Hurricane Harvey Brings Questions to Congress, Consumer Confidence Beats Expectations.
August 29, 2017
The massive destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston and other parts of Southern Texas will require Congress to converge on multiple needs. Consumer confidence, meanwhile, is high.
- Hurricane Harvey leaves Congress to address flood insurance, other damages. The massive destruction of Hurricane Harvey has left Texas reeling as heavy rains continue to pound the southern part of the state, flooding roadways and crumbling infrastructure. The deeply indebted National Flood Insurance Program will likely have to be bailed out by Congress, as a wave of claims comes in from the state. The program was originally scheduled to expire on September 30 due to limited funding, and has lapsed several times from 2008-2012. Additionally, with much of the destruction uninsured, Congress will likely have to approve emergency funding for the state, much as they did with Super Storm Sandy. The Sandy bill cost $50.5 billion, and raised the flood insurance program’s borrowing authority by almost $10 billion. [WSJ]
- Feds sign Maryland transportation bill. The infamously crowded routes in and out of Washington DC’s Maryland suburbs will be getting a new rail line. The Department of Transportation will pay $900 million toward building a new light rail line between Prince George’s County and Montgomery County. The “Purple Line” is expected to be completed by 2022, and will be 16 miles long with 21 stations. Funding will come from a mix of federal, state and local money, with both public and private capital. Secretary Chao lauded this funding mix as a model for the rest of the nation’s major infrastructure projects. [The Hill]
Economic Indicators & News
- Consumer Confidence beats expectations. Consumer confidence hits 122.9, while economists expected 120.3, a drop from last month. These better than expected results put August’s consumer confidence at the second-best rating of the past year, due in large part to the tightness of the labor market and high job availability. [CNBC]
- Lacking inventory drives up home prices. Data released Tuesday shows limited housing stock is driving up home prices. Home values in 20 cities showed their largest increase in three years, with Seattle, WA and Portland, OR posting the biggest year over year price gains, at 13.4% and 8.2% respectively. The national home-price gauge rose 5.8% year over year, and values in the 20 cities rose 5.7% year over year. Economists report these price increases are due to the tightness of the housing market and lack of housing stock availability. [Bloomberg]