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Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement

Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in July suggests that economic activity is expanding at a moderate pace. On balance, labor market conditions improved somewhat further; however, the unemployment rate is little changed and a range of labor market indicators suggests that there remains significant underutilization of labor resources. Household spending appears to be rising moderately and business fixed investment is advancing, while the recovery in the housing sector remains slow. Fiscal policy is restraining economic growth, although the extent of restraint is diminishing. Inflation has been running below the Committee’s longer-run objective. Longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable. Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The Committee expects that, with appropriate policy accommodation, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace, with labor market indicators and inflation moving toward levels the Committee judges consistent with its dual mandate. The Committee sees the risks to the outlook for economic activity and the labor market as nearly balanced and judges that the likelihood of inflation running persistently below 2 percent has diminished somewhat since early this year. The Committee currently judges that there is sufficient underlying strength in the broader economy to support ongoing improvement in labor market conditions. In light of the cumulative progress toward maximum employment and the improvement in the outlook for labor market conditions since the inception of the current asset purchase program, the Committee decided to make a further measured reduction in the pace of its asset purchases. Beginning in October, the Committee will add to its holdings of agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $5 billion per month rather than $10 billion per month, and will add to its holdings of longer-term Treasury securities at a pace of $10 billion per month rather than $15 billion per month. The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction. The Committee’s sizable and still-increasing holdings of longer-term securities should maintain downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative, which in turn should promote a stronger economic recovery and help to ensure that inflation, over time, is at the rate most consistent with the Committee’s dual mandate.”

Committee to Protect Journalists – Database of journalists killed since 1992

“CPJ began compiling detailed records on journalist deaths in 1992. We apply strict journalistic standards when investigating a death. One important aspect of our research is determining whether a death was work-related. As a result, we classify deaths as “motive confirmed” or “motive unconfirmed.” We consider a case “confirmed” only if we are reasonably certain thatContinue Reading

CFPB Publishes Report to Promote Financial Wellness in the Workplace

“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published a report to promote financial wellness in the workplace. The report contains case studies that are designed to educate employers about practices that can improve employees’ financial health and increase worker productivity…Research has shown that, particularly since the recession, financial distress is widespread among the American workforce. ThisContinue Reading

New GAO Reports – Collision Aftermarket Technologies, HUD Rental Assistance, SBA

TRANSPORTATION: Federal Vehicle Collisions and Aftermarket Collision Avoidance Technologies, GAO-14-408R: Published: Apr 24, 2014. Publicly Released: Apr 24, 2014. HUD RENTAL ASSISTANCE DEMONSTRATION: Information on Initial Conversions to Project-Based Vouchers, GAO-14-402: Published: Apr 24, 2014. Publicly Released: Apr 24, 2014.  SMALL BUSINESS RESEARCH PROGRAMS: Agencies Did Not Consistently Comply with Spending and Reporting Requirements, GAO-14-567T: Published: Apr 24, 2014. Publicly Released: Apr 24, 2014.

Volkswagen: Big Data Doesn’t Have to Mean Big Brother

Ina Fried: “Given the vast amounts of data that will be collected by the cars of the future, strict protections are needed to prevent government intrusion, the chairman of Volkswagen Group said on Sunday. “The car must not become a data monster,” Martin Winterkorn said, at the start of the CeBit trade show in Germany. Car makersContinue Reading

Cross-Agency Priority Goals

“Cross-Agency Priority goals address the longstanding challenge of tackling horizontal problems across vertical organizational silos. 15 Cross-Agency Priority Goals were announced in the 2015 Budget, these include 7 mission-oriented and 8 management-focused goals with a 4-year time horizon. To establish these goals, OMB solicited nominations from Federal agencies and several Congressional Committees. Established by the GPRAContinue Reading

The Highly Educated Federal Workforce in Two Charts

“The federal workforce is getting smarter. Or at least it is spending more time in school. In supplementary budget documents released Monday, the White House said federal agencies employ between half to two-thirds more “highly educated workers” than private sector firms, depending on the size of the company. The Obama administration went as far as to note the increaseContinue Reading

Politico – Judge orders NSA to preserve call data

Josh Gerstein: “A federal judge in San Francisco has ordered the National Security Agency to preserve all metadata from its monitoring of U.S. phone traffic, setting up a potential clash with the Washington-based surveillance court which oversees the NSA-run counter-terrorism program. U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White issued the order Monday afternoon California time in response to requestsContinue Reading

New GAO Reports – Federal Rulemaking, FY2015 Budget, Nuclear Safety

FEDERAL RULEMAKING: Regulatory Review Processes Could Be Enhanced, GAO-14-423T: Published: Mar 11, 2014. Publicly Released: Mar 11, 2014. FISCAL YEAR 2015 BUDGET REQUEST: U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO-14-429T: Published: Mar 11, 2014. Publicly Released: Mar 11, 2014. NUCLEAR SAFETY: Countries’ Regulatory Bodies Have Made Changes in Response to the Fukushima Daiichi Accident, GAO-14-109: Published: Mar 6, 2014. Publicly Released: Mar 11, 2014.

Why the Federal Reserve Failed to See the Financial Crisis of 2008

Why the Federal Reserve Failed to See the Financial Crisis of 2008:  The Role of “Macroeconomics” as a Sensemaking and Cultural Frame. Neil Fligstein, Jonah Stuart Brundage, Michael Schultz; Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, CA.February 2014. “One of the puzzles about the financial crisis of 2008 is why the regulators were so slow to recognize the impending collapse of theContinue Reading

EIA Brief on Qatar

“Qatar is the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the world, and the country’s exports of LNG, crude oil, and petroleum products provide a significant portion of government revenues. Like many of its neighbors, Qatar relies on its energy sector to support its economy. According to the Qatar National Bank (QNB), Qatar’s earnings fromContinue Reading

New GAO Reports – Defense Management, Dodd-Frank Regulation, TARP Audit, Reverse Auctions

DEFENSE MANAGEMENT - Actions Needed to Ensure National Guard and Reserve Headquarters Are Sized to be Efficient, GAO-14-71, Nov 12, 2013 DODD-FRANK REGULATION - Agencies Conducted Regulatory Analyses and Coordinated but Could Benefit from Additional Guidance on Major Rules, GAO-14-67, Dec 11, 2013 FINANCIAL AUDIT - Office of Financial Stability (Troubled Asset Relief Program) Fiscal Years 2013 and 2012 FinancialContinue Reading