Saturday, April 1, 2017

Today's Links

"Trump is doing nothing less than destroying American democratic institutions and principles by turning the presidency into a profit-­making machine for his family, by poisoning political culture with hateful, mendacious, and subliterate rhetoric, by undermining the public sphere with attacks on the press and protesters, and by beginning the real work of dismantling every part of the federal government that exists for any purpose other than waging war. Russiagate is helping him -- both by distracting from real, documentable, and documented issues, and by promoting a xenophobic conspiracy theory in the cause of removing a xenophobic conspiracy theorist from office.”

Masha Gessen


"...the sudden change in the political conversation after the Comey letter suggest it was the single, most indispensable factor in the surprise election result."  Brad Fay


"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."  Upton Sinclair


"Director Comey has put himself in an untenable position. He has a vested interest in focusing on Trump and Russia, because that narrative diverts our attention from his personal effect on the outcome of the 2016 election." Dennis Kucinich



1--The FBI is reportedly using the explosive Trump-Russia dossier as a 'roadmap' for its investigation


The FBI is using the explosive but unverified collection of memos detailing allegations of collusion between President Donald Trump's campaign team and Russia as a "roadmap" for its investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election, the BBC's Paul Wood reported Wednesday.


"The roadmap for the investigation, publicly acknowledged now for the first time, comes from Christopher Steele, once of Britain's secret intelligence service MI6," wrote Wood, one of the journalists who obtained a copy of Steele's dossier before it was published in full by BuzzFeed in January


2--Paul Wood, BBC


So far, no single piece of evidence has been made public proving that the Trump campaign joined with Russia to steal the US presidency - nothing.


3--CBS-Survey-- Majority Republicans think Trump was wiretapped


4--FBI Director James Comey's 'October Surprise' Doomed Hillary Clinton's Candidacy: Analysis


But then came Comey’s unprecedented interference in the election, which registered on a much deeper level than the political polls were probing, Fay said.


“Immediately afterward, there was a 17-point drop in net sentiment for Clinton, and an 11-point rise for Trump, enough for the two candidates to switch places in the rankings, with Clinton in more negative territory than Trump,” he said. “At a time when opinion polling showed perhaps a 2-point decline in the margin for Clinton, this conversation data suggests a 28-point change in the word of mouth ‘standings.’ The change in word of mouth favorability metric was stunning, and much greater than the traditional opinion polling revealed.”


“Based on this finding, it is our conclusion that the Comey letter, 11 days before the election, was the precipitating event behind Clinton’s loss, despite the letter being effectively retracted less than a week later,” Fay continued. “In such a close election, there may have been dozens of factors whose absence would have reversed the outcome, such as the influence campaign of the Russian government as detailed by U.S. intelligence services. But the sudden change in the political conversation after the Comey letter suggests it was the single, most indispensable factor in the surprise election result.”


5--Comey Letter Swung Election For Trump, Consumer Survey Suggests (original source)


Emotion and peer influence play much bigger roles in influencing behavior than previously understood....

Most decisively, there was a sudden change in the net sentiment results that followed immediately after FBI Director James Comey released his Oct. 28 letter to Congress about a renewed investigation of Clinton emails. Immediately afterwards, there was a 17-point drop in net sentiment for Clinton, and an 11-point rise for Trump, enough for the two candidates to switch places in the rankings, with Clinton in more negative territory than Trump. At a time when opinion polling showed perhaps a 2-point decline in the margin for Clinton, this conversation data suggests a 28-point change in the word of mouth “standings.” The change in word of mouth favorability metric was stunning, and much greater than the traditional opinion polling revealed.

Based on this finding, it is our conclusion that the Comey letter, 11 days before the election, was the precipitating event behind Clinton’s loss, despite the letter being effectively retracted less than a week later. In such a close election, there may have been dozens of factors whose absence would have reversed the outcome, such as the influence campaign of the Russian government as detailed by US intelligence services. But the sudden change in the political conversation after the Comey letter suggest it was the single, most indispensable factor in the surprise election result.

This conclusion helps us to understand how it is possible that the polls were generally correct about a Clinton lead through most of the campaign, but nevertheless Trump still won because of a late October surprise. In other words, pollsters and the media were likely correct that Clinton was “winning” during most of the campaign.


6--How Comey rigged the election for Trump


Without a shred of evidence and against the expressed wishes of his superiors at the Department of Justice, the head of the nation’s most prestigious law enforcement agency  announced the reopening of an investigation into the mishandling of classified material by Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. The surprise announcement was delivered last Friday by FBI Director James Comey who knew that the action would create a cloud of suspicion around Clinton that could directly effect the outcome of the election.


Recent surveys suggest that that indeed has been the case, and that Hillary is now neck in neck with GOP contender Donald Trump going into the home-stretch of the bitterly contested campaign.


By inserting himself into the democratic process, Comey has ignored traditional protocols for postponing such announcements 60-days prior to an election, shrugged off the counsel of his bosses at the DOJ, and tilted the election in Trump’s favor.  His action is as close to a coup d’état as anything we’ve seen in the U.S. since the Supreme Court stopped the counting of ballots in Florida in 2000 handing the election to George W. Bush.


It is not the job of the FBI to inform Congress about ongoing investigations. Comey’s job is to gather information and evidence that is pertinent to the case and present it to the DOJ where the decision to convene a grand jury is ultimately made. Comey is a renegade, a lone wolf who arbitrarily decided to abandon normal bureaucratic procedures in order to torpedo Clinton’s prospects for election. The widespread belief that Comey is a “good man who made a bad decision” is nonsense. He is an extremely intelligent and competent attorney with a keen grasp of Beltway politics. He knew what he was doing and he did it anyway. It’s absurd to make excuses for him.


In a carefully-crafted statement designed to deflect attention from his flagrant election tampering, Comey said this to his fellow agents:

“We don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed,” Comey said. “I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record.” (CNN)

Let’s take a minute and parse this statement. First: “We don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations.”

True, because it is not the FBI’s job to do so. The FBI’s job is to dig up evidence and refer it to the Justice Department. Comey is not the Attorney General although he has arbitrarily assumed her duties and authority.

Second: “I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record.”


“Supplement the record”?


That’s a pretty suggestive statement, don’t you think? When someone says they’re going to supplement the record, you naturally assume that they’re going to add important details to what the public already knows. Obviously, those details are not going to be flattering to Hillary or there’d be no reason to reopen the case. So the public is left with the impression Comey is going to produce damning information that could lead to an indictment of Hillary sometime in the future.


7--Solving the foreclosure crisis created the problems with lack of MLS inventory today


The foreclosure crisis stopped when lenders quit foreclosing and forced homeowners to wait until they had equity to sell the property. Many homeowners are still waiting, so MLS inventory is quite low.

I’ve stated many times my contention that the housing recovery is built on a foundation of market manipulation; distressed inventory dried up because lenders opted to modify loans rather than foreclose and purge the bad debt from the economy. Unfortunately for lenders, today’s loan modifications are tomorrow’s distressed property sales, and in my opinion, the mortgage mess is not resolved, the outcome has merely been delayed by loan modifications.

Lenders designed loan modifications to maximize lender profits while giving borrowers feeble hope of clinging to their family homes. Lenders only began granting loan modifications in response to the deluge of defaults that began when subprime borrowers faced resets on their 2/28 toxic loans issued during the bubble. Lenders foreclosed on those borrowers per the lenders prior loss mitigation procedures and swamped the market with foreclosures that pounded prices back to the 1990s in some markets. Lenders braced for a second wave of defaults when alt-a and prime borrowers with similar toxic mortgages faced reseting and recasting loans, but instead of foreclosing on those delinquent borrowers and pushing prices even lower, lenders began kicking the can with loan modifications and allowing deadbeats to squat.

Starting in 2009, lenders began modifying loans in large numbers to avoid more distressed sales. It took lenders three years to gain control of MLS inventory by modifying loans and stopping foreclosures. Finally, they also stopped approving short sales, so with the distressed inventory removed from the market, the MLS inventory completely dried up, and with a little additional demand from all-cash investors, house prices bottomed and rebounded dramatically over the last two years.

It’s critically important to recognize that removing distressed sales from the current market does not remove the distress. Lenders merely deferred the problem for another day, and the backlog of distressed inventory still must be resolved. At this point, it looks like the final resolution will be an equity sale, but until that owner has enough equity to move up, they don’t list their homes for sale, and the MLS inventory is depleted....

There is less and less inventory coming on the market that is purchasable for mortgage products,” said Malavolta. “I feel it is because the financial institutions do not move fast enough on foreclosures and short sales, letting the properties stay in distress much longer. The longer the property is in distress, the less marketable it is for first time homebuyers utilizing mortgage products.”

8--Homeowners and lenders may ignite another housing mania requiring a taxpayer bailout


Homeowners are opening their favorite piggy bank again — their homes.
As home values rise faster than expected, that increased homeowner wealth suddenly seems more enticing. … it also serves as a warning sign.

Ever since the epic housing crash at the end of the last decade, homeowners have been extremely conservative with their home equity. Even those who had money in their homes kept it there, fearing another downturn in prices. Now, as millions of borrowers come up from underwater on their home loans and many more see their home values jump sizably on paper, borrowing more is back in favor.
Home equity lines of credit, known as HELOCs and often serving as second loans, allow homeowners to pull cash out of their homes when they need it. HELOC volume is now up 21 percent in the past two years, to the highest level since 2008, according to Moody’s. …

“The more second liens that people take out, it adds a risk that comes from the rising home prices. The fact that people are leveraging their homes more than before makes things more risky,” said Peter McNally, senior analyst at Moody’s


9--Rising mortgage rates since Trump’s election already slowing home sales


Housing is now an interest rate sensitive market--In October of 2013 after the sudden mortgage rate spike pummeled sales, I wrote about the mounting evidence of the market’s sensitivity to mortgage rates. The mechanisms used to inflate previous bubbles — using teaser rates, allowing excessive DTIs, and abandoning amortization — these were banned by the new residential mortgage rules. Lenders fail to soften the impact of interest rate fluctuations or provide “affordability” when the market reaches a friction point, which is the main reason the market changed so dramatically and so suddenly when mortgage rates surged in 2013....

Higher mortgage rates and near record low supply resulted in disappointing home sales to start the year

10--More than 52,000 in the US died from drug overdoses in 2015


Confronted with decades of deindustrialization, rising social inequality and debt, housing insecurity, lack of access to decent education and other much-needed social programs, growing layers of working-class populations in suburban and rural communities have turned to substance abuse. These same stresses have given rise to mental illness, with rates of depression and suicide finding a particularly high expression among white male workers.

The so-called “rust-belt” and former coal mining regions of the United States have seen a concentrated expression of these processes. What were once thriving industrial and mining towns have been transformed into desolate, rusting shells of their former selves. Places like Pontiac, Michigan; Akron, Ohio and Huntington, West Virginia have little in the way of decent-paying jobs, while schools and community centers have been shuttered.

The rate of drug overdose deaths in West Virginia has spiraled out of control to the point that the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) funding for its Indigent Burial Program has run out with five months left in the fiscal year.

The shocking rise of drug use is an ugly expression of the social crisis in America, particularly amongst young people who see no future and no way out from such a desperate predicament.....

The FDA has been accused of expediting the approval of opioid pain killers for some time now. In 2013 under the Obama administration, the FDA approved Zohydro, the first extended-release pure form of hydrocodone. Ignoring its own advisory panel, which voted 11-2 to reject the drug entirely, the agency approved it without tamper-resistant protections. This allowed the drug to be easily crushed to maximize potency, creating greater potential for abuse.....
     The study provides further evidence to the culpability of the pharmaceutical industry, which has generated immense profits by flooding the medical market with prescription opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone. According to survey data, many respondents claimed that they started using heroin after using prescription opioids.
Around one-third of all white heroin users had used prescription drugs in 2001-2002. In 2013, more than half of all white heroin users began with prescription drug abuse. Over the past 20 years, the number of opioid prescriptions has grown threefold.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 52,404 people in the US died from drug overdoses in 2015. Sixty-three percent of overdoses were due to opioids.
Drug overdoses now account for more deaths than from guns or car accidents. The 2015 death rate is significantly higher than the rate during the peak of the AIDS epidemic in 1995, in which 43,115 succumbed to the illness.
Since 1999, opioid overdose numbers have quadrupled. One in four overdose deaths in the US is now due to heroin in particular. Prescription opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone also factor in prominently.
The journal JAMA Psychiatry, published by the American Medical Association, has issued a new study that details changes in patters of heroin use since 2001. It concluded that the number of people who have used heroin at some point in their life has increased five times, and the number of heroin abusers has roughly tripled. Some 3.8 million Americans—1.6 per cent of the population—claim to have used heroin at least once


11-- Senate committee hearing blames Russian “information warfare” for social discontent in the US


Since the inauguration of Trump over two months ago, the unsubstantiated allegations that Russia “hacked” the US elections—promoted in particular by the Democratic Party—have served two interrelated purposes. On the one hand, the Democrats have worked to contain and redirect mass opposition to the Trump administration and prevent it from developing into an independent political movement of the working class. On the other hand, they have sought to force a “correction” in the foreign policy of the Trump administration to bring it into line with the campaign against Russia supported by the CIA and dominant sections of the military....

A report published earlier this month from Princeton University economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton reported that the sharp rise in mortality for white, middle-aged working-class Americans is driven largely by “deaths of despair”—that is, drug overdoses, complications from alcohol and suicide. The United States is facing the worst drug crisis in the history of the country, with opioid addiction tripling over the past decade.
Young people in the US face a future of low-paid work, permanent indebtedness and unemployment. Retirees are seeing their pensions slashed. The Trump administration is preparing to vastly escalate the bipartisan war on every social program, from Medicare and Medicaid to public education. Police in the United States, armed with military weaponry, kill more than 1,000 people every year. The intelligence agencies spy on the population without restraint.

12--Kucinich on Comey


"Director Comey has put himself in an untenable position. He has a vested interest in focusing on Trump and Russia, because that narrative diverts our attention from his personal effect on the outcome of the 2016 election."

Comey could have shared his concerns about both campaigns before the November election, and let the public decide. He did not.
If it was appropriate to withhold information about an investigation into the Trump campaign in July, he should have applied that same logic to the Clinton campaign in October. Hillary Clinton, charged not with a crime but by innuendo, paid the price at the polls. She was convicted in the court of public opinion..

Comey has publicly dismissed President Trump’s claim that the Obama administration wiretapped his campaign and transition teams. If that occurred, it happened while Comey was working for the Obama administration.
Should he be the one in charge of an investigation?
Director Comey has put himself in an untenable position. He has a vested interest in focusing on Trump and Russia, because that narrative diverts our attention from his personal effect on the outcome of the 2016 election.
At best, this is the textbook definition of a conflict of interest. At worst, it’s bait-and-switch.

13--The Fed Is Bedeviled by Keynes's Paradox


The economist John Maynard Keynes warned that ultra-low interest rates would backfire on central banks seeking to spur borrowing and spending, yet they seemed surprised that the current recovery is the weakest in postwar history after cutting rates to near zero, or even below in some cases.

Keynes is credited with popularizing the “paradox of thrift,” which is the economic theory that posits people tend to save more during recessions as rates fall to offset the income their savings is not generating. Of course it is the case that when you save more, you spend less. Since the U.S. economy is fueled by consumption, it also stands to reason that growth suffers as a result.


It’s been two years since Swiss Re produced a report that calculated U.S. savers had foregone some $470 billion in interest income. The analysis was based on what rates would have been had the Federal Reserve followed the Taylor Rule, which would have put rates, then at zero, at 1.7 percent.

Even as the Fed has begun to raise rates, it is clear that hundreds of billions of dollars have been squirreled away as savers play defense to counteract the Fed’s ultraloose monetary policy. Some $11.7 trillion is sitting in bank deposits, up from $7.23 trillion at the start of 2009 shortly after the Fed cut rates to near zero, central bank data show....


consumers will continue to save more than they spend. ...

.

January’s 1.7 percent reading in the core PCE may have been the quickest since July 2014, sending off alarm bells for Fed officials. That said, the still-low level, which remains shy of the Fed’s 2 percent target, continues to outpace what savers can generate in income.

As Keynes’s paradox dictates, retirees have nothing but impossible choices to make. Either they sleep with one eye open, hoping they don’t outlive their prudently stashed savings which are not keeping pace with the rising cost of living. Or they sleep with the other eye open, with their principal at risk, the price they pay for being exposed to risky securities whose returns do outpace inflation. Paradox indeed.


14--Report: FBI Using ‘Peeing Russian Prostitutes’ Dossier as ‘Roadmap’ for 2016 Investigation


In light of the Post report, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley earlier this month sent a letter requesting information on whether the FBI utilized Steele.

In the letter, Grassley questioned the FBI’s intentions over the Steele report:

The idea that the FBI and associates of the Clinton campaign would pay Mr. Steele to investigate the Republican nominee for President in the run-up to the election raises further questions about the FBI’s independence from politics, as well as the Obama administration’s use of law enforcement and intelligence agencies for political ends...


Steele’s work has been questioned by former acting CIA director Morell, who currently works at the Hillary Clinton-tied Beacon Global Strategies LLC. Beacon was founded by Phillippe Reines, who served as Communications Adviser to Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state. From 2009-2013, Reines also served in Clinton’s State Department as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Strategic Communications. Reines is the managing director of Beacon.

NBC News reported on Morell’s questions about Steele’s credibility:

Morell, who was in line to become CIA director if Clinton won, said he had seen no evidence that Trump associates cooperated with Russians. He also raised questions about the dossier written by a former British intelligence officer, which alleged a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. …
Morell pointed out that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on Meet the Press on March 5 that he had seen no evidence of a conspiracy when he left office January 20.
“That’s a pretty strong statement by General Clapper,” Morell said.

...

Morell charged the dossier “doesn’t take you anywhere, I don’t think.”


15--Were Trump and his associates surveilled? 


Wake up, America. Was no one paying attention to the disclosures from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 when he exposed Director of National Intelligence James Clapper as a liar for denying that the NSA engaged in bulk collection of communications inside the United States.

The reality is that EVERYONE, including the President, is surveilled. The technology enabling bulk collection would have made the late demented FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s mouth water.

Allegations about the intelligence community’s abuse of its powers also did not begin with Snowden. For instance, several years earlier, former NSA worker and whistleblower Russell Tice warned about these “special access programs,” citing first-hand knowledge, but his claims were brushed aside as coming from a disgruntled employee with psychological problems. His disclosures were soon forgotten...


16--Girardi: Smoke but no fire


Even former CIA acting director Michael Morell, an ardent Hillary Clinton supporter who once described Donald Trump as an “unwitting agent of the Russian Federation,” has now recanted and conceded that, “On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians here, there is smoke, but there is no fire, at all.”..

Take away the CrowdStrike report and there is no publicly available evidence whatsoever that the Russians were behind the hacking. This is not to say they didn’t do it, but it is yet another indication that verification of claims is lacking...




“We urge you to authorize public release of any tangible evidence that takes us beyond the unsubstantiated, ‘we-assess’ judgments by the intelligence agencies,” said the VIPS statement, addressed to Obama. “Otherwise, we … will be left with the corrosive suspicion that the intense campaign of accusations is part of a wider attempt to discredit the Russians and those—like Mr. Trump—who wish to deal constructively with them.”


17--Democrats are so eager to take down President Trump that they are joining forces with the Surveillance State to trample the privacy rights of people close to Trump, ex-FBI agent Coleen Rowley tells Dennis J Bernstein.  ...


18--Nunes: Inconvenient truths


But the main reason Democrats are mad at Mr. Nunes is because he’s raising an issue they’d rather avoid—to wit, that he’s seen documents showing that U.S. intelligence agencies may have “incidentally” collected information about people connected to Mr. Trump.
We know from leaks to the media that one of those people was former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who lost his job over the news. These columns have been asking since the Flynn news broke whether there was a proper FISA court order for this eavesdropping, or why if it was incidental was it spread widely enough to leak? Such information is supposed to be “minimized” and not widely shared so innocent Americans are protected if they happen to speak to a foreigner who is surveilled.

Mr. Trump was wrong to claim that Mr. Nunes has vindicated his famous tweet of three weeks ago that President Obama had wiretapped him in Trump Tower. Mr. Nunes has said he’s seen no evidence of that. But the issue of whether and why the Obama Administration was listening to Trump officials is important for the public to know. The U.S. government must have a very good reason for eavesdropping on political opponents, and civil libertarians would be shouting if Mr. Flynn were a Democrat.

19--Trump's Barbarity, Greenwald


the U.S. military has become even more reckless about civilian deaths under Trump than it was under Obama...

If one were to reduce this mentality to a motto, it could be: Fight fewer wars and for narrower reasons, but be more barbaric and criminal in prosecuting the ones that are fought....


Nothing Trump has thus far done is remotely inconsistent with the non-interventionism he embraced during the campaign, unless one confuses “non-interventionism” with “opposition to the use of military force.”


Trump is attempting to liberate the U.S. military from the minimal constraints it observed in order to avoid massive civilian casualties. And this should surprise nobody: Trump explicitly and repeatedly vowed to do exactly this during the campaign.


He constantly criticized Obama — who bombed seven predominantly Muslim countries — for being “weak” in battling ISIS and al Qaeda. Trump regularly boasted that he would free the U.S. military from rules of engagement that he regarded as unduly hobbling them. He vowed to bring back torture and even to murder the family members of suspected terrorists — prompting patriotic commentators to naïvely insist that the U.S. military would refuse to follow his orders. Trump’s war frenzy reached its rhetorical peak of derangement in December 2015, when he roared at a campaign rally that he would “bomb the shit out of ISIS” and then let its oil fields be taken by Exxon, whose CEO is now his secretary of state


20--Trump--The gloves come off


The Taliban now controls more territory than at any time since 2001. Vicious and repeated attacks in Kabul this quarter shook confidence in the national-unity government. A year after the Coalition handed responsibility for Afghan security to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), American and British forces were compelled on several occasions to support ANDSF troops in combat against the Taliban.
The lack of security has made it almost impossible for many U.S. and even some Afghan officials to get out to manage and inspect U.S.-funded reconstruction projects.

It appears that Pres. Obama was a restraining force not only against the inherent war-making tendencies of the military leadership, but also – during his first term – a hawkish Sec. of State.  With Trump, the gloves are off and the military can do whatever it wants.  “Mad Dog” seems to be following the Obama line of cautious probes with a limited number of military personnel, but backed by extensive military aid and air support.

21--Federal Reserve Readies Plan for Balance Sheet--Under emerging strategy, central bank would raise short-term interest rates two more times in 2017 and then potentially pause rate increases



The holdings are often referred to as the balance sheet and grew from less than $1 trillion before the financial crisis to $4.5 trillion through asset-purchase programs aimed at lowering long-term interest rates and boosting economic growth. Shrinking the balance sheet could cause long-term rates to rise....

Federal Reserve officials are zeroing in on a strategy to begin winding down their $4.5 trillion portfolio of mortgage and Treasury securities, possibly later this year, as part of their broader effort to drain reservoirs of stimulus out of the financial system.
Under the emerging strategy, the central bank would raise short-term interest rates two more times in 2017 and then potentially pause rate increases, perhaps late in the year. That would allow Fed officials to start winding down their portfolio of securities in a gradual and measured way to assess how markets handle the moves before resuming additional rate increases in 2018, according to interviews and recent public statements from officials. ...

The Fed projects 1.9% inflation by year-end. March inflation data from Europe suggests inflation pressures remain modest. The European Union’s statistics agency said Friday consumer prices were 1.5% higher in March than a year earlier, a fall in the rate of inflation from 2% in February. In Japan, prices firmed in January and February. Prices there fell in 11 out of 12 months in 2016.
One important wild card is the behavior of U.S. consumers. Inflation-adjusted household spending declined 0.1% in February after falling 0.2% in January, according to the Commerce Department. It was the largest two-month decline since the recession ended, at least partially reflecting unseasonably warm weather depressing spending on utilities.
A slowdown in consumer spending, which accounts for about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, could prove to be a new headwind to growth which damps inflation once again and derails the Fed’s plans...

Macroeconomic Advisers on Friday revised its forecast for a first-quarter gain in gross domestic product to a 1% annual rate. The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow model on Friday lowered its forecast for first-quarter growth to a 0.9% pace


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