The ADP employment report this week showed private-sector job growth of 187,000 for January, although some economists are estimating growth of about 155,000 jobs. Government layoffs could possibly bring down the overall net gain for public and private jobs.
In general, economists expect the unemployment rate to remain around 9 percent through the rest of 2011, before dropping down to roughly 8 percent next year.
Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics predicted that very outcome at a Senate hearing on Thursday. And Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, reiterated at his Thursday Q-and-A that he expects it will take several years for the jobless rate to return to more normal levels, even though he does believe the economic recovery will pick up in 2011.
But despite the slow job growth, there are still some positive signs in the market -- the ISM manufacturing survey recently reached its highest level since 1973, for instance, and initial jobless claims have been falling fairly rapidly since August.
What Else to Watch for:
Talking TARP: The Congressional Oversight Panel put together to oversee the administration's efforts under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) will hold a Friday hearing exploring the commercial real estate market's impact on the stability of the nation's banks. Officials from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Reserve, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Mortgage Bankers Association and Morgan Stanley are slated to testify.
Grounded: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was supposed to make a Friday visit to a NanoMech manufacturing plant in Arkansas. But that trip has been postponed due to inclement weather, with Geithner hoping to reschedule.
The S.E.C. Speaks: Mary Schapiro, the chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, is one of several commission staffers to talk at a Practising Law Institute seminar on the S.E.C.
Urban Unemployment: An economist from the National Urban League will take questions on Friday on what the latest unemployment numbers say about the economic recovery in urban areas.
At his Q-and-A with reporters, Bernanke repeated the Treasury secretary’s warning that a failure to raise the debt limit would be “catastrophic.” And Geithner, for his part, called a GOP proposal to avoid default without raising the ceiling “unworkable.”
Geithner and Bernanke’s declarations are likely far from the final salvos in this particular debt ceiling discussion. Treasury doesn’t expect to run up against the limit until April or May, and a fair number of Republicans are trying to package any support for raising the ceiling with spending cuts. (Others, meanwhile, are dead-set against raising it.)
You Say $32 Billion, I Say $74 Billion: The spending cuts proposed by top House Republicans -- $32 billion or $74 billion, depending on your outlook – has already gotten some blowback from fiscal conservatives.
And according to one conservative lobbyist, a speaker with more top-down tendencies than Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) may have gotten a different result. Instead of installing deeper cuts and then whipping members to vote for it, the lobbyist said, Boehner is letting appropriatiors – who were consulted on the leadership numbers -- craft a bill they’re comfortable with.
“John Boehner is very much a creature of his caucus,” the lobbyist said. “He is not as hard-charging as some others have been.”
As for those fiscal conservatives in the House, they’ll have their chance to offer amendments that would cause deeper cuts, when a measure based on the spending numbers named Thursday comes to the House floor week after next.
More Madoff: JP Morgan Chase allowed Bernie Madoff to move billions of dollars of investor money around his accounts, even though bank officials had serious questions about how Madoff was doing business. According to The New York Times, the bank has disputed that characterization, which emerges from internal bank documents that have been made public due to a lawsuit.
Book ‘Em: The S.E.C. has charged six former employees of a California firm with insider trading, in what Reuters reports are the first charges in a major investigation into hedge funds. Apple and Dell are among the companies that the employees are said to have had insider knowledge.
The Advertising Bowl: Justin Bieber and Ozzy Osbourne…together. Eminem…as a puppet. And, of course, chimpanzees. The Associated Press previews 10 commercials to look out for on Super Bowl Sunday.
What You Might Have Missed:
On the Money’s Thursday:
-- Ron Howard (a.k.a., Oscar-winning director/Richie Cunningham/Opie) lends his voice to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
-- Sheldon Whitehouse and Jeff Sessions go back and forth over high-speed rail.
-- Small businesses sought less credit for a second straight year.
-- The Financial Services Roundtable wants tweaks to Dodd-Frank.
-- And Tom Coburn and Mark Begich want to hunt orphaned earmarks.