Consumer Confidence Peaks, Judge Blocks Transgender Military Ban
October 31, 2017
Tech and social media execs testify on the Hill; Judge blocks transgender military ban; Consumer confidence at 17 year high; Wages increase, raising labor costs.
- Tech and social media execs testify on the Hill. Congress has spent the last few days interrogating top technology executives on the role of online platforms in enabling Russian interference in the 2016 election. Adding fuel to those speculations, Facebook told Congress in written testimony that 126 million Americans may have seen politically divisive posts from Russia under fake names. At stake is the reputation of these massive companies, in addition to the threat of harsher online media regulations aimed at promoting transparency in political content online. [Reuters]
- Judge blocks transgender military ban. A federal judge blocked enforcement of President Trump’s ban on the service of transgender members of the military. In a strongly worded decision, Judge Kollar-Kotelly blocked provisions of the memorandum, indicating that she believed the order was discriminatory. The judge also criticized the president’s announcement of the policy on Twitter, arguing the decision was made “without any of the formality or deliberative processes that generally accompany the development and announcement of major policy changes that will gravely affect the lives of many Americans.” The ruling is preliminary, but an important step for the plaintiffs in protecting transgender members of the military that are currently serving. [CNN]
Economic Indicators & News
- Consumer confidence at 17 year high. Consumer confidence beat estimates, rising to 125.9 for the month of October, the highest level since December 2000. Consumer expectations and the rating of present conditions also rose, also beating analyst estimates. The share of respondents who agreed that “jobs are plentiful” rose to over 36%, the highest level since June 2001. The survey showed positive trends for consumers, business owners and workers alike. [Bloomberg]
- Wages increase, raising labor costs. A tight labor market is finally leading to wage increases. The employment cost index rose 0.7%, after 0.5% last quarter, according to BLS data. Despite record-low unemployment, wage growth has remained modest. It appears increases in wages due to fewer available workers are finally taking hold. Low wage growth is a big driver for low inflation, and economists indicate labor costs need to rise 3% this year for the Fed to meet its 2% inflation target. Thus, this new data is likely a welcome sign for the Central Bank, and will support the case for a rate hike come December. [Reuters]