Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – pain relief

September 3, 2010

Just a few quick thoughts ahead of the Labor Day weekend. President Barack Obama plans to unveil a package of measures to stimulate hiring and the economy next week, although we are assured this will absolutely not be a second stimulus. I guess that means it won’t have a major price tag attached, in terms of its effect on the deficit. But you also have to wonder how much effect it will have on the economy, even if Obama manages to get any of it through Congress. BAYER

Some relief, then, that this week’s economic numbers have not been as grim as many had feared. The private sector is not dead and buried, if today’s payrolls report is anything to go by. But don’t expect growth or hiring to pick up nearly fast enough to save the Democrats from pain in November.

Finally, take a look at our special report on the Food and Drug Administration’s efforts to crack down on increasingly aggressive marketing tactics by drug companies. Critics accuse Big Pharma of pushing medicines on people which they often do not need, without fully disclosing the risks. Sadly, even the FDA admits it is outgunned, and lacks the resources to keep pace.

Here are our top stories from today…

Obama says to address new economic ideas next week

President Barack Obama will outline new measures next week to boost the economy after August data showed again that jobs — the central issue in November elections — were being created too slowly. Obama, speaking to reporters in the White House Rose Garden, greeted a better-than-expected August employment report that showed thousands of new private sector jobs were created as “positive news.”

For Alister Bull and Jeff Mason’s full story, click here.

Payrolls data offer ray of hope for recovery

Employment fell for a third straight month in August, but the drop was far less than expected and private hiring surprised on the upside, easing pressure on the Federal Reserve to prop up economic growth. Nonfarm payrolls fell 54,000, the Labor Department said, helping assuage fears of a double-dip recession in financial markets that had looked for a drop of 100,000 jobs.

For more of this story by Lucia Mutikani, read here.

Special Report: Outgunned FDA tries to get tough with drug ads

It wasn’t what you would call a casual get-together. In February 2009, a popular New York blogger attended a brunch with fellow “frazzled moms.” They took in tips from a style expert and listened to a nurse extol the virtues of Mirena, a birth control device sold by Bayer Healthcare. The nurse was on Bayer’s payroll. In a series of events organized with the help of a women’s website, Mom Central, the pharmaceutical company gathered a captive audience of young mothers. It provided the nurse with a script and had the women fill out a survey before they left. The sessions earned a stern rebuke from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

For more of this story by Susan Heavey and Lisa Richwine, read here.

Fed bond buying not big policy shift: Lockhart

The Federal Reserve’s decision to begin buying Treasuries again was a “precautionary” step, not the opening salvo in a new policy course, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said. Lockhart said markets overreacted to the decision, reading a major worsening into the Fed’s view of the world that had not taken place.

For more of this story by Pedro Nicolaci da Costa, read here.

Clinton: time ticking for Israel-Palestinian peace

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Israel and the Palestinians to overcome the final obstacles to peace, saying their new talks may be a last chance to end the conflict. Clinton, speaking to Israeli and Palestinian television one day after direct peace talks between the two sides were relaunched in Washington, said skepticism and suspicion cannot be allowed to derail the talks as has happened so many times in the past.

For more of this story by Andrew Quinn, read here.

Government probes Mariner platform fire

The government launched an investigation into Mariner Energy Inc’s Gulf of Mexico platform fire, and a light oil sheen spotted near the offshore facility was not believed to be a leak, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

For more of this story by Bruce Nichols, read here

What we are blogging…

 It was just a game of golf!

Ever since he played golf with President Barack Obama last week, New York newspapers have been rife with speculation that Mayor Michael Bloomberg is being wooed by the administration to replace Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary. The White House dismissed the speculation as fantasy and Bloomberg dismissed the idea. But still as summer draws to an end, what else is there to talk about going into the Labor Day holiday weekend except the lackluster economy?

For Donna Smith’s full blog, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann (vessel on Rhine floats past administration building of Bayer AG chemical company)

 

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