Washington -- U.S. congressional Democrats said they would consider an economic stimulus plan with small-business tax cuts and consumer rebate checks, and no tax hike.
House Democrats and Republicans pledged to work together to jump-start the nation's listless economy, The Washington Times reported Wednesday.
"The conversation between Congress and the administration will continue as we develop an economic stimulus plan that is timely, targeted and temporary and one that restores confidence -- consumer confidence and confidence in the market," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said after a teleconference with Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr.
House Republican leaders gave Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., credit for seeking common ground to revive the economy.
Atlanta -- Economic activity varied across the United States from mid-November through the holiday season, the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta reported.
Some economic sectors remain weak. Residential housing and automobile sales were sluggish during the reporting period, while, overall, economic activity showed modest gains, the report says.
Many cities reported disappointing retail sales through the holiday season. Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, New York and San Francisco were among the districts reporting spending that was below the levels of spending a year ago. Kansas City reported "solid" sales, the report said. Sales were up on Minneapolis, Philadelphia and St. Louis.
While automobile sales have slowed compared with a year ago, Minneapolis reported, "strong demand from area farmers," with customers from Canada crossing the border to purchase cars, the report says.
Seoul -- South Korea's government predicts economic growth of 4.8 percent in 2008, but that estimate is expected to be upgraded when the new president takes over.
The outgoing government Wednesday said its prediction of steady growth would be driven by domestic consumption, The Wall Street Journal reported.
However, President-elect Lee Myung-bak's transitional team said it was targeting growth at about 6 percent this year, a downward revision of its original 7 percent, the Journal reported.
"A slowdown in the U.S. and the global economy, inflationary pressure stemming from China, and high oil and resources prices are major risks to the local economy, but domestic consumption is showing sturdy growth," Yim Jong-yong, current director-general of the Ministry of Finance and Economy's economic policy bureau, said in a briefing on the economic outlook.
Philadelphia -- The U.S. economy will recover without any cuts in interest rates, a regional Federal Reserve president said Tuesday.
In a speech delivered in Philadelphia, Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser said he thought the anemic economy will "improve appreciably" by the second half of 2008 before any effect of additional rate cuts would be felt, MarketWatch reported.
Plosser said he could support further interest rate cuts if the economic outlook becomes "substantially weaker" than he expects.
"Since monetary policy's effects on the economy occur with a lag, there is little monetary policy can do today to change economic activity in the first half of 2008," he said. "I am still optimistic that the economy will improve appreciably by the third and fourth quarters of 2008, and that is when any monetary policy action today will begin to have noticeable effects."
President Bush yesterday applauded the American economy for the resilience it had shown over the course of his tenure at a speech yesterday. However, he did not talk of any new policies his government might be formulating to overcome the currently troubled economic scenario.
A Labor Department report on Friday indicated all was not okay on the unemployment and labor fronts. According to the report, the rate of unemployment had climbed up to 5 percent in the last month of 2007, with only 18,000 jobs being added, a clear indicator of a slow economy.
Washington -- U.S. employment had its smallest increase in more than four years last month and the nation's jobless rate hit a two-year high, a government report said Friday.
The glum figures indicated a weak windup for the U.S. economy in 2007 and could pave the way for a fourth consecutive interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve later this month, the Wall Street Journal said.
Non-farm payrolls rose 18,000 in December, the U.S. Labor Department said, classifying it as the job market's worst performance since a decline of 42,000 in August 2003. That was down from November's revised 115,000 gain.
The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 5.0 percent, highest since November 2005, from 4.7 percent the previous month.
Average hourly earnings increased 7 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $17.71. That was up 4.3 cents from a year earlier.
Washington -- U.S. President George Bush said he is considering proposing a stimulus package aimed at promoting growth and shoring up weak areas of the U.S. economy.
He said he may introduce the plan during his State of the Union address Jan. 28 but isn't sure of that at this point.
As the price of oil hovers near $100 a barrel and overall economic anxiety builds, Bush said he is seeking ideas from advisers about ways to handle particular economic troubles, The Washington Post reported.
"We are listening to a lot of good ideas from different people," Bush said in an interview. "We've got our people out there carefully, not only monitoring this situation but listening to . . . possible remedies."
Aides said no decision will be made on the proposal until the president returns from a trip to the Middle East on Jan. 16.
Let's face it: America isn't the booming economy it once was. Those who haven't ventured beyond the U.S. markets have gained a mere 29% from the S&P 500 (SPY) over the past five years. The MSCI EAFE index (EFA) has more than doubled that return, with 66% gains. Neither comes close, however, to the three-year returns of the MSCI Emerging Markets Index -- 146%! And that's an index.
London -- A leading British economist is calling for a suspension of the Basel banking rules that influence financial systems worldwide.
The Basel rules are adding to the current financial crisis, said Peter Spencer, who warned of an economy that could "make 1929 look like a walk in the park" if the rules are not relaxed, Britain's Telegraph reported Saturday.
The Basel rules determine how much capital banks must raise to keep their accounts in order.
Under the rules, banks forced to take off-balance sheet assets from troubled investment vehicles onto their books must raise cash from overseas or cut back dramatically on their spending, Spencer said.
Having just those two options is freezing money markets and deepening the credit crisis, Spencer said, recommending the Basel capital requirement level be cut from 8 percent to 6 percent, the Telegraph reported.
Beijing -- The latest round of U.S.-China economic talks didn't produce agreement on the crucial currency question but Chinese leaders called session a big success.
The Washington Post reported Friday the two sides, which had their Third Strategic Economic Dialogue in Beijing, couldn't agree on speeding up revaluation of China's yuan to rein in China's burgeoning trade surplus. The talks, however, produced modest agreements such as a 10-year plan to collaborate on energy and environmental issues. The U.S. side was led by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
The SED sessions began in 2006 after Chinese President Hu Jintao met U.S. President George Bush.
Calling the talks a "complete success," Vice Premier Wu Yi, who led the Chinese delegation, said, "The dialogue went beyond short-term trade and economic issues, and achieved comprehensive thinking on Sino-U.S. economic relations from a strategic point of view, Xinhua reproted.
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