U.S. manufacturing drops unexpectedly, Janet Yellen testifies ahead of vote to approve her as the Federal Reserve chairman.
The Stimulus Stands, Yellen Testifies
Janet Yellen, nominated by President Barack Obama to succeed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, stated she's prepared to stand by the Fed’s stimulus program when she is chairman. During testimony Thursday before the Senate Banking Committee, Yellen faced tough questions, but expressed her strong support for her predecessor’s low-interest rate policies. She cautioned of the risk of leaving the still-struggling economy to survive without them. As expected, she did not definitively comment when asked when the Fed might begin tapering its stimulus program. Yellen is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate, becoming the first woman to lead the powerful central bank. A vote may be taken as early as next week, The Associated Press reports.
Buffett, Berkshire Buys Stake in Exxon Mobil
Shares in Exxon Mobil Corp rose 0.7 percent in after-hours trading following a disclosure Thursday that Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. bought 40.1 million shares, a new $3.45 billion stake in the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, and one of the world's largest and most profitable companies. The Exxon purchase was disclosed in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing that detailed $92 billion of Berkshire equity investments, mostly listed on U.S. exchanges, as of Sept 30. Buffett sometimes gets SEC permission to delay disclosures so that he can buy stocks without having investors copy him, Reuter’s reports.
U.S, France Sign Anti-Tax Evasion Agreement
France became the 10th country to sign a tax-evasion agreement with the United States under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Enacted in 2010, it requires financial institutions abroad to disclose Americans’ offshore accounts worth more than $50,000 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. With the French intergovernmental agreement (IGA) signed, French banks and financial institutions will report information about U.S. customers' relevant offshore accounts to the French government, which will then send that information on to the IRS, The Associated Press reports. The United States has signed nine other IGAs with Britain, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Spain and Switzerland. Along with the agreement with France, several are reciprocal.
Moody’s Cuts Credit Rating for Three Big U.S. Banks
Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase had their credit ratings dropped by Moody’s Thursday. Moody’s officials said they believe the federal government is less likely now to bail out such financial institutions if they get into future problems. Goldman’s rating was dropped to Baa1, Morgan Stanley to Baa2 and JP Morgan to A3. The credit ratings on the three banks subordinated debt were also cut by one notch. The Dodd-Frank Act produced reforms on Wall Street that forbid the use of taxpayer money to save a failing bank and require the creation of a resolution authority to wind down institutions once they get into trouble, imposing losses on creditors in the process.
U.S. Industrial Production Dropped in October
The Federal Reserve Friday said U.S. industrial production unexpectedly fell in October as output at power plants and mines declined. Meanwhile, a third straight month of gains in manufacturing suggested the economy remains on a moderate growth path. According to the Federal Reserve, industrial output slipped 0.1 percent last month after advancing 0.7 percent in September. The drop in October was the first since July. Predictions from economists polled by Reuters had industrial production gaining 0.2 percent. Manufacturing output increased 0.3 percent even as automobile assembly fell for the first time since July. Manufacturing output also went up in the production of primary metals, furniture and computer and electronic products.
China Changes Its One-Child Policy
Chinese state media announced Friday the country is changing its controversial one-child policy, allowing certain couples to have two children. The new policy only applies to couples if one of the parents is an only child. The policy shift is one of several key decisions approved by the Communist Party of China (CPC) at its Third Plenary Session earlier this week. The CPC said the change in family planning policy was intended to promote "long-term balanced development of the population in China," according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. Under the current law, couples living in Chinese cities can only have two children if neither have any brothers or sisters.