New Fed Chair Confirmed
January 24, 2018
Senate confirms Jerome Powell as the new Chair of the Federal Reserve; Schumer withdraws offer to fund Mexican border wall; Existing home sales decrease 3.6% in December compared to 1.5% decline estimated.
- Senate confirms Jerome Powell as the new Chair of the Federal Reserve. The Senate approved President Trump’s nominee, current Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell, to serve as the new Chair of the Federal Reserve on Tuesday in an 84-13 vote. Powell had support among Republicans and Democrats who expect that he will follow the policies of the outgoing Chair Janet Yellen. Yellen was the first woman to head the Fed. Trump had the option of appointing her to a second term, but instead chose Powell, a 64-year-old, Princeton University graduate who was a former investment banker and originally appointed to the Fed board by former President Barack Obama. Powell was an undersecretary of the Treasury under former President George H.W. Bush. [NPR]
- Schumer withdraws offer to fund Mexican border wall. Senate Democratic leader withdrew a $25 billion offer he had made to fully fund President Trump’s proposed wall at the Mexican border in exchange for permanent legal protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children on Sunday, marking a turn in the debate over immigration policy. Roughly 800,000 young adults brought to this country illegally have been protected from deportation by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program that former President Obama put in place. However, President Trump rescinded the program in September, giving Congress six months, or until March 5, to replace it. Late on Tuesday night, Trump reiterated that “if there is no wall, there is no DACA.” Now the Senate has until February 8 to decide on immigration policy, the date that a stopgap spending measure approved on Monday will expire. Passage of a bipartisan immigration bill in the Senate would shift the political focus to the House. [NYTimes, Washington Post]
Economic Indicators & News
- Existing home sales decrease 3.6% in December compared to 1.5% decline estimated. According to the National Association of Realtors on Wednesday, existing home sales decreased 3.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million units last month with declines in all four regions. The decrease in home sales was more than expected in December as the supply of houses on the market fell to a record low amount, increasing prices. The supply of previously owned homes on the market declined 11.4 percent to 1.48 million units in December, which was the lowest level since January 1999. Housing inventory was down 10.3 percent from a year ago and has decreased for 31 straight months on a year-over-year basis. November’s sales rate was revised down to 5.78 million units, yet still remained the highest level of existing home sales since February 2007. On a year-on-year basis, existing home sales, which account for about 90 percent of U.S. home sales, rose 1.1 percent in December. [CNBC]