ObamaCare Repeal Revisited, Retail Sales Falling
September 15, 2017
Senator says he nearly has enough votes for ObamaCare repeal; Retail sales fall unexpectedly in August; Industrial production hit by Harvey, drops by most in 8 years; Consumer sentiment falls slightly in September, amid concerns about Hurricane Harvey.
- Senator says he nearly has enough votes for ObamaCare repeal. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) predicts that he will win enough votes to pass his last ditch ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill through the Senate, though he faces long odds. There is an extremely short window to pass the bill before a procedural deadline of Sept. 30. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Friday announced his opposition, saying that the bill kept too much of ObamaCare. However, Cassidy said that leadership is telling the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to prioritize its analysis of the new bill, a crucial step before it can be considered on the floor. With 50 votes, Republicans could then rely on Vice President Pence to break the tie. [The Hill]
Economic Indicators & News
- Retail sales fall unexpectedly in August. The Commerce Department reported on Friday that overall retail sales fell 0.2% in August, the largest drop in six months. Data in July was downwardly revised to a 0.3% increase compared to a previously reported 0.6% jump. Auto sales decreased 1.6% last month, the largest drop since January. Hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas in the last week of August, likely contributed to the decreased sales of automobiles. 5 of 13 major retail categories reported a decrease in August sales. Retail control group sales rose at an annualized 1.1 percent in the three months ended in August, less than the 3.9 percent pace from May through July. An increase in purchases at furniture outlets and restaurants shows that demand is being supported by a healthy job market. [Bloomberg]
- Industrial production hit by Harvey, drops by most in 8 years. U.S. industrial output fell in August for the first time since January, impacted by Hurricane Harvey, according to the Federal Reserve on Friday. Overall industrial production decreased 0.9 percent over the month after a July increase that was revised upward to 0.4 percent. The Fed attributed about 0.75 percentage point of the decline to storm effects that curtailed drilling, servicing, and extraction activity for oil and natural gas. Though Harvey was a major force in the decline that pushed down mining output by 0.8 percent, other sectors also contributed, as the output of consumer goods and utilization of factory capacity also decreased. [CNBC]
- Consumer sentiment falls slightly in September, amid concerns about Hurricane Harvey. The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index fell to 95.3 from 96.8 in August. Economists polled by MarketWatch expected a reading of 94.5. 9% of people surveyed, without prompting, mentioned concerns that Harvey, Irma, or both, would have a negative impact on the overall economy. However, the sentiment decline wasn’t as severe as forecasted. According to the University of Michigan, while consumers anticipate a slight rise in gasoline prices and inflation, they assessed the best financial situation in more than a decade with record high stock prices, surging home prices and gains in income and employment. [MarketWatch]