules.

Senators plan to push for tough rules to stop trading partners deliberately weakening their currencies when amendments are considered on Wednesday to a bill to streamline the passage of trade deals through Congress.