News Roundups

Fed's rescue helped wealthy most, Trump's ANWR flop a win for climate, and more

Weekly news headlines about the stimulus and recovery from Jan 15, 2021.

The tools that rescued America's economy are mostly helping wealthy Americans

As the pandemic plunged America's economy into turmoil last March, Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve chairman, rushed to prop it back up with a series of programs.

A policy that the Fed pioneered during the 2008 Great Recession known as quantitative easing, in which the country essentially buys its own debt, worked by making credit more readily available. Companies in sectors heavily impacted by the pandemic rushed to raise new funding, with US corporate bond issuance hitting $1 trillion in record time.

Read more

Fed officials signal uncertainty about when bond-buying stimulus could change

Federal Reserve officials have been offering hints about the outlook for their bond buying, with some saying the stimulus effort could persist unchanged through the year and others saying they can’t make a prediction with all the unknowns surrounding how the economy recovers from the pandemic.

At issue is the outlook for what is now $120 billion a month in Treasury and mortgage bond buying. These purchases are aimed at stimulating the economy by keeping long-term borrowing costs down and supporting smooth financial market.

Read more

Wall Street warms to Exxon as oil rally supports dividend

Analysts at Wall Street's biggest banks say now's the time to buy Exxon Mobil Corp. as rallying oil and gas prices increase the chances of the company being able to keep its highly prized dividend, the third-highest in the S&P 500 Index.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. yesterday joined Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. in upgrading Exxon to "buy" in recent weeks. Years of underperformance have left the stock trading at low valuations compared with peers, leaving it well-placed to gain from this year's recovery in commodity prices, they said.

Read more

One of Trump's most significant failures is a massive win for the climate movement

President Donald Trump's legacy will forever be defined by the massive failures he presided over in the final weeks of his presidency. And I'm not just talking about the violent insurrection at the Capitol, or the record-breaking pandemic daily death count of more than 4,000 lives.

I'm also talking about Trump's failure to sell off one of America's last untouched swaths of wilderness to fossil fuel companies. It’s one of the most significant failures of his administration's entire anti-climate agenda — and the first significant win of 2021 for the global climate movement.

Read more

Liberal Sherrod Brown takes key role pushing banks on climate

Even before Democrats won control of the Senate last week, experts said the next four years could be ripe for pushing financial regulators — and Wall Street giants — forward on climate change.

Now momentum is accelerating. The Democratic takeover in the Senate increases the likelihood that lawmakers will seek to curb climate-related financial risks, according to observers.

Read more

Yellen Confirmation Hearing for Treasury Scheduled Jan. 19

Janet Yellen’s confirmation hearing as Treasury secretary is scheduled for Jan. 19 in front of the Senate Finance Committee, the day before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into office.

Yellen, a former chair of the Federal Reserve, is expected to win confirmation easily in the Senate. While she occasionally sparred with Republican lawmakers during her tenure at the Fed, some GOP senators have already said they support her nomination. The hearing is set for 10 a.m., the committee announced on Tuesday.

Read more

OPINION: Banks Shouldn’t Have to Lend to Oil and Gun Companies

The Trump administration has never shown much interest in upholding civil rights. Yet there’s one area where it suddenly cares about cracking down on discrimination — by ensuring that polluters and gun makers have equal access to financial services.

The incoming Biden administration must correct this absurdity.

Read more

OPINION: Biden Must Avoid Obama's Mistake When Setting His Agenda

The universe of possibilities for the Biden administration radically expanded after the Democrats clinched the Senate majority, but the increase in political capital isn’t infinite. When deciding which problems to tackle first, President Joe Biden should prioritize initiatives that address the pandemic while moving the nation toward long-term goals for public health and green-energy stimulus.

Biden can learn from the experience of Barack Obama, whose focus on health-insurance reform provoked a midterm backlash and probably forfeited a chance to boost the country out of the Great Recession sooner.

Read more

US climate finance is approaching a leapfrog moment

The US has long been criticised for lagging behind the rest of the world on tackling climate change. But with the Federal Reserve having recently joined other central banks to support the Paris climate goals and an engaged new administration on the horizon, 2021 could be a chance for the US to leapfrog into global leadership by embracing the potential of America’s complex financial regulatory system.

The agencies that comprise this system, and their mandates from Congress, are each different. But the existing mandates of the Fed, the Securities and Exchange Commission and others each can support a predictable transition towards a sustainable economy.

Read more