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POLITICS: PennAve

The week ahead in economics: Fed officials speak, Congress’ recess, and new data

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The pace of economic news will slow down this week after a flurry of activity to close out July and begin August.

Members of Congress jetted out of Washington, D.C., late last week and will spend the next five weeks hearing from their constituents in their home districts. When they return, they’ll have just over two weeks before the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, and Republicans and Democrats must agree on how to keep the government funded for the next year. Any messaging that the two sides engage in with voters in their home states in the meantime is worth keeping an eye on. It’s also expected that lawmakers will face tough questions from voters about the immigration reform process that has shifted to the House and the status of Obamacare implementation, which has become the subject of a major intra-GOP fight.

Last week, the Federal Reserve met to announce that there would be no changes to monetary policy, and to leave the fate of its stimulus bond-buying program hanging until at least September, when it meets next. 

This week, four senior central bank officials will give public speeches, in which they could sketch out possible new plans for the Fed or explain the reasoning behind last week’s announcement. Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher will speak Monday morning. Charles Evans, the president of the Chicago regional bank and the intellectual force behind the Fed’s plan to keep interest rates below zero until unemployment falls below 6.5 percent, will hold a press breakfast Tuesday morning. And on Wednesday, Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser will give a speech in Washington, follow by Sandra Pianalto speaking in Cleveland, where she is a regional president.

On Tuesday, the Census Bureau will release a report on the balance of international trade, with analysts expecting the U.S. international trade gap to narrow after expanding to $45 billion in May after exports rose and imports fell. Also Tuesday, the Labor Department will release the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, which shows the pace at which jobs are being created and workers are leaving their jobs, key information about the health of the labor market.

The other economic reports to watch this week will the nonmanufacturing index from Institute of Supply Management on Monday, data on consumer credit from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday, and jobless claims from the Labor Department on Thursday.

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