News Roundups

Oil prices fall, stimulus stalemate as Senate returns to Washington, and more

Daily stimulus and recovery news headlines from September 8, 2020.

A Solid Jobs Report Makes Imminent Stimulus Even Less Likely

Friday’s jobs report contained some good news, but the political forecast for more measures that might boost the economy is decidedly more mixed. I spoke with business columnist Josh Barro about the central takeaways.

Ben: This morning’s jobs report showed that unemployment in America has fallen from 10.2 percent to 8.4 percent (an artificially large drop because of the temporary hiring of census workers) and that 1.37 million new jobs were created in August, beating expectations of 1.35 million. So there’s some good news, but businesses are bringing furloughed workers back at a slower pace than they were, and, of course, millions remain jobless. What were your central takeaways from this snapshot of the economy?

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Stimulus Stalemate Lingers as Senate Returns to Washington

The Senate returns to Washington Tuesday with the Trump administration and Democrats no closer to agreement on a new virus relief package than they were when talks broke off in early August -- despite the pressure of the U.S. election in 56 days.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will try to break the logjam this week with a scaled-down $500 billion stimulus plan that the White House supports. Although that’s half of what the GOP offered at the end of July, McConnell is struggling to get Republicans fully behind it as newly-energized fiscal hawks in the party balk at adding to the estimated $3.3 trillion fiscal 2020 deficit.

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Oil prices fall, with Brent at lowest finish since July on prospects for weak demand

Oil futures declined on Thursday, with prices for the global Brent crude benchmark marking their lowest settlement since July as concerns remained over the outlook for demand.

Oil prices saw even steeper losses early Thursday as the U.S. stock market sold off sharply on the heels of a tech selloff.

The “energy space has stabilized,” however, partially thanks to the fact that the day’s equity market volatility was “not a function of a materially negative headline regarding the global economy, the coronavirus, or stimulus but rather overextended valuations,” Tyler Richey, co-editor at Sevens Report Research, told MarketWatch.

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OPINION: The Fed Puts Its Independence on the Line

America’s Founding Fathers are having a very bad year. Their names sullied. Their likenesses defaced. The principles they pronounced attacked. Of greatest consequence, the institutions at the core of our republic are being tested.

Commentators tend to anthropomorphize the most prominent independent government institutions: the Roberts Court and the Powell Fed. The person atop is regularly glorified or vilified. Yet the institution matters more than the person. Liberal democracy relies on the strength and resilience of longstanding entities, especially when popular sentiment is running hot and circumstances are grave. People in positions of power are flawed, the Founders warned, so the institutions in our government must be robust, resilient and responsible. Our finest institutions are well-designed, rich in tradition and humble in orientation. They must defend themselves against unexpected shocks that can harm them and those they are charged to serve.

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OPINION: COVID-19 bailouts should target oil and gas workers and communities, not companies

The oil and gas crisis has significant implications for the thousands of workers the industry employs as well as for local communities its revenues support. To ensure that these workers and communities are not collateral damage in the pandemic-fed downturn or during the longer-term energy transition, any government response — whether as part of an immediate COVID-19 stimulus package or longer-term economic recovery policy — needs to prioritize support for oil and gas workers and communities instead of bailing out corporations.

My colleagues have highlighted how the U.S. COVID-19 response has provided targeted relief to oil and gas companies without benefitting their workers who have lost jobs.

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