Congress on Recess | Mueller Report Coming | U.S./Japan Trade Talks

Posted on 04/15/2019 4:41 AM

Sen. Graham working on new immigration reform measure


Congress is on a two-week recess, this one for Easter, and will return April 29. Trade policy developments again will be a key topic of interest in Washington, with likely updates on ongoing U.S./China trade talks, and meetings this week in Washington between U.S. and Japanese trade officials as they begin talks on reaching a bilateral trade agreement. Attorney General William Barr is expected to release a public version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, with some sections redacted.

 

Attorney General William Barr told lawmakers last week that he would release this week a public version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, with some sections redacted. Democrats have pressed Barr to give lawmakers the full report on the investigation into President Trump and possible collusion with Russia.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) has said he would issue subpoenas to obtain the unredacted report and underlying documents, putting Congress on track for a court fight with the Trump administration. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has made clear that barring a major revelation in the Mueller report, she doesn’t expect her caucus to launch impeachment proceedings.

U.S./Japan trade talks this week. Trade talks between U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer and Japan's economy minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, are set for today and Tuesday in Washington, with the U.S. hoping to strike a “quick” deal on agriculture.

Japan’s Finance Minister Taro Aso suggested the U.S. is in no hurry to reach a trade deal with the nation. “They’re too busy with China. I don’t think they can spare enough people to talk to us,” Aso told reporters Friday in Washington during the spring International Monetary Fund meetings. “There have been no official requests made directly to us on what the U.S. would like to achieve.”

The discussions will follow in the spirit of the joint statement released last September when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump agreed to begin trade talks, according to Japanese officials. They said that means Japan cannot make concessions on agricultural market access beyond what it agreed to in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a free-trade agreement between 11 nations in the Asia-Pacific region that followed after Trump abandoned an earlier pact his third day in office. Tokyo is hoping to avoid tariffs on its cars and Trump has previously shown he will use the threat of such tariffs as part of his trade policy strategy.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he wanted a currency clause in a trade deal with Japan to prevent deliberate manipulation of the yen to bolster exports, Japanese public broadcaster NHK said.

Congress is on a two-week recess, this one for Easter, and will return April 29.

The May agenda for the House was detailed late last week by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). He said the House will vote on two measures: HR 9, to keep the U.S. in the Paris climate agreement, and HR 5, to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity at work and in public facilities. The House will also work on immigration legislation to address people with Temporary Protected Status and “Dreamers,” health care bills aimed at shoring up ObamaCare and tackling rising drug prices, and disaster aid funding. In June, the House will focus on appropriations, Hoyer said.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) recently opened the door to addressing the nation’s immigration problems through bipartisan legislation that he said should include changes to asylum law. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he has asked the White House to provide detailed changes it would want in asylum legislation. Graham on Sunday said he would soon introduce immigration reform legislation. “I'm tired of talking about this problem. I want to fix it. I think all Americans should want both parties to fix this problem,” Graham told Fox News. “The president has correctly identified the crisis at the border, now it's time to have a legislative solution. You need to change our laws for this to stop, so I'll be introducing a package — and hopefully with Democratic support — that will change our asylum laws. Ninety percent of the people apply for asylum never make it, so the standard needs to change.” Graham said he plans to put together the legislative package once Congress returns to Washington, D.C., from recess on April 29. The Senate Judiciary Committee will then mark up the measure, he said.

The situation on the U.S.-Mexico border “can’t be solved without legislation because the current asylum laws aren’t working out well, given the vast number of people who are coming here and seeking asylum,” McConnell added. He didn’t rule out including Democratic priorities like language addressing young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and are known as dreamers. “That’s what a negotiation produces, some kind of an understanding about how many of these different issues you can get enough agreement to solve,” he said.

Economic updates for the week include:

Monday:
— Federal Reserve Bank of New York releases its Empire State Manufacturing Survey for April. Consensus estimates are for a six reading, up from March’s 3.7. A positive reading indicates that business activity in New York state is growing.

Tuesday:
— National Association of Home Builders releases the NAHB/ Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for April. Economists forecast a 63 reading, up from March’s 62.
— Industrial Production: Economists expect production picked back up in March.
— Statistics Canada is expected to report consumer prices rose 0.6 percent in March, down from a 0.7 percent increase in February.
— Tokyo releases its latest trade figures for Japan after running a nearly $60 billion trade surplus with the U.S. in 2018. Japan’s trade surplus with the world was 334.9 billion yen ($3 billion) in February, and consensus calls for that to grow slightly in March to 380 billion yen.

Wednesday:
— Census Bureau reports the trade deficit in goods and services for February. Expectations are for a $54 billion deficit, after a $51.1 billion shortfall in January.

— Census Bureau releases its Wholesale Inventories Report for February. Inventories are seen declining 0.2% after a 1.2% jump in January.
— MBA Mortgage Applications
— Beige Book
— The Bank of Korea will hold a rate-setting meeting and release a policy statement. Most economists expect the central bank to hold steady for a third time amid anemic growth and subdued inflation. The policy rate has been unchanged at 1.75% since it was lifted in November.

Thursday:
— Census Bureau reports Retail Sales data for March. The consensus estimate is that consumer spending rose 0.8%, after unexpectedly falling 0.2% in February. Excluding automobiles and gas, retail sales are seen rising 0.7% after declining 0.6% in February.
— Conference Board releases its Leading Economic Index for March. Expectations are for a 0.4% rise, after a 0.2% gain in February.
— IHS Markit releases its U.S. Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index for April. Economists forecast a 55 reading, in line with March’s.
— Jobless Claims for state unemployment benefits are expected to have risen 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 205,000 for the week ended April 13.
— Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey
— Business Inventories

Friday:
— Census Bureau reports new residential construction data for March. Expectations are for a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.30 million building permits, roughly even with February’s figure. Housing starts are seen coming in at 1.25 million, higher than February’s 1.16 million rate.
— Markets throughout the world, including in Germany, the U.K., and U.S., are closed for Good Friday.

Fed and other central bank speakers on tap:

Monday:
— Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans speaks in television appearance on CNBC's Squawk Box. Later in the day, Evans speaks about current economic conditions and monetary policy at the New York Association for Business Economics luncheon event in New York, N.Y.
— Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren delivers the 33rd Annual Cornelson Distinguished Lecture hosted by Davidson University.
— Lesetja Kganyago, governor of South Africa’s central bank, speaks at Peterson Institute webcast event on “origins of criticisms towards central banks.”

Former Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer also speaks.
— ECB Governing Council member Francois Villeroy de Galhau speaks in New York.
— Yellen remarks. The Georgetown University Library holds a lecture with former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Janet Yellen on "The Past, Present, and Future of the Federal Reserve."

Tuesday:
— Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan participates in a moderated Q&A session at the Community Forum Hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas in El Paso, Texas.
— Yellen remarks. The Meridian International Center holds a discussion with former Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen on the role of the executive and legislative branches in financial policymaking and their impact on rates.

Wednesday:
— St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard delivers a presentation on the U.S. economy and monetary policy at the 28th Annual Hyman P. Minsky Conference at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.
— Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President Patrick Harker delivers a speech about the economic outlook at the Greater Vineland Chamber of Commerce Luncheon in Vineland, N.J.
— New York Fed Senior Vice President Lorie Logan speaks at New York University.

Thursday:
— Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic speaks at the Economic Roundtable of Jacksonville, Florida.

Key USDA and international agriculture and energy-related reports and events on tap:

Monday, April 15

Ag reports and events:

  • Export Inspections
  • Crop Progress
  • Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook
  • Sugar Outlook
  • EU weekly grain, oilseed import and export data
  • EU’s monthly MARS bulletin on crop weather and conditions
  • AmSpec, Intertek, SGS data on Malaysia’s April 1-15 palm oil exports

Energy reports and events:

  • EIA’s Drilling Productivity Report

Tuesday, April 16

Ag reports and events:

  • Fruit and Tree Nut Data
  • Vegetables and Pulses Data
  • Potato Stocks
  • Trout Production
  • Turkey Hatchery

Energy reports and events:

  • API weekly U.S. oil inventory report
  • National Oil and Gas Forum, Moscow

Wednesday, April 17

Ag reports and events:

  • Broiler Hatchery
  • China 1Q hog inventories data

Energy reports and events:

  • U.S. weekly ethanol inventories
  • EIA weekly U.S. oil inventory report
  • National Oil and Gas Forum, Moscow, final day

Thursday, April 18

Ag reports and events:

  • Weekly Export Sales
  • Peanut Prices
  • Cattle on Feed
  • County Estimates: Hay
  • Farms and Land in Farms
  • Farms and Land in Farms Final Estimates
  • Port of Rouen data on French grain exports
  • Buenos Aires Grain Exchange weekly crop report

Energy reports and events:

  • EIA natural gas storage change
  • Baker Hughes weekly U.S. oil/gas rig counts
  • API Monthly Statistical Report

Friday, April 19

Ag reports and events:

  • CFTC weekly commitments of traders report on various U.S. futures and options contracts.
  • FranceAgriMer weekly update on French crop conditions
  • Japan announces result of SBS tender for food wheat
  • Holiday in Europe, Americas, India, Australia, Indonesia

Energy reports and events:

  • 20th Paris International Oil Summit

Other reports and events this week include:

Monday, April 15

  • Congress out on two-week Easter recess, returns April 29.
  • President Trump will host a tax-day event in Minnesota.
  • Income tax filing deadline.
  • Oil and gas. House Natural Resources subcommittee holds a field hearing on “Oil and Gas Development: Impacts on Air Pollution and Sacred Sites”; New Mexico State Legislature, Santa Fe, N.M.
  • Global economy. The Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) holds a discussion on "Secular Stagnation and the Future of Global Macroeconomic Policy," with former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.
  • Global markets. Commodity Futures Trading Commission holds a meeting of the Global Markets Advisory Committee on how regulators are fulfilling the 2009 G20 directive "to assess regularly implementation and whether it is sufficient to improve transparency in the derivatives markets, mitigate systemic risk, and protect against market abuse."
  • LIBOR. Securities and Exchange Commission holds a meeting of the Fixed Income Market Structure Advisory Committee (FIMSAC) to receive updates and presentations from the FIMSAC subcommittees and a discussion on the transition away from the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR).
  • U.S./Asia relations. Singapore Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat speaks at Brookings Institution event on “U.S. engagement in Asia,” covering economic and strategic perspectives.
  • Taiwan. U.S. officials, led by former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), visit Taiwan for American Institute in Taiwan’s 40th anniversary celebration of the Taiwan Relations Act.

Tuesday, April 16

  • Foreign policy. European Council Secretary-General Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen and Randall Schriver, the Pentagon’s top official for Asia-Pacific affairs, are among contributors at Hudson Institute event on the future of EU’s relationship with the U.S. and China.
  • Asian Development Bank. The Woodrow Wilson Center's (WWC) Asia Program holds a discussion on "Preparing for the Unpredictable: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Natural Disasters, Trade Disputes," focusing on the causes of disasters and how insurance systems could impact risks, and the role of government in recovery assistance.
  • U.S./China/EU relations. Hudson Institute discussion on "Caught in the Crossfire: Balancing EU Relations with the U.S. and China."
  • Highway safety. House Transportation & Infrastructure Highways and Transit Subcommittee hearing on "Every Life Counts: Improving the Safety of our Nation's Roadways."
  • Midterm elections. Politics and Prose Bookstore discussion on "The Hill to Die On: The Battle for Congress and the Future of Trump's America," focusing on the 2018 midterm elections.

Wednesday, April 17

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to address Irish parliament.
  • CFPB Director Kathleen Kraninger discusses her vision for the agency at event hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center, in Washington.
  • Missouri River flooding. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee field hearing on "U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Management of the 2019 Missouri River Basin Flooding."
  • Russia sanctions. Atlantic Council discussion on "Implications of Russia Sanctions Legislation on the Energy Sector."
  • Tax policy. National Journal webinar on "Tax Policy in a Divided Congress."

Thursday, April 18

  • IMF economic outlook. Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, deputy director of IMF’s research department, speaks at National Economists Club event about the fund’s World Economic Outlook.
  • Indonesian elections. Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) discussion on "Results of the Indonesian Elections: New Directions or More of the Same?"
  • 2020 elections. New York University, Washington, DC (NYU DC) John Brademas Center for the Study of Congress holds a discussion on "The 2020 Election and Government Reform."
  • China economy. George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs discussion on "China's Economic Slowdown and its Trajectories."

Friday, April 19

  • Holiday in Europe, Americas, India, Australia, Indonesia.
  • China wood cabinets. International Trade Commission meeting to vote on Inv. Nos. 701-TA-620 and 731-TA-1445, Wooden Cabinets and Vanities from China, and is scheduled to complete and file its determinations on April 22, 2019.
  • U.S./Asia trade issues. Meridian International Center holds a discussion with Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for South and Central Asia Christopher Wilson.

 

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