News Roundups

Republican bid to end virus lending slows relief deal, Fed joins climate network, and more

Weekly news headlines about the stimulus and recovery from Dec 18, 2020.

Republican Bid to End Virus Lending Slows Relief Deal

Two leading Senate Republicans say that language terminating the Federal Reserve’s pandemic lending facilities should be in the economic relief bill -- a demand that could slow negotiations as lawmakers look to make a deal.

Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said Thursday that ending the facilities is a top issue for him to include in the bill. Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho said including language to explicitly wind down the emergency lending programs by the end of the year is becoming a red-line issue for Republicans.

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Watchdog Members Urge Probe on Mnuchin’s Shift of Pandemic Funds

Members of a congressional watchdog panel have asked for an investigation into why Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin ended U.S. Federal Reserve emergency lending programs, according to a letter obtained by Bloomberg News.

The move represents the latest standoff between Republicans and Democrats over the use of almost half a trillion dollars in Covid-19 aid. Mnuchin said the Cares Act required him to terminate some central bank emergency lending facilities to prop up small businesses, non-profits and state and local government during the pandemic.

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Government spending bill to include bipartisan energy provisions

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate Floor on Monday that a bipartisan energy bill will be included in an appropriations bill to fund the government.

"The appropriations bill will include several important pieces of related legislation. One that doesn't get enough attention is a bipartisan energy bill," Schumer said on the Senate floor, an apparent reference to a proposal from Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) that was stalled earlier this year. 

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Fed Joins Climate Network, to Applause From the Left

The Federal Reserve is joining a network of central banks and other financial regulators focused on conducting research and shaping policies to help prepare the financial system for the effects of climate change.

The Fed’s board in Washington voted unanimously to become a member of the Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System, it said in a statement on Tuesday. The central bank began participating in the group more than a year ago, but its formal membership is something that Democratic lawmakers have been pushing for and that Republicans have eyed warily.

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Yellen Gets a Shot to Put Treasury Clout Into Climate Fight

Janet Yellen has promised to make fighting climate change a priority as Treasury secretary, spurring hope among activists she will put the issue at the center of U.S. economic policy for the first time.

Yellen, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Treasury Department, has already endorsed a tax on carbon dioxide emissions and urged countries to set up independent councils that can pursue aggressive climate policies without political interference.

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The Dicey Economics of Investing in Oil During Covid-19

Does investing in oil and gas companies still make sense? Money manager Jacinto Hernandez has doubts.

The partner at Capital Group Cos. liquidated $1 billion in oil and gas stocks as Covid-19 spread around the globe in February, according to regulatory filings. Mr. Hernandez said he suspected the expansion of the new coronavirus in Italy was about to crush global demand for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel—and with it, any near-term thesis for investing in oil companies.

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