Powell and Yellen Testify Jointly Before Congressional Panels

Posted on 03/22/2021 5:07 AM

House Ag panel hearing Thursday on state of Black farmers

 


Washington Focus


 

The House is out this week while members hold a virtual committee work period. The Senate is in.

 

Two issues pressing the new Biden administration are southern border issues and a contentious first meeting between U.S. and Chinese officials held last Thursday and Friday. In Anchorage, Alaska. Policy and other ramifications are still unfolding on those topics.

 

The Democrats’ must-do list in Congress includes hard-to-get immigration reform (either comprehensive or incremental) and infrastructure (a subject that always appears to be at hand then is punted for other issues amid funding and other glitches). Other front-list topics include a coming tax reform package (increases and decreases) and much needed details on the Biden administration’s approach to climate change policy. White House sources signal the administration is busy at work to announce “something” about climate change on April 22, which is Earth Day, and that “something” could include agriculture.

 

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will make their first joint appearance before the U.S. House Financial Services committee to testify on Fed and Treasury pandemic policies on Tuesday. The two will also take part in a remote hearing before the Senate Banking Committee on the quarterly CARES Act report to Congress the following day.

 

The Senate will vote on the confirmation of Marty Walsh to be Secretary of Labor later today.

 

Tech CEOs focus of House hearing. Jack Dorsey of Twitter, Sundar Pichai of Google parent Alphabet and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook are scheduled on Thursday to face lawmakers' questions about online misinformation and disinformation. They will likely be asked about efforts to change or scrap Section 230, the law that protects online platforms from being held liable for things users say on them.

 

The Supreme Court will hear a dispute over union organizers’ access to farmworkers. One of labor leader César Chávez’s proudest achievements faces scrutiny Monday at the Supreme Court, where growers are challenging the rights that union organizers hold under California law to make their case to farmworkers in the fields. Link for details via WSJ article.

 

Biden plans his first formal press conference as president on Thursday, more than two months after the inauguration, a relatively late start compared with recent predecessors, though the president has held less-formal sessions with reporters. Former President Donald Trump held his first solo news conference nearly four weeks into his presidency, while President Barack Obama’s first one was about three weeks after his inauguration.

 

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack continues his speaking events this week, with most farmers wanting to know when paused CFAP payments will be made and how the programs (CFAP 3 and CFAP-AA/additional aid) could be altered. Vilsack also journeys to Iowa today with Doug Emhoff, husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, to tout the American Rescue Plan.

 

The House Ag Committee’s focus on Black farmers continues, with a hearing Thursday on the topic. The following are some observations and information about the BIPOC provisions in recent legislation… black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC).

     BIOP provisions

     Background: USDA loans to Black farmers and CFAP payments to minority producers. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) requested data from USDA to score the recent bill that contains an estimated $4 billion in direct payments to selected minority farmers. The legislation provides “such sums” that are necessary to complete the payments, so there will be sufficient funding to cover socially disadvantaged producers with debt to USDA. USDA sources inform they are reviewing and working to gather feedback to implement the Act, and more guidance will be forthcoming for borrowers with Direct and/or Guaranteed Farm Loans as well as Farm Storage Facility Loans.

 

     More info about the loans that are covered:

  • Farm Service Agency direct loans (including operating, ownership, youth, microloans, and emergency) made as of January 2021.
  • Operating and ownership loans made by commercial lenders such as banks or farm credit that have a Farm Service Agency guarantee associated with them made as of January 2021.
  • Direct loans made by the Farm Service Agency on behalf of CCC for farm storage facilities and handling equipment (FSFL program) made as of January 2021.
  • Debts that are still pending with USDA or Treasury related to any of the above loans that were delinquent and were referred for offset or collections.

     CFAP 1 and 2 to date. The table below shows payments made to date for CFAP 1 and 2. USDA paused this program shortly after the Biden administration came in to allow time to review its design and implementation. During the review, data showed that among those who identified their race and/or ethnicity to apply for assistance under CFAP 1 and CFAP 2, 00.09% of the payments went to Black/African American producers. Among the groups identified, less than 1% of funding (roughly 00.9%) for CFAP 1 and 2 went collectively to the groups identified as American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian American, Black or African American, and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. Therefore, among the payments with known race and ethnicity, 99% went to white producers. Anecdotally, the large majority of those who do not identify are white.

     CFAP 1 and 2 MF

 

     Direct Farm Loans to Black Producers Under Presidents Trump and Obama. The following data include direct farm loans to Black farmers from 2009-2020 (# of loans is number of individual loans going to Black farmers; the % is the percentage of all direct farm loans held by black farmers):

    Direct loans BF

     Bottom line: The number of loans is fairly representative of the number of black farms/farmers, which indicate that any discrimination is not systemic, though one can and has noted discrimination has existed for certain farmers on an individual basis.
 


Hearings and Events This Week


 

Monday, March 22

  • Federal Reserve. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell addresses the Bank for International Settlements Innovative summit on “How Can Central Banks Innovate in the Digital Age?” Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin, San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly, Fed Vice Chair for Supervision Randal Quarles and Fed Governor Michelle Bowman are scheduled to speak.
  • Vilsack in Iowa. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack travels to Iowa with Doug Emhoff, husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, to tout the American Rescue Plan.
  • Infrastructure. House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on HR 1848, the "Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow's (LIFT) America Act: Revitalizing Our Nation's Infrastructure and Economy."
  • DC statehood. House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on HR 51, the "Washington, DC Admission Act."
  • China legislative session. Center for Strategic and International Studies webinar on "China's New Legislative Agenda: Unpacking China's 'Two Meetings,'" focusing on the March 4 convening of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
  • U.S. economy. National Association for Business Economics virtual 37th annual Economic Policy Conference with remarks from Fed President Thomas Barkin.
  • EU presidency. Catholic University of America virtual discussion on the priorities of the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union.
  • Biden administration and Asia. Woodrow Wilson Center's Asia Program webinar on "Building Back Diplomacy: the Biden Administration Strides into Asia."
  • U.S./Korea. Center for Strategic and International Studies webinar on "Recommendations for the U.S./Korean Alliance," a report by the CSIS Commission on the Korean Peninsula.
  • U.S. Middle Class. Brookings Institution webinar on "How Congress can Support Middle-Class Americans," as part of the "A New Contract with the Middle Class" series.
  • Foreign policy issues. Council on Foreign Relations virtual discussion with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on U.S. foreign policy in relation to Covid, climate change, China and Russia.
  • Supply chain and China. Hudson Institute webinar on "China and Supply Chain Vulnerabilities," as part of the U.S./Australia series.
  • Financial issues. Alternative Reference Rates Committee virtual "The SOFR (Secured Overnight Financing Rate) Symposium: The Final Year."

Tuesday, March 23

  • Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen make their first joint appearance before the House Financial Services committee to testify on Fed and Treasury pandemic policies.
  • Sustainable wood products. House Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, “Wood Innovation: Sustainable Forest Products to Reinvigorate Rural Economies.”
  • Public lands. House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing, “Building Back Better: Examining the Future of America's Public Lands.”
  • WRDA. House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee hearing on implementation of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020.
  • Food safety. Consumer Federation of America’s Virtual Food Policy Series, “A New Day at USDA for Food Safety?”
  • Federal Reserve. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard speaks to the London School of Economics. New York Fed President John Williams discusses the New York economy.
  • Forest products and rural areas. House Appropriations Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on "Wood Innovation: Sustainable Forest Products to Reinvigorate Rural Economies."
  • Food safety. United Fresh Produce Association virtual discussion on "Food Safety Requirements for the U.S.: What Growers Need to Know."
  • USAID nomination. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the nomination of Samantha Power to be administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
  • Ways and Means members’ day. House Ways and Means Committee hearing on "Members' Day."
  • Brazil, U.S. and Japan. Inter-American Dialogue webinar on "Prospects for Brazil-Japan-U.S. Cooperation in a Shifting International Political Environment."
  • U.S., Korea and Japan. George Washington University's Institute for Korean Studies webinar on "U.S.-Republic of Korea-Japan Trilateral Relations in the Biden Era."
  • Climate change and regulation. Ceres virtual 2021 conference, with the theme "Transform Tomorrow Today," with Commodity Futures Trading Commission Commissioner Rostin Behnam; Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard; and Acting Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Allison Herren Lee discussing "Regulating Climate Change as a Systemic Financial Risk."
  • Prescription drugs. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Primary Health and Retirement Security Subcommittee hearing "Why Does the U.S. Pay the Highest Prices in the World for Prescription Drugs?"
  • Climate and water systems. Washington Post Live virtual discussion on "Climate Solutions: Preserving Our Water Systems."
  • International organizations. House Financial Services National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy Subcommittee hearing on "United States Standing in International Organizations." The House Foreign Affairs International Development, International Organizations and Global Corporate Social Impact Subcommittee also has a hearing scheduled on that topic.
  • Budget panel members’ day. House Budget Committee hearing on "FY 2022 Budget Priorities: Members' Day."
  • Climate change and markets. Peterson Institute for International Economics and the British Embassy webinar on "Economic Impact of Climate Change," focusing on implications for trade policy, financial institutions, infrastructure and markets.
  • Post-Covid policy challenges. National Association for Business Economics virtual 37th annual Economic Policy Conference, with remarks from Fed Governor Lael Brainard.
  • Telecom issues. Free State Foundation virtual 13th annual Telecom Policy Conference with FCC Commissioner Breandan Carr.
  • Water issues. Global Water 2020, WaterAid America, the World Wildlife Fund, InterAction, Millennium Water Alliance, UNICEF USA, and the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) virtual World Water Day discussion.
  • CARES Act. House Financial Services Committee hearing on "Oversight of the Treasury Department's and Federal Reserve's Pandemic Response." Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to testify.
  • PPP issues. House Small Business Contracting and Infrastructure Subcommittee hearing on "The Interaction Between the Paycheck Protection Program and Federal Acquisition Rules: What it Means for Government Contractors."
  • Energy and the GOP. Washington Post Live virtual discussion on the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, priorities on energy and the future of the Republican Party.
  • Immigration. American Society of International Law virtual discussion Cleaning the Sand Out of the Gears: Unwinding the Trump Administration's Extraordinary Use of Executive Action to Restrict Immigration."
  • 2020 Census. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on "The 2020 Census and Current Activities of the U.S. Census Bureau."
  • Defense Production Act. Federal Emergency Management Agency meeting by teleconference to implement Pandemic Response Voluntary Agreement under Section 708 of the Defense Production Act.

Wednesday, March 24

  • Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen take part in a remote hearing before the Senate Banking Committee on the quarterly CARES Act report to Congress.
  • Farm Credit System/rural economy. House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the rural economy with the chairmen of the Farm Credit System Insurance Corp. and the Farm Credit Administration.
  • Water infrastructure. Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on western water infrastructure.
  • Federal Reserve. New York Fed President John Williams takes part in a virtual discussion hosted by Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College. San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly will discuss her research on equitable growth. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans participates in a virtual Q&A hosted by the Japan America Society of Chicago.
  • Rural economy/Farm Credit System. House Agriculture Committee hearing on "The Rural Economy” with officials from the Farm Credit System.
  • Texas grid failure. House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on "Power Struggle: Examining the 2021 Texas Grid Failure."
  • Vehicle miles traveled fee. Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and the Institute for Policy Integrity webinar on "Addressing the Social Costs of Driving Through a Vehicle Miles Traveled Fee."
  • Transportation infrastructure. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on rebuilding America's transportation infrastructure.
  • China ambitions. German Marshall Fund of the United States discussion on "How China Loses: The Pushback Against Chinese Global Ambitions."
  • Covid aid and U.S. territories. House Natural Resources Committee hearing on “How the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better Plan Can Benefit the U.S. Territories.”
  • U.S./Europe report. Woodrow Wilson Center's Global Europe Program and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce webinar on "Launch of the Transatlantic Economy 2021 Report."
  • Aid and China. Center for Global Development webinar on "What is the Role of Aid to Middle-Income Countries? A View from China."
  • Education nomination. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the nomination of Cynthia Minette Marten to be deputy Education secretary.
  • Transportation nomination. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee markup to vote on the nomination of Polly Ellen Trottenberg to be deputy Transportation secretary.
  • Asia/North Korea. Henry L. Stimson Center virtual discussion on "Blinken's Asia Trip: What's Next With North Korea?"
  • Covid and Department of Justice. House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on "Management, Performance Challenges, and Covid Response at the Department of Justice."
  • Korean peninsula. United States Institute of Peace webinar on "Peacebuilding on the Korean Peninsula: U.S. and European Perspectives."
  • Small business financing. Bipartisan Policy Center webinar on "Show Me the Money: What's Next for Small Business Finance?"
  • U.S. economic bubbles. American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research webinar on "The Biden Stimulus, the Federal Reserve, and the Everything Bubble."
  • Western water management. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Water and Power Subcommittee hearing on incorporating natural infrastructure in western water management and policy to support economic development, protect watershed health, and build more resilient communities.
  • SBA Covid aid oversight. Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee hearing on "Oversight of the SBA's Covid-19 Relief Programs."
  • The filibuster. Brookings Institution virtual forum on "Voting rights and wrongs: Democracy legislation and the filibuster in the Senate."

Thursday, March 25

  • President Biden’s first formal press conference as president, more than two months after the inauguration, a relatively late start compared with recent predecessors.
  • Misinformation. Hearing featuring CEOs from Facebook, Google and Twitter. Lawmakers will grill them on their failure to crack down on misinformation.
  • Child nutrition programs. Senate Ag Committee hearing on reauthorization of child nutrition programs.
  • Infrastructure. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on the Biden administration’s priorities for infrastructure.
  • Black farmers. House Ag Committee hearing to review the state of Black farmers.
  • Federal Reserve. New York Fed’s Williams speaks to the Urban Core of Syracuse. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans addresses the Women in Housing and Finance meeting. San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly discusses monetary policy in the Covid era. Economic Club of New York hosts a webcast with Fed President of Atlanta Raphael Bostic.
  • Policy summit. Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida speaks at the IIF Washington Policy Summit. U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry will also participate.
  • U.A. government spending. American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research webinar on "Does Congress Still Control the Power of the Purse?"
  • FEMA nomination. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the nomination of Deanne Bennett Criswell to be administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
  • Covid and the economy. Brookings Institution virtual Brookings Papers on Economic Activity conference with a session on Covid and economic policy.
  • Tax policy and U.S. workers. Senate Finance Committee hearing on "How U.S. International Tax Policy Impacts American Workers, Jobs, and Investment."
  • Climate issues. Ceres virtual 2021 conference, “Transform Tomorrow Today, with remarks from White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy.
  • Brazil trade. Americas Society/Council of the Americas webinar on "Brazil's Foreign Trade Agenda."
  • Nuclear energy. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on developments in the nuclear energy sector focusing on ways to maintain and expand the use of nuclear energy in the United States and abroad.
  • Myanmar coup. Senate Foreign Relations East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy Subcommittee hearing on "U.S. Response to the Coup in Burma."
  • Biden Covid aid package. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on "American Rescue Plan: Shots in Arms and Money in Pockets."
  • Biden administration and transportation infrastructure. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on "The Administration's Priorities for Transportation Infrastructure."
  • Taxing wealth. Senate Budget Committee hearing on "Ending a Rigged Tax Code: The Need to Make the Wealthiest People and Largest Corporations Pay their Fair Share of Taxes."
  • Online platforms. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittees on Communications and Technology and Consumer Protection and Commerce hold joint hearing on “Misinformation and Disinformation Plaguing Online Platforms.”
  • Small Business relief fraud. House Select Climate Crisis Committee and House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on "Rooting Out Fraud in Small Business Relief Programs
  • Border crisis. Heritage Foundation webinar on "Battling the Biden Border Crisis."

Friday, March 26

  • USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack speaks to a National Press Club Virtual Headliners event.
  • Vaccine availability. Health and Human Services Department teleconference of the Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force to discuss equitable vaccine access and acceptance.
  • Global threats. Hudson Institute webinar on "Confronting a New Era of Global Threats."

 


Economic Reports for the Week


 

Federal Reserve officials' comments will be ample this week, including several visits to Congress by talkative Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, who last week pledged to continue easy-money policies until the U.S. economy rebounds further from the pandemic, though mounting optimism about the speed of the recovery and the possibility of rising inflation have left investors skeptical about Fed plans for interest rates and bond purchases.

 

     On the report front, New Home Sales on Tuesday will show whether lack of availability, higher interest rates and/or prices have impacted that sector. But even with a monthly decrease, sales are likely to have remained above their pre-pandemic pace, spurred by relatively low mortgage rates and strong demand.

 

Monday, March 22

  • National Association of Realtors Existing Home Sales for February. Consensus estimate is for a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.55 million homes sold, slightly lower than the January data. The median existing-home sales price was $303,900 in January, up 14.1% year over year, as housing inventory hit a record low.
  • Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago National Activity index for February. Economists forecast a 0.68 reading, about even with January’s 0.66. A positive reading indicates that the economy is growing faster than historical trends.
  • Federal Reserve. Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin speaks to the Maryland Bankers Association. San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly hosts a virtual discussion on the future of education.

Tuesday, March 23

  • Census Bureau new single-family home sales for February. Expectations are for a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 900,000 homes sold, slightly lower than the January figure. New-home sales are just off their post-financial-crisis peak set last July.
  • Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen are expected to make their first joint appearance before the U.S. House Financial Services committee to testify on Fed and Treasury pandemic policies.
  • Federal Reserve. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard speaks to the London School of Economics. New York Fed President John Williams discusses the New York economy.

Wednesday, March 24

  • MBA Mortgage Applications
  • Census Bureau durable goods report for February. The consensus call is for new orders of manufactured durable goods to rise 0.5% month over month to $258 billion. Excluding transportation, new orders are also seen gaining 0.5%. This compares with increases of 3.4% and 1.3%, respectively, in January.
  • IHS Markit releases both its Manufacturing and Services Purchasing Managers’ indexes for March. Economists forecast a 58.8 reading for the Manufacturing PMI and a 59.8 reading for the Services PMI, both similar to the February data. Last month, the composite reading for both PMIs hit a six-year high.
  • Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will take part in a remote hearing before the Senate Banking Committee on the quarterly CARES Act report to Congress.
  • Federal Reserve. New York Fed President John Williams takes part in a virtual discussion hosted by Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College. San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly will discuss her research on equitable growth. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans participates in a virtual Q&A hosted by the Japan America Society of Chicago.

Thursday, March 25

  • Jobless Claims: New applications for jobless benefits are near the pandemic’s lowest levels. Economists are forecasting a decline in jobless claims during the week ending March 20, which would suggest further gains for the labor market.
  • Bureau of Economic Analysis third and final estimate for fourth-quarter 2020 GDP. Economists forecast a 4.1% annual rate of growth, unchanged from the BEA’s second estimate, released in late February.
  • Federal Reserve. New York Fed's Williams speaks to the Urban Core of Syracuse. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans addresses the Women in Housing and Finance meeting. San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly discusses monetary policy in the Covid era. Economic Club of New York hosts a webcast with Fed President of Atlanta Raphael Bostic.
  • Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida speaks at the IIF Washington Policy Summit. U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry will also participate.
  • Fed Balance Sheet
  • Money Supply

Friday, March 26

  • Bureau of Economic Analysis personal income and spending data for February. Income is projected to decline 7.5% month over month, compared with a 10% jump in January. Spending is expected to be flat, after increasing 2.4% previously. The Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index, the Federal Reserve’s favored inflation gauge, is seen rising 1.5% year over year, matching the January data.
     

Key USDA & international Ag & Energy Reports and Events 


 

Ag markets are in a holding pattern until end-of-month report on U.S. Prospective Plantings and Grain Stocks reports.

 

Monday, March 22
 

     Ag reports and events:

  • Export Inspections
  • Chickens and Eggs
  • Cold Storage
  • EU weekly grain, oilseed import and export data

Tuesday, March 23
 

     Ag reports and events:

  • Bursa Malaysia Derivatives virtual palm oil conference 2021, day 1
  • Holiday: Pakistan

     Energy reports and events:

  • API weekly U.S. oil inventory report

Wednesday, March 24
 

     Ag reports and events:

  • Broiler Hatchery
  • Poultry Slaughter
  • Bursa Malaysia Derivatives virtual palm oil conference 2021, day 2
  • Earnings: JBS
  • Holiday: Argentina

     Energy reports and events:

  • EIA weekly U.S. oil inventory report
  • U.S. weekly ethanol inventories

Thursday, March 25
 

     Ag reports and events:

  • Weekly Export Sales
  • Food Price Outlook
  • Hogs and Pigs
  • Livestock Slaughter
  • Seminar on sustainable palm oil in India by the Solvent Extractors’ Association and the Malaysian Palm Oil Board
  • International Grains Council monthly report
  • Port of Rouen data on French grain exports
  • Malaysia’s March 1-25 palm oil export data

     Energy reports and events:

  • EIA natural gas storage change
  • Russian weekly refinery outage data from ministry
  • Insights Global weekly oil product inventories in Europe’s ARA region

Friday, March 26
 

     Ag reports and events:

  • CFTC Commitments of Traders report
  • Peanut Prices
  • Oil Crops Yearbook
  • Peanut Stocks and Processing
  • FranceAgriMer weekly update on crop conditions

     Energy reports and events:

  • Baker Hughes weekly U.S. oil/gas rig counts

 


 

Add new comment