OVERNIGHT MONEY: House wraps up work on Sandy aid


With the completion of Sandy aid, House Republicans head off to Williamsburg for their annual conference meeting. 

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The House GOP will map out its battle plan amid the historic streets of the Virginia town — on an increase in the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling, on how to pay for the final 10 months of a scheduled sequester and on completing a measure that would keep the government running through September. 


WHAT ELSE TO WATCH FOR 

Seeing beige: The Federal Reserve will be out on Wednesday with its latest and greatest version of the "Beige Book," as it takes the temperature of the economy nationwide. The book is less of a book and more of a series of anecdotal takes on the economy that Fed officials gather from business contacts. When combined, they paint a picture of what the economy is undergoing at this particular time.

This latest version will come as the Fed is trying to decide when it should wrap up its latest round of stimulus, including billions in bond purchases every month via "quantitative easing." Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has consistently described the economy as growing moderately, but has yet to declare happy days are here again. The Fed's next meeting is set for Jan. 29-30. 

Breaking up is hard to do: Also on Wednesday, Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, will chat at the National Press Club about breaking up the nation’s largest financial institutions. Fisher, known as a conservative Fed official, has been outspoken in pushing for breaking up “too big to fail” banks.


LOOSE CHANGE

What debt ceiling?: Republicans and Democrats in Washington may be preparing for yet another fight over how to raise the debt ceiling. But economists? They're wondering why it exists in the first place.

The University of Chicago polled some top economists, and found that only 2 percent disagreed with the premise that a "debt ceiling that has to be increased periodically creates unneeded uncertainty and can potentially lead to worse fiscal outcomes."

More than 30 economists agreed with the statement, while a few said they had no opinion.

"The debt ceiling is a dumb idea with no benefits and potentially catastrophic costs," Chicago's Richard Thaler said. 


ECONOMIC INDICATORS 

MBA Mortgage Index: The Mortgage Bankers Association releases its weekly report on mortgage application volume. 

Consumer Price Index (CPI): The Labor Department releases its December report that measures the price level of a fixed market basket of goods and services purchased by consumers. CPI is the most widely cited inflation indicator, and is used to calculate cost-of-living adjustments for government programs. 

Industrial Production-Capacity Utilization: The Federal Reserve will release its December report showing the physical output of the nation's factories, mines and utilities. The monthly report also provides a measure of capacity utilization.  

NAHB Housing Market Index: The National Association of Home Builders will release its January survey that gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months.


WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— Fitch warns downgrade of US credit is likely if debt ceiling isn't raised
Rangel to be top Democrat on trade subcommittee
— Housing regulator shoring up finance staff
— Obama to add DC 'taxation without representation' license plate to limos
— Treasury halts investment in retirement fund due to debt limit
— Treasury removes backstop to Fed lending program
— Business groups, lawmakers back plan to start talks on a services industry trade deal
— Sandy Levin: Tax, entitlement reform can only come after debt ceiling, sequester
— AARP chief fires warning shot on chained CPI
— Ways and Means announces subcommittee chairmen

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