Washington Extra – Club CEO
At one point, business isn’t just about money.
President Barack Obama just assembled corporate heavyweights to advise him on the economy.
It was the president’s latest move to show that he is trying to get the economy rolling and is reaching out to business.
Those who made the honor list included an eclectic bunch: Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons, American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault, AOL co-founder Steve Case, DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman, Intel CEO Paul Otellini, and Kodak CEO Antonio Perez.
In addition to the corner office set, the advisory panel also includes union leaders: Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, and Joseph Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.
That should make for some interesting roundtable chatter, if that’s how the panel works.
We thought we’d better check one thing: Are the corporate chieftains and labor leaders getting paid? No way, is the White House’s answer.
Obama needs all the help he can get on the economy. U.S. crude oil hit a 28-month high of $100 a barrel. If oil prices stay high they can hurt the nascent U.S. economic recovery — although the White House keeps up a brave face.
“Thus far, they’re up, but we’re not forecasting — and you haven’t seen the private forecasters forecasting — that at these levels they would derail the recovery,” said top White House economist Austan Goolsbee.
Here are our top stories from Washington today…
U.S. says considering Libya sanctions
The United States is looking at imposing sanctions on Libya to punish it for a violent crackdown on protesters, balancing tougher rhetoric with efforts to safely evacuate Americans. A State Department spokesman said freezing Libyan assets, including those belonging to leader Muammar Gaddafi, was also “in the toolbox” of possible responses to the crisis in the oil-producing North African country.
For more of this story by Arshad Mohammed and Andrew Quinn, read here.
White House: higher oil prices won’t halt recovery
The White House said higher oil prices caused by Middle East unrest must be monitored but would not stall the U.S. recovery, while reiterating a warning on the risks posed by global imbalances. “Thus far, they’re up, but we’re not forecasting — and you haven’t seen the private forecasters forecasting — that at these levels they would derail the recovery,” said top White House economist Austan Goolsbee. U.S. crude oil reached a 28-month high of $100 a barrel on Wednesday as violence in OPEC producer Libya caused output there to be reduced and investors bet that unrest elsewhere in the region could cause additional disruption to supplies.
For more of this story by Caren Bohan and Alister Bull, read here.
Obama pulls defense for law banning gay marriage
President Obama has determined that a federal law that barred gay marriages was unconstitutional and told government lawyers to stop defending it, the Justice Department said, a major reversal that quickly angered conservatives. The hot-button issue of same-sex marriage has been the focus of many judicial and political battles across the country. Gay marriage has only been legalized in the District of Columbia and five of the 50 states — Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont.
For more of this story by Jeremy Pelofsky, read here.
Obama assembles CEO group to advise on economy
President Obama named a group of top corporate executives to join a new economic advisory panel, the latest move to boost the economy and reach out to the business community. The White House published a list of high-profile names, including Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons, American Express Co Chief Executive Kenneth Chenault, AOL co-founder Steve Case, Southwest Airlines Chief Executive Gary Kelly, DuPont Chief Executive Ellen Kullman, and Intel Corp Chief Executive Paul Otellini.
For more of this story, read here.
Messy U.S. budget, spending prospects
The deeply divided U.S. Congress faces a March 4 deadline for sending President Barack Obama legislation to keep the government funded and running.
For scenarios on what might happen by Richard Cowan, click here.
Banks told they need to start lending again
In the black for 2010, its first profitable year since 2007, the banking industry now needs to start lending again. That’s what Sheila Bair, the chairman of the FDIC, advocated as her agency delivered the industry’s fourth-quarter report card. “If you want to have long-term sustainable earnings you can only reduce loan-loss provisions for so long, we need to see more lending,” she said.
For more of this story by Dave Clarke, read here.
For related graphics, click here.
Hoenig: Big banks too risky, rates too low
Wall Street’s financial giants continue to pose major risks to the economy, and must be broken up to avoid another meltdown, Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Thomas Hoenig said. He repeated his warning that by promising to keep rates low for a prolonged period the Fed risks sowing the seeds for renewed troubles in the financial sector.
For more of this story by Pedro Nicolaci da Costa, read here.
Home sales rise, price slump points to weakness
Sales of previously owned homes set their highest rate in eight months in January, but more than a third of purchases were distressed properties and prices hit a nearly nine-year low. Foreclosures and short sales typically occur below market value and their large share of overall sales suggested further price declines ahead. “What this shows is that there will be an ongoing adjustment to prices to the downside. Housing fundamentals are still weak,” said Neil Dutta, an economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York.
For more of this story by Lucia Mutikani, read here.
US rules slash costs to cut industrial pollution
Environmental regulators issued rules that will halve the cost for industrial polluters to cut toxic air emissions, a sign the Obama administration is willing to compromise on cutting pollution. The EPA issued rules limiting emissions of toxic pollutants, including mercury and soot, from boilers and some incinerators that would cut the cost of installing pollution control on industry to about $1.8 billion. That is about half the amount a proposed rule the agency issued last year would have cost polluters.
For more of this story by Timothy Gardner, read here.
Credit Suisse bankers indicted in U.S. tax case
A grand jury charged bankers at a Swiss bank with aiding and abetting Americans in evading taxes, in a widening of the government’s probe into foreign banks. The indictment charges four current and former bankers at a large Swiss international bank with conspiring to defraud the U.S. government. The bank was not named in the court filings, but a source familiar with the case said it was Credit Suisse.
For more of this story by Kim Dixon, read here.
U.S. top court allows lawsuits over seat belts
The Supreme Court ruled that federal regulations setting vehicle safety standards do not bar lawsuits seeking damages from automakers for installing lap-only seat belts. The unanimous ruling held that a California lawsuit against Mazda over a fatal 2002 collision involving a 1993 Mazda minivan could proceed. A passenger sitting in a rear seat and wearing a lap-only seat belt was killed.
For more of this story by James Vicini, read here.
What we are blogging…
2012 White House race may lose one tradition: Candidates from the Senate
Barack Obama did it. So did Joe Biden, John McCain, Hillary Clinton and scores of others. They ran for the White House as members of the Senate. The 2012 presidential campaign, however, may feature for the first time in more than a half-century no senators. John Thune was the only current senator openly considering a run, but he announced that he’s decided instead to stay put.
For Thomas Ferraro’s full post, click here.
Big surfing contest wipes out, no waves
An epic surfing contest that in the past featured athletes riding huge waves is washing out this year, due to a lack of big surf. The Jay at Maverick’s Big Wave Surfing Invitational, near scenic Half Moon Bay in California, often attracts some of the surfing world’s top talent. But the competition is only held if the right weather conditions produce giant swells. Those conditions would need to happen by February 28, the final day in the window of time set by organizers of the northern California contest, and they have discounted that possibility. “It’s been a bad year for big waves,” said Grant Washburn, a veteran surfer.
For more of this story, read here.
Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama and AOL co-founder Steve Case walking off Air Force One in Cleveland)